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GS 2 Government policies


SC for conclusive proof in graft case: (The Hindu) SC makes proof of demand necessary to give a verdict on corruption cases Context

  • Mere possession or recovery of currency notes from a public official is not enough to substantiate that someone has taken a bribe, SC said.
  • There has to be conclusive proof that he/she did make a demand for illegal gratification in order to find him guilty of corruption, the Supreme Court has held.

The verdict

  • The judgment concerns Mukhtiar Singh, a police officer in Punjab, imprisoned for taking a bribe of Rs. 2000 in 2009.
  • The prosecution blamed Mukhatir of taking money as illegal gratification to allegedly exonerate an accused, Sarabjit Singh, another police officer, in a dowry harassment case.
  • The prosecution argued that Mukhtiar Singh, even threatened Sarabjit and the latter lodged complaint against the SHO with the Vigilance department.
  • A trap was set and Mukhtiar Singh was allegedly caught having taken the money.
  • The trial court sentenced him to a year’s imprisonment in the graft case. While the plea was pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mukhtiar Singh died.
  • His legal heirs continued the fight for him, but eventually failed in the High Court, which confirmed the sentence.
  • In the plea, the Supreme Court held that a mere stray question like that did not confirm the accusation that Mukhtiar Singh had demanded a bribe.

Back to the classroom: (The Hindu, Editorial) Evidence based Policing(EBP) getting credits Context

  • Exposing police officers to the concept of EBP would make them more professional, something that would certainly enhance the Indian police’s image, which is currently dismal.

Status of police

  • People are dissatisfied with the quality of service they are getting from the police.
  • They are frustrated with the same old alibi trotted out by the police: political interference.
  • The system therefore needs drastic restructuring, beyond cosmetics, in order to make policing more professional and more acceptable to the common man.
  • There are several efforts initiated by a few dynamic IPS officers in the larger cities, there is an overall reluctance to experiment with measures that could upgrade delivery of its service.
  • Some fresh thinking into the twin problems of maintaining public order and combating conventional crime will be beneficial.
  • Even in countries that have a strong legacy of clinical public administration, there is increasing disappointment with the way the police handle major crises.

Fundamentals of Evidence-Based Policing (EBP)

  • The congregation of academics and active police leaders at Cambridge endorsed the imperative to fine-tune traditional styles, which placed a stress solely on the mechanical use of police resources rather than an intelligent application of available skills.
  • There are two areas in which EBP could deliver. These are prediction and prevention.
  • The strategy is one of recognizing ‘hot spots’ of crime and spotting problematic individuals in a community.

Prediction and Prevention

  • The former task requires a scrutiny of events which are either crimes by themselves or border on crimes defined by law.
  • There are certain geographic areas in each police jurisdiction which report more incidents than others.
  • EBP goes beyond statistics and pinpoints the time and opportunities presented to a potential offender.
  • EBP studies phenomena and highlights findings that are appropriate to crime prevention.
  • Similarly, monitoring patterns of behaviour of a class of individuals who had come to the adverse notice of law enforcement is a logical way to predict whether they will again lapse into crime.
  • Despite the unfairness in targeting those who had indulged in anti-social behaviour in the past and keeping a tab on their day-to-day activities, there is an expected benefit of being able to predict future criminal behaviour.
  • It is not as if every convict will go back to crime once set free.
  • Several studies have strengthened the belief that repetition is not uncommon, and that many future crimes can be foiled by pinpointing who, more than others, could be expected to offend once more.

The past catches up: (The Hindu, Editorial) SC ridicules Government for arguing against probing order of inquiry Context

  • The Supreme Court has reiterated the principle of accountability as an essential part of the rule of law by ordering an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into more than 80 cases of suspected extrajudicial killings in Manipur.

The verdict over fake encounters

  • In 2016, the court had ruled that the armed forces cannot escape investigation for moderation even in places where they enjoy special powers.
  • The legal shield provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, will have to yield to the principles of human rights, the court reiterated.
  • Even after this ruling on petitions demanding an inquiry into 1,528 deaths in counter-insurgency operations in Manipur, the Attorney General had argued against the court ordering an investigation into some specific instances.
  • The Attorney General came up with the revolting argument that investigations conducted by the authorities in Manipur were biased in favour of the citizens owing to local pressure and the ground situation.
  • The court stood steady in its assessment, condemning the suggestion that all inquiries were biased.
  • Another upsetting aspect in the purview of human rights is that the National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) has been reduced to a “toothless tiger”.
  • NHRC is grossly short-staffed despite its increasing workload, and many State governments show little respect for its guidelines and instructions.

The opportunity in Kashmir: (Indian Express, Editorial) Hurriyat leaders condemns the Amarnath attack Context

  • The new development post the Amarnath attack has been that the separatists of the Hurriyat came out to condemn the killings.
  • The Hurriyat leaders have put their names out publicly for their opposition to the attack on the pilgrims to Amarnath to be known.

Difference between the Hurriyat and the Jihadists

  • Hurriyat are Indian people; the jihadists are not.
  • The Jihadists are outsiders, if not from across the borders. Jihadists pledge no loyalty to Kashmir or India.
  • The Hurriyat on the other hand care for Kashmir. They do not want to break up from India.
  • The rupture between the jihadists and the Hurriyat needs to be seized upon by the government.

