Monthly Magazine October 2018
Source - The Hindu ,PIB,PRS
General Studies-I Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
1. Study throws light on megalithic site
A reappraisal of a megalithic site done by a research group of Yogi Vemana University of Kadapa at Morlabanda in Anantapur district has noticed 18 dolmenoid cists (burial places) surrounded by slab circles on a big granite hill also locally called ‘Panduvaraguddum’.
This megalithic site was recorded about two decades ago, but remained unattended and no detailed study was done on it.
The top of the hill has innumerable traces of megalithic habitational settlements as well as burials.
There is a perennial spring from a natural water cistern which he believes might have provided water to those living in that area.
General Studies-I Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
1.Cyclone Titli to make landfall in Odisha today
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said cyclone Titli, that originated in the Bay of Bengal, became a “very severe cyclonic storm” on Wednesday and was likely to make landfall, gusting at about 145-165 kmph in Odisha, on Thursday.
An IMD scientist said that 20-30% of tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal were recurving instead of moving northwards and westwards, they took a turn eastwards.
How are cyclones named?
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) started the tropical cyclone naming system in 2000.
The Cyclones worldwide are named by 9 regions — North Atlantic, Eastern North Pacific, Central North Pacific, Western North Pacific, North Indian Ocean, South West Indian Ocean, Australian, Southern Pacific, South Atlantic.
Cyclones in the North Indian Ocean basin are named by the Indian Meteorological Department
Eight north Indian Ocean countries — Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, gave eight names each which was combined into a list of 64 names. One name from each country is picked in an order to name the cyclones.
Why are they named?
Tropical cyclones are named to provide ease of communication between forecasters and the general public regarding forecasts, watches, and warnings.
General Studies-II Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
1.Patel saved India from Balkanisation PM
In an article sent to several newspapers on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, describing him as a great unifier and the maker of modern India.
He said every decision of his government was being taken to ensure that the fruits of development reached the most vulnerable, without any corruption or favouritism, just as Sardar Patel would have wanted.
The ‘Statue of Unity’ [of Patel] is a symbol of both the unity of hearts and the geographical integrity of our motherland.
It is a reminder that, divided, we may not be even able to face ourselves. United, we can face the world and scale new heights of growth and glory
Situated on the banks of Narmada, the statue is the world’s tallest.
As Independent India’s first Home Minister, Sardar Patel set the stage for an administrative framework that continues to serve the nation, particularly the poor and the marginalised.
The Prime Minister said Sardar Patel had also popularised the idea of cooperative housing societies.
General Studies-II Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
1.SC bans sale of BS-IV vehicles from 2020
The Supreme Court on Wednesday banned the sale and registration of motor vehicles conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage-IV in the entire country from April 1, 2020.
It said pollution has reached an “alarming and critical” level all over India
The country will have to shift to the cleaner Bharat- VI fuel from April 1, 2020.
Bharat Stage (BS) emission norms are standards instituted by the government to regulate output of air pollutants from motor vehicles.
The BS-IV norms have been enforced across the country since April 2017. In 2016, the Centre had announced that the country would skip the BS-V norms altogether and adopt BS-VI norms by 2020.
The apex court said there cannot be any compromise on the health of citizens and this has to take precedence over the “greed” of a few automobile manufacturers who want to stretch the timeline.
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.
1.Beautiful Kulgod is the best village
PIN Code 591310 is the most developed village in the country under the Antyodaya scheme of the Centre.
On Wednesday, Kulgod in Karnataka’s district got ready to celebrate its special status as the results of the village ranking came in. Its score 94 out of 100
There are signs of prosperity a well-equipped gram panchayat office, branches of two nationalised banks, a co-op bank, a BSNL centre, a government primary school, three private high schools, an electricity customer care centre, a PHC, a veterinary hospital, and an ATM. With a population of 7,000 people, it has 5,200 voters.
The economy is aided by agriculture, and nearly 90% of the area is irrigated by the Ghataprabha right bank canal and the Rameshwar lift irrigation project. There is a frequent bus service. Beyond Class X, girls take a bus to the government college at Koujalagi, 6 km away.
The Rural Development Ministry has done a gap analysis of more than 3.5 lakh villages, in more than 1.6 lakh panchayats under the Mission Antyodaya convergence scheme.
A team of officials surveyed and scored village level facilities and amenities using parameters related to infrastructure, economic development and livelihood, irrigation facilities, health, nutrition and sanitation, women’s empowerment, and financial inclusion.
The survey also shows only 21% of villages having a community waste disposal system.
About a quarter of all villages have more than 75% of households using clean energy, such as LPG or biogas.
2.Looking back at Verma report
The Centre has planned to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces.
However, in 2013, the J.S. Verma Committee had recommended the setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee, in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill
The Centre recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.
However, as early as 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, in its landmark report on gender laws, had recommended setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee (ICC) in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill.
The panel was formed in the aftermath of the December 16 Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012 and the ensuing nationwide protests, and submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
At that time of the submission of the report, the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill had already been passed by the Lok Sabha and was awaiting the Rajya Sabha's nod. The Bill was passed unchanged by the Upper House a month later.
The Committee, chaired by Justice Verma and including Justice Leila Seth and senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium, termed the Sexual Harassment Bill “unsatisfactory” and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
The report noted that an internal complaints committee as laid down under the then proposed law would be “counter-productive” as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints.
Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Justice Verma Commitee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
The Committee said any “unwelcome behaviour” should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable if he or she facilitated sexual harassment, permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic, where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint as well as fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal.
The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant
The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints.
For instance, it opposed penalising women for false complaints and called it an “abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law”.
The Verman panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.
3.POCSO Act no time bar to report crimes
Survivors of child sexual abuse can file a police complaint after they become adults. The government clarified on Tuesday that there is no time bar on reporting such crimes.
The Law Ministry concurred with the opinion of the Ministry of Women and Child Development that unlike the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012, does not lay down a time limit for reporting crimes covered under it.
Section 19 of the POCSO Act, which deals with sexual crimes against children, lays down the procedure for reporting a crime but doesn’t specify a time limit or statute of limitation for reporting it.
Whereas the CrPC lays down different time-limits for crimes which carry punishment of up to three years, there is no time bar for crimes that would attract a jail term of more than three years.
This is an important step for survivors of child abuse, who may try to file a complaint as adults but are turned away at police stations.
Often, children are unable to report such crimes as the perpetrator in most cases is either a family member, a relative or closely known person. Studies have also shown that the child continues to carry the trauma of sexual abuse till very late in life.
In order to overcome this trauma many grown up people have started coming out to report the abuse faced by them as children.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act(POCSO), Act 2012, came into force on 14.11.2012. It is a gender neutral Actwhichhas been enacted to strengthen the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
General Studies-II Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
1.Govt. reviews measures taken to curb fake news
Various social media platforms to review the steps taken by them to prevent misuse of their sites.
He asked them to check spread of rumours and messages inciting unrest, cybercrimes and other activities that could be detrimental to national security, officials said on Thursday.
From May to June, more than 20 people were lynched based on fake posts or rumours floating on various social media platforms.
Mr. Gauba asked the representatives to nominate India-based grievance redressal officers and to develop a monitoring mechanism for time-bound preventive and other actions for removal of objectionable contents.
The social media platforms were also asked to put in place a system for prompt sharing of information sought by the law enforcement agencies for investigation purposes.
Those who attended the meeting, which took place on Wednesday, included representatives of Facebook, Google, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram. Officials from the Department of Telecom and various security agencies were also present.
The representatives briefed the government officials about actions taken by them to ensure blocking of websites and for removal of objectionable and malicious contents from public view.
All social media platforms assured the government of full cooperation.
2.Assam to block rally for Citizenship Bill
The Assam government has said it would not allow a proposed rally of 27 Bengali organisations in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Highlights of the Bill
The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.
The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
Key Issues and Analysis
The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality.
The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences (eg. parking in a no parking zone).
3.Govt. notifies rules on granting citizenship
The Union Home Ministry has empowered the Collectors of certain districts in seven States to accept online applications to grant citizenship to “persecuted minorities” from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India.
