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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 2 April 2016

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

What is 9 PM brief?


GS PAPER 2


[1] NITI Aayog member’s push for GM pulses draws flak

The Hindu

Issue

Farmers asking an assured market mechanism for pulses instead of Aayog’s push for cultivation of GM crops

Why push for GM crops

GM crops cultivation should be allowed in those crops in which we are not able to break through, like in pulses

Farmer’s contention

  • First focus on establishing an assured market mechanism for pulses to aid farmers and lower the country’s dependence on imports.
  • Provide assured purchase and returns to pulses farmers, that would motivate farmers to grow more.

Some facts

  • 2013-14 19.78 million tonnes of pulses were produced
  • 2014-15 17.2 million tonnes
  • 2015-16 crop year, pulses output is estimated at 17.33 million tonnes and the demand is pegged at 23.66 million tonnes.
  • pulses imports increased to 5.55 million tonnes till March 1

The imports are due to difference between the demand and supply, since we are not able to supply enough to match the demand, we import, and to solve this problem government is pushing to cultivate GM crops to match the demand.

Farmers are saying that this is not a problem of less production, it is a problem of the market where they sell their crops, which is very erratic and no assured prices are fetched by the farmers and thus the farmer is less motivated to cultivate pulses.

[2] Coterminous LS, State polls not feasible

The Hindu

Why in news?

  • PM Modi had advocated for making Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls coterminous.

Why coterminous?

  • A large amount of  monetary expenditure is incurred on polls every year.
  • When Model Code of Conduct is imposed,  it does not allow government to function freely.

Model Code of Conduct

  • The Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India to regulate the conduct of political parties and their candidates in the run up to elections and is aimed at ensuring free and fair elections.
  • Ministers and other government authorities should not announce any financial grants to the people; they should not lay foundation stones for or inaugurate any projects; they should not promise public facilities like roads; and they should not make any ad hoc government appointments.

Response from the former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi

  • It would be Constitutionally impossible to implement this provision.
  • Matters related to expenditure and administrative lethargy can be tackled through electoral reforms, without getting into Constitutional matters,.

Main Concern

  • For the model code of conduct to not be stretched out, we can have a single phase parliamentary election or even State polls, provided at least 10 battalions of paramilitary are raised as security is the main concern for free and fair elections.

Report of the standing committee on law and justice

  • The committee suggests a two-phase poll, with States divided into two groups.
  • One for which elections would be in the middle of the current Lok Sabha (16 States) and another where elections will be held at the end of the current Lok Sabha (19 States).
  • By this process, at least half the States in India will have polls alongside Lok Sabha polls, and the rest in the middle of that term.

[3] Medical Council needs urgent therapy

The Hindu

Issue

  • Reform of the Medical Council of India

MCI

  • The Medical Council of India (MCI) is the statutory body for establishing uniform and high standards of medical education in India.
  • The Council grants recognition of medical qualifications, gives accreditation to medical schools, grants registration to medical practitioners, and monitors medical practice in India.
  • The current President of MCI is Dr. Jayshreeban Mehta.

Why reforms?

  • The functioning of the MCI has been controversial on several counts, culminating in the arrest of its president in 2010 on a graft charge.
  • It has failed to stop the sale of medical seats in private colleges for capitation fees going up to Rs.50 lakh.
  • It is alleged that is heavily influenced by corporate hospitals to provide accreditation to institutions and assess their quality, ignoring blatant conflicts of interest.


Reforms Proposed

  • There should be  separation of functions: approving standards and accreditation requirements for medical education.
  • Norms should be fixed  to assess the competence of medical graduates
  • It should lay down ethical practice guidelines
  • National Medical Commission should be created to oversee education and policy
  • There should be separate boards for undergraduate and postgraduate training, assessment of institutions and medical ethics.
  • Inducting non-medical professionals of integrity and community health experts to regulatory bodies would help advance public interest.

Larger Objective

  • To produce medical professionals, especially postgraduates, in such numbers that would improve the doctor to population ratio and ensure their availability across the country.

