- The U. S. new Afghanistan policy, unveiled last year by the President Donald Trump, lies in tatters.
2. President Trump blamed Pakistan for protecting terrorist and later cut off security assistance to Taliban’s greatest benefactor and backers.
3. The new American move comes at a time when the Taliban ranks have swelled since the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation pulled out in 2014.
4. It comes at a time where the data and assessment on the strength and combat capabilities of the Afghan military and police are no longer readily available.
5. It comes when the UN grimly noted last year- rising opium production.
6. The latest Afghanistan opium survey figures, opium production in Afghanistan had increased by 87% to a record level of 9,000 metric tons in 2017 compared with 2016 levels.
7. The American move comes when there is pressure to limit any kind of engagement with Iran, which would have been a logistical pivot for further inroads into Afghanistan.
8. Pakistan’s aim will be to reverse all the gains; India has made at great cost over the years in Afghanistan.
9. With strategic dept in Afghanistan that Pakistan has dreamt of becoming a reality, Islamabad will have more room to incubate and move around the various anti-India groupings, including those active in Kashmir.
- The National Register of citizens (NRC) for Assam to be published on July 30, was only a “draft” list, says Home Minister Rajnath
2. The NRC is being updated in accordance with the Assam Accord signed on Aug14, 1985.
3. The entire process is being carried out as per the directions of the Supreme Court.
4. Home Minister Rajnath pointed out that after draft publication adequate opportunity for claims and objectives will be available.
5. Adequate opportunity of being heard will be given before disposal of claims and objections, says minister
6. Under the citizenship rules, any person, who is not satisfied with the outcome of the claims, can appeal in the Tribunal.
7. As per directions of the Supreme Court, the Registrar General of India (RGI) is to publish the final draft list on July 30 to segregate Indian living in Assam from those who had illegally migrants from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
- The High-powered committee suggested major changes in the coal block auction system.
2. The committee was set up last year to review the current process.
3. The Expert Committee to ‘report on the challenges faced by the current auction system and recommend changes’ was headed by Pratyush Sinha
4. Recently , the committee submitted its recommendations, which rest on four tenets-
- Ensuring transparency and fairness
- Equity development of coal blocks
- Early development of coal blocks
- Simplicity of implementation of the recommendations.
5. Recommendations of the Committee:
- Developing a Coal Index for determining the value of blocks and a revenue-sharing model with the States. Currently, the valuation is on the basis of the notified price of Coal India Ltd.
6. Scrapping the current practice of cancelling an auction if the number of bidders drops below three. In the previous auctions, majority of the blocks could not be allocated as the number of eligible bidders was less than three.
7. Only a default in achieving critical milestone should attract penalty against the earlier penalty for each default.
8. The proposed changes aim at:
- Introducing flexibility in the number of bidders
- Penalties for defaulting on milestones
- Project execution
- Relaxation to captive miners to sell some of the coal in the market.
9. Reasons for slower production from these mines:
- Aggressive bids by some of the bidders during auctions.
- Weak financial health of some of the coal-block winning companies.
- E-auctions failed to sustain interest after several blocks were taken at high prices.
- Companies which bought the blocks found it cheaper to import coal to meet their requirements rather than developing the mines.
- Production from the captive mines which were auctioned had remained lower than their pre-auction output.
- GDP deflator is a more comprehensive measure of inflation.
2. GDP deflator:
- It is a more comprehensive measure of inflation.
- The GDP deflator, also called implicit price deflator, is a measure of inflation.
- It is the ratio of the value of goods and services an economy produces in a particular year at current prices to that of prices that prevailed during the base year.
- This ratio helps show the extent to which the increase in gross domestic product has happened on account of higher prices rather than increase in output.
- The deflator is more comprehensive measure of inflation because it covers the entire range of goods and services produced in the economy.
- The formula to find the GDP price deflator:
- GDP price deflator = (nominal GDP ÷ real GDP) x 100
- Changes in consumption patterns or introduction of goods and services are automatically reflected in the GDP deflator.
- This allows the GDP deflator to absorb changes to an economy’s consumption or investment patterns.
- Often, the trends of the GDP deflator will be similar to that of the CPI
3. Real GDP vs Nominal GDP
- GDP price deflator measures the difference between real GDP and nominal GDP.
- Nominal GDP differs from real GDP as the former doesn’t include inflation, while the latter does.