A parliamentary committee has been examining the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to grant citizenship to six persecuted minorities Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists who came to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2014.
As the Bill is pending, the Home Ministry gave powers to the Collectors in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to grant citizenship and naturalisation certificates to the migrants under Sections 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. No such power has been delegated to Assam officials.
Under the new rules, notified on October 24, the migrants can apply online, and the verification reports or the security clearance reports of the applicants shall be made available to the Centre through an online portal.
Citizenship will be granted after the verification reports are received from the States and the Centre.
4.Electronics policy moots rejig of sops
The government on Wednesday released a draft National Electronics Policy under which it is targeting a turnover of $400 billion for the electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM) sector.
The policy also suggests replacing the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) with ones that are easier to implement such as Interest subsidy and credit default guarantee to encourage new units and expansion of existing units in electronics manufacturing sector.
It also recommends providing suitable direct tax benefits, including investment-linked deduction, for setting up of a manufacturing unit or expansion of an existing unit.
The draft policy also pitches for support for infrastructure development through formulation of a new scheme or suitable modifications in the existing Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC) Scheme, for supporting both greenfield and brownfield manufacturing clusters.
It also talks about establishing standards setting body in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to develop standards for electronics, IT, e-governance, among others.
M-SIPS was launched in 2012. The scheme provides for capital subsidy of 25% for electronics industry located in non-special economic zone (SEZ) area and 20% for those in SEZ areas.
As on September 30, 2018, 265 applications with proposed investment of ₹61,925 crore have been received under M-SIPS, out of which 188 applications with proposed investment of ₹40,922 crore have been approved.
So far, investment worth ₹8,335 crore has been made by 139 applicants. EMC scheme was also launched in 2012 to provide quality infrastructure within a cluster.
Under the scheme, 50% of the project cost for greenfield EMC and 75% for brownfield EMC is given by the Ministry as grant.
5.Government to set up skill development centres
The Centre has decided to set up skill development institutes on government land, in partnership with private players, across the country. The Union Cabinet approved the scheme on Wednesday, according to an official statement.
The public-private partnership model will be adopted to set up the institutes — to be called the Indian Institutes of Skills — at select locations, based on demand and available infrastructure.
The institutes are expected to help boost the global competitiveness of key industry sectors by providing high-quality skill training, applied research education and a direct and meaningful connection with the industry.
It will also provide opportunity to aspiring youth across the country to have access to highly skilled training, and enhance the scope of accountability through its linkage with industry and global competitiveness across sectors
6.Nod for panel on sustainable development goals
The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the setting up of a high-level steering committee chaired by the Chief Statistician of India and Secretary to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to review if India was on track to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The panel would decide if there was a need to “refine” indicators by reviewing the National Indicator Framework periodically.
The SDGs are a list of 17 goals, including elimination of poverty, ending hunger, ensuring provision of quality education, clean water and sanitation, that countries must achieve by 2030.
The committee would recommend measures to “mainstream” SDGs into ongoing national policies, programmes and strategic action plans to address the developmental challenges.
7.Cabinet approves Productivity Linked Bonus for Railway Employees
Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) equivalent to 78 days’ wages for the financial year 2017-18 for all eligible non-gazetted Railway employees
About 11.91 lakh non-gazetted Railway employees are likely to benefit from the decision
Payment of 78 days’ PLB to railway employees has been estimated to be Rs. 2044.31 crore
The Productivity Linked Bonus on Railway covers all non-gazetted railway employees (excluding RPF/RPSF personnel) who are spread over the entire country.
Railways were the first departmental undertaking of the Government of India wherein the concept of PLB was introduced in the year 1979-80.
The main consideration at that time was the important role of the Railways as an infrastructural support in the performance of the economy as a whole.
General Studies-II Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Decentralised sludge management systems are vital to achieve clean water goals
Bad sanitation is India’s worst-kept secret, but recent data from Uttar Pradesh show that in spite of working in mission mode to expand sanitation, 87% of faecal sludge expelled from toilets in urban areas is untreated.
Viewed against the 2030 goal to achieve clean water and sanitation for all under the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, this depressing statistic shows how much work remains to be done.
State support for improved housing and planned development has never been strong, and the National Urban Sanitation Policy of 2008 has not changed that significantly.
At the national scale, a United Nations report of 2015 estimates that 65,000 tonnes of untreated faeces is introduced into the environment in India annually.
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan promised a major shift, but it has focussed more on the basic requirement of household and community toilets in rural and urban areas.
The study in U.P. conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment has now exposed broken links, of faecal sludge and septage being collected from household tanks and simply discharged into drains, open land and wetlands.
The problem of the waste not being contained, collected without manual labour, transported and treated safely is becoming graver.
It is now time for a new approach. This has to be decentralised and different from the strategy being used to clean the Ganga, for which the NDA government announced an outlay of ₹20,000 crore in 2015.
That strategy relies on large sewage treatment plants for riverside cities and towns.
Immediate investments in decentralised sludge management systems would bring twin benefits of improving the environment and reducing the disease burden imposed by insanitary conditions.
It is welcome that the CSE study is being followed up with a mapping exercise on the flow of faecal waste streams in individual cities.
The results for Varanasi, Allahabad and Aligarh in particular should be revealing, since the collection efficiency for sludge in these cities ranges from just 10% to 30%.
One immediate intervention needed is the creation of an inter-departmental task force to identify land to build small treatment systems for sludge, and to provide easily accessible solutions to houses that are currently discharging waste into open drains.
The business of emptying faecal material using tanker trucks needs to be professionalised and de-stigmatised.
It is untenable that manual scavengers continue to be employed in violation of the law to clean septic tanks in some places, and caste factors play out in the recruitment of workers even in the mechanised operations.
All aspects of the business of sanitation need reform if India is to meet Goal Number 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals with egalitarian policies.
A large State such as Uttar Pradesh provides the opportunity to demonstrate commitment to policy. Success here can transform lives
2.1 in 5 Indian children ‘wasted’, says GHI
At least one in five Indian children under the age of five are ‘wasted,’ which means they have extremely low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition, according to the Global Hunger Index 2018.
The only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn nation of South Sudan, says the report, which was released on Thursday.
Overall, India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Index, with hunger levels in the country categorised as “serious”.
India’s ranking has dropped three places from last year, although the Index says its results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides a few reference years for comparable data. The 2018 scores reflect data from 2013-2017.
Four main indicators are used to calculate hunger levels in the report, which is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
The first indicator is undernourishment, which is the share of the population which is undernourished and reflects insufficient caloric intake.
The next three indicators use data for children under five child wasting (low weight for height), reflecting acute under-nutrition; child stunting (low height for age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition; and child mortality.
India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years. The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018.
The child mortality rate has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4% over the same period.
However, the prevalence of child wasting has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years. It stood at 17.1% in 2000, and increased to 20% in 2005. In 2018, it stands at 21%. South Sudan’s child wasting prevalence is at 28%.
Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical public health emergency”, according to UN organisations.
The report notes that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months, suggesting that attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important.
Also, child wasting in the region is associated with a low maternal body mass index, suggesting the need for a focus on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy.
3. Monitoring of Zika Virus Disease cases in Rajasthan
Few cases of Zika virus disease have been reported in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The present outbreak in Jaipur, Rajasthan was detected through the ICMR surveillance system.
Zika virus disease is an emerging disease currently being reported by 86 countries worldwide.
Symptoms of Zika virus disease are similar to other viral infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.
A proper awareness campaign is vital to contain the Zika outbreak in Jaipur
With 80 laboratory-confirmed cases of the Zika virus already in Jaipur, including 22 pregnant women, the latest outbreak is India’s most severe so far.
In January 2017, three confirmed cases of Zika were reported from Ahmedabad, including a pregnant woman, and in July the same year a single case was reported from Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district.
Unlike in the case of the Ahmedabad outbreak that was kept under wraps by the Health Ministry (even the World Health Organization was informed only in May), there has been more transparency in the last two instances.
