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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 31st October 2016

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Front Page / NATIONAL

 

 [1]. Last Maoist bastion may have begun to crumble

The Hindu

Context

Author analyses the latest operation of anti-Naxal forces stating that this time security forces have taken the fight to the Naxal stronghold of Andhra Orissa Border (AOB) unlike previous years when this area was considered impenetrable

Backdrop

Since the Maoist movement began in Andhra Pradesh in 1967 the densely forested AOB, stretching across 1,200 sq km through parts of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari in AP and Malkangiri and Koraput in Odisha, was considered impregnable

  • Even when the Naxal movement was strong in Srikakulam in the early 1970s and in Telangana in the1990s, the AOB was considered to be a safe haven by the Maoists. When the heat was turned on in Telangana, they took refuge in AOB for its inaccessible terrain to recover and regroup

Why the AOB was considered impregnable?

The nearest ‘kuccha’ motorable road from AOB is about 25 km away on the Andhra side from where the Maoists were killed. Thereafter it is a difficult trek through dense forest and hillocks, through marshy terrain covered in tall elephant grass and ‘nalas’ which are not visible because of the thick undergrowth. Maoist snipers perch atop the numerous hillocks. Entry from the Odisha side is ruled out, as there lies the huge Balimela reservoir

  • Ambushed: It was here that on June 29, 2008, the Maoists ambushed Greyhounds who were on boats. As many as 32 were shot dead even as they attempted to swim to safety

 How the forces did it this time?

This time the Greyhounds and their Odisha counterparts were taking no chances. About 80 of them, armed to the teeth, were ferried by copters to Munchingput three days before they attacked their targets. With only dry fruits to sustain them, they covered the 25 km carefully to avoid being spotted.

  • Radio-silence was maintained and they reached the target based on their GPS inputs

Impact of the attack

The attack in their supposed safe zone has put the Maoists on the back foot

  • According to the police, the extremists have lost their influence in the area. There is lack of support from local tribal people because of atrocities committed over time; now there is support only from the interior parts where development schemes have not reached
  • Local tribal people are not helping them so the Maoists now depend on cadres from the Bastar region. Leadership from the tribal people is also minimal and tribal people do not accept leadership from upper caste cadres, which leads to a conflict
  • Most of the cadres from the AOB have deserted or have surrendered and Maoists now depend on the Koya tribe from Chhattisgarh region, said Sukhdev a surrendered Maoist

 

[2]. Give equal pay to all staff: SC

The Hindu

Context

Supreme Court has held that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars

Backdrop

The verdict came as some temporary employees of the Punjab government approached the apex court after the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that temporary employees were not entitled to the minimum of the regular pay scale, merely for the reason that activities carried on by them and the regular employees were similar.

The verdict

The apex court directed the Punjab government to pay the petitioners the minimum of the pay scale (at the lowest grade, in the regular pay scale), extended to the regular employees holding the same post.

  • The petitioners were daily wagers working as pump operators, fitters, helpers, drivers, plumbers and chowkidars

Views of SC on unequal pay for equal work

  • SC has termed it as “exploitative enslavement”, “oppressive, suppressive” and “coercive”
  • In a welfare state, the principle has to be extended to temporary employees as well
  • An employee engaged for the same work, cannot be paid less than another, who performs the same duties and responsibilities. Certainly not, in a welfare state. Such an action besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity

 

Article 23.2 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that,

  • Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work

 

 [3]. Singapore Navy’s stealth frigate comes calling at Visakhapatnam

The Hindu

Context

The Singaporean Navy’s stealth frigate RSS Formidable arrived at Visakhapatnam on a five-day visit to Eastern Naval Command (ENC) as a part of the ongoing Singapore-India maritime bilateral exercises.

Backdrop

Bilateral cooperation between Singapore and India was first formalised when the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) ships began training with Indian Navy in 1994 and this year’s edition, SIMBEX-16, is being held in the Bay of Bengal region

The visit

The visit will encompass interaction between the personnel of both the navies in various professional, cultural, social and sports events.

