Newspaper notes for UPSC 25-06-18

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The tools for counting

  • As the 2011 Census approached, demands for inclusion of data on caste in Census has increased , however ,the Union Home Minister at the time, was opposed to collecting caste data and blocked it by claiming that it was logistically impossible for the Census.
  • later the hasty inclusion of the caste question in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) has resulted in largely unusable data.
  • Consequently, if we want information regarding the size and characteristics of various castes in India, we must continue to look to the Census of 1931.
  • Crux of the article: It is hard to imagine that the 2021 Census will not face another slew of demands for collection of caste data.  If we really want to collect data on caste in India and not let the discourse about Indian society be shaped by the political exigencies of colonial India, the time to plan is now.

Should we collect data on caste?

  • Some would argue that the simple act of asking about caste creates a chasm within society.
  • Colonial Censuses, beginning with the first Census in 1871, included questions about caste and used these data to divide and conquer India by first privileging Brahmins as interpreters of Indian culture and then targeting them as the roots of caste-based oppression and inequality.
  • S. Ghurye, the early 20th century pioneer of Indian sociology, reacted sharply by identifying this passion for classification as the source of anti-Brahmin movements.
  • Veena Das, doyenne of modern Indian anthropology, also notes that the colonial Censuses via the process of recording caste generated a conception of community as a homogeneous and classifiable community and thereby influenced the processes of political representation.
  • The challenge lies in figuring out whether caste-based political mobilisation and strong sentiments for or against reservations would disappear just because we choose not to collect statistics about caste.
    • Patels, Gujjars, Jats and Marathas do not seem to care about the lack of Census data as they demand reservations.
    • Nor has the caste cauldron of Karnataka elections calmed because we can only roughly estimate the size of the Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities.
  • Our political systems, civil society and courts continue to assume that broad caste-based social categories  Dalits, Adivasis, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and upper castes — defined largely using data from 1931 Census and a few special purpose surveys continue to shape economic conditions in 21st century India.
  • Without accurate data at a granular level for each of these categories consisting of thousands of jatis (castes) and upjatis(subcastes), we have no way of knowing whether this is correct.
  • Indian society has undergone a tremendous transformation since 1931. Land ownership that bolstered the power of upper castes has lost its hold. Land fragmentation and decades of agricultural stagnation have turned many upper caste landowners into marginal farmers barely eking out a subsistence.
  • Consequently, while at a broad brushstroke the National Sample Survey (NSS) shows that mean consumption expenditure of forward castes is higher than that of Dalits, clusters of poverty persist among forward castes.
  • F&D: According to NSS data, the bottom fourth of forward castes are poorer than the top half of Dalits. India Human Development Survey shows that 56% of Dalit children ages 8-11 cannot read but neither can 32% of forward caste and 47% of OBC children.
  • Economic growth of the past century, combined with strong affirmation action undertaken by successive governments of the independent nation, may have changed relative fortunes of various groups.
  • Collection of caste data is not easy. The SECC asked interviewers to write down the name of the caste exactly as articulated by the respondent. By some reports, it has revealed as many as 46 lakh castes. Sometimes the same caste is spelt in different ways, at other times some individuals report their jati and others upjati making it difficult to create mutually exclusive categories.
  • Solution:It would be possible to set up an expert group that uses the SECC data in conjunction with other data sources such as matrimonial advertisements and State-specific Scheduled Castes/OBC lists to make a comprehensive list of castes and condense them into meaningful categories via machine learning tools. These categories could then be validated by domain experts from the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) institutions in various States to come up with a district specific list of castes that would cover more than 90% of individuals in any given district.
  • Collection of data on castes is inherently risky. Politicians have long realised the advantages and disadvantages of capitalising on the sense of relative deprivation among various groups.However, once the SECC was conducted, the genie was out of the bottle. Demands are already rife for the release of these data.
  • It will take courage for a future government to collect data on caste and to use it to rationalise reservation policies. However, without better and more current data, our discourse on caste and affirmative action remains dominated by decisions made by the colonial administration.

Value Addition:

The Ministry of Rural Development Government of India, commenced the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011, in June 2011 through a comprehensive door to door enumeration across the country. This is the first time such a comprehensive exercise has been carried out for both rural and urban India. It is also expected to generate information on a large number of social and economic indicators relating to households across the country.

