9 PM Current Affairs Brief – September 10th, 2018


Download the compilation of all summaries of all the news articles here


GS 2

CPEC won’t lead to a debt trap, says China

CPEC won’t lead to a debt trap, says China

News

  1. Chinese Councilor and foreign minister Mr. Wang Yi was on a 3 day visit to Pakistan.

Background

2.    Why the visit was important?

  • First high level visit to Pakistan after Imran Khan became PM.
  • PM Imran Khan had been critical of CPEC in the past for lack of transparency.
  • India and USA had 2+ 2 talks recently.

What transpired during the visit?

  3.   On Bilateral Relation

PM Imran Khan termed Pakistan’s friendship with China as the ‘Cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign Policy’.

Mr. Wang called Pakistan as China’s ‘iron brother’ and the bilateral partnership as ‘an anchor for regional peace and stability’.

 4.  In defense of CPEC: China’s claim

China rejected accusations that its financial backing of CPEC was a ‘debt trap’ and violates Pak sovereignty.

  • Underscored the significance of CPEC for mutual benefit of the people of both countries.
  • Stressed on no strings attached backing of CPEC.
  • 18 out of 22 projects CPEC have direct Chinese investment or offered aid, only 4 on concession loan.
  • $19 billion invested in CPEC.
  • 70,000 new jobs in Pak.
  • Pakistan growth rate to be pushed by 1% to 2 %.
  • First phase of CPEC was focused on energy and Infrastructure, Pakistan can take it to the next level.

5.     China’s relation with Pakistan Army

  • Mr. Wang termed the bilateral military relation as important part of all weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.
  • Pak army reiterated support for CPEC and guaranteed its smooth development.
  • Pak Army Chief reassured Pakistan’s commitment to fight East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as part of its counter terrorist measures.

About ETIM:  It was founded by Uyghur Separatist; Goal is to establish east Turkestan as a separate state of Xinjiang

6.    China on Afghanistan

  • Stressed on the relevance of the trilateral China-Pakistan-Afghanistan dialogue as a platform to align perception between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • At the inaugural meeting of trilateral mechanism, Afghanistan was offered participation in CPEC.
  • China has agreed to train an Afghanistan mountain brigade.
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Why not Dalit?

Why not Dalit?

  1. News

Ministry  of Information and Broadcasting has told the media to “refrain from using the word Dalit” and, instead, use only the Constitutional term, ‘Scheduled Caste’.

Dalit (broken down) is a social term for depressed class. Whereas schedule caste is a constitutional term mentioned in article 341 for depressed class

 

2. Court judgment

Nagpur bench of Bombay high court, directed government, to take decision on not using the word Dalit by media.

3 Government response

  • Government official in center and state will not use the term Dalit in official discourse
  • All type of media should refrain from using the word Dalit
  •  Dalit should be called as schedule caste, according to the constitutional mandate under article 341.

4. Argument in favor for using the term Dalit

Historical causes

  • Troubled past of the community has preferred them to take this term
  • Dalit literally means downtrodden or broken, it reflects the struggle of the community to have rights which they have been denied for centuries.
  • he word Dalit denotes the pain of all those who suffered because of the caste system; it defines their identity

Social causes

  • Dalit is primarily an anti-caste, anti-Brahminical, anti-capitalist, anti-oppression, anti-superstition rebellion.
  • Dalit is a notion of change and revolution for the community.

Constitutional causes

  • The core of humanism, freedom, liberty is strongly reinforced in the word Dalit.
  • It is an expression of self-empowerment.

Judicial pronouncement

  • Supreme Court in S.P. Gupta v. President of India case in 1981 too has used the term Dalit justice
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Too close for comfort?

Too close for comfort?

