November 2018
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

[op-ed snap] Accident of birth

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jus soli concept

Mains level: Laws related to citizenship by birth in India as well as the US and their misuse by illegal immigrants


Context

Proposal to scrap US citizenship by birth for non-residents

  1. USA’s president Trump has advocated of striking down jus soli, the right to citizenship by birth derived from the common law
  2. The principle guarantees that a child born on US soil is automatically a full citizen, irrespective of the citizenship status of its parents
  3. Trump’s US seems to be determined to follow the trail blazed by the other great democracy, India

India’s law

  1. In 2004, India abolished jus soli in response to fears about mass immigration from Bangladesh
  2. The controversy about the National Register of Citizens in Assam, which initially excluded 40 lakh individuals, is the long tail of an event which included the end of jus soli
  3. India is the only big country to take this step and the rest of the world supports jus soli, though it may be conditional

US law

  1. In the US, the 14th amendment to the constitution guarantees citizenship by birth
  2. This has been a powerful driver of the idea of America
  3. Even the child of undocumented parents has a fighting chance to leave the underclass behind and shoot for the stars
  4. America has taken a sharp turn to the right in amending jus soli, which hinges only on the location of birth and does not discriminate on other counts like country of familial origin or colour

Impact of the change

  1. Millions of citizens, the children of immigrants who were not citizens when they were born, would be disenfranchised by such a move
  2. Many of them would be found to be achievers and could mount a successful class action against a reading down of the 14th amendment
  3. The message has gone out nevertheless, that in the future, the US may not remain as bravely welcoming of outside talent as it has been

Way forward

  1. Citizenship in the US has been a mixed story, thanks to the history of slavery and the disenfranchisement of Native Americans
  2. But it must be remembered that the end of white America coincided with the emergence of a superpower
  3. If Trump tries to hold off the browning of America, the country would simply lose the plot
Citizenship and Related Issues

[op-ed snap] How not to choose among allies

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Mains level: US sanctions on Iran and why India should not toe the line as sketched by the US


Context

India’s role in JCPOA negotiations

  1. In May 2012, Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State, visited Delhi on behalf of the Western countries negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the nuclear deal, with Iran, to convince India to cut its oil imports from Iran
  2.  India needed various reasons to help put pressure on Iran to return to the negotiating table for the six-party talks
  3. India agreed to cut its imports by only about 15%
  4. But cumulative global pressure had the desired impact on Iran, where inflation had risen more than 40% and oil exports declined from 2.5 million barrels of crude each day to about 1 million
  5. JCPOA negotiations that followed eventually led to a deal hailed by the United Nations, that had quarterbacked the talks all through

Current scenario

  1. The sanctions that the U.S. now proposes trying to ensure India adheres to have been placed not in order to forge any deal, but because the Trump administration has walked out of the JCPOA
  2. In this, the U.S. has no support from any other country involved in the deal, and the UN has expressed grave misgivings about the decision
  3. The U.S. has given no evidence that Iran in any way violated the terms of the JCPOA — in fact, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s June report concluded that Iran’s stockpile of uranium and heavy water, as well as its implementation of additional protocols, were “in compliance” with the agreement
  4. Unlike in 2012, the U.S.’s EU allies are now working closely with arch rivals like Russia and China to put a “special payments mechanism”, primarily with a view to supporting trade to Tehran to ensure that the Iranian regime does not walk out of the nuclear deal as well
  5. The US  is increasingly being isolated politically, as was evident at the most recent Financial Action Task Force meet in Paris where the U.S. proposed sanctions on Iran for terror funding

Impact on India

  1. There is the shock that sanctions would deal to the oil import bill, given that Iran is India’s third largest supplier
  2. There are not only rising costs of oil to contend with, but also the added cost of having to recalibrate Indian fuel refineries that are used to process Iran’s special crude
  3.  India’s investment in the Chabahar port would face both direct and indirect sanctions: as shippers, port suppliers and trading companies refuse to participate in the project
  4. This problem will only get more acute as sanctions kick in, threatening India’s $500 million investment in the port and its $2 billion plan for a railway line to circumvent Pakistan and reach Afghanistan and Central Asian trade lines
  5. There would be the impact on India’s regional security situation, which could see the Iranian-Arab divide deepen, Afghanistan’s choices dwindle and an angry Iran pitched closer into the China-Russia corner
  6. All of the above outcomes will follow regardless of whether the U.S. gives India a waiver for sanctions or not
  7. Along with the JCPOA-linked sanctions, India continues to face sanctions linked to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which puts more strictures on dealings with Iran, Russia and North Korea

Iran’s possible reaction

  1.  With trade levels receding, the Iranian regime may well lose interest in the Chabahar option, and focus on its main port of Bandar Abbas instead, derailing India’s grander plans for regional connectivity
  2. All of India’s sacrifices may come to naught, as Mr. Trump may well use the pressure placed on Iran to his own advantage, and possibly open talks with Tehran at a later date