About 4.5 lakh people at the outbreak site in Rajasthan have been brought under surveillance.
While steps to halt mosquito breeding have been initiated, it is to be noted that controlling the breeding of the Aedesaegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, is very challenging.
Controlling the spread becomes even harder as the mosquito is widely prevalent in India, and the infection remains asymptomatic in about 80% of cases, allowing the virus to silently spread from one person to another.
It can also spread from a pregnant mother to the foetus.
Even when the infection manifests itself, the symptoms are very mild and non-specific, making it difficult to correctly and easily diagnose it.
A study published in the journal Neurology India found 14 of 90 patients with the Guillain–Barré syndrome (a neurological complication seen in Zika-infected adults) in the Puducherry-based Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research tested positive for Zika virus antibodies.
Four of the 14 patients also tested positive for an anti-dengue antibody. There is a remote possibility that the virus is circulating in some parts of India and could cause an epidemic at some point.
It is not clear if the first person (index case) or others who had contracted the infection had travelled to any country where there is a Zika infection risk.
The absence of travel history outside India in the recent past by any of the infected individuals indicates the virus is prevalent in the mosquito population.
Spread through sex, without multiple instances of infection by mosquitoes is unlikely, given the spurt in the number of cases within a narrow time window in a small community.
Since Zika infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, particularly microcephaly (small size of the head), all the 22 pregnant women infected must be monitored.
Also, as there is no cure for microcephaly at birth, there should be campaigns to educate people living in the outbreak area to avoid sex, particularly with the intent of getting pregnant, till the outbreak is under control.
The long winter ahead in north India and the imminent onset of the northeast monsoon in the eastern coast of India is conducive for the mosquito to multiply and spread. This calls for a high level of alert.
4.Mobile Health app for citizens of India Launched by IAF on Air Force Day
On the occasion of 86th anniversary, the Indian Air Force has launched an innovative mobile health App named ‘MedWatch’ in keeping with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Digital India, Ayushman Bharat and Mission Indradhanush’.
The app is conceived by the doctors of IAF and developed in house by Directorate of Information Technology (DIT) with ZERO financial outlay.
‘MedWatch’ will provide correct, Scientific and authentic health information to airwarriors and all citizens of India.
The app is available on www.apps.mgov.gov.in and comprises of host of features like information on basic First Aid, Health topics and Nutritional Facts; reminders for timely Medical Review, Vaccination and utility tools like Health Record Card, BMI calculator, helpline numbers and web links.
MedWatch’ is the first mobile health app in the three Armed Services and was launched by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa PVSM AVSM YSM VM ADC, Chief of the Air Staff, on Air Force Day,’ at New Delhi on 08 Oct 18.
The MedWatch mobile health app is an Indian Air Force initiative and a small contribution to our citizen.
5.NITI Aayog to launch Guidelines for PPP in Treatment of non-communicable diseases
Model Concessionaire Agreement (MCA) prepared in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
The contribution of non-communicable diseases (NCD) to the overall disease burden in the country has increased over the years.
In the past many district hospitals in the country have focused mainly on communicable diseases and reproductive and child health.
As a result of which the capacity for handling NCD cases has not been adequately developed.
The NITI Aayog and MoHFW has worked with State Govts. and representatives from the healthcare industry to develop the Model Concessionaire Agreements (MCA) to supplement efforts for the provision of prevention and treatment services for non-communicable diseases (Cardiac Sciences, Oncology, and Pulmonary Sciences) at the district hospital particularly especially in tier 2 & 3 cities
6.A govt. app to rope in volunteers
Professionals keen on doing volunteer work in their free time will be provided a platform by the government through an app, #Self4Society, developed by MyGov.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the app at a townhall-style event here on October 24.
Sources who helped develop the app say it was the result of the conversations between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several corporate leaders who had said their employees wanted to do volunteer work but did not have any guidance.
The volunteer time for the government’s flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat is expected to increase.
The app will have incentives, gamification and intra- and inter-company competitions, and social networking. At first, this will be aimed at IT companies, with more joining in when it takes off,
A lot of companies run volunteering initiatives. This platform will help to create better synergies among so many initiatives and lead to a much better outcome of the efforts of professionals.
Companies have observed that a spirit of service and volunteering improves employee satisfaction and reduces employee attrition
India needs to strengthen and implement regulations on antibiotic misuse
Even as antibiotics lose their efficacy against deadly infectious diseases worldwide, it seems to be business as usual for governments, private corporations and individuals who have the power to stall a post-antibiotic apocalypse.
In a recent investigation, it was found that the world’s largest veterinary drug-maker, Zoetis, was selling antibiotics as growth promoters to poultry farmers in India, even though it had stopped the practice in the U.S. India is yet to regulate antibiotic-use in poultry, while the U.S. banned the use of antibiotics as growth-promoters in early 2017.
So, technically, the drug-maker was doing nothing illegal and complying with local regulations in both countries. But such reasoning is self-defeating, because antibiotic-resistance does not respect political boundaries.
Of course, the country that stands to lose the most from antibiotic resistance is India, given that its burden of infectious disease is among the world’s highest.
According to a 2016 PLOS Medicine paper, 416 of every 100,000 Indians die of infectious diseases each year.
This is more than twice the U.S.’s crude infectious-disease mortality-rate in the 1940s, when antibiotics were first used there. If these miracle drugs stop working, no one will be hit harder than India.
This is why the country’s progress towards a tighter regulatory regime must pick up pace.
Consider the three major sources of resistance overuse of antibiotics by human beings; overuse in the veterinary sector; and environmental antibiotic contamination due to pharmaceutical and hospital discharge.
To tackle the first source, India classified important antibiotics under Schedule H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, so that they couldn’t be sold without prescriptions.
Still, Schedule H1 drugs are freely available in pharmacies, with state drug-controllers unable to enforce the law widely.
As far as veterinary use goes, India’s 2017 National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance did talk about restricting antibiotic use as growth promoters.
Sadly, no progress has been made on this front yet, allowing companies to sell last-resort drugs to farmers over the counter.
The 2017 document also spoke about regulating antibiotics levels in discharge from pharmaceutical firms.
For instance, Hyderabad’s pharmaceutical industry has been pumping massive amounts of antibiotics into local lakes, rivers and sewers. This has led to an explosion in resistance genes in these waterbodies.
Still, India is yet to introduce standards for antibiotics in waste water, which means antibiotic discharge in sewage is not even being monitored regularly.
As the country takes its time to formulate regulations, the toll from antibiotic-misuse is growing at an alarming rate.
According to a 2013 estimate, around 58,000 newborns die in India each year due to sepsis from resistant bacteria. When these numbers mount, India will have no one to blame but itself.
General Studies-II Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
1.Tribunal to try benami cases soon
The government on Wednesday approved setting up of the Appellate Tribunal and Adjudicating Authority for speedy disposal of cases related to benami transactions.
The decision was taken at the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a press briefing.
Earlier this month, the government had notified sessions courts in 34 States and Union Territories, which will act as special courts for trial of offences under the benami transaction law.
The Adjudicating Authority and Appellate Tribunal will be based in Delhi, said a release
2.NITI Aayog to hold Workshop on Best Practices in International Arbitration
In an effort to strengthen dispute resolution mechanisms and to not only encourage ‘Make in India’ but also to ‘Resolve in India’, a workshop is being organised on 'Best Practices in International Arbitration’ by NITI Aayog, in collaboration with ICC International Court of Arbitration in New Delhi on 10 October 2018.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a technique to resolve disputes and disagreements between the parties by arriving at an amenable settlement through negotiations and discussions.
Various Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms can be classified as
Judicial Settlements inclusive of Lok Adalats
Under this form of Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism, both the parties involved in the dispute, choose the person to hear and determine their dispute through a consensus
Under the process of conciliation, the intention is to facilitate the settlement between the parties. The parties however, are not obliged or are not bound by the conciliation, in a sense that negotiations can be carried out until the parties arrive at a mutually pleasing settlement.
A mediator is involved in assisting the parties in dispute reach an agreement. The parties in dispute themselves set the conditions of the settlement to be reached.