Article:

  1. Mr. Happymon Jacob, has critically analysed the outcomes of India-U.S. 2+2 Dialogue meeting.

Important Analysis:

2. Considering it as a singularly one-sided affair, Mr. Jacob criticised the 2+2 Dialogue meeting as, India was found to wriggle out of U.S. pressure without much success. The criticality can be seen in,

3. Forcing India to buy American:

  • India is irrationally insisted to bring down its oil imports from Iran to ‘zero’.
  • India is recommended to buy the American oil to make up the deficit, while the U.S. sanction fears has already doubled the U.S. oil exports to India last year.
  • India could not get any waiver for importing Iranian crude oil during the Dialogue.
  • The punitive provisions of Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) making it difficult for India to buy the much-needed S-400 missile system.
  • The joint statement is silent on whether India’s request for a “one-time waiver” was granted by the U.S. to buy Russian weapons at the 2+2 meeting.
  • It shows clearly the U.S. intentions for India, to buy its weapons instead.
  • For India with close to 60% of its weapons systems originating from Russia, this would be a huge setback.
  • S. in the meetings also seen to put considerable pressure on India to reduce the bilateral trade deficit, which is in India’s favour, by buying more American goods.

4. b) Security Agreements Between India and U.S.:

1) The agreements signed between India and the U.S includes:

  • The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) :
    • In the absence of COMCASA, and the attendant high-tech equipment, the interoperability between Indian and U.S. forces is said to be severely hampered.
    • S. could not provide India with such technologies such as P-8I and C-130J aircraft, due to domestic legal restrictions, unless India signed COMCASA.
    • India now can access advanced defence systems and will be enabled to optimally utilise its existing U.S.-origin platforms.
  • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) (2016) : allows India and the U.S. militaries to replenish from the other’s bases.
  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), is yet to be negotiated.

2) However, the criticality behind the COMCASA is,

  • It is not a public document and the scope of the agreement is still unknown. Thus, U.S. needs to clarify several concerns like,
    • Issue of visits by U.S. inspectors to Indian bases to carry out inspections on the COMCASA-safeguarded equipment sold to India.
    • The original End-Use Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) (2009) between India and the U.S., which ensures that, U.S. inspectors would stay away from Indian bases. This condition is unclear in COMCASA.
    • nstallation of U.S. communication systems may compromise the secrecy of Indian military communication systems.
  • It will apply end-use monitoring and reconfiguration restrictions on India like that of South Korea.
  • By signing COMCASA and by agreeing to reduce the purchase of Russian weapon systems (in line with CAATSA), India has implicitly accepted the extraterritorial application of U.S. law on itself.
  • Since the two countries are not likely to be deployed alongside each other in a conflict situation at the end, the utility of such India-U.S. agreements should have more clarity on what it entails.

5. c) Balancing China in Indo-Pacific Region:

  • Even though ‘the India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue’ did not explicitly mention ‘China threat’, as a major concern, the section on the Indo-Pacific region implicitly referred it.
  • India-U.S. cooperation cannot do so much to address the Chinese challenge in Indo-Pacific Region.
  • Being an Asian country, the defence agreements under meetings cannot resolve all Southern Asian security challenges, and India’s ability to meet those challenges.

6. Way forward:

7. The India-U.S. relationship shouldn’t be allowed to define India’s geopolitical character, strategic future or the limits of its other bilateral relationships.

8. India must keep its options open and be multi-aligned, even as the U.S. forms a key part in that scheme of things.

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U.P. Bill to restore anticipatory bail clause referred to President

U.P. Bill to restore anticipatory bail clause referred to President

News

Uttar Pradesh Governor has referred a bill to restore anticipatory bail clause for presidential assent.

Important Facts

  1.   Provision of Anticipatory Bail was repealed in UP during 1976 emergency.
  2.   Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are the only two states in India with no Anticipatory Bail provision.
  3.  About Anticipatory  bail
  •  A provision under section 438 of Criminal procedure code.
  • A person can seek bail in expectation o being named or accused for a non-bailable offence.
  • Safeguard against false accusation.
  • Person must approach court citing section 438 of CrPC to get bail.

