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9 PM Daily Brief – 7 March 2016

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

What is 9 PM brief?


GS PAPER 1


[1]. More Muslim women join cause with SC’s PIL for gender parity

The Hindu

The News: An initiative by the Supreme Court to probe gender discrimination in Islamic personal law has opened the door for Muslim women hailing from various parts of the country to come forward against their own religious practices of marriage, divorce and property inheritance.

On October 16, last year, the Supreme Court decided to register a PIL suo motu titled “Muslim women’s quest for equality” on gender discrimination women face under Muslim personal law.

 

[2]. Unequal by birth: time to break vicious cycle

The Hindu

Effects or cause of poverty

  • Low levels of literacy and education.
  • Impeded opportunities for gainful employment.
  • Low income,malnutrition, inadequate housing,  and unhygienic environments.
  • Poor physical and mental health.
  • Lack of access to information technology in an increasingly digital world and persistent social discrimination of various kinds are additional barriers to escape from poverty.

Intergenerational Inequality

Inequality  casts a long shadow of biological ill-effects, not only across the life course of an unfortunate individual but also across the generations that will draw life from that life.

Brain growth and adaptability (plasticity) that are vital for future development and can be marred by the impact of inequality on biological development.

Adverse influences during the lifetime of the mother can  impact three generations.

Placental size is compromised in the small pelvis of a woman who grew up as an undernourished girl child in pecuniary or prejudicial circumstances. When she has a nutritionally deprived pregnancy, it affects her unborn daughter as well as her yet-to-be conceived grandchildren.

Course Correction

It is assumed that opportunities provided during the lifetime of an individual would overcome these disadvantages and that subsequent generations would carry no trace of the deprivation that parents or grandparents suffered.

‘Equality of opportunity’ is the liberal response to inequality.

But Equality of opportunity is tantamount to “decorous drapery” when individuals who carry a huge disadvantage of multiple deprivations are expected to compete on equal terms with those who have had a more privileged upbringing.

So it is not just an open road but also an equal start that is needed.

We should be even more concerned about the tremendous loss of brain power and poor physical health that inequality is imposing on several generations of children.

We cannot permit gross inequality-linked deprivation to leave its malign signature on the lives of those who are yet to come.


GS PAPER 2


[1]. Teachers to hold accountable if students bunk classes: Government

The Hindu

Where

Delhi Government has released a circular asking all city schools to ensure that students do not bunk classes.

Why

This has been done after the mysterious death of a 6 year old students from Ryan International School.

According to the circular, teachers and Heads of schools should ensure that no student leaves the premises before the school is closed.

[2]. Change in territory but not in woes

The Hindu

The News: The article looks into the erroneous way in which survey to decide who dwells in enclave of India and Bangladesh under Land Boundary Agreement between the countries.

The article looks into the examples of how the erroneous survey has separated the member of same families.

[3]. Don’t let down the children

The Hindu

What happened?

The funding for the flagship programme, the Integrated Child Development Scheme has been reduced by 7 %.

Questions raised over this step of the Government

It reflects a poor set of development priorities.

It also defies economic reasoning, given that India has been growing steadily after liberalisation and has the wherewithal to substantially raise social sector expenditure annually.

Work done by ICDS

Several States have used the ICDS to improve health and welfare by providing good supplementary nutrition to children under six.

The support of the Supreme Court has also helped in ensuring that commercial interests are unable to corner the funds, and there is provision for community oversight.

when nutrition is available every day to children under two, there is a marked positive effect on their height, particularly for girls. Such early interventions have a life-long impact, in the form of higher productivity and earnings.

Special Attention needed

Government must focus on States such as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh with a large burden of stunted, wasted and underweight children.

The ministry should monitor the implementation of the scheme and there should be high standards of hygiene and nutrition maintained in ICDS centres.

Remedies

  • Increase the outlay for the scheme.
  • Institute a mechanism to heighten the awareness among communities in less developed states.
  • Achieve full coverage.

GS PAPER 3


[1]. Those under watch ineligible for income declaration scheme

The Hindu

Step taken by the Government to declare undisclosed income

The government has proposed a limited-period Compliance Window for domestic taxpayers to declare undisclosed income or income represented in the form of any asset and clear up their past tax transgressions by paying tax at 30% and Krishi Kalyan surcharge at 7.5% and penalty at 7.5% –a total of 45% of the undisclosed income.

Who are not eligible for this scheme

Tax payers, whose returns were picked for random scrutiny by the authorities in recent years, would not be eligible to turn concealed income into ‘white’ under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS), announced in the Union Budget to bring black money into the tax net.

