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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (14th August)

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. Growth may pick up, but concerns remain

  • The overall GDP, after several quarters of low growth, there has been a strong pick-up in the last quarter of 2017-18. If this momentum is maintained, the growth rate (2018-19) will certainly be above 7%.
  • Major concerns are- External environment, reviving the banking system, Impact on the fiscal position.

Background

  • Agricultural growth may at best be equal to what it was last year. As the monsoon has been somewhat below expectations — the overall rainfall was deficiency.
  • The services sector may perform better because public expenditure will be maintained at a high level.
  • As of the industrial sector, the data for the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) shows substantial improvement.
  • The correlation between the IIP and national income data on manufacturing is poor.
  • The problems of the goods and services tax (GST) may have been largely overcome.

Issues

  1. External environment
  • Trade wars have already started and can get worse.
  • The U.S. has raised duties on several products such as steel and aluminum.
  • China has retaliated as duties for some of its products has been raised.
  • India has also been caught in this exchange.
  • Iran, which have a direct impact on crude oil output and prices. India benefited from the fall in crude prices earlier but this position has reversed.
  • India’s trade deficit has always remained high.
  • The fall in crude oil prices had also affected the export growth.
  • With the rising of trade deficit and some outflow of capital, the rupee has depreciated

Solution

  • Improved efficiency in production and better infrastructure.
  • Make the exports competitive.
  • Maintenance of domestic stability.
  • Search for an alternative fuel.
  1. Reviving the banking system
  • A/c to the RBI’s latest report on financial stability, shows that the gross non-performing asset (NPA) ratio of scheduled commercial banks rose.
  • The high NPA level has a dampening effect on the provision of new credit. In fact, credit to the industrial sector has slowed down considerably.

Solutions

  • Recapitalization of banks.
  • Asset reconstruction companies, have been made to resolve the NPA issue.
  • Medium-term banking reforms.
  1. Impact on the fiscal position
  • Central government’s fiscal has been within limits.
  • There are two aspects of the fiscal which need to be kept under watch. – One relates to GST. It is estimated that GST revenues are currently running behind budgetary projections.
  • The second concern relates to the impact of the proposed minimum support prices (MSPs) for various agricultural commodities. The MSPs have been raised sharply in the case of some commodities.

Solution to MSP (If market prices fall below MSPs)-

  • M.P. model- where the State pays the difference between market price and MSP. But this can turn out to be a serious burden if market prices fall steeply. This is apart from the administrative problems involved in implementing the scheme.
  • The other alternative is for the government to procure excess production over normal production so that market prices rise. This alternative may be less burdensome. However, this alternative will not work if the MSP is fixed at a level to which the market price will never rise. .

Conclusion

  • The expected growth rate of 7.3-7.4% may be reassuring. It may even be the highest in the world economy.
  • It is below of what is needed to raise job opportunities and reduce poverty.
  • It is true that the external environment is not helpful.
  • Hence a stronger push towards a much higher growth is very much the need of the hour.

2. Pune tops Ease of Living index; Patna ranked lowest of 111 cities

  • hree cities in Maharashtra — Pune, Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai — top the first Ease of Living Index brought out by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Methodology

  • A city’s ranking reflects its ability to provide data, as well as its actual performance on four different parameters — institutions or governance, social indicators, economic indicators and physical infrastructure.
  • The urban local bodies had been required to respond to 553 questions in 15 different categories under the four parameters.
  • The cities which were unable or unwilling to provide data received low scores.
  • For example, New Delhi has a score of “zero” on indicators regarding inclusive housing and mixed land use and compactness, and a score of just 0.12 on economy and employment.
  • This does not mean that the capital actually performs so poorly on these indicators. Instead, it probably means that the NDMC and the three Municipal Corporations which govern the city simply failed to provide any data on those indicators.

Stats

  • The national capital, New Delhi, is ranked 65 among 111 cities, while Chennai is in 14th place. Kolkata did not participate in the survey.
  • The other cities in the top 10 include Tirupati, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijayawada and Bhopal.
  • The three cities at the bottom of the rankings are Rampur, Kohima and Patna.

Challenges

  • It was a challenge to collect some of this information from data-starved urban local bodies.
  • Particular complications were seen in indicators such as health —where local governments did not have access to data from private hospitals.