Anticipatory Bail in UP: A Timeline

  • 1976: Revoked during emergency by then UP CM to rein in protest against the government.
  • 2009: State law commission made a recommendation for reintroduction of a modified bill.
  • 2010: Passed by assembly and sent for president’s assent; Put on hold by centre.

All about the Amendment Bill

4. Name of the Amendment Bill: Code of Criminal Procedure (Uttar Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2018.

5. Salient Features

Unlike the Section 438 of CrPC which gave court discretion to impose certain condition for granting bail this amendment bill has made certain riders mandatory which includes:

  • Accused should be present for interrogation whenever required by police.
  • Accused cannot threaten anyone involved with the case and cannot leave country.
  • Not necessary for the accused to be present for court hearing.
  • There will be no Anticipatory Bail in cases where punishment is death sentence and also cases under gangster’s act.
  • Court will have to decide on Anticipatory Bail within 30 days of filling of such application.

6. Since this bill proposes amendments for the state in Section 438 of CrPC it was mandatory to be sent to president for his assent.

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T.N. recommends release of all seven Rajiv case convicts

T.N. recommends release of all seven Rajiv case convicts

News:

  1. Tamil Nadu cabinet recommended the governor that all seven life convicts in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case be released under Article 161 of the Constitution.

Important Facts:

2. Background:

1999: In Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, SC had upheld death sentence to 4,and life imprisonment to other 3.

  •  2014: SC commuted death sentence of 3 to life imprisonment citing “inordinate & inexplicable delay” in deciding mercy petition
  •   April 2018: President turned down remission request by state govt.
  •   September 2018: state government has recommended governor to use art.161 to grant remission, as SC observed last week as “governor is at liberty to decide on release”

3. Constitutional Provision:

Art.161: Governor can pardon, reprieve, respite, remit or commute sentence/punishment convicted of any offence against state law, except that he cannot pardon death sentence.

4. Options Governor has:

  •         May accept cabinet’s decision
  •         He can take his time, as no time limit constitutionally prescribed.
  •         Can seek center’s opinion
  •         Can seek reconsideration of states cabinet decision
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What is the debate on uniform civil code all about?

What is the debate on uniform civil code all about?

1.News 

  • Law commission in its 21st report says uniform civil code is “neither necessary nor desirable” at this stage.
Article 44 of Indian constitution: The state shall endeavor to secure for all the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

 

Objective of article 44: The objective is to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonize diverse cultural practices.

 

2.What universal civil code mean

  • It will make common law for property, marriage, divorce, inheritance and succession for all religion

3.Finding of the commission

Secularism

  • Secularism can only prevail when every religion has a right of different opinion
  • Secularism could not override the plurality prevalent in the country.

Uniformity

  • Uniformity should not become threat to the territorial integrity of the nation
  • Focus should be on ending discrimination rather than plurality of the nation

Majority VS minority

  • This diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority.

4.Recommendation of the commission

  • Uniform age of marriage for both boys and girls
  • Making adultery ground for divorce in Muslim law
  • Need for stricter ban on child marriage
  • Striking a fine balance on freedom of religion and right to equality
  • Adults of either gender should be allowed to adopt children
  • Rationalizing the personal laws within communities rather than between communities
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GS 3

IAF prepares to induct Rafale jets

IAF prepares to induct Rafale jets

News

  1. Indian Air Force (IAF) is quietly making preparation to welcome Rafale jets.

Important Facts

2. India had inked an intergovernmental agreement with France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets

in 2016.

3. Delivery of the jets is scheduled for September 2019.

4. Dassault Aviation, a French company is the manufacturer of Rafale.

IAF Preparation for Inducting Rafale

5. IAF is readying infrastructure for the new fleet

6. The first squadron of Aircraft is expected to be deployed at Air Force Station in Ambala.

This base is considered to be one the most strategically located IAF base just 220 km

from Pakistan.

