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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 5th July 2018

  • IASbaba
  • July 6, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 5th July 2018

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Increased MSP to Farmers

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government policies and schemes; Social Reforms; Farmer issue

About:

  • We kept reading – farmers’ groups agitating on the lack of announcement on MSP rates.
  • Government had decided to offer a minimum support price (MSP) of at least 1.5 times the expenses borne by farmers for all crops. (Union Budget 2018)
  • So finally the Union Cabinet has approved a hike in MSPs for kharif crops so that they are 50% higher than the cost of production, not including land costs.
  • The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Do you know?

  • The minimum support prices are announced by the Government of India at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Outcomes:

  • Increase in MSP is likely to inflate the food subsidy bill
  • hike would boost farmers’ income and purchasing capacity
  • inflation might rise due to higher food prices
  • It could push domestic prices out of sync with global prices and destroy market discipline in crop choice, cost control and efficiency

For more: visit – Why inflated MSP can’t lead to Farm prosperity?


Bru people to get voting rights

Part of: GS Prelims – Geography

In news:

  • More than 30,000 people belonging to the Bru community, who fled from Mizoram to Tripura in 1997 in the wake of inter-community violence, will be given voting rights.
  • Remember tribe/community name – Reang tribe (known in Mizoram as Brus)

Human Space Flight Programme (HSP)

  • ISRO is developing its ambitious Human Space Flight Programme (HSP).
  • Since the ISRO does not have a human-rated launch vehicle or the budget from the government to undertake such a flight, it will not happen before 2024. Mission will be carried out on board a home-grown GSLV-III rocket.

Cashew processing units feel the crunch

Part of: GS mains III – Food processing units and related challenges

In news:

  • The cashew processing industry in Andhra Pradesh may soon face a threat like in Kerala if the government fails to come to its rescue by offering subsidy on purchase of machinery for modernisation and other slew of incentives to increase crop production.
  • In Kerala, almost 95% of units have been forced to shut shop due to high labour costs and denial of permission for modernisation.
  • The main problem in the in Andhra Pradesh is the ageing of the crop – which is around 50 to 100 year-old — causing abysmally low yield.

Key facts:

The annual growth since 2004 has remained at 14 to 15%. To overcome raw material shortage, the processing units import eight to 10 lakh tonnes cashew nuts from Indonesia, Tanzania, Cambodia, Senegal, Ivory Cost, and parts of West Africa.

Of three-lakh tonne crunchy cashew produced in India, one lakh is exported to the United States, the Europe, UAE, Malaysia, Singapore and neighbouring countries.

In a recent representation, cashew manufacturers asked the government to remove 1 % cess proposed on cashew nuts by the Agriculture Market Committee and allot a site to open the office of the Cashew Export Promotion Council in Visakhapatnam.


(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

INDIA-NEPAL: Time for India to play its cards right

Background:

  • In the year 2015, India-Nepal relations hit a low over the promulgation of the constitution and the Madhesi agitation.
  • Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, who assumed power in October 2015, accused Delhi of enforcing a nearly six-month-long ‘blockade’ between end 2015 and early 2016, in support of Madhesis.
  • An entire generation of young Nepalis, who were already alienated from India due to the opening of newer education destinations, saw the blockade as a move against a neighbour which had not got its act right.

Nepal decides to get freedom from being ‘India-locked’

  • Nepal had historically remained ‘India-locked’, rather than being termed landlocked, as it is dependent on India for transit to the seas.
  • Being landlocked is not much of an issue as one can get sea-locked, like the Maldives, but to be completely dependent on a single country for transit rights (especially after blockade) became an issue to resolve.
  • Therefore, Nepal government set vision to transform their land-locked Himalayan nation into a land-and-water-linked country and looks up to both China and India to meet that vision.

Nepal-China Nexus

  • In 2016 visit, Oli (for the first time) managed to push the agenda of a trade and transit agreement with China on the lines with special agreements with India.
  • With the U.S. influence decreasing, globalisation on the world stage was captured well by China in 2017.
  • China became the enabler of connectivity, world trade and dependency as it pushed its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

With Southeast Asia well covered and inroads made in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, for China, Nepal is the obvious next country for engagement. Nepal continues to remain the best conduit for Indian markets for China.

Therefore,

  • Nepal will be connected with China through a railway network in addition to roads.
  • While optical fibre cables already connect Nepal and China, transmission lines will connect the two countries, providing Nepal a much needed alternative to sell excess power.
  • Rail and road networks will also provide Nepal an alternative for petroleum products that continue to remain the highest imported product.

For Nepal, nurturing the relationship with China is more out of compulsion than choice.