Significance and Way forward

  • The ranking marks a shift to a data-driven approach to urban planning and management.
  • The future editions of the Index may also incorporate citizen and stakeholder feedback rather than relying on government data alone.

3. Disclose panels on sexual harassment, companies told

  • In order to ensure better implementation of the law against sexual harassment at workplace, the Centre has made it mandatory for companies to disclose whether they have constituted an internal complaints committee (ICC) to probe such allegations.

Background

  • The Corporate Affairs Ministry has amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014, governed by the Companies Act, 2013, mandating the disclosure.
  • This has been a long-standing demand from Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi.
  • It adds a clause to a rule on matters that should be part of the Board’s report.
  • The new clause says that the report will have to contain a statement that the Company has complied with provisions relating to the constitution of Internal Complaints Committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act

  • Under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, it is mandatory for any organisation with 10 or more employees to constitute an ICC.
  • An employer who doesn’t do so could face a fine of up to Rs.50,000.
  • An ICC should consist of a presiding officer, who is a woman employee at a senior level in the same organisation, at least two employees preferably committed to the cause of women, and a member from an NGO or a person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment.
  • The committee would have powers similar to those of a civil court and would have to complete its inquiry within 90 days.

Significance

  • It is a major step towards making the workplace safe for the women in the private sector.

Way forward

  • Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) should to incorporate this disclosure in the report on corporate governance of various companies so that there is a higher responsibility on the Directors of these Companies to implement the Act.

4. India rejects U.K. proposal on DNA tests for ‘illegal migrants

  1. India rejected a proposal by the U.K. to use DNA sampling to establish the nationality of illegal migrants living there citing privacy issues
  2. Although a MoU on return of illegal migrants was initiated after due approval of the Union Cabinet
  3. As per the original MoU, security agencies in India were to verify the antecedents of illegal migrants without documents in the U.K. within 72 days and those with documents within 15 days
  4. If no report was given within the stipulated time frame, the illegal migrant would be deported automatically

DNA Sampling is unethical

  1. The U.K. authorities have earlier suggested that the nationality of document-less illegal migrants suspected to be Indians could be established by matching DNA samples of their family members living here
  2. India raised objections as this was a breach of privacy and unethical
  3. According to the British government’s estimates, there are around 1,00,000 Indians overstaying their visa in the U.K
  4. India has contested this and said that as per their estimate, the number will not be more than 2,000

Twists and turns

  1. In January, Union Cabinet approved the contents of a MoU on “return of illegal migrants” to be signed with U.K.
  2. The pact was expected to be signed during the visit of PM to London, but it was not included in the official list of business
  3. As per the original MoU, the security agencies in India were to verify the antecedents of document less illegal migrants in the U.K within 72 days and those with documents within 15 days
  4. India pulled out of the pact citing the time frame was not feasible.

5. National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank dedicated to nation

  1. Union Science and Technology Ministry dedicated to the nation, the National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank
  2. Genetic resources from 23 species of Indian wild animals have been collected and preserved.

Genetic Resource Bank

  1. This facility would increase the collection of genetic resources from wildlife through collaboration with zoos in India
  2. This would facilitate the exchange of genetic material between Indian zoos for maintaining genetic diversity and conservation management made accessible to scientists and wildlife managers for implementing conservation programmes.

LaCONES

  1. The Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) is a dedicated laboratory of the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad
  2. CCMB-LaCONES is the only laboratory in India that has developed methods for collection and cryopreservation of semen and oocytes from wildlife and successfully reproducing endangered blackbuck, spotted deer and Nicobar pigeons
  3. Wildlife Genetic Resource Banking (GRB) is the systematic collection and preservation of tissues, sperm, eggs and embryos, genetic material (DNA/RNA)
  4. It helps prevent the loss of valuable individuals to the gene pool.

Reintroducing Indian Mouse Deer

  1. The Telangana Forest Department, Central Zoo Authority, Nehru Zoological Park and CCMB have joined hands to conduct the first-ever planned reintroduction of the Indian spotted chevrotain (Moschiola indica), also known as Indian mouse deer
  2. This follows more than seven years of conservation breeding of the elusive species at a dedicated facility in the premises of Nehru Zoological Park
  3. This helped increase the captive mouse deer population to around 230 individuals till March this year.

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