[Starts 1st April] 45 Days Super Intensive Prelims (SIP)

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Type: op-ed snap

Tuberculosis Elimination Strategy Health

[op-ed snap] The long fight against TB


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Revised National TB Control Programme

Mains level: Drug resistance and TB


Rising incidence of TB in India

  1. The incidence rate of tuberculosis (TB) in India is estimated at 200-300 cases per 100,000 population per year
  2. As a comparison, in western Europe, it is five per 100,000 per year
  3. India’s estimated annual TB burden is 28 lakh, 27% of the global total
  4. Every day 1,200 Indians die of TB — 10 every three minutes
  5. Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) has become a great humanitarian programme of free diagnosis and treatment instead of a control programme

Identification of TB

  1. Infection with TB bacilli is the necessary cause of TB
  2. Cough and blood in sputum occur only in lung TB
  3. Pelvic TB is the commonest cause of female infertility in India
  4. TB can affect the lungs, brain, bones, joints, the liver, intestines or for that matter any organ and can progress slowly or kill in weeks

Designing TB control

In designing TB control three processes must be understood: infection, progression, transmission

  1.  Infection occurs when TB bacilli are inhaled
  2. Progression occurs when bacilli become active, multiply and cause pathology
  3. Only when active TB affects the lungs do bacilli find an exit route to the atmosphere, necessary for transmission

Principles of control

  1. Beginning with schools, public education on TB and its prevention must replace ignorance and misconceptions
  2. No one should spit in public places and also practice cough and sneeze etiquette (covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing)
  3. To block transmission, treatment should begin as soon as a symptom shows up

Way forward

  1. To outsmart TB bacilli, we must intercept infection, progression, and transmission
  2. Our only chance of victory is by the concerted use of all interventions — biomedical and socio-behavioral
  3. Any further delay may convert a controllable disease into an uncontrollable one, because of increasing frequency of resistance to drugs against TB
RBI Notifications Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Is the Reserve Bank of India toothless?


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Recently, the governor’s speech on 14 March at the Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar, highlights significant issues about the difference in regulation of public and private sector banks. The newscard talks about those issues briefly.



  1. There are some issues raised by the RBI governor regarding the Indian Banking System

First: Dual control over banks based on ownership

  1. This issue is not specific to public sector banks
  2. Even in case of the cooperative banks, dual control was a festering issue
  3. However, in the case of public sector banks, the problem of dual control is even deeper
  4. In addition to ownership and governance-level control, there is also significant operational control that the Union finance ministry exercises
  5. This control bypasses the boards. That is why one cannot hold the board residually responsible for the performance of the bank
  6. A programme like the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) is operationally guided by the ministry and bypasses the board-directed strategy
    This issue is not present in private banks
  7. This is control on the banks through the tyranny of circulars, which doesn’t affect private banks
  8. Comparing the PMJDY numbers of private banks and their public sector peers is sufficient to make the point
  9. So, having identified that the framework for regulating public sector banks is different, can the governor cry victim, and does this let the RBI off the hook?
  10. The RBI by suo motu can recommend corrective action to the government
  11. The government may not accept it, as it has not been accepting many of the recommendations of the central bank, but it would have at least done its duty

Second: Blame on limited powers of the RBI

  1. Very much like the government exercising control through the board and through circulars, even the RBI has a board position in each public sector bank
  2. Further, the RBI representative is on the management committee (that approves loans beyond a certain ticket size), the audit committee, the committee of directors (for reviewing vigilance cases) and the remuneration committee of each of these banks
  3. So, not only does the RBI have regulatory oversight, it has board and sub-committee presence in each public sector bank,
  4. which should give the RBI much greater insights than it would get into a private bank
    Powers related to the appointments
  5. Also, the RBI is party to the selection of the whole-time directors of the bank through the selection committee and through its membership on the Banks Board Bureau
  6. The RBI has powers to remove the non-official directors appointed by the Union government as well as the shareholder directors if they do not fulfil the fit-and-proper criteria
    (section 3AB and 3B of the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act)
  7. Moreover, the RBI has powers to appoint an additional director as per section 9A of the above Act
  8. Theoretically, the RBI has a significant say in the constitution of the board of a public sector bank

The way forward

  1. While there is a great deal of reform to be undertaken in the governance and management of public sector banks, the line that the governor has taken, of inadequate powers to act, may be untenable
  2. The framework for the exercise of powers in private sector banks is different from the framework for public sector banks
  3. This has to be recognized

[op-ed snap] Marching against apathy: Agriculture


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 UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The newscard talks about the recent march(to Mumbai) of the farmers in Maharashtra. And discusses some their issues.