Establishment Lok Adalat system of dispute settlement system was brought about with the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 for expediting the system of dispute settlement. In Lok Adalats, disputes in the pre-litigation stage could be settled amicably.
General Studies-III Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
1.In the net
A wider direct tax base is good news — but the share of direct taxes in the total is still low
The steps taken by the Union government over the last few years to widen its tax base may finally be yielding some rewards.
The total number of tax returns filed in the country increased by over 80% over the last four financial years, according to data released by the Central Board of Direct Taxes on Monday from 3.79 crores in 2013-14 to 6.85 crores in 2017-18.
Further, the direct tax to GDP ratio rose to 5.98% in 2017-18, the highest it has been in the last 10 years.
The average income reported by individual and corporate taxpayers also witnessed a significant rise in the last three years.
With tax growth rate surpassing the growth in GDP, the tax buoyancy factor rose to 1.81.
This rise in tax compliance has been attributed to the various measures taken by the Union government to increase compliance, including better gathering of information about sources of income, ease of getting refunds, and lowering of various other tax compliance costs.
The total direct tax collection is estimated to be over ₹10 lakh crore in 2017-18, an increase of about 18% from the previous year.
The widening of the tax base is clearly good news for a government which, from the very beginning of its tenure, has declared its intent to improve tax collections.
But the contribution of direct taxes to the total amount of taxes collected by the government, which is currently 52.29%, is still below what it was when Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.
In fact, the share of direct taxes has fallen every single year since 2013-14, except this year.
It is also far too low when compared to its peak of over 60% in 2009-10. In other words, most of the rise in the total tax collection in the last few years has come from indirect tax collections.
This year, direct tax collection increased at a higher rate compared to the collection of indirect taxes.
Going forward, a further increase in the share of direct taxes will help the government to lower regressive indirect taxes that impose a significant burden on the poor.
Direct taxes are also a better choice from the standpoint of economic efficiency as they help avoid the severe distortionary effects of indirect taxes such as the Goods and Services Tax.
Amidst increasing global tax competition, India is likely to face pressure to bring down corporate tax rates if it wants to maintain its stature as an attractive investment destination.
Efforts to draft a new direct tax code, however, are yet to yield fruit due to bureaucratic delays. The government will do well to address this issue.
2.Centre’s refusal to provide IGST refund hurts exporters
While exporters are saying that a large part of their working capital is tied up in the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) they have paid on inputs, the government in a recent circular said that it would not be refunding this amount to them since it has already paid them a drawback on the taxes they have paid.
Exporters, however, say that the drawback amount paid back is only a fraction of the total amount they have paid and that most of it is locked in IGST.
The system of drawback is such that exporters were eligible for two options either an industry-wide drawback rate, or a higher brand rate.
Several small exporters, The Hindu spoke to, said that the actual amounts tied up in IGST ran to ₹20 lakh each or so, whereas what they received as drawback was only ₹5-6 lakh. What they also say is the current system creates an unfair advantage for exporters operating in a single State, as opposed to those who have operations that cross State lines
The inherent definition of drawback is that all the taxes you have paid on inputs, the government is giving back to you
Many exporters after GST came and said that they are entitled to a drawback and in addition they wanted a refund of the IGST
3.Time to talk
The Centre-RBI face-off is not healthy. They must resolve their differences in private
The simmering tensions over the last few months between the Reserve Bank of India and the Centre found spectacular release over the weekend through a public speech by Deputy Governor Viral Acharya. “Governments that do not respect central bank independence,” said Mr. Acharya, “will sooner or later incur the wrath of financial markets, ignite economic fire, and come to rue the day they undermined an important regulatory institution.”
These are very strong words and raise the question why?
This is not the first time that the RBI has had a run-in with the mandarins at North Block, and it will not be the last.
India has had Finance Ministers who got frustrated enough to say that they would “walk alone” in driving the economy, and RBI Governors responding that the Centre would still be thankful that the central bank exists.
Indeed, disagreements between Mint Street and North Block over setting benchmark interest rates have been common over the years.
What is different this time, though, is that the disagreements, none of which are insurmountable, appear to be over regulation per se.
There are three issues on which the Centre seems to have irked the RBI.
It has refused to accept Governor Urjit Patel’s point that the RBI is hobbled by lack of adequate powers in regulating public sector banks.
The second is the tussle over the RBI’s burgeoning reserves, a piece of which the Centre is eyeing to bridge its fiscal gap.
The RBI resents this. The last is the attempt by the Centre to set up an independent payments regulator, which the RBI sees as encroachment of its turf.
For its part, the Centre has several grouses, the chief among them being over an RBI circular of February 12 which redefined NPAs and revised the framework for resolution.
It is also upset that the central bank is not doing enough to ease the ongoing liquidity squeeze through extraordinary measures.
These are issues that could be easily addressed by sitting around a table, but the fact that they haven’t done so points to a complete breakdown of communication between the RBI and the government, something that bankers have been privately acknowledging for some time now.
A certain amount of creative tension is systemically in-built given their different perspectives one is short-term and political; the other is long-term and technical.
Such tension is good for the economy. Yet, that is no excuse to spar over turf or make statements aimed at pressuring the other side into acting in a particular manner.
The current row is definitely worrying given the backdrop of economic turmoil, globally and domestically.
The Centre and the central bank must talk behind closed doors and resolve their differences as mature entities, as they have done so many times in the past.
The RBI makes a valid case against the proposal for a separate payments regulator
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Union government are once again at loggerheads over the legitimate extent of their powers.
In a rare gesture, the central bank last week made public its reservations against the government’s plans to set up an independent payments regulator, potentially setting the stage for a regulatory turf war.
In a strongly worded dissent note against the inter-ministerial committee for the finalisation of amendments to the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, published on its website on Friday, the central bank observed that it would prefer the Payments Regulatory Board to function under the purview of the RBI Governor.
“There is no case of having a regulator for payment systems outside the RBI,” the note read.
In support of its stance, the RBI stated that the activities of payments banks come well within the purview of the traditional banking system, which the central bank oversees as the overarching financial regulator.
So, according to this logic, it might make better sense to have the RBI oversee the activities of payments banks as well instead of creating a brand new regulator for the growing industry.
“Regulation of the banking systems and payment system by the same regulator provides synergy,” it noted.
The RBI, in essence, is pointing to the interconnection between the payments industry and the banking system to back the extension of its regulatory powers.
The RBI’s case makes good sense when seen from the perspective of the cost of regulatory compliance.
As stated above, there is definite overlapping between the current regulatory powers of the RBI and the proposed regulations for the payments industry.
A unified regulator can thus help in lowering the compliance costs and enabling the seamless implementation of rules.
Further, there is the real risk that a brand new regulator may be unable to match the expertise of the RBI in carrying out necessary regulatory duties.
So it makes better sense to have the RBI take charge of the rapidly growing payments industry which can ill-afford regulatory errors at this point.
The fact that the RBI has made public its dissent against the Union government’s idea, suggests that the central bank has serious problems with the dilution of its current powers over the financial sector.
However, the RBI’s demand for the centralisation of regulatory powers also brings with it the need for exercising a greater degree of responsibility.
At a time when there are increasing risks to the stability of the domestic financial system, both the government and the RBI must look to work together to tackle these risks instead of battling over regulatory powers.
4.Not just liquidity
Policymakers must address the structural problems behind the NBFCs crisis
The default of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) on several of its debt obligations over the last couple of months has raised serious questions about how regulators missed the growing debt pile of a systemically important financial institution.
But apart from the obvious failure of regulators to do their jobs, the IL&FS saga has also exposed the underlying weaknesses in the non-banking financial company (NBFC) sector as a whole which has depended heavily on low-cost, short-term debt financing to sustain its shaky business model.
As both international and domestic interest rates continue to rise, the stocks of NBFCs have been punished as investors expect the profit margins of these companies to come under pressure as their borrowing costs rise.
Then there is the further, and more serious, risk of NBFCs being unable to roll over their short-term debt in case of a severe credit crunch in the aftermath of the IL&FS saga.
