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Note:  The following Current affairs has been selected from AIR, PIB, PRS, BBC, The Hindu, IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Live mint, Indian Express, Quora.com, Hindustan Times, Telegraph, The Times , WTO, New Indian express , The Guardian and is highly recommended for UPSC Prelims and Mains Examination


News Analysis: 01-02-2019

National News

General Studies-III : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


‘Unemployment data based on draft report’

  • The government’s think tank NITI Aayog on Thursday debunked claims of a news report that unemployment in 2017-18 was at a 45-year high.

  • The NITI Aayog said the report of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), cited as the source for the report, was in fact a draft and not approved by the government.

  • A report in the Business Standard on Thursday, which cited the NSSO’s periodic labour force survey — that is yet to be released — said the unemployment rate was 6.1% in 2017-18.

  • The only year of comparable data when the unemployment rate was higher was in 1972-73. It was at 2.2% in 2011-12.

  • The NSSO report is a matter of much controversy, with the two external members of the National Statistical Commission citing the delay in its release as a major reason for their resignations on Monday.

  • The data reportedly showed that joblessness was higher in urban India (7.8%) than in rural India (5.3%).

  • Within this, it stood at 17.4% for rural males and 13.6% for rural females. In urban India, joblessness was at 18.7% among males and a huge 27.2% among females.

  • Importantly, the data reportedly showed that the labour force participation rate (LFPR), the measure of people working or looking for jobs, declined from 39.5% in 2011-12 to 36.9% in 2017-18.

  • This phenomenon — of unemployment rising while the LFPR dipped — is a cause for serious worry, experts say, explaining that it probably shows that people are simply giving up on finding jobs and have stopped seeking work.

Source: The Hindu


General Studies-III : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Not kosher

  • The Chanda Kochhar case raises issues of corporate governance that go well beyond her

  • The inquiry by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.N. Srikrishna into the allegations against former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar has taken eight long months to confirm what seems apparent – that she did not conduct herself as she should have in relation to conflict-of-interest issues.

  • It was only last week that the Central Bureau of Investigation filed an FIR against Ms. Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, head of the Videocon group Venugopal Dhoot and ICICI Bank executives for sanction of credit facilities in violation of rules, that caused a loss of ₹1,730 crore to the bank.

  • The investigating agency has a long way to go before it establishes whether the loans were given in return for financial favours, a charge that is at the heart of booking them for criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption.

  • But clearly, Ms. Kochhar erred, and badly at that, in not disclosing to the bank’s board her husband’s business connections with the Videocon group, which was a client of the bank.

  • Worse, she failed to display the correctness expected of her by sitting on committees that sanctioned credit facilities to Videocon when she ought to have recused herself.

  • Just a day after a ₹300-crore loan was disbursed to Videocon International Electronics in 2009, Mr. Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables received ₹64 crore from the Videocon group.

  • Whether this was a quid pro quo for the loan, as the CBI suggests, needs to be proved. But there is no denying that it made for poor, even suspicious, optics.

  • The inquiry report holds her guilty of violation of the bank’s “code of conduct, its framework for dealing with conflict of interest and fiduciary duties, and in terms of applicable Indian laws, rules and regulations.”

  • The bank’s board has accepted the report and decided to treat her voluntary resignation from the bank in October as “termination for cause”, also deciding to claw back all bonuses paid to her since April 2009, hold back unpaid amounts and divest her of her stock option entitlements.

  • These are strong penalties, but the question is: how did the board give her a clean chit as recently as March last year? It had then reposed its full confidence and faith in Ms. Kochhar and commended her and the management team for their “hard work and dedication”.

  • It is impossible to believe the board was not aware of the allegations against the CEO given that a whistle-blower had made them public in October 2016.

  • Was the board then influenced by Ms. Kochhar into giving her a good conduct certificate? These are uncomfortable questions that raise doubts over the standards of corporate governance at one of India’s largest banks.

  • The ICICI Bank episode is only one among several instances of governance lapses in corporate India in recent times. Clearly, regulators need to up their game.

Source: The Hindu


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.


On a cliff edge

  • Britain veers to a hard Brexit as Prime Minister May continues to placate Tory hardliners

  • The prospects for Britain’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union on March 29 have receded further, even as MPs rallied to stop a no-deal scenario.

  • An amendment to the draft bill on the termination of London’s membership of the bloc obliges Prime Minister Theresa May to renegotiate her withdrawal agreement with Brussels.

  • A Tory backbencher’s proposal calls on the government to come up with alternatives to the Irish backstop, a central tenet of the deal Britain agreed with the rest of the EU.

  • The arrangement is meant to guarantee continuation of the soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, even if London and Brussels fail to strike a concrete relationship after Brexit.

  • The reservations that Conservative Eurosceptics have over the backstop was a crucial factor why Ms. May delayed a House of Commons vote on her withdrawal agreement.

  • Her subsequent attempts to secure assurances from Brussels to set a time limit on the backstop, or for Britain to quit the mechanism unilaterally, yielded no tangible outcome.

  • A strong Eurosceptic opposition on the issue was also the reason for Ms. May’s overwhelming defeat in the House of Commons a fortnight ago.

  • Ironically, this is the same deal Ms. May has all along insisted as being the one that could deliver the Brexit that people voted for, and to avoid Britain’s crashing out of the EU.

  • Soon after the passage of the amendment on Tuesday, the President of the European Council reiterated the bloc’s unanimous position, ruling out a reopening of the withdrawal agreement.

  • The Irish government has been equally categorical that as the basic guarantor of the 1998 Good Friday accord, the soft border was non-negotiable.

  • With less than 60 days to the deadline, the scope to overcome such fundamental differences in approach is rather narrow.

  • Moreover, the Commons voted down a move, by Conservative and Labour proponents, to initiate legislation to defer the leave date.

  • The latter had hoped the postponement plan would be a way to gain time, if the government failed to reach any agreement with Brussels or could not secure ratification at Westminster by late-February.

  • Opponents, including Ms. May, dubbed the idea a remainer’s ploy to delay Brexit, or worse still, to lay the groundwork for a second referendum.

  • But Parliament has wrested control of the Brexit process, and the demand to defer the deadline could well resurface.

  • In that event, the EU’s favourable disposition to extend the Article 50 process could serve to influence the parliamentary balance.

  • But Ms. May has seemed reluctant to confront the extreme stance of her Tory backbenchers and might remain hostage to a hard Brexit reality, notwithstanding the resulting chaos and upheaval.

  • That outcome is surely not one that most leave voters would have even remotely imagined.


Source: The Hindu


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