Categories
9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 5 2017



Front Page / NATIONAL [The Hindu]


[1]. Confusion reigns on CAG audit of GST data 

[2]. Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit purely religious 

[3]. Liquor drives State Highways to turn local


Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]


[1]. The right to recall legislators

[2]. My way on the highway 

[3]. Sting in the tale


Economy [The Hindu]


[1]. Brexit’s shadow: India vows to deepen ties


Indian Express


[1]. Evidence no bar


Live Mint



Front Page / NATIONAL


1. Confusion reigns on CAG audit of GST data

Context

CAG is denied access to GST Network.

What is GST Network (GSTN)?

GSTN is the nationwide electronic backbone of the tax regime. It is a private limited company set up to provide IT infrastructure and services to Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders for implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Problems in implementing GST regime

Auditors of the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) require access to two datasets:

  1. Data pertaining to revenue that would accrue to States from alcohol and petrochemicals, both of which are outside GST
  2. GST data

Why can’t CAG audit GSTN?

GSTN has refused to give the CAG access to its network.

Reasons:

  • GSTN is holding data in a fiduciary capacity since the tax data belongs to Centre and States.
  • GSTN is owned by a private company, and thus cannot be audited by CAG.

Stand of CAG

  • CAG says: GSTN can be counted as a government-controlled company since its strategic control will be with the government, under the new Companies Act.
  • The real issue is auditors getting access to the massive amount of data that GSTN will contain.

2. Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit purely religious

Context

China should not interfere in India’s internal affairs.

Stand of India

  • The visit of Tibetan spiritual leader is “purely religious” and “China shouldn’t interfere in India’s internal matters.”
  • Dalai Lama is considered as a religious leader by Indians.
  • For India, it is not a disputed territory. In a sovereign country like India, one cannot stop the movement of a religious leader.

Objection by China

  • Beijing considers Arunachal Pradesh its territory.
  • It refers to the Dalai Lama as a “separatist leader.”

3. Liquor drives State Highways to turn local

Context

Recent Supreme Court order on the ban of liquor outlets located within 500 meters of National and State highways has led to States re-classifying State Highways into local roads.

About the Supreme Court Order

Judiciary has ordered shutdown of pubs and restaurants, and retail outlets selling alcohol, along national highways and state highways.

The Supreme Court in its March 31 order had said that “liquor vends within 500 metres of National and State highways would shut down from April 1”.

Problem with converting State Highways into district roads

  • De-notification of national highways can be done by the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry, and not by state.
  • Implications of converting National Highways into State Highways would be drastic. The maintenance responsibility will shift to the States, which lacks the capacity compared to Central government.

Editorial/OPINION


1. The right to recall legislators

Context

To have right to recall along with right to vote to deepen our democratic roots.

What is a Recall Election?

A recall election or representative recall is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before their term has ended.

How does a Recall Election work?

The recall process provides a check on the sovereign power of elected officials. If officials fail to represent the will of their constituency, then the voters have the power to take back their vote through a recall election.

Reason to have Right to Recall in India

  • If people have the power to elect their representatives, they should also have the power to remove these representatives when they engage in misdeeds or fail to fulfill their duties.
  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951, only provides for “vacation of office upon the commission of certain offences and does not account for general incompetence of the representatives or dissatisfaction of the electorate as a ground for vacation”.
  • Having such a right offers a mechanism to ensure vertical accountability of elected representatives in a democracy.

Precautions

Legislative change is needed which seeks to introduce recall petitions, for elected representatives in the Lok Sabha and in respective Legislative Assemblies.

  • The process should have built-in safeguards such as initial recall petition to kick-start the process and electronic-based voting to decide its outcome.
  • it should ensure that a representative cannot be recalled by a small margin of voters and that the recall procedure represents the mandate of the people.

Conclusion

A free and fair election is a right of the citizens of a democratic country. When their elected representatives no longer enjoy the confidence of the people, the people must have a right to remove them.


2. My way on the highway

Context

Supreme Court’s order banning liquor sale on highways is encroaching upon policymaking of the executive.

The Supreme Court Order and Reasoning

  • The Supreme Court’s order prohibited the sale of alcohol within 500 meters of national and State highways.
  • The stated reason for the order is preventing road accidents due to drunken driving.