Both these factors have combined to put an end to the dream run of NBFCs, which have enjoyed high valuations amidst rapidly growing profits over the last few years.
The precipitous crash of shares of Dewan Housing Finance Ltd. has been the defining moment of the present crisis.
It is worth noting that the rise of NBFCs was fuelled primarily by the demise of traditional banks which have been unable to lend as they were bogged down by non-performing loans.
Meanwhile, NBFCs with strong pricing power, which can somehow successfully achieve the transfer of higher borrowing rates to their own borrowers, may still survive rising interest rates.
The response of policymakers to the ongoing crisis, which seems warranted if its purpose is to prevent a wider systemic crisis, is fraught with other risks.
The Reserve Bank of India, the National Housing Bank and the State Bank of India last week decided to increase the supply of liquidity in the market to keep interest rates under control.
The RBI has also urged NBFCs to make use of equity rather than debt to finance their operations.
This is apart from the government’s decision to replace IL&FS’s management and commitment to providing the company with sufficient liquidity.
While offering easy money may be a welcome measure in the midst of the ongoing liquidity crisis, the prolonged supply of low-cost funds to the NBFC sector also creates the risk of building an unsustainable bubble in various sectors of the economy.
Defaults associated with any such bubbles will eventually only affect the loan books of lenders. State bailouts could also fuel the problem of moral hazard as other financial institutions may expect a similar lifeline in the future.
Policymakers should thus try to focus on taking steps to address structural problems that contributed to the crisis.
This includes steps necessary to widen the borrower base of NBFCs which have been banned from accepting deposits.
This would allow NBFCs to tap into more reliable sources of funding and avoid similar liquidity crises in the future.
Rupee slides on rising crude prices
The rupee snapped its three-session gaining streak to end 26 paise lower at 73.83 against the dollar on Monday after crude prices rose amid intensifying geopolitical tensions.
Higher food prices drive wholesale inflation to 5.13%
Wholesale inflation accelerated to 5.13% in September, driven in large part by quickening inflation in the primary articles segment and stabilising food prices, according to official data released on Monday.
Growth in the Wholesale Price Index quickened in September from 4.53% in August.
Inflation in the primary articles category stood at 2.97% in September, up from a contraction of 0.15% seen in August
However, market prices of most kharif crops have been lower than the minimum support price
6.An economics fix
The Nobel to work on growth and long-run sustainability frames a crucial priority
American economists William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer were jointly awarded the 50th economics Nobel prize this week in recognition of their work on economic growth and its long-run sustainability.
The Nobel committee noted that the duo’s work “brought us considerably closer to answering the important question of how we can achieve sustained and sustainable economic growth”.
The committee’s praise is fitting as both economists devoted their careers to the study of the various “externalities” or “spillovers” that affect economic growth in a market economy.
Mr. Nordhaus, for one, has been a pioneer in the movement towards quantifying the impact of economic growth on the climate and, in turn, the impact of climate change on economic growth.
To correct this problem, he recommended imposing appropriate carbon taxes to curb pollution that was detrimental to growth in the long run. Mr. Romer, on the other hand, studied the importance of technology in achieving economic growth.
He proposed the endogenous growth model where technological progress is seen as the outgrowth of businesses and other entities investing in research and development.
At the same time, he recognised ways in which the market economy may undersupply technological innovations.
Consequently, he recommended the use of subsidies, patents and other forms of government intervention to encourage economic growth through increased investment in technology.
In essence, the Nobel committee’s decision is a recognition of economic research concerning market failure.
Of course, critics have highlighted flaws in the works of these two noted economists.
For one, it may often be impossible to arrive at an objective measure of the carbon tax rate or the ideal amount of pollution to allow in a developing economy.
It is equally troublesome when one needs to determine how much subsidy, or other forms of government support, should be allotted towards research and development. Even though mathematical models have been devised to address these problems, they are only as good as the data fed into them
. Further, such decisions regarding the perfect carbon tax rate or the ideal subsidy allocation are likely to be determined by political considerations rather than simply pure economics.
So the threat of government failure may have to be taken as seriously as the effects of market failure.
These concerns lead to questions about the real-world impact of the policies supported by the pair.
Nonetheless, many would argue that Mr. Nordhaus and Mr. Romer’s works are an improvement from the past in that they try to use the market mechanism itself to address its failures.
The Nobel committee has done well to recognise important work on issues that are particularly relevant to the developing world.
General Studies-III Infrastructure Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
India must diversify its energy basket more proactively
India’s economic fortunes continue to be tied to the sharply fluctuating price of oil.
At a gathering of prominent oil ministers in New Delhi on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged oil-producing countries to reduce the cost of energy in order to aid the global economy in its path towards recovery.
Mr. Modi also called for a review of payment terms, demanding the partial use of the rupee instead of the U.S. dollar to pay for oil, in order to ease the burden on oil-importing countries in the wake of the strengthening of the dollar.
With well over 80% of its oil demand being met through imports, India clearly has a lot at stake as oil prices have risen by as much as 70% in rupee terms in the last one year.
Notably, speaking at the same event, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih refused to openly commit to lower oil prices, opting instead to say that the price of oil could have been much higher but for the efforts taken by his country to boost supply.
This is not surprising given the absence of significant rival suppliers in the global oil market willing to help out India.
India’s policymakers now face the difficult task of safely steering the economy in the midst of multiple external headwinds.
For one, the current account deficit widened to 2.4% of gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2018-19 and is expected to reach 3% for the full year.
The rupee, which is down about 16% since the beginning of the year, doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of recovery either. Further, the growth in the sales of petrol and diesel has already been affected adversely as their prices have shot through the roof.
All this will likely weigh negatively on the prospects of the Indian economy, the world’s fastest-growing, in the coming quarters. In this scenario, the decision to marginally cut taxes imposed on domestic fuels is unlikely to be of any significant help to consumers.
What is required is a steep cut in Central and State taxes for the benefit to carry through to the consumers, which, of course, is unlikely given the government’s fiscal needs.
Another long-term solution to the oil problem will be to increasingly tap into domestic sources of energy supply while simultaneously encouraging consumers to switch to green alternatives.
This will require a stronger policy framework and implementation. In the short term, the government could look to diversifying its international supplier base to manage shocks better.
But such a choice carries geopolitical risks, such as in the case of Iran.
Since it will take a length of time to wean the economy off oil imports, policymakers should also be willing to think beyond just the next election if India’s over-reliance on oil is to come to an end for good.
Data on fatalities and injuries must jolt the government into action
The Road Accidents in India report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for 2017 comes as a disappointment.
By reiterating poorly performing policies and programmes, it has failed to signal the quantum shift necessary to reduce death and disability on the roads.
It expresses concern at the large number of people who die every year and the thousands who are crippled in accidents, but the remedies it highlights are weak, incremental and unlikely to bring about a transformation.
The lack of progress in reducing traffic injuries is glaring, given that the Supreme Court is seized of the issue and has been issuing periodic directions in a public interest petition with the assistance of the Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan Committee constituted by the Centre.
Little has been done to fulfil what the Road Transport Ministry promises that the Centre and the States will work to improve safety as a joint responsibility, although enforcement of rules is a State issue.
That nothing much has changed is reflected by the death of 1,47,913 people in accidents in 2017. To claim a 1.9% reduction over the previous year is statistically insignificant, more so when the data on the rate of people who die per 100 accidents show no decline.
Even more shocking is the finding that green commuters — cyclists/pedestrians — now face greater danger on India’s roads, with a rise in fatalities for these categories of users of 37% and 29% over 2016, respectively.
Road safety data is a contested area in India. The figures of death and injury from accidents are viewed as an underestimate by scholars; the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme at IIT Delhi, for instance, estimates that cumulatively, road traffic injuries recorded by the police are underestimated by a factor of 20, and those that need hospitalisation by a factor of four.
If this is correct, the number of people who suffered injuries in 2017 far exceeds the 4,70,975 reported by the Ministry.
