IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 2nd April 2018
Bringing private banks under the watch of CVC
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Key issues related to governance
- The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has urged the Prime Minister’s Office to bring private sector banks under its watch, citing the fact that they have been involved in many recent instances of malfeasance.
- Vigilance officers in all State-owned public sector banks are required to report irregularities and possible wrongdoing to the CVC, India’s apex body for checking corruption in the government.
- Private sector banks are out of the CVC’s purview, but are subjected to statutory audits from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Deviating from norms:
- Private banks have deviated from norms that govern the disclosure of non-performing assets (NPAs), leading to under-reporting.
- The processes followed for lending decisions among private lenders have also come under the scanner.
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Increasing casualties among children in J&K
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Internal security
- At least 318 children have been killed in J&K in 14 years — from 2003 up to 2017 — and constitute 6.95% of the casualties in the ongoing conflict in the State, according to a study by the J&K Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).
- The report, titled ‘Terrorized: Impact of Violence on the Children of Jammu and Kashmir’, says that children (less than 17 years old) “were not viewed differently by armed forces” and have been targeted as part of the offensive.
- At least 144 children were killed by the security forces and the State police, “which alone accounts for 44.02% of the total [number of] children killed”.
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General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3:
- Mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment
- Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
New Defence Production Policy 2018: Where did we fail in past?
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has recently released the draft of a new defence production policy 2018.
It seeks to replace the policy announced in 2011. The ministry has asked for comments on the draft from the stakeholders by March 31, 2018.
The goal is to achieve self-reliance in development and manufacture in thirteen major areas of production, a turnover of Rs 1,70,000 crore, involving an investment of nearly Rs 70,000 crore and the creation of two to three million jobs, and exports of Rs 35,000 crore by 2025.
The objective is to make India a global leader in Cyberspace and Artificial Intelligence technologies.
The provisions mentioned under the draft policy will not be easy to implement.
- The proposed increase in the cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence, originally fixed at 26 per cent in 2001, is a case in point.
In 2010, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) had suggested the removal of the cap altogether. Subsequently, in 2013, the then Commerce Minister had also recommended raising the FDI cap to 74 per cent. But it was only in 2014 that the cap was raised, that too to 49 per cent, by the present government.
There are sharply divided views on raising the cap beyond 49 per cent.
- The promises contained in the recently released draft are so intertwined that a comprehensive action plan would be required to implement all of them almost simultaneously for achieving the policy objective.
- Experience shows that policy decisions often get derailed by delays in working out the modality of implementing them or because many loose ends are left untied while notifying the scheme. Disjointed efforts and promises cannot form the basis of a robust policy.
Poor progress on past initiatives:
- New impetus was given to defence production under the ‘Make in India’ programme through initiatives such as the introduction of ‘Make I’ and ‘Make II’ sub-categories in DPP 2016.
- Introduction of the Strategic Partnership Model in 2017.
- The increase in FDI to 49 per cent in 2014.
- The easing of the industrial licensing process during the last couple of years.
All the above initiatives have been facing strong headwinds:
- The process to identify the Indian entities under the Strategic Partnership Model is yet to begin.
- Just about Rs 1 crore has been received by way of FDI in defence in the last four years.
- Industrial licenses were held up for a long time because of the row between the DIPP and the Ministry of Home Affairs on the question of jurisdiction to issue the license.
The MoD should back up the objectives mentioned in the new policy with adequate budget outlays.
- If Indian companies must become self-reliant in making fighter aircraft, warships, combat vehicles, and the like, there has to be a market for their products.
Defence being a monopsony, MoD will need to sustain domestic production by buying their products in large numbers.
- The achievability of the stated objectives and goals in the draft policy does not seem to be in sync with the current trajectory of defence budget outlays.
The credibility of the new defence production policy is inextricably interlinked with the financial viability of the roadmap envisaged therein as well as the ability of the MoD to take hard decisions to remove programme-specific roadblocks.
Self-reliance has been the goal of India’s defence production strategy since the 1960s. The fact is that more than five decades later India has emerged as the largest importer of arms.
The problem all along has been that policies, strategies and procedures have seldom been based on lack of understanding about issues afflicting defence production: disjointed efforts, never factoring financial viability, and tardy implementation – all largely because of structural issues within the MoD.
The above problems should to be resolved so that the objectives mentioned under the new policy are achieved.
Connecting the dots:
- Self-reliance as a goal of India’s defence production strategy since the 1960s remains unachieved. The problem all along has been that policies, strategies and procedures have seldom been based on lack of understanding about issues afflicting defence production.Discuss.
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
India and Pakistan ties: Improving channels of communication
Recently India and Pakistan have not fired at each other across the border in Jammu and Kashmir barring one exception, a welcome calm after several weeks of incessant ceasefire violations.
Poor handling of diplomats:
- Disagreements and spats stemming from these issues, in the generally tense atmosphere of ceasefire violations and the resultant political rhetoric, have led to highly undesirable acts of harassing diplomatic personnel who are protected under the 1961 Vienna Convention.
- Aggressive surveillance of each other’s diplomatic personnel is nothing new in the India-Pakistan context.
Unless the two governments are willing to discuss and resolve the triggers that have in past and in recent times too led to a series of incidents of harassment of diplomatic personnel, we may see a repeat of such incidents.
Harassment of High Commission personnel requires critical attention because maintenance of diplomatic courtesies is not just a matter of instrumentality and convenience, but also represents the civility of the host state and its people.
Dealing with spies:
- We must admit and acknowledge that first, our countries spy. Espionage is very much part of statecraft that all modern states engage in, as do India and Pakistan.
- Those engaged in espionage should be expelled rather than tortured or killed.
India and Pakistan should also, therefore, look at the issue of espionage as part of essential statecraft and deal with spies in a professional and humane manner.
Enhancing and improving communication:
The state of communication between India and Pakistan is at its lowest ebb in more than a decade:
- The Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) have not considered it appropriate to meet despite constant firing across the J&K border.
- Contacts between the respective High Commissions and the host governments have been reduced to ‘demarches’, ‘summons’, ‘notes verbale’ and stern warnings.
- High-level political contacts, such as the visit of Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik to India, have been called off.
Given that the year ahead is critical for India and Pakistan and the bilateral relationship, the focus should be on enhancing and improving communication.
Recent statements by Pakistan’s army chief suggests that there is a desire on the part of the Pakistan army to normalise relations with India. The decision-makers in New Delhi should capitalise on this.
Pakistan should also initiate tough action against anti-India terrorist groups based in Pakistan.
The channels of communication should begin to open up and the two sides must build on it.
Connecting the dots:
- It is time India and Pakistan normalise relations with India keeping the communication channel open and Pakistan taking actions against anti-India terrorist groups based in Pakistan. Comment.
A rude wake-up call
The right agri-support
The unlikely bulwark
Why the South Indian states must assist the North
India must be practical in managing its trade policies