Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 5th December 2018
AgustaWestland helicopter deal bribery case
Part of: GS Mains III – Indian Economy; Corruption/ Bribe; Parallel Economy
- Agusta middleman extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- British national Christian James Michel is wanted in the alleged ₹3,700 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal bribery case.
About the AgustaWestland scandal:
- In early 2013, an Indian national parliamentary investigation began into allegations of bribery and corruption involving several senior officials and helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland surrounding the purchase of a new fleet of helicopters. The scandal has been referred to as the Chopper scam, or Choppergate.
- Several Indian politicians and military officials have been accused of accepting bribes from Agusta Westland in order to win the Rs 36 Billion(US$530 million) Indian contract for the supply of 12 Agusta Westland AW101 helicopters; these helicopters are intended to perform VVIP duties for the President of India and other important state officials.
- The AgustaWestland scandal broke in 2013 and the former Air Force Chief S P Tyagi and two other key accused have been arrested on criminal conspiracy and illegal gratification charges by the CBI (in July 2018).
SNEHA Suicide Prevention Centre
- Chennai-based Sneha, Tamil Nadu’s sole suicide prevention centre, has helped over one lakh callers contemplating suicide to court life once again.
- Sneha’s suicide-prevention hotline (8115050) has received over one lakh calls since its inception in 1986.
Suicide status in India
- There has been a rapid escalation in the suicide rate in the country, particularly among people of the 15-29 age group, which is considered one of the most productive periods in one’s life.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), one in three suicides committed in India is by a youth. While a suicide was attempted every 7.6 minutes in 1989, today it occurs every five minutes.
- Although more women than men attempt suicide, more men than women actually succumb. In India, men account for 58 per cent of the suicides.
With a suicide being committed every fifth minute and about 15 attempts being made for every suicide committed, India faces a major crisis.
Chennai-based SNEHA suicide prevention centre has been flooded with calls and emails from persons seeking help, not just from Tamil Nadu but from all over the country.
A study conducted by the Disability Rights India Foundation (DRIF) highlighted that –Implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act is very poor and ineffective.
- Only 10 States have notified rules under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.
- The Act which was passed in December 2016 should have been notified by all States within six months.
- Nearly 80% of the States had not constituted the funds for implementation of the RPWD Act.
- Only Tamil Nadu has taken some action with regard to providing an increased quantum of assistance for people with disabilities in social security schemes.
- Though 62% of the States have appointed Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities, the progress has not been substantial.
- Only three States have constituted Advisory Committees, comprising of experts, to assist the State Commissioners.
- While 58% of the States have not notified Special Courts in the districts for trying offences under the Act, 87% have not appointed a Special Public Prosecutors as mandated by the law.
Do you know?
- The Act replaced the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
- It fulfils the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
- The Act came into force during December 2016.
- Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
- The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21. It includes Speech and Language Disability, Specific Learning Disability, Acid Attack Victims, Dwarfism, muscular dystrophy. It also included three blood disorders: Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease have been added for the first time.
- Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 4% for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.
- In addition benefits such as reservation in higher education, government jobs, reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes etc. have been provided for disabilities.
- The Act claims that every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education. The government will fund educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions to provide inclusive education to the children with reasonable accommodation to disables.
- Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.
- The Act provides for penalties for offences(imprisonment of 6 months to 2 years along with fine of 10000 to 5 lakh) committed against persons with disabilities and also violation of the provisions of the new law.
- The Act provides power to government to notify additional disabilities, a clear recognition of the need to factor in conditions that may arise as a result of an ageing population, an inevitable part of the demographic transition.
- The new law will not only enhance the Rights and Entitlements of Divyang-Jan but also provide effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment and true inclusion into the Society in a satisfactory manner.
India’s Bhutan 750 megawatt Mangdechhu hydropower project
- India is expected to commission a major hydropower project in Bhutan.
- Cooperation in the hydropower sector was a sign of strength of the time-tested ties between the two countries.
Do you know?
- The Mangdechhu project was bagged by the Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) and it will be implemented on a bilateral basis.
- Demonetisation pushed up direct tax collections: CBDT
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has proposed that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) come up with regulations to oversee collection, usage and sharing of data by payment service providers, even as the government is expediting discussions on the draft Personal Data Protection Bill. (National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC) also recommended for same)
- Galapagos giant tortoises possess genetic variants linked to DNA repair, immune response and cancer suppression — providing clues into their longevity, according to a study. Giant tortoises, which can live for over 100 years in captivity, arrived in the Galapagos region three to four million years ago.
- The number of patents granted by India shot up by 50% in 2017 – according to the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Indian economy and related issues
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
- The government’s initiative to double the farmers’ income is a welcome move. However, it would benefit only the 48% of the population who are dependent on the agriculture and would not cater to non-agricultural households.
- Hence, in order to promote inclusive growth, we need to look at generating alternative sources of income which would benefit both the agricultural as well as non-agricultural households.
Findings of NABARD
- Rural India’s economic situation continues to worsen. According to All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey carried out by NABARD, the agricultural households derive only 43% of their income directly from agriculture.
- Further, it highlights that the agricultural households have accumulated a higher share of debt as compared to non-agricultural households.
- There is need to think for no-agricultural solution for doubling the farmers income by 2022.
How can it be done?
- There is a need to promote farm diversification since it would provide additional source of income to both marginal farmers as well as landless labourers and hence more inclusive.
- Further, it has added benefits in terms of overcoming land constraint while enabling the farmers to withstand exogenous shock through additional income.
