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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – 15 March 2017



Front Page / NATIONAL [The Hindu]


[1]. On computing ability, rural India is lost in the woods

[2]. Lok Sabha clears amended Enemy Property Bill


Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]


[1].Not so accessible after all


Economy [The Hindu]


[1]. Food and fuel prices spur acceleration in inflation

[2]. BRICS to discuss steps to boost investment


Indian Express



Live Mint


[1]. The narrative in post-demonetised India


Front Page / NATIONAL


[1]. On computing ability, rural India is lost in the woods

The Hindu

Context

Just 8.8% of population can use PCs, smartphones: study

What has happened?

The ability to use computers remains low in the country, in spite of campaigns for digitalization, an analysis of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data reveals. The data was collated from the NSS 71st round of 2014

Main points of the Report

  • Computing ability was defined as an user’s ability to operate a desktop, laptop, palmtop, notebook, smartphone and tablets. Computing ability’ is not linked to digital infrastructure or internet penetration
  • If smartphones are taken out, then the measure of computing ability will go further down.
  • Computing ability of rural population 8%
  • Computing ability of urban population 2%
  • Highest: Kerala 32.3%
  • Lowest: Chhattisgarh 2.9%
  • CA was found to belowest in the tribal population

Cooking fuel gap

Data on access to gas, electricity or kerosene for clean cooking:

Access to clean cooking:

  • Rural Population: 9%
  • Urban Population: 4%

[2]. Lok Sabha clears amended Enemy Property Bill

The Hindu

Context

Approves changes introduced in the RajyaSabha last week

What has happened?

Heirs of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during Partition will have no claim over the properties left behind in India, with Parliament passing a Bill (amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968) to amend a 49-year-old law

Backdrop

The government brought the amendment bill in the wake of a claim laid by the heirs of Raja Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, known as Raja of Mahmudabad, on his properties spread across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The matter is before the Supreme Court.

 

What is Enemy Property?

  • According to the bill, “Enemy property” refers to any property belonging to, held or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or an enemy firm.
  • The government has vested these properties in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India, an office instituted under the Central government

 

Views

Govt. called it natural justice as Pakistan has also seized the properties of Indian citizens

Seeking Clarity: Clarity has been sought with regard to those properties which had already been acquired by the heirs of the ‘enemy’ property owners, a reference to nationals of Pakistan and China


Editorial/OPINION


[1].Not so accessible after all

The Hindu

Context

The Government’s own documents are not accessible to persons with disabilities

What has happened?

  • Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) drafted the rules of the new law (Accessible India Campaign) which have now been made available to the public for comments.
  • The 74-page-long comprehensive document will be scrutinised by many, but not by those whose lives these rules directly impact.

The Backdrop

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016 passed in 2015-16:The appropriate Government shall take steps to ensure that all their public documents are in accessible formats.

From only seven recognised disabilities in the previous archaic Act of 1995 to 21 disabilities now

Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) by the (DEPwD) in 2015:For enhancing the proportion of accessible and usable public documents

The Irony

Publishing the rules of the Accessible India Campaign without making them accessible to the person with disabilities.


Economy


[1]. Food and fuel prices spur acceleration in inflation

The Hindu 

Context

Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation quickens to 3.65%, Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based figure hits 39-month high of 6.55%.

What has happened?

Retail and wholesale price inflation accelerated in February, spurred by food and fuel prices, vindicating (justifying) the Reserve Bank of India’s decision to change its monetary stance to “neutral” amid concerns about the “persistence” of price gains in categories excluding food and fuel

Give the article a go through once


[2]. BRICS to discuss steps to boost investment

The Hindu

Context

BRICS nations will soon consider a proposal to frame ‘guiding principles’ for investment policymaking to boost investment flows into Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as well as take steps to promote e-commerce among the five leading emerging economies.

What has happened?

