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GS 1

Social issues


Crime and context: (Indian Express, Editorial)


Context:

  • It is high time that the country should understand the context of lynching and how it had come into existence.

Introduction:

  • There are countries where lynching, as a form of collective violence, is common  but retrospectively, India was not one of them.
  • In India, after 1993, though small incidents continued, big riots declined.
  • The pattern broken only twice, first in 2002 in Gujarat and next in September, 2013 in Muzaffarnagar.
  • Because of its size and destruction, the latter (September, 2013) raised alarms in 2013-14.
  • Big riots like lynching might have come to the Indian scenario because of two reasons:
  • Firstly, worldwide data show that at higher levels of income, which India has relative to 1993, rioting becomes highly episodic, as opposed to occurring repeatedly.
  • Secondly because while majorty-minority polarisation would be in the political interest of the ruling party but widespread rioting was not.
  •  It is to be noted that the minorities of the country are not the only target of lynching but they are at the spotlight.
  •  Because the new reason for lynching is beef and cattle trade, both explicitly connected to the majority’s nationalist project.

Two categories of lynching:

  • The first aims at restoring routine order via mob violence.
  • Instead of using the police, mob violence is used as a disciplining mechanism.
  • The second category of lynching aims at enforcing a majoritarian ethnic/racial/religious political order.
  • As for example, During 1880-1930, white mobs lynched black Americans if they crossed a certain historically embedded hierarchical boundary.

Who are the actual criminals?

  • The routine criminals are the instigators, not nationalists of the country’s majority.
  • Moreover, in routine criminality, calculations and jealousies have often been inserted into the master narrative of riots and civil wars.
  •  Thus, if the master narrative of cow protection were not so systematically promoted by the current Indian political elite then the regular criminals would not have that narrative to plug into.

GS 2

India and neighbors


Modi, Xi will not hold talks at G-20 summit: (The Hindu)

Defence experts call for a political solution: (The Hindu)

Thinking multilateral: (The Hindu, Editorial)


All three editorials have been summarized below

Context

India and China talks remain deadlocked over the Doklam issue

Stalemate between India and China

  • India and China has both continued to remain persistent in their respective stances.
  •  No bilateral meetingbetween Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping had been scheduled on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Germany.
  •  Further, there seems to be no immediate prospect of an end to the boundary standoff, between both the nations. China stepped up its verbal assault on India and warned it of ‘serious consequences’ if it did not withdraw its troops.
  • The Prime Minister is visiting Hamburg from July 6-8 for the G-20 summit. His pre-planned bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit are with Argentina, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, the U.K. and Vietnam

Condition imposed

  • China has clearly set a pre-condition for any meaningful talks to initiate between the nations.
  • China claims that India had trespassed inside what China considers its land and has asked India to immediately withdraw its border troops to uphold the peace/tranquility of the China and India border areas

India has sent conflicting signals through its approach to three recent events

  •  The last two months have been an eventful period in India’s foreign policy engagements. The culmination of three events
  •  One Belt, One road (OBOR)/Belt and Road Forum (BRF)
  •  Shangri-La Dialogue
  •  Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
  •   SCO meet saw high-level exchanges among countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
  •   However, India’s different responses to the three events point to complexities that might hinder its approach.

OBOR

  • The first event, the BRF held in Beijing, was attended by 29 heads of states, more than 100 senior government officials and 70 international organizations.

Jobs secured on fake caste certificates invalid, says SC: (The Hindu)


Read about the  editorial here:

Jobs secured on fake caste certificates stands invalid


SC questions EC reluctance to use VVPAT: (The Hindu)


Context:

The Supreme Court has questioned the Election Commission on its reluctance to use voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units with EVMs for the Gujarat Assembly polls in 2017

What is the issue?

  • The hearing was based on a petition filed by Mohit Singh, represented by Counsel Kapil Sibal, appealing against Gujarat High Court Order.
  • The Gujarat High Court had diminished the plea to direct the commission to implement the VVPAT voting mechanism in the Gujarat polls or otherwise use ballot papers to ensure a transparent, free and fair election.
  •  In 2013’s Subramanian Swamy vs. Election Commission of India case, the Supreme Court judgement had stated that the EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system.

KNOW ABOUT Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

What is VVPAT?

  • The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail is a method that provides feedback to voters.
  • It is an independent verification printer machine and is attached to electronic voting machines.
  • It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.

EVM’s equipped with Voter-verified paper audit trail

  • VVPAT device functions like a printer to be attached to the ballot unit.
  • Once the vote is cast it dispenses a paper slip showing the symbol on which it is cast.
  • The voter can only see this slip through a screened window.
  • After seven seconds, the slip automatically gets cut and falls into a sealed drop box.
  • The printout is deposited in a box and can be used to resolve any dispute regarding the election

Centre doing ‘all it can’ to help farmers: (The Hindu)

Context:

  • With alarming rise in the farmer’s suicide, the government has been executing an array of proactive schemes.

