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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 13 April 2016

Brief of newspaper articles for the day bearing
relevance to Civil Services preparation

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GS PAPER 2


 

[1] Entrance test to fill PG medical seats in November

The Hindu

  • NEET to fill PG seats this november
  • All India Pre-Medical Test for undergraduates scheduled for May 1.
  • It happened after the Supreme Court approved a pan-Indian, common medical entrance exam.
  • Dr. Jayashree Mehta, president of the Medical Council of India, said This a huge victory.

Reactions to NEET

  • Many of the states are not happy with the verdict as they were taking admissions as per their rules.
  • Like in Tamil nadu where  there was no entrance test for undergraduate MBBS programme. Students are chosen by taking their 12th standard marks, and through a computer-generated random number allotment.
  • They were arguing that how a notification of supreme court supplant an act?

[2] Militaries of US, India to share their facilities +The Strategic Imperative + Keep talking

The Hindu                                     Indian Express                             Indian Express

Issue

  • Takeaways from the U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter’s three-day visit to India and its Implications for India.

Takeaways

  • A Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), by which India and the US will provide refuelling and supplies to each other’s armed forces but American troops can’t be stationed on Indian soil.
  • The two countries also agreed to set up a new Maritime Security Dialogue between officials from respective Defence and External Affairs Ministries and conclude an agreement to improve maritime domain awareness with an arrangement to improve sharing of data on commercial shipping traffic.
  • Both countries will also deepen cooperation in Maritime Domain Awareness by finalising a ‘White Shipping’ Agreement,
  • The two countries also agreed to start Navy-to-Navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare.This has been done keeping in mind the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over-flight throughout the region, including “in the South China Sea.”

Role of Carter

  • Carter is the chief architect of the bilateral Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), which ties in with Make in India and seeks to elevate the defence relationship to co-development and co-production.

Misconception being created that India is embracing US and getting involved in Anti-China alliance. Basis for this false belief:

  • The lack of reading of China’s Defence White Paper of 2015, wherein the debate between the continentalists and the maritime people has been settled in favour of the maritime lobby. China is going to become a maritime power in the “far seas” — the Indian Ocean.
  • “One belt one road” is the larger plan to change the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean to support the permanent presence of a Chinese fleet. It’s admittedly a long-term plan.
  • Third, the Chinese are going full speed to get Gwadar and Djibouti ready for the PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean.

The next big show will be in Indian Ocean and not South China Sea

  • China is a Pacific Ocean power. India is the Indian Ocean power.
  • Indians can contribute very little in the South China Sea or the “near seas”. As, it  is a competition between China and America-Japan and it will be decided by technology, anti-carrier strategy and air-sea battle backed by hypersonic aircraft.
  • If the Chinese pressure the Sino-Indian border, India could put the squeeze in the Indian Ocean, through which passes 65 per cent of all Chinese trade, particularly hydrocarbons.

Conclusion

If the signing of the foundational agreements, in the near future, is going to be the key to partnership in the Indian Ocean, they are well worth signing. For, the benefits far outweigh what we give in exchange.

 

[3] A higher price for education

Indian Express

  • Fee for IIT students has been increased
  • Now question arise how to finance public higher educational institutions?
  • Highly subsidised quality higher education, with admissions based strictly on merit, This will bring socio economic upward mobility.
  • This public demand for setting up new IITs, IIMs, AIIMSs, NITs, etc.
  • Budgetary requirements for supporting them will prove to be a challenge.

What are the alternatives?

  • Purpose of inclusion of students from economically weaker sections, there is the provision of education loans, often at lower-than-commercial rates.
  • This will result in loan driven education which is not good.

Why education-loan-driven higher education is not good?

  • It can  block the socio-economic mobility of poor people.
  • Students would opt for  getting a quick return on investment, higher education will be seen as capital investment.It can compromise their choices.
  • They might choose career which are lucrative but does not have much social impact (which they genuinely might want to pursue)
  • The success of Make in India as well as Start-Up India depends on the ability of young people to take risks and become entrepreneurs. Heavy education loans are unlikely to promote these choices.