[4] NITI Aayog finalises Model Act for farm land lease

The Hindu

Issue

NITI Aayog is all set to propose a Model Act for freeing up of farm land through leasing also land acquisition bill is stuck in the parliament.

Model act for who

  • The Act is meant for States that plan to legalise farm land leasing.
  • State governments are expected to improvise it to suit the local socio-political requirements.

Why

  • Land ownership will remain secure and will revert to the owner and in case the parcel of land is sold before the tenure of the lease is complete,
  • the rights of the tenants will be secure

Attestation of the lease is proposed to be done at the level of the sarpanch, local bank official or notary.

Present scenario

  • At present, only land owners can avail of crop insurance schemes or loans.
  • disaster relief in case of drought and crop damage is provided only to the owners and not cultivators.

What the model act proposes

  1. The Model Act proposes that farmers and farmer groups be allowed to lease out land.
  2. The Model Act will enable share croppers to receive such benefits and relief
  3. Lessee cultivators could raise crop loans on the basis of expected produce
  4. The definition of ‘farm land’ is proposed to be broadened to include food processing.
  5. The Model Act proposes quicker litigation process in case of disputes
  6. Dispute settlement will be taken up at the level of the Gram Sabha, Panchayat and Tehsildar

The Model Act is being finalised by an expert committee which NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya had set up in September 2015 under former Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) chairman T. Haque.

[5] Like-minded partners

 Indian Express

Unarguably, counter-terrorism was on the summit agenda and the joint declaration includes action to prevent extremism and radicalization, disrupt recruitment and financing, and for police and immigration authorities working closer together.

EU-India Agenda for 2020 was endorsed at the summit. Following are the main agendas of the talk:

Economic cooperation

  • EU’s Investment as part of Make in India initiative has been given impetus.
  • Announcement made that European Investment bank will invest €450 million (Rs 3,375 crore) in the metro rail project for Lucknow, and open an office in Delhi to manage its growing portfolio.

Sustainable development

  • On the Sustainable development front, EU lauded the efforts made by India like International solar alliance
  • Joint declarations signed at the summit focus our cooperation on issues such as water quality, with a focus on the rejuvenation of the Ganga
  • EU suggested holding an urban forum to bring expertise and investments to bear on the Smart Cities initiative

Research, innovation, intellectual property protection and skill development

  • EU-India Science and Technology Agreement has been renewed for another five years
  • A joint declaration on 5G networks is likely later this year.
  • Indian scientists are beneficiaries of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Scholarships and of the highly prestigious European Research Council grants, several of whose recipients have in recent years gone on to win Nobel prizes.
  • Masters-level Erasmus scholarships, highly popular in India, have supported the European sojourns of several thousand Indian students.

[6] The American hug

Indian Express

India US are getting closer and there has been growing debate in government over signing three possible agreements with the US:

  • Logistics Support Agreement (LSA),
  • The Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), and
  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)

These agreements taken together will point to three facts:

  • For one thing, they will signal an unprecedented geopolitical alignment with the US.
  • Second, there is a signalling of a deeper alignment of India’s defence future with the American military industrial complex.
  • Third, there is a possibility, as the defence minister had suggested, of these agreements pushing India to unwittingly providing support to the US in conflicts that are not of our making, particularly in the Middle East
  • Author shows concern over the small amount of public debate been made while taking these path breaking decisions

India’s closeness with US will only escalate confrontation with China

Also US defence industries sees India’s confrontation with its neighbours as potential market for their product viz Pak purchase of F16

The coming US prez election will be matter of concern for our policymakers since it is sure whoever wins it there will be ground shaking changes in US’s foreign policies


GS PAPER 3


 

[1] Modi outlines nuclear security steps

The Hindu

India on Friday pledged a contribution of $1 million to the IAEA nuclear security fund.