India’s affection with the US

  1. Indian officials have made a beeline for Washington to discuss the reasons why India deserves a waiver, from both Iran and CAATSA sanctions
  2. The U.S. has been apprised of India’s energy requirement compulsions, and of the cut of about 35-50% in its oil purchases from Iran
  3. On the CAATSA front, the U.S. has also been assured of a significant reduction in Indian defence dependence on Russia, and that no weapons procured, like the recently purchased S-400 missile system, would be used against American interests
  4. Given the heavy costs and in the complete absence of any benefits, it is surprising that the government has not been more vocal in its protest against the U.S.’s actions

Way forward

  1. If the U.S. presses on with sanctions, it would be a marked failure of Indian diplomacy
  2. And if the waiver does come through, as is indicated, it will be no victory, but signify an abject submission to the sanctions themselves
  3. With no gains in the offing from a policy of ‘pragmatism’, India may have been better off sticking to principle instead
Iran’s Nuclear Program & Western Sanctions

[op-ed snap] Too faint for comfort? on GST collection

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Direct & Indirect Tax

Mains level: Issues related to GST compliance and revenue collections


Context

GST collections on the rise

  1. As the Central government struggles to contain its widening fiscal deficit, there is some good news on the revenue front
  2. Goods and services tax (GST) collections in the month of October crossed the ₹1 lakh crore mark
  3. This momentum, coming in the midst of a marginal increase in the total number of filings compared to September, is expected to be sustained in the coming months, supported by the festive season that is under way

Reasons behind the increase 

  1. The reduction in tax rates under GST in July seems to have helped improve compliance among small businesses, leading to an increase in overall tax collection

Fiscal deficit widening

  1. The government’s fiscal deficit reached 95.3% of its budgeted estimate by the first half of the year
  2. Tax revenues reached only 39.4% of the full-year target by the end of September
  3. Collections during the first six months of the current fiscal year fell short of target by over ₹22,000 crore despite record collections in April

Other issues

  1. The festive season too has failed to meet expectations as of now with many consumer-facing businesses reporting lacklustre sales
  2. Car sales reported by major companies until now, for instance, are flat. Various other economic indicators also have failed to impress in recent months
  3. Core sector growth dropped to a four-month low in September
  4. These growth-related factors will weigh negatively on tax collection in the coming months
  5. The export sector has been affected by undue delays in GST refunds worth thousands of crores of rupees

Way forward

  1. The government should continue the effort to make the GST more taxpayer-friendly, bringing down the cost and hassle of compliance, to achieve a sustained rise in collections
Goods and Services Tax (GST)

[pib] PM launches historic Support and Outreach Initiative for MSME Sector

Note4Students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy | Planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various initiatives for supporting MSME Sector

Mains level: Facilitating MSMEs in India


News

Context

  1. Hon’ble PM has launched a historic support and outreach programme for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.
  2. As part of this programme, the Prime Minister unveiled 12 key initiatives which will help the growth, expansion and facilitation of MSMEs across the country.

Five key aspects for facilitating the MSME sector

  • Access to credit,
  • Access to market
  • Technology upgradation
  • Ease of doing business and
  • Security for employees

Key Initiatives

Access to Credit

  1. 59 minute loan portal
  • Loans upto Rs. 1 crore can be granted in-principle approval through this portal, in just 59 minutes.
  • This portal will be made available through the GST portal.
  • 2 percent interest subvention for all GST registered MSMEs, on fresh or incremental loans.
  1. TReDS compliance
  • All companies with a turnover more than Rs. 500 crore, must now compulsorily be brought on the Trade Receivables e-Discounting System (TReDS).
  • Joining this portal will enable entrepreneurs to access credit from banks, based on their upcoming receivables.
  • This will resolve their problems of cash cycle.

Access to Markets

  1. The public sector companies have now been asked to compulsorily procure 25 percent, instead of 20 percent of their total purchases, from MSMEs.
  2. Out of the 25 percent procurement mandated from MSMEs, 3 percent must now be reserved for women entrepreneurs.
  3. He said transactions worth more than Rs. 14,000 crore have been made so far through GeM (Govt. E Market).
  4. All public sector undertakings of the Union Government must now compulsorily be a part of GeM.

Technology Upgradation

  1. PM announced establishment of tool rooms across the country as they are a vital part of product design.
  2. 20 hubs will be formed across the country, and 100 spokes in the form of tool rooms will be established.

Ease of Doing Business

  1. Clusters will be formed of pharma MSMEs and 70 percent cost of establishing these clusters will be borne by the Union Government.
  2. The announcement focused on simplification of government procedures. The return under 8 labour laws and 10 Union regulations must now be filed only once a year.
  3. As part of establishing a unit, an entrepreneur needs two clearances namely to establish.
  4. The Environmental clearance and consent under air pollution and water pollution laws have been merged as a single consent and self certifications.
  5. For minor violations under the Companies Act, the entrepreneur will no longer have to approach the Courts, but can correct them through simple procedures
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[pib] Promulgation of the Companies Amendment (Ordinance), 2018

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Ordinance

Mains level: Easing norms for minor corporate offences


News

Context

  • The recommendation of the Union Cabinet for promulgation of the Companies Amendment (Ordinance), 2018 has been assented to by the President of India.
  • The Ordinance is promulgated to review offences under the Companies Act, 2013.

