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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 4th March 2019

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  • March 5, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 4th March 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


India and Myanmar: Countering Naga militants

Part of: GS Mains II and III – India and its neighbouring countries – Bilateral ties; International Relations; Security issues

In news:

  • India’s improved ties with Myanmar fuelled the crackdown on Naga militants training camps.
  • In late January, Myanmar took over National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), which is considered to be the mother lode of most extremist groups in the northeastern region.
  • NSCN-K outfit had violated an agreement not to allow Myanmar territory to be used by “any rebel group to attack a neighbouring country [India].”
  • Extremist groups such as the United Liberation Front of Asom and the United National Liberation Front of Manipur are known to use jungle routes for hit-and-run operations in India from the NSCN-K’s base.

A.P. villagers yearn to revive historic temple @Motupalli port

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Indian art and heritage; Culture

In news:

  • Motupalli — where a historic temple of Veerabhadraswamy, a fiery form of Lord Siva, is located — has been an important port for centuries with flourishing trade with South Asian countries, especially during the medieval period.

Why in news?

  • Motupalli Veerabhadraswamy temple – This heritage site in Andhra Pradesh presents a picture of neglect now.
  • The temple remains closed ever since the Department of Archaeology took it over for conservation and preservation of the archaeological marvel in the wake of discovery of Panchaloha idols of gods and goddesses including that of Lord Nataraja in dancing posture and Bhadrakali in the 1970s from nearby farms, after idol-lifters tried to lay their hands on them in view of the demand for such idols overseas.
  • Motupally is well connected by road and rail network on the east coast. People of Motupalli now demanding for reviving the past glory of the temple by reinstalling the idols in the historic temple and promotion of temple tourism in a big way.
  • Most of the antique idols were shifted either to the State Archaeology Museum or to the Victoria Museum, Vijayawada. The villagers’ demand is that they should be brought back and reinstalled.

Key pointers for Prelims:

  • Veerabhadra Swamy temple was constructed during the regime of the Cholas.
  • It has stone inscriptions in Telugu and Tamil and awe-inspiring Panchaloha idols.
  • Sri Rama and Veerabhadra Swamy Temples in Motupalli Village reflect the rich culture of Satavahana Kings.
  • It is said that this Temple flourished during the times of Kakatiya rulers who established sea trade with foreign countries.
  • Inscriptions on the temple walls were written in Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrlt Languages.
  • Motupalli Village is located in the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh in Chinnaganjam Mandal, Prakasam District.
  • During Kakatiyas, Motupalli acted as the major hub for sea transportation.
  • Carving on the temple walls and Idols in the temple premises shows the architecture and style of Kakatlya Kings.
  • This region was ruled by Satavahanas, Pallavas, Chalukyas and Cholas.
  • Currently, this site is under the maintenance of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

U.K. offers collaboration in fighter tech, carriers

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International Relations; India and the World; Bilateral ties; Security issues

In news:

  • As the Indian Air Force (IAF) continues its efforts to procure new fighter jets, the U.K. has made a pitch for cooperation in the fields of building aircraft carriers and future fighter aircraft technologies.
  • It is a partnership building exercise on how India and the U.K. can collaborate as future defence technologies are increasingly going to be delivered by collaborative programmes.

Do you know?

  • The IAF has floated a tender for 114 fighter jets, while a proposed fifth generation stealth fighter, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), is on the drawing board.
  • As part of the air combat strategy, BAE Systems has begun the Tempest project to develop sixth generation stealth fighters to replace the Typhoons in service with the Royal Air Force and are scheduled to be phased out by 2040.

Odisha shelter homes to have lightning protection system

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Disaster Management; Government schemes and policies

In news:

  • 640 shelters to be taken up in first phase with funding from World Bank under the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project
  • Lightning has emerged as the leading cause behind natural deaths across the State.
  • In Odisha, lightning claims an average of 400 lives every year.
  • The total number of reported deaths due to lightning during the last three years from 2015-16 to 2017-18 is 1,256, which accounts for about 27% of total number of disaster deaths.

Important value additions:

About National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP)

  • NCRMP was started by the Ministry of Home Affairs to mitigate vulnerability to the cyclone and hazards prone coastal communities.
  • After the formation of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), management of the project was transferred to NDMA in September, 2006.
  • NCRMP-I covers States of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
  • NCRMP-II covers States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and West Bengal.
  • The project is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs through National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and executed by the respective State Disaster Management Authorities at the State level.
  • The project is partly funded by the World Bank.