  1. Farmers in villages across the country have felt demeaned and disturbed by the insensitivity of successive governments at the Centre and in the states
  2. The same anguish was felt by the agriculturists who walked more than 160 km from Nashik to Mumbai

What are the issues?

  1. The farmers’ march was not a fallout of a single event
  2. They have been pushed into the streets by the cumulative effects of droughts, falling yields
  3. And aggravated by low farm-gate prices — purchases not made at the announced MSP, unkept promises of compensation for the failure of the cotton crop, which was attacked by the pink bollworm, etc.

The issues are not solved yet

  1. The state had misread the farmers again
  2. The resolute agriculturists did reach Mumbai, only to be duped again
  3. Last year’s verbal assurances of the farm loan waiver have not materialised and the written assurances, this time, of C2+50 per cent and forest rights for forest dwellers may meet with an identical fate

The issue of farmers suicide

  1. In the 10 long years that the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress were partners in crime in Maharashtra, over 36,000 farmers committed suicide in the state
  2. It is true that the state’s current chief minister inherited a grand mess
  3. But after over three years in office, he cannot escape accountability

Nothing has changed at the central government’s level

  1. The story has striking similarities with what has happened at the Centre
  2. Nothing has changed on the ground for farmers after nearly four years of the NDA government, apart from smarter sloganeering and repackaged programmes
  3. The farmer has realised that things were not meant to change
RBI Notifications Finance and Banking

{op-ed snap] Credit tangle


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: LoUs, Letters of Comfort, etc.

Mains level: Possible effect of the banning of LoUs by the RBI.


RBI’s notification on LoUs

  1. The Reserve Bank of India has decided to ban such instruments as well as letters of comfort issued by bankers to businesses for international transactions
  2. This is the first major step by the central bank on the banking fraud issue,
  3. apart from asking banks to ensure there are no slip-ups between their core banking systems and the SWIFT mechanism used for international money transfers

Why is the industry unhappy with the decision?

  1. Industry is unhappy with the RBI decision as this would raise the cost for importers, who will now need to rely on more expensive instruments such as bank guarantees and letters of credit
  2. The move will also impact the competitiveness of exporters who import raw materials for their products
  3. Ban of LoUs will impact the $85 billion buyers’ credit market that was mostly conducted in accordance with the law of the land

RBI’s argument against the RBI’s inability to detect the fraud

  1. RBI’s governor stressed that the RBI didn’t have adequate powers to regulate public sector banks, and
  2. it could not remove any of their directors or liquidate such a lender, as it can in the case of private sector banks
  3. He made an eloquent demand that the owner of public sector banks (that is, the government) must consider making the RBI’s powers over banks ‘ownership-neutral’ and say what could be done with these banks
  4. The RBI’s stance is valid, as is its discomfort with knee-jerk reactions and the blame games since the fraud came to light

The way forward

  1. Perhaps the RBI could have tightened the norms for LoUs and introduced safeguards based on the latest learnings
  2. It is still not too late to do that


Letter of Comfort (LoC)

  1. A Letter of Comfort (LoC) is a letter issued to a lending institution by a stakeholder of the company acknowledging support of the attempt for financing asked by that company
  2. A letter of comfort does not imply that the parent company guarantees repayment of the loan being sought by the subsidiary company
  3. It merely gives reassurance to the lending institution that the parent company is aware of the credit facility being sought by the subsidiary company, and supports its decision
Euthanasia : Euphemism for Killing? Constitution

[op-ed snap] Is active euthanasia the next step?


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not mcuh

Mains level: The newscard talks against the APD. It supports the argument that there is no point of not allowing active euthanasia. As the passive euthanasia is legally and morally not much different from active euthanasia.



