Social issues


The organising principle of lynch mobs: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Context:

  • Recent years has seen a growing trend of “mob lynching” in every corner of the country. The reason for the same being various at various points of time.

Present day context:

  • The larger picture of the majority class is to cast a shadow of fear and trepidation over entire regions, and to put minorities and the so-called lower castes to their ways.
  •  The county is set back a hundred years when neighbors turn on neighbors.
  • With social media at its peak, matters are worse, because people video-record the torture of their neighbors in the name of cow-protection and make it go viral.
  • Literally, the one right that enables us to possess and exercise other rights is the right to life granted by Article 21 of the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution.
  • But for 23 years, the court did not interpret the right to life as a principle of natural justice, but as a fragile right that could be taken away by arbitrary legislation.
  •  The recent spate of attacks on Indian citizens, the lynching and slaughter, can be rightfully termed as deliberate assaults on personal liberty and the right to life.
  • The police personals doesn’t really make an effort to dig into the scenario for the elected ministers of State governments defend actions that maim and murder on flimsy and unsubstantiated grounds, such as transportation of cattle or lynching.

Consequence:

  • These atrocity results in splitting up of the political community in India and the disillusion of solidarity.
  •  There’s spatial segregation between the majority and minority groups as the latter seek shelter.
  • And throughout the whole affair, mindless violence seems to be part of a larger project of the extreme right.
  •  The massive communal brutality is an expression of loss of confidence in elected leaderships and a mass no-confidence motion.

Conclusions:

  • Perpetrators of violence must be punished, aspirant wrongdoers must be deterred, and civil liberties must be restored.
  • The citizens of the democratic country need to deepen protests, because lynching and murders are not random or isolated incidents.
  • Residential exclusion narrows the cultural and political horizons of communities, closes off options, pre-empts creative mingling of perspectives and prevents solidarity.

Towards unfreedom: (Indian Express, Editorial)


Context:

  • There is an urgent need for reconsidering the definition of faith in the country as far as violence in the name of religion, caste and decision making is concerned.

Introduction:

  • When unquestioned faith takes its roots rather than reasoning, it can be a big obstacle to leading an enlightened life.
  • Faith in oneself or on something or someone can be either good or bad. Faith in good things can bring laurels but also discourage the willingness to listen to others.
  • India has always been welcoming refuge for persecuted minorities from many different lands.
  • The country has been following an argumentative culture, a tolerance of heterodoxy.    
  • Retrospectively, Indian insightful leaders in the communal riots of 1940s had to offer resistance through their vision and determined political action and were successful too.
  • Also, there was much more cogent resistance in the 2004 general elections; the ruling party was richly rewarded for following a well-articulated and firmly secular strategy.

Present scenario:

  • Well, the country isn’t the same. Gangs of wild men can be seen hunting down beef-eaters, and killing people whose employment in the leather industry arouses the suspicion of faithful believers in the holiness of the cow.
  • Moreover, there’s a custodial chance of getting arrested on the ground of sedition only because of backing in a cricket test match.
  • This is completely in violation of the Supreme Court’s clearly stated rules on what kind of incitement to violence can constitute sedition.
  • The recent Presidential-election hooch pooch did not encounter any visionary candidate for the Presidentship; the opposition remained inert, waiting for the ruling party to make the first move.

Conclusion:

  • It is essential to acknowledge the fact that freedom in the Indian society enjoyed in beliefs and practice always needed defence and support.
  • Violations have to be resisted to correct the follies and to prevent their emergence.
  • The country needs a vision, particularly of democracy, tolerance and even-handed treatment of all, can also be a powerful vehicle of good faith which is backed by reason.

GS 2

International groupings and agreements


Israel backs India’s fight on terror: (The Hindu)


Context

  •  Israel has come out in total support of India on the subject of terrorism.
  •   Israel believes there is no difference between Pakistan-based “Lashkar-e-Taiba” and the Hamas group operating in Israel and Palestine.

Close Cooperation

  •  Mark Sofer, Deputy Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Asia-Pacific department considers killing civilians for any spurious ideological reason is terrorism.
  •   Exchange of words against terrorism is being spoken at a briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel.
  •  The meeting is described as ‘historic’ with ‘huge symbolic significance.’
  •   India and Israel will sign a unique Strategic Partnership on non-security issues including Agriculture, Water, Science, technology and Space.
Lashkar-e-Taiba

·  Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), also known as Army of the Pure or Army of the Righteous, is an Islamic militant organization based in Pakistan.