Objectives of NCRMP

  • The overall objective of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (‘NCRMP’) is to minimize vulnerability to cyclones and make people and infrastructure disaster resilient in harmony with conservation of the coastal eco-system in the cyclone hazard prone States and Union Territories of India.

Miscellaneous:

1. ICC rejects request to ‘isolate’ Pakistan

In news:

  • The appeal of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for ‘isolation’ of nations supporting terrorism, without naming Pakistan, did not find support at the International Cricket Council (ICC) board meeting.
  • The BCCI CEO Rahul Johri raised the issue of security at the next World Cup and received an assurance from the ICC in this regard.
  • Since Pakistan was a permanent member of the ICC, it would not be possible to “isolate” it unless it is supported by all Test playing countries.

Do you know?

  • India has been raising the issue of terror emanating from Pakistan at various international forums for a long time.
  • India, supported by France, is preparing a fresh proposal to place Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar on the ban list operated by the UNSC’s 1267 committee.

2. SpaceX’s capsule docks on ISS

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology; Space Missions

In news:

  • SpaceX’s new Dragon capsule successfully docked on the International Space Station (ISS).
  • The capsule was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
  • The Dragon capsule will remain on the ISS for few days before detaching to splash down in the Atlantic. It will be slowed by four parachutes, in what is the one of the mission’s riskiest stages.
  • The launch is a key step towards resuming manned space flights from U.S. soil after an eight-year break.

(MAINS FOCUS)


WELFARE/HEALTH

TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

‘For Healthy India’: The basics are vital

Context:

  • We had earlier noted in many editorials and analysis dealing with Health Care that why Strengthening of Primary Health Care is important and also major concern for poor health conditions in India is due to Lack of Government Funding.
  • According to high-level expert group on universal health coverage, nearly 70% of government health spending should go to primary health care.
  • National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 also advocated allocating resources of up to two-thirds or more to primary care.

Major concerns:

1. Lack of Government Funding to Primary Health Care

  • The current outlay of ₹1,600 crore by the government to transform existing sub-health centre into a health and wellness centre, which provide a wider range of primary care services, is less than half the conservative estimate.
  • Government has proposed to transform 1.5 lakh sub-health centres into Primary health and wellness centres by 2022 and with the current estimates at the given rate, it can fulfil not even half the proposed target of 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres till 2022.

This is in contrast to several recommendations to increase the primary health care government expenditure.

2. Dismal situation of National Health Mission:

The overall situation with the NHM, India’s flagship programme in Primary health care, continues to be dismal.

  • The NHM’s share in the health budget fell from 73% in 2006 to 50% in 2019 in the absence of uniform and substantial increases in health spending by States.
  • Ministry of Finance had projected a 17% increase in allocation for the NHM in 2019-20. However, there has only been only an increase of 3.4% this year.
  • NHM budget for this year (₹31,745 crore) barely crosses the actual spending on the programme in 2017-18 (₹ 31,510 crore).

3. Dominance of private players:

  • Centre has committed to increase access to hospitalisation care, predominantly through private players.
  • There has been an increase in allocation this year by 167% for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) — the insurance programme.
  • PMJAY aims to cover 10 crore poor families for hospitalisation expenses of up to ₹5 lakh per family per annum.
  • Government has also taken steps to incentivise the private sector to open hospitals in Tier II and Tier III cities.
  • The increase in the PMJAY budget is a welcome step and should be increased further every year, however the same coming at the expense of other critical areas is ill-advised.

4. Shortage of PHCs and staffs

  • There is a shortage of PHCs (22%) and sub-health centres (20%)
  • Only 7% sub-health centres and 12% primary health centres meet Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) norms.
  • Numerous primary-level facilities need complete building reconstruction.
  • They are operated out of rented apartments and thatched accommodations; lack basic facilities such as toilets, drinking water and electricity.
  • There is a staggering shortage of medical and paramedical staff at all levels of care.

Importance of Primary Health Care:

  • Vital for effective and efficient health system.
  • Instrumental in reducing the out of pocket expenditure.
  • Vital for achieving “distress-free and comprehensive wellness system for all”
  • Crucial for the success of PMJAY

Conclusion:

  • Adequate emphasis should be given on primary health care and there is a need to depart from the current trend of erratic and insufficient increases in health spending and make substantial and sustained investments in public health over the next decade.
  • Without this, the ninth dimension (‘Healthy India’) of “Vision 2030” will remain unfulfilled.

Connecting the dots:

  • Why India’s health achievements are very modest and has poor health indicators compared to its neighbours? Examine. Also suggest ideas to improve the status of public healthcare in India.
  • Can increase in scope of private financing to fund public health care be a rational option? Evaluate.