  1. If passive euthanasia is a guaranteed fundamental right, a rigid “active” versus “passive” euthanasia distinction (APD) is analytically unsustainable

Basis of the Common Cause v. Union of India decision

  1. The SC expounded the basis of its 2011 ruling in Aruna Shanbaug v. Union of India ,
  2. which permitted “passive” euthanasia, including “involuntary” passive euthanasia for mentally incompetent patients, in certain terminal cases
  3. Ruling that Article 21 of the Constitution guaranteed the “right to die with dignity”, the court also issued interim guidelines to enforce individuals’ living wills in case of future incompetence
  4. Aruna and Common Cause have incorporated the judicial APD evolved primarily by U.K. courts

There is not much difference between active and passive euthanasia

  1. There is no articulable reason why “withdrawal” (as opposed to “withholding”) of current treatment isn’t an illegal “active” decision that hastens death from the underlying cause
  2. It is much like a lethal injection that also accelerates imminent death
  3. More importantly, it may unjustly deny a recognised fundamental right to those who need assistance to access it

Points on which ‘passive’ euthanasia was constructed

  1. APD is an elaborate and flawed judicial construct arguably necessitated by overarching policy concerns, namely,
    (1) potential for abuse by unscrupulous individuals;
    (2) the spectre of criminal prosecution of benign doctors and families, etc.

The way forward

  1. Common Cause signals that APD’s days are numbered
  2. Whether couched as “dignified death” or “bodily autonomy”, there is no reasonable basis for negating the right vis-à-vis a patient whose circumstances warrant assistance to exercise it
Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc. Energy

[op-ed snap] Here comes the Sun


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance (ISA), Delhi Agenda

Mains level: Prospects for International Solar Alliance


International Solar Alliance & environmental diplomacy

  1. The Delhi Agenda, which kicked off the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on March 11, is a refreshing change in global environmental diplomacy
  2. The agenda’s 62 signatories agreed to increase the share of solar energy in their respective energy mix and the alliance plans to generate 1 TW of solar energy by 2030
  3. This is more than three times the current installed solar capacity, globally
  4. The coalition will facilitate “joint research and development efforts” to reduce the cost of solar projects in member nations

Challenges faced by ISA

  1. Many of the countries have poor technological capabilities that could come in the way of their leveraging the platform
  2. Even India, the club’s founder, has struggled to be competitive in manufacturing solar equipment like photovoltaics
  3. The country also requires technology to store solar energy when the sun is not shining
  4. Many of its energy-deficient African members want the club to become a facilitator of their electrification programmes
  5. For electricity-sufficient countries like Mauritius, membership of the alliance comes with an aspiration to transit to clean energy
  6. Mobilising finances will be another challenge as the alliance aims to pump in a trillion dollars into solar energy initiatives by 2030

Way forward

  1. Balancing the needs and the vastly different capacities of its members would require the ISA to develop robust procedures
  2. The alliance should also make sure that it does not become the means to advance the climate change mitigation goals of a few of its members or is reduced to an avenue of bilateral exchanges
  3. Developed countries like Australia and France partnering emerging economies like India and Brazil and small island nations like Fiji, Seychelles and Mauritius could be a potential game-changer for the renewable energy market
Banking Sector Reforms Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Why bank privatization may not be the answer


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The newscard discusses both advantages and problems related to privatisation of banks. After the recent PNB fraud case, the privatisation of PSBs is a hot topic of discussion among experts.


Call for privatization of the Public Sector Banks

  1. The nearly $2 billion fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB) last month has renewed calls for privatization of state-owned banks

Why are experts asking for Privatization?

  1. According to experts, it would make for more prudent decisionmaking, increase accountability to shareholders, reduce complacency in management, improve profitability and end political influence in business decisions
  2. These points are discussed below:

FIRST: Importance of Operational Control

  1. The alleged fraudulent transactions at PNB reflect very bad operational controls, poor risk management and regulatory failure
  2. Privatization, without strengthening regulatory controls and improving governance, won’t prevent fraud, or curtail undue exposure to risk

SECOND: The government will always come to the bank’s rescue

  1. It has been argued that state control encourages management complacency
  2. as managers are secure in the knowledge the government will always come to the bank’s rescue if it is in trouble
  3. But is ownership the sole criteria for government intervention?
  4. Governments have in the past bailed out banks that were considered “too big to fail”, regardless of ownership, to prevent a systemic collapse
  5. Arguably privatization in some instances led to privatizing profits and socializing losses

THIRD: Privatization makes management more accountable to markets

  1. But the point is that, these state-backed banks are already subject to stock-market discipline—including corporate disclosures and regular audited financial reports

FOURTH: It would foster increased competition

  1. Yet again, it is unclear how a change in ownership from government to private hands would increase competition if the number of participants in the industry remain the same
  2. Fewer but stronger banks could, however, provide more effective competition than a large number of weak banks

