» THE HINDU , PIB CURRENT NEWS ANALYSIS 24 FEB 2018
THE HINDU , PIB CURRENT NEWS ANALYSIS 24 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: 24-02-2018
General Studies-II : Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
Govt. behind delay in posting of HC judges: SC
- The government is inordinately delaying the appointment of judges to High Courts, the Supreme Court observed in a judgment delivered on Friday.
- At a time when judicial vacancies in the 24 High Courts remain at an all-time high, the Supreme Court passed scathing remarks in a 31-page judgment on how the government keeps names forwarded by the judiciary pending for an “unduly long time.” There are a total of 403 judicial vacancies in the High Courts.
- Equally at fault are the High Courts for the present quandary, the verdict by a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said
- . Instead of sending the fresh names to the government for vetting a month prior to an anticipated judicial vacancy, the names are sent late or not sent at all.
- The court was hearing a challenge to the appointment of two retired district judges as Additional Judges of the Rajasthan High Court.
- Their names were recommended by the Rajasthan Chief Justice in February 2016, while they were still in judicial service.
- However, the appointment process took over a year to complete in May 2017, and they had already retired by that time.
General Studies-III : Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Canary in coal mine
- Forty-five years after India nationalised its coal-mining industry, the Central government has allowed the re-entry of commercial mining firms into the sector, turning the clock back.
- India’s coal industry was predominantly driven by the private sector after Independence until the Indira Gandhi government decided to transfer all coal holdings to Coal India through the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973.
- The key reason cited for taking coal out of the private sector’s hands was that it was essential to meet power needs. Now, India’s coal market is a virtual monopoly for the public sector behemoth.
- Coal India accounts for over 80% of the country’s coal supply. Another public sector firm, Singareni Collieries Company, and some captive coal mines allotted to private players for specific end-uses such as in the steel and power industries, account for the rest.
- Opening up commercial mining and sale of coal for private players is an overdue reform.
- India has a high dependence on coal for power generation.
- Despite an aggressive push for renewable and nuclear sources, 70% of electricity generation is through coal-fired thermal plants.
- In recent years there has been a significant surge in imports as Coal India, despite its rich coal-bearing belts and increased output, is unable to keep pace with demand from new power plants.
- To be sure, the NDA government has moved swiftly to fix the mess it inherited from the UPA, especially irregularities in allocation.
- In September 2014, the Supreme Court cancelled the allocation of 204 coal mines to public and private players, after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India found fault with the allocation mechanism.
- An ordinance was brought in quickly and a transparent auction process was evolved for the affected mines, benefiting from lessons learnt from the telecom spectrum allocation mess.
- The intention was to ensure that there are no supply shocks for power producers on account of abrupt disruptions in mining operations.
- Enabling provisions for commercial mining and sale of coal were already included in the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act of 2015; the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has now allowed their operationalisation by clearing the methodology to be followed for auctioning rights.
- The government says the move will boost energy security, making coal affordable and creating jobs.
- To ascertain the quality of outcomes, it will be important to see which blocks are actually offered to private players; they should not just be the mines Coal India isn’t keen on.
- Norms to ensure miners’ safety must be upgraded.
- Lastly, the integrity of the process is key, so that auctions don’t translate into a winners’ curse as has happened in sectors like telecom. The import-dependent energy sector cannot afford it.
General Studies-II : India and its neighborhood- relations.
Leaders break ground on Afghan section of TAPI
- Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India on Friday ceremonially broke ground on the Afghan section of an ambitious, multi-billion dollar gas pipeline expected to help ease energy deficits in South Asia.
- The quartet aims to complete the 1,840 km pipeline and begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh gas field by the beginning of 2020.
- While the pipeline will traverse war-wracked Afghanistan, raising security concerns, the bulk of the 33 billion cubic metres of gas to be pumped annually through the conduit will be purchased by Pakistan and India.
- India’s commitment to the pipeline has previously been questioned over its relationship with Pakistan and easy-access to liquified natural gas markets seen as potential stumbling blocks.
General Studies-II : India and its neighborhood- relations.
Pakistan on watchlist for terror financing
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary on Friday decided to put Pakistan back on the “grey list,” subjecting it to direct monitoring and intense scrutiny by the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) on terror financing, pending further review in June.
- The FATF decision was by consensus, after days of closed-door discussions within the 37-member group, sources said.
- Although the nomination did not find a mention in the formal statement released by the global money laundering/terror-financing watchdog, diplomats and officials privy to the development confirmed it.
- Pakistan had been on the same list from 2012 to 2015.
- The move was pushed by four nominating countries: the United States, U.K., Germany and France.
- In mid-January, they had written to the FATF stating that even though Pakistan had an anti-money laundering/anti-terror funding regime in place, effectiveness of the implementation was inadequate.
- Some countries said Pakistan’s actions only followed recent FATF pressu- re, and it would be counter-productive to let it off the hook just when the pressure was producing results.
- Meanwhile, a public rally by LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa state’s decision to raise funding for Haqqani group-linked seminaries over the week didn’t help Pakistan’s case, said Western diplomats.
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.
U.S. tightens H-1B approval process, IT firms worried
- The U.S on Thursday announced fresh measures to tighten the scrutiny of H-1B visa petitions, mandating fresh documentary requirements for workers at third-party worksites.
- The move will impact Indian IT services providers that place employees with H-1B visas at American companies that contract them, by imposing more paper work and processing hurdles.
- The companies filing H-1B petitions for their employees will have to associate a particular project to the individual visa, which could be approved only for the duration of the project.
- Industry insiders said the scrutiny of this model had been increasingly stringent in recent years, and that the requirements included in Thursday’s announcement represented a further tightening of the screws.
- Vendors that get contracts from American companies often subcontract the job to other companies or hire H-1B employees brought by other companies, creating multilevel structures, a practice that immigration authorities have been monitoring more closely and trying to curb.
- Industry insiders said lower level jobs would be hit harder under the new regulations.
- Indian firms such as Infosys, Wipro and Cognizant rely on H-1B visas to get third-party work done at on-shore sites.
- As per the new policy, companies will have to prove that their H-1B employee at a third-party site has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in a speciality occupation.
- Companies would have to submit evidence of actual work assignments, technical documentation, marketing analysis, funding documents, and cost-benefit analysis.
- Information on specialised duties which the employee will perform, the employees’ qualifications, and who their supervisor is also needs to be filed, according to a statement on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
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