Dispute between Judiciary and Executive

  • Separation of powers between the executive, legislature, and judiciary puts policymaking under the executive.
  • Another argument is: banning alcohol and micromanaging distance from the highways where alcohol cannot be sold is an example of policymaking. Supreme Court has thus indulged in “judicial overreach”.

Defence of Judiciary

  • The court has referred to a number of government policy documents that drew a correlation between alcohol consumption and road accidents.
  • The issue is whether such liquor licences should be granted on national and state highways at the cost of endangering human lives and safety
  • Supreme Court justifies its order under Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty.

Article 21

  • Article 21 of the Indian Constitution says that, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
  • Article 21 is not merely a right against state action that deprives an individual of her life, but also against state inaction that results in loss of life.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court has failed to make a strong case for why its orders do not encroach upon executive’s domain of policymaking. There is thus a view that the court has overreached its power.


3.Sting in the tale

Context

A recent Sting Operation in Kerala has opened up a debate on privacy and public interest.

What are Sting Operations?

A Sting Operation is a design concocted in collaboration with the editor, perhaps the publisher with vested interests, a journalist, and a videographer.

Ethics of Sting Operations

  • Ethics of Sting Operations is one of the controversial issues in journalism. Sting operations are fraught with ethical concerns over whether they constitute entrapment.
  • Any operation that uses false pretences, with necessary violation of interviewee’s trust and privacy should serve a larger public interest. It must be used as a last resort, when there is no other means of acquiring the information.
  • Stings were never meant to entrap or induce people into committing wrongdoing or embarrassing themselves badly.
  • Stings are an ethical subject/minefield and it is important that publications and broadcasters explain the vital public interest for conducting them.
  • A sting cannot be an excuse to grab eyeballs with private content.

Economy


1. Brexit’s shadow: India vows to deepen ties

Context

Bilateral agreement on fighting tax evasion between India and UK.

Result of the Meet

  • Strengthening economic cooperation and collaborating on cross-border tax evasion and avoidance between India and UK.
  • Proposal to issue Masala bond in London and list its Masala bonds on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Encourage sustainable bilateral investment.
  • Fast-track investment promotion mechanism.
  • Implementation of G20/OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project outputs.

Knowledge Byte: Masala bonds

  • Masala bonds are bonds issued outside India but denominated in Indian Rupees, rather than local currency.
  • They are issued to foreign investors. Hence, the currency risk lies with the investor and not the issuer, unlike external commercial borrowings (ECBs), where Indian companies raise money in foreign currency loans.
  • Masala bonds are a good way to protect corporate balance sheets from exchange rate risks.

Indian Express


Evidence no bar

Context

Discussion and Analysis of Universal Basic Income.

What is Universal Basic Income?

A Universal Basic Income (also called basic income guarantee or unconditional basic income) is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from government or some other public institution, in addition to income received from elsewhere.

Characteristics of Universal Basic Income

A Basic Income has the following characteristics:

  • Periodic: it is paid at regular intervals.
  • Cash payment: it is paid in an appropriate medium of exchange, allowing those who receive it to decide what they spend it on.
  • Individual: it is paid on an individual basis and not to households.
  • Universal: it is paid to all.
  • Unconditional: it is paid without a requirement to work.

Key Principles of Universal Basic Income

  • Universality (so all citizens are covered).
  • Entitlement to a “basic income” (that allows dignified living even in the absence of other earnings).

Issues with the implantation of Universal Basic Income

  • Question of Affordability
  • Social spending (like in MGNREGA, PDS and MDM) being poorly targeted
  • Cash transfers (like DBT-PDS)  have not shown great success.

Alternative solution

  1. Universalized social security pensions at Rs 1,000 per month
  2. Implementation of universal maternity entitlements

These two will cost less than 1.5 per cent of the GDP.

These programs can work well. But, issues of affordability and good performance are unsuitable evidences and act as hindrance.


Live Mint



Categories
Daily Quiz

Daily Quiz: UPSC Prelims Marathon : April 5


[WpProQuiz 98]


 

Categories
Prelims Capsule

Prelims Capsule – Profiles of Personalities: Lala Lajpat Rai

 


Of the triumvirate – Lal-Bal-Pal ( Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal  Gangadhar  Tilak and  Bipin Chandra  Pal)  of  India’s freedom movement against the British colonial rule, Lala Lajpat Rai was a multi-faceted personality and led a life of ceaseless activity dedicated to a selfless service to the nation.