FIFTH: The strongest case in support of privatization

  1. The strongest case is that state-backed banks are hobbled by bureaucratic restrictions and undue political interference, making the sector susceptible to elite capture
  2. Indeed, it has been said that India’s mounting bad debt problem may be partly a reflection of crony capitalism
  3. Political considerations may have forced the hand of bankers to extend credit to several powerful business houses who have since defaulted

SIXTH: State-owned banks have a social objective

  1. It must be remembered that state-owned banks in developing countries have an important social objective—to meet the needs of the most vulnerable sections of the economy
  2. Though both state and private sector banks are required to lend 40% of their loanable funds, at a concessional rate, to the priority sector,
  3. the main burden of the government’s development policies(from rural lending to infrastructure development) falls on state-run banks given that they are dominant players in India’s banking system

The way forward

  1. Public or private ownership, both can be equally good or equally bad
  2. It is the institutional factors that determine managerial success
  3. The boards of state-backed banks should be independent of political influence
  4. The clean-up of bank balance sheets and the overhaul of India’s archaic insolvency law are steps in the right direction
Innovation Ecosystem in India Industries

[op-ed snap] Why digital protectionism will not work for India


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Intellectual property (IP)

Mains level: Rising protectionism across the world and its impact on India


Trade war on the horizon

  1. The White House is now considering punitive measures against China for its alleged theft of intellectual property (IP)
  2. This comes on the heels of an investigation by the US trade representative’s office

Does digital protectionism work?

  1. The success of Japan’s automakers and South Korea’s electronics chaebol can be seen
  2. Both were protected by their governments for many years
  3. China has made digital protectionism work thus far

Problems with protectionism

  1. It slows innovation and productivity growth
  2. It leads to inefficient capital allocation
  3. It limits consumers’ options
  4. It also promotes crony capitalism

Falling into the protectionist trap

  1. For India, it would be a mistake to fall into the protectionist trap
  2. China’s unique political and economic models make its policies inimitable
  3. Its economic heft has incentivized foreign companies to grin and bear it
  4. Any such attempt to throw up barriers would run the risk of being dangerously counterproductive
  5. With regulatory barriers and uncertainty, India would start looking considerably less attractive as an investment destination
  6. India’s information technology companies have been successful over the past few decades because of their openness to international trade and investment

What can India do?

  1. India must adopt a nuanced approach while the US and China slug it out
  2. Concerns such as user privacy should be addressed
  3. A taxonomy of data would be useful, with commercial and industrial data treated differently from private data
  4. At both the Central and state levels in India, governments could focus on Public sector research and development

Way forward

  1. Creating the appropriate ecosystems for innovation will have a far larger payoff than withdrawing into the protectionism
  2. India has the chance to get in on the ground floor of the digital economy and it should take it
Innovation Ecosystem in India Industries

[op-ed snap] First, the basic sciences


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues related to low investment in the field of basic sciences(in India).


Are Indians investing enough in science, and how should this investment be apportioned?

  1. As per data provided by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, India invests about 0.8% of its GDP on research and development, and supports 156 researchers per million of population
  2. The figures for China are 2%, and 1,113, respectively. China’s investment is now comparable to any developed country, with Germany standing at 2.9% and 4,363 researchers and the U.S. at 2.8% and 4,231
  3. In 2000, China had invested only about 0.9% of its GDP on research and development, but this was steadily ramped up and in 2010 stood at 1.71%
  4. India invested 0.74% in 2000, and increased this to 0.82% in 2010. While China took it up to 2.1% in 2016, in India it came down to 0.63% in 2015
  5. These figures ignore the reality of what science has become in the last two decades

We can learn from the History

  1. The Raman effect, discovered by C.V. Raman, the only Indian Nobel Laureate in Physics, is a widely used tool of analysis in chemistry and physics
  2. It was discovered on February 28, 1928 with relatively meagre resources available in the labs set up by Raman

Today’s situation is somewhat different

  1. Today, while there is theoretical and even experimental work that can be done by small groups with a low budget
  2. But many pressing problems in science demand larger investments, including resources, funding and human capital

Difficulties in copying ISRO’s success

  1. The Indian Space Research Organisation has quietly and efficiently carried out large projects, but such projects have not been exactly welcomed in basic sciences
  2. Bigger projects involve coordination of the work of several hundred people and international collaborations; they need physical space and funding
  3. They challenge the mindset of doing science in isolation, within labs, and as unnoticed by society as possible

The way forward

  1. To develop a meaningful and scientific handle over impending crises, India needs to invest more widely and deeply in scientific enterprise
Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc. Industries

[op-ed snap] An urgent prescription

Image Source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Report of the UN High Level Panel Access to Medicines (2016), CL, APIs, etc.