Income Declaration Scheme (IDS)

The scheme provides immunity from wealth tax, scrutiny and prosecution and from the Benami Transaction Act.

The scheme will be kept open for four months from June 1.

Effect of the ineligibility

Excluding anyone whose income is already part of an assessment, reassessment or survey, could be dampner for the IDS as it would exclude potential disclosures from people who received notices seeking a regular explanation on the returns they had filed .

[2]. For a paradigm shit in fiscal deficit / Review the fiscal consolidation path

The Hindu | The Hindu

Monetary policy and Fiscal Policy

Banks create and control most money stock in the economy. This constitutes the monetary economy which is entirely under the control of the Reserve Bank of India.

The revenues and expenditure of the government constitute the fiscal economy. If the government spends more than its income, then deficit arises, which it has to finance by borrowing money created by banks.

Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM)

The Act has helped focus attention on the issues relating to fiscal consolidation — thanks to the mandatory medium-term and strategy statements that the government of the day is required to present annually before Parliament.

But with regard to the larger objective of ensuring macro-economic stability, the record has been less than ideal. Both headline consumer price inflation and the debt-servicing costs for the Central government were, at different points in the post-FRBM era, at divergence with the performance of fiscal deficit, raising questions about the over-emphasis on a cast-in-stone target number.

Relation between fiscal deficit and bank credit

There is  an inverse correlation between fiscal deficit (fiscal expansion) and bank credit (monetary expansion). That is, if credit growth falls, fiscal deficit may need to rise and if credit rises, fiscal deficit ought to fall — to ensure adequate money supply to the economy.

The FRBM Act says it cannot borrow more than 3 per cent of GDP — even if banks do have money, even if the private sector does not take it, and even if the economy needs it for growth.

The money may lie idle in banks, and yet the law will not allow the government to borrow! This is perverse economics. The economists world over unanimously agrees that as money is critical for economic growth, without adequate money, GDP growth will suffer.

The logic of correlation between credit expansion and fiscal deficit has five sequential limbs.

One, money is the blood of economic growth.
Two, most money that fuels the economy is created by banks, not by government.
Three, banks and financial institutions fund business and others, and it is that credit money which drives the economy.
Four, if, for whatever reason including lack of business confidence, the bank credit to the economy does not adequately grow, like it did not in the last few years, economic growth will suffer for want of adequate money.
Five, that is when the Budget needs to step in, to pump money into the economy by incurring deficit (spending more than the income), and, for the purpose, borrow the money lying with banks or even by printing more money, if that is needed.

The fifth limb ensures that growth does not decelerate for want of enough money circulating in the economy. Otherwise, it will. The FRBM law has ignored the fourth and fifth limbs of the logic and fixed the 3 per cent fiscal deficit as inviolable. The time has come to uncover how far its intents match with the reality and how rational its fixation with the 3 per cent limit is. The working of the FRBM law, particularly in the last few years, needs a reality check.

Road Ahead

So, there is a  possibility of adopting a target range rather than a specific number. The argument is that this would give the necessary policy space to deal with dynamic and volatile situations such as the one India currently faces — global economic and financial market uncertainty, a slowdown in China, and tepid private investment demand domestically.

And the Government need to ensure that any resources freed up from a fiscal reset, when that happens, are spent imaginatively for an economic stimulus, and primarily on the creation of long-term public assets.

[3]. Oil Slip

The Indian Express

The petroleum industry is in poor shape. Budget 2016 fails to lay out a clear roadmap

There are three fundamental questions related to petroleum crisis.

  • Does the government appreciate the severity of the crisis facing the petroleum industry?
  • Is it serious about reviving domestic oil and gas exploration?
  • Is government emphasis on clean energy substantive or a rhetorical flourish?

The Finance Ministry made three policy announcements.

1) The price of gas from newly discovered fields would be determined through the market and linked to the price of alternative fuels.

‘Newly discovered’ is ambiguous. Whether it meant discoveries yet to be made or those already made but not monetised. It was also not clear that the price would be linked to which of the alternative fuel.

2) To switch the calculation of cess on oil production from a specific rate (fixed rupees per barrel produced) to ad valorem (percentage of value).

3) To double the cess on coal production from Rs 200 to Rs 400 per tonne. This money would be used to finance clean energy.

So far, the clean energy fund has been managed by the finance ministry. The money has not always gone towards clean energy research but for financing unrelated activities like cleaning the Ganges. the money would be managed by people with domain expertise and not subject to political or financial exigency.

Government must these tackle three problems related to energy sector

1) India’s dependence on oil and gas imports will increase in the short to medium term. We are importing 75% of our requirement this will go upto 90%.

