» THE HINDU, PIB CURRENT NEWS ANALYSIS 21 FEB 2018
THE HINDU, PIB CURRENT NEWS ANALYSIS 21 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: 21-02-2018
General Studies-II : Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries Parliament and State Legislatures - structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
SC: spell out stand on MPs’ salary revision
- The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Union government to take a “categorical stand” on establishing an independent body to review the salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament and, possibly, scrap their post-retirement benefits and perks.
- The petition, filed by NGO Lok Prahari, said the pension and perks given to MPs after they demitted office were contrary to Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.
- It said Parliament had no power to provide benefits to lawmakers without making any law. It argued that there were no guidelines for granting allowances.
- The NGO highlighted how a person in his mid-twenties, a one-time MP, was eligible for pension for the rest of his life, and such an expenditure was a drain on the exchequer.
General Studies-II : Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
Mahanadi tribunal gets Central nod
- The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the setting up of a tribunal to settle a row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh on sharing the waters of the Mahanadi river.
- This is in keeping with a Supreme Court order last month directing the Centre to set up a tribunal in response to a plea by the Odisha government to stop the Chhattisgarh government from constructing several weirs on the river.
- The tribunal is expected to determine water sharing among basin States on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, the contribution of each State, the present utilisation of water resource in each State and the potential for future development
- The order on constituting a new tribunal comes even as the government plans to introduce a new bill that would have a single tribunal to replace all existing water tribunals.
- The driving motive for such a tribunal was, according to senior official in the Water Ministry, that tribunals had a decades-long history of being “extremely inefficient” at settling disputes quickly and fairly.
- Were such a Bill to become law, it could affect the composition of the members of various tribunals. Currently, all tribunals are staffed by members of the judiciary, nominated by the Chief Justice.
- The proposed Bill has provisions for members, even a chairperson, outside the judiciary.
General Studies-III : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Coal mining open for private sector
- Opening up commercial coal mining for Indian and foreign companies in the private sector, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Tuesday approved the methodology for auction of coal mines/blocks for sale of the commodity.
- The government described the move as the most ambitious reform of the sector since its nationalisation in 1973.
- Coal accounts for around 70% of the country’s power generation, and the move for energy security through assured coal supply is expected to garner attention from majors including Rio Tinto, BHP, Vedanta, Anglo American, Glencore and Adani Group.
- Till now the private sector was permitted to mine the fossil fuel only for captive use (coal mined could be utilised only in the industry for which the auction/allocation of the block was done, and not for other purposes. Surplus coal needed to be sold to Coal India at the notified price).
- After nationalisation, the state-owned Coal India was the sole entity allowed to sell coal.
- The auction – on an online transparent platform — will be an ascending forward auction whereby the bid parameter will be the price offer in Rs./tonne, which will be paid to the State Government on the actual production of coal.
- There shall be no restriction on the sale and/or utilisation of coal from the mine
- Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said the move will bring efficiency and competition in coal production, attract investments, best-in-class technology, and help create more jobs in the sector.
General Studies-III : Indian Economy
A deeper malady
- Barely days after news of the ₹11,500 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank broke, another but very different scam of a ₹3,695 crore wilful loan default has surfaced.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against three directors of a Kanpur-based company, and others including unknown bank officials, on allegations of cheating a consortium of banks by siphoning off loans disbursed to the company.
- If the two cases must be compared, the similarities lie in the breakdown in internal control mechanisms and in the supervisory failure at the banks.
- In the case of Kanpur-based Rotomac Global, it had availed credit limits from a consortium of seven public sector banks.
- It is especially surprising that it took such a long time for this diversion of funds to surface as a criminal complaint.
- It is one thing for individual bank officials to have been complicit in the commission of frauds as has been claimed in the PNB case but quite another for supervisory cadre and risk detection and management systems to have delayed taking remedial action as they did in the Rotomac case.
- It took too long for the criminal complaints to be filed against the defaulters. On Bank of Baroda’s website Rotomac was listed as its top defaulter almost a year ago; the account had been classified as an NPA in 2015.
- In the case of the Punjab National Bank fraud, letters of undertaking were issued bypassing the bank’s reporting system; the three-tier audit failed to detect the malfeasance.
- In contrast, BoB was not oblivious of the Rotomac default and took unconscionably long to act.
- It is important to determine why the Reserve Bank of India, which is vested with keeping an eye on bank books, was unable to take prompt corrective action in this case.
- Rather than routinely reiterate the importance of strengthening corporate governance in public sector banks and promising to infuse greater professionalism, transparency and accountability, it is time the Centre, the major shareholder in these institutions, takes serious steps to translate this intent into action.
