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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 4th, 2017

 


Front Page / NATIONAL [The Hindu]


[1]SC puts critics of Aadhaar-PAN linkage in a spot

[2]Patna HC sets aside ban on ENA

[3]NITI Aayog for less teaching, more research

[4]UID can stall fake PAN: Centre

[5]BrahMos missile achieves rare feat

[6]‘Data leaks not from UIDAI, but from States’

 

Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]


[1]The dragon beckons


Economy [The Hindu]


[1]Package to resolve NPAs gets Cabinet nod

[2]Govt. mulls changes to UDAN scheme to attract more players


Indian Express


[1]Space Games


Live Mint

[1]Why India should tax agricultural income

[2]Understanding NITI Aayog’s action agenda


 

Front Page / NATIONAL

[1] SC puts critics of Aadhaar-PAN linkage in a spot

The Hindu

Context

Does right to choose apply for tax?

What has happened?

Can a person who is voluntarily a part of a tax regime choose to say he will pay his taxes only in the certain way he wants to? Does he have a right to choose?

Question Asked by SC

Yes, it is my right to choose a career. It is my right of choice to be a transgender. But away from these societal rights, when a citizen is part of a tax regime, can you say that I will pay taxes only the way I want to do it… Is there a right of choice in the limited context of tax laws?

Critics argued in the Supreme Court that Section 139AA is a “chilling trajectory the state has taken to dilute civil liberties

[2] Patna HC sets aside ban on ENA

The Hindu

What has happened?

  • The Patna High Court set aside the Bihar government’s decision to ban production of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) by several distillery and liquor companies in the State
  • After imposing total prohibition last year in April, the government on January 24 this year issued a notification saying the licences of ENA manufacturers would not be renewed

SC Observed

The State does not have legislative competence to deal with the subject of alcohol unfit for human consumption

We see no reason to hold the provisions of Sections 13, 23 and 24(1) of the Prohibition Act as unconstitutional or ultra vires, as in the light of the declaration with respect to including ENA within the definition of Intoxicant to be not permissible, the applicability of these provisions to alcohol unfit for human consumption does not arise now

[3] NITI Aayog for less teaching, more research

The Hindu

Context

Favours hiring of faculty from abroad 

What has happened?

To ensure that investments in research better translate to more products and bolster “innovation and development” The National Institution for the Transformation of India (NITI) Aayog has recommended that faculty at “world class” institutions prioritise research and be allowed to “reduce their teaching responsibility,” if required

Such universities also ought to be allowed to recruit research staff from abroad and be encouraged to compete for research projects from industry

Vision document

The NITI Aayog suggestions stem from a three-year vision document that outlines targets and goals the Ministries — from railways to environment — ought to achieve by 2020

The NITI Aayog also pitches for a new ‘National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation’ headed by a distinguished scientist. This will coordinate with science and technology departments, ministries, governments and private sector bodies and deliberate on national issues and recommend interventions.

Database of schemes

  • The organisation also proposes a database of all existing schemes related to science and technology across ministries and departments
  • This will have information on the coordinating ministry, its objectives and available funds
  • Its key purpose would be to avoid “duplication of efforts, reduce approval times, increase accountability and collaboration between entities and measured outcomes

[4] UID can stall fake PAN: Centre

The Hindu

Context

Tells SC that ‘conscientious objection’ does not make Aadhaar discriminatory

What has happened?

Mandatory linking of Aadhaar with PAN cannot be considered discriminatory merely because there are “conscientious objectors” who refuse to take the Aadhaar in the name of freedom of choice, privacy and fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, the government told the Supreme Court

[5] BrahMos missile achieves rare feat

The Hindu

What has happened?