Mains level: Importance of public sector capacity for manufacturing of essential drugs.


Growth of Indian Pharmaceutical Sector

  1. Much of this growth took place after India opted for process patenting over product patenting in 1970
  2. This changed to a product patent regime in 2005, providing sufficient time for growth of the generic drug industry in the private sector

What is needed?

  1. Public sector capacity for manufacture of essential drugs and vaccines is very much needed to ensure that our population is not denied access to drugs
  2. Those drugs which Indian private sector is unable to produce or supply at affordable cost
  3. These include drugs where compulsory licences may need to be issued by the government for patent protected drugs or even off-patent drugs which are commercially unattractive to private manufacturers

What is Compulsory licensing (CL)?

  1. CL is a mechanism permitted by the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement
  2. The agreement enables countries to issue licences to domestic drug manufacturers to produce and market affordable generic versions of life-saving drugs needed for meeting serious public health challenges that are of extreme urgency
  3. This allows countries to overcome patent restrictions to assure availability of such drugs when the situation demands

Use of the CL by India

  1. India has used the CL route previously to permit two Indian companies, Natco and Cipla, to produce a potent anti-cancer drug nexavar
  2. This enabled a 32-fold reduction in the cost of the drug

Public sector capacity for manufacturing life saving drugs under a CL is the much needed

  1. If the domestic private sector drug manufacturers are not ready to apply for CL, for whatever reason, public sector capacity to seek and utilise such licences becomes indispensable
  2. With the acquisition of Indian drug companies by foreign manufacturers, or ‘strategic alliances’ which place shackles on the Indian partners, public sector capacity becomes more important
  3. Also, the High Level Expert Group Report on Universal Health Coverage for India (2011) clearly articulated the need for strengthening PSUs which have drug manufacturing capability

Issues related to the Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs)

  1. APIs needed for drug manufacture (formulation), are now mostly imported from China
  2. This makes India highly vulnerable to disruptions in supply and cost escalations in import
  3. National security demands that we develop both public and private sector capacity within the country, with suitable government support and incentives, to ensure uninterrupted and inexpensive availability of APIs

UN’s suggestion for the pharmaceutical sector

  1. A report of the UN High Level Panel Access to Medicines (2016) called upon countries to safeguard and fully utilise the rights conferred by the TRIPS flexibilities as confirmed by the Doha Declaration of the WTO
  2. India should take the lead in ensuring universal access to affordable drugs through such measures
  3. Investment in public sector capacity is essential to ensure that the country can exercise that leadership even on occasions when the private pharmaceutical sector does not fully align with that objective
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc. Health

[op-ed snap] Unhealthy Binaries


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Health Protection Scheme

Mains level: Healthcare infrastructure in India


Misleading beliefs related to the healthcare sector

  1. The first, most deep-rooted misleading belief, is that private practitioners are less suited to deliver healthcare services than public healthcare professionals
  2. The second is that health outcomes of patients are immaterial, that there is no need to track patients or maintain records, spending more money on healthcare is enough

Institutional infrastructure to track health outcomes

  1. Tracking health status means that patient outcomes like disease, death, infection and so on, be regularly ascertained, reported and monitored
  2. In some countries, it is routine to set up such reporting systems
  3. They even set up disease-specific registers in which a variety of hospitals and physicians participate

Status of such infrastructure in India

  1. In India, till date, there has been no institutional framework fixing such key indicators
  2. There isn’t any general rule mandating that these should be reported regularly, whether in the public or private sector
  3. The need to track patient status is not given the importance it deserves

Optimal performance not possible

  1. In the absence of system-wide requirements, it is merely ideology and individual conscience that determines the quality of care available to patients
  2. Systems that are driven only by ideology and individual conscience can hardly perform optimally

Patient tracking

  1. It can be done by setting up a simple user-friendly software application
  2. This could be used to record patient data on a few key parameters
  3. Many state governments like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu use such software applications for secondary and tertiary care programmes
  4. These applications could be modified for patient tracking

Way forward

  1. India is moving towards creating structures for universal healthcare with the National Health Protection Scheme
  2. To successfully put care and quality back into healthcare, it is important to set up this kind of system to track the health status of patients
  3. Tracking health status will matter and effectiveness of resource use has little to do with the size of resources made available
Goods and Services Tax (GST) Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Not by fear alone: GST e-way Bills


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The e-way bill system and related concerns.


