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GS 2

SC decriminalises homosexuality

  1. News
  •  A five judge constitution bench of Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality and declared section 377 of IPC as unconstitutional.
  • However bestiality and unconsenting sex will remain a punishable offence.

2. What is section 377

Section 377 states “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

3. JUDGEMENT OVERVIEW

  • Recently in NAVTEJ SINGH JOHAR CASE AND OTHERS VS UNION OF INDIA Supreme Court decriminalized sex between consenting adults of the same gender.

Constitutional rights

  • Fundamental rights under article 14, 15, and 21 fully apply to LGBTQ community
  • LGBT community is entitled to equal treatment, no discrimination, and full protection of law.
  • Court invokes the doctrine of non-retrogression, which means that once a right is recognized, it cannot be reversed.
  • It set aside religious opposition to the expansion of human rights

4. Individual vs majoritarian

LGBTQ community possesses equal rights like others, Majoritarian views and morality can’t be forced upon minority.

It liberated the idea of individual rights from the pressure of public opinion.

Section 377 is irrational, indefensible and arbitrary.

5. Right to privacy

The right to privacy as part of right to life applies fully to LGBTQ community.

Choice of partner is part of the fundamental right to privacy

6. Natural order

  • The verdict noted that homosexuality was documented in 1,500 species and was not unique to humans.
  • Bestiality (sexual intercourse between a person and an animal) will continue to be an offence under provision of IPC 1860

7. Implication of the judgment

LGBTQ judgement is a, first step in the direction to improve social exclusion, identity crisis and isolation from mainstream.

It restores the equality before the law of all sexual orientations and identities

8. Challenges

Societal acceptance of LGBT community.

  • Decriminalization of Section 377 will open new debates on marriage, adoption, inheritance and other such rights.
  • Equal opportunity in employment, services and education.
  • Protest by religious movement against the decision, example Muslims of Kerala are protesting against the SC decision.

9. Government

  • Government of India shall take all measures to ensure this judgment is given wide publicity through television, print and online media and above all, government official should be sensitized.

 

Nepal gets access to 4 China ports, ending Indian monopoly on transit

News:

  1. Nepal and China finalised the protocol of the Nepal-China Transit and Transportation Agreement.

Important news:

2. It will give Kathmandu access to four Chinese ports.

3. About the Transit and Transportation Agreement (TTA)

TTA  will allow Nepal to transport its imports and exports via its neighbour’s territory, China.

  • Nepal will be able to access seaports like Shenzhen, Tianjin etc and land ports ( dry ports) like Lhasa to conduct international trade.
  • Both sides decided to access Chinese territory from six checkpoints.

4. Reasons to sign the TTA between two Nations.

  • Geographical reasons: Nepal is wedged between China and India. So being a landlocked nation, Nepal is trying to diversify its trading routes.
  • Political reasons:      The Madhesi agitation in 2015 had forced Nepal to explore trade links with China and reduce its long term dependence on India.
  • Economic reasons:  India’s prolonged blockade across border crossings with Nepal in 2015 and 2016 left the country short of fuel and medicine for several months which impelled Nepal to sought alternatives.
  • External influences:   China is making fast inroads into Nepal with aid and investment, challenging India’s long-held position as the dominant outside power.
  • Logistic issues:   Nepali cargo from Japan, South Korea and other north Asian countries if routed through China would cut shipping time and costs as overland trade through Kolkata port  takes up to three months.

5. Benefits to Nepal from TTA:

  • It will be one of the milestones because Nepal will be  getting access to four Chinese ports in addition to two ports ( Kolkata and Visakhapatnam)  in India.
  • Nepal will no longer be dependent only on India for trade with other countries as it will be able to use Chinese sea and land ports.
  • Nepalese traders will be allowed to use any mode of transport – rail or road to access  seaports of China for third-country trade.
  • It would cut shipping time and costs as overland trade to Nepal via port of Kolkata  takes up to three months.

6. Challenges in implementation of TTA:

  • ConnectIvity of Nepal with China could face issues due to a lack of proper roads and customs infrastructure on the Nepalese side of the border.
  • The nearest Chinese port is also located more than 2,600 km (1,625 miles) from Nepal border. So distance would remain a major issue in the trade and transit.