  • The Army carried out a successful test of the advanced BrahMos Block III Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • This is the second consecutive test of the missile in two days
  • The test in an operational configuration was carried by the Army’s South Western Command-based 1 strike corps
  • These tests were carried out in full operational land-to-land configurations from Mobile Autonomous Launchers (MAL) at full-range

Strategic

  • Testing BrahMos in the Andaman and Nicobar islands is a symbolic statement, as it brings the strategic Malacca straits under its range
  • Precise capabilities of BrahMos missile for quick sea access and denial in the event of a conflict, and its testing in the Andaman Sea is a reflection of the changing dynamics in the Indian Ocean

Rare Feat

This is the fifth consecutive time when the Block-III version of BrahMos LACM has been successfully launched and hit the land-based target in “top-attack” mode, an incredible feat not achieved by any other weapon system of its genre

Copybook launch

  • Meeting all flight parameters in a copybook manner while conducting high level and complex manoeuvres, the multi-role missile successfully hit the land-based target with desired precision, in both the trials demonstrating its accuracy of less than one metre
  • The steep dive capability makes it an ideal precision strike weapon to neutralise targets in a clutter

BrahMos

  • BrahMos is a product of joint collaboration between India and Russia and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets.
  • The range of the supersonic missile was initially capped at 290 km as per the obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  • Since India’s entry into the club, the range has been extended to 450 km and the plan is to increase it to 600km.

[6] ‘Data leaks not from UIDAI, but from States’

The Hindu

Context

Aadhaar is foolproof, Centre tells Supreme Court

What has happened?

Leaks of Aadhaar card details are not from the UIDAI, but at the State level, the Union government told the Supreme Court

Biometric technology is the best system in 2016. There has not been a single leak from the UIDAI. The leaks of details may have been from the States… their offices and agencies

Backdrop

  • The Centre’s clarification comes in the middle of reports that data of over 130 million Aadhaar cardholders have been leaked from four government websites
  • Reports, based on a study conducted by the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), a Bengaluru-based organisation, said Aadhaar numbers, names and other personal details of people have been leaked
  • The Centre was washing its hands of the alleged leaks for the second consecutive day in the Supreme Court

Editorial/OPINION

[1] The dragon beckons

The Hindu

Context

India should ask China if it’s willing to address its concerns so as to enable participation at the BRI meet

What has happened?

UN Security Council

  • United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on security in Afghanistan
  • It includes a reference to regional development initiatives such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • China promptly announced that this reference (possibly inserted at its instance) reflected a global consensus on the BRI

BRF (Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation)

  • This is part of an intensifying campaign to mobilize high-level attendance at a summit — the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) — being hosted by China in mid-May
  • The declared purpose is to review progress of the BRI, obtain perspectives of stakeholders and plan new trajectories of cooperation
  • China confirmed attendance of 28 heads of state and government at the BRF. They include leaders of Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Indonesia

India and the mid-May meet

  • Officially, India says it cannot endorse the BRI in its present form, since it includes the CPEC, which runs through Indian territory under illegal Pakistani occupation (Gilgit-Baltistan)
  • China is launching an all-out charm offensive to attract more quality attendance at the forum. India has also been a target, since it has apparently not yet conveyed the level of its attendance
  • China’s argument, that India would be “isolating” itself by staying out, is a pressure tactic: roads, ports and railways are public goods, which cannot be open to some and closed to others, based on nationality

Scope for give and take

India should ask China whether it is willing to address its concerns in such a way as to enable high-level Indian participation. Would China be willing to declare that the CPEC is not a component of the BRI but a separate bilateral China-Pakistan project?

Economy

[1] Package to resolve NPAs gets Cabinet nod

The Hindu

Context

Includes ordinance to amend Banking Regulation Act

What has happened?

The government cleared a package to resolve the persistent rise in non-performing assets that is plaguing public sector banks and denting credit growth

Banking Regulation Act, 1949

Package includes an ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 to empower the Reserve Bank of India to take more actions to check bad loans

NPA

The economic survey of 2016-17 has pointed out the twin balance sheet problem — that is, stressed companies on one hand and NPA-laden banks on the other — and advocates that a centralised Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA) be established to deal with the problem of bad loans

ITDC

The Union Cabinet also kicked off the disinvestment process for hotels owned by the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC)

The Cabinet approved also a policy to give “preference to domestically manufactured iron and steel products” for government’s infrastructure policy

DMI&SP

The policy mandates to provide preference to Domestically Manufactured Iron & Steel Products (DMI&SP), in Government Procurement

National Steel Policy 2017

The Centre also approved a National Steel Policy 2017 aimed at attracting Rs. 10 lakh crore investments in the steel sector by 2030-31

  • The policy projects creating crude steel capacity of 300 million tonnes (MT), production of 255 MT and “a robust finished steel per capita consumption of 158 kg by 2030-31, as against the current consumption of 61 kg.

Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act

The Cabinet further approved declaring Vijayawada Airport as an international airport, as per the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014

SAMPADA

A central sector scheme, SAMPADA, was approved with an allocation of Rs. 6,000 crore in a bid to decrease agro-waste and modernise processing

[2] Govt. mulls changes to UDAN scheme to attract more players

The Hindu

Context

Increasing route exclusivity for airlines among proposals 

What has happened?

The Centre may introduce changes to its regional connectivity scheme or UDAN to attract more players in the second round of bidding

Allowing single-engine aircraft to fly under the scheme, increasing route exclusivity for airlines and higher subsidy for helicopters among others are some of the proposals which may be considered

Single-engine planes

The airlines had also asked the Ministry to allow them to operate single-engine aircraft on routes under UDAN. However, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is not in favour of the proposal due to safety reasons, according to a Ministry official

Indian Express

[1] Space Games

Indian Express 

Context

ISRO’s South Asia satellite is a move towards using technology for diplomacy

What has happened?

Origins of SAARC Satellite

The origins of the South Asia satellite date back to the 18th SAARC Summit, in 2014 in Nepal, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi put forward the idea of a common satellite serving the needs of all SAARC members

Delays: Pakistan Opts Out

  • There were numerous delays, primarily as negotiations among the various countries of the South Asia region stalled over ownership and data access issues
  • With Pakistan officially opting out of the project by March 2016, the decks were cleared for an expedited launch

12 ku-band transponders
The satellite will carry 12 ku-band transponders allotted to the participating countries. Each country can use a dedicated transponder for its own use, which would primarily be communication and disaster management support

It’s not a technological breakthrough but diplomatically Significant, why?

Showcases India’s growing technological prowess

  • Along with previous missions such as Chandrayaan and the Mars Orbiter Mission, the South Asia satellite underscores the strength of Indian indigenous technological development
  • Though the satellite is not very challenging technologically, a two-year turnaround for building and deploying a satellite is impressive

No Quid Pro Quo

India has begun realizing that domestic technologies have now reached a level of maturity that allows India to confidently brandish its capabilities to other countries. It also serves as a marketing tool for future launches at a time when ISRO is building a strong niche for itself in the international satellite launch market

Technological Commons: India has created an open access resource for its neighbours

By “gifting” this satellite to its neighbours, India has created an open access resource that can be leveraged by the latter to address some of their critical domestic concerns. Building such commons is essential not only to address immediate problems but also spur research, innovation and economic growth in the region

Conclusion

The South Asia satellite is emblematic of a more confident and assertive India, but it is necessary to ensure that such actions are not one-off

Live Mint

[1] Why India should tax agricultural income

Live Mint

The Context

The political establishment must move beyond a reflexive rejection of the very concept of agricultural tax

Has been discussed previously in the briefs

[2] Understanding NITI Aayog’s action agenda

Live Mint

Context

NITI Aayog released its Three Year Action Agenda document, a comprehensive framework for proposed policy changes to be implemented in the short term in India

What has happened?

NITI Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda forms part of a larger vision document which spans a seven-year strategy and a 15-year vision till FY3

Key Points

The Agenda offers a number of compelling proposals ranging from the use of high-yield seeds to improved irrigation techniques to the removal of the infamous tariff inversion problem (where the high level of trade barriers on intermediate inputs relative to final goods disincentivizes domestic production)

CEZ (Coastal Economic Zones)

For manufacturing, the document proposes the development of a few Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) operating under a liberal economic environment (for instance, without the restrictive labour laws that bedevil the rest of the economy) and with an abundance of land—much as in China, where large firms, operating in its special economic zones, sometimes each employ hundreds of thousands of workers

Connectivity

The document’s chapters on transport and physical connectivity, as also on digital connectivity, offer a detailed picture of the existing infrastructure framework, with many specific proposals on improving efficiency and closing gaps in coverage

Leverage technology

  • The government’s desire to leverage technology to improve efficacy, while laudable, requires a strong digital network and an ability to provide reliable end-to-end e-services
  • There is considerable unevenness across the country in access to the digital network and in the ability to benefit from such services

Conclusion

We shall, in the fullness of time, see how many of its proposals are taken up and implemented Be that as it may, we believe that its primary contribution will be in serving as a base of knowledge and analysis to support any future discussions on policy reform; it should be welcomed

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