It is welcome that greater attention is being paid to the design and safety standards of vehicles, but such professionalism should extend to public infrastructure the design of roads, their quality and maintenance, and the safety of public transport, among others.
The Centre has watered down the national bus body standards code in spite of a commitment given to the Supreme Court, by requiring only self-certification by the builders. Relaxing this long-delayed safety feature endangers thousands of passengers.
There is little chance of the NDA government, now in the last year of its tenure, making a paradigm shift.
Valuable time has been lost in creating institutions for road safety with a legal mandate, starting with an effective national agency.
The Road Safety Councils at the all-India and State levels have simply not been able to change the dismal record, and the police forces lack the training and motivation for professional enforcement.
The urgent need is to fix accountability in government.
Responsibility must be fixed for the Amritsar disaster. Political spats won’t help
The ghastly Dasara disaster at Amritsar that has left 59 people dead is a harsh reminder, if any were needed, that government departments have not yet taken official protocols for safety at mass gatherings seriously.
In the aftermath of the entirely preventable carnage, in which spectators crowding a railway track to watch burning of effigies were mowed down by a train, there is a frantic effort to pin responsibility on agencies and individuals, and, deplorably, to exploit public anger for political ends.
What happened at Joda Phatak in Amritsar points to the basic failure of the district administration and the police, which should have ensured law and order.
If the organisers of the event had obtained a no-objection certificate from the police, as reports suggest, what role did the law enforcement machinery play in crowd control?
On the other hand, the Municipal Corporation in Amritsar has tried to distance itself, claiming that its permission was not sought, although almost everyone in the city knew it was taking place.
The magisterial inquiry ordered by the Punjab government should examine the actions of the revenue authorities and the police in organising the event, and whether rules were ignored to favour the organisers who claimed proximity to some politicians.
Major religious festivals in India are often overshadowed by deadly incidents such as stampedes and fires, ranging from the terrible toll of 249 deaths at the Chamunda Devi temple stampede in Jodhpur in 2008, to the railway station stampede during the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad five years later in which 36 people died.
The National Disaster Management Authority has responded to these horrors by creating a guide for State governments and local bodies, laying down a clear protocol to be followed for mass gatherings and festivals.
Whether this was followed by the Amritsar authorities in the planning of the Dasara celebrations is one of the questions that must be addressed.
There should be a transformation of the way such events are organised, with a lead agency in each State and district empowered to issue instructions, and in turn be accountable for public safety.
More broadly, there is a serious deficit of common spaces in cities, towns and villages to conduct spectacular events safely.
This is incongruous in a populous country with a tradition of festivals and cultural gatherings. The Punjab government, wiser after the fact, says it will draw up guidelines for the future.
At Amritsar, trespass on the track was the prime reason for the accident.
A campaign to educate the public that railway tracks cannot be treated as commons, and vigorous enforcement, will reduce the probability of such incidents.
The Railways must identify hazard spots for train movement in heavily built-up areas and prevent trespass by barricading them.
A culture of safety can take root if governments imbibe it first.
4.India set to be third largest aviation market
India will be the third largest aviation market globally a year sooner than was earlier predicted.
It is now expected to be among the top three countries by 2024 from its current seventh position, according to global aviation body IATA.
In its latest 20-year forecast for the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that air passenger numbers worldwide could double to 8.2 billion in 2037.
The biggest contribution in this growth will come from the Asia-Pacific region, which will account for half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years.
While China will climb up one spot to displace US as the world’s largest aviation market in the mid-2020s, India will take the third place by surpassing the U.K. around 2024, according to the IATA forecast.
By 2037, India is expected to add 414 million passengers to its existing 572 million passengers, the report added.
In fact, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to see the fastest growth at the rate of 4.8%, followed by Africa (4.6%) and west Asia (4.4%
The other south-east Asian countries predicted to grow rapidly include Indonesia, likely to be the fourth largest by 2030 from its current ranking of 10th largest aviation market. Thailand, too, is expected to enter the top 10 markets in 2030,edging out Italy, IATA said.
General Studies-III Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.
1.Siberian visitors freeze Assam-Meghalaya border dispute
Umru village on the Assam-Meghalaya border lacks a road but that doesn’t stop its famous winter visitors — a flock of Amur falcons, the world’s longest travelling raptors.
While Doyang Lake near Pangti village in Nagaland’s Wokha district is better known as a stopover for the Amur falcons during their annual migration from their breeding grounds in Mongolia and northern China to warmer South Africa, a flock has been seen since 2010 in Umru.
The Tyrso Valley Wildlife Protection Society is an NGO formed by the villagers of the eponymous Meghalaya village adjoining Umru.
The group has been organising the Amur Falcon Festival since 2015 to celebrate the “birds that have made this back-of-beyond area famous”. The festival is scheduled on November 7-8, a fortnight before the birds are expected to soar for the next destination.
Wildlife officials in Nagaland also point out that the birds used to roost in large numbers in the Changtongya Community Conservation Reserve but moved on to Pangti and Yaongyimchen, a lesser roosting site.
Efforts are on to revive the Changtongya area, about 100 km north of Pangti, for the migratory raptors.
2.SC moves to make festivals less noisy
The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck a balance between the interests of the firecracker industry and the right to public health, allowing the manufacture and sale of only “green” and reduced-emission or “improved” crackers, while banning those that are loud and toxic to man, animal and the environment.
A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan held that only green or improved crackers would be used during religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings.
In nationwide curbs, the judgment reduced the time for bursting crackers during Deepavali and other festivals to two hours between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
For Christmas and New Year, the time slot allowed is half-an-hour, between 11.55 p.m. and half-past midnight.
Manufacturers and sellers of fireworks across the country, including those in the southern Tamil Nadu town of Sivakasi, heaved a sigh of relief on Tuesday after the Supreme Court refused to impose a blanket ban on the manufacture, sale and usage of fireworks.
But the relief was tempered by anxiety over a raft of restrictions that the court had ordered, including the ban on the industry’s use of barium salts — a key ingredient in colour and light emitting fireworks — and how it may impact business in the key Deepavali period.
Bursting of firecrackers during Deepavali may not be the only reason for air pollution, but the Supreme Court cannot become a mute spectator and allow the deterioration of air quality caused by the bursting during the festival.This is how the Supreme Court’s judgment, declaring a ban on toxic and loud crackers, explained itself.
The Bench acknowledges that there is a necessity to tackle the other contributory factors for air pollution.
Unregulated construction activity which generates a lot of dust and crop burning in the neighbouring States are the two other major reasons. Vehicular pollution is also another cause
‘States can fix own slots for crackers’
The Supreme Court on Tuesday modified its October 23 order restricting the time for bursting crackers on Deepavali and other religious festivals to two hours, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Instead, it allowed Tamil Nadu and adjacent southern States to decide when people can burst crackers on festival days, provided the total time does not cross the two-hour mark.
This means the authorities can stagger the time slots and even make it an hour in the morning and another in the night.
Further, the court said its direction that only green crackers could be manufactured and sold is only applicable to Delhi and the National Capital Region.
On October 23, the court held that only green or improved crackers would be used for religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings.
The court had fixed a uniform slot for bursting crackers across the country. During Deepavali and other religious festivals, the slot is between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
3.Children under 15 at serious risk from polluted air WHO
Every day about 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 (1.8 billion children) breathe polluted air that puts their health and development at serious risk, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a new report that puts into numbers the devastating impact of air pollution on the global population’s health.
Tragically, many of these children die, with as many as six lakh estimated to have perished in 2016 alone due to complications from acute lower respiratory infections caused by dirty air, according to the report.
The report on air pollution and child health released on the eve of the WHO’s first ever global conference on Air Pollution and Health on Tuesday reveals that when pregnant women are exposed to polluted air, they are more likely to give birth prematurely, and have small, low birth-weight children.
Air pollution also impacts neuro-development and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer.
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease later in life
One reason why children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution is that they breathe more rapidly than adults and so absorb more pollutants.
They also live closer to the ground, where some pollutants reach peak concentrations — at a time when their brains and bodies are still developing.
