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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 1st November 2016

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FRONT PAGE/ NATIONAL

 

[1]. A.P., Telangana top in ease of doing business

The Hindu

Context

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana jointly topped the “Ease of Doing Business Reforms Ranking 2015-16”.

Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the World Bank conducted the “Ease of Doing Business Reforms Ranking 2015-16

  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana jointly topped the “Ease of Doing Business Reforms Ranking 2015-16.

Ranking Methodology

The rankings are given on the basis of a 340-point business reform action plan and their implementation by the States.

DIPP ranked states on six key reform areas:

  • single-window systems
  • tax reforms
  • construction permits
  • environment and labour reforms
  • inspection reforms
  • commercial disputes and paper-less courts.

Findings

In year 2015 not a single state implemented more than 75% of reforms. In 2016, 16 states implemented more than 75% reforms.

  • Four of the seven States with the lowest income levels in India had found a place in the top 10,
  • All the seven such States had an implementation rate of over 75 per cent
  • Dedicated Body: States have created a dedicated body as a one-stop system for state-level regulatory and fiscal incentives approvals for single-window clearances.
  • Progress in tax reforms: The states have also made good progress in tax reforms by mandating e-registration for value-added tax, central sales tax, and other such, and by allowing online payment and tax return filing.
  • States have also implemented advanced automated solutions to deal with environmental- and pollution-related applications and approvals.
  • Inspection reforms: A number of inspection reforms, with regard to labour, tax and environment related compliances, have also been introduced across the states to help businesses comply with inspection requirements in a user-friendly manner.

 

[2]. More differently abled attend schools than before: Census 

The Hindu

Context

Article deals with some stats released in the Census of 2011

Observations

  • Nearly two-thirds of the disabled population in the age-group of 5-19 in 2011 were attending educational institutions in 2011
  • Improvement: As many as 40.2 lakh (61.2 per cent) out of the total of 65.7 lakh disabled population in the specified age group were attending educational institutions in 2011. This is an improvement of 11 percentage points from 2001 when 33 lakh (50 per cent) of the 65.3 lakh differently abled persons had attended educational institutions.
  • Any other disability: those who reported to have ‘any other disability’ has the highest percentage (71.2 per cent) of the people attending any educational institution.This was followed by those having visual disability (68 per cent) and hearing difficulty (67 per cent).
  • Never attended any educational institute: Twenty-seven per cent of the disabled people in the age group of 5-19, however, have never attended any educational institute
  • Around half of the people with ‘multiple disability’ (54.4 per cent) and ‘mental illness’ (50.3 per cent) did not attend any educational institute.

 

[3]. Centre to notify real estate rules

The Hindu

Context

Real estate rules to be notified soon

What can be expected in the real estate rules?

  • Fee halved: Property registration fees would be halved. To incentivize registration of projects and real estate agents with regulatory authorities, fee for the same has been reduced by half based on suggestions from promoters for reduction of fee. The fee has been reduced to Rs. 5 per square metre for up to 1,000 square metres and Rs. 10 per square metres beyond this limit subject to a maximum of Rs. 5 lakh per project
  • Compensation mandatory: Developers will be required to compensate allottees in case of delays in handing over the property.
  • Furnishing of additional information:Real estate developers will have to furnish additional information regarding the ongoing projects for the benefit of the buyers, besides depositing 70 per cent of the unused funds in a separate bank account to ensure their completion.

 

[4]. PF claims in cases of death set to be settled in a week

The Hindu

Context

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has decided to settle PF money claimed after death of an employee within seven days from 20 days at present.

The announcement

  • Settlement in 7 days: All death case claims submitted by spouse or nominee or legal heirs of EPF members be invariably settled within a period of seven days from date of submission of claim form in concerned field office where the deceased members accounts are being maintained
  • Officer training: One officer will be trained in facilitation centre and deputed to specifically look after death case claims “with proper display in this regard made on the seat or counter “Please contact for death cases” in Hindi, regional language and English.”
  • All the death case claims will be given top priority and officers-in-charge at all EPF offices will personally monitor the death cases on day-to-day basis.

Present situation

  • At present, it takes 20 days to settle all transfers and withdrawals by employees from Employees Provident Fund, Employees’ Pension Scheme and Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI) schemes governed by EPFO.

 

[5]. World Bank to soon rank cities on ‘ease of living’

The Hindu

Context

The World Bank Group will soon bring out an “ease of living” index that will rank cities globally, even as it is looking at tweaking the methodology used in its country-wise “ease of doing” business rankings to better capture reforms being carried out in large and diverse nations such as India.

