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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (19th April)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. National Counter Terrorism Centre is trapped in a political quagmire

For nearly a decade, the consensus on forming a National Counter Terrorism Centre has been in abeyance. Heated political debates and turf battles are the factors behind it.

National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC)

In 2012, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had given the approval to set up the National Counter Terrorism Center. It is a proposed on the base of the anti-terrorism unit set up in the National counter- terrorism center of the USA. The chief of the National Counter Terrorism Center will be a Director who will be reporting to the Director Intelligence Bureau and the Home Secretary. It will draw its powers from the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967. It will set up small offices crosswise over states to gather the real-time information. It additionally has the ability to look for data, including archives, report and digital data from any security agency and organization. They can conduct and raids without a prior consent of the respective states. The suggestion has met with criticism from the Chief Ministers of different states as they see this as the means of deteriorating India’s federalism and centre-state relations.

2. Revenue sharing: Are states in South India being taken for a ride?

The issue of revenue sharing among states isn’t exactly a ‘North India vs South India’ debate. Rather, it is more of a poor-vs-rich issue

3. NIIF partners UK govt for Green Growth Equity Fund

NIIF and the UK govt have committed £120 million each for Green Growth Equity Fund which will be managed by EverSource Capital, a joint venture of Everstone Group and Lightsource BP

Launch of GGEF

  1. The government’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India (NIIF)has announced a partnership with the UK government to launch Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF)
  2. NIIF and the UK government have committed £120 million each for the fund which will be managed by EverSource Capital, a joint venture of home-grown private equity firm Everstone Group and Lightsource BP

About the fund

  1. Green Growth Equity Fund is an alternative investment fund registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India
  2. It aims to raise £500 million from international institutional investors to invest in areas such as renewable energy, clean transportation, water, sanitation, waste management, emerging technologies and other similar industries in India
  3. It will be the first investment for NIIF’s Fund of Funds

National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India (NIIF)

  1. NIIF, an institution sponsored by the government of India, is a collaborative investment platform for international and Indian investors
  2. The government had set up the Rs40,000 crore NIIF in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield, and stalled projects

4. Supreme Court rules NCMEI has wide powers

Jurisdiction of NCMEI

  1. The Supreme Court has held that the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) has original jurisdiction to determine which institution should be granted minority status
  2. The NCMEI Act empowers the Commission to decide all questions relating to the status of an institution as a minority educational institution and to declare its status as such

Ensuring Fundamental right under Article 30

  1. The Constitution grants a fundamental right to all minorities, whether based on religion or language, to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice
  2. The wide power given to an independent forum like the NCMEI to declare an institution as a minority educational institution furthered the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 30

2006 amendments to the NCMEI Act

  1. The 2006 amendments conferred powers of appeal against orders of the competent authority to the NCMEI
  2. A power of cancellation was also vested in the NCMEI to cancel a certificate granted either by an authority or the NCMEI

5. NSA-headed committee for higher defence management

Improving higher defence management

  1. The government has constituted a new committee headed by the National Security Advisor to improve higher defence management
  2. The Defence Planning Committee (DPC) headed by NSA will prepare a draft national security strategy, develop a capability development plan, work on defence diplomacy issues and improving defence manufacturing in India

Composition of DPC

  1. The DPC will have the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, three service chiefs, secretaries of the ministries of defence, expenditure and foreign affairs as its members
  2. The Chief of Integrated Staff in the MoD will be the member secretary of DPC
  3. The DPC will submit its reports to the Defence Minister

6. The welfare effects of rural electrification

Rural electrification will not only help improve education, health and connectivity but will also enable India meet its climate change commitments.

Work done by various governments for rural electrification

  1. Rural electrification received attention in the development agenda mostly in the last one-and-a-half decades
  2. In 2005, the Central government launched the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) which subsumed all other ongoing schemes related to rural electrification
  3. The scheme focused on electrification of villages through implementation of decentralized distributed generation (DDG)
  4. RGGVY was later included in the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) (recently renamed the Saubhagya scheme),
  5. which additionally focuses on feeder separation, improvement of sub-transmission and distribution network, and metering to reduce losses
    Satisfying results
  6. All these schemes have delivered results and now only a few villages are left that have yet to achieve the target of 100% electrification
  7. As per the latest government statistics, only 910 villages are yet to be electrified, which account for 5% of India’s un-electrified villages (as on April 2015), excluding some uninhabited villages

However, the performance of rural household electrification is not that encouraging