 

COMCASA to help keep a watch over Indian Ocean

News:

  1. India has concluded the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the U.S. at the 2+2 dialogue.

Important Facts:

2. COMCASA is an India-specific version of CISMOA.

3. Benefits of COMCASA for India:

  • Indian forces will get the U.S. military platforms like US satellites as well as heavy transporters and special operations platforms like C-17,C-130 J aircraft respectively and the US made long range maritime surveillance -P8I.
  • Indian military will get a better picture of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which is seeing increasing Chinese movements.
  • It will help India to get in the top tier of countries entitled to U.S.’s Strategic Trade Authorisation (STA-1).
  • India will get access to Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS).
  • India and US has decided to exchange personnel for coordination and understanding, under which, India will get to post its representative at Bahrain where the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) is located to coordinate with US.

4. What is CENTRIXS:

  • It is a secure communication system network of the US, consists of a collection of coalition wide area networks (WAN) known as enclaves.
  • It will help Indian Navy to communicate securely with the U.S. Navy when needed.
  • It will help India to have the wider situational picture of the region as U.S. has the large number ships and aircraft deployed in the IOR.
  • It will allow India to reduce the stress on its assets and prioritise its deployments more efficiently.
  • It will allow ship-to-ship operational dialogue between the two nations in text and web-based formats.
  • So far in joint exercises, Indian Navy used to temporarily plug in portable CENTRIXS systems to communicate with U.S. assets.

Concerns regarding CENTRIXS:

  • CENTRIXS would allow U.S. Navy to access India’s own secure communication network.
  • The information shared with the U.S. will be accessible by Pakistan.
  • However, explaining the regarding concerns, U.S. explained that,
  • India will have a full access to the relevant equipment and there will be no disruptions.
  • Data acquired through such systems will not be disclosed or transferred to any person or entity without India’s consent.
  • This is an enabling instrument and does not commit India to acquire U.S. platforms.

5. Other key components covered under the 2+2 Dialogue apart from defence agreements are:

trade issues,

  • cooperation on fighting terrorism,
  • advancing “a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region” and
  • promoting sustainable “debt-financing” in the region
  • Joint efforts to combat terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and its networks.

6. Efforts put in 2+2 Dialogue in combating terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and its networks are:

  • India will share critical inputs to the US, enabling it to act against Lashkar operatives who are active on the Afghan soil with encouragement from Pakistan’s ISI.
  • Ahead of the 2+2 dialogue, the US froze assets of three Pakistanis linked with the LeT, indicating its willingness to act against the group.
  • Both the countries will aim to expose and shut down Lashkar-e ‘Tayyiba’s’ financial network and curtail its ability to raise funds to carry out violent terrorist attacks.
  • S. state department has designated included Abdul Rehman al-Dakhil to its list of‘specially designated global terrorists’ which means all properties belonging to the person or organisation subject to US jurisdiction are blocked and Americans are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
  • Grey listing of Pakistan by the Financial Action Task Force or FATF with strong support from the US and supported by all other P-5 members is expected to further squeeze space for the LeT in the Af-Pak region.

7. With two previous cancellations and months of drift and occasional discord, major issues raised after the 2+2 Dialogue are:

  • India did not receive a clear-cut assurance of its GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) status being restored, or of waivers on steel and aluminium tariffs imposed by U.S..
  • India is asked to increase imports of American oil and gas as well as aircraft in order to wipe out the trade surplus India enjoys.
  • The U.S.’s demand, to “zero out” oil imports from Iran by November, is simply unreasonable. It would hurt India on an account of:
    • Strengthening costs of the dollar.
    • Rising fuel prices.
    • Substantial relations and engagement with Iran.
  • No public statement was made by the U.S. on India’s investment in the Chabahar port, as Iran is ready to hand over the operational responsibility of a part of the port to an Indian entity as per the agreed timeframe.
  • S. also did not clear any waiver to India purchasing Russian hardware, beginning with the S-400 missile system.