India has already made a contribution of $ 1 million.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made this commitment in his speech at the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). Mr. Modi underlined the priority India has attached to nuclear security at home, in terms of institutional frameworks,

  • resources for training people,
  • and by continuing to reflect India’s international obligations in national actions,

What was communicated

  • India was moving to safer technologies to protect radioactive material.
  • India’s plans to enhance engagement with the IAEA, the Interpol and other international forums on the issue of nuclear security
  • India raise the possibility of individuals within the state structure getting friendly with a terrorist, leading up to a nuclear terrorism incident
  • Told world leaders that nuclear security must remain the abiding national priority for all countries and all states

[2] Accidents and Criminal Liability + Kolkata flyover collapse: Cautionary tale

The Hindu                                                                             Indian Express

What happened?
A section of a flyover collapsed on Kolkata’s Vivekananda Road which killed 25 people.

Brief History of the project

  • The project  began in 2008 as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
  • Hyderabad-based IVRCL was constructing the flyover.
  • It was delayed following objections from local residents, difficulties in land acquisition, want of mandatory clearances and cost escalation.

Company’s response

  • It was an “act of god”
  • It could have been the consequence of an explosion

Act of God

  • An event that directly and exclusively results from the occurrence of natural causes that could not have been prevented by the exercise of foresight or caution; an inevitable accident.
  • Courts have recognized various events as acts of God—tornadoes, earthquakes, death, extraordinarily high tides, violent winds, and floods. Many insurance policies for property damage exclude from their protection damage caused by acts of God.

What are the possible reasons for this mishappening?

  • Gross mismanagement and neglect by the construction company IVRCL
  • Poor oversight by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation
  • Failure to adhere to safety norms and the deviations from standard operating procedures by the builder
  • The possibility of substandard material cannot be ruled out.
  • Investigations will determine the existence and extent of structural and design flaws, but it’s not rocket science to surmise that an incomplete structure, with on-again, off-again work, would wear faster without proper maintenance.

Not an Act of God, but a man-made tragedy

  • It is not god or divine chance but human error and negligence that cause accidents.
  • Accountability for such man-made tragedies must be fixed.
  • If there is sufficient evidence of prima facie guilt, those in the administration who did not discharge their regulatory role must be made to stand trial for their acts of omission and commission, and not just the private builder for the seemingly gross negligence.

What does this incident reminds us?

  • It reminds us that accidents are not unfortunate incidents beyond human control, but man-made tragedies that are wholly avoidable.
  • It is yet another reminder of the infrastructure deficit that India’s metros struggle with, and the risks of ad hoc answers to that deficit.

Way forward

  • The government  must take corrective measures and ensure an impartial investigation into the cause of the accident.
  • As India is marching towards urbanisation, projects and programmes like Smart Cities and Amrut are should address the policy and planning vacuum.
  • Without ensuring adherence to norms and standards, and swift and sure punishment for violations, new safe cities cannot be built nor older, overburdened ones, straining to cope with the pace of change, resuscitated.
  • State governments should rethink the way such projects are executed and awarded.
  • If India wants to live in smart cities, it must think seriously about the city. To begin with, governments and citizens must start taking ownership of the urban challenge.

[3] Clearing the air on LPG

 Indian Express

  • Article written by Arvind Subramanium(Chief Economic Advisor) and Shiddharth George.
  • Editor wants to defend their earlier made claim about DBT through this article. AS has shared their research methodology used to come at the finding that introduction of DBT will reduce subsidised sale of gas cylinders by 24%
  • The research design used for comparison takes two sample: one from districts where DBT was implemented in earlier phase and second where DBT was introduced in later phases
  • Graph shows that subsidized cylinder sale reduced in district post the implementation of DBT and similar pattern shown by districts where it was implemented in later phases
  • Some research also suggests that introduction of DBT declined the black market rates of LPG cylinders
  • Some studies have shown that extrapolating these studies of few districts to the whole country will give fiscal benefit of 12,700 crores to the exchequer.
  • However, the one and one danger of implementation DBT in place of subsidized cylinders is the exclusion of deserving beneficiaries who don’t have proper bank account.
  • Mr Subramanium has also given evidences that DBT compliance rates are lowest among customers who bought the largest amount of LPG during 2013-14. This proves that rich or ghost households are at the danger of losing subsidies at the introduction of DBT.

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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