- Any improvement in the functioning of the PSBs cannot be undertaken without empowering bank managements and securing their independence from political interference while enforcing strict accountability for lapses.
- To restore the depositor’s faith in the banking system, the government, the RBI and the judiciary must ensure that prompt and salutary action is taken.
- The economic cost of doing otherwise is too painful to imagine.
General Studies-III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.
‘Gift of nature’ for olive ridleys on Odisha coast
- Sea waves and winds have widened a portion of the beach near Rushikulya rookery on Odisha coast, boosting the prospects of increased mass nesting of the endangered olive ridley turtles this year.
- A sandbar near Podampeta village has been completely eroded and its sand has deposited on the coast. Because of it, a stretch of the beach has widened and its height has also increased.
- This will surely protect several nests and eggs of olive ridleys near the sea from getting destroyed during high tides
- Mass nesting of olive ridleys is expected to start in a day or two as thousands of them have congregated in the sea near the rookery.
- Sporadic nesting of the turtles has already started at this major mass nesting site on the Indian coast.
- Eggs from sporadic nesting sites are being brought to temporary hatcheries of the Forest Department for monitored hatchings.
- All arrangements are in place for the protection of olive ridleys and their eggs during the 45-day-long gestation period.
- The length of temporary fencing has been increased from 3.5 km to over 5 km to include areas where the turtles had nested last year.
- Patrolling in the sea is continuing to check entry of fishing trawlers to the olive ridley congregation zone where mechanised fishing is banned.
General Studies-II : India and its neighborhood- relations.
‘China deploys warships in Indian Ocean’
- A Chinese naval contingent has been deployed in the East Indian Ocean for more than a week at a time when the Maldives is undergoing a political crisis, a Chinese website has reported.
- The website, sina.com.cn, has linked the deployment of the warships, including an amphibious vessel that can transfer troops from sea to land, to the evolving situation in the Maldives.
- China had earlier warned against external intervention in the Maldives after the country’s exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed called for New Delhi’s intervention to release political prisoners.
- The entry of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean marks a significant shift in regional power.
- Sending warships to operate off the Maldives is a new and concerning development, because it shows that China is trying to exercise influence over a small state more usually within India’s strategic view.
- New Delhi will read this as a worrying move. It will intensify strategic competition and increase mistrust between China and India
- Meanwhile, Indian defence sources said no movement of Chinese ships was detected near the Maldivian waters. “The closest the Chinese ships came near Maldives was about 2,500 nautical miles away,” a defence source said on Tuesday.
Maldives on a collision course with India
- The Maldives looked set for a collision course with India on Tuesday, as the Majlis (Parliament) cleared an extension of the current state of emergency by 30 days, defying India’s expectation conveyed hours earlier.
- While India is yet to indicate its strategy in responding to the ongoing political and constitutional crisis in its neighbourhood, New Delhi on Tuesday reiterated its earlier position and urged the Maldives to implement the SC ruling.
General Studies-II : India and its neighborhood- relations.
‘China holding talks with Baloch militants’
- China has been quietly holding talks with Baloch militants in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province for over five years to protect its $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative, according to a media report.
- China had been in direct contact with militants in the southwestern province, where many of the scheme’s most important projects are located
- For more than half a century, Beijing has maintained a policy of non-interference in the domestic politics of other countries.
- But that has been tested by its desire to protect the billions of dollars it is investing around the world under its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’.
- “China’s willingness to get involved in Pakistani politics has fuelled concerns in New Delhi, which is worried about China’s growing political influence in neighbouring countries, including Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka,” the report said.
- The recent decision by the U.S. to suspend security assistance to Pakistan had convinced many in Islamabad that Beijing was a more genuine partner.
Other Issues in News:
In Sri Lanka, this tribe speaks Telugu
- The Telugu diaspora is a large and vibrant community found in almost every country where there are Indian-origin populations. But they are migrants.
- So when an indigenous, Telugu-speaking tribe believed to have been around for centuries outside India — in Sri Lanka, to be precise — was identified, it attracted the attention of researchers
- The Ahikuntaka (Telugu tribe) had been living on the island for many centuries but its population was on the decline
- Available information suggests that the members were snake-charmers, and faced untouchability
Indian H-4 entrepreneurs in limbo as the U.S. rethinks visa rules
- H-4 visa, meant for dependents of H-1B visa-holders, to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.
- H-1B visa regulations require its holders to earn a salary.
- It was a 2015 executive action by the administration of President Barack Obama that allowed these people to leave jobs and become job-creators in America.
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