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GS 1

Geophysical phenomena


‘100% monsoon quota this year’:

Context:

  • The India Meteorological Department had predicted that India would get ‘normal’ rain during the remaining months of the monsoon season.
  • But India is likely to get 100% of its annual monsoon quota of 89 cm.

Current Scenario:

  • Rainfall had weakened over most of the country in the first week of August , 2017.
  • Low rainfall in August is a  part of a ‘break’ or hiatus anticipated by the meteorologists.

New forecast model:

  • This year, the IMD formally launched a new forecast model i.e., the Monsoon Mission Coupled Forecasting System (MMCFS).
  • The model employs supercomputers to forecast the monsoon. This is in addition to the statistical system traditionally employed.

Social issues

Privacy and the ‘nothing to hide’ argument: (Live Mint, Editorial)

The argument wrongfully equates privacy with secrecy, even though the former is a distinct and much richer concept.

Context:

  • The argument, “I have got nothing to hide” wrongfully equates privacy with secrecy, even though the former is a distinct and much richer concept.
  • The right to privacy includes a bundle of rights such as the privacy of beliefs, thoughts, personal information, home, and property.

Explanation:

  • Arguments such as “I have got nothing to hide” argument represent a common misconception of the meaning and value of the right to privacy.
  • According to the argument, only people with something to hide, or those who have done something wrong, are concerned about the loss of privacy.
  • If one has nothing to hide, then information about them cannot really be used against you.
  • Thus, the argument proceeds that no harm should be caused to them by the breach of their privacy.

Arguments against “I have got nothing to hide”:

  • Invasion of privacy takes a short-term view of privacy and data collection.
  • Data once collected can be used, misused, shared, and stored in perpetuity.
  • Worse, it can be combined with other individually inconsequential data points to reveal extremely significant information about an individual.
  • Surveillance programmes are problematic even when there is no “undesirable” information that people want to keep hidden.
  • It is vulnerability of the citizens created by the system’s use of his personal data.
  • When we believe we are being observed, we are more likely to behave according to socially accepted norms.
  • The change in behaviour, thus, has less to do with the content of our actions, but more to do with the knowledge of being watched.

India and neighbors


Nepal to stay neutral:

Context

  • Nepal on Tuesday said it intended to maintain neutrality in the India-China standoff.

Staying neutral

  • Nepal plans to stay neutral at the India – China standoff.
  • India and China both have not asked or pressured Nepal seeking favour.
  • We don’t see possibility of a war,” said Foreign Minister of Nepal Krishna Bahadur Mahara in Kathmandu.
  • Mr. Mahara’s statement has set the stage for a crucial week when Nepal will host key Indian and Chinese dignitaries.

GS 3

Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment


Start-up funding may come under SEBI lens:

Context:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is concerned with the manner in which start-ups are being funded through unregulated entities and is examining the manner in which alternative fund-raising platforms are crowd-funding ventures can be regulated to bring in transparency and regulatory oversight in such deals.

Introduction:

  • The regulator has recently formed a panel under T.V. Mohandas Pai, former CFO of Infosys, to look into this issue and advice on ensuring that market disruption does not come at the cost of investor protection and market integrity.
  • The SEBI chairman Ajay Tyagi had recently met an industry delegation to discuss the matter as the regulator was concerned with the increasing number of such entities in the market with even recognized stock exchanges raising a red flag over the mushrooming of such ventures.

Various mandates of the panel:

  • To ensure that market disruption does not come at the cost of investor protection and market integrity
  • The Committee on Financial and Regulatory Technologies will deliberate on financial technology solutions for widening and deepening of the Indian securities market through traditional and alternative platforms, including peer to peer lending and equity crowd-funding

Present legal framework:

  •  Under the present legal framework, issue of shares to more than 200 persons constitutes a public issue and needs SEBI approval
  •   Earlier, the cap was 49 and was increased to 200 when the Companies Act was revised in 2013
  • The cap was increased to 200 from 49 when the Companies Act was revised in 2013
  • SEBI has a provision under Section 28 of Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act (SCRA) that allowed the regulator to recognise such alternative investment platforms.
  • There are many entities such as Grex, Venture Catalysts, Indian Angel Network, Lets Venture, Traxn and Term Sheet that help start-ups connect with investors.
  •  Globally there are no uniform standards for registration of such investment platforms, at most places such platforms are regulated trading venues, which serve as an alternative to trading at public exchanges

Concerns:

  • The regulator was concerned with the increasing number of such entities in the market
  • The regulator has even sent notices to many entities that act as platforms for funding start-ups or connecting them to the large investor community
  • The regulator has questioned the manner in which these entities help start-ups raise funds. Any violation would amount to organizing an unrecognized stock exchange and SEBI would be constrained to initiate action.

Way ahead:

  • While a notification under section 28 of SCRA providing legal recognition to alternative investment platforms would be a welcome step, a lot would depend upon the framework to ensure clearing and settlement and audit trail of transactions.
  • The start-up ecosystem has gained significance especially after the government’s Make in India initiative and important departments including the Department of Economic Affairs and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion are pushing regulatory bodies to create an investor-friendly ecosystem for such ventures.

Challenges to internal security

Dangers Of Complacency: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Context:

The Doklam issue is by itself, as the external affairs minister said, not of any great significance and may settle down to face-to-face confrontation

Background:

  •  From the middle of the last month onward, India and China troops are arrayed face-to-face on the Doklam plateau
  •  In June 2017 a military standoff occurred between China and India as China attempted to extend a road on the Doklam plateau southwards near the Doka La pass.
  •   Doka La became the site of a stand-off between the armed forces of India and China following an attempt by China to extend a road from Yadong further southward on the Doklam plateau.
  • Unlike China and Bhutan, India does not have a claim on Doklam, however, India supports Bhutan’s claim on the territory.

Key points:

  • In the Belt and Road initiative, the 2013 version of China’s transport corridor, India’s essential interest lies in keeping both Gwadar and Bandar Abbas open for energy supply to it from Central Asia.
  • The most optimistic energy forecasts for India with renewable sources including hydel, nuclear and solar still leave substantial gaps.
  • China building the transport links to Gwadar is going to create an environment which should be of concern to India.
  • Iran has fired the first salvo amongst the oil producers of the Middle East with an angry establishment comment on goings-on in India

Deterioration of the growth prospects this year is again an issue facing a silent wall.

Reasons for this:

  • High rainfall in the North West and western UP, which are largely irrigated, matters a lot less than the deficit in the dry Deccan plateau.
  •  Delayed sowing has an impact.
  • There was a big shortfall in the southern region, fluctuating at around a sixth of expected rainfall until August.
  • The June figures with the new index of industrial production show that growth is only 0.4 per cent as compared to a figure of 7 per cent in June 2016.

 

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