8. U.S. recently has enacted a law to counter Russia and its allies, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), for sanctions on countries that deal with Russia, in the backdrop of allegations on it for interfering with US elections and covert executive action in Europe to eliminate detractors of Russia.

9. U.S. however, have promised India that it will frame CAATSA Section 231 for India in a appropriate and lawful way  and exercise the waiver authority sensibly.

10. Taking a leap of faith on its own concerns, India expects U.S. to come through on waiving sanctions and be more flexible on trade issues.

11. While, U.S. expects India to work with it for next few months to ensure that the benefits from the 2+2 dialogue won’t add up only on the Indian side.

12. However, China has reacted on the 2+2 Dialogue between India and the U.S. through a post that, though the dialogue has a ‘symbolic’ significance, it is unlikely to yield a structural change in regional security layout and strategic balance.

13. China has described the 2+2 Dialogue as an exercise of normal bilateral relations between India and the U.S. and asked both the countries to do more for regional peace and regional stability.

14. With respect to the 2+2 Dialogue, China plays an important role in advancing “a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region” and promoting sustainable “debt-financing” in the South China Sea and the Belt and Road Initiative projects, respectively.

 

GS 3

Can India take SAHI road to urban mobility?

News:

  1. The Global Mobility Summit was organised by the NITI Aayog in New Delhi on friday.

Important Facts:

2. India needs to prepare for a rapid increase in demand for mobility as it aspires to be the second largest economy in the world, behind China by 2050.

3. Accordingly, the NITI Aayog along with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has formed a report named ‘Transforming India’s Mobility: A Perspective’ marking daily rise in fuel prices.

4. The report stressed on:

  • Efficient and convenient public transport: To answer the twin problems of pollution and congestion.
  • Reasons for traffic congestions as:
    • absence of a public transport system,
    • rapid rise in private vehicle ownership.
  • 40-fold rise in the number of motor vehicles in India in last 44 years, from 1981 to 2015

5. India marked the public transport to be a cornerstone of national mobility initiatives.

6. Points raised by the Prime Minister of India in his speech in the summit:

‘7Cs’ for the future of mobility: common, connected, convenient, congestion-free, charged, clean and cutting-edge.

Common problems faced in the cities in the world by the motorised personal vehicles which requires more roads, parking and traffic.

7. Recognising the role of mobility in preservation of our planet, the Prime Minister of India stated the accounts for road transport, as responsible for one-fifth of global CO2 emissions, which threatens to choke cities and raise global temperatures.

 

IMA moots ethics code overhaul

News:

1.Indian Medical Association redefining Medical Ethics Codes.

Important Facts

2.Indian Medical Association is in the process of redefining the code of Ethics and it has recommended advertisement by doctors and mandatory cadaver organ donation.

3. Cadaver Donation:

  • An organ or part of an organ given at the time of donor’s death. (Cadaver means corpse)
  • Cadaver organ donations are currently carried out in India only when an individual has explicitly expressed a wish to donate or with the consent of immediate relatives in cases of brain death

4. Why we need overhauling in Medical Ethics Codes

Medical ethics focused on the moral responsibility of a physician was not adequate to address the ethical, moral and societal issues such as:

  • Unregulated mechanism for drug pricing.
  • Unregulated cost of transplant surgeries; cost out of reach of poor people
  • Increasing Cost of treatment, disease burden, and the poor public health care facilities, the moral and ethical discussion on the “right to live” assumes a greater significance in India.
  • Religious beliefs hinder deceased organ donation.
  • Todays in advancing world, rather than surgeons, robots are operating on people, so it was imperative that medical ethics should be redefine.
  • Financial conflict between patient and private sector further deprive citizens and clearly visible area of ethical conflict.
  • Failing Doctors and Hospital to make poor citizen aware of Insurance and other social benefit scheme which further deprive them to avail quality healthcare services.
  • There is a need to expand the scope of the definition of ethics within the field of medicine due to increasing number of stakeholder’s participation in the Industry.