ECONOMY

TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General studies 3 

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to mobilization of resources, growth, development; Government Budgeting.

Tackling the issues in GST Regime

Introduction:

  • We know that GST is one of the biggest indirect tax reforms in the country. GST is expected to bring together state economies and improve overall economic growth of the nation.
  • GST has the best intentions, but the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council is nevertheless systematically eroding the strongest features of the new tax regime that is simplicity and transparency.

Concerns:

1. Issue of Tax Simplicity:

  • Before the GST was introduced, Arvind Subramanian panel related to GST, came up with a standard rate of 15% for most items, a “low rate” for essentials, and a “high rate” for demerit goods. However the government introduced GST with five different tax slabs: 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.
  • The GST Council then introduced two more highly specific rates: a nominal 0.25% for rough diamonds and 3% for gold.
  • In the latest GST Council meeting, it introduced yet another rate of 1% for the sale of under-construction affordable houses.

Though, the number of tax slabs does not affect the concept of ‘One Nation One Tax’, as a single product is still taxed at the same rate across the country. But specifying eight different GST rates is a blow to tax simplicity, which the GST was to provide.

2. Wrong precedent which undermine ‘One Nation One Tax’ concept:

  • Government felt it was necessary to provide Kerala additional funds for rehabilitation after the devastating floods of 2018 and allowed the State to impose a 1% disaster relief cess.
  • However, it had several options available apart from the one it chose.
  • As a result, for two years, the Indian market will be divided into two: Kerala, where goods and services are 1% more expensive, and the rest of India.
  • While it can be argued that the cess in Kerala is a one-off, the fact remains that this is a bad precedent to set. It’s not too hard to imagine a situation where States start clamouring for a cyclone relief cess, drought relief cess, flood relief cess, etc.
  • Recovery from natural disasters is an expensive process, and additional funds must be made available. But mechanisms for this have already been put in place. There is a National Disaster Response Fund at the Central level and each State has a State Disaster Response Fund. Increasing budgetary allocations in these areas instead of spending on giant statues and advertising campaigns is an option.

3. Increasing the Opacity:

  • Recent decision by GST council to remove the input tax credit provision from the real estate sector will likely go a long way in increasing opacity in an already murky sector.
  • The input tax credit system was designed to create a seamless chain in the entire supply process.
  • Under a fully functioning GST system, the government can verify the amount of credits to be paid to the company by matching its invoices with those provided by the vendor. Such a system encourages honesty and transparency.

4. Not utilizing the National Anti-Profiteering Authority:

  • This is the third time the Council has removed this vital provision (input tax credit), and its reason for doing so is weak that is real estate developers were not dropping their prices in line with what they should be doing, considering they were getting the benefit of input tax credits.
  • This happened before in the case of restaurants. In both situations, the government took the easy way out and simply removed the input tax credit provision altogether.
  • So, rather than relying on the body it had created to handle such issues, the National Anti-Profiteering Authority, the Council instead chose to weaken the entire tax system.
  • This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if the real estate sector was as small as the restaurant industry or the sanitary pads industry (the third industry where there is no input tax credits).
  • But the real estate industry is estimated to be at least 40O00 crore in size. Not to forget the fact that cement, a huge input in real estate, is taxed at the highest rate of 28%, and will now not be offset by credits.

Conclusion:

In both cases (disaster relief and anti-profiteering), the GST Council has chosen to ignore established institutions designed for those very purposes in favour of a patchwork approach that is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

Connecting the dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note:

  • 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) Which one of the following was a very important seaport in the Kakatiya kingdom? (UPSC 2017)

  1. Kakinada
  2. Motupalli
  3. Machilipatnam (Masulipatnam)
  4. Nelluru

Q.2) Consider the following statements about National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP)

  1. The project is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  2. The project covers only coastal states on eastern side of the country which are prone to cyclones.

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Consider the following statements about National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP)

  1. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will implement the Project in coordination with participating State Governments and the National Institute for Disaster Management (NIDM)
  2. NCRMP Phase – 1 covers states of Goa,Gujarat,Karnataka,Kerela,Maharashtra and West Bengal

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.4) Consider the following statements with regard to Motupalli Veerabhadraswamy temple:

  1. It was constructed during the regime of the Cholas.
  2. It has stone inscriptions in Telugu and Tamil only.
  3. Carving on the temple walls and idols in the temple premises shows the architecture and style of Kakatiya Kings.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

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