  • He was drawn into one of the most creative movements of the revitalization of 19th century India, Arya Samaj, founded and led by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Later on, he set up a Dayanand Anglo-Vedic school in Lahore.
  • As early as 1897, he had founded the Hindu Relief Movement to provide help to the famine -stricken people and thus preventing them falling into the clutches of the missionaries.
  • In the two articles he wrote for the Kayastha Samachar (1901), he called for technical education and industrial self-help. In the wake of the Swadeshi movement (anti-partition of Bengal. 1905-8), when “the idea of a national education caught the imagination of the whole of India”, it was Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who “propagated the idea”.
  • He went to set up the National College in Lahore, where Bhagat Singh studied.
  • When the agitation against increased irrigation rates and higher land-revenue began in Punjab, it was led by the Indian Patriots Association led by Ajit Singh (uncle of Bhagat Singh) and Lajpat Rai would often address their meetings.
  • For his growing involvement in the freedom movement, he was given the toughest prison sentences in Mandalay (now Myanmar) in 1907 without trial.
  • He also led the protest against the horrendous massacre of Jalianwalla Bagh.
  • He visited USA and Japan where he kept in touch with the Indian revolutionaries. In England, he also became a member of the British Labour party.
  • In recognition of his outstanding role in the freedom movement, he was elected President of the Indian National Congress at the Calcutta session (1920).
  • As he took much interest in the condition of the working class people, he was also elected as the President of the All India Trade Union Congress.
  • Gifted with a perceptive mind, he was a prolific writer and authored several works like
    • “Unhappy India”,
    • “Young India: An Interpretation”,
    • “History of Arya Samaj”,
    • “England’s Debt to India” and
    • a series of popular biographies on Mazzini, Garibaldi and Swami Dayanand.
  • As a visionary and man with a mission, he founded the Punjab National Bank, the Lakshmi Insurance Company and the Servants of the Peoples Society at Lahore.
  • A mass leader, he led from the front. While leading a protest march against the all-White Simon Commission in Lahore, he was brutally assaulted by the British authorities and was seriously injured which caused the untimely death of this towering freedom fighter in Lahore on 17 November 1928. 
  • It was to avenge this brutality Bhagat Singh took up arms along with and paid the ultimate price.

 

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Categories
Daily Editorials for UPSC IAS Exam Preparation

Measures for Road Safety – Motor Vehicles Act Amendment Bill

 


Context


Indian roads are seeing the growing number of accidents and the resultant loss of life and livelihood. Nearly 5 lakh road accidents take place in the country every year, in which close to 1.5 lakh lives are lost.

  • So, recently Cabinet has cleared amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 through Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
  • Also Supreme Court passed a judgement to ban the liquor vends along the highway showing concerns for the rise of increased road accidents.

Thankfully the debate has shaped up towards increased road safety and role of state of implementing suitable policy towards it. Let us analyse the different aspects of Road safety


Background


  • India is a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration that mandates halving road accident fatalities by 2020, and the government is very serious about meeting this commitment.
  • WHO, in its Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, has recommended that countries should  implement road safety  activities according to “five pillars” which include

1.    Road Safety Management through institutions and legislative framework;

2.    Building  Safer Roads through proper design, engineering and traffic calming measures;

3.    Safer Vehicles promotion; 

4.    Safer Road Usage Education and through efficient

5.    Post-crash Response.

Actions Taken

Based on this recommendation the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has been making concerted efforts to promote road safety.

  • A National Road Safety Policy has been put in place that recommends adopting a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the problem based on the 4 E’s viz Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles) Enforcement and Emergency Care.
  • Towards overhauling the institutional and statutory framework, the Ministry constituted a Group of Ministers from across states in March 2016 to deliberate upon and propose strategies for reducing road fatalities and to suggest actionable measures for implementation.
  • On the basis of recommendations of the GoM, the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill has been cleared by the Cabinet.

