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When:
July 20, 2017 @ 10:00 am
2017-07-20T10:00:00+05:30
2017-07-20T10:15:00+05:30

NEWS

20 JULY 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.        

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

SC wonders whether privacy could be an absolute right

2.        

GS II: POLITY – BILL/ACT

Backing for draft law against lynching

3.        

GS III: ECONOMY – SECTOR

Buffalo meat exports fall 4.35% in April-May

4.        

GS I: HISTORY

Naveen’s plea to Centre on Paika rebellion

5.        

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

Karnataka in no hurry to decide State flag

6.        

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

Ministry, NITI Aayog moot privatisation of select services in district hospitals

7.        

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

Extra privileges for foreigners on Indian trains

8.         

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

New social security net planned

9.

GS II: SOCIAL – EDUCATION

IIITs now Institutes of National Importance

10.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-CHINA

China shows zero tolerance to ‘sovereignty’ threats

11.

GS III: CYBER SECURITY

India hit by 34 ransomware attacks, Minister tells Lok Sabha

12.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-USA

U.S. Senate Committee for bigger Indian role in Afghanistan

13.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

BBC under fire for racial, gender pay gap

14.

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE – AVIATION

AAI to bear capex for two airports

15.

GS III: ECONOMY – DISINVESTMENT

ONGC gets nod to buy govt.’s 51% in refiner HPCL

16.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

BharatNet deadline pushed to March 2019

17.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

NCLT reserves order on IBC petition against Bhushan Steel

18.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

‘Banks may need to forgo Rs. 2.4 lakh crore’

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

SC wonders whether privacy could be an absolute right

  • A nine-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar is examining a reference on the question whether privacy is sacred, fundamental and an inviolable right under the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court observed that right to privacy is not absolute and cannot prevent the state from making laws imposing reasonable restrictions on citizens,.
  • The court said ‘right to privacy’ is in fact too ‘amorphous’ a term. An element of privacy pervades all the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. An attempt to define the right to privacy may cause more harm than good.
  • Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal has already submitted in the Supreme Court that right to privacy is merely a common law right and the Constitution makers “consciously avoided” making it a part of the fundamental rights.
  • The decision of the nine-judge Bench on whether privacy is a fundamental right or not will be pivotal to the petitioners’ challenge that Aadhaar, which mandates citizens to part with their biometrics, is unconstitutional.
  • The Bench questioned the petitioners’ plea that right to privacy is non-negotiable. “If people have put themselves in the public realm using technology, is that not a surrender of their right to privacy?” Justice Chandrachud asked.
  • Justice Chandrachud observed that right to privacy cannot be linked to data protection. He said this is the age of ‘big data’, and instead of focussing on privacy, steps need to be taken to give statutory recognition to data protection.

GS II: POLITY – BILL/ACT

Backing for draft law against lynching

  • A draft law to deal with mob lynching, the Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MASUKA), produced by the National Campaign Against Mob Lynching, received support from a group of politicians who represent the Congress, the CPI(M), the Aam Aadmi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (United), the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Nationalist Congress Party.
  • The Campaign members and the MPs said they would first ask the government to bring the draft law to Parliament and start a discussion on the need for such legislation, failing which MASUKA would be brought in as a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament.

GS III: ECONOMY – SECTOR

Buffalo meat exports fall 4.35% in April-May

  • India’s buffalo exports fell 4.35% in the April-May period of this year to $530 million compared with the same period last year, according to a written answer by Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The answer comes at a time when the Centre has been trying to ban the sale of cattle for slaughter.
  • While the notification by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has since been put on hold by the Supreme Court, reported violence against cattle traders and transporters has been on the rise across the country.
  • The data provided by Ms. Sitharaman shows, however, that buffalo meat exports have been declining for some time now.
  • This trend of declining exports is consistent with what is seen for other meat as well. Sheep and goat meat exports fell as well.