7. The second squadron will be stationed at the Hasimara base in West Bengal.

8.  IAF is also training the fighter pilots to fly the aircraft.

9. It plans to send a batch of IAF pilots to France for further training.

India Specific Modifications

10. IAF team has visited France to help incorporate India specific enhancements on board the

aircraft which includes:

Israeli helmet mounted display

Radar warning receiver

Low-band jammers

10 hour flight data recording

Infrared search and tracking systems

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Endangered ‘Pondicherry shark’ spotted near Kakinada

Endangered ‘Pondicherry shark’ spotted near Kakinada

News

  1. An endangered Pondicherry shark has been spotted near Kakinada, East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem region.

Important Facts.

2. About Pondicherry Shark

Pondicherry shark is an endangered species protected under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.

It is locally known as Pala Sora..

3. Conservations outreach

Department of forest is working in association with the EGREE foundation and the fishing communities in bringing down the trade in such species.

4.  Way forward

  • Need of the various departments to work in tandem with local community by responsible planning and management.
  • The local fisherman should be made aware about its conservation status.
  • The trade in such species should be regulated strictly.
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2 irrigation facilities in Telangana get heritage tag

2 irrigation facilities in Telangana get heritage tag

News

  1.  For the first time,two irrigation facilities from India has got heritage tag from International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID)

Important facts

2  ICID has included Sadarmatt anicut and Pedda Cheruvu , Telangana in the ICID Register of Heritage Irrigation Structures.

3.   The World Heritage Irrigation Structures

  • Designed to recognize historical irrigation structures, was initiated in 2012, including both old operational structures as well as those of an archival value.

4. Sadarmatt anicut (a rainfall bund)

It is located across the Godavari river in Nirmal district

It provides water for paddy crops and served as a picnic spot.

5.  The Pedda Cheruvu (big tank)

  • It is a large man made lake known also as Ramanthapur Lake, located near Hyderabad in Telangana
  •  It provides water for irrigation and drinking purpose.
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Quality and accountability twin problems in India’s legal aid scheme: Report

Quality and accountability twin problems in India’s legal aid scheme: Report

News

The study conducted by the Commonwealth Human Rights raises concern about free legal aid in India.

Important Facts

  1. Constitutional Provision

Article 22 of the Indian Constitution guarantees an arrestee the right to have a lawyer

2. About Free legal services Scheme

It entail the provision of free legal aid in civil and criminal matters for those poor and marginalized people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer for the conduct of a case or a legal proceeding in any court, tribunal or before an authority

3. In its report tilted “Hope Behind Bars” it has raised various concern and challenges

The per capita spending by government in providing legal aid is lowest in the India.

E.g. the per capita spending in Australia is $23, Argentina $17 and in India Rs 0.75.

  • The lawyers are paid below the market average.
  • The scheme has failed to attract competent lawyers.
  • Delay and variability in assigning the lawyer to the application for legal aid.

E.g  Rajasthan takes 48 days while Andhra Pradesh takes less than one day for lawyer allocation.

  • There are large discrepancies across states in legal aid to people in custody.
  • The scheme is hobbled by lack of quality and lack of accountability.
  • Lack of  national scheme for legal aid at the police station

4. Way forward

Greater consultation between the civil society, law schools, lawyers and the government legal services authorities for resolving the shortcoming in scheme

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Current account deficit widens to 2.4% of GDP as oil offsets gains in remittances

Current account deficit widens to 2.4% of GDP as oil offsets gains in remittances

News:

India Current Account Deficit widened to 2.4 % of GDP in April-June quarter of 2018.

Important Facts

  1.  CAD reached the level of 2.4 % of GDP in Apr-June 2018 highest in four quarters.
  2. Current account on the balance of payments measures the inflow and outflow of goods, services, investment incomes and transfer payments.
  3. Reasons for rising in CAD.
  • Tension in the Gulf Region
  • Instability in oil exporting nation.
  • Weakening Rupees has made import costly.
  • Depleting Forex Reserve and high Import due to high demand may further widen CAD in near future.