In addition, newborns and small children are often at home. If the family is burning fuels like wood and kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting, they would be exposed to higher levels of pollution
4.Delhi tops national charts in bad air quality
Fourteen out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India as per figures compiled and released earlier this year by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Climate Trends, an Indian group working on environmental issues picked up the same 14 cities to analyse the CPCB data in summer and winter months for a comparative analysis — just to put it in context with the WHO children’s health report released on Monday which notes that 93% of the world’s children under 15 years breathe polluted air. It says Delhi tops the charts of bad air quality nationally.
The report says India faces the highest air pollution-related mortality and disease burden in the world, with more than 2 million deaths occurring prematurely every year, accounting for 25% of the global deaths due to poor air quality.
Most cities, unlike Delhi, do not have an emergency response plan to tackle air pollution. While some of the cities like Patna and Varanasi have recently formulated action plans, there are none in place to issue advisories or mitigate the pollution at the source level instantly as in the case of the Graded Response Action Plan
5.India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity
India’s soil biodiversity is in grave peril, according to the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas prepared by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The WWF’s ‘risk index’ for the globe — indicating threats from loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient over-loading, over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change — shows India among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk.
Coloured red on the Atlas, these include Pakistan, China, several countries in Africa and Europe, and most of North America.
Soil biodiversity encompasses the presence of micro-organisms, micro-fauna (nematodes and tardigrades for example), and macro-fauna (ants, termites and earthworms).
The findings were part of the bi-annual Living Planet Report (LPR) 2018. “A key aspect of this year’s report is the threat to soil biodiversity and pollinators [such as bees
While India’s per capita ecological footprint was less than 1.75 hectares/person (the lowest band among countries surveyed), its high population made it vulnerable to an ecological crisis, even if per-capita consumption remained at current levels, the WWF warned.
6.SC bars States from diverting money from CAMPA funds
The Supreme Court has barred State governments from diverting money from their Compensatory Afforestation and Management Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds meant for environmental protection, rehabilitation of displaced persons due to issues like depletion of forest, mining, etc.
The apex court’s order came after realising that the Punjab government took ₹1.11 crore from CAMPA funds and to pay its lawyers and other legal expenses.
The court was hearing a suo motu case titled In Re National CAMPA Advisory Council.
This is part of a major effort by the Supreme Court since 1995 to prevent and monitor environmental degradation.
The idea of having CAMPA funds and authority was introduced by the apex court. The periodic orders of the court in this litigation finally led to the birth of The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act of 2016.
The apex court had observed that this was a “huge amount” which can be used for the benefit of environmental protection and rehabilitation of persons displaced by environmental causes.
Availability of these amounts will not only help the States/UTs and local communities to ensure better management of their forest resources.
The 2016 Act’s objective is promote conservation, protection, improvement and expansion of forest and wildlife resources of the country.
7.India faces threat of deadly heat waves, says UN climate report
If the average global temperature rises by more than one degree Celsius from the present, India could “annually” expect conditions like the 2015 heat wave that killed at least 2,000, according to the ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C,’ commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The report was put together by about 91 authors and review-editors from 40 countries, who had convened in Incheon, South Korea, last week, to assess the feasibility of keeping the average global temperature from rising beyond 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times.
The report stated that capping the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.
The 2015 agreement in Paris, considered a landmark achievement, had the world agree to keep rise in temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius and “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”
With the U.S. withdrawing from the accord, the chances of such an ambitious target were significantly weakened.
The global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.
However, allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed the 1.5°C target would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air, if the aim is to return the rise in global temperature to below 1.5°C by 2100.
Many of these techniques, such as carbon capture and storage, were unproven on a global scale and some carried significant risks for sustainable development
Time is running out to keep global warming below 1.5°C since pre-industrial era levels
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has come out with a clear scientific consensus that calls for a reversal of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, to prevent severe harm to humanity in the decades ahead.
World leaders have been looking for greater clarity on the impact of accumulating emissions on climate.
The IPCC’s special report on global warming of 1.5°C, prepared as a follow-up to the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change, provides the scientific basis for them to act.
There is now greater confidence in time-bound projections on the impacts of climate change on agriculture, health, water security and extreme weather.
With sound policies, the world can still pull back, although major progress must be achieved by 2030.
Governments should achieve net zero CO2 addition to the atmosphere, balancing man-made emissions through removal of CO2.
There is public support for this and governments must go even beyond what they have committed to.
The Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperature rise in this century well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the increase even further, to 1.5°C.
The IPCC makes it clear that the human and economic costs of a 2°C rise are far greater than for 1.5°C, and the need for action is urgent.
Human activity has warmed the world by 1°C over the pre-industrial level and with another half-degree rise, many regions will have warmer extreme temperatures, raising the frequency, intensity and amount of rain or severity of drought.
Risks to food security and water, heat exposure, drought and coastal submergence all increase significantly even for a 1.5°C rise.
India, Pakistan and China are already suffering moderate effects of warming in areas such as water availability, food production and land degradation, and these will worsen, as the report says.
Closer to a 2°C increase, these impacts are expected to spread to sub-Saharan Africa, and West and East Asia.
The prognosis for India, of annual heatwaves by mid-century in a scenario of temperature increase in the 1.5°C to 2°C range, is particularly worrying.
There is evidence to show it is among the regions that would experience the largest reductions in economic growth in a 2°C scenario.
These are clear pointers, and the sensible course for national policy would be to fast-track the emissions reduction pledges made for the Paris Agreement.
The commitment to generate 100 GW of solar energy by 2022 should lead to a quick scale-up from the 24 GW installed, and cutting down of coal use.
Agriculture needs to be strengthened with policies that improve water conservation, and afforestation should help create a large carbon sink.
There is a crucial role for all the States, since their decisions will have a lock-in effect.
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
President Sirisena’s actions have put Sri Lankan democracy in peril
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to withdraw his faction from the ruling coalition and replace Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has plunged the country into a political crisis.
This was further complicated, a day later, by the President’s move to suspend Parliament till November 16.
Mr. Sirisena’s fast-deteriorating relationship with Mr. Wickremesinghe was an open secret, and there were indications that he could be negotiating a possible partnership with Mr. Rajapaksa.
But his sudden and secret manoeuvre caught everyone, including senior politicians, completely unawares.
And before the and implications of the political drama that was unfolding could sink in, Mr. Rajapaksa had been sworn in Prime Minister, beaming as he greeted the President, his chief rival until days ago.
Mr. Wickremesinghe has termed his replacement “unconstitutional” and maintains that he remains Prime Minister.
Confident of a majority, he has challenged the Rajapaksa-Sirisena combine to take a floor test in the 225-member House.
By suspending Parliament, Mr. Sirisena is seen to have exposed his own insecurity about garnering the required strength.
The next two weeks will be crucial, with attempts at horse-trading and assertions of political loyalty amid uncertainty.
None of these is uncommon in Sri Lankan politics, but the circumstances, which are entirely of Mr. Sirisena’s making, have led to a political upheaval that was avoidable.
All this has come at a time of economic fragility, with a plummeting rupee, soaring unemployment and rising living costs.
Mr. Sirisena’s appointment of Mr. Rajapaksa even before voting out Mr. Wickremesinghe on the floor of Parliament is nothing but blatant abuse of his executive powers.
Guided by narrow political interests, the President’s actions betray an utter disregard for the parliamentary process.
In resorting to these emergency measures, he has not only put democracy in serious peril but also let down Sri Lankans, including a sizeable section of the Tamil and Muslim minorities that backed him in the critical 2015 election.
The best forum to test political clout in a democracy is the legislature.
An extra-parliamentary power struggle, that too using illegal means, heightens the risk of political thuggery and unrest.
Still recovering from the violence and bloodbath during its nearly three-decade-long civil war, and grappling with the economic and social challenges in its aftermath, Sri Lanka cannot afford to recede from the democratic space that opened up in 2015.
Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe had come together in an exceptional political alliance that promised to put the country back on the path of democracy, after a decade of Mr. Rajapaksa’s authoritarian rule.