2) The petroleum industry is in terrible shape. According to consultants Wood Mackenzie, every private oil company loses cash at $30 per barrel. All are now on a massive cost-cutting exercise.

3) Our environment is under stress.

 

Solution

1) If government wishes to accelerate exploration. It should not depend on ONGC. Private investors should not step into the breach. A downward recalibration of the ad valorem tax rate would be a positive first step.

2) If it wishes to increase domestic production.It should do what many oil-producing countries, including China, the US , the UK and Malaysia, have done. Offer tax credits Exemptions for incremental production from marginal fields and enhanced oil recovery.

3) If it wishes to give a stimulus to clean energy. It should put together a more robust package of subsidies and concessions Place its flag on the masthead of electric vehicles. R&D partnerships between government entities, private  corporations, universities and research  laboratories.

[4]. Apple v/s National Security

The Indian Express 

Data privacy versus national security.

FBI demand that Apple should build backdoors to enable it to open iPhones and access encrypted data of users

CEO of apple Tim Cook, argues that, such backdoors can fall in the hands of the very criminals that the government is trying to protect people from, even as it is prone to being misused by the government itself

Even Apple can’t access the “keys” to unlock an encrypted phone — only the user controls them.

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

In a paper, titled “Keys under doormats”, in July 2015, some of the foremost cryptographers of the world warned the governments that cyberspace will become insecure for banking, e-commerce, and other transactions, if vendors agreed to build backdoors.

But the world needs cooperation of all service providers — irrespective of their business models

Solution

Such an agreement can be discussed at the United Nations. Nations can enact laws on the pattern of a model law that may be created by the UN.

This can lead to a treaty that limits surveillance, but enables LEAs( Law Enforcement Agency) to access data, without compromising encryption, without violating the privacy of global citizens.

[5]. Will it be an El Nino or La Nina monsoon?

The Livemint 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US, says that the El Niño conditions, though abating, still persist in the Pacific Ocean.

It projects that temperatures in the Pacific Ocean should return to normal over the next few months, and that they may eventually “transition to La Niña conditions during the Fall (September)”

What is El Niño?

El Niño is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns.

The first sign of an El Niño are a weakening of the walker circulation or trade winds and strengthening of hadley circulation.

  1. Rise in surface pressure over Indian Ocean, Indonesia, and Australia.
  2. Fall in air pressure over Tahiti and the rest of the central and eastern pacific ocean.
  3. Trade winds in the south pacific weaken or head east.
  4. Warm air rises near Peru, causing rain in the northern peruvian deserts.

 

  • El Niños occur every three to five years but may come as frequently as every two years or as rarely as every seven years.
  • El Niños occur more frequently than La Niñas.
  • El Niño affects precipitation in different areas
  • El Niño-causes drought which can be widespread, affecting southern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands and the Canadian prairies.

What is La Nina?

A cooling of the water in the equatorial Pacific, which occurs at irregular intervals, and is associated with widespread changes in weather patterns complementary to those of El Niño, but less extensive and damaging in their effects.

Indian context

The good news is that the forecast does seem to suggest that the likelihood of a third consecutive drought is diminishing.

India gets 70% of its annual rainfall in the monsoon, irrigating half the country’s farmlands. Last year, India experienced its worst monsoon in six years with a 14% rain deficit. If the monsoon returns to normal, food prices will ease.

Budget 2016

The central thrust of 2016 budget was to help alleviate rural distress and structurally reset the farm sector. This was preceded by the launch of a revamped crop insurance scheme, which seeks to mitigate growing risks in Indian farming as farmers diversify into commercial crops.

At present, 49% of India’s workforce depends on agriculture for a livelihood and 68% of its population resides in rural areas.

It is clear that this year’s monsoon is particularly relevant to India’s economic fortunes. For the moment, all eyes are on the Pacific Ocean, where the Indian monsoon originates.

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  • Aaryan

    Thanks a lot..

  • Gaurav Gupta

    Please provide for Saturday also, bcz saturday also plays a role. 🙂

  • kumarrohitmishra

    What about 5th and 6th march ??

  • gc reddy

    This is a really good service. Please continue it. If needed, make it a paid feature but continue it. It’s really helpful

  • Knight

    Yo editors. I am pretty sure in article no 4. LEA is law enforcement agency not Logistic evaluation agency.

    Thanks for the brief.

  • D@IAS

    great work and superb initiative… thank you so much sir…

  • Plz post everyday…its really really helpful….no matter u start even paid service for this…….but plzzz post everyday….
    Thnks

  • Binto Behanan

    Still waiting for the budget analysis to come,hope it comes up soon,keep up the grt work u guys r doing god bless………