GS I: HISTORY

Naveen’s plea to Centre on Paika rebellion

  • A day after the Odisha Cabinet decided to propose to the Centre to declare the Paika Rebellion of 1817 as the first war of Indian independence, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh requesting Centre to consider the proposal positively.
  • “I think, that would be a befitting tribute to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Paika Rebellion,” he added.
  • The Paika Rebellion, which took place 40 years before the Sepoy Mutiny, eminently qualifies to be called the first war of Indian Independence not simply because it took place four decades prior to the Sepoy Mutiny but due to its very nature and characteristic features, said Mr. Patnaik.
  • “The Paika Rebellion, popularly known as Paika Bidroha, was a broad based and well organised plural struggle against the rule of the British East India Company,” he said.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to inaugurate the year-long celebrations of the Paika Rebellion in New Delhi in July 2017.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

Karnataka in no hurry to decide State flag

  • Karnataka’s Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T.B. Jayachandra said the government’s proposal to give legal status to the ‘Kannada flag’ was a “legal grey area” and it was in no hurry to decide on the issue.
  • “There is no intention on the part of the State government to create a controversy on the proposed State flag issue. There is no legal bar on the State having its own flag, just like the State anthem,” he said.
  • Writer and Kannada activist Ma. Ramamurthy, nicknamed ‘Kannadada Veera Senani’,who created the red-and-yellow “Kannada flag”, as the symbol of the Kannada Paksha floated by him, was born on March 11, 1918, and his birth centenary year would be celebrated.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

Ministry, NITI Aayog moot privatisation of select services in district hospitals

  • As a part of a radical ‘privatisation project’, the Health Ministry and the NITI Aayog have developed a framework to let private hospitals run select services within district hospitals, on a 30-year lease.
  • In a 140-page document, prepared in consultation with the World Bank, the government will be allowing “a single private partner or a single consortium of private partners” to bid for space in district level hospitals, “especially in tier 2 & 3 cities.”
  • Under this Public Private Partnership (PPP), care for only three non-communicable diseases – cardiac disease, pulmonary disease, and cancer care – will be provided.
  • A model contract drawn up by NITI Aayog was sent out to State governments on June 5 by Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog, giving the states a two-week window to furnish responses.
  • In a letter sent out last month, Mr. Kant adds that the draft document was prepared by a working group comprising representatives from the industry, Health Ministry and “representatives of a few states”.
  • According to the draft model contract, private hospitals will bid for 30-year leases over portions of district hospital buildings to set up 50- or 100-bed hospitals in smaller towns across the country. The State governments could lease up to five or six district hospitals within the State.
  • Further, the State governments will give Viability Gap Funding (VGF), or one-time seed money, to private players to set up infrastructure within district hospitals. The private parties and State health departments will share ambulance services, blood banks, and mortuary services.
  • The policy document has come under sharp criticism for the Ministry’s failure to consult with key stakeholders from civil society and academia.
  • A major concern about the policy is that under ‘principles’ of the financial structure, the document states that “there will be no reserved beds or no quota (sic) of beds for free services” in these facilities.
  • Dr. Amit Sengupta, convener of the India chapter of the People’s Health Movement, said that the government was handing over critical public assets without gaining anything much in return.
  • “NITI Aayog has no locus standi to make health policy, which is a state subject in India. The logic behind shutting down the Planning Commission was to ensure that policies are not centralised. NITI Aayog was to be an advisory body but here they are rushing through a policy that will essentially hand over public assets to the private sector, leading to a further dismantling of the public services available for free. If the government has to give seed money, share blood banks and other infrastructure, and still not be able to reserve beds for poor patients, it seems like we are not getting much in return,” said Dr. Sengupta.
  • “While it is clear that insured patients will receive free care, it is not at all clear what will happen to the vast majority of the population. In particular, how will these referral arrangements work? Whereas it says that states can, if they wish, refer 100% of patients for cashless care, it is a matter of concern that it also proposes that States can set a cap on this entitlement. How would this work? What happens when the cap is reached? Would people only be able to access services for half the year, or less,” said Robert Yates, a leading expert onuniversal health coverage (UHC) and Project Director of the UHC Policy Forum at Chatham House, London.
  • What is particularly disturbing is the suggestion that only Below Poverty Line (BPL) patients and those in insurance schemes will be able to access free care. This would effectively exclude hundreds of millions of the Indian population from vital hospital services.
  • If implemented, these proposals could threaten to take India away from universal health coverage, a key sustainable development goal, rather than towards it,” Mr. Yates said.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