Highlights of the Bill


  • Under the Act, the liability of the third party insurer for motor vehicle accidents is unlimited.  The Bill caps the maximum liability for third party insurance in case of a motor accident at Rs 10 lakh in case of death and at five lakh rupees in case of grievous injury.
  • The Bill provides for a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund which would provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents.
  • The Bill defines taxi aggregators, guidelines for which will be determined by the central government.
  • The Bill also provides for: (i) amending the existing categories of driver licensing, (ii) recall of vehicles in case of defects, (iii) protection of Good Samaritans from any civil or criminal action, and (iv) increase of penalties for several offences
  • The state governments have also been called upon to formulate action plans for improving road safety and implementing the same by fixing time bound targets for fatality reduction and identifying and allocating adequate manpower, financial and other resources to achieve the targets.
  • In response, a large majority of the state governments have constituted State Road Safety Councils (SRSC) , notified  Road Safety Policies , submitted Draft Action Plans for reducing accidents and fatalities and designated Lead Agencies for dealing with road safety issues. The rest are in the process of doing so.
  • The government will also set up a National Register for vehicles and driving licences, which will issue a unique registration number to remove duplication.
  • The Bill also enables the Centre to recall vehicles whose components or engine do not meet the required standards. Vehicle manufacturers can be penalised up to Rs 500 crore in case of non-complaince of rules in parts or engine.
  • The penalty for drunken driving is being increased by five times to Rs 10,000, and if such driving results in the death of another person, the driver can be charged with a non-bailable offence with a jail term up to 10 years.

Good Points


Road Engineering

  • Road engineering has emerged as another priority area. Road safety has been made an integral part of road designing and safety audits are being taken up for selected stretches of National Highways.
  • As short-term measures, rumble strips, reflective stickers at junctions, fixing signboard/ cautionary board, providing signage and speed restrictions are being used.
  • As long-term measures construction of vehicular under-pass, by-pass, flyover, crash barriers and slope stabilization techniques are being taken up.
  • Rectification of black spots is being accorded top priority; Rs 11,000 Crore have been set aside for rectification of black spots.

Vehicular Safety Standards.

  • Trucks are prohibited from carrying protruding rods; Antilocking Brake System (ABS) have been made mandatory for heavy vehicles;
  • Bus Body Code for safer and comfortable buses and Truck Body Code for safe cabins to drivers and other road users have been notified.
  • Mandatory Fitment of Speed Governors on Transport Vehicles to avoid over speeding.
  • In addition all public service vehicles, (except two and three wheelers, e-rickshaws) have to be equipped with or fitted with vehicle location tracking device and one or more emergency buttons.

 Road Safety Education

  • On the education front, the Ministry has roped in a large number of NGOs and also corporates to carry on public awareness campaigns on the issue of road safety.
  • The Ministry is also running campaigns through the print, electronic and social media to make people sensitive to the urgency of following traffic rules.
  • Every year, the week from 9th January to 15th January is observed as the Road Safety Week when a number of activities are organized to bring this issue into the public eye.

Other Measures by the Ministry


  • The Ministry is also implementing a scheme for setting up of Model Institutes of Drivers Training and Research and Model Automated Centers for checking fitness of the vehicles
  • The Ministry launched a Highways Advisory System as a pilot project on Delhi-Jaipur highway. It is a free-to-air information distribution system that uses radio to make the travelling experience on National Highways safer, faster and hassle-free.
  • For effective trauma care cranes and ambulances are provided to state governments under the National Highway Accident Relief Service Scheme for deployment on national highway
  • The Ministry had launched pilot projects for Cashless Treatment of Road Accident Victims which it is proposed to implement this scheme along the Golden Quadrilateral, North South and East West Corridors (about 13500 km) as well at an estimated cost of about Rs. 250 Crore.

Setu Bharatam Initiative 

It is an ambitious programme with an investment of Rs. 50,000 crore to build bridges for safe and seamless travel on National Highways.

The programme aims at making all national highways Railway Level Crossing free by 2019.

208 new “road over bridges / road under bridges” are envisaged for construction, while 1500 bridges will be widened, rehabilitated or replaced.


Some Issues and lacunae in the policy


  •  The Bill caps the maximum liability for third party insurance, but does not cap the compensation amount that courts can award.  In cases where courts award compensation higher than the maximum liability amount, it is unclear who will pay the remaining amount.
  • Under the Act, compensation for hit and run victims comes from a Solatium Fund.  The Bill creates a new Motor Vehicle Accident Fund in addition.  With a Fund already existing to provide compensation for hit and run accidents, the purpose of the new Accident Fund is unclear.
  • State governments will issue licenses to taxi aggregators as per central government guidelines.  Currently, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis.  There could be cases where state taxi guidelines are at variance with the central guidelines on aggregators.
  •   While the penalties for contravening provisions of the proposed scheme on interim relief to accident victims are specified in the Bill, the offences that would warrant such penalties have not been specified.  It may be argued that imposing penalties without knowing the nature of the offences is unreasonable.