Bilateral exercise

Mutual understanding: The 23rd such exercise in the series is aimed at increasing interoperability between the RSN and the Indian Navy as well as at developing common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations

A gamut of exercises: The exercise would include wide-ranging professional interactions during the Harbour Phase, scheduled from October 31 to November 2, and a diverse range of operational activities at sea during the Sea Phase, to be held from November 3-5

Core focus: The thrust of the exercises at sea this year would be on anti-submarine warfare (ASW), integrated operations with surface, air and sub-surface forces, air defence and surface encounter exercises

Representation
  • Singapore Navy: During SIMBEX-16, the Singapore Navy will be represented by RSS Formidable and maritime patrol aircraft Fokker 50, operating from Port Blair.
  • Indian Navy: The Indian Navy will be represented by INS Ranvijay, a guided missile destroyer, INS Kamorta, an indigenous ASW stealth corvette, one Sindhughosh-class submarine, in addition to long range maritime patrol aircraft P8I, maritime patrol aircraft Dornier, advanced jet trainer Hawk and integral rotary wing helicopters are also scheduled to participate in the exercise,

Editorial/OPINION

[1]. Get serious about fighting TB

The Hindu

Context

The fight against TB cannot be won as long as the high-burden countries, particularly India which has the highest TB burden in the world, do not galvanize their government machinery effectively.

Author states that,

Upward trend: While the global disease burden & incidence rate of TB has been dropping from the historical high levels, there has been a recent upward trend that is much larger than previously predicted

Reason: The primary reason is the sharp increase in the incidence estimate from India — from 2.2 million cases in 2014 to 2.8 million in 2015. The burden mentioned above is a temporary one, the final data will be known only when the national TB prevalence survey that is scheduled to begin in 2017 is completed. The number of estimated deaths caused by TB more than doubled from 220,000 in 2014 to 483,000 in 2015

Notifications

In 2015 notifications by doctors in the private sector comprised only 16 per cent of the total.Though notification was made mandatory in 2012, only 1.7 million incident TB cases in the public and private sectors were notified in 2015.

  • Thus the fate of 1.1 million patients is simply not known: they have fallen off the radar.

For an effective TB programme

The control programme needs to be aware of every single patient diagnosed, and offer treatment to all.

  • If there are only about 50 per cent of the patients approaching the private sector who successfully complete treatment, a recent study has shown that in 2013 only about 65 per cent of the 1.9 million who approached the public sector completed the treatment regime

Behind schedule

The national TB control programme is behind schedule with respect to critical programmes including the

  • Expansion of the GeneXpert pilot programme
  • Scaling up of drug sensitivity testing
  • The introduction of a child-friendly paediatric TB drug

Conclusion

Only sustained action on several fronts can help bring TB under check. The global war will not be successful till India wins the battle within its own boundaries first.

[2]. Still seriously hungry and poor

 The Hindu

Context

Author states that despite being the fastest growing economy, India is still riddled with poverty and hunger issues. Solving such widely prevalent problems require evidence-based data-driven solutions.

What are Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) follow and expand on the millennium development goals (MDGs), which are due to expire at the end of 2015.

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are officially known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, associated 169 targets and 304 indicators

SDGs

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Author states that,

Two recent reports try to clear the confusion on measurement and yield some pertinent insights on poverty and hunger. These are the

  1. Global Hunger Index (GHI) of the International Food Policy Research Institute
  2. The Pathways to Reducing Poverty and Sharing Prosperity in India (PRPSPI) of the World Bank.

Global Hunger Index Report (GHI)

The GHI tries to capture the hunger level across countries.

How is index constructed?

The index is constructed using four component indicators:

  1. Percentage of undernourished in the population
  2. Percentage of wasting in children under five years old
  3. Percentage of stunting in children under five years
  4. Under-five mortality rates

Calculated since 2006

The index has been calculated since 2006 and the oldest back calculations on the index go back to 1992.

Similar method like HDI

The overall methodology is similar to development of other composite indices like the Human Development Index. The overall scale of the index is from zero to 100 where 100 represents ‘absolute hunger’ and zero represents ‘zero hunger

Classification of countries in terms of Hunger levels

Countries and regions are also classified in terms of the level of hunger.