The SECC, 2011 has the following three objectives:

  • To enable households to be ranked based on their Socio- Economic status. State Governments can then prepare a list of families living below the poverty line
  • To make available authentic information that will enable caste-wise population enumeration of the country
  • To make available authentic information regarding the socio economic condition, and education status of various castes and sections of the population

The origins of the term ‘caste’ are attributed to the Spanish and Portuguese casta, which means “race, lineage, or breed” When the Spanish colonized the New World, they used the word to mean a “clan or lineage”. However, it was the Portuguese who employed casta in the primary modern sense when they applied it to the thousands of endogamous, hereditary Indian social groups they encountered upon their arrival in India.

Change perceptions in J&K

  • The suspension of operations in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has been called off by the government.
  • What reasons that forced the government to announce the truce despite the success that the security forces had been achieving in counterterrorist operations.
  • In seeking answers, we have to consider both the external and internal facets of the conflict.
  • External Situation: Pakistan plays a key role in keeping the conflict alive; its Army gives unstinted support to terror groups. In the absence of any incentive, and an almost complete breakdown of diplomacy between the two countries, some of us feel that the only option left to deter Pakistan is to keep up military pressure along the Line of Control (LoC).
  • Unfortunately, the 2003 agreement was only verbal, so there is no “letter and spirit” to it. For the ceasefire to succeed, it must be based on some strong principles that promote confidence between the two armies. As long as infiltration continues, forward patrols are attacked by groups from across the border, and soldiers killed, there can be no peace among troops facing off on the LoC.
  • It is essential that the two DGMOs meet and formalise an agreement in which Pakistan agrees to do more to seal off its border to prevent terrorists from entering India.
  • There must also be greater interaction between the local commanders of the two armies — for instance, flag meetings can be held along the border. If confidence can be built between local officers, it will enhance peace.
  • Looking at the internal situation in J&K, it is obvious that a multipronged approach involving both kinetic and population-centric measures is required.
  • Terrorism: The security forces are confident and capable of dealing with this threat  250-300 terrorists in the State can carry out a few high-profile terror attacks but are simply incapable of forcing any revolutionary change.
  • law and order: Itslittle more complicated in dealing with stone-pelting mobs. The injuries and deaths which inevitably follow these clashes lead to a repeated cycle of violence. However, there is no option but to check this with a firm hand.
  • The government must look at meeting the aspirations of the larger population with a view towards long-term conflict resolution. This is the most complex task, with many competing narratives being offered as solutions.When faced with this dilemma, it is sometimes helpful to go back to

Understanding why ethnic conflicts often defy solutions.

In his article, “Between Past and Future: Persistent Conflicts, Collective Memory, and Reconciliation”, Irit Keynan writes:

“Ethnic and national conflicts entail two major aspects — defined by scholars as a socio-political aspect and a socio-psychological aspect — with the latter no less crucial than the former… The socio-psychological aspect pertains to a wide range of issues relating to the community, including a community’s sense of identity and self-perceptions, its fears and sense of collective threats, perceived past, and portrayal of its role in the conflict… The socio-political aspect involves issues such as land, natural resources, economic and political dominance. Despite the complexity of the socio-political matters, in situations of intractable conflict it is the socio-psychological aspect, as well as history, that dominates the relationship between the involved adversaries and plays a central role in interpreting and fuelling persistent animosity.”

Israeli scholar Daniel Bar-Tal writes in his paper, “Overcoming Psychological Barriers to Peace Making: The Influence of Mediating Beliefs about Losses”:

“In (prolonged and violent) conflicts the involved societies evolve [a] culture of conflict of which the dominant parts are societal beliefs of collective memories and of ethos of conflict, as well as collective emotional orientation… These narratives are selective, biased and distorted as their major function is to satisfy the societal needs rather than provide [an] objective account of reality.”

  • A similar situation is evident in J&K. In Kashmir, perceptions have been generated of a government being at war with its people.
  • Given this reality, it should be clear that issues like good governance and development, while important, need to be accompanied by measures that address the socio-psychological aspects of the people of all regions of the State.
  • This has been a key weakness in our approach, and the separatists, along with some politicians, have made the situation worse by continuously exploiting existing societal beliefs and collective memory, rather than pointing to their dangers.