  • Measures for closer cooperation among the BRICS countries for developing their respective national single window for trade facilitation
  • Proposal for ‘Guiding Principles for BRICS Investment Policymaking’ is similar to ‘G20 Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policymaking’’

G20 Guiding Principles:

  • Governments should avoid protectionism in relation to cross-border investment
  • Investment policies should establish open, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable conditions for investment
  • Dispute settlement procedures should be fair, open and transparent, with appropriate safeguards to prevent abuse.
  • Impact: China, driving this year’s BRICS agenda, now wants the BRICS nations to separately adopt these principles and enter into an ‘investment facilitation’ agreement

Focus on e-commerce

Proposal for setting up a common payment gateway to promote e-commerce among BRICS


Live Mint


[1]. The narrative in post-demonetised India

The Hindu

Context

Analysts continue to evaluate the political implications of this unprecedented move, using every election, no matter how small or large, as a quasi-referendum on demonetization

On Demonetisation effects

Author’s View:The tendency of most people to base their narrative on preconceived notions, political leanings and existing prejudices and biases is hard to overcome

Supporting theories:

Posed by political scientist Gabriel Lenz:

  • Voters don’t choose between politicians based on policy stances, rather, voters appear to adopt the policies that their favorite politicians prefer
  • Voters seem to follow rather blindly, adopting a particular politician’s specific policies even if they know little or nothing of that politician’s overall ideology
  • So it appears that voters first decide a politician they like, and then adopt his or her policies
  • Lenz’s Conclusion:
    • Politicians have considerable freedom in enacting policies without fear of electoral repercussions
    • These findings invert the traditional view of democracy as a means for voters to express their policy stances at elections

No Holistic View Yet

  • Attempts to form a holistic view for the medium- and long-term effects of demonetisation on the economy have been challenging
  • Some experts touch on the economic aspects, while others assess the political implications
  • The impact on the unorganized sector may be diametrically opposite from the organized sector
  • Stock traders tracking the ticker tape as a barometer of economic well-being draw comfort from the fact that the stock market indices are trading at levels higher than on 8 November

More Doubts, No Clarity in sight

Real GDP growth at 7% year-on-year was significantly higher than consensus estimates at 6.1%, and even more surprising was the full-year forecast at 7.1%.

Merrill Lynch Report

  • Quarterly earnings growth of the BSE500 stocks (which is a good proxy for the broader universe of listed stocks) for December was a whopping 22% over the same time last year
  • Higher commodity prices and lower non-performing loan provisions for the financials sector (compared to base year) were the main contributors for these buoyant earnings
  • Excluding financials, the earnings growth is much lower at 12%
  • Companies that are largely dependent on the domestic economy saw an adverse impact on their revenue in the December quarter
  • The consumer-facing sectors, particularly those dependent on wholesale channels that use cash, were victims of the growth shock
  • In the consumer discretionary sector, for example, cars did better than two-wheelers simply because the latter has a lower proportion of financing and typically involves cash payments
  • The oil, metal and mining sectors bucked the trend as revenue was buoyed by higher prices than at the same time last year

Indian companies

  • From the current quarter onwards they are witnessing “almost” business as usual (a return to normalcy of the order of 80-90% of regular business activity) as the disruptions from demonetisation fade away
  • economy was already showing early signs of a cyclical pick-up as we entered the festival season last November. That tailwind was punctuated by the demonetisation announcement
  • The recovery is now under way but growth is still lower than what it would have been if demonetisation had not happened at all
  • The expectation: Based on the pace of normalization witnessed in the current quarter, the coming April-June quarter should reflect a return to trend growth that was observed until last November

If these observations were indeed to play out, it would be an unexpectedly swift recovery, the magnitude and duration of the growth shock may turn out to be far more muted and transitory.

But Wait!

The Conclusion

  • With markets trading higher than 8 November, there is a risk of complacency as people mistake the global reflation trade that is under way, to spin a positive narrative of speedy normalization after demonetization
  • In a world where global markets are highly correlated, almost impossible to separate the global reflation narrative from the demonetisation narrative.

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