An innovative middle path possible for financing education

  • Every selected candidate would have an option to defer payment of a significant part of the fee till after graduation. Say 15%
  • Than a person have thr option to take up other profession without worrying about the loan.
  • If a career a person is taking up has low yield than the payment will be correspondingly low.

Right now this is applied to undergraduate students only but post graduate students actually paying nominal fee but has widened career prospects and excellent pay packets

This should be applied to both UG and PG students.

One concern to this middle path is that:

  • What will compel the graduate to declare a person’s income truthfully?
    • One can device a system on the lines of pan card and aadhaar for this issue.

Conclusion:

  • Education system needs a dramatic change with respect to tuition fee, loans and repayments. So that the subsidies in education will trickle down to the economically weaker section.

GS PAPER 3


 

[1] It’s official: India set for an ‘above normal’ monsoon

The Hindu  

News

  • Decreasing El Nino effect will bring relief to most awaited season of the year, the monsoon

How India Meteorological Department(IMD) sees this season

  • 106% of average which is above average rainfall than in a normal year
  • Average is considered to be 96-104% of 89cms of rainfall
  • Chances of drought are only 1% this year
  • Drought is when rainfall is 90% or less and chances of drought are 16% in normal year

Reasons to IMD’s prediction

  • Decreasing El Nino effect and also statistical data that 7 out of 10 times the years that followed saw average or above average rainfall
  • 2014 and 2015 saw drought successively which is rare and were the most El Nino affected years
  • Indian Ocean Dipole is likely to form
  • La Nina will form late in the year in September but its coming will also enable more rains
  • A work in progress model indicates that rainfall will be 111% of the average

What is El Nino

A climatic cycle in Pacific ocean, warming of waters in the central and east central equatorial pacific , which affects the amount of rainfall India receives, sometimes so low that drought happen in certain parts of India

What is La Nina

Sea temperatures in the eastern central pacific ocean are lower, which is associated with bringing more rains in the sub continent

What is Indian Ocean Dipole

Where the western portions of the Indian Ocean are warmer than the east and thereby push rain-bearing clouds over India

[2] Retail price inflation slows

The Hindu

What?

According to recent government data, Consumer price inflation has slowed to 4.83 per cent in March, which is the lowest reading in six months.

How?

It can be attributed to the to the marginal easing of prices across most sectors, the most significant of which were the ‘food & beverages’ and ‘fuel & light’ segments.

Consumer Price Inflation (CPI)

Definition: A comprehensive measure used for estimation of price changes in a basket of goods and services representative of consumption expenditure in an economy is called consumer price index.

Description:

  • The calculation involved in the estimation of CPI is quite rigorous. Various categories and sub-categories have been made for classifying consumption items and on the basis of consumer categories like urban or rural.
  • Based on these indices and sub indices obtained, the final overall index of price is calculated mostly by national statistical agencies.
  • It is one of the most important statistics for an economy and is generally based on the weighted average of the prices of commodities.
  • It gives an idea of the cost of living.
  • Inflation is measured using CPI.
  • The percentage change in this index over a period of time gives the amount of inflation over that specific period, i.e. the increase in prices of a representative basket of goods consumed.

What else?

Index of Industrial Production (IIP) recorded a 2 per cent growth in February.

It was mainly due to strong growth in infrastructure and consumer durables sectors.

Expert opinion

 

  • The IIP data assumes significance coming on the back of other indicators—such as the Index of Eight Core Industries and the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index—also showing a pick-up in manufacturing activity.
  • Experts said the industrial output numbers do not reflect sustainable recovery and the inflation trend could reverse in coming months.

Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

Definition: The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which shows the growth rates in different industry groups of the economy in a stipulated period of time. The IIP index is computed and published by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) on a monthly basis.