- Nominal GDP will most often be higher than real GDP in an expanding economy.
4. WPI, CPI
- A consumer price index (CPI) measures changes in the general level of prices of goods and services that households acquire for the purpose of consumption.
- However, since CPI is based only on a basket of select goods and is calculated on prices included in it, it does not capture inflation across the economy as a whole.
- The wholesale price index basket has no representation of the services sector and all the constituents are only goods whose prices are captured at the wholesale/producer level.
- The GDP deflator reflects up-to-date expenditure patterns.
- GDP deflator is available only on a quarterly basis along with GDP estimates, whereas CPI and WPI data are released every month.
- The government is looking at the possibility of adopting a United Nations legal model for cross-border insolvency cases.
2. It works on strengthening the insolvency resolution framework.
3. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has sections pertaining to cross-border insolvency matters but are yet to be made operational.
4. The existing Code provides for sections-234 and 235 — relating to cross-border insolvency, which allows the Centre to enter into an agreement with a foreign country for enforcing the provisions of the Code.
5. If UN model is adopted for cross-border insolvency matters, then section 234 and 235 could be dropped from the Code as they pertain to only bilateral pacts.
- The Army will be inducting two types of artillery guns into its arsenal very shortly.
2. These will be the first induction of heavy artillery since the Swedish Bofors guns imported in the 1980’s.
3. The Army will start taking delivery of the K9 Vajra-T tracked self-propelled artillery guns from South Korea.
4. The first regiment of 18 guns is expected to be ready by the third quarter of 2019.
5. All the 100 guns will be delivered by Nov 2020.
6. It will also receive four M777 ultra-light howitzers from the U.S. The M777 is a 155-mm, 39-calibre towed artillery gun .
7. The first 10 guns will be imported from South Korea and the rest manufactured by L&T in India.
8. Last year, the Indian engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Hanwa Techwin of South Korea signed a contract to manufacture the K9 Vajra-T guns.
9. The K9 was shortlisted by the Army after extensive trials.
10. K9 Vajra-T is a 155-mm, 52-calibre self-propelled artillery gun with a maximum range of 40 km, customised from the original K9 Thunder gun. The fire control system has been customised for desert conditions to the requirements of the Army.
11. In November 2016, India signed a deal for 145 M777 ULHs with the U.S. under the Foreign Military Sales programme .
- According to the parliamentary standing committee report, watershed development projects lagging behind badly.
2. The report highlighted the following points:
- Watershed development project is a vital component of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana (PMKSY).
- According to parliamentary standing committee, only 10% of projects completed.
- Not a single one of the 8,214 projects sanctioned between 2009 and 2015 had been completed.
- As per the Department of Land Resources (DoLR), around 1,257 projects had not even completed the initial steps of preparing detailed project reports (DPRs).
- The committee termed the pace of the development of the scheme as “lethargic”.
- The committee also urged the DoLR to “go all out on a war footing scale for the expeditious completion of the remaining projects.”
3. Watershed development project:
- It is good option for rainfed areas for water conservation and recharge and to prevent soil degradation.
- Within the site of a watershed development project, a ridge is identified and structures such as check dams, percolation dams, ponds and channels are built from the ridge to the valley.
- About 78% of beneficiaries saw an increase in the water table, while 66% also reported benefiting from better availability of fodder.
- When the groundwater table increases as a result of watershed management projects, farmers in the area go for water-intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane and drain it again.
4. Reasons for slow pace of the PMKSY’s watershed management schemes:
- Long-term results are not immediately visible.
- The 2016 change in funding pattern from a 90:10 Centre-State ratio to 60:40 had contributed to a slowdown.
- Delays in coordination between different ministries.
- From 2015 onwards, this programme has been in convergence mode.
- Problem in implementation.
- The governance structures is missing.
5. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana (PMKSY):
- It is a national mission to improve farm productivity and ensure better utilization of the resources in the country.
- Major objectives of PMKSY are to achieve :
- Convergence of investment in irrigation at the field level.
- Expand cultivable area under irrigation
- Improve On-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water.
- Enhance the adoption of precise in irrigation and other water saving technologies (more crops per drop).
- Enhance recharge of aquifers and introduce sustainable water conservation practice.
- The government can implement a project through its agencies or through an NGO
- Need to involve local Panchayati Raj leadership and watershed user associations.