» THE HINDU , PIB CURRENT NEWS ANALYSIS 5 FEB 2018
THE HINDU , PIB CURRENT NEWS ANALYSIS 5 FEB 2018
Note: The following Current affairs has been selected from AIR, PIB, PRS, BBC, The Hindu, IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Live mint, Indian Express, Quora.com, Hindustan Times, Telegraph, The Times , WTO, New Indian express , The Guardian and is highly recommended for UPSC Prelims and Mains Examination
News Analysis: 05-02-2018
General Studies-I : Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Pre-Christian era artefacts unearthed in Odisha
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered pottery pieces, and tools made of stones and bones believed to be of the pre-Christian era from a mound in Jalalpur village of Cuttack district.
- Discoveries of ancient artefacts indicated that a rural settlement might have thrived in that period.
- What is important in these latest discoveries is that we have found continuity in the progress of rural culture from a pre-historic era
- Excavation carried out in 12 acres of land in the Jalalpur village has unearthed remnants of axe, adze, celts and thumbnail scrappers chiselled from stones, harpoons, point and stylus made of bones and potteries with marks of paintings.
- The ASI teams have also come across a couple of circular wattle and daub structures, which were predominantly used by people to take shelter during the pre-Christian era, in 12 trenches being dug simultaneously.
- Rich materials found from excavation sites indicate that the people had a subsistence economy and they largely relied on agriculture, fishing and hunting.
- ASI researchers assumed that the bones found on the site belonged to deer species and bovidae.
- Discovery of tortoise shell, dolphin and shark teeth and fish bones indicated that the settlement could have been closer to the sea coast. Some rice grains have also been detected.
- Further excavation is expected to throw light on whether there was cultural link with other settlements, what happened to settlements established around the Prachi river, and how it declined
General Studies-I : Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
Alam Beg, martyr of Sepoy Mutiny, wants to return home
- Headhunting is usually associated with primitive tribes and contemporary terrorists, but the colonial rulers of India also collected heads of Indian soldiers as war trophies.
- A 160-year-old skull of sepoy Alam Beg, now in the possession of a historian in London, is proof that colonial rulers who brought many modern practices to India were also at times inhuman.
- In 1857, Alam Beg, also known as Alum Bheg, was a soldier with the 46th Bengal Native Infantry, an arm of the East India Company.
- The Mutiny that year, after having covered the north Indian heartland, spread to Sialkot (now in Pakistan), where Alam Beg and his companions tried to follow their fellow soldiers and attacked the Europeans posted there.
- On July 9, 1857, they killed seven Europeans, including an entire Scottish family.
- Alam Beg’s tragic story surfaced more than a century later thanks to an Irish captain Arthur Robert George Costello, who was present at his execution.
- The Mutiny of 1857 was crushed mercilessly and many gruesome incidents of that era find mention in official records.
- In 2014, around the time when Mr. Wagner began writing his book on Alam Beg, Ajnala in Punjab’s Amritsar hit the headlines when authorities discovered skeletons of 282 soldiers who were executed after the Mutiny.
- They apparently had surrendered hoping for a fair trial, but the Deputy Commissioner of the district Frederick Henry Cooper ordered their execution.
- They were buried with medals and even money of the East India Company that many of them had in their pockets.
- The grisly discovery is yet to receive closure as the family members of those soldiers remain untraced.
General Studies-II : 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.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stressed in his Budget speech last week that “to care for those who cared for us is one of the highest honours”, underscoring the importance the Centre attaches to providing economic support for India’s growing population of senior citizens.
- He announced several tax and related incentives to ease the financial burden on people aged 60 and above, all of which are very welcome given that the elderly face steeply escalating health-care costs on declining real interest and pension incomes.
- From affording a five-fold increase in the exemption limit on interest income from savings, fixed and recurring deposits held with banks and post offices to ₹50,000, and doing away with the requirement for tax to be deducted at source on such income, the Budget offers much-needed relief.
- This it does by leaving a little more money in the hands of elderly savers who are heavily dependent on interest income to meet their living expenses.
- Another useful tax change is the proposal to raise the annual income tax deduction limit for health insurance premium and/or medical reimbursement to ₹50,000 for all seniors.
- And a crucially allied step is the move to set the ceiling for deduction in lieu of expenses incurred on certain critical illnesses to ₹1 lakh, irrespective of the age of the senior citizen.