The way ahead for India

Therefore, now the onus is on India to rethink on a long-term basis how to recalibrate its relationship with Nepal.

  • Nepal is a place of opportunity for people from the border towns of India.
  • The impact of the Nepal blockade in Indian border towns was so intense that it forced Indian traders to tap their own channels to end it.
  • The perspective has to change in New Delhi to factor in Nepal’s concerns on the open border.
  • India needs to also realise the new reality that its monopoly over geopolitics in Nepal is over, and there is another relationship that Nepal is nurturing.

It is time for India to be proactive and redefine its engagement rather than continue to be reactive.

Connecting the dots:

  • India’s approach to its ties with Nepal needs recalibration keeping in mind the geostrategic significance of the landlocked nation. Examine.
  • The current state of India’s relations with Nepal is unhealthy. The initiative to reduce suspicion and generate political comfort must come from the larger nation, which is India in this case. Discuss.

NATIONAL/SOCIAL ISSUE

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Internationalizing higher education

Introduction:

Since Independence, higher education system in India has witnessed various challenges –

  • inadequate government funding
  • poor quality
  • increasing privatization and politicisation

Only IITs and IIMs (which constitutes a tiny segment of a system that enrolls 35 million students) have shown some excellence.

However, things are changing now, at least at the Central government level and at the top of the higher education system.

Towards innovation

  • The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), implemented in 2016, is India’s first government-supported ranking of colleges and universities.
  • It may in the future guide government financial support for higher education.
  • It will provide the basis for differentiating among colleges and universities.
  • It will force participating institutions to submit data on critical areas, permitting government to make key decisions.

What needs to be done to create elite, globally competitive world-class universities in India?

Apart from NIRF, two additional initiatives try to create world-class universities –

  • Institutions of Eminence (IoE) project; and
  • Graded Autonomy project

Institutions of Eminence (IoE) project

  • IOE project will recognise 20 universities, 10 public and 10 private, and provide significant government funds to the public institutions (no extra money to the privates) and give enhanced autonomy for them.
  • It is similar to many of the “excellence initiatives” common worldwide in providing extra funding in return for innovative ideas to the winners.

Graded Autonomy project

  • The Graded Autonomy programme provides considerable freedom for academic, financial and administrative innovation to the colleges and universities participating.
  • Given the often stifling bureaucracy of higher education, it will be a significant stimulus for innovation. Both public and private institutions are involved.
  • The Graded Autonomy programme makes it easier to hire international faculty, traditionally very difficult to do.

Do you know?

  • Traditionally, colleges and universities have been restricted from deep international collaboration.
  • There has been little emphasis on attracting international students — only 47,575 international students study in India compared to the almost 400,000 in China.

Other initiatives:

Study in India initiative

  • It seeks to attract international students mainly from a group of African and Asian countries.
  • It aims at doubling India’s tiny share of global student mobility from 1% to 2%.

Government-to-government MoU

  • India is moving towards signing a pact on mutual recognition of academic qualifications with 30 countries.
  • Recently a government-to-government MoU was signed between India and France to mutually recognise academic qualifications, a historic development.

Challenges

  • India’s plan to upgrade 20 or more Indian universities to world-class quality will be complex.
  • It will also take time and consistent funding, probably at a scale beyond what is envisaged in current plans.
  • Universities should be granted with increased autonomy and freedom from the bureaucratic shackles of government.
  • Innovative ideas from the top universities has been little evident.
  • Internationalisation is central to academic success in the 21st century — and India has been notably weak.
  • The inability in recent years to pass legislation relating to foreign branch campuses and other relationships with overseas universities is an indication of the problem.

Carefully studying what has worked abroad may also provide useful ideas. India has shown academic innovations over the years, but on a limited scale and never in the comprehensive universities.

Several Indian universities are finally awakening to the challenges of the 21st century. At least several innovative programmes, backed by government, are in the works. Implementing them effectively remains the key challenge.

Connecting the dots:

  • Why Indian universities faring so poorly? How can Indian Universities Improve their Global Standing?
  • Why autonomy is important for universities? Analyse. Also discuss the emerging trends in higher education in India as far as autonomy of universities is concerned.
  • Why doesn’t India have globally competitive institutions of education? Examine. What would it take to transform higher education in India? Analyse.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1) The Reang tribe also known as ‘Bru’ is found in which of the following states in India –

  1. Chhattisgarh
  2. Andaman and Nicobar
  3. Tripura
  4. Odisha

Q.2) Which of the following are correctly matched?

              Tribe             State

  1. Reang              Tripura
  2. Bhutia              Sikkim
  3. Lepcha            Arunachal Pradesh

Select the correct code:

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3

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