Extra privileges for foreigners on Indian trains

  • The Indian Railways has made train travel easy for foreign nationals and NRIs by offering confirmed accommodation in upper classes of all trains one year in advance through Internet (e-ticketing).
  • Besides the Foreign Tourists Quota (FTQ) of eight berths each in First and Second Class AC coaches, these passengers wouldalso be entitled to avail confirmed berths on demand from the general quota earmarked for Indian nationals.
  • For Indian nationals, booking of tickets is permitted four months in advance (120 days) on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Tickets for important trains get waitlisted minutes after the counters open since a sizeable number of berths are blocked for tatkal and emergency quota for VIPs.
  • Now the FTQ and extended benefit to foreign tourists might add to the demand for train tickets.
  • Foreign tourists would mean foreign nationals whose continuous stay is not more than six months in India or NRIs whose continuous stay abroad is more than six months.
  • Tickets cannot be booked by travel agents and passengers would have to book them directly.
  • The fares shall be uniformly charged at 1.5 times the base fare by the railways. In addition to this, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) would collect enhanced service charge of Rs. 200 per ticket. The new facility would come into effect immediately.
  • Till now, the system was that foreign tourists had to purchase Indrail Pass to book confirmed accommodation tickets 360 days in advance on select trains that had limited berths under FTQ.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

New social security net planned

  • The Union government plans to introduce a universal social security network for workers in both the informal and formal sectors.
  • The scheme will be rolled out in a phased manner, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Labour Minister said the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) security network currently covered 4.8 crore contributory members, with employee’s and the employer’s contribution at 12%
  • “Take any cosmopolitan city, services of thousands of IT employees are being terminated. As the Labour Ministry is not having any control over IT companies and multinational corporates, what is the measure that the Labour Ministry is intending to do to the Employees’ Provident Fund to protect the IT sector employees..,” a member asked.
  • Mr. Dattatreya said the law might confine to wages of those who had got a ceiling of Rs. 15,000, for that EPFO eligibility would be there. Apart from that, the government would provide social security to IT workers and also IT employers. Loan, PF, Pension, everything would be protected under wages’ safeguards.

GS II: SOCIAL – EDUCATION

IIITs now Institutes of National Importance

  • The Lok Sabha passed a Bill to declare the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIIT) established under the public-private partnership (PPP) route as Institutes of National Importance (INIs).
  • During the discussion before the passage of the Bill, Minister of Human Resource Development (MoHRD) Prakash Javadekar said that asPPP did not mean there would be fee hikes. He said fees were not the only source of revenue for the institutions, and they would raise funds from research grants and projects.
  • “There might be a slight increase for those who have the capacity to bear. But for the poor [students], there will be scholarships,” he added.
  • He also cautioned against resistance to the PPP model, saying much investment was required to make education competitive for increasing employability.

Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs)

  • They are a group of institutes (so far 23) of higher education in India, focused on information technology.
  • Five of them are established, funded and managed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The rest are set up on the public-private partnership (PPP) model.
  • The IIITs at Allahabad, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Kancheepuram and Kurnool were set up and are now funded and managed by Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The addition of new IIITs was accomplished by The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act, 2014.
  • The bill also grants the status of Institutes of National Importance (INI) upon the four IIITs in Allahabad, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Kancheepuram.
  • The other IIITs are set up on the public-private partnership (PPP) model, funded by the central government, state governments and industry partners in the ratio 50:35:15.
  • In 10 April 2017, The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public-Private Partnership) Bill, 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha and passed in July 2017. The Bill seeks to confer the INI status on the PPP IIITs as well.
  • Admissions into undergraduate programmes in IIITs for 4,000 seats are through the Joint Seat Allocation Authority JEE- Mains.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-CHINA

