Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – February 11, 2019

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Q.1) What is leprosy? What is the cause of leprosy? What steps has the government taken to reduce the stigma associated with leprosy?

Answer:

Leprosy is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae.

Causes:

  1. close and repeated contact with nose and mouth droplets from someone with untreated leprosy.
  2. Poor detection of cases

Steps taken:

  1. India is currently running one of the largest leprosy eradication programs in the world, the National Leprosy Eradication Program (NLEP)
  2. National Health Policy 2017 (NHP) has elimination of Leprosy as a national level target
  3. Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) is being implemented by the Union Health Ministry
  4. SPARSH Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC) was launched on 30th January 2017 to promote awareness and address the issues of stigma and discrimination.
  5. Supreme Court ruling
    1. Supreme Court asked the Centre, states and Union Territories to undertake a campaign to spread awareness about the curability of leprosy so that those suffering from it are not discriminated
    2. It recommended for repealing archaic provisions from 119 statutes that stigmatise leprosy patients
    3. No government hospital shall decline treatment to leprosy patients
    4. People suffering from leprosy also have the right to live with human dignity
    5. Programs should be telecast on All India Radio and Doordarshan
    6. The campaign should be done even at ‘gram panchayat’ level to help end ‘discrimination and ostracisation’ of those suffering from leprosy

 

Q.2) What do mean by bank mergers?   What are the issues and challenges in merging banks?

Answer:

Amalgamation is different from merger. In amalgamation, as in the present case, old banks are destroyed for creating a new entity.  In case of merger of SBI associates with SBI, all are merged into an existing entity(SBI).

Challenges:

  1. Consolidation will present individual implementation challenges for the banks. There will be a possible rise in bad loan ratios.
  2. Lenders will also have to do significant amount of rearranging of their branch networks. Over time, most banks have set up branches and ATM networks in similar locations particularly in Tier-1, Tier-2 towns.
  3. Despite automation, most Indian banks have gone for massive expansion of their branch networks in urban India, which will be redundant when some of them merge.
  4. In case of SBI, following the merger, gross NPAs have jumped from Rs1.08 trillion to Rs1.79 trillion. While its own net profit was Rs2,815 crore in the March quarter, the merged entity reported a loss of Rs3,300 crore.
  5. RBI has already created D-SIBs to reduce systemic risk from financial conglomerates that can send shocks to other parts of the financial system. The creation of banking giants through mergers should increase the regulations.
  6. Several case studies have shown that merger announcements trigger confusion, anxiety and insecurity in staff, leading to slowdowns in business. Weak talent management and poor communications often exacerbate these challenges.

 

Q.3) What is Public Credit Registry? What is its purpose? What are its shortcomings?

Answer:

A public credit registry is an information repository that collates all loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers.

Purpose:

  1. The repository can capture and certify details of collaterals, enable writing of contracts and prevent over-pledging of collateral by a borrower.
  2. It will help in credit assessment and pricing by banks
  3. It also enables risk-based, dynamic and countercyclical provisioning at banks
  4. It provides for careful supervision and early intervention by regulators
  5. It also helps in restructuring stressed bank credits effectively
  6. A transparent public credit registry would help the bankers to rely on objective data for making credit decisions and also enable them to defend their actions with market evidence when subjected to scrutiny

Shortcomings:

  1. Protecting data privacy
  2. Lack of comprehensive data – The Indian credit registry ecosystem is currently quite fragmented with RBI having a database of borrowers with outstanding loans over Rs 5 crore while a number of private credit information providers exist, each with distinctive customers and coverage.
  3. Dependency on Self Disclosures by borrowers – Reliance on self-certified data by customers e.g. KYC, income details, financial details (assets & liabilities), net worth, contact numbers, nationality etc.
  4. Authenticity – Since various portals have to cross verify diverse pieces of information, quite often inaccurate entries are passed on.
  5. Reliable Reporting – Due to multiple inputs and time lag there are difficulties to ascertain the up-to-date information.
  6. Paid Portals – Private credit information companies are paid portals and the lender has to bear the cost of extracting data.

 

Q.4) Who are the Rohingyas? What is India’s policy towards the Rohingya Refugees?

Answer:

The Rohingya are Myanmar’s Muslim minority who reside in the northern parts of the Rakhine region.

India’s policy:

  1. Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has labelled them “illegal immigrants,” accused them of posing a “national security threat,” and pushed for their deportation
  2. Government also stated that India does not have to adhere to non refoulement as India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention
  3. nearly 200 Rohingyas are presently detained in India on the charges of illegal entry
  4. India’s refugee policy toward the Rohingyas in particular has four major planks:
    1. competition with China
    2. India’s economic interests and ambitions in Myanmar
    3. the fragile geopolitics of India’s northeast
    4. rising Hindu nationalism in the nation
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