GS 3

Science and Tech


A looming threat: (The Hindu, Editorial) India gets hold of a looming disease Context:

  • All children diagnosed with TB must get pediatric fixed-dose combination drugs.
  • A proactive approach to testing helps in early and correct diagnosis of all contacts and in cutting the transmission chain.

Stats:

  • About 5,500 of over 76,000 children tested in nine Indian cities have been diagnosed with tuberculosis, 9% of them with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), highlighting the silent spread of the disease.
  • According to a 2015 study, of the over 600 children who had tested positive for TB in four cities, about 10% showed resistance to Rifampicin, a first-line drug.

The concern:

  • TB in children from these nine cities is a grim reminder of the failure of the health-care system to diagnose the disease early enough in adults and start them on treatment.
  • With up to a couple of months’ delay in diagnosing the disease, there is a continuing threat of TB spreading among household contacts and in the larger community.

The Initiative:

  • In line with World Health Organisation guidelines, the RNTCP (Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program) requires all household contacts, particularly children, of a newly diagnosed pulmonary TB patient to be tested and started on treatment if needed.
  • Children below six years of age in the household of a newly diagnosed patient are required to be given the drug Isoniazid as a prophylactic even when they do not have the disease.
  • In 2010, WHO had revised the dosage of certain TB drugs for children. But Fixed-dose Combination (FDC) drugs that take into account the revised dosages for children were finally made available in late 2015.
  • After more than a year’s delay, a few months ago in 2017, India finally introduced FDCs in six States. The remaining States will be covered by the end of the year.

‘RBI push to resolve Rs. 8 lakh cr. bad loans’: (The Hindu) (NPA of Rs 8 lakh crore to end by March 2019) Context: Industry body Assocham said that the Banking Regulation (Amendment ) Ordinance has empowered the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take up “ bad loans” worth about Rs 8 lakh crore for resolution by March 2019. Introduction:

  • According to Assocham the move has the potential to bring down the non-performing asset (NPA) levels and “significantly improve” the financial health of banks.
  • NPAs are a big drain on the financial health of banks especially public sector banks (PSBs).
  • The government gave wide-ranging legislative powers to the Reserve Bank of India to issue directions to lenders to initiate insolvency proceedings for the recovery of bad loans that have reached unacceptably high level.
  • After the notification of the ordinance amending the Banking Resolution Act 1949, the RBI eased the decision-making process in the Joint Lender’s Forum (JLF) and Corrective Action Plan (CAP) under the “Framework for Revitalising Distressed Assets in the Economy.’

Highlights:

  • The resolution of NPA would be enabled by a combination of several factors including a turnaround in the economic cycle and some resolute steps by the government and RBI to fix the issue, the report stressed.
  • Assocham study titled ‘NPAs Resolution: Light at the end of tunnel by March 2019’ saidSo, it should be safe to assume that the non-performing assets (NPAs) mess would largely be resolved by the first quarter of financial year 2019-20,”
  • Although entire NPAs could be put on the altar of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) resolution mechanism, it has to be seen how much and how fast these bad loans actually go out from the balance sheets of banks, which at this point of time seem much stressed, the report added.

Govt. clears three export infra plans: (The Hindu) (Green signal for three export infra plans) Context: Cargo terminal at Imphal airport, modernization of Karnataka facility for marine exports receive green nod. Introduction: With deficient infrastructure severely hurting the competitiveness of India’s exports, the government-for the first time under a new scheme launched in March to address the problem-has given its approval for three proposals including one to establish an Integrated Cargo Terminal (ICT) at the Imphal International Airport. Other applications that received the green signal from an (Inter-Ministerial) Empowered Committee (EC) chaired by Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia include:

  • Modernisation of infrastructure facility in Karnataka for marine exports-where the total cost is Rs 13.34 crore.
  • Construction of a new ‘ Standard Design Factory’ building at Cochin Special Economic Zone (SEZ)
  • The Estimate Committee on ‘Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES)’ — in its first ever meeting that was held on June 9 — deferred on technical grounds an application to set up “the first dedicated facility” in India to test medical devices.This is proposed to be established at eh Andhra Pradesh Med Tech Zone in Visakhapatna.

Key points:

  • The EC has granted an in-principle nod for a proposal to establish a ‘Coastal Cashew Research and Development Foundation’ in Karnataka, for which the total cost estimated is Rs 10 crore.
  • The TIES, which is being implemented form FY 18 till FY20, has a budgetary allocation of Rs 600 crore. The scheme’s annual outlay is Rs 200 crore.
  • According to a March 2016 report on ‘Export Infrastructure in India’ by the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, “deficient infrastructure and the manner in which infrastructure is being operated in India are the major obstacles to ensure competitiveness in manufacturing of goods and exports thereof.”
  • The report said Indian exports lose competitiveness on account of huge logistics costs.
  • The logistic cost in India is about 14% of the GDP whereas in advanced economies like the U.S. and the European Union, it is 8% and 10% of the GDP respectively.”
  • The Standing Committee further said, “Owing to sub-optimal logistic capability, certain sectors dependent on logistics lose as much as 2% on sales return.
  • An Assocham study conducted a few years back shows that India runs against a disadvantage of about 11% of its trade due to deficient infrastructure.
  • According to an Assocham-Resurgent India jointly study, “India can save up to $ 50 billion if logistics costs are brought down from 14% to 9% of country’s GDP thereby making domestic goods more competitive in global makets.
  • The objective of the TIES is to “enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure and first-mile and last-mile connectivity.

