Download the compilation of all summaries of all the news articles here


GS: 2

International relations:

India, Sweden agree upon ‘win-win’ joint action plan(The Hindu) 

What has happened?

After a hectic day of bilateral parleys here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven, on Tuesday agreed upon a joint action plan (JAP) for both countries to take forward a wide range of initiatives in defence, trade and investment, counterterrorism, renewable energy, smart cities, women’s skill development, space and science and healthcare. 

Innovation was the key issue

  • Innovation was front and center in the bilateral summit, with a separate discussion focused entirely on this area, and the outcome being a joint declaration on a Sweden-India Innovation Partnership for a Sustainable Future
  • Additionally a major funding boost was injected into the bilateral process when Mr. Löfven announced that the Swedish government will kick start the Innovation Partnership by providing up to 50 million Swedish kronor (over $59 million) for innovation cooperation in the field of smart cities and sustainability

Other important points of discussion

  • Saab Group’s Gripen-E single-engine jet fighter for the Indian Air Force
  • On counter terrorism both countries emphasized that the global counterterrorism legal framework should be regularly updated to address the changing threat of terrorism with strength.

The ‘new’ South Asia(The Hindu Opinion) 

Context

As China’s leverage increases, New Delhi has to reimagine its terms of engagement with neighbours

Background

CHOGM meet in London

 India’s declining regional clout

  • There is now the refrain that India has lost the plot in its immediate vicinity
  • In Sri Lanka, domestic political developments are affecting India, while in the Maldives, India has found its diminishing clout being publicly taken apart
  • A vocal critic of India has assumed power in Nepal, and with a massive political mandate
  • In the Seychelles, India is struggling to operationalise a pact to build a military facility

China’s influence growing in the region

  • China’s clout, meanwhile, is growing markedly around India’s periphery, further constraining New Delhi’s ability to push its regional agenda.
  • China’s entry into the South Asian region has opened up new avenues for smaller neighbours which can be leveraged in their dealings with India 

Problems for India’s neighborhood policy

  • India’s structural dominance of South Asia makes it a natural target of resentment and suspicion which New Delhi has often found difficult to overcome
  • India is also part of the domestic politics of most regional states where anti-India sentiment is often used to bolster the nationalist credentials of various political formations 

Conclusion

India will not only have to more creatively reimagine its strategic geography but also evolve new terms of engagement with its neighbours; terms which reflect the reality of our times in which both India and its neighbours can have a stake in each other’s success.

Non-alignment redux(The Hindu Opinion) 

Context

What non-alignment means to India depends on the prism through which it is viewed

Background

18th mid-term ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) concluded in early April in Azerbaijan 

Importance of NAM

  • The idea behind non-alignment thus conceived was to promote peace and security in a global arena where superpowers were constantly posturing to achieve their hegemonic ambitions
  • In that context, NAM helped preserve the sovereignty of many young nations, including democracies such as India which wished to follow the path of strategic independence

Is it not far less credible for India to claim to be non-aligned?

  • After India joined the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a coalition seen by many as a counterforce to China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific
  • Coinciding with this is Russia’s drift from India and the emergence of a Russia-China-Pakistan trilateral

Conclusion

There is little doubt that India needs to do more to explain what non-alignment means to it now as the global order has changed dramatically in recent years.

Indian Constitution and Polity:

Law Commission favours simultaneous elections((The Hindu) 

What has happened?

A draft white paper released by the Law Commission of India on Tuesday recommends holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies, possibly in 2019

Open to suggestions

  • White paper would be circulated to “constitutional experts, academia, political parties, bureaucrats, students, etc.”
  • The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan, says opinions and suggestions should come in by May 8, 2018

Key recommendations

  • Amending the constitution: Simultaneous elections may be restored in the nation by amending the Constitution, Representation of the People Act of 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies
  • Phased election
    • In 2019, the election could be held in phases
    • In the first phase, it says, elections to the legislatures which are scheduled to go for polls synchronous with the Lok Sabha in 2019 could be held together
    • The rest of the States could go to elections in proximity with the Lok Sabha elections of 2024
  • Relaxation of defection laws

Relaxation of the “rigours” of the anti-defection law in the Tenth Schedule to prevent a stalemate in the Lok Sabha or Assemblies in case of a hung Parliament or Assembly

  • Mid-term elections

In case of mid-term elections, the new Lok Sabha or Assembly would only serve the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha/Assembly and not a fresh term of five years

  • Prime Minister/Chief Minister should be “elected” to lead by the full House like the Lok Sabha Speaker
  • The parties which introduce the no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government.