- In this regard, there is need to undertake appropriate reforms in two key areas- Livestock Sector and Migrant Population.
- The government has to focus on the livestock sector through national breeding policy to upgrade the best performing indigenous breeds. The feed supply, which is currently inadequate, needs to be mitigated through greater imports.
- There should be greater investment in preventive health care of the animals.
- We must also take into consideration the fact that agricultural labourers routinely seek construction-related daily wage labour to bolster their income and hence improvement in the conditions of migrant workers in the construction sector requires a multi-pronged approach.
- The migrant workers have to get access to government schemes and programmes.
- In spite of existence of multiple laws for the welfare of construction workers, the compliance is poor and hence penalties for non-compliance have to be increased.
- Crèche facilities at construction sites should be provided to also ensure that children are not neglected.
- Hence, overall our policies must focus on creating long term, sustainable, non-farm employment options that would aid in promoting inclusive growth in India.
- We have so far focused on development model which required people to move away from agriculture towards cities, we now need to create jobs at their doorstep.
Connecting the dots:
- In order to double the farmers’ income, relying only on agriculture will not be sufficient. Critically examine and suggest some non-farm measures to bolster the income enhancing capabilities for farmers and agriculture labourers.
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Economic planning is not considered fashionable today. Nevertheless, contemporary economic debates will have much to gain by revisiting the ideas on planning, championed in particular by Jawaharlal Nehru.
- The Planning in India, particularly in the initial stages of development has contributed to laying down of foundation of India’s diversified economic base.
- However, the planning in India has received less emphasis post the LPG Reforms. Government has to once again bring back the focus on planning to further promote overall growth and development of the Indian Economy.
Beginning of planning in Independent India
- India under Nehru’s leadership inaugurated a strategy for industrialisation of the country in the early 1950s.
- This involved the setting up of public sector units (PSUs) in diverse areas of manufacturing; research institutions in cutting-edge technologies of the time such as space and atomic energy; and centres of higher learning, including the Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs).
- All of these by a poor country, which was still struggling to find its feet amidst the multiple blows it had to endure during the early years after Independence.
How Planning in India challenged the Traditional Models?
- The standard economic models proposed that the countries should develop industries based on their comparative advantage. According to this theory, countries such as India which have surplus labour should focus on Labour Intensive Industries such as Textiles, Leather etc.
- However, India challenged the then prevailing economic model by focusing on Heavy Industrialisation, Nuclear Research etc which needed comparatively more capital and technology. This has laid down strong foundation of diversified economic base.
- The success that India enjoys today in knowledge intensive sectors such as IT, Pharmaceutical etc can be attributed to the fact that India challenged the deeply held orthodoxy in the economic theory.
- This has now become the model for other developing and third world countries.
- Further, the debate around Indian planning has led to evolution of development economics as an important sub-discipline.
Planning post LPG Reforms
- Post the LPG Reforms, Planning has received less emphasis in India due to decrease in the role of the state and commensurate increase in role of Private sector.
- The PSUs are now viewed as commercial entities rather than creators of new knowledge and technologies.
Planning in a globalised world
- Planning is not incompatible with markets and globalisation. For a developing country trying hard to stay afloat amidst the turbulence of a global economy requires more guidance thorough industrial policies.
- The successes achieved by East Asian countries such as South Korea in manufacturing and Chinese achievements, owe much to the careful planning and investments made by government, particularly in the area of science and technology.
The greatest challenge before India
- The employment challenge that India faces — close to 15 million waiting to be absorbed in the industrial and services sectors every year — is possibly bigger than that faced by any other country (except China) in the world.
- It cannot be resolved with the technologies that foreign companies bring into India, which tend to be labour saving.
Way forward: What should India do then?
- India has to realise that planning is compatible with LPG reforms and Globalization.
- India needs technological advances that create new economic opportunities and absorb the surplus labour in India.
- For example, breakthroughs in biotechnology may find new commercial applications for our agricultural products, or electric vehicles and renewable energy solutions that depend less on imported material.
- Planning should be brought back to the centre of our economic discussions.
Connecting the dots:
- Considering the jobless growth in Indian economy and almost stagnant Industrial and agricultural growth, there is need to bring back Planning in India. Critically analyse.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
- IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
Q.1) “Accessible India Campaign” (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) aims to
- Enable persons with disabilities to gain universal access, independent living and participation in all aspects of life.
- Enable Senior Citizens to gain universal access, equal opportunity for development, independent living and participation in all aspects of life.
- Enable Vulnerable groups (Women, Children, SCs/STs) to gain universal access, equal opportunity for development, independent living and participation in all aspects of life.
- None of the above.
Q.2) Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was passed in India in 2016. Which of the following statements are correct regarding the Act?
- It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
- The Act recognises 21 kinds of disabilities compared to the previous seven.
- The Act also increased the quota for disability reservation in higher educational institutions from 3% to 5% and in government jobs from 3% to 4%.
Select the code from following:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.3) Mangdechhu hydropower project is associated with –
- India and Nepal
- India and Bangladesh
- India and Bhutan
- India and Tibet
Q.4) India is a signatory to
- UN Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities
- Biwako Millennium Framework
Select the correct code:
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.5) Consider the following statements about UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
- India has signed the convention but not ratified
- It is monitored by one of the UN human rights charter bodies
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
The architecture is not the force
Cutting through the smog
Shift to low carbon
Our calorie-oriented approach to agriculture is no longer sustainable: Principal Economic Adviser
Why Qatar has left OPEC, and how the decision will impact oil prices, India
Why number of hungry is rising
A new deal for the farmer
How to name it