· It was founded in 1990 by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed as the military wing of Pakistani Islamist organization Markaz-ad-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI), which promotes the Ahl-e-Hadith (AeH) interpretation of Islam, until it ostensibly split from the group in 2002.

·  LeT was first active in the fight against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan but changed its focus to the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir when the state rebelled against Indian control in the early 1990s.

·  LeT has reportedly been supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) since the early 1990s as one of many paramilitary groups used by Pakistan as proxy forces to create instability in India.

·   LeT sees the fight against Indian control over Jammu and Kashmir as part of a global struggle against the oppression of Muslims, and ultimately seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Indian subcontinent.

Hamas

· Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group that has waged war on Israel since the group’s 1987 founding’s.

·  Most notably through suicide bombings and rocket attacks. It seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. It also governs Gaza independently of the Palestinian Authority.

· Hamas charter calls for destruction of Israel.

· Using suicide bombings against Israel in the 1990s and 2000s, though in recent years it has shifted to rockets and mortars as its weapons of choice.

·  The organization also offers Palestinians a robust network of social services, which it developed as an alternative to deeply corrupt PA institutions.


All eyes now on Modi-Xi meet in Germany: (The Hindu)


Context

  • Sustained standoff between India and China at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan at the Doklam tri-junction.

Present Scenario

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet on the sidelines in the G20 summit in Germany this week.
  • Both sides had earlier positioned an additional 3000 troops since the initial face-off at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, on which all three countries have claims.
  • There is however, no further troop addition since the initial push, from either side

Read More: China Bhutan India standoff 


Israel to help ensure food security in India: (The Hindu)


Context

  •  India and Israel will sign a unique Strategic Partnership on non-security issues including Agriculture, Water, Science, technology and Space.
  •   India’s 1.3 billion people need food and water and India – Israel relationship on food security issue
  •  will bring maximum benefits to people of both sides.

The visit

Ø  Modi as soon as reaching Israel will be escorted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ø  They’ll be visiting a floriculture farm,

Ø  will be visiting a memorial for Indian soldiers in Haifa,

Ø  will attend a water desalination programme on a beach,

Ø  have lunch with business CEO’s from India and Israel together,

Ø  will address a gathering of about 5,000 Israeli citizens of Indian origin in Tel Avi.

Read more about India-Palestine issue-

 

Executive and the Judiciary


SC allows abortion of ailing foetus: (The Hindu)


Read the following editorial over the above issue: Apex court allows abortion for ailing foetus  


SC takes a maiden step towards paperless court: (The Hindu)


SC on paperless court

Context

  • Supreme Court takes a maiden leap towards paperless court by introducing Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS).

Stacks of files replaced with electronic devices

  • The court unveiled a comprehensive switchover to the digitized system in all new cases in the first five courts.
  • Judges can see information about cases on a slick interactive digital display device that will guide the judges through the daily roster of cases.
  • At the moment, only fresh matters listed in the first five courts will be accessed by the judges digitally on an interactive display device
  • This comes as a relief to judges, lawyers, litigants and court staff who earlier had to deal with multiple copies of voluminous petitions and bulky annexures running into thousands of pages on a daily basis
  • All interested parties will get soft copies related to the cases.
  • The Supreme Court has opened two help desks on the court’s premises provide assistance relating to ICMIS.
ICMIS

·  Using ICMIS will benefit by providing information on

o Next tentative date of listing generated through e-process.

o Categories and Acts & Section.

o Objections in Defective matters.

o Interlocutory Application/Documents.

o Office Reports.

o Listing dates.

o Judgement/Orders.

o Appearance information of accused.

o Tracking of file movement.

o Status of the notice issued.

·  There will also be an online court fee calculator and an online limitation calculator, apart from an online court fee payment gateway.

·   With the help of a new software, High Court will be able to access the case records and it will reduce the repetition of case data entries in the Supreme Court.

GS 3

Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment


Deregistered firms to face money laundering probe

e money laundering probe: (The Hindu)


Read the following analysis over above issue – De-registered firm faces money laundering probe


Close vigil on GST rollout progress: (The Hindu)


Context

  •  Recently India launched GST after 16 years of its initial discussion
  • The government is keeping a close watch on the day-to-day progress in the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Tracking the Implementation

  •   Government weekly meet at its highest level is being done to keep a track on the implementation of the new tax regime
  •    Every Secretary has been asked to take up the responsibility of their own stakeholders, trade and industry and with State officers as far as implementation of GST is concerned
  •   The government had asked all the departments to ensure that there is  no shortage of products and consumer items in order to keep a check on prices
  •   Special emphasis is being laid on keeping prices of essential commodities under check
  •  All the concerned departments have also been asked to ensure that retailers, dealers and shopkeepers displayed a ready price list under GST of the items sold by them.