- Mr. Jaitley also proposed extending the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana by two years, up to March 2020, and doubled the cap on investment in the scheme to ₹15 lakh.
- This annuity-cum-insurance scheme entitles the senior citizen policyholder to a guaranteed pension that equates to an annual return of 8% on investment.
- This pension plan, unlike the entirely government-funded Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme for the elderly who live below the poverty line, is contributory and is run by the Life Insurance Corporation of India.
More needs to be done:
- While all these Budget measures are laudable insofar as they recognise that the right to a life with dignity doesn’t retire with the crossing of a chronological threshold, much more needs to be done to address the needs of this rapidly growing demographic cohort.
- With more than 70% of the 104 million elderly living in the rural hinterland, any serious initiative to improve the lot of senior citizens must incorporate adequate budgetary support for social welfare spending on the relevant programmes.
- While the Budget provisions ₹6,565 crore for the pension scheme for the elderly poor, its outlay for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s assistance to voluntary organisations for programmes relating to the ‘aged’ at ₹60 crore is starkly inadequate.
- With the number of the elderly in India set to surge by 2050 to almost 300 million, or about a fifth of the population, governments need to make more comprehensive efforts to address the nation’s greying demographic.
General Studies-III : Indian Economy
SEBI gets teeth to act against exchanges, new market outfits
- As part of the proposed amendments in the Finance Bill 2018, the government has given more power to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to impose monetary penalties on important market intermediaries such as stock exchanges and clearing corporations and also act against newer categories of participants likes investment advisers, research analysts, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs).
- The proposed amendments to the SEBI Act and the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act now allow the capital markets regulator to impose a monetary penalty of at least ₹5 crore on stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depositories for non-compliance with regulatory norms.
- The penalty can go up to ₹25 crore or three times the amount of gains made out of such failure or non-compliance. Hitherto, SEBI only had the power to censure or warn against any form of failure.
- Incidentally, the new powers come at a time when the National Stock Exchange is under the SEBI scanner in the co-location matter, with regard to which it has been alleged that a certain set of brokers were given preferential access allowing them to make undue gains.
- The amendments also allow SEBI to act against entities that furnish false or incomplete information to the regulator. Earlier, it could act only if the entity did not furnish any information.
- This is not the first time that the government has used the Union Budget to empower the capital market regulator.
- While presenting the Budget for 2015-16, finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed the merger of the then commodity market regulator Forward Markets Commission with SEBI. This followed the ₹5,600 crore settlement scam at the National Spot Exchange Ltd., which came out in the open in July 2013.
- India is giving exposure to a lot of hybrid funds such as AIF, InvIT and REITs. Though there were applicable laws for their incorporation, management and functioning, there was a need felt to impose deterrents. In the long run, it is expected that more investors will be investing in such funds and will have investment exposure. Hence such a deterrent is necessary,
- Incidentally, REITs and InvITs along with research analysts and investment advisers, will have to be more careful now as the Finance Bill allows SEBI to impose a penalty of up to ₹1 lakh per day for the period of non-compliance.
- Interestingly, the government has also allowed the regulator to pursue cases against the legal representatives of defaulters if in case a defaulter passes away during the course of regulatory proceedings.
General Studies-III : Indian Economy
Easier norms may help Indian firms go global
- The proposed Outward Direct Investment (ODI) policy may contain provisions to make it easy for many Indian firms, envisioning ambitious plans to transform themselves into multi-national companies (MNC), to go global and expand.
- Approval requirements and other norms would be simplified in a manner that would encourage ‘internationalisation’ of Indian companies.
- The ODI policy was expected to tighten regulations to prevent round-tripping structures, where funds are routed by India-based companies into a newly formed or existing overseas subsidiary and then brought back to India to circumvent regulations here.
- Indian firms invest in foreign shores primarily through mergers and acquisition (M&A) transactions.
- With rising M&A activity, companies will get direct access to newer and more extensive markets, and better technologies, which would enable them to increase their customer base and achieve a global reach
- As per Finance Ministry data, India’s ODI rose 56.1% year-on-year from $6.8 billion in 2014-15 to $10.6 billion in 2015-16, and further up by 39.37% to $14.8 billion in 2016-17.
- Top ten ODI destination countries in FY’15, FY’16 and FY’17 included Mauritius, Singapore, the U.S., the UAE, the Netherlands, the U.K, Switzerland, Russia, Jersey and British Virgin Islands. Cumulatively, these nations were the beneficiaries of 84% or more of India’s ODI during each of those financial years.