Important decision taken by the GST council

  1. The council has decided to stick to the prescriptions of the group of ministers on the rollout of the e-way bills system
  2. So, starting April 1, all inter-State movement of goods above the value of Rs. 50,000 will require the generation of an e-way bill to help track their movement

Rolling out of the e-way bill plan

  1. As proposed by the ministerial group, the e-way bill system for tracking intra-State movement will be launched in a phased manner, with all States to be on board by June 1
  2. From April 1 onwards, every week a few States will start the system for internal trade

Why is this decision important?

  1. The government is keen to use the (e-way bill)system to foil tax evasion or non-filing of returns
  2. Issue: But this is a compliance nightmare in the making for taxpayers with operations in multiple locations

Agencies(The Central Board of Excise and Customs, together with the GST Network) have begun deploying data analytics on the vast repository of information collected from taxpayers

  1. Action is likely to begin soon on taxpayers, based on variances and data gaps that have been found in returns

Some related concerns

  1. While industry remains edgy about the capacity of the IT system to cope with e-way bills from April 1, new rules and forms for the generation of these transit challans have been issued
  2. Tax experts have voiced concern about some of these rules,
  3. including one that empowers commissioners to notify those officers who can intercept any mode of conveyance to carry out physical verification of e-way bills while goods are in transit, akin to the old physical checkpost system

Disappointment for taxpayers

  1. The  most disappointing for business is the failure of the GST Council to finalise a simplified tax form for assessees
  2. For now, taxpayers will have to stick to the current compliance system till June 2018
Banking Sector Reforms Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Bank frauds and the HR factor in PSU banks


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: EASE

Mains level: The newscard discusses the importance of the HR in Banks. It also discusses a strategy to solve the vulnerable condition of Indian Banks.


Human resource (HR) failure: One of the main reasons behind Bank Frauds

  1. Human resource (HR) department in bans failed in implementing measures for “preventive vigilance”
  2. So much so that the central vigilance commissioner has had to step in and order the transfer of all officers who have exceeded three years and clerks, five years, in the same position and office

An opportune time to have another look at the Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE)

  1. It was proposed last year by the department of financial services (DFS)
  2. This outlines the duties and responsibilities of public sector banks for their healthy growth
  3. It recognizes that banking is intrinsically human-centric despite the increasing invasion of machines

Helping the Banks bounce back will require focusing on a 4R policy:
(1) Recruitment:

  1. The current practice of common recruitment by an outside agency needs to be shunned
  2. Instead, every PSU bank needs to recruit depending on its specific requirements
  3. Banks, being “special”, need specialized talent, as observed globally
  4. Banking has become increasingly knowledge and information intensiv
  5. Now, PSU banks need a wide spectrum of specialists in the policy and operation cycle, encompassing all activities, rather than jacks of all trades

(2) Remuneration:

  1. As per RBI data, the compound annual growth rate of per employee wages and salaries, which was 13.7% from 2004-05 to 2010-11, decelerated to 6.4% from 2010-11 to 2016-17
  2. However, the more crucial point is the current “different banks same pay” practice based on five-yearly bipartite settlements with unions
  3. This has built-in perverse incentives
  4. It undermines enterprise not only among the workers of the underperforming banks but also the well-performing ones, thus doubly jeopardizing systemic efficiency and flouting economic principles and logic
  5. Therefore, instead of collective bargaining, the salaries of PSU bank employees need to be linked to the respective bank’s “ability to pay” with components of variable pay

(3) Reskilling:

  1. In any profession, skilling/reskilling is the most valuable link in the entire HR chain of recruitment to retirement
  2. For this, the 2014 RBI suggests the importance of both internal and specialized certification-based external training programmes, coupled with appropriate placement policies in banks, to bridge the talent deficit
  3. The report needs to be implemented without delay