Conclusion

  •  After prolonged debates and discussions and continuous opposition the new tax regime of GST was launched
  •   The government, on its part, must ensure that the benefits of GST were passed on to the consumers

Open acres: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Context

  •  Recently the government liberalized the regime for oil and gas exploration by announcing Open Acreage Licensing process that allows companies to carve their own areas for hydrocarbon hunting.
  •   Also was launched India’s maiden National Data Repository (NDR) that will assimilate, preserve and upkeep country’s vast sedimentary data for future use in oil and gas exploration and production. It will also aid in Open Acreage Licensing.

Background

  •  At present, the government selects and demarcates areas it feels can be offered for bidding in an exploration licensing round.
  •   In terms of exploration and production, currently around 52 per cent of India’s sedimentary basins are still unappraised and the last seismic data acquisition of the unappraised sedimentary basins was undertaken by the government nearly 25 years ago

How Open Acreage Licensing (OAL) will work?

  •   Under the open acreage licensing (OAL), companies can visit NDR and look at vast seismic data of currently producing fields and explored areas as also those of unexplored areas
  •   From the areas that are not under any licensee, they can then carve out an area suitable to them and evince interest in doing exploration and production.
  •   Once an area is selected, the government will put it up for bidding and any firm offering the maximum share of oil or gas produced from the area would be awarded the block.

Role of National Data Repository (NDR)

  • The NDR will be wholly funded by the government of India and housed with the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).
  •   It will have the ability to store data online, near line and offline, and provide independent web-based access.
  • The mammoth volume of data collected by E&P companies and other agencies over more than six decades of activities was hitherto lying scattered at different work centres of ONGC, Oil India and DGH or held by the operating companies.
  •  This necessitated an establishment of a system at national level that could assimilate, preserve and upkeep the vast amount of data which could be organised and regulated for use in future exploration and development, besides use by R&D and other educational Institutes. And hence the government initiated the establishment of the NDR.

Current Scenario

  • The recently unveiled Open Acreage Licensing Policy and the National Data Repository together are a significant and welcome step towards opening up the hydrocarbon exploration and production industry in India.
  •  By placing greater discretion in the hands of explorers and operators, the Licensing Policy attempts to address a major drawback in the New Exploration Licensing Policy, which forced energy explorers to bid for blocks chosen by the government
  •   Companies can now apply for particular areas they deem to be attractive to invest in, and the Centre will put those areas up for bids.

What are the Benefits?

  •  This is more attractive for prospective operators because in the past, the blocks chosen by the government often were large swathes of land or sea in which only a small fraction had hydrocarbon reserves
  •  By offering companies the freedom to choose exactly the areas they want to explore, and their size, the government has a better chance to woo serious energy investors in an effort to help achieve a more cohesive framework of the country’s energy security
  •   Besides allowing potential investors to make informed decisions, this will open up a new sector in India.
  •  There are a number of companies around the world that make it their business to simply explore hydrocarbon basins and sell the information they gather. The new initiative seeks to incentivize such prospectors.

The Liberalization Process

  •  Companies will be allowed submit applications through the year and not just at designated and often infrequent points, as was the case earlier.
  •   The auctions will be held twice a year for now; the frequency could be increased as soon as the industry grows accustomed to the new system. This will lend more flexibility to the industry.

Concerns

  •  There are still some concerns about the implementation of the overall Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy
  •  The policy awards an extra five points to bidders for acreage if they have already invested in the exploration and development of that area, but it is doubtful if this is enough of an incentive, since the investment needed to simply explore is significant.
  •   By contrast, no such preference is given to mineral explorers while auctioning mining rights — instead, a revenue-share from mining operations is their recompense for exploration efforts.
  •  This could be considered for the hydrocarbon sector as well.
  •  Another concern is whether India can attract enough investment to meet the government’s objective of reducing oil imports by 10% by 2022
  • And the competition that India faces from Gulf of Mexico that weakens the investor inclination for Indian acreage.

NPA resolution: a rough road ahead: (Live Mint, Editorial)


Context

  • The problem of NPAs in the Indian banking system is one of the foremost and the most formidable problems that had impact the entire banking system
  •   And banking clean-up plus corporate deleveraging are critical for a more robust economic revival

The Worrying Factor

  •  The latest “Financial Stability Report”, released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) states that conditions in the Indian financial system are expected to deteriorate further before they improve.