Nod awaited to induct jurist into Lokpal panel(The Hindu) 

What has happened?

The high-profile Lokpal selection committee, led by the Prime Minister, met on April 10 and the recommendations for the induction of an eminent jurist in the panel is awaiting approval, the government informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday

Bench urges speed

A Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi urged the government to complete the Lokpal appointment process at the earliest.

Selection committee

Besides the Prime Minister, the selection committee is composed of Chief Justice of India and Lok Sabha Speaker

LoP row

  • The 2013 statute includes the LoP as a member of the selection committee. The Act intends the LoP to be the part of the selection committee of the PM, the CJI and the Speaker, which has to first appoint an eminent jurist among their ranks.
  • However, on April 27 last year, the Supreme Court, in a judgment, clarified that the Lokpal appointment process need not be stalled merely due to the absence of the LoP.

Sexual intercourse in long-term relationship not rape, says SC(The Hindu) 

What has happened?

Sexual intercourse in the course of a long-term relationship cannot be classified as rape, the Supreme Court has held.

Petition

  • The Bench was hearing an appeal against an order of the Karnataka High Court, which refused to quash a rape case.
  • The woman alleged that she had lived with the man for a period of eight years.

SC observed

  • It is difficult to hold sexual intercourse in the course of a relationship, which has continued for eight years, as ‘rape’, especially in the face of the complainant’s own allegation that they lived together as man and wife
  • This was especially true if the complainant-woman herself alleges that she and the accused had lived as man and wife.

Clamour for death(The Hindu Opinion) 

Context

The anger is justified, but not the proposal to grant capital punishment for rape of minors

 What has happened?

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi has said her ministry will seek an amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, to provide for death as the maximum punishment for the rape of those below 12

JS Verma committee decided against death penalty

  • In its January 2013 report, the committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma, decided against recommending the death penalty for rape, despite demands
  • It rightly took into account the possibility of awarding life sentences without remission for aggravated sexual assault, as well as “the current thinking in favour of the abolition of the death penalty”
  • However, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, set the death penalty for rape in the event of it causing the victim’s death or a persistent vegetative state, and for repeat offenders.

Reasons against death penalty

  • A vengeful state response to individual brutality, even if outraged public opinion clamoured for it is not justified
  • Death penalty has never been a deterrent against any sort of crime
  • It is difficult to operate the ‘rarest of rare cases’ principle without a hint of arbitrariness.
  • It will be especially wrong to force judges to compare the relative ‘merits’ of rape victims based on their age and choose between death sentence and life.

Conclusion

Lengthy prison sentences, constituting both well-deserved consequences for grave crimes and a life-long opportunity for penitence, will adequately meet the ends of justice.

GS: 3

Economy:

No deficit of currency, more being printed: RBI(The Hindu)

What has happened?

Amid the cash shortage reported from several parts of the country, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has assured that there is sufficient cash in the central bank’s vaults and in current chests, adding that the situation is being monitored closely.

Printing ramped up

The central bank also said printing of notes has been ramped up in all the four security note presses and steps are been taken to move currency to areas that are witnessing unusually large cash withdrawals

Shortage due to logistic issues

The central bank said the shortage may be felt in some pockets largely due to logistical issues of replenishing ATMs frequently and as recalibration of ATMs is still underway.

Chasing the monsoon(The Hindu Opinion)

Context

The forecast has enhanced the economic outlook, but India must conduct a water audit

What has happened?

The forecast of a normal monsoon has brought relief all around. For farmers, the India Meteorological Department’s estimate that rainfall during the summer, between June and September, will be 97% of the 50-year average of 89 cm, is bound to raise fresh expectations.