Introduction:

  • The heartbreaking issue of farmer’s suicide is being addressed by the NITI Aayog.
  • As the matter is quite delicate and serious it was necessary to give the government some time to implement its welfare schemes.
  • The court gave the government a six-month duration  to work on its schemes before re-visiting the issue at the next hearing.

Initiatives:

  •  Pradhan Mantri  Fasal  Bhima Yojan was a huge improvement over the previous schemes of the past.
  • The government’s primary efforts were on to bring more farmers into the institutional fold by ensuring availability of crop loans through commercial, cooperative and regional rural banks.
  • ATM-enabled Kisan Credit cards had been introduced to enable farmers to purchase raw materials and draw cash.
  • Moreover, RBI had allowed banks to take a lenient view on rescheduling of loans.
  • The government is drafting a Model Act to ensure multiple market channels and prevent monopolies.
  • The government has also initiated programmes like National Food Security Mission, National Mission for Oilseed and Oil Palm, Mission of Integrated Development for Horticulture, National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology.

Suggestion:

  • Even though the complete eradication of the issue is taking a while but the government should make sure that there is no loophole or discontinuation of the prevailing and proposed schemes.

Before The PM’s Visit: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Mr. Modi in Israel: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Read the gist of the above two editorial below:

India – Israel relationship at a glance

Context

  •  India – Israel relationship taking new dimensions

A brief view on India-Israel friendship

  • India recognized Israel only in 1950 but it was restricted only to consular relations due to geopolitical factors affecting India’s foreign policy.
  • India developed full diplomatic relations with Israel only in 1992 with P.V. Narasimha Rao as India’s prime minister.
  • Since the birth of Israel in 1948, whose admission to the UN India subsequently opposed, Israeli leaders still sought full diplomatic ties.
  • With the Narasimha Rao government establishing full diplomatic ties in 1992, Israel pressed for full acknowledgement of bilateral relations on the international front.
  • There was high drama during the first Indian high-level official visit on June 14, 2000 by then Home Minister L.K. Advani.
  • The obvious feature of his visit was that all his security chiefs like the home secretary, joint secretary and the chiefs of the BSF, CBI and IB were in his entourage.
  • The period just before and after Operation Blue Star saw close cooperation bloom between India and Israel.
  • Israel helped India in all possible manner when VIP security when Western allies would not sell India modern equipment to counter threats from remote controlled devices.
  • Israel helped India to discreetly counter aggressive Pakistani moves threatening India’s land and air security.

Recent Developments

  • The significance of Mr. Modi’s visit to Israel, as the first Indian Prime Minister there, was the trip itself.
  • The agreements signed during the visit, on water, agriculture, space and science and technology, are of great importance.
  • Cooperation on cybersecurity issues constitutes a breakthrough of sorts, given that Israel tends to limit cooperation in this area to a few countries.

GS 3

Cropping pattern, Agriculture, e-technology


Should we grow GM crops?: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Why Not to Grow GM Crops?

Context:

There are several criticisms associated with GM crops and its commercial production has been one of the most persisting public policy debates in India.

GMO and Environmental Contamination

  • GMOs are self- regulating organisms and through gene flow it leads to genetic contamination of the environment
  • The genetic contamination of wild species and non- GM crops cannot be reversed or remedied.
  • It is argued that the seed stock will get contaminated at the molecular level.
  • Environmentalists have argued that the toxicity caused by GM crops will remain in perpetuity

GMO and Health Impacts

  •     Effects of GM crops on human health can be unpredictable.
  •    The health impacts of GMO only appear in the long run.
  •    Glyphosate, that is considered as one of the safest herbicide, has been categorized as “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization
  •    There has been evidence from Argentina of the horrifying birth defects because of Glyphosate used in herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybeans.

GM Crop Technology: Unsustainable

  •  The myth that GM crop technology “will feed the world” is fading rapidly.
  • At present GMO comprises just two products, Bt (e.g. Bt cotton) and HT crops (HT mustard)
  •  These account for nearly 99% of GMOs planted worldwide.
  •  Based on empirical evidences (including India’s Bt cotton), both the products have been proven unsustainable technologies

Going Against Evidence: Problem with regulatory institutions in India

  • Regulatory institutions are neither independent nor rigour
  • There is serious lack of expertise in risk assessment
  • There is lack of transparency in the regulatory processes
  •  In India, all the safety tests for regulatory approvals are conducted by the same party that applies for commercialisation of GM crops.
  • Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s  (GEAC) refusal to publicly release the safety testing data submitted for regulatory approval of BT Brinjal and GM Mustard, until GM opponents filed a Right to Information petition has further worsen the concern over transparency.

Way Ahead

  • India should learn lessons from the history of hazardous technologies, DDT, asbestos, etc.
  • The traits for disease, saline and drought resistance, yield, etc. are found in nature, not biotech labs.
  •  India should maintain its still-rich genetic diversity for the future of its agriculture.