5.Trade war between India and China may hamper export growth.

6.Further widening of CAD is worrying. Because it will be managed through FDI, portfolio investment and Foreign Reserves.

7.Bad global financial condition and strong Dollar has hampered Portfolio inflows. ($8.1 Billion net outflow during Apr-June 2018 against $2.3 Billion net Inflow during last quarter of 2018).

8.As per the different reports, in future the India’s CAD may rise to the level of 2.5 % to 2.9 %.

9.According to IMF, due to challenges with capital inflow, India may not be able to finance CAD above 3 %.

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Govt plans geo-tagging to crackdown on shell companies

Govt plans geo-tagging to crackdown on shell companies

News:

1.Government is planning mandatory Geo-Tagging for companies to prevent fraud.

Important Facts:

2.Geo-tagging will help the government to prevent fraud committed by Shell companies.

3.What are Shell Companies

  • A shell company is a non-profit company. It does not have an active business or assets. It is mostly a company on papers which is used in business transactions.
  • It is not necessarily illegal but is often used for tax evasion.
  • They neither manufacture anything nor render any service. They are generally used to make financial transactions.

4. Due to lack of clear definition of Shell companies, Government is in the process of defining them.
5.Government has asked companies to geo-tag their registered offices in the statutory filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).

5. What is Geo-Tagging

  • The process of Tagging something (e.g. Infrastructure, Objects etc.) with geographical information like latitude, longitude, distance, place name in form of metadata (may be QR code, RSS feeds SMS message).

6. Application and Advantages of Geo-Tagging

  • Geotagging helps to find a wide variety of location-specific information from a device.
  • It helps government to track companies with a common address, common contact numbers, common directors and sudden and unexpected changes in revenue, etc.
  • Implementation of schemes
  • Informing beneficiary about the facility available through various scheme.
  • Monitoring of Assets..

7.Geo-Tagging enabled projects of GOI.

  • Rajiv Gruhakalpa scheme helped Andhra government to trace irregularities in construction of houses.
  • In Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana Geo-Tagging helping Government to understand flow of funds, inventorying the assets, bringing in transparency.
  • Geo MGNREGA and monitoring of watershed activities.
  • Postal department has also geotagged the post offices using NRSC Bhuvan Platform.
  • In 2016 due to denomination, Government was able to crackdown on several companies which was involved into money laundering
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Has India Inc.’s debt burden eased?

Has India Inc.’s debt burden eased?

News:

  1. Article discusses about India’s incorporations recent indebtedness trends and  measures undertaken to resolve the crises.

Important facts:

2. Though the overall economic trends are improving, the data from 1,197 NSE-listed companies describes the worsening  state of affairs of incorporations (Inc’s).

3. The companies are  busy dealing with debt problem, banks are busy in dealing with their Non- Performing Assets (NPAs).

4. Reasons for NPA problem and India’s Inc’s indebtedness :

⦁ The aggressive capex plans by companies, financed by the credit boom in mid-2000s.

⦁ Companies took huge loans post-2008 global financial crisis but failed to pay the interest payments on these loans.

⦁ This led to twin-deficit problem which led to prolonged economic slowdown.

5. The big picture on India Inc.’s indebtedness :

⦁ FY10 to FY14 witnessed a fast pace of debt accumulation

⦁ FY14 to FY16  saw slowdown in debt accretion.

⦁ FY16 to FY18  again witnessed debt accretion inching up.

⦁ The pace of debt accumulation was higher in core sectors such as infrastructure, power and telecom.

⦁ The indebted firms are on the rise and the companies  with negative net worth have increased.

⦁  From 29 in FY10, negative net worth companies increased to 95 by FY17.