  • Low level of hunger: Those falling in the <= 9.9 category
  • Moderate level of hunger: those in the 10.0-19.9 category
  • Serious level of hunger: those in the 20-34.9 bracket
  • Alarming level of hunger: those between 35 and 49.9
  • Extremely alarming: those <50 are ‘extremely alarming’

Major points of GHI report

  1. First, developing countries have a major stake in reducing hunger levels. Overall hunger has come down by 29 per cent since 2000 in these countries.
  2. Second, there are distinct regions, the ones with the highest GHI scores, which can help in fulfilling the SDGs. On the 2016 index, Africa south of the Sahara and South Asia have the highest GHI scores (30.1 and 29.0, respectively). Thus they are placed in the ‘alarming’ category on the GHI.
  3. Third, India is placed at a dismal 97th rank among the 118 countries considered for the index. The country has improved its score from 46.4 in 1992 to 28.5 at present, which is considerable, but its overall level continues to be ‘serious’ on the index.

Decline in poverty

Related to hunger is poverty. PRPSPI, the World Bank Group report, looks at India’s development experience. 4 major points emerge,

  1. Growth not inclusive: The report notes that poverty in India has declined considerably from 1994 to 2013. Over the commensurate time frame, those below India’s official poverty line have reduced from 45 per cent to 22 per cent. This means that 133 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Despite this the report notes that India’s growth has not been very inclusive. It is because roughly two-thirds of the countries’ inclusive growth performance is better than India’s in the 2005-2012 period
  2. Scheduled Tribes worst hit: some population groups in India are substantially worse off than other groups. These include the Scheduled Tribes (STs), 43 per cent of whom were below the poverty line in 2012, and the Scheduled Castes, 29 per cent of whom were below the poverty line. Poverty also seems entrenched among the STs, with the pace of poverty reduction slower than that witnessed in other groups between 2005 and 2012
  3. Poverty limited to certain geographical areas: Poverty seems to be present in certain geographical locations. The top States for poverty in absolute terms in India are Uttar Pradesh (60 million poor), Bihar (36 million) and Madhya Pradesh (24 million). The top seven States account for roughly 62 per cent of India’s poor.
  4. Rural-urban divide in poverty: Also important is the rural-urban divide in poverty. Almost one in five Indians is poor and out of every five poor people, four live in rural areas. Also, the poverty rate is just 7 per cent in big cities with a population of more than 1 million.

Poor are prone to poverty: The poor own fewer assets and spend more on food, fuel, and light. This reduces the percentage they have for spending on critical things like education and health, and it makes them prone to a vicious poverty trap

Growth & redistribution necessary: For poverty levels to go down, the States will have to grow faster. The States which have lagged behind on growth rates are also the ones where there are low GSDP (gross state domestic product) per capita and in turn higher levels of poverty. Thus both growth and redistribution are necessary for poverty alleviation

Conclusion

Author concludes by saying that goal of citizens and the policymakers in India should be improvement in Goals 1 and 2 of SDGs. Not growth but a inclusive growth will help lift the marginalized and poor from the clutches of poverty

ECONOMY

[1]. States may feel the pinch of low tax mobilization, pay revisions

The Hindu

Context

Article states that due to higher pay outs under 7th pay commission coupled by low tax revenue several states might be forced to cut back on their plan expenditure or run the risk of higher fiscal deficit

Backdrop

In its analysis of 16 states’ (accounting for about 70 per cent of all states’ tax revenues) finances till April-July 2016 , Edelweiss Securities’ report discovered a sluggish tax revenue trend — up by about 6 per cent versus a budgeted growth of about 20 per cent

Land revenue

Land tax revenues were particularly sluggish (up 4 per cent year on year, or YoY, versus 7 per cent in FY16), implying pressure on land prices.

Observations of report

  • Land tax collections were weakest: Among various sources of taxes—oil, land and other consumption goods—land tax collections were the weakest, Land prices are clearly under pressure and transactions have slowed, implying that households continue to face adverse wealth effect
  • Oil tax revenues are improving due to recovery of oil prices
  • Many states have ramped up Plan capital expenditure, an encouraging development

What is wealth effect?

The wealth effect is the change in spending that accompanies a change in perceived wealth.Usually the wealth effect is positive: spending changes in the same direction as perceived wealth.

 

 

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