Way Froward:

  • The government also needs to embark on a strong perception-changing programme that challenges the existing narratives, brings out the horrific cost of conflict to the people and the benefits of peace and cooperative relations.
  • The conflict in J&K defies simple solutions. Among the many actions required to be taken on the military, economic, political and social fronts, dealing with the psychological aspects of affected communities is critical.
  • Memories and perceptions are perhaps the biggest hindrances to reconciliation and must be addressed by showing greater empathy.

A new vulnerability

  • Post-2014, cow vigilante groups have emerged as the most prominent non-state actors in India in terms of their capacity to unleash violence.
  • Given the shoddy nature of the allegations levelled by these groups, the objective seems more to target Muslim traders and citizens than rescuing cows.
  • The cow protection movement has a long history that goes back to the colonial days.

Gandhiji wrote:

“But, just as I respect the cow, so do I respect my fellow-men. A man is just as useful as a cow no matter whether he be a Mahomedan or a Hindu. Am I, then, to fight with or kill a Mahomedan in order to save a cow? In doing so, I would become an enemy of the Mahomedan as well as of the cow. Therefore, the only method I know of protecting the cow is that I should approach my Mahomedan brother and urge him for the sake of the country to join me in protecting her.” (Hind Swaraj, chapter 10).

  • For decades the Hindu right has campaigned for cow protection as a Hindu-Muslim issue, as if Muslims took to beef eating only to humiliate Hindus.
  • No definitive theory exists of how Muslims took to beef eating,As Dalits too eat beef, this is a Dalit issue as well. As a cause, cow slaughter is limited to the upper castes.

Dadri and Una response :

  • A comparison of the protests triggered by the Dadri lynching in 2015 and the Una flogging in 2016 sheds crucial insights into the political churning taking place in both communities.
  • Dadri: artists and intellectuals, and not Muslim organisations, led the protests. No doubt the cow protection movement has struck a chord with many Hindu conservatives, most of whom constituted various levels of leadership of the Congress and non-Congress parties under whose patronage anti-cow slaughter laws were passed in various States long before the BJP came into existence. The difference between the Hindu right and Hindu conservatives is their position on vigilante violence, which a majority of Hindu conservatives do not approve of.
  • Una: Dalits, on the other hand, came together in massive protest after the Una flogging, forcing the Prime Minister to make a statement.
  • That Muslim food habits, particularly beef eating, could be a major impediment to harmonious life in a free India was foreseen by Muslim separatists. Jinnah made a categorical argument that a separate homeland was necessary on account of Muslim food habits, among others.
  • In its fight against radical Islam, the Indian state has launched preventive arrests; often, innocent Muslim youths become its tragic victims. No such effort is seen with regard to the vigilante groups.
  • Gandhiji understood that India has enormous potential for violence, which is why he chose the path of non-violence, according to Paul Brass. The continuation of vigilante violence would only make India even more vulnerable to violence.

Smoke and mirrors

  • When the Cold War ended, the withering of its restraining influences spawned many ethnic and state-breaking conflicts. Also, the feeling of hubris generated in the U.S. by the demise of the Soviet Union amplified its interventionist proclivities.
  • A combination of these factors led to so-called “humanitarian” interventions, especially in the Balkans and West Asia.
  • Some of these, as in Bosnia and Kosovo, did achieve humanitarian ends by preventing ethnic cleansing on a national scale.
  • Others, as in Iraq, Libya and Syria, made bad situations infinitely worse. Nonetheless, such interventions helped create a new international norm whereby it was assumed that the “international community” — or more aptly the Western powers — had the right to intervene in countries where governments engaged in brutal suppression of their peoples.
  • The term Responsibility to Protect (R2P), derived from a 2001 report by a high-powered commission at the behest of the UN Secretary General, became the linchpin of the humanitarian intervention argument.
  • R2P and its corollary, humanitarian intervention, have ended up subverting the international order rather than strengthening it, for two major reasons.
  • First, such interventions have been undertaken with the objective of regime change but without much thought about the rebuilding of state institutions that this would entail.
  • Consequently, they often ended up inducing state failure, which has led to people seeking security through ethnic, sectarian and tribal protection rackets, thus accentuating internal conflicts.
  • Second, humanitarian interventions are undertaken largely at the behest of the P-3 (the U.S., the U.K. and France), who wield veto power in the UNSC and have the wherewithal to mount such interventions.
  • Where they are unable to garner support in the UNSC they have launched interventions under the banner of the “coalition of the willing”, as in the case of Iraq. Most humanitarian interventions have been undertaken when they suit the interests of the U.S. and its allies.
  • Demands for intervention in humanitarian crises, such as in Gaza, that do not suit the P-3, especially the U.S., face the threat of veto in the UNSC. This is why genuine humanitarian crises crying out for intervention remain unaddressed.
  • The related idea that the P-5 should not exercise their right to veto on issues of humanitarian intervention, while discussed in the R2P report, got no traction because the permanent members were not interested in their actions being restrained.