Backdrop

  • The decision comes at a time when India has launched to develop 100 smart cities
  • Moreover, on the World Bank Group’s Doing Business index, India had suggested that reforms undertaken across the country and not just in Mumbai and Delhi be considered

As per World Bank

One of the questions is that as one moves more into high income [category], urban centres become extremely important, including for accommodation and so on. For cities to actually generate growth, the ease of living there has got to be very important.

Ease of living index

The index could include categories on social inclusion, cost of living, public transport, housing, education, health, environment-friendliness, crime/safety, governance and corruption.

130th spot

The rankings in the Ease of doing business report of the World Bank placed India at a lowly 130th place. Explaining the reason behind it World bank has clarified that the rankings did not capture important reforms including the laws on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and insolvency and bankruptcy as they did not come before the cut-off date.

  • When reforms such as the GST and those on bankruptcy and insolvency were included in next year’s rankings, India’s rank would improve vastl

 

EDITORIAL/OPINION

[1]. The pivot through Kabul

The Hindu

Context

Article points to the fact that India’s presence in Afghanistan in terms of arms and provisions that it supplies is growing which might shift the power balance in the South Asian region.

Policy followed by India

Hamid Karzai during 2013 had asked for greater supply of Indian arms and provisions. The government at that point of time was hesitant to do so as it didn’t wanted to provoke Pakistan. President Ashraf Ghani in 2014 turned to Pakistan for help in this regard.

Question of Arms

Afghanistan, after facing rejection from Pakistan & with Taliban rejecting peace talks, has again turned to India. Therefore, the question of arms has come back on the agenda.

Indian supplies to Afghanistan

  • Three Indian-built transport helicopters were donated in April 2015. Over the winter of 2015-16, several attack helicopters followed
  • New Delhi has plans to send artillery, trucks, and T-72 tanks

Afghan army in need of provisions and arms

Since Afghan forces took the lead in fighting, the Taliban have gained more territory than at any other point in the last 15 years. This is despite the high level of foreign support that remains in place — 9,000 U.S. troops remain in the country

  • Pushed back: The Afghan National Security Forces have been rolled back by the Taliban in no less than three major provincial capitals: Lashkar Gah in Helmand, TarinKot in Uruzgan, and Kunduz in the north. Two other capitals, Baghlan and Farah, are also under serious pressure

Failure of leadership

Young police officers and soldiers dying on isolated checkpoints without adequate food, water, or ammunition denote a failure of leadership

Political allegations

There have been political allegations in the Afghan leadership. The Vice President himself, a controversial warlord, attacked President Ghani for favoritism towards Pashtuns over the former’s own Uzbek constituency and threatened to rebel.

President’s office retaliated with a threat to investigate Mr. Dostum’s personal militias operating in the northern Faryab province

Author states that in lieu of such political and military failures, no amount of weapons will be able to change the situation around

Real purpose: The real purpose of supplying arms is a political signal that India still retains influence over the conflict in the region, despite being left out of the four-nation Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) on peace talks comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the U.S.

Focus on soft security missions

Indian officials have stressed on soft security missions like disaster relief and evacuation, rather than full-blown military intervention

Arms can change the game

  • Generate revenue: Arms generate revenue, of course, but they can also transform the balance of power, cement alliances, and can provide assistance during crises and wars. They are not without risks.
  • Turned against the provider: Arms can be turned on their provider, especially where regimes change suddenly, and can render the providers awkwardly complicit in their use.
  • Fueling conflicts: Arms can also fuel conflicts, reducing the incentive on one side or another to negotiate with adversaries

How India’s influence is growing?

Export Doubled: India’s clout is growing. Indian arms exports doubled by value from 2012-13 to 2014-15 to over $200 million.

Recipients: The recipients included Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, South Korea, and even major exporters like Russia, Israel, and Britain. Most of these have been spares and minor equipment.

Help to Vietnam: In October, India announced a $500 million line of defence credit to Vietnam during his trip to Hanoi, building on an earlier line of credit two years ago for Indian patrol boats.

In the past decade India has transferred patrol boats, maritime patrol aircraft, radar, armored vehicles, anti-tank weapons, and helicopters to its neighbors.

Directly operated assets: India directly operates some of these assets, notably part of the coastal surveillance radar chain unfolding across the Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. Beneficiaries have included every single member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) except, of course, Pakistan.

Conclusion

Author concludes by saying that India has maintained its policy of modest arms provision and training in South Asia and Africa, but by and large it has held back from game-changing sales that would have strategic ripples. Military balance would be affected if India shifts away from this policy and decides to dig in deep over supply of arms and provisions to neighboring countries.

 

[3]. Case against a uniform asylum law

The Hindu

Context

A uniform asylum law would be a problem, why?, Read on as author ascribes reasons for stating so.