(4) Research

  1. Banking must be recognized as a knowledge-based industry, like information technology, where decisions necessitate constant research and development
  2. In general, the research quotient in PSU banks’ decision-making process is minimal.
  3. Only a few large banks have research units—which are, by and large, devoted to macroeconomic studies
  4. PSU bank leadership must embrace the knowledge and learning ecosystem

The way forward

  1. HR capabilities have a strong correlation with business results
  2. In PSU banks, the time has come to move on from episodic HR initiatives to connecting HR to the mainstream corporate strategy and transformation agendas
Foreign Policy Watch: India-France Bilateral Relations

[op-ed snap] Reshaping Indo-Pacific


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance, NATO, blue economy

Mains level: India France strategic partnership


 India’s strategic partnership with France

  1. The expansive prospect for India’s strategic partnership with France underlines the growing importance of middle power coalitions
  2. These coalitions transcend the traditional alliance frameworks and new geopolitical fault lines

Breaking down the old stereotypes

  1. Amidst America’s uncertain external orientation and China’s effort to reshape the global order, second-tier powers like India and France seek a greater say in world affairs through more intensive collaboration
  2. In that process, they are breaking down the old stereotypes of East versus West and North versus South
  3. In taking the lead on mitigating climate change, through the International Solar Alliance, India and France are demonstrating their potential for shared global leadership
  4. France, a long-standing military ally of the United States, is also looking beyond NATO to forge security partnerships with Asian democracies like India

Delhi’s quest for a larger role in the world

  1. It can’t be founded in exclusive security partnerships with either Russia or America
  2. Nor does India want to cede Asia and the world to the rigidity of a new bipolar framework between the US and China

Indo-Pacific as the new arena for cooperation

  1. Although India’s strategic partnership with France is the oldest and dates back to the late 1990s, it lacked a regional anchor
  2. With their long-standing national advantages in the Indo-Pacific threatened by the global power shift, they have chosen to band together
  3. Delhi and Paris have agreed on greater political coordination in the region, mutual logistical support and seamless interoperability between their security forces

Shared maritime vision

  1. It seeks to uphold the law of the sea in the Indian Ocean
  2. Prevent the kind of military unilateralism that has come to grip the Western Pacific
  3. Secure the sea lines of communication
  4. Respond to humanitarian disasters and
  5. Promote sustainable blue economy

Way forward

  1. French president’s unbridled enthusiasm for India connects with his effort to rejuvenate France and revitalize Europe
  2. It is upto Delhi to make the best of this moment
Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc. Energy

[op-ed snap] India must lead the transition to green energy

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ISA

Mains level: Importance of the ISA and related issues discussed in the article.


Why is International Solar Alliance (ISA) important for India?

  1. It is a a breakthrough in India’s global positioning
  2. With this ,India has suddenly became a catalyst in the global attempts at capping climate change
  3. This is important in a geopolitical sense when China is clearly expanding its global footprint

India’s commitment on solar energy

  1. India has a domestic commitment to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy by 2022
    (part of the broader 175GW target for renewable energy)

But what is the main issue?

  1. India has to push towards mass prosperity at a time when climate change is a huge concern
  2. The context of what India will have to do in the next three decades is quite different from what developed countries or Asian success stories such as China faced
  3. Fighting climate change cannot come at the cost of halting the urgent fight against poverty
  4. Global initiatives should always be seen through the lens of national interest
  5. That is why an international alliance based on credible commitments is important
  6. The key issues that India raised at the Copenhagen climate change talks is still important
  7. The rich countries still need to be pushed to provide asymmetrical funding for climate change mitigation and technology transfers
  8. That will continue to be an important challenge for the global solar alliance

Solar Energy: An opportunity

  1. The shift to solar energy should not be seen only as a defence mechanism
  2. It can also be an opportunity
  3. Economic historians have identified five long waves of technology since the Industrial Revolution
  4. The chronological order of these technology waves is as follows—the steam engine and cotton ginning; steel and railways; electrical and chemical engineering; automobiles and plastics; and information technology
  5. The fight against climate change(and the broader move to low-carbon economies) is likely to create the next big technological wave

The way forward

  1. New technology will be the critical factor in the transition to a green economy which also grows rapidly, and India should take a shot at global leadership
  2. Coal will continue to be a key part of the Indian energy mix in the immediate future
  3. But the push for solar energy is welcome if a longer view is taken
  4. ISA thus offers many opportunities —from geopolitical advantages to economic benefits in the next wave of global innovation


International Solar Alliance

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