You cannot insert a gene you took from a bacteria into a seed and call it life. You haven’t created a life, instead you have polluted it”Vandana Shiva

KNOW ABOUT Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

  • The GEAC is established under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
  • GEAC is the apex body for the approval of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants

Functions

  •  To permit the use of GMOs and products thereof for commercial applications.
  • To adopt producers for restriction or prohibition, production, sale, import & use of GMOs both for research and applications under Environmental Protect Act (EPA).
  •  To approve for conduct of large scale field trials, evaluation of large scale field trial data and final approval for release of transgenic crop into the environment.
  • To authorize large scale production and release of GMOs and products thereof into the environment.
  •  To authorize agencies or persons to have powers to take punitive actions under the EPA.

The real lessons of the July 1997 Asian crisis: (Live Mint, Editorial)


Understanding the 1997 Asian Crisis

Context

  •  Many of the most wildly successful economies in Asia tumbled into a crisis in July 1997. They had to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund on terms that led to a lot of political angst.

Background

  •  India was also hit by the Asian crisis of 1997
  •  The splendid economic boom after the 1991 economic reforms came to an end, the rupee tumbled and bad loans began to pile up in the banking sector.
  •   It took five years for the Indian economy to get back on track.

Features of the Crisis

  • First, countries with high fiscal deficits that were funded through money creation by the central bank would eventually see their external accounts come under pressure. India had a very similar experience in 1991
  • What happened in Asia was quite different. These countries did not fall prey to fiscal profligacy.
  • Their main stress points were in the private sector—too much corporate debt, a credit bubble and lax lending standards to crony capitalists.
  • Second, perhaps the biggest flaw in the Asian economic strategy was that their central banks were committed to maintaining a fixed exchange rate against the dollar (or currency boards in the case of Hong Kong).
  •  This meant that both foreign investors buying Asian assets as well as regional companies borrowing in dollars thought they had no foreign exchange risk.
  •  The result was a gush of hot money on the one hand and a dangerous build-up of dollar liabilities in corporate balance sheets on the other.
  • Asian central banks quickly ran through their foreign exchange reserves in the attempt to defend fixed exchange rates. When they eventually gave up, and allowed their currencies to fall sharply, corporate balance sheets with large dollar borrowings were in tatters.
  • Third, the Asian crisis showed that financial markets are prone to herd behavior—and that currency panics can be self-fulfilling.
  • Almost all the affected economies tried to deal with the crisis through massive demand compression, through a combination of higher interest rates and massive budgetary cuts. The idea was to bring capital back into the region.
  •  Fourth, the deeper roots of the Asian crisis could be found in the economic models that took these countries from poverty to prosperity within a few decades.
  • The entire growth in Asian output during the miracle years could be explained by perspiration rather than inspiration. In other words, the main driver of economic growth was the more extensive use of inputs such as labor and capital, rather than innovation or productivity.
  •  Eventually, wages began to outpace productivity, overheated financial markets led to an sharp increase in private sector debt, and excess domestic demand flowed into the trade account in terms of higher imports.

Lessons Learnt

  •  The Asian crisis of 1997 came in a lot of learning lessons. The major ones are:
  •  Economic dislocations can emanate from the private sector rather than the government budget
  •  Maintaining fixed exchange rates in a world of free capital flows is almost impossible
  •  Currency panics can be self-fulfilling, so capital controls should be used in rare cases as an emergency tool
  •  Countries need to think deeply about their economic development models, especially if they have become outdated as they move up the value chain.

Mitigating the Crisis

  •  The Asian tigers eventually bounced back—but they have never been able to match the performance of the years before the crisis.
  •  The structural transformation of these economies can perhaps best be seen in the story of the Korean chaebol (*), such as Samsung or Hyundai, which reinvented themselves as engines of global innovation
  •   China is in the middle of a similar transition right now.
  •    It remains to be seen whether it can change its economic model without severe disruption.

India’s Position

  •  It is still at a stage of development when it needs to put more capital and labor to work
  •  In other words, India needs to maintain a high investment rate as well as create jobs to allow people to shift to modern sectors that have high productivity

What is Korean chaebol?(*)

A chaebol  is a South Korean form of business conglomerate. They are typically global multinationals and own numerous international enterprises, controlled by a chairman with power over all the operations. The term is often used in a context similar to that of the English word “conglomerate”.


‘GST ain’t easy, but appeals to investors’: (The Hindu)


Context

  •  The newly introduced Goods and Services Tax is quite complicated, but still it has stroked an accord with the investors

Why So?

  •  India’s new Goods and Services Tax system is not simple as it involves filling up of complex forms and businesses still have some concerns about its operational nuances — but it still makes the country a more attractive place for foreign investors to do business
  • Despite a temporary demonetization-related blip in GDP, India continues to march forward with its own reform agenda
  • GST has just been officially rolled out across India (and) met with much enthusiasm by most of the population as well as the vast majority of business
  • It is not a “simple tax” as it comes with five slabs of tax depending on the product and the amount of form filling is complex but the introduction of the tax should be seen as ‘an evolutionary process.’

 

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