China shows zero tolerance to ‘sovereignty’ threats

  • China’s insistence on the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Doklam plateau as a precondition for negotiations is consistent with its position on Tibet, Taiwan or the South China Sea – areas of hyper-sensitivity where Beijing perceives that its “territorial sovereignty” is at stake.
  • While India’s alleged incursion into Chinese territory has grabbed headlines, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has now adopted a similar unbending position on Tibet, embodied in the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Botswanaas well as the moves by the United States to reopen naval port calls with Taiwan.
  • Predictably, Indonesia’s cartographic dalliance, by renaming a portion of the South China Sea as North Natuna Sea, has also drawn Beijing’s ire.
  • Last year, Mongolia’s decision to welcome the Dalai Lama in Ulan Bator resulted in Bejing’s decision to impose stringent trade restrictions on its unequal neighbour.

 

GS III: CYBER SECURITY

India hit by 34 ransomware attacks, Minister tells Lok Sabha

  • A total of 34 incidents of infections from the two global ransomware attacks, WannaCry and Petya, were reported to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) by organisations and individuals, Parliament was informed.
  • Remedial measures to contain the damage and prevent such incidents have been advised by CERT-In,” Minister of State for Electronics and IT, P.P. Chaudhary, said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
  • WannaCry and Petya infected thousands of computers worldwide in May and June, respectively.
  • The attackers in both cases had sought about $300 in Bitcoin as ransom.
  • Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access to affected files by encrypting them until a ransom is paid to unlock it.
  • Other cybersecurity incidents observed included phishing, scanning/probing, website intrusions and defacements, virus/malicious code, ransomware, and denial of service attacks.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-USA

U.S. Senate Committee for bigger Indian role in Afghanistan

  • Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, has highlighted “significant short-term material and training needs within the Afghan Air Force, and has personally urged India to provide this targeted support to meet urgent gaps,”noted a US panel report.
  • Says Indian assistance could include logistical support, planning & joint training and stresses joint naval patrol in the Indian Ocean.
  • India has a “critical role” to play in breaking the stalemate in Afghanistan, the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Forces has said, calling for enhancing trilateral cooperation among Afghanistan, India and the U.S.
  • In a report accompanying the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, the committee also called for enhancing the overall defence cooperation between the U.S. and India, and “eventually joint naval patrol of the Indian Ocean.”
  • The Senate Committee also pulled up the Department of Defence for not making faster progress in improving cooperation between India and the U.S.
  • India has been less than enthusiastic about joint patrol and cautious while expanding cooperation with the Afghan government. India has a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, but its military component remains limited.
  • The report noted the “positive adjustment of U.S. export controls for defence articles sold to India” after last year’s NDAA, but called for faster progress and focused approach.
  • It said the 2012 Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) has six ‘‘pathfinder” initiatives, which need to be more in alignment with the Joint Strategic Vision between the two countries.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

BBC under fire for racial, gender pay gap

  • The publicly funded BBC was forced to publish the names and salaries of its highest-earning actors and presentersunleashing a national debate about fame, gender, race and the use of taxpayers’ money.
  • The list shows that the BBC pays 96 on-air personalities at least 1,50,000 pounds ($195,000) a year meaning most earn more than the prime minister, who gets 1,50,000 pounds.
  • The broadcaster’s best-paid star, radio host Chris Evans, earns more than 2.2 million pounds ($2.9 million).
  • The BBC was compelled by Britain’s government to publish the salaries of on-air talent, which had previously been secret.
  • The information is sensitive because the BBC is funded directly by taxpayers, through a 147-pound (about $190) annual levy on every household that owns a television or watches the BBC online.
  • The highest earners are also largely white. No ethnic-minority star is paid more than 3,00,000 pounds a year.

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE – AVIATION

AAI to bear capex for two airports

  • The Airports Authority of India (AAI) will bear the capital expenditure at Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports even as private developers will only need to concentrate on operations and maintenance (O&M) of the two airports whose terminal buildings are set to be privatised.
  • The concept of project cost will be different in case of these two airports as against the model adopted for privatisation of other airports, including Delhi and Mumbai airports.
  • The private developers of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) and Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) – GMR and GVK respectively incur the capital expenditure for expansion of the Delhi and Mumbai airports.
  • As per the public-private partnership (PPP) agreement, DIAL has to share 45.99% of its revenues with AAI, while MIAL is supposed to share 38.7% of revenues.

