Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 26th December 2018
Animal in news: 260 leopards poached since 2015
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal Conservation
According to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) –
- At least 260 leopards were poached in the country between 2015 and 2018.
- Uttarakhand accounted for 60 cases and Himachal Pradesh reported another 49.
- Central Indian States like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also recorded a high number of cases of leopard poaching in the past four years.
- There are also several incidents of leopard deaths on account of road kills, particularly in States such as Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Do you know?
- According to the Delhi based Wildlife Protection Society of India, 163 cases of poaching and seizures of body parts were recorded in 2018, an increase from 159 in 2017.
- Since leopards live in close proximity to human habitations and are found all across the country, the cases of poaching too are spread countrywide.
- IUCN status: Vulnerable
30 mn newborns cry out for help
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue; Social/Child issue
According to a study, ‘Survive and thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn’ –
- 30 million newborns require specialised care in hospital every year
- urges countries to invest in healthcare to prevent neonatal deaths
- India witnesses 25.4 newborn deaths per 1,000 births and .64 million annually.
Do you know?
- The Sustainable Development Goal for neonatal deaths requires all countries to bring down the figure to 12 deaths or less per 1,000 births by 2030.
- Universal access to quality care could prevent 1.7 million neonatal deaths or 68% of the deaths that will otherwise occur in 2030.
Part of: GS Mains II – India and its neighbours relations; International Relations
- Bangladesh-India relationship has taken a giant leap forward.
- In the last decade, the relationship has reached new heights — almost all outstanding issues have been amicably settled, including the demarcation of boundaries, resolution of adverse territorial possessions and cross-border purchase of electricity.
- Bus, railway and waterways connectivity
- Connectivity is fostering sub-regional cooperation and bringing benefits to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
- It is often argued in Bangladesh that India has not done enough.
- Unresolved issues – Teesta water agreement
- India is concerned about unchecked foreign donations received by the Bangladesh. (Funding of about 550 mosques and madrasas by Saudi Arabia)
- China factor – Bangladesh has ensured that it will not allow its territory to be used by any foreign power against any other country.
- On the Rohingya issue, since the signing of the initial agreement, not one refugee has gone back to Myanmar. India is committed not to repatriate the Rohingya unless Myanmar is safe for the return of the refugees.
Foreign fund outflows highest since 2008
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues associated with it.
- For the Indian equity markets, year 2018 will end as the worst in terms of foreign money outflows since 2008 when markets across the globe were reeling under the sub-prime crisis and Lehman Brothers filed for the largest bankruptcy in history.
- Reasons – weakness in the rupee, trade war between U.S. and China and the volatility of the stock markets
- The biggest factor that spooked everyone, especially foreign investors, was the fall in the rupee that moved from around 64 level to 74 against the dollar during the year.
- RTI activists living dangerously in Bihar – 2018 alone has seen the death of five Right to Information (RTI) activists
TOPIC:General studies 2
- 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
Chabahar tidings: Benefits and Upcoming Challenges
- The below editorial provides possibilities and challenges for India as the country takes over the port operations in Iran.
- The opening of the first office of Indian Ports Global Limited at Iran’s Chabahar and the takeover of operations of the Shahid Beheshti port is a milestone in India’s regional connectivity and trade boost.
Importance of Chabahar:
- Chabahar port opens up a permanent alternative route for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, given the hurdles in the direct route through Pakistan.
- It facilitates India’s role in Afghanistan’s development through infrastructure and education projects.
- It further cements India’s bilateral ties with Iran, a major oil supplier and potential trade market for India.
To transform Chabahar as regional hub for transit and trade:
- To promote Chabahar and to study ways to make the route more attractive and decrease logistic costs, an international event in February 2019 will be held with partnership of India, Afghanistan and Iran.
- About 500 companies have registered with the Free Trade Zone authority
- Keeping timelines and delivery of New Delhi’s commitments will be key to the port becoming a regional hub for transit trade, steel and petrochemicals.
