June 2018
M T W T F S S
« May   Jul »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

[op-ed snap] Let the elite pay

Note4students

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: Not much

Mains level: Status of primary and higher education in India and ways to improve it


News

Statistics on higher education in India

  1. The government (state plus Centre) spends a third of its budget on education, and a further third of that on higher education
  2. We have a messed-up education system and have had one in place since Independence

Mistakes committed so far

  1. Our first mistake was to not expand primary and secondary education for the common people
  2. We proceeded to build temples of wisdom for the elite (higher education in general, IITs in particular)
  3. This expansion was at the expense of providing basic education to all

What this resulted in?

  1. The children of the poorest of the poor, the ones most discriminated against on the basis of caste or religion, did not receive basic quality education, so they could not proceed to higher education
  2. The ones that were able to go to school — and they did so in poorly-staffed government schools — did not receive a quality education, and therefore were not able to compete with the rich kids when it came to college

Situation in India

  1. India must be one of the very few countries in the world (along with its Subcontinental neighbors) where the average good quality high school education costs more than five times the average good quality college education
  2. In most civilized economies, the ratio is the opposite

Way Forward

  1. We need to change our education system which is for the rich, by the elite, with sops and band-aids for the not-so-fortunate
  2. Each student should pay for her college education the same she paid for her high school education
  3. The revenue gains for the government from this much-needed education reform are large
  4. This extra money should allow the government to redo the Indian education system from the primary level onwards
Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Aadhaar biometric data cannot be used for crime investigations, UIDAI clarifies

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Basics of cyber security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar Act

Mains level: Various issues related to data security and privacy in connection with Aadhar


News

Only identification is permissible via Aadhar

  1. The biometric data collected by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) cannot be used for any other purpose except for generating Aadhaar and authenticating the identity of cardholders
  2. Invoking section 29 of the Act, the UIDAI issued a statement after reports emerged about the purported use of Aadhaar biometric data for the purpose of investigating a crime

Exceptions to this clause

  1. The section 33 of the Aadhaar Act allows a very limited exception and permits the use of or access to Aadhaar biometric data in cases involving national security after pre-authorisation by an oversight committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary
  2. This is also the consistent stand taken by the Union of India in the ongoing Aadhaar case in the Supreme Court

Section 29 of the Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016

  1. No core biometric information, collected or created under this Act, shall be—(a) shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever; or (b) used for any purpose other than generation of Aadhaar numbers and authentication under this Act.
  2. The identity information, other than core biometric information, collected or created under this Act may be shared only in accordance with the provisions of this Act and in such manner as may be specified by regulations
  3. No identity information available with a requesting entity shall be—(a) used for any purpose, other than that specified to the individual at the time of submitting any identity information for authentication; or (b) disclosed further, except with the prior consent of the individual to whom such information relates
  4. No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations
Aadhaar Card Issues

Nasa unveils program to defend Earth from asteroid attack

Image result for international asteroid warning network

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Asteroid Warning Network, Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission

Mains level: Threat posed by Near-Earth objects and scientific measures to counter it


News

Countering NEOs

  1. The US and other nations have long sought to track “near-earth objects,” or NEOs, coordinating efforts through the International Asteroid Warning Network and the United Nations
  2. The Trump Administration now wants to enhance those efforts to detect and track potential planet killers and to develop more capable means to deflect any that appear to be on a collision course
  3. The government unveiled new goals this week for Nasa’s work on countering NEOs over the next decade

NEO threat

  1. Nasa has documented roughly 96% of the objects large enough to cause a global catastrophe since work began in 1998
  2. More than 300,000 objects larger than 40 meters (131 feet) wide orbit the sun as NEOs, according to Nasa estimates
  3. Many of these were difficult to detect more than a few days in advance
  4. Forty meters is about the average size an object must be to make it through the atmosphere without burning up

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission

  1. The goal of this mission is to impact the smaller “moonlet” of a binary asteroid called Didymos, to learn how well we may be able to alter the course of a future killer rock
  2. It is expected to be complete by 2021-2022

Back2Basics

International Asteroid Warning Network

  1. The International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) was established in 2014 to address the recommendations for an international response to the near-Earth Object impact threat
  2. It was endorsed by the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of
    Outer Space and the General Assembly resolution 68/75
  3. It forms an international association of institutions involved in detecting, tracking, and characterizing NEOs (Near Earth Objects) to provide the best information available on the NEO hazard and any impact threat
  4. The IAWN is also tasked to use well-defined communication
    plans and protocols to assist Governments in the analysis of asteroid impact
    consequences and to support the planning of mitigation responses
  5. IAWN serves the global community as the authoritative source of accurate and up-to-date information on near-Earth objects and NEO impact risks. Information is freely available to all interested parties
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Mongolia launches construction of first oil refinery with India aid

Note4students

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: India-Mongolia cultural ties

Mains level: India-Mongolia Bilateral Relation and its importance.