5. Issues with current medical ethics.

  • The current code of medical ethics by the Medical Council of India dates back to 2002 and do no address the current challenges.
  • Ethical issues around Assisted Reproductive Technology (Fertility Treatment) and surrogacy.
  • Lack of ethically driven programme that can increase the numbers of organs without exploitation of the poverty-stricken donors.
  • Recently there is a move by some physicians and policy makers in India to look at the possibility of making kidney sale a legal transaction.
  • However, financial incentives for organ donation is likely to only lead to more exploitation of low income group people.
  • Code has fail to check the involvement of middle man which further add the value in the cost of organ transplantation.
  • Fail to address Doctors’ engagement in organ transplant business, curing rich patients in India and Middle East.
  • Fail to address advertisement and publicity by big hospitals.
  • In the present scenario Medical Ethics fail to provide an effective mechanism to resolve Financial Insolvency cases.

6. Recommendation if Indian Medical Council

  • Mandatory cadaver organ donation to reduce leading cause of exploitation of poor.
  • Publicity or advertising material needs to be ethical.
  • Medical ethics should be part of the entire curriculum of medical students so that they are familiarized with the role of ethics in the changing scenario.
  • The need for introducing ethical training in the undergraduate and postgraduate medical training.
  • Need to build high public trust in their respective nationalized health schemes like Europe.

 

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

News:

  1. India’s Current Account Deficit (CAD) widens to 2.4 per cent of GDP.

Important Facts:

2.India’s CAD widens to 2.4 per cent of GDP in the April-June quarter of 2018-19 against 1.9 % in Jan-March quarter of 2017-18 due to rise in oil prices.

3. Some important Data

  • Merchandise trade deficit expanded to USD 45.7 Billion in June quarter compared to USD 41.6 Billion in January quarter.
  • Net service export at USD 18.7 Billion compared to USD 20 Billion due to lower performance of IT services.
  • Remittance picked up to $10.7 Billion in March quarter.
  • Increase in FDI from $6.4 Billion to $9.7 Billion.
  • However, Portfolio Investment shows negative growth with net outflow of $8.1 Billion in June against inflow of $2.3 Billion in preceding quarter.

4. Indian currency declining due to global factor and high trade deficit on account of high oil price.

5. Elevated oil price has contributed 50 % of the trade deficit in June.

6. Government has required plan to deal with the imbalances. So CAD to this level is not a matter of concern.

7. Foreign Exchange depletion and weak capital inflow has caused Rupees depreciation.

8. CAD in 2019 FY is expected to be 2.6 % and Rupees to average Rs.68.40 to the Dollar.

9. Higher price of oil may reduce the import of Gold however and unless the commodity price retreat, the CAD may be widened to 2.8 %.

10. Depreciation of Rupees to touch Rs.72-73 is expected in the near future.

11. Dip in Inflation below the target of 4.0 %, continue weakening of rupees and GDP growth expected in 2019 may complicate next monetary policy.

 

FPIs start process of falling in line

News:

1.Foreign funds across the globe which invest in Indian equity markets, have started restructuring their ownership and management structure to comply with the SEBI’s diktat.

Important facts:

  1. Background:
  • There are more than 9,100 FPIs registered with SEBI.
  • FPIs own securities worth atleast $425 billion in Indian equities.
  • Most FPIs are from USA, Mauritius, Singapore and Luxembourg.
  • Many FPIs have NRIs or PIOs listed as fund manager/beneficial owners.
  • On April 10th, SEBI issued new structural guidelines for FPIs of certain category.

2. Issue:

New guidelines restrict NRIs and PIOs from being fund managers or beneficial owners (BO) in India-focused overseas funds.

  • A company with majority stakes owned by NRIs or PIOs will not be allowed to invest as a foreign portfolio investor (FPI) in the country.
  • The existing FPIs, not in conformity with the new rules, are now required to change or close their existing position in Indian securities and provide the relevant documents.
  • Any change in the position of fund manager will require an approval from all its off-shore investors.

3. Who is Beneficial owner:

  • Under the PMLA,  BO is defined as “a persons who has a controlling ownership interest in the FPI or control over the FPI”.
  • If a BO cannot be directly identified, the senior managing official of the FPI is assumed to be the BO.

