IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 19th September 2018
India targets slight increase in 2018-19 foodgrain output
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Agriculture, food security
- The Agriculture Ministry has set a foodgrain production target of 285.2 million tonnes for 2018-19, a marginal increase from the previous year’s harvest of 284.8 million tonnes.
What is the expected increase?
Issues and challenges
- Access to export markets in the case of high production
- In the years of normal monsoons and record harvests, prices of several commodities have crash, hurting many farmers.
- In case of government procurement, shortage of storage capacity.
- In States like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, there is no space left in the godowns.
Steps taken by government
- The government has ramped up procurement of pulses and oilseeds in an effort to ensure that more farmers receive the minimum support price (MSP) for these crops even as the market rates fall.
- NAFED is holding 44 lakh tonnes of pulses, 57 lakh tonnes including oilseeds.
- Warehouse capacity is making some States consider the new Central scheme to pay oilseed farmers the cash differential between MSP and market prices.
- Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have expressed interest in opting for the scheme, which was approved by the Union Cabinet as part of a wider ₹15,053 crore procurement policy.
ISRO to tap small cities for innovations
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and technology, Space research
- ISRO launched a space technology incubation centre in Tripura capital Agartala. It is the first of six such centres planned nationally to build capacity in new locations.
- More such space research activities will be splashed in a big way across small cities to tap their talent and include them in the space footprint.
Do you know?
- Incubation centre in Tripura capital Agartala will help in taking technology programmes to the remote northeast India.
- The space agency’s new Capacity Building Programme directorate will invest ₹2 crore in incubation facilities in Jalandhar, Bhubaneswar, Tiruchi, Nagpur and Indore.
- These are the locations that have a good presence of academia and industry but do not have activities related to space.
- Will help domestic industries to produce critical electronics items needed in space and other programmes, as 75% of it is now imported.
- Indian space market offers big opportunity to industry as it is estimated to grow to $1.6 billion by 2023.
SEBI cuts expense ratio for MF schemes
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy
- SEBI has broadly accepted the recommendations of the R. Khan Committee on Know-Your-Client (KYC) requirements for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), while lowering the Total Expense Ratio (TER) for open-ended equity schemes, thereby making it less expensive for investors to invest in mutual funds.
- SEBI has agreed to amend the circular [issued in April] and the new one is largely in line with Khan Committee recommendations.
Do you know?
- It is the annual fee charged by the mutual fund scheme to manage money on behalf of individuals.
- It covers the fund manager’s fee along with other expenses required to run the fund administration.
Changes made by SEBI
- SEBI capped the total expense ratio (TER) for equity-oriented mutual fund schemes (close-ended and interval schemes) at 1.25% and for other schemes at 1%.
- However, it allowed an extra 30 basis points (bps) for selling in B-30 (beyond top 30) cities. One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.
- The TER cap for fund of funds will be 2.25% for equity-oriented schemes and 2% for other schemes.
- The regulator has, however, allowed an additional expense ratio of 30 basis points for retail flows from beyond the top 30 cities.
- More importantly, the additional expense will not be allowed for flows from corporates and institutions.
Laws managing losses in the Market
- The regulator has framed the SEBI (Settlement Proceedings) Regulations 2018 which bar offences that cause a marketwide impact, loss to investors or affects the integrity of the market, to be settled through the consent route.
- While serious offences like insider trading or front running can be settled through consent, the regulator has said that it would use a principle-based approach while deciding on such matters.
- The regulator will also not settle any proceedings wherein the applicant is a wilful defaulter or if an earlier application for the same offence has been rejected.
- The board of the capital markets has also approved a framework for permitting foreign entities having an exposure in physical commodity market to hedge in the commodity derivatives segment.
- Sebi also reduced the time period for listing after an initial public offering to three days from six, freeing up locked investor funds faster.
- The regulator is of the view that the lower expense ratio would lead to investors saving ₹1,300 crore to ₹1,500 crore in commissions.
- It will enhance returns for investors. However, the change in TER may impact profit margins of AMCs.
- Early listing and trading of shares will benefit both issuers and investors.
- Issuers will have faster access to the capital raised, thereby enhancing the ease of doing business and the investors will have early liquidity.
New Akash missile gets green light
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Defence and security
- The upgraded version will include the seeker technology and possess a 360-degree coverage, and will be of compact configuration.
- It is operationally critical equipment, which will provide protection to vital assets.
- The DAC also gave approval for the development of an individual under-water breathing apparatus for the T-90 tank. The apparatus is used by the tank crew for emergency escape.