- The IBEF said ODI is being channelled into Mauritius, Singapore, British Virgin Islands, and the Netherlands mainly because these countries provide higher tax benefits.
- Interestingly, this composition of ODI destination countries more or less mirrored the top sources of foreign direct investment inflows into India in the same period including, Mauritius, Singapore, Japan, the U.S., U.K., the UAE, the Netherlands, Germany, Cyprus and France.
General Studies-III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.
Odisha ready to welcome olive ridleys
- Fencing along the sea coast to protect the olive ridley turtles during their mass nesting at the Rushikulya rookery in Odisha is being increased by two more kilometres this year.
- According to wildlife experts, mass nesting of olive ridleys is expected to start in a week or ten days at this major nesting site.
- Thousands of mother olive ridleys are now waiting at sea within two kilometres from the coastline between Gokharkuda and Podampeta villages of Ganjam district
- The mating season of the endangered marine turtles in the sea near the Rushikulya rookery coast that started in November is now over.
- Most male olive ridleys have returned to their original habitat thousands of kilometres away, while the females have stayed back to nest at the sandy coast. The pregnant olive ridleys are coming closer by the day to their nesting coast at the Ruhsikulya rookery.
- Every year, a 3.5-kilometre-long stretch of the beach from Gokharkuda to Podampeta used to be fenced to stop predators from harming the olive ridleys during nesting and the eggs in their nests.
- This temporary fencing also checks olive ridleys and their hatchlings from straying towards land.
- The forest department has established four camps at Purunabandh, Gokharkuda, Podampeta and Bateswar. These camps will monitor the nesting process round-the-clock.
- Patrolling at sea is continuing to check the entry of fishing trawlers to the olive ridley congregation zone.
- The forest department has decided to streamline and regulate tourist flow to the nesting coast during the nesting season.
- Tourists will be allowed to reach only demarcated regions of the coast through Podampeta and Gokharkuda villages so that human intervention does not affect the nesting process in any way.
General Studies-II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.
Indian-origin people stage pro-Trump march
- At least 800 Indian-origin people participated in a march outside the White House on Saturday, raising slogans in support of U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal to implement a “merit-based” immigration system, and demanding discontinuation of country quotas for green card approvals.
- Indian applicants are at a disadvantage under the current approval system that limits the number of green cards issued to individual countries at 9,800, while more than 50,000 of them newly join the queue each year.
- The Trump administration has not indicated its views on this issue, but marchers said its preference for “merit-based” immigration would tilt the balance in their favour.
- Mr. Trump’s proposal to end family unification immigration would open up more space for Indian skilled workers.
- Nearly half of the one million green cards issued every year goes to close relatives of American citizens, regardless of their skills.
- The immediate immigration question in the U.S. is about undocumented residents who were brought to the country illegally when they were children, a cohort called “dreamers”.
- An amnesty provided to them under an Obama-era executive action will end in March if new legislative action is not taken.
- The administration has offered a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented residents if the Democrats agree to tougher restrictions on legal immigration and enforcement. The marchers supported this policy.
General Studies-II : India and its neighborhood- relations.
Maldivian govt. remains defiant amid political crisis
Crisis in Male
- Matters are coming to a head in the Maldives, with President Abdulla Yameen’s government pitted against the judiciary, polity and sections of the bureaucracy.
- The Attorney General has now announced that only the Constitution matters, not “illegal orders” from the court.
- In short, the Maldives is in the midst of a constitutional crisis.
- Calling fresh elections, which are in any case due later this year, may be the best way out.
- Amidst the turmoil, India has joined the U.S., the European Union and several other countries in calling for Mr. Yameen to carry out the Supreme Court’s order. New Delhi said in a statement that it is monitoring the situation in Male “closely”.
- But currently, Delhi’s leverage in the Maldives is less than it has ever been.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to cancel his visit to Male three years ago, has singled Maldives out as the only country in the South Asian and Indian Ocean Region that he hasn’t visited.
- Given that the Maldives has pulled out of the Commonwealth, and there is little semblance of a SAARC process at present, India’s influence in Male is further limited.
- It will require concerted action from the international community to persuade Mr. Yameen to steer the Maldives out of this crisis, without taking recourse to coercive means.
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