- It will be necessary to encourage Afghan companies to use the route more, in line with President Ashraf Ghani’s desire to have a commercial fleet under the Afghan flag setting sail from Chabahar.
Geopolitical Challenges to the game-changer vision of Chabahar:
- US Sanction on Iran – The Chabahar port has received a waiver from the U.S. sanctions on Iran for the moment, but these concessions could be withdrawn any time, given the constant upheaval in the administration.
- Security concerns associated with US withdrawal from Afghanistan – The possibility of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, after the pullout from Syria, will add to security concerns for Afghanistan and impact on the Chabahar route as well.
- Importance of Geostrategic Location of Pakistan – The reconciliation process with the Afghan-Taliban is likely to see the regional powers, the U.S. and Russia engaging Pakistan more. This could give Islamabad space to play spoiler in Chabahar, which is seen as a rival warm water port to Pakistan’s Gwadar.
- Opening up of Special Cargo Corridor – Afghanistan government is hedging its bets on trade via Chabahar. In recent months, special cargo corridors have been opened with China, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Europe, Russia, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, with more trade diverted through them than with traditional partners Pakistan and India.
- For India, it will be important to operationalise the port quickly and smoothen the route to Afghanistan.
- Till now, India has done well to keep a place in the intricate connectivity network of the region.
- Given all the competing interests that criss-cross over Chabahar, it will require sustained and nuanced diplomacy to address the geopolitical challenges.
Connecting the dots:
- Development of Chabahar port is a significant step towards securing India’s strategic and economic interests. Comment.
- Despite the strategic importance of Chabahar for India, there has been very little progress on it. Discuss the challenges faced by India in this regard and suggest some strategies for the same?
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
- Government Budgeting
Analysis of NITI Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India’
- Recently the government think tank NITI Aayog had unveiled the ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ which defines clear objectives for 2022-23.
- While there are many refreshing improvements in NITI Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ from the erstwhile Planning Commission’s plans, there are also concerns about some of the strategies recommended.
Analysis of the Recommendations:
Participatory Approach in policy making based on ground realities –
- The intent to change the approach from preparations of plans and budgets to the creation of a mass movement for development in which “every Indian recognises her role and experiences the tangible benefits” is laudable.
- However, it will be worthwhile for NITI Aayog to get feedback from quality stakeholders on whether it has improved the process of consultation substantially or not. Corporate Feedback Initiative will make it more dynamic.
Focus on improvement of policies based on 2nd ARC Report –
- The NITI Aayog strategy emphasizes the need to improve implementation of policies and service delivery on the ground, which is what matters to citizens.
- Its resurrection of the 15 reports of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission and recommendation that they must be implemented vigorously are welcome.
The shape of the overall growth –
- NITI Aayog’s vision document emphasizes on achieving rapid growth (9-10 per cent by 2022-23).
- It also talks about making growth to be inclusive, sustained, clean and formalised.
- However, it is the shape of growth that matters more than size. The employment-generating capacity of the economy is what matters more to citizens than the overall GDP growth rate.
Manufacturing Sector –
- Vision document aims to improve manufacturing sector growth from 16% to 25% of the GDP.
- It emphasizes on more capital-intensive industries and overall goal is size of sector. However, it should lay more emphasis and target labour intensive industries.
- The growth of industry and manufacturing is essential to create more employment, and to provide bigger opportunities to Indians who have been too dependent on agriculture so far. Thus labour-intensive industries are required for job creation.
- The strategy does say labour-intensive industries must be promoted, but the overall goal remains the size of the sector.
- Indian statistical systems must be improved quickly to measure employment in various forms, formal as well as informal.
Cluster Approach for Small Enterprise for Competitive lndustrial Sector– –
- A big weakness in the Indian economy’s industrial infrastructure is that middle-level institutions are missing due to labour laws, as if enterprise have more than 10 employees, it should be formalized and follow labour laws to provide social security and others benefit, thus enterprise remains small, or too large.