- DRDO developed Akash as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme which was initiated in 1984.
- It is made by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
- Akash is a surface-to-air missile defense system
- Akash can fly at supersonic speeds, ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5
- Akash has a range of 25 km and can engage multiple targets at a time in all-weather conditions.
- It has a large operational envelope, from 30 meter to a maximum of 20 km.
- Each regiment consists of six launchers, each having three missiles.
- Akash missile has an indigenous content of 96 per cent.
UN Report: A child under 15 dies every 5 seconds around the world
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health
According to the new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank Group, an estimated 6.3 million children under 15 years of age died in 2017, or 1 every 5 seconds, mostly of preventable causes.
- In 2017, 2.5 million newborns died in their first month while 5.4 million deaths — occur in the first five years of life, with newborns accounting for around half of the deaths.
- Globally, in 2017, half of all deaths under five years of age took place in sub-Saharan Africa, and another 30% in Southern Asia.
- Also, a baby born in sub-Saharan Africa or in South Asia was nine times more likely to die in the first month than a baby born in a high-income country
- The most risky period of child’s life is the first month.
- The estimates also said that the number of children dying under five has fallen dramatically from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017.
- The number of deaths in older children aged between 5 to 14 years dropped from 1.7 million to under a million in the same period.
Disparities within countries
- Under-five mortality rates among children in rural areas are, on average, 50% higher than among children in urban areas.
- In addition, those born to uneducated mothers are more than twice more likely to die before turning five than those born to mothers with a secondary or higher education.
- Most children under 5 die due to preventable or treatable causes such as complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhea, neonatal sepsis and malaria.
- Among children between 5 and 14 years of age, injuries become a more prominent cause of death, especially from drowning and road traffic.
- Within this age group, regional differences exist, with the risk of dying for a child from sub-Saharan Africa 15 times higher than in Europe.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- India and its neighbourhood
- Bilateral and multilateral agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Himalayan divide: India Nepal relationship
- Despite several attempts at a reset, ties between India and Nepal continue to be a cause for concern.
- The disconnect between the two governments was most visible at the seven-nation Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation military exercises that concluded recently.
Why Nepal withdrew from military exercise?
- Officials from Nepal government said that they were upset with India’s “unilateral” announcement of the multilateral exercises during the BIMSTEC summit on August 30-31, without having formally proposed it to the host(Nepal was host).
- Even the contingent from Thailand did not join the counter-terror exercises because of lack of adequate notice.
Concerns in India Nepal relations
- Nepal’s decision to join China for a 12-day Mt Everest Friendship Exercise, but refusing to participate in BIMSTEC military exercise, which is also focussed on anti-terrorism drills, drives the wedge in further.
- Despite New Delhi signalling its discomfiture with the volume of Chinese investment in hydropower and infrastructure and transport projects, Nepal went ahead recently and finalised an ambitious connectivity proposal.
- This connectivity agreement will eventually link Kathmandu to Shigatse by rail; this will give Nepali goods access to Chinese sea-ports at Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang, and land ports in Lanzhou, Lhasa and Shigatse.
- Much of Nepal’s bitterness draws from the past. India is still blamed for the 2015 economic blockade against Nepal.
- It is also held responsible for attempts to destabilise Mr. Oli’s previous tenure as Prime Minister during 2015-2016.
- New Delhi cannot turn a blind eye to these negative developments, and must address them.
- New Delhi and Kathmandu must put an end to the unseemly controversy by renewing diplomatic efforts over the issue.
- India and Nepal don’t just share an open border; they have shared the deepest military links, with both countries traditionally awarding each other’s Army chiefs the honorary rank of General.
- Such unique ties must not be undermined due to lack of communication. India must fix its lines of communication with Nepal and arrest the drift in ties.
- At such a time, the Army chief’s statement on BIMSTEC, that “geography” will ensure that countries like Bhutan and Nepal “cannot delink themselves” from India, could have been avoided; such comments unnerve India’s smaller neighbours and are misleading.
- Modern technology and connectivity projects could well take away geography’s role as a guarantor of good relations.
Connecting the dots:
- India’s neighbourhood first policy has more failures in its account than successes. Do you agree?
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Constitution: Directive Principle
- Governance and issues related to it
The progressive way
- In a consultation paper released recently, the Law Commission of India has boldly said that a uniform civil code (UCC) is neither feasible nor necessary at this stage.