Value addition:

  • The Balkans, or the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various and disputed definitions.[1][2] The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea.
  • Balkanization, or Balkanisation, is a geopolitical term used to describe the process of fragmentation or division of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are often hostile or uncooperative with one another. Balkanisation is a result of foreign policies creating geopolitical fragmentation, as has happened in the namesake Balkan region under the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Third Reich, the United Nations, and NATO.
  • The Responsibility to Protect (R2P or RtoP) is a global political commitment which was endorsed by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit in order to address its four key concerns to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
  • The principle of the Responsibility to Protect is based upon the underlying premise that sovereignty entails a responsibility to protect all populations from mass atrocity crimes and human rights violations.The principle is based on a respect for the norms and principles of international law, especially the underlying principles of law relating to sovereignty, peace and security, human rights, and armed conflict.
  • The P5 refers to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (the P5); namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States

For nutrition security

  • The UN’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report for 2017 has important pointers to achieve nutrition policy reform.
  • At the global level, the five agencies that together produced the assessment found that the gains achieved on food security and better nutrition since the turn of the century may be at risk.
  • Although absolute numbers of people facing hunger and poor nutrition have always been high, there was a reduction in the rate of undernourishment since the year 2000. That has slowed from 2013, registering a worrying increase in 2016.
  • The estimate of 815 million people enduring chronic food deprivation in 2016 is depressing in itself, but more important is the finding that the deprivation is even greater among people who live in regions affected by conflict and the extreme effects of climate change.
  • The report says that child under nutrition rates continue to drop, although one in four children is still affected by stunting. These are averages and do not reflect the disparities among regions, within countries and between States.
  • The impact of the economic downturn, many violent conflicts, fall in commodity export revenues, and failure of agriculture owing to drought and floods are all making food scarce and expensive for many. They represent a setback to all countries trying to meet the Sustainable Development Goal on ending hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition.
  • SDG Goal 2End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

 Indian Context :

  • India’s efforts at improving access to food and good nutrition are led by the National Food Security Act.
  • There are special nutritional schemes for women and children operated through the States. In spite of such interventions, 5% of the population suffers from undernourishment, going by the UN’s assessment for 2014-16.
  • At the national level, 53% of women are anemic, Health Ministry data show.
  • All this shows that the Centre and State governments are woefully short on the commitment to end
  • The report on nutritional deficiency should serve as an opportunity to evaluate the role played by the PDS in bringing about dietary diversity for those relying on subsidised food.
  • In a report issued two years ago on the role played by rations in shaping household and nutritional security, the NITI Aayog found that families below the poverty line consumed more cereals and less milk compared to the affluent.
  • Way Forward:  Complementing rice and wheat with more nutritious food items should be the goal.

Sketchy deal

  • When it comes to crude oil prices, politics dwarfs everything else. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Friday agreed to increase its daily output to address the problem of rising crude oil prices.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister announced that the cartel’s output would be increased by about a million barrels a day beginning in July. The official statement released by the group, however, failed to mention any solid numbers regarding the planned increase in production. It simply stated that OPEC countries would “strive” to adjust production levels in order to conform to the terms of the production cut deal reached in 2016.
  • OPEC members had in late 2016,, agreed to a historic deal to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day in order to end a supply glut and raise the price of oil. Since then, the cartel has in fact managed to overshoot its production cut target following unexpected outages in countries such as Venezuela and Libya, contributing to the steep rise in oil prices.
  • In May, for instance, OPEC overshot its production cut target by 624,000 barrels a day. The lack of any clear commitment from OPEC to raise production suggests that the threat of a supply shock still looms over the global economy.
  • The pressure on Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, to be seen as doing something to tackle rising oil prices was clear.
  • Other oil-importing economies, especially emerging markets such as India that have been affected by the rising cost of oil imports, have also been exerting pressure.