Is the Indian Economy at an inflexion point?: (Live Mint, Editorial) Unprecedented economic boom Context: Inflation has come down to its lowest level in several years Introduction:

  • The balance of payments situation is comfortable because stable capital flows are funding the current account deficit.
  • The rupee is strengthening against the dollar despite intervention by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Foreign exchange reserves are increasing rapidly. Excess private sector debt casts a long shadow over this picture of economic stability.
  • The banks are in a mess because many of the loans given out during the preceding credit bubble have gone sour. Private sector investment is very weak. Economic growth is too dependent on consumer spending.
  • Indian economic growth took off a year after the mix of macroeconomic stability combined with balance-sheet stress.

What is the likelihood that India is once again at an inflexion point?

  • The benchmark Sensex closed above the 32,000 mark for the first time on Thursday.
  • Foreign portfolio investors continue to bet on India as one of the brightest spots in an otherwise glum global economy.
  • Domestic investors have been eager participants in the party because of the rapid spread of systematic investment plans floated by local mutual funds, though valuations right now are far richer than they were 15 years ago.

There are two important differences in the macro matrix between 2002 and 2017.

  • The five-year economic boom that ended in 2008 was marked by a splendid rise in capital spending by companies.
  • Exports were an important driver of growth thanks to a vibrant global economy.
  • In fact, a closer look at the components of economic growth during the two previous booms shows that the Indian economy grows more rapidly than its trend rate only when private sector capital spending takes off and a strong global economy provides support through demand for Indian exports.

Key points:

  • New data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy shows that new project proposals in the June quarter were at their lowest level in three years.
  • Gross capital formation by the private sector has come down sharply over the past three years.
  • The reasons are excess capacity in many industries, the fact that companies are using cash flows to repay debt and banks are not in a position to lend (though the corporate bond markets are picking up some of the slack).
  • However, international organizations such as the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Economist Intelligence Unit are predicting a turnaround in private sector capex from fiscal year 2019.
  • The World Bank has said in its recent India Economic Update that it expects private investment to overtake private consumption as the main driver of economic growth.

Conclusion: The big lesson that few in India want to learn is that economic stability through prudent fiscal and monetary policies creates the initial conditions for economic acceleration. And economic reforms that boost savings, investment and productivity are an essential ingredient of successful economic transitions.


Prelims Related News


Bengal’s medicinal plants face threat: Bengal’s curative plants in verge of extinction Introduction:

  • The West Bengal Forest Department on Friday came out with a unique publication titled Medicinal Plant Resources of South Bengal that provides details on 581 species of medicinal plants found across different regions of south Bengal.
  • As per the reports, out of 20,000 medicinal plants listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), India’s contribution is about 5,000 species.

Purpose of the publication:

  • The publication will serve as a very important data bank of medicinal plants in the country
  • It will also generate interest among common people to come forward and conserve medicinal plans by growing them into their home gardens
  • The publication is also a part of ongoing measures taken up by the State Forest Department to conserve medicinal plants.

The concern:

  • Increasing use of medicinal plants as raw materials by different pharmaceutical companies has pushed many of these species to the stage of extinction.

Uses of the plants:

  • The roots of a rambling herb Gloriosa superba found across south Bengal are poisonous are widely sought by pharmaceutical companies.
  • Sloth bears are reported to feed on the pulp of the Cassia fistula (amaltus) fruit for stomach ailments. The plant also has medicinal properties for treating skin diseases in humans.
  • The bark of Saraca asoca, which is a threatened tree species classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, is used in the treatment of a number of ailments, including heart disease.
  • Asparagus officinalis is used for the treatment of jaundice and rheumatism, Asparagus racemosus is not only used to treat human ailments but also that of cattle, and is sold in the markets of south Bengal by locals.

Guardian UAV deal with U.S. still a work in progress: Indo-US Guardian UAV deal still not executed Context:

  • The Guardian UAV deal between U.S. and India is still in progress for India is looking over the options available before taking a call.

What is the deal about?

  • Sale of 22 Guardian maritime surveillance by America has come India’s way.
  • But defence sources say that the actual deal is a long way off as the government of India is evaluating the options available.
  • There was much speculation that the deal, likely between $2-2.5 billion, would be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June, 2017; but there was no such announcement.
  • Washington had offered for India’s consideration the sale of Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems which would enhance India’s capabilities and promote shared security interests.
  • Given the Sea Guardian’s capabilities, such a U.S. response to the Indian Navy’s request demonstrates a major change in U.S. policy as this type of aircraft capability is only exported to a very select few of America’s closest defence partners.
  • This represents tangible implementation of U.S.
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