- Rather than formalising small enterprises excessively, clusters and associations of small enterprises should be formalised.
- Small enterprises cannot bear the burden of excessive formalisation, which the state and the banking system need to make the informal sector ‘legible’ to them.
- Professionally managed formal clusters will connect the informal side of the economy with its formal side, i.e. government and large enterprises’ supply chains.
- NITI Aayog’s plan for industrial growth has very rightly highlighted the need for strong clusters of small enterprises as a principal strategy for the growth of a more competitive industrial sector.
Managing Trade-off between Human development and Capital Investment –
- The strategy highlights the urgency of increasing the tax base to provide more resources for human development. It also says financial investments must be increased to strengthen India’s production base.
- However, managing this trade-off will not be easy.
- If tax incentives must be given, they should favour employment creation over capital investment.
- Means capital investment is needed but it should not get priority over human development.
Labour Laws –
- Document recommends complete codification of central labour laws into four codes by 2019.
- While this will enable easier navigation for investors and employers through the Indian regulatory maze, what is required is a fundamental reorientation of the laws and regulations — they must fit emerging social and economic realities.
Universal Social Security –
- The nature of work and employment is changing, even in more developed economies. It is moving towards more informal employment, through contract work and self-employment, even in formal enterprises.
- In such a scenario, social security systems must provide for all citizens, not only those in formal employment.
- Indeed, if employers want more flexibility to improve competitiveness of their enterprises, the state will have to provide citizens the fairness they expect from the economy.
- The NITI Aayog strategy suggests some contours of a universal social security system. These must be sharpened.
Strengthening Worker Unions with More Flexibility to Employee –
- Workers negotiation power is weak than the employer thus they must have associations to aggregate themselves to have more weight in the economic debate with owners of capital.
- Rather than weakening unions to give employers more flexibility, laws must strengthen unions to ensure more fairness.
- Indeed, many international studies point out that one of the principal causes of the vulgar inequalities that has emerged around the world is due to the weakening of unions.
- The NITI Aayog strategy mentions the need for social security for domestic workers too. This will not be enforceable unless domestic workers, scattered across millions of homes, have the means to collectively assert their rights.
Treat worker as an Assets –
- All employers in India should realise that workers must be their source of competitive advantage.
- India has an abundance of labour as a resource, whereas capital is relatively scarce. Human beings can learn new skills and be productive if employers invest in them.
- Employers must treat their workers, whether on their rolls or on contract, as assets and sources of competitive advantage, not as costs.
The shape of the development process matters more to people than the size of the GDP. True development must be by the people (more participative), of the people (health, education, skills), and for the people (growth of their incomes, well-being, and happiness).
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) The Project leopard is aimed at conserving the leopard by improving its prey base, mitigating conflicts with humans and controlling poaching. Which state was the first to launch India’s First Leopard Conservation Project?
Q.2) Imagine that you are a multi-millionaire based in the U.S. and are looking for your next investment opportunity. You have decided to buy a large stake in a company or companies that makes industrial machinery in India. This is an example of –
- Foreign direct investment
- Foreign portfolio investment
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Acquisitions only
Q.3) Consider the following statements with reference to the Foreign Direct Investment
- FDI inflows are highly volatile as the capital can leave the country overnight
- FDI is preferable over debt financing as it does not create interest obligations
Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.4) Decline in interest rates:
- Will lead to large outflow of foreign portfolio investment
- Will lead to large inflow of foreign portfolio investment
- Will not affect foreign portfolio investment
- May affect or not affect portfolio investment
Q.5) Chabahar Port, recently in news is located in the
- Persian Gulf
- Gulf of Oman
- Gulf of Aden
- Red Sea
Q.6) India recently took over the operations of the Shahid Beheshti port. The port is located in –
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