Brent Crude oil

  • Brent Crude is a major trading classification of sweet light crude oil that serves as a major benchmark price for purchases of oil worldwide. This grade is described as light because of its relatively low density, and sweet because of its low sulphur Brent Crude is extracted from the North Sea and comprises Brent Blend, Forties Blend, Oseberg and Ekofisk crudes (also known as the BFOE Quotation).
  • Brent blend is a light crude oil (LCO), though not as light as West Texas Intermediate (WTI). It contains approximately 37% of sulphur, classifying it as sweet crude, yet not as sweet as WTI. Brent is suitable for production of petrol and middle distillates.
  • The New York Mercantile Exchange designates petroleum with less than 0.42% sulfur as sweet.Petroleum containing higher levels of sulfur is called sour crude oil.
  • Sweet crude oil contains small amounts of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. High-quality, low-sulfur crude oil is commonly used for processing into gasoline and is in high demand, particularly in industrialized nations.

How Haksar reset ties with Beijing

  • It was former diplomat and civil servant P.N. Haksar who “invented” the formula in 1987 that India and China could cooperate in other areas even as they addressed their differences on the boundary question, says a new book Intertwined Lives: P.N. Haksar and Indira Gandhi by Jairam Ramesh.
  • Haksar, who was sent to China as special envoy by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1987, said he spent 10 days persuading the Chinese to accept his formula that, despite differences on the boundary question, the two countries should “endeavour to reconstruct the totality of Sino-Indian relations in the field of trade, industry, technology…”
  • Rajiv Gandhi sent Haksar, one-time principal secretary to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in the wake of border tensions with China in 1986, to Beijing in 1987, and he managed to open the doors to a highly successful visit by Rajiv to China in December 1988.
  • Before Rajiv Gandhi left for China in 1988, the former diplomat wrote to the Prime Minister, “On the border question, it has been my view that frontiers between India and China need to be demarcated on the ground in terms of objective criteria e.g., Watershed Principles, River valleys, administrative control, etc.”
  • Twenty years after Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing, the two countries are still engaged in addressing their border dispute but trade and contacts between the two countries have multiplied manifold since 1988.

India, Bangladesh navies to join hands

  • India and Bangladesh have agreed to institute a Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) as an annual feature between the two navies. The first edition will be inaugurated by Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba.
  • The commencement of CORPAT is major step towards enhanced operational interaction between both navies. Naval cooperation between India and Bangladesh has been traditionally strong, encompassing a wide span which includes operational interactions through port calls, passage exercises along with capacity building, capability enhancement and training initiatives.
  • Over the last few years, the Navy has expanded its assistance to countries in the region through “material support, training, EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) surveillance, provisioning of platforms, hydrographic assistance, joint exercises and offering slots in professional training courses.”
  • The Navy regularly conducts CORPATs with Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. It also conducts EEZ surveillance of Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles on their request.

Govt. testing ‘big data’ system to aid banks assess credit risks

  • The government is testing a new system (A credit rating model)  that will assist banks in assessing credit risk and the probability of fraud using big data analysis. The system is expected to help lenders, particularly rural and cooperative banks, tackle the issue of rising non performing assets (NPAs).
  • Currently, rural and cooperative banks depend on judgement of the bank manager, resulting in high NPA.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT sponsored project includes as partners the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Bangalore-based IT firm Processware System and two cooperative banks.
  • The project is aimed at helping banks quantify risks associated with retail loans such as gold loans, personal loans and vehicle loans.
  • Under the project, a statistical and machine learning algorithmic model has been developed to predict the probability of default with an aim to reduce NPAs.

Key monetary tools at the RBI’s disposal

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), earlier this month, raised the policy repo rate to 6.25%, the central bank’s first interest rate increase in four-and-a-half years.

Monetary tools the RBI uses.

Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)

  • Banks need to hold some portion of their deposits in cash with the RBI. This ratio is called CRR. If the RBI cuts CRR, banks will be left with more money to lend or invest. On the other hand, if the CRR is raised, banks will have lesser money to lend.
  • RBI uses CRR to absorb excess liquidity or to release funds needed for economic growth. The present CRR is 4%.
  • When a bank’s deposits increase by Rs. 100, and if the CRR is 4%, the banks will have to park Rs. 4 with the RBI. The bank can use only Rs. 96 for investments and lending purposes.

Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)

  • Banks also have to invest a certain portion of their deposits in government securities with the RBI. This percentage is known as SLR. Banks can earn return on these investments.
  • The current SLR is 19.5%. If a deposit of Rs. 100 is made in a bank, then the bank will have to invest Rs. 19.5 in government securities.
  • So, to meet CRR and SLR requirements, a bank has to earmark Rs. 23.5 (4+19.5).

The repo rate

  • When banks need money they can borrow from the RBI against their surplus government securities at a fixed interest rate.
  • This rate is known as the repo rate. The higher the repo rate, the higher the cost of short-term money to the banks and vice versa. Generally, whenever the repo rate is raised, banks pass the burden on to customers.
  • If the repo rate is lowered, then banks can potentially charge lower interest rates on the loans taken by borrowers.

The reverse repo rate

  • The reverse repo rate is the rate of interest offered by RBI, when banks deposit surplus funds with the RBI for short periods.
  • The reverse repo rate at present is 6%.

Refer: Ramesh Singh for economy. Very important topic from prelims .

The two facets of NPA management

  • The phenomenal increase in non-performing assets (NPAs) and wilful defaults over the last three years raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of NPA management.
  • Given the potential adverse impact that the increasing incidence of NPAs might cause, it is critical that NPA resolution takes place in a timely manner. Policies concerning NPA resolution must address two critical aspects:
  • first, how to prevent it occurring at this scale in the future?
  • and second, how to manage the existing accumulated NPAs?
  • Till recently, most of the initiatives by the government and the RBIhad centred on  how to manage the existing NPAs.
  • While it is important to clean up the balance sheet of banks by reducing or eliminating bad loans, preventive measures are equally important. Typically, preventive measures are structural in nature. Both elements are quite important to a robust NPA management mechanism.
  • The role of the government has historically been crucial when there is a banking failure or crisis. It is the government which comes to the rescue, either through direct intervention or through the regulator. The role of government becomes even more important as it happens to be the principal owner of majority of the affected banks in India.
  • On preventive measures, there is a need for evolving a framework in order to bring transparency into the operation and management of SCBs (scheduled commercial banks), particularly the PSBs (public sector banks), on four major parameters — project appraisal, monitoring, accounting, and auditing.
    • As large loans constitute a substantial portion of the total NPAs, a robust credit appraisal mechanism is crucial.
    • As large loans tend to be relatively technically complex, banks must enhance their technical capabilities to undertake project monitoring effectively.
    • Greater emphasis must be placed on bringing efficiency and transparency into the accounting
    • Emphasis should be given on strengthening the audit system in banks.
  • These measures can potentially reduce the possibilities of collusion among the officials of the funding institutions and the borrowers.
  • There is a need for creating a publicly funded ‘bad bank’ or an asset management company which will deal with the stressed assets of PSBs. The bank should function independently and be accountable to government.Given the fiscal constraints, it may not be viable for the government to finance the proposed bad bank through budgetary support fully. The government can, however, partly finance the proposed ‘bad bank’ by issuing equity shares with the government holding the majority share.

Praggnanandhaa has done it

  • Chess prodigy R. Praggnanandhaa, who missed out on the chance to become the game’s youngest-ever Grandmaster in March this year, completed the technical formalities to become the world’s youngest GM at present, and the second youngest on the all-time list.
  • As things stand, at 12 years, 10 months and 13 days, Praggnanandhaa is now behind record-holder Sergey Karjakin in the all-time list.