 News

India funded oil refinery in Mongolia

  1. Mongolia launched construction of its first oil refinery
  2. It is a long-awaited project that is funded by India and designed to end the country’s dependence on Russian fuel.
  3. The oil refinery, in southern Dornogovi province, will be capable of processing 1.5 million tonnes of crude oil per year

Benefits for Mongolia

  1. Mongolia’s new refinery, planned for completion in late 2022, will meet all of the nation’s demand for gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
  2. Earlier it was solely dependent on Russia for petroleum, though it exported crude oil
  3. By establishing this strategically important oil refinery, the national economy will become independent from energy imports, and fuel and commodity prices will be stabilized
  4. The project is expected to boost Mongolia’s gross domestic product by 10 percent, it said.

Indian Credit: Slow but steady

  1. A Mongolian oil refinery has been discussed since 1997, but while several projects were approved, none have been completed.
  2. The refinery’s financing is part of a $1 billion credit line agreement between Mongolia and the Export-Import Bank of India, made during a 2015 visit by Prime Minister Modi.

 Back2Basics

India-Mongolia Bilateral relations

  1. Mongolia, a large landlocked country wedged between giants China and Russia, has a population of just 3 million. Almost half its people live as nomadic stock herders.
  2. Mongolia considers India a “third neighbor” as well as a “spiritual neighbor” (the late venerable Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk who is revered in Mongolia, was the Indian ambassador to Ulaanbaatar for 10 years).
  3. India shares historical relations with Mongolia in terms of culture from over 2700 years.
  4. Nomadic Elephant was the Counter-Terrorism joint military exercise conducted by India and Mongolia in 2016
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

India to teach satellite tech to students from abroad

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNSSP, UNISPACE+50

Mains level: The newscard highlights the prestige of India at the global level for its unique satellite building methodology.


 News

ISRO to teach foreign students

  1. India has thrown open its satellite-building expertise to engineering graduates chosen from other countries.
  2. Starting this year, and for three years, a total of 90 qualifying engineers from various countries will be taught to build and test three small satellites each year.
  3. ISRO’s Bengaluru-based U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) — until recently known as ISAC — will train the overseas students in November and December this year through 2020.
  4. India is also ready to launch the small satellites built during the programme if they are good.

Indo-UN Small Satellites Programme

  1. Indian start-ups and participants at the meeting shared the details of the training proposal, called the Indo-UN Small Satellites Programme (UNSSP).
  2. The capacity-building programme was India’s contribution to the world in response to a request that the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs had made to space-faring nations last year.
  3. The countries are marking the 50th year of the first UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space — called UNISPACE+50.
  4. Three such conferences held earlier recognized the potential of space and laid the guidelines for human activities and international cooperation related to outer space.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Anti-profiteering under GST: A leap of faith for consumers and industry

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | 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: Anti Profiteering Provisions under GST

Mains level:  Businesses in various sectors have received notices under anti-profiteering for non-compliance. This is due to unclear guidelines on records. The newscard suggests measures to counter such incidences.


News

Inflationary Effect of the GST

  1. Historically, many countries who introduced GST or value-added tax found to it to have an inflationary effect in the initial years.
  2. This inflationary effect has largely been attributed to the benefit accruing due to GST was not being passed on through the transaction chain to the ultimate customer.

GST anti-profiteering provisions

  1. Anti-profiteering provisions have been enacted under the GST regime to curb undue profiteering by businesses and ensure that the benefits by way of a reduction in the price of the goods/services are passed on to the consumer.
  2. The provisions require businesses to pass on the benefit arising on account of
  • reduction in the rate of GST
  • increase in input tax credit, to the consumer.

National Anti-Profiteering Authority

  1. A National Anti-Profiteering Authority has been constituted for the efficient administration of these provisions
  2. Any consumer can approach the Authority with documentary evidence against any supplier who has not passed on the specified benefit.
  3. The Authority is entrusted with the power to determine whether the benefit of GST is passed on:
  • to identify persons who have not passed on the benefit;
  • to order reduction of prices;
  • to repay the customer an amount which is not passed on along with interest/imposition of penalty on the supplier;
  • cancellation of registration etc.