Leaving aside the irony of Mr. Sirisena joining hands with Mr. Rajapaksa, who he had left and subsequently unseated from office, his desire to consolidate power by hook or by crook is extremely unfortunate.
Though much damage has been done already, a fair vote must be ensured when Parliament reconvenes, if possible before November 16.
2.First India-China High Level Meeting on Bilateral Security Cooperation
Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh co-chaired the first India-China High Level Meeting on Bilateral Security Cooperation with Mr. Zhao Kezhi, State Councilor and Minister of Public Security of the People's Republic of China today (22 October, 2018) in New Delhi.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed issues of mutual interest, including bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation, and welcomed increased cooperation between India and China in the area of security cooperation.
An Agreement on Security Cooperation between the Ministry of Home Affairs of India and the Ministry of Public Security of China was also signed by the two Ministers.
The Agreement will further strengthen and consolidate discussions and cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, organized crimes, drug control and other such relevant areas.
3.Saudi Arabia promises to meet India’s oil needs
Saudi Arabia stands committed to meeting all of India’s energy needs, especially in oil, its Energy Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih said on Monday.
Speaking at the India Energy Forum, he said this meant an increase in investment in India as well.
Mr. Al-Falih said Saudi Aramco’s investment of $44 billion in the Ratnagiri refinery was “just the start” and that the company was keen to invest in an integrated downstream business, including on the retail side, as well as in storage capacity.
According to him, the ongoing belief that the rise of electric vehicles would mean the decline of oil missed the reality of the situation.
Conventional vehicles, he said, still represented 99.8% of all vehicles in the world. Electric vehicles, he pointed out, are in the passenger vehicle segment, which accounts for only a quarter of oil demand.
4. India, France in talks to conduct tri-service exercise
India and France are in discussions for a bilateral tri-service military exercise to take forward the strategic cooperation while also exploring ways to operationalise the logistics agreement.
These issues were discussed during the visit of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Paris last week.
This will be India’s third such joint exercise. The first joint tri-service exercise was held with Russia in October last year and has finalised one with the U.S. to be held next year.
India and France currently hold bilateral exercises between individual services — Shakti, Varuna and Garuda respectively for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
India and France signed a logistics pact in March this year which gives access to their militaries to each other’s bases for logistics support.
While the agreement gives India access to French military bases all over the world on a “reciprocal basis,” of particular interest for New Delhi are the three French bases in the Indian Ocean — Reunion Island, Djibouti and Abu Dhabi.
5.Modi, Abe back ‘free Indo-Pacific’
India and Japan outlined a vision for strengthened bilateral relations at the 13th annual summit here on Monday.
Enhanced strategic and defence cooperation dominated the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.
Japan’s formulation of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” received a central place in the vision statement issued at the end of the talks, with both sides stressing their “unwavering commitment to it.”
The concept is usually seen as a response to China’s growing dominance in the region.
Speaking to the press after his talks with Mr. Abe, Mr. Modi said the India-Japan bilateral relationship was invested in upholding the rule of law and democratic values.
The BNP suffers yet another setback as Bangladesh’s elections approach
Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s conviction in yet another case of corruption imperils her Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s already meagre prospects in the coming parliamentary elections.
She has been sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.
With her son and acting chairman of the BNP, Tarique Rahman, in exile, and convicted in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment for his alleged role in a grenade attack on an Awami League rally, the party’s leadership has been effectively crippled.
It is no wonder that the BNP has formed an alliance, the Jatiya Oikya Front, with other minor parties, under the leadership of secular icon and civil society leader Kamal Hossain to bolster its fortunes in what looks like a lopsided battle against the entrenched Awami League.
The Awami League and the BNP have rarely engaged each other as healthy political rivals.
There has been no love lost between the leaders of the two parties, Ms. Zia and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina they have tended to view each other with a sense of vengeance.
Yet it would be misleading to claim that the punitive actions ordered against the BNP’s leaders by the judiciary are entirely due to any pressure from the ruling party.
The BNP’s last term in government, from 2001 to 2006, was marked by corruption, support for fundamentalism and repressive measures against the Opposition.
The BNP is now caught in a bind. It had boycotted the parliamentary election in 2014 to give the process a veneer of illegitimacy, leaving the Awami League as the only major political force in contention.
But the BNP’s decision backfired. Bangladesh under Awami rule has recorded steady economic growth and has had creditable successes in welfare delivery and public health measures, seen tangibly in the lowered infant mortality and fertility rates and in sanitation.
There have been some misgivings too, as Prime Minister Hasina has increasingly tended to be authoritarian and impatient with critics.
While the judiciary has found the BNP’s leadership to be guilty of corruption and misdemeanours, the crackdown on the BNP rank and file, with thousands of activists targeted by the police, is a sign of the government’s overreach.
A new digital security law, most ominously, has been passed with stringent punishment to anyone secretly recording state officials and spreading “negative propaganda” about the Liberation War, among other things.
This manoeuvre is clearly intended to have a chilling effect on the Bangladeshi media. A healthy democracy must allow for differences of opinion.
The government must not pursue this quasi-authoritarian bent at a time when its leading opposition has been emasculated.
This would only help delegitimise the formal aspects of democracy, such as elections, among the government’s critics and the electorate.
General Studies-II Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
1.World Bank’s Human Capital Index released
The World Bank released today a Human Capital Index (HCI) as part of the World Development Report 2019.
Broader theme of the World Development Report (WDR) this year is “The Changing Nature of Work”
The HCI has three components
(i) Survival, as measured by under-5 mortality rates;
(ii) Expected years of Quality-Adjusted School which combines information on the quantity and quality of education (quality is measured by harmonizing test scores from major international student achievement testing programs and quantity from number of years of school that a child can expect to obtain by age 18 given the prevailing pattern of enrolment rates across grades in respective countries); and
(iii) Health environment using two proxies of (a) adult survival rates and (b) the rate of stunting for children under age 5.
UNDP constructs Human Development Index (HDI) for several years. The HCI uses survival rates and stunting rate instead of life expectancy as measure of health, and quality-adjusted learning instead of merely years of schooling as measure of education.
HCI also excludes per capita income whereas the HDI uses it.
Two significant changes from HDI are exclusion of income component and introduction of quality adjustment in learning. Exclusion of income element and introduction of quality adjustment makes HCI far less representative of Human Capital Development than the Index claims it to be.
The key observations regarding HCI for India in the Report are as under
Human Capital Index A child born in India today will be only 44 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.
The HCI in India for females is marginally better than that for males.
Further, there has been marked improvement in the HCI components in India over the last five years.
Probability of Survival to Age 5 96 out of 100 children born in India survive to age 5.
Expected Years of School In India, a child who starts school at age 4 can expect to complete 10.2 years of school by her 18th birthday.
Harmonized Test Scores Students in India score 355 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment.
Learning-adjusted Years of School Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 5.8 years.
Adult Survival Rate Across India, 83 per cent of 15-year olds will survive until age 60.
Healthy Growth (Not Stunted Rate) 62 out of 100 children are not stunted. 38 out of 100 children are stunted, and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.
Gender Differences In India, HCI for girls is marginally higher than for boys.
There are serious reservations about the advisability and utility of this exercise of constructing HCI. There are major methodological weaknesses, besides substantial data gaps.
2.Panel for adopting UN model on cross-border insolvency
The Insolvency Law Committee (ILC), tasked with suggesting amendments to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of India, has recommended that India adopt the United Nations’ model to handle cross-border insolvency cases
The ILC has recommended the adoption of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law of Cross Border Insolvency, 1997, as it provides for a comprehensive framework to deal with cross-border insolvency issues
The committee has also recommended a few carve-outs to ensure that there is no inconsistency between the domestic insolvency framework and the proposed cross border insolvency framework.
The UNCITRAL Model Law has been adopted in 44 countries and, therefore, forms part of international best practices in dealing with cross border insolvency issues
The advantages of the model law are the precedence given to domestic proceedings and protection of public interest
The necessity of having a cross-border insolvency framework under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code arises from the fact that many Indian companies have a global footprint and many foreign companies have a presence in multiple countries, including India
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