Backdrop

Recently, Baloch leader BrahamdaghBugti’s had made an asylum request to India. India has still not decided on his application but calls have been made regarding the need to have a uniform asylum law

What is author stating in this article?

Protecting refugees in line with international law is a duty which India must meet. But denying the government the ability to make sovereign decisions about who can receive India’s asylum is counterproductive

Difference between asylee and refugee

Asylum and refugee status are different concepts although the terms are often used interchangeably.

Asylum: Asylum is an expansive institution of protection, refugees are a narrow category of people. An asylee need not be a refugee.

  • Indeed, asylum predates the refugee regime by several centuries.
  • In Europe, asylum was an ecclesiastical (relating to church) concept that provided safe haven in a place of worship. Asylum has no defining criteria other than the willingness of a state to grant it.
  • Asylum need not be tied to national territory. It can be granted by diplomatic missions abroad as it has been to Julian Assange by Ecuador’s embassy in London.

Refugee: Refugee status is narrowly defined. The UN’s Refugee Convention of 1951 links refuge to persecution on racial, religious, national, social, or political grounds. Many countries including India disagreed with the UN’s definition. It set the bar for protection too high for ordinary people for whom proving targeted persecution is difficult. India did not sign the convention.

Africa’s stance

In 1969, it adopted its own convention which recognised that refugees are people who flee serious public disorder, external aggression, occupation, and foreign domination. In other words, Africa recognised that during war, people do not wait to be individually persecuted, they flee en masse, and they are all refugees.

Extradition

Political offence exception: Extradition law exempts a country from handing over a criminal if the offence for which she is wanted is of a political character. This is known as the ‘political offence exception.’ It enables political asylum. It is recognised in the Extradition Act, 1962 and earlier laws too — perhaps an indicator of the legislature’s intent to allow people like Mr. Bugti to shelter in India at the government’s discretion.

 European Union’s view

Europe understood the shortcomings of the refugee regime during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Many of those displaced were not technically refugees, forcing the European Union to create a new form of asylum distinct from refugee status.

  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) followed suit. The distinction between asylum and refugee status has been recognized by the EU Court of Justice and several countries.

Asylum is more popular

Asylum has been defined loosely but the term refugee is defined strictly and it is the duty of every international state to protect refugees. Only terrorism is the ground on which refugee status can be denied. That is why asylum is more popular.

Latin American tradition

Latin America has a rich and long-standing tradition of protecting political dissidents who are excluded from refugee status.

  • Even coup leaders and guerrillas have been protected.
  • In 1954, Latin American states recognised each other’s sovereignty to grant asylum to dissidents.
  • This conception of asylum travelled to Africa to aid the struggle against colonisation. Black liberationist leaders who were accused of terrorism by colonial authorities were protected as asylees abroad. Anti-apartheid fighters benefited too.

If Mr. Bugti is accepted, it would not be the first time that Indian asylum has been politicised. The political repercussions of welcoming the Dalai Lama in 1959 continue to be felt. The Dalai Lama has never been officially recognised as a refugee; he remains an “honoured guest”

India hosts refugees from Tibet and elsewhere who fled persecution and conflict.

Way forward

  • For refugees, a law will regularise their stay in India and guarantee essential freedoms. But the law need not be uniform.
  • Indeed it should vary so that victims of targeted persecution are individually protected, large groups fleeing war are protected as a group, and people displaced by natural disasters are given transient protection.
  • The same law can allow the government to grant asylum to anyone it pleases, irrespective of what that person has done or where in the world he or she is located

Conclusion

India needs a discretionary political asylum regime for people like Mr. Bugti as well as a mandatory refugee regime to ensure humanitarian protection.

 

[3]. The price of personal law

Indian Express

Context

Those opposed to Uniform Civil Code should forego their vote in assembly, LS polls.

Author elaborates his response to a particular question contained in the questionnaire he received from Law commission regarding Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

Question: Should the uniform civil code be optional?”

Author’s response: Those who are against the uniform civil code (UCC), whether on the basis of religion or on grounds of deep-rooted customs of the so-called Adivasis, should be given a limited option. The limited option can’t be an absolute option, but only a qualified option. The limit, I proposed, should read like this: “Those who are opposed to a UCC may be given an option to not follow it. But in that case they will have to forego their right to vote in the elections to the state assemblies and Parliament.”

Reasons

Author cites Article 44 of the constitution to support his argument

1). Article 44: This article is included in the constitution as a Directive Principle of State Policy (DPSP) contained in Part IV.