  1. Around 35 million households—approximately 11% of the total rural households—are yet to be electrified

The right criteria of measuring real success of rural electrification

  1. The success of rural electrification should not be measured only on the basis of connections provided, but also on the basis of provision of reliable and quality power supply during peak hours
  2. Both of these are still persistent problems faced by a majority of India’s rural households
  3. As per the UNDP recommended “Energy Plus” approach, supply of electricity only for lighting is a necessary but not sufficient condition for rural livelihood development
  4. This framework emphasizes on energy access in combination with productive use of electricity for income generation and livelihood upliftment

High cost of power supply in rural areas

  1. As a majority of the rural households cannot afford high cost supply, utilities are reluctant to supply the required quality and quantity of electricity in these areas
  2. This is apart from the issue of capacity constraint in terms of power generation/purchase
  3. However, implementing some appropriate measures such as smart meters, infrastructure development, franchisee arrangements with local self-help-groups (for more effective billing, monitoring and collection) may improve the situation to some extent

Saubhagya scheme addresses some crucial issues(given above)

  1. It aims to improve environment, public health, education and connectivity with the help of last-mile power connections across India along with providing electricity connections to over 40 million families in rural and urban areas by December
  2. Households out of reach of the national electricity grid are proposed to be provided with solar power packs along with battery banks with the Rural Electrification Corporation as the nodal agency
  3. The Saubhagya scheme will help India meet its global climate change commitments as electricity will substitute kerosene for lighting
  4. It will also help improve education, health, and connectivity apart from having a multiplier effect on increased economic activities and job creation.

Energy poverty affects women and girls more
How?

  1. As they have to bear the primary responsibility for collecting firewood, cooking and other domestic work
  2. These tasks expose them to negative health impacts and increase their domestic and reproductive burdens
  3. Thus, there is also a need to explore the role of rural electrification in promoting gender equality, which, along with women empowerment, is an integral part of inclusive development and sustainable development goals (SDGs).

7. Is the Indian economy really that strong?

Context

  1. There have been improvements in the Indian economy in recent years
  2. However, the current published growth rate exaggerates underlying strength

The Indian economy’s foundations have been strengthened in the last few years

  1. India’s growth is projected to grow over 7% this year
  2. That is faster than China’s growth rate and makes India effectively the fastest-growing economy in the world
  3. Inflation has come down to the 4-5% range
  4. Trade balances with the rest of the world have improved, and the current account deficit has come down to about 1.5% of GDP
  5. India has also systematically built up its foreign exchange reserves — now a comfortable $420 billion

But deeper analysis indicates that growth may be overstated and the economy prone to significant vulnerabilities
Weakness in investment

  1. In order for growth to be both high and sustainable, investment has to be strong
  2. Investment is the act of adding to our productive capacity — building infrastructure, factories, and enhancing the skill of the workforce
  3. However, the striking fact about India is the weakness in investment, reflected in the sharp decline in the rate of investment in recent years
  4. The rate of investment has come down from 34% of GDP in 2014 to about 30% currently
  5. A decline in investment of this magnitude is difficult to reconcile with a 7% growth rate

Weakness in industrial production

  1. Industrial production was growing at around 6% in 2016, but came down to 2% by mid-2017 following demonetisation
  2. It is again difficult to reconcile strong overall growth of the economy with weak industrial performance

Slow down in bank lending

  1. Bank financing is important for growth in India
  2. This is particularly true of small and medium-sized enterprises and parts of the agricultural sector where the bulk of the labour force is employed
  3. The pace of bank lending has been coming down sharply in the last five years
  4. During 2014-16, bank lending grew at a 10% pace
  5. It is now growing at about 6% following demonetisation
  6. The main reason for the slowdown is the rise in non-performing loans
  7. Consequently, banks are now more hesitant to lend
  8. This sharp decline in the growth of bank lending is again not compatible with an economy growing at 7%

Government should be cautious of inflation(in future)

  1. Food and energy prices are important components of the consumer price index and the decline in commodity prices has had a large role in bringing inflation down
  2. Should food and energy prices revert to an increase in the future, it would be difficult for the RBI through its monetary policy actions to bring inflation under control

Trade Balances

  1. Oil, gold and coal constitute almost 50% of total imports in India
  2. Over the past few years, India’s trade has gained significantly from steep declines in the prices of these commodities
  3. Rather than strong exports, India’s trade improvement reflects the extraneous factor of declining commodity prices
  4. The trade balances would come under renewed pressure once commodity prices turn higher

The issue of India’s debt

  1.  India’s debt is a relatively high 70% of GDP and, unlike in a number of emerging market economies, it has not really come down in the last five years
  2. The fiscal position in India constitutes a hidden vulnerability

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