Key Amendments

  1. Shifting of the jurisdiction of 16 types of corporate offences from the special courts to in-house adjudication, which is expected to reduce the case load of Special Courts by over 60%, thereby enabling them to concentrate on serious corporate offences.
  2. The penalty has been reduced to half for small companies and one person companies of that applicable to normal companies.
  3. Instituting a transparent and technology driven in-house adjudication mechanism on an online platform and publication of the orders on the website.
  4. Strengthening in-house adjudication mechanism by necessitating a concomitant order for making good the default at the time of levying penalty, to achieve the ultimate aim of achieving better compliance.
  5. Declogging the NCLT by:
  • enlarging the pecuniary jurisdiction of Regional Director  by enhancing the  limit up to Rs. 25 Lakh as against earlier limit of Rs. 5Lakhunder Section 441 of the Act;
  • vesting in the Central Government the power to approve the alteration in the financial year of a company under section 2(41); and
  • vesting the Central Government the power to approve cases of conversion of public companies into private companies

Cabinet clears renaming Jharsuguda aerodrome as Veer Surendra Sai airport

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Freedom Struggle | Various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Veer Surendra Sai

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

Context

  • The Union Cabinet has approved renaming Jharsuguda aerodrome in Odisha as ‘Veer Surendra Sai Airport’.
  • Veer Surendra Sai is a well-known freedom fighter of Odisha.

About Veer Surendra Sai (1809-1884)

  1. Surendra Sai was an Indian freedom fighter and tribal leader who sacrificed his life fighting against the British East India Company.
  2. Surendra Sai and his associates resisted the British and successfully protected most parts of Western Odisha region for some time from the British rule.
  3. By virtue of the Doctrine of Lapse, Lord Dalhousie annexed Sambalpur in 1849 and ignored the claim of Surendra Sai for succession to throne of Sambalpur.
  4. The aim of Surendra Sai’s revolt was to drive the British out of Sambalpur.
  5. The resistance to British continued in Sambalpur under the leadership of Surendra Sai. He was supported by his brothers, sons, relatives and some Zamindars.
  6. His revolution against the British commenced from 1827 when he was only 18 years of age and continued till 1862 when he surrendered and even after that, until he was finally arrested in 1864
History- Important places, persons in news

Seychelles issues world’s 1st ‘Blue Bond’

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Blue Bonds

Mains level: Viability of such Blue Bonds for India


News

Context

  • Seychelles has raised 15 million dollars by offering the world’s first ‘Blue Bond,’ raised from investors to finance ocean-based projects, to expand its marine protected areas and boost its fisheries sector.

World’s First Blue Bond

  1. The blue bond was officially issued on October 9, ahead of the first-ever global conference on the blue economy, which will be held at the end of November in Kenya.
  2. It is partially guaranteed by a USD 5 million guarantee from the World Bank (IBRD) and is further supported by a USD 5 million concessional loan from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which will partially cover interest payments for the bond.
  3. Proceeds from the bond will be utilised for the expansion of marine protected areas, improved governance of priority fisheries and the development of the Seychelles’ blue economy.
  4. Grants will be provided through the Blue Grants Fund and will be managed by the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).

Benefits of the Bond

  1. The Blue Bond is a part of an initiative that combines public and private investment to mobilise resources for empowering local communities and businesses.
  2. It is aimed to assist Seychelles in achieving a transition to sustainable fisheries and safeguarding oceans.
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

US agrees to grant India waiver from Iran oil sanctions: Report

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Changing dynamics of US policies and its impact on India


News

The impending US sanctions

  1. The impending oil sanctions have been a U.S. tool to pressure Iran in the six months since Trump backed out of the 2015 nuclear deal between the Middle East nation.
  2. US argue that Iran didn’t do enough to constrain the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program or curb what the U.S. calls other “malign activity” in the region.

Waiver for controlling Global Oil Prices

  1. The US has agreed to let eight countries – including Japan, India and South Korea – keep buying Iranian oil after it re-imposes sanctions on the OPEC producer.
  2. While the Trump administration’s goal remains to choke off revenue to Iran’s economy, waivers are being granted in exchange for continued import cuts so as not to drive up oil prices.
  3. China – the leading importer of Iranian oil – is still in discussions with the U.S. on terms, but is among the eight.
  4. The other four countries that will get waivers weren’t identified.

Temporary Exemptions

  1. The waivers are only temporary, and the U.S. will expect countries that get them to keep cutting Iranian imports in the months ahead.
  2. The Trump administration has asked that those nations also cut other economic ties with the Persian Gulf state, such as by reducing trade in goods that aren’t covered by the sanctions.
Iran’s Nuclear Program & Western Sanctions