  • The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India
  • Author explains that the word “shall” is important. It connotes that it is mandatory for the state to take steps to have a UCC

2).DPSP, a fundamental to good governance: It is also mentioned that the provisions contained in this part shall not be enforceable by any court of law, but the same article — Article 37 — further states that “the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws”.

3). If you don’t accept constitution, forfeit your right to vote: The state legislature and Parliament are the creations of our sovereign Constitution — Article 168 gives sanction for state legislature and Article 79 constitutes the Parliament.

  • Therefore, those who do not want to be governed by Article 44 will forfeit their right to vote in the elections to the state legislature and Parliament. However, they will remain citizens of this country and, therefore, will be entitled to civic amenities. For this purpose they can contest and/or vote in the elections to the local bodies, that is, village panchayats, zillaparishads, muncipalities or corporations as the case may be.

4).Not an infringement on religion: Author states that in Goa a common civil law is already in place in that state even Muslims live as Muslims. Similarly, Muslims will remain Muslims in Bharat even if there is a common civil law. But if some sections of Muslims want to follow certain obsolete practices, they will have to pay a price for that

 

[4]. Getting the banks to turn on the lending tap

Live Mint

Context

Article deals with the outcomes of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR)-Brescon workshop on banks’ stressed assets

Solution outcomes of the workshop

  • Stressed assets limited to few areas:Stressed assets in India are not large compared to other countries, and are concentrated in a few firms and banks
  • Compounding the problem: Low growth and high interest rates have compounded the value of debt in the absence of revenue
  • Solution: High growth and low interest rates have been most effective in bringing debt down through world history.
  • A quick infusion of capital is necessary as done by US unlike Europe where problems were allowed to grow worse
  • Fear of legal action under hostile takeovers is currently delaying restructuring

Long term measures

  • Developing a vibrant ecosystem, including a corporate bond market, a culture of risk management, easy exit through the bankruptcy code, asset reconstruction companies with deep pockets, and regulated credible intermediaries to evaluate assets and provide quotes to buyers and sellers
  • Allowing insurance companies to invest in additional tier-I bonds of banks is one way to help meet capital adequacy requirements.
  • Providing risk capital for industrialization

Short term measures

  • Amortization should be allowed: Banks should be allowed to amortize (reduce or pay off debt with regular payments) provisions over a period of three to five years in step with the planned recapitalization of their balance sheets, together with reforms that improve incentives for honest commercial decisions
  • Interest accrual for NPAs can be stopped
  • Flexibility: Imparting more flexibility to and reduce delays in current restructuring schemes and legal processes. For example, the 5/25 scheme could be applied to the sustainable debt portion of the Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A) Scheme.
  • Reducing the government’s bankshareholding to below 50% would immediately rescue banks from audit and questioning by parties with a limited understanding of banking and of commercial decisions.

 

[5]. Looming threat of a post-Internet Kashmir

Live Mint

Context

Author suggests that increasing internet penetration will turn the tide in the favor of Jihadists in the valley of J&K

Backdrop

On one hand India is curtailing the internet uage in the ight of ongoing unrest in the valley and on the other hand side, at a recent conference held in New Delhi, Union information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced the Centre’s goal of using the Internet to deliver government services to rural parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

These are two diametrically opposite approaches which are not mutually sustainable and goes on to show the ill preparedness of the Indian government to deal with a digitized Kashmir.

Present situation

At present Telecom regulatory Authority has classified 27%of the state’s residents as Internet users

Situation before Burhan Wani joined the HizbulMujahideen in 2011 – Only 3% of the residents of Kashmir had internet access.

Rebranding militancy

Author states that Burhan Wani used this internet penetration process to rebrand the militancy as an indigenous movement.

  • Burhan Wani demonstrated to the dissatisfied Kashmiri youth that internet can be successfully used to vent their discontent

Erosion of monopoly

Since 1990s the Kashmir narrative has been held by few separatist leaders in Kashmir. They dictate, using the vernacular press, as to what local public believes. They have ensure that the intended outcomes of the movement means only one of the two things,

  • Complete azadi
  • Merger with Pakistan

Author states that, with increased internet penetration, this monopoly will change.

  • Prone to foreign ideologies: As separatists lose their monopoly, their followers will become increasingly permeable to foreign ideologies—including those of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State—that have thus far struggled to gain currency in Kashmir

Against all parties

Author worries that,

Followers of Kashmiri separatists have not grown friendly to India despite increasing feeling of disillusion towards Hurriyat or Islamabad. They seem to be against all the involved parties. This leaves them open to being affected by violent religious ideologies.

Conclusion

Instead of blocking the internet, the Indian state ought to focus on the more worthwhile task of addressing deep-rooted Kashmiri grievances, for only it can keep mass Internet penetration in the Valley from being a truly wonderful thing.

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