Conclusion


Solutions have certainly been set in motion in moving towards road safety. However, policies can lose all meaning if they are not implemented well. Rules can only be as effective as their enforcement.  Ensuring road safety is a matter of collective responsibility, and good results demand cooperation from every player – from policy makers to enforcement agencies, automobile makers to road users. Only then can we hope to save lives on our roads.


 
[su_box title=”Practice Questions” style=”bubbles” box_color=”#99bb41″ title_color=”#000000″ radius=”20″]
Questions

  1. What are the steps taken by the government to improve road safety?
  2. Road Accidents are one of the biggest causes of deaths in India. Suggest measures to ensure road safety in India.

[/su_box]

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Categories
Daily Quiz

Daily Quiz 2.0: UPSC Prelims Marathon: April 5


[WpProQuiz 97]


 

Categories
Newspaper

Must Read News Articles – April 5



The Hindu


Front Page / NATIONAL


Confusion reigns on CAG audit of GST data: Auditor denied access to GST Network.

Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit purely religious: China must not interfere in India’s internal affairs.

Liquor drives State Highways to turn local: States are now re-classifying State Highways into local roads following the Supreme Court order on the ban of liquor outlets located within 500 metres of National and State highways came into effect.


Editorial/OPINION


The right to recall legislators: It must coexist with the right to vote in order to deepen our democratic roots.

My way on the highway: The top court’s orders banning liquor sale on highways encroach upon the executive’s domain of policymaking.
Sting in the tale: Debate on privacy vs public interest

Economy


Brexit’s shadow: India vows to deepen ties: Bilateral accord on fighting tax evasion.


Indian Express


Evidence no bar: Discussion on Universal Basic Income shows an ignorance of inconvenient facts in our experience with direct benefit transfer and Aadhaar.


Live Mint





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Categories
Motivation TopperSpeak UPSC Preparation Strategy

[Video]: Strategy of IAS Topper Narendra Shah Rank 86 and lesson on Perseverance and Hard Work

Hi Aspirants,

Narendra Shah had scored 86th rank in UPSC Civil Services exam 2015. We are sharing his video/speech with you. In this video, Narendra Shah shares his strategy and importance of Answer Writing Practice.

This video is also important because – for all the aspirants, right attitude (persistence and hard work) is crucial.



Narendra Shah has improved his rank over the past few years through his perseverance and hard work.


More About the Topper


  • Narendra Shah is the first person to clear CSE from Singrauli(small town in Madhya Pradesh).
  • He did his B.Tech in Civil Engineering from IIT-Mumbai.
  • Narendra has also worked as a Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow for a year. In his first attempt in civil services examination, he got selected in Indian Information Service.
  • His ForumIAS id is GreyMatterRules.

Read Narendra Shah’s Previous Article on Coaching or No Coaching Here


 

 

Categories
Mains Marathon

UPSC Current Affairs Questions and Answer Writing – Mains Marathon – April 5



Read the following questions and answer them by clicking on the links in not more than 200 words

Time: 30 Minutes

Kindly review each others answers.


1. What is National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)? Discuss the parameters and methodology used in the ranking.

नेशनल इंस्टीट्यूशनल रैंकिंग फ्रेमवर्क (एनआईआरएफ) क्या है? रैंकिंग में प्रयुक्त पैरामीटर और पद्धति पर चर्चा करें।

The Hindu | NIRF


2. Do you think that MPC needs to reconsider its decision of taking a ‘neutral’ policy stand? Also, discuss key recommendations of Urjit Patel committee report on monetary policy reform.

क्या आप सोचते हैं कि एमपीसी को ‘तटस्थ’ नीति लेने के अपने फैसले पर पुनर्विचार करने की जरूरत है? इसके अलावा, मौद्रिक नीति सुधार पर उर्जित पटेल समिति की रिपोर्ट की प्रमुख सिफारिशों पर चर्चा करें।

Live Mint | Business Standard


3. “Cooperation between executive and judiciary in dealing with the high number of pending cases in India is essential.” Critically examine.

“भारत में लंबित मामलों की उच्च संख्या को निपटने में कार्यकारी और न्यायपालिका के बीच सहयोग आवश्यक है।” गंभीर रूप से जांच करें।

The Hindu