Advice to farmers on ideal cropping mix

It is vital for the Centre to arrive at a policy that gives constructive advice to farmers on the ideal cropping mix and help them get the cost-plus-50% margin that it has promised them

Utilizing the most of rainfall

  • The Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water drawn up by the Centre should be pursued scientifically, to help States with the most water-stressed blocks get adequate funds to build artificial recharge structures
  • Moreover, for those farmers who choose to continue with wheat and rice, transfer of expertise and provision of equipment that enables efficient utilisation of water is vital
  • An estimate of water used to grow rice and wheat, measured in cubic metres per tonne, shows that India uses more than what, say, China does
  • In the case of cotton, the figures present an even more staggering contrast: 8,264 cubic metres for India, against 1,419 for China
  • Combined with distortions in procurement subsidies, water stress due to such use is inevitable.

Changing pattern of monsoon

  • On the monsoon as a whole, studies indicate a change in the pattern since 1950
  • There is an increase in daily average rainfall since 2002, barring some of the worst El Niño years, likely due to higher land temperatures and cooler oceans
  • What is well known is that a good monsoon raises agriculture’s contribution to GDP growth, while a drought year depresses it
  • Clearly, governments need to invest consistently to harvest the monsoon, both on the surface and underground, with community participation.

‘India expected to grow at 7.4% in 2018’(The Hindu)

What has happened?

India is expected to grow at 7.4% in 2018 and 7.8% in 2019, leaving its nearest rival China behind respectively at 6.6% and 6.4% in the two years, the IMF said on Tuesday.

World Economic Outlook report by IMF

  • IMF foresees China to trail behind at 6.6%; reforms such as GST to help reduce internal trade barriers
  • With the short-term firming of growth driven by a recovery from the transitory effects of the currency exchange initiative and implementation of the national goods and services tax, and supported by strong private consumption growth
  • India has made progress on structural reforms in the recent past, including through the implementation of the GST, which will help reduce internal barriers to trade, increase efficiency and improve tax compliance.

Key challenge

  • While the medium-term growth outlook for India is strong, an important challenge is to enhance inclusiveness
  • India’s high public debt and recent failure to achieve the budget’s deficit target, calls for continued fiscal consolidation into the medium term to further strengthen fiscal policy credibility

‘Corporate debt, a drag on investment’(The Hindu)

Context

Policy action needed to tackle balance sheet vulnerabilities that pose a risk: IMF

What has happened?

The corporate debt overhang and associated banking sector credit quality concerns exert a drag on investment in India, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday, in an apparent reference to the PNB scam involving diamantaire Nirav ModiR 

Recommendations

  • Balance sheet vulnerabilities pose a downside risk to medium-term growth prospects in many emerging market economies, requiring policy action
  • Recapitalization should be part of a broader package of financial reforms to improve the governance of public sector banks, and banks’ debt recovery mechanisms should be further enhanced 

Mitigating rollover risk

Moreover, given that sudden repricing of term premiums remains a distinct possibility and that portfolio shifts could occur, it is important to mitigate rollover risk by avoiding excessive reliance on short-term borrowing.

Bharat-22 ETF may eye Rs. 10,000 cr.(The Hindu)

The Finance Ministry may come out with a Rs. 10,000-crore follow-on fund offer of the Bharat-22 exchange traded fund (ETF) as it looks to dilute stake in Coal India to meet the minimum public holding norm

The Ministry is keen to take the ETF route to sell off government shares held through SUUTI in private firms — ITC, Axis Bank and L&T,

  • The government, in November, introduced Bharat-22 ETF comprising shares of 22 firms, including PSUs, public sector banks, ITC, Axis Bank and L&T
  • The fund had garnered bids to the tune of Rs. 32,000 crore, although the government retained only Rs. 14,500 crore

Environment:

NGT asks Ministry to finalise national policy on forest fires(The Hindu) 

What has happened?

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to finalise the National Policy on Forest Fire within two weeks, after noting that forest fires generally occur in the month of April.

Mute spectator

The green panel had earlier come down heavily on the Centre for remaining a “mute spectator” to the recurring forest fires in the hill States and asked the Environment Ministry to formulate a national policy

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Did you like what you read?

Enter your email address below to get all our updates in your inbox the moment it is published. Once you enter your email address, you will be subscribed immediately.


We do not spam you, so you can easily unsubscribe anytime, by clicking on unsubscribe link in the email.