Indicators of Worsening Situation

  •   Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) rose from 9.2% in September 2016 to 9.6% in March 2017.
  •   Stress tests conducted by the Indian central bank indicate that this number could rise to 10.2% under the baseline scenario
  •  The indicator of banking stability worsened over the second half of fiscal year 2017—with measures of asset quality and profitability providing the most cause for concern
  •  There has been a modest improvement in capital adequacy but this was brought in by the private sector and foreign banks.
  •  The situation in public sector banks is especially worrisome. Capital adequacy is under strain.
  •   Return on assets is negative. So is return on equity.
  • More than a quarter of the loans given by public sector banks to industry (thus excluding loans to agriculture, services and retail consumers) are under stress.
  • In a nutshell, it can be said that government banks are at the epicentre of the larger banking mess.

Implications of “Financial Stability Report”

  • Fifty-six per cent of the loans given out by Indian banks have gone to large borrowers—but they account for a massive 86% of gross NPAs
  •  In that sense, the new strategy of focusing on large defaulters makes good strategic sense.
  •  Bad loans are concentrated in a few firms in a few sectors such as telecommunications, power, infrastructure and steel.
  • All this is a good backdrop at a time when the NPA resolution process has reached a critical stage.

Way Forward

  •  The financial authorities are focusing on a few large problem accounts that are weighing down the Indian banking system.
  •  The RBI has already identified 12 big accounts for quick resolution, under the powers given to it by the recent presidential ordinance
  • These 12 accounts are the source of a full quarter of the total NPAs of the banking system.
  • Lenders have been instructed by their regulator to use the provisions of the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to file insolvency proceedings against companies. Lenders have approached the National Company Law Tribunal in at least two of the 12 accounts identified by the RBI.

Future Prospects

  • The current situation has lead to a track where for the first time, in recent Indian financial history; powerful firms are living under the threat of liquidation.
  •  The new bankruptcy law allows defaulters 270 days to come up with a credible plan to repay loans—and lenders can initiate liquidation if companies fail to do so.
  •  In other words, the design of the bankruptcy code, does not allow the companies to manipulate
  • Any banking clean-up will eventually require capital—lots of capital. it will need external equity capital of unto Rs95,000 crore, far higher than what the government has budgeted as capital infusion for all the banks it owns. So any move made towards dodging the situation will come under the radar of scrutiny.
  • It is also being expected that the Indian investment cycle will improve

Conclusion

  •   It is well known that the economic recovery cannot build momentum unless private sector investment revives.
  •   Such a revival will be very difficult unless the twin balance-sheet problem—over-leveraged corporations and undercapitalized banks—is solved credibly.
  •  The recent move to take large defaulters towards insolvency proceedings shows that some firm action is finally being taken and it definitely shows some hope.

Pollution and conservation


The delta miracle: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Read the following analysis over above issue – Save The Sundarbans 

 


Tiger reserves to remain closed during monsoon:


Context:

Tourism zones falling in the national park areas of Ranthambhore and Sariska tiger reserves in Rajasthan will remain closed during monsoon in 2017.

Details:

  •   Following a meeting of the State Wildlife Board’s standing committee and Ranthambhore Tiger Conservation Foundation on June 9th, the Forest Department had issued orders to keep the tiger reserves open for tourism during July to September
  • The Forest Department has revised its orders after The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) took up the matter with the State government.
  •  The orders of closure of tiger reserves will be applicable to the national park areas. The fringe areas will remain open for tourism activities.
  •  The revised orders provide for complete closure of tourism zones 1 to 5 at Ranthambhore and two tourism zones at Sariska.

Contradicting views

  •   The NTCA has led emphasis that monsoon is the breeding season for wild animals especially tigers. Therefore, closure of the tiger reserves during monsoon is justified.
  •  However, the State Wildlife Board had observed that the breeding of tigers extended throughout the year in Rajasthan, which is a low rainfall area.
  •  It has been pointed out that the zones 6 to 10 at Ranthambhore had been opened for tourism during monsoon in the past few years and no adverse effect on tigers and their conservation had been observed.
  •  The NTCA, while identifying factors for closure during monsoon in its 2015 directive, had stated that the period for closure would be decided by the respective State governments.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

· The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was established in      December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force.

· The Environment Minister is the Chairman of NTCA

· The NTCA performs an overarching supervisory and coordinating role

·  It performs the functions as provided by the Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972

 

 

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