Description: IIP is a composite indicator that measures the growth rate of industry groups classified under,

 

  1. Broad sectors, namely, Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity

 

  1. Use-based sectors, namely Basic Goods, Capital Goods and Intermediate Goods.

Currently IIP figures are calculated considering 2004-05 as base year.

The Eight Core Industries comprise nearly 38 % of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). They are Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Petroleum Refinery Products,Fertilizers,Steel, Cement & Electricity.

[3] India’s trade policy ambivalent, says chief economic advisor

The Hindu

Why there is ambivalence in India’s trade policy?

  • According to the  Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, it is partly due to the disruption and dislocation that trade is causing across the world.
  • There is a kind of genuine ambivalence on how rapidly India needs to open up domestically and to engage internationally whether it is the WTO or the TPP.

Views of a US based think tank about India’s trade policy

  • The current Government  seeks to transform India from being merely an influential entity into one whose weight and preferences are defining for international politics.
  • But “The currently tepid domestic economic liberalisation efforts” amounts to “forfeiting the possibilities of enhanced trade-driven growth,”
  • And it has blamed domestic politics and fears of foreign domination for India’s modest foreign trade.
  • It implies that  it wants India to further liberalise its trade.

[4] Just press play

Indian Express

News

  • A Unified Payments Interface(UPI) has been launched by the National Payments Corporation of India(NCPI)

What is UPI

  • It is an application which can be used on a smartphone, to transact online.

How will it help

  • Rapid payments to facilitate money transactions on websites, bill and even to a friend
  • The security added to it will help in engaging more bank customers, small and medium entrepreneurs

How to use it

  • Connect the bank account to the bank’s UPI
  • A unique ID has to be selected and a PIN also
  • Transact via ID’s other entities or people

How is this a revolution

  • Earlier only big banks were expected to perform every task and roles but now with the advancement of technology and increased mobile use in the country, this way of transacting money has opened up a bank in a smartphone itself
  • Also disregarding conservative approach of giving less licenses to new banks, the RBI has given 10 licenses to small banks which are although commercial but with a sectoral focus and 11 licenses to banks which only deposit and deal with remittances called payment banks.

[5] Who needs public banks?

Indian Express

Context

The economic status of the country is not growing as it should because the public sector banks(PSB) loan quality is very low and because of that, they incur bad debt

What is bad debt

A debt or a loan which cannot be recovered

Why PSB’s incur so much of bad debt

In India where social development is more important, large number of people are outside financial setup, prevalent poverty in rural and urban areas, no specific framework for labour market, the PSB’s are government’s hand to lend to help those in need, which mostly the people fail to return even the principal amount.

Why were PSB’s setup

When banks were nationalised in 1969, private banks were unable to get money, it was the PSB’s who were successful at financially garnering money and getting India on the development track

Why PSB’s today seem unimportant

Although PSB’s cannot be totally removed because social and developmental functions can only be performed by the PSB’s but the amount of debts and inefficient financial system of the country needs to consider Private banks, which are much efficient in managing debt.

How the PSB’s seem to counter the bad debt situation

  • A new policy which shows capital in the books of the banks which is collected from the Indian households through higher taxes and more financial repression only repackages it in a clever financial solution
  • Bank’s management compensation packages are lessened and if any investment is done which turned out to be wrong , legal and criminal charges follow on the management, and this is an opportunity to enforce changes in PSBs aimed at improving their investment choices

How have private banks fared

After many reforms by the governments and the liberalizing the system in the last 25 years, Indian financial markets have deepened and private banks and NBFCs have grown and become eminent players in mobilising resources

Why is there a problem doing away with PSB’s

Vested interests of different governments and fear of losing source of capital of budget financing through PSBs, even though a less efficient financial system and ambiguous accountability of public sector bank officers.

[6] Pollution is not just about odd-even

Livemint

Issue

  • Pollution has become a mainstream issue in India.

Recent events in the past few months

  • Measures taken by the Delhi government to curb pollution
  • The Agreement on Climate Change in Paris (COP21)
  • World Health Organization (WHO) reports on the alarming levels of air pollution in Indian cities.