4. Impact of new guidelines:

  • As per Asset Management Roundtable of India (AMRI), a lobby group, the new FPI norms will immediately impact investments of about $75 billion from overseas funds.
  • Industry experts believe that the private equity industry will see only a limited impact. Any significant impact, if possible, is expected only in public markets.
  • SEBI denied of any significant impact on FPI investments.
  • However, it can not be denied that new guidelines require the foreign investors to go through a serious structural overhauling.
  • It also restricts NRIs/PIOs from holding key managerial position in FPIs.

5. Remedial measures:

  • SEBI had formed a committee under the chairmanship of former deputy governor of RBI, H.R. Khan to review the FPI rules.
  • The panel will also look into the issues raised by the investors in relation to new guidelines.

6. Way forward:

SEBI needs to take a holistic view after taking into account views of all stakeholders, including the government.

  • Any attempt to weed out people behind corporate entities shall not result into filtering of money managed by NRIs or PIOs.

 

NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL EXPORT POLICY PENDING IN CABINET

1 News

  • A draft National Agricultural Export Policy has been released by the Commerce Ministry.

2. Objective of the policy

  • Double farmer income by 2022
  • The goal is to increasing the share of agricultural exports from present about USD 30 billion to over USD 60 billion.
  • To make the country in top 10 places in exporting agricultural products in the world

3. Draft proposal

Barring essential agricultural commodities, no other commodity will be placed under export restriction

  • To remove minimum export price (MEP), export duty and export ban on agricultural products, exception will be given to essential commodities.
  • Common portal should be established for all rejected agricultural commodities by foreign countries.
  • Export promotion councils, commodity boards and industry association, will act as a forum to rationalize APMC act and MANDI fees.
  • Development of export centric clusters.
  • Promoting value added products through incentives.
  • Marketing and promotion of geographical indication (GI) commodities for exports.
  • Strengthening post-harvest infrastructure for logistical movement of agricultural commodity.
  • Promoting R&D activities for new product development for the upcoming markets.
  • Dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary issues are also the priorities.
  • Policy made a case for promoting contract farming as it would help in attracting investments.

 

Post office solutions: the challenges facing India Post Payments Bank

News

  1. PM Modi has launched the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB)

Important Facts

2.  IPPB will operate under the aegis of Department of Post, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

3. The Government of India owns 100% equity of the IPPB.

4. It has been registered as a public limited company under Companies Act, 2013 and Section 22 of Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

5. It can accept deposits of up to Rs 1 lakh from the customers beyond which the account will automatically get converted into a post office saving account.

6. IPPB has teamed up with PNB and Bajaj Allianz life Insurance for providing third party products like loans and Insurances.

7. IPPB Plans to charge for financial services to generate revenue.

8. Indian Postal System network includes

  • 55 lakhs post offices (1.3 lakhs are in villages)
  • 650 Bank branches,
  • 3250 access points
  • more than 3 lakh postal employees

Benefits of IPPB

9. Financial Inclusion:

  • Promotes financial inclusion in rural and unorganized sector of the economy.
  • Grameen Dak Sewaks could be the last mile agents.
  • Since IPPB is 100% government owned, it will be less profit driven and will focus more on financial Inclusion.

10. Revamps Postal System:

  • Harnessing of the vast postal network will reinvigorate the moribund Postal System.

11. Remittance

IPPB will enable remittance services in a secured technology driven environment.

12. Offline presence

IPPB will have offline presence and thus more visible and accessible.

Challenges

13. Payment bank business model

  • Restrictions on the functioning of payment bank can hamper growth of IPPB.
  • Difficult to earn profit to survive as standalone business entity.
  • The Payment bank model till now is untested.

14. Competition from private payment banks:

  • They have a head start and it will be difficult to compete with them.
  • They are more adaptive to business realities and customer friendly.

15. Department of post had revenue deficit of Rs 11000 crore till 2017 and If not managed properly, it can negatively affect the functioning of IPPB.

Conclusion

16. IPPB is the logical extension of the Financial Inclusion project like Jan Dhan Yojana.

17. Launch of IPPB has been hailed as the ‘Second wave of Financial Inclusion’.

18. If Postal payment bank succeeds, it could indeed usher in a new era of rapid financial inclusion across India.

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