Ambiguities in Anti Profiteering provisions

Various challenges are being faced by the business community in complying with anti-profiteering rules:

  1. The anti-profiteering provisions do not prescribe the specific guidelines on records or documentation to be maintained to prove compliance with the rules.
  2. A definite method for computing the benefit on implementing GST has also not been prescribed.
  3. Absence of clear guidelines could lead to ambiguity and businesses will be constrained in proving the compliance with these provisions.
  4. Absence of specific time limit with respect to operation makes it unclear for the industry as to how long the specified benefits need to be passed on.
  5. Businesses are very dynamic and pricing is determined based on the market forces in most of the cases.
  6. Even though the regular price increase does not come under the purview of anti-profiteering, justifying the same could become a difficult task for the businesses.

Dilemma of Business community

  1. Under the anti-profiteering provisions, businesses are required to pass on the benefit of reduction in tax rate and increase in input tax credit on any supply of goods or services.
  2. This implies that benefit needs to be passed on at each supply level and not at the entity level.
  3. If an entity is engaged in supplying more than one product or service then for each such supply the benefits, if any, needs to be computed and passed on to the recipient.
  4. There could be cases where losses are incurred in certain products, even in such cases the benefit may have to be passed on if applying GST has resulted in a reduction in losses.
  5. In the recent past, businesses in various sectors have received notices under anti-profiteering provisions.

The Way Forward

  1. Businesses should consider evaluating the likely impact of the anti-profiteering clause and review its pricing policy for the product and/or services.
  2. Even where there is no benefit accruing to the company, the same has to be properly documented so that it can be explained to the authorities if the need arises.
  3. Anti-profiteering provisions are a positive step towards protecting consumer interests and rein in undue profiteering so that GST does not add to inflation in the economy.
  4. However, GST is a new and evolving law, hence, there’s still a sense of confusion and lack of clarity on many aspects.
  5. One step may be to adopt a soft approach vis-à-vis the businesses where there is no prima facie mala fide intent. This would go a long way in building the confidence and trust among the businesses.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)

[pib] Third AIIB Annual Meeting 2018, Mumbai

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: AIIB, Asian Infrastructure Forum

Mains level: Not Much


News

3rd Annual Meeting of AIIB

  1. The Department of Economic Affairs and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will jointly host the third Annual Meeting of the AIIB in Mumbai.
  2. The theme for this year’s meeting is “Mobilizing Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration” that will see leaders from varied organizations and levels of government to share ideas and experiences for creating a sustainable future through sound infrastructure investment.

Asian Infrastructure Forum

  1. This year will also see the launch of the inaugural Asian Infrastructure Forum, which will gather infrastructure practitioners in a practical and project-driven discourse
  2. It is focused on matching innovative finance to critical infrastructure needs.

India Infrastructure Expo 2018

  1. The Department of Economic Affairs, in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), is also organising an exhibition India Infrastructure Expo 2018.
  2. The objective of the exhibition is to offer companies from the public and private sector to showcase their latest solutions, technologies and offerings in the realm of infrastructure project development and delivery.

Back2Basics

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

  1. The AIIB is a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.
  2. It was proposed as an initiative by the government of China in 2013 and came into existence in 2014.
  3. The capital of the bank is $100 billion, equivalent to 2⁄3 of the capital of the Asian Development Bank and about half that of the World Bank.
  4. Recently AIIB extended USD 1.2 bn loan for infra projects in India.
  5. The fund will invest in six projects, including $500 million in the Mumbai Metro and $455 million in rural roads in Andhra Pradesh.
  6. This also includes $200 million to the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.
AIIB & The Changing World Order

[pib] Ministry of Women & Child Development receives the ‘Best Performing Social Sector Ministry’ SKOCH Award

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various initiatives by MoWCD at a glance

Mains level: Read the attached story 


News

Lauding the achievements of the Ministry of Women and Child Development in delivering the promises made and for its significant achievements and initiatives from the last 4 years, SKOCH has conferred the ‘Best performing Social Sector Ministry’.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao- a huge success

  1. Flagship schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao have achieved huge success within a very short period of time.
  2. Under this scheme, efforts were made at National, regional and local level which led to behaviour change which is reflecting in the improved sex ration at birth.

Other lauded Initiatives of MoWCD

  1. 6 months maternity leave,
  2. Sexual Harassment at Work Place Act,
  3. SHe-box,
  4. One stop centers,
  5. Universal Women helpline (181),
  6. 33 percent reservation in police etc.

Forensic Analysis for Sexual assault cases

  1. Stressing that forensic analysis plays a critical role in nabbing the culprits in sexual assault cases, the foundation of  Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory was laid in Chandigarh.
  2. 5 more advanced forensic labs would come up in Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bhopal.
  3. Special forensic kits for rape cases will be provided to all police stations and hospitals.
  4. The funds for these kits will be provided from Nirbhaya Fund.
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education