Newspaper analysis from The Hindu bearing
relevance to Civil Services preparation
- RBI crisis fund short of target: As per the RBI’s Annual Report for 2014-15, contingency funds kept for use in case of unforeseen shocks (like an important bank declaring bankruptcy) have fallen to 8.4 per cent of total assets. They should ideally be 12% of the total assets. This is because nothing has been added to either the Contingency Fund or the Asset Development Fund of the RBI in the past two years, while the size of total assets has continued to grow.
- Govt ready with OROP draft modalities: The govt has prepared a draft on implementing the OROP scheme, and an announcement is expected within a few days. However, ex-Servicemen have been demanding that equalisation be held every year, and have rejected the draft because it states this revision will occur every five years. The govt’s argument is that too many administrative difficulties will be created by doing it annually. And, because the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations will also be submitted this year, this is the best deal possible considering the financial implications that will arise.
It now appears that the ex-Servicemen are ready to accept a revision every two years.
- Women to get permanent commission in the Navy: Till now, when any female officer was getting commissioned into the Navy, it was only for a ‘Short Service Commission’ of 14 years. (Male officers have the option of either 14 years or a permanent commission). Since pension benefits require a minimum of 20 years of service, women have been unable to get access to them. But the Delhi High Court has now allowed women to be granted permanent commission in the Navy, meaning they can have full-term service and enjoy retirement benefits, including pension.
- MHA lists 9 reasons for cancelling Greenpeace licence: The Ministry of Home Affairs has clarified its rationale for cancelling the registration of Greenpeace India under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. It has given nine reasons for taking that step. This cancellation of FCRA permit means that the NGO can no longer receive foreign funds and has to depend on domestic contributions for its operations.
- MHA seeks report on Arabic varsity plan: The Ministry of Home Affairs is considering a proposal for setting up an international Arabic university in Kerala. It has asked central agencies for reports on aspects of “national concern” that can be involved. It is possible that the university might become a doorway for channeling foreign funds into the country.
- Maharashtra curbs criticism of politicians: The Maharastra govt has released a resolution saying that any criticism of a politician or public servant will be charged as sedition if, in the criticism, they are portrayed as representatives of the Union or the State governments. It has come under severe criticism from the Opposition parties, which have blamed the government for attempting to curb the freedom of expression. The Maharashtra government later clarified that these guidelines were part of a general circular, and not an official Government Resolution. (ForumIAS thinks this sets a bad precedent. Either you have freedom of speech or you don’t. If you as a govt start regulating that people are allowed to say this but not that, there is no limit as to where you will stop, and subsequent governments can extend even more things into the category that people are not allowed to criticise. Threats to civil liberties only ever come one step at a time).
- Friendly signal: The Union government’s decision to waive off the minimum alternate tax (MAT) liability on capital gains made by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) and Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) is a welcome move. This will improve India’s image as an investment destination.
- The Patidar idea of reservation: Constitutionally, a need for reservation requires evidence of discrimination or backwardness. But the dominant view today seems to be that any caste can get reservation if it can bend the state to its will by dangling the vote bank it commands. “If you give us reservation, you will get all our votes”.
- Seventh Pay Commission is no ogre: An article analysing the market prerogatives of human talent as being accrued towards the public sector versus the private sector. The writer argues that the public sector and the private sector have different prerogatives, and should not be judged from the same pedestal. And, that the concept of Pay Commissions and Periodic pay revisions should be replaced with periodic management audits of government departments on parameters such as cost effectiveness, timeliness and customer satisfaction.
- A case for the Net’s Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Indian government has often raised the concern that data-mining giants based outside the country – Google, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp etc – do not cooperate with law enforcement authorities during a security crisis. At a bilateral Cyber Dialogue this year with US authorities, India has pointed out instances where social media played mischief in worsening a situation, highlighting the need for closer cooperation between American companies and the government. This issue needs to be resolved, otherwise govts will continue to employ clumsy methods like the one in Gujarat recently (where mobile data services were shut for a week).
- Accept more refugees, UN tells EU: Refugees are fleeing wars, conflicts and economic miseries in West Asia (especially Syria) and Africa, and are flooding into Europe. The European countries have not been very happy about receiving them. But now the UN has instructed the European Union to start accepting more refugees.
- India saves $1.8 b on fertiliser subsidies, but no reform planned: In the short term, India could save about 1.8 billion dollars on fertilizer subsidies this year due to low energy prices worldwide. (Fertilizers demand a lot of petroleum products in their manufacturing). In the long term, industry groups had hoped that the reform-minded govt would use this opportunity presented by lower prices to free up the fertiliser market, as it did with diesel a year ago. But the govt has no plans to remove price controls because it does not want to risk angering farmers.
It’s Teachers’ Day. You could call a favorite teacher, you know. Maybe even a parent.