⦁ The  debt levels for oil companies, telecom, power and construction companies have significantly increased in the past two years.

6. Steps taken to reduce the indebtedness problem:

  • De-consolidation and disposal of company subsidiaries has led to the sharp decrease in debt.
  • For example, KSK Energy Ventures, a company with high debt-to-equity and low interest cover, its debt reduced drastically by over ₹20,000 crore in FY18 mainly due to de- consolidation.
  • RBI mandated banks to make resolution plans for insolvency within 180 days and refer the case to Insolvency and Bankruptcy code (IBC) if they fail to make the plan.
  • Pariwartan scheme : Government decided to give stressed power projects to asset reconstruction company under Power Asset Revival through Warehousing and Rehabilitation (Pariwartan) scheme. This will  ensure that the value of the assets is protected and will prevent their distress sale under IBC.
  • The steel sector has seen successful resolution under IBC, which has led to substantial de-leveraging for the sector.
  • The  debt in infrastructure sector is restructured under the strategic debt restructuring (SDR) plan.

7. Issues in solving the indebtedness problems of Inc’s:

⦁ The structural issues plaguing various sectors like  non-availability of fuel, projects set up without linkage, lack of PPA, tariff-related disputes  can make it difficult to find buyers under IBC, leading to liquidation.

⦁ The operational creditors initiating insolvency process will find it difficult to find buyers under IBC.

⦁ All resolution plans which were under earlier schemes will require revision.

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Transforming urban mobility in India — II

Transforming urban mobility in India — II

Article: The article critically discusses about the role of e-vehicles in enhancing urban mobility.

  1. Important Analysis:
    1.Electric vehicles (EV) are  emerging  as an attractive alternative  to conventional vehicles.
    2 Reasons behind the need for electric vehicles:
    •  Auto-makers are left with vey few options to further improve the conventional engines.
    •  Further investments and innovation in conventonal vehicles  are not yielding significant returns.
    •  Deteriorated  urban air quality due to less fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions.
    •  High cost of conventional vehicles drive masses toward low cost e-vehicles.
  2. Benefits of electric vehicles:
    • Efficient energy-density, power-density and cost of batteries.
    • Low price range in a passenger car has wide acceptablity among users.
    • Zero exhaust emissions and lower carbon emissions than conventional cars.
    •  Environmentalists favour e-vehicles as they limit deterioration in air quality.
    • Lower manufacturing cost and extended useful life as compared to  conventional engine.
  3. Challenges of  e-vehicles :
    • E-vehicles need at least 10 sq.m of urban road space exclusively.
    • High population densities and high economic activity in urban areas discourage the exclusive space for e-vehicles.
    4.  Need for urban mobility space rather than e-vehicles:
    •E-vehicles alone can’t enhance urban mobility. Cities must improve mass and shared transit capacity.
    • Traffic congestion and expensive parking  has led to increased popularity of Uber and Ola among urban commuters.
    •  Digitised economy has multiplier effect on shared-mobility solutions like car-pooling option in cabs.
    • Urbanisation has led to displacement of lower income groups to suburbs, so more routes neeed to be explored for commuting.

  5.International Best Practices:
• Mexico has defined mobility as a basic human right and this helps steer policies that are inclusive.
• San Francisco and New York have car-pooling option in  vans, aggregating 10-12 passengers at a time, further improving footprint and carbon efficiency.
• Such demand-based, dynamically-routed services, mass and shared transit capacity can be enhanced while leveraging private capital.
• Pedestrian zones  in  Seoul, Barcelona,New York and Bike-lanes and bike-sharing solutions  in Amsterdam and Paris need to be learnt from.
• Hong Kong has high density transit corridors like India, so  modern metro-rails exist there. India also needs to accelerate investment in all these modeIndia donot need more highways and flyovers, but rather quality side-walks and cycle wayEach city  has  unique set of constraints. So a combination of investment, policy and regulations  are needed for multiple modal  transport options.

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