Lessons from dark times

  • The darkest chapter in modern India’s history unfolded on June 25, 1975, when President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed proclaimed Emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution on the grounds that “the security of India is threatened by internal disturbance”.
  • Refer Laxmikanth for technicalities to impose emergency now, and what changed .
  • To prevent any attempt to throttle democracy on the grounds of internal disturbance, the Janata Party government had carried out the 44th Amendment in 1978. As a result, the President can declare Emergency only due to external aggression and the condition of “internal disturbance” was replaced with armed rebellion. The President’s proclamation has to be approved by both the houses of Parliament within a month.
  • The imposition of Emergency in 1975 was preceded by a widespread anti-corruption movement in Gujarat, popularly known as Nav Nirman Andolan. Around the same time, a students’ agitation gathered momentum against corrupt rule in Bihar, even as people in the rest of the country became increasingly resentful of soaring prices and corruption. Veteran socialist leader, J P Narayan, gave a call for “Sampoorna Kranti”. JP became the messiah of the masses.
  • Less than a fortnight before the proclamation of Emergency, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court had set aside the election of Mrs Gandhi for electoral malpractices and barred her from contesting elections for six years. He, however, stayed the order for 20 days to allow Mrs Gandhi to file an appeal. After her appeal was admitted in the Supreme Court, Justice V R Krishna Iyer granted a conditional stay on June 24 and held that Mrs Gandhi cannot participate in debates or vote as an MP. He referred the issue to a larger bench. The very next day, a massive public meeting was addressed by JP at Ramlila Grounds demanding Mrs Gandhi’s resignation.
  • Although there was no major incident anywhere in the country on the law and order front, Emergency was imposed on June 25.
  • Top political leaders and several RSS leaders were arrested without any charge in midnight swoops. Thousands of others were detained either under the draconian MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) or DIR (Defence of India Rules).
  • People in India and rest of the world were stunned by the unprecedented developments as fundamental rights were suspended, judiciary was superseded, various organisations were banned, forcible sterilisations were carried out and thousands were brutally tortured.
  • The media by and large meekly surrendered to the censor, barring a few honourable exceptions like the fearless Ramnath Goenka’s The Indian Express, The Statesman and Mainstream. Well-known journalist, Kuldip Nayyar was among those arrested. The government categorised the media as friendly, hostile and neutral and gave advertisements to only friendly publications.
  • Sweeping constitutional amendments were carried out like the 39th amendment which prohibited SC from hearing election petitions and the 42nd amendment, which declared that any amendment to the Constitution cannot be questioned in any court. Even the tenure of legislatures was extended to six years.
  • However, all the attempts to throttle democracy came to naught. The people rose like a tidal wave and voted the Janata Party to power and the government headed by Morarji Desai was sworn in. It nullified some of the black laws legislated during the Emergency. The Shah Commission appointed to probe into the excesses committed during the Emergency concluded that its imposition was totally unwarranted.
  • An important lesson taught by Emergency is that the people of India, although peace-loving, will never tolerate authoritarianism. The fact that people have peacefully overthrown a despotic regime not only showed the maturity of the Indian electorate but also the resilience of India’s Parliamentary democracy. Freedom is the lifeline of democracy and any stifling will sound the death knell of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • Refer India after Gandhi selectively for Post Independence consolidation.

Not all milk and honey

  • Farmers, who had high expectations from the Narendra Modi government, are a disillusioned lot today. Market prices of several crops have remained well below their minimum support prices (MSPs). Moreover, milk prices have fallen by 20 per cent to 30 per cent (by Rs 5 to10 per litre for cow milk) in several milk-surplus states in western and northern India.
  • This reminds us of the history of Kheda district in Gujarat, which was struck by a milk crisis in 1946. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stepped in to solve the problem of low milk prices. He gave India its first and largest milk cooperative (AMUL), and in the process, emerged as a leader of farmers.
  • The value of milk is more than that of rice and wheat combined. So, it is India’s biggest agri-produce. It is a source of income to small and landless agri-households — 70 per cent of those earning their livelihood from milk are women.
  • There is a problem of falling milk prices in India.
  • Solution:  India has to work on two fronts simultaneously:
  • One, create demand to match rapidly increasing supplies of milk;
  • Two, ensure that its dairy sector develops on globally competitive lines. In order to cut down costs of milk production, India needs to increase the productivity of its milch animals, which is far below (indigenous cows 2.8 litres, crossbreds 7.5 litres, and buffaloes 5.2 litres per day) the global standards of 20 litres plus/day.
  • Cross-breeding with high-productivity animals of foreign breeds and pure indigenous breeds, with sex selection semen technologies assuring female progenies, is the way forward.
  • The technologies exist, but the country needs to ramp its R&D and agriculture extension department to transform this sector into a vibrant, competitive and more remunerative sector for farmers.
Download the PDF Notes : Newspaper notes for UPSC of 25-06-18

2 thoughts on “Newspaper notes for UPSC 25-06-18”

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