GS III: ECONOMY – DISINVESTMENT

ONGC gets nod to buy govt.’s 51% in refiner HPCL

  • The Cabinet approved the sale of the government’s 51.11% stake in oil refiner HPCL to India’s largest oil producer ONGC for a potential sum in the range of Rs. 26,000 crore to Rs. 30,000 crore, a top source said.
  • ONGC buying HPCL will help the government meet as much as 40% of its target for raising Rs. 72,500 crore in the current fiscal through stake sale.
  • The source said ONGC will not have to make an open offer to minority shareholders of HPCL as the government’s holding is being transferred to another state-run firm without change in ownership.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

BharatNet deadline pushed to March 2019

  • The Union Cabinet approved the second phase of the BharatNet project that forms the backbone for the government’s Digital India initiative.
  • However, the deadline for the delay-marred project had been pushed to March 2019.
  • The approval entails a total estimated expenditure of Rs. 42,068 crore for the implementation of project bankrolled from theUniversal Service Obligation Fund.
  • The project seeks to bring high speed broadband to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) through optical fibre.
  • The Centre was still working on completing the first phase of the project for which the deadline was March 2017.
  • It had been able to lay optical fibre in nearly one-lakh GPs, however, only about 22,000 GPs have been provided Internet connectivity due to equipment procurement issues.
  • The second phase aims at covering the remaining 1.50 lakh GPs.
  • The BharatNet project, earlier National Optical Fibre Network or NOFN, seeks to bring high-speed broadband to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through optical fibre.
  • It was approved by Cabinet in 2011 and deadline was fixed by end of 2013 then deferred to September 2015 by UPA Government. The Narendra Modi-led government re-examined project status and set target to complete roll out by end of 2016. This was later delayed to December 2018.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

NCLT reserves order on IBC petition against Bhushan Steel

  • The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) reserved order on insolvency pleas against Bhushan Steel as well as Bhushan Steel and Power even as it ‘wondered’ as to why RBI had to issue directions to banks to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against big defaulters.
  • two-member bench headed by Justice M.M. Kumar reserved its order on SBI petition for initiating insolvency proceedings against Bhushan Steel Ltd. and a similar plea by Punjab National Bank (PNB) against Bhushan Steel & Power Ltd.
  • Both the petitions were filed under the Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016 where the financial creditor initiates insolvency proceedings with a claim.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

‘Banks may need to forgo Rs. 2.4 lakh crore’

  • The rating agency Crisil said that banks may have to take a haircut of 60%, worth Rs.2.4 lakh crore, to settle 50 large stressed assets with debt of Rs.4 lakh crore.
  • These 50 companies are from the metals (30% of total debt), construction (25%) and power (15%) sectors, and account for half of the Rs. 8 lakh crore non-performing assets (NPAs) in the banking system as on March 31, 2017.
  • As demand slumped, or as projects ran into regulatory issues, significant time and cost overruns made them unviable.
  • Companies from the power sector would require moderate haircuts, while those from the metals and construction sectors would need aggressive ones.
  • The agency also estimated banks have provisioned for about 40% of this exposure.
  • The final haircut, however, will also be influenced by the expectation of lenders, valuation of subsidiaries, and the price outlook for commodity-linked sectors.” The sources of stress are policy or demand (power plants), lower capacity utilisation (steel plants), and overleveraged balance sheets (construction companies).
  • However, Crisil said that the restructuring tools facilitated by the Reserve Bank of India that indebted firms had availed of earlier did not help because of very high debt levels that underscore the magnitude of stress.
  • The government recently promulgated an ordinance empowering the RBI to issue directives for faster and optimum resolution of stressed assets to make them viable.
  • The focus now is on optimum debt reduction including through potential transfer of assets to a different management that can bring in resources needed to scale up cash flows.

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