- There is a consensus that the state is not the only source of law. History has many instances of pluralistic legal systems where multiple sources of law existed.
- The Law Commission has rightly recognised the plurality of diverse personal laws and proposed internal reforms in personal laws to make them compatible with the constitutional provisions of equality and non-discrimination.
Debate on UCC
- In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting a UCC in the fundamental rights chapter. The sub-committee on this was so sharply divided that the matter was eventually settled by vote.
- It finally held that the provision was outside the scope of fundamental rights and thus non-justiciable. We need to appreciate the distinction between justiciable and non-justiciable rights.
- R. Ambedkar explicitly said in the Assembly, “No government can use its provisions in a way that would force the Muslims to revolt. If a government acts thus [imposing a common civil code], such a government would be insane in my opinion.”
- In ABC v. State (2015), SC observed: “Our Directive Principles envision the existence of a uniform civil code, but this remains an unaddressed constitutional expectation.”
- Here, the court was not dealing with some religious or personal law but with a statutory provision of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. Thus the reference to a UCC was unwarranted.
- In Sarla Mudgal (2015), the Supreme Court made observations that those who stayed back after Partition knew that India believes in one nation and therefore no community can claim separate religious laws. Loyalty to the nation and uniformity in laws are not related to each other.
Preserving legal diversity
- We need to appreciate that in Article 44, the framers of the Constitution have used the term ‘uniform’ and not ‘common’ because ‘common’ means one and same in all circumstances whatsoever and ‘uniform’ means ‘same in similar conditions’.
- It is an erroneous perception that we have different personal laws because of religious diversity. As a matter of fact, the law differs from region to region.
- It seems the framers of the Constitution did not intend total uniformity in the sense of one law for the whole country because ‘personal laws’ were included in the Concurrent List, with power to legislate being given to Parliament and State Assemblies.
- Preservation of legal diversity seems to be the reason of inclusion of Personal Law in the Concurrent list. The Law Commission has given due weightage to this diversity.
- It is a myth that we have uniform criminal laws. States have made amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- For example, Punjab recently introduced Section 295AA to the IPC — life term in all sacrilege cases.
- Another myth is that Hindus are governed by one homogenous law after the enactment of the Hindu Code Bill. It is also true of Muslims and Christians.
- The Constitution itself protects the local customs of Nagaland.
- It is repeatedly mentioned that Goa already has a uniform code. But Hindus there are still governed by the Portuguese Family and Succession Laws.
- The reformed Hindu Law of 1955-56 is still not applicable to them.
- In the case of Muslims, the Shariat Act 1937 has not been extended to Goa. Thus they are governed by Portuguese and Shastric Hindu law, and not by Muslim personal law.
- The Special Marriage Act (a progressive civil code) has not been extended to Goa.
- Even in Jammu and Kashmir, local Hindu law statutes do differ with the Central enactments. The Shariat Act is also not applicable and Muslims continue to be governed by customary law which is at variance with the Muslim personal law in the rest of the country.
- It is distressing that no one talks about the non-implementation of other Directive Principles which are far more important than the enactment of a uniform code.
- Some of those important Directive Principles are, the right to work, living wages, distribution of community resources to sub-serve the common good, avoidance of concentration of wealth in few hands and the protection of monuments.
- Amendments to a community’s personal law with a view to bringing about changes for its betterment is one thing; but to tinker with the enactment with the sole purpose of introducing ‘uniformity’ is quite another.
- Just laws are far more important than uniform law. Gradual reforms should be the way forward.
Connecting the dots:
- Uniform civil code neither necessary nor desirable at this stage; critically comment on the Law panel’s statement.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Khan Committee deals with –
- ‘One State-one vote’
- BCCI should be represented by every State and Union Territory.
- No full membership to associations with no state entity.
- Foreign portfolio investors
Q.2) Foreign exchange reserves of India are managed by
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Commerce and Industry
- None of the above
Q.3) Which among the following is/are Financial Regulator in the Indian Financial Market?
- All of the above
Q.4) Akash Missile was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. Which of the following statements are correct regarding Akash Missile?
- It is a medium range air to air missile.
- It can simultaneously engage multiple targets in all weather conditions
- It uses high energy solid propellant as the booster.
Select the code from following:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.5) India has successfully test fired its surface to air missile ‘Akash’. Consider the following statements regarding Akash:
- It is the first surface to air missile with indigenous seeker that has been test fired.
- It has been developed by DRDO
- It has a strike range of about 25km and carries fragmentation warhead.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
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