Why it is a concern?

  • According to WHO, 13 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India.
  • Pollution levels in the most polluted city of Delhi as measured by particulate matter most harmful to respiration (PM2.5) are almost thrice that of Beijing and nearly 15 times more than that prescribed by WHO.

What is particulate matter?

  • Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.
  • Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time.
  • Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small that individually they can only be detected with an electron microscope.
  • Many manmade and natural sources emit PM directly or emit other pollutants that react in the atmosphere to form PM.

Size matters

  • These solid and liquid particles come in a wide range of sizes.
  • Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system.
  • Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as “fine” particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks.
  • Particles with diameters between 2.5 and 10 micrometers are referred to as “coarse.
  • Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs.

Sources of PM

  • Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion activities (motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning, etc.) and certain industrial processes.
  • Sources of coarse particles include crushing or grinding operations, and dust from paved or unpaved roads.
  • Other particles may be formed in the air from the chemical change of gases. They are indirectly formed when gases from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapor. These can result from fuel combustion in motor vehicles, at power plants, and in other industrial processes.

Implications

  • According to a study,  increase in PM2.5 by one microgram per cubic metre reduces life expectancy by three weeks, which implies that such alarming increases could chop off a significant portion of one’s healthy years.

How to tackle this menace?

  • First step of acknowledging the problem has been done.
  • Second step is to try to correctly frame the problem, which would mean getting good, timely information on the sources of pollution. But we do not have comprehensive source on Nationwide data on the sources of pollution.
  • Third step will be to have a coordinated action on the issue. But  currently, there is disjointed and localized action treating the symptoms rather than the disease.
  • Lastly, a solution which is more environment-friendly should be incentivized.

[7] Rebooting India’s agricultural policy

Livemint

Context

The government is looking to revamp its agricultural policy after the agricultural sector has started facing the effects of decreased international prices in agricultural commodities and also the drought has added to their suffering

Where the government has failed

  • The delayed response of the government because it knew and was aware of the coming of the drought
  • Drought relief fund has not being disbursed by many states even after the promise was made
  • The budget increment was only 27% as against 127% claimed in 2016 budget
  • No clear policy goals to revive agriculture for the objective of doubling farm income by 2022

What else has affected agriculture

  • Rise in horticulture, although grown in less area the production is higher than food grains
  • Horticulture is now 1/3rd of agriculture GDP
  • Horticulture is the branch of agriculture that deals with the art, science, technology, and business of growing plants. It includes the cultivation of medicinal plants, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, sprouts, mushrooms, algae, flowers, seaweeds and non-food crops such as grass and ornamental trees and plants.
  • Floriculture and livestock has also seen rapid growth

Why are horticulture, floriculture and livestock vulnerable

  • They require different marketing and processing support, which is different to the traditional agriculture
  • More vulnerable to price fluctuations than food grains

What needs to be done

  • Saving farmers from natural uncertainties and risks and regulating price and output market
  • Including farmers in insurance and subsidies because more than 80% are marginal farmers
  • Making marketing infrastructure policies strong and setting support prices
  • Putting focus back on water resources with better strategy on crop varieties and new technologies which will require less resources
  • Small and marginal farmers need support of the institution that have been setup by the government, like agricultural universities and cooperatives institutions, to help them in sustainable agriculture and erratic monsoons cycles

For short term help

Government should strengthen MGNREGA to help farmers suffering from drought related crisis so as to secure their livelihood and encourage them not take drastic steps like suicide

Conclusion

For the future of Indian agriculture the government would have to restart the policy for the challenges our farmers are facing in the present context, otherwise the target of doubling the farmers income by 2022 would seem impossible to achieve.

 


1. The lead article of the day is covered under Editorial Today. Click here to read.

2. Science and Technology and Environment articles has been left out, they will be covered in weekly compilation for next week.

BY: ForumIAS Editorial Team 

 

 

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