News (Text)


When:
December 26, 2018 @ 11:30 am
2018-12-26T11:30:00+05:30
2018-12-26T11:45:00+05:30

NEWS 

26 DECEMBER 2018


Daily Current Affairs based on ‘The Hindu’ newspaper compiled by Ms. Bilquees Khatri with topics & papers as per syllabus of UPSC Civil Services (Mains) Examination


Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: SOCIAL – MEDIA

Govt.’s draft rules to regulate social media echo SC orders

2.

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE

PM opens Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest

3

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

‘260 leopards poached since 2015’

4.

GS II: SOCIAL – RIGHTS

RTI activists living dangerously in Bihar

5.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

30 mn newborns cry out for help

6

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-ASIA

Spat over gas leaves Indian diplomats in the cold

7.

GS II: POLITY – STATES

Striking a balance in M.P.

8.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Banks under PCA sitting on cash pile

9.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

A year of disruptions for the banking sector

10.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

Foreign fund outflows highest since 2008

11.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICTORS

Gold ETFs lose sheen, investors withdraw Rs. 280 cr. in April-Nov.

GS II: SOCIAL – MEDIA

Govt.’s draft rules to regulate social media echo SC orders

  • The draft rules proposed by the government to curb “unlawful content” on social media that make it mandatory for intermediaries to trace the “originator” of such content have drawn strong criticism from the Opposition.
  • A close look at the draft Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Amendment Rules, 2018, shows that the proposed changes are largely in line with developments on this front in cases before the Supreme Court in recent months.
  • In a July 17, 2018 judgment in the Tehseen S. Poonawalla case, the court gave the government a virtual carte blanche to stop/curb dissemination of “irresponsible and explosive messages on various social media platforms, which have a tendency to incite mob violence and lynching of any kind.”
  • For instance, Rule 3 of the draft speaks about the “due diligence” to be observed by online platforms that have over 50 lakh users.
  • It proposes the publication of rules, a privacy policy and user agreement for access to a social intermediary’s resource.
  • Clause (1) of Rule 3 mandates that a user cannot host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share information, for example, which is pornographic, paedophilic, racially or ethnically objectionable, invasive of another’s privacy, harms minors in anyway, etc.
  • On December 6, a Supreme Court Bench, led by Justice Madan B. Lokur, mentioned online giants Google, YouTube, Facebook, Microsoft and WhatsApp and recorded that “everybody is agreed that child pornography, rape and gang-rape videos and objectionable material need to be stamped out.”
  • The same order also noted submissions by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for WhatsApp, that “they have an end-to-end encryption technology, due to which it will not be possible to remove the content”.
  • Subsequently, on December 11, the Bench ordered the Centre to frame the necessary guidelines/Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and implement them within two weeks to “eliminate child pornography, rape and gang rape imagery, videos and sites in content hosting platforms and other applications”.
  • The court then listed the case for February 2019. The draft rules have come within two weeks of the Supreme Court order.
  • These two orders came on a suo motu case being heard in the Supreme Court from 2015 to curb online sexual abuse.
  • Besides, the draft rules put the onus on social media giants to “take all reasonable measures” to protect individual privacy as required under the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Information) Rules of 2011.

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE

PM opens Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 4.94 km Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest rail-cum-road span, across the Brahmaputra.
  • The strategic bridge, which connects Dibrugarh district on the river’s south bank in Assam to Dhemaji district on the north bank, would not only improve the livelihoods of millions of people in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Modi said, but would also serve as a boon to the defence forces.
  • The project was conceived by the Rail India Technical Economic Services in 1973, and the foundation stone was laid by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in January 1997.
  • However, the actual work was initiated only in 2002 by the NDA government, which was headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

‘260 leopards poached since 2015’

  • At least 260 leopards were poached in the country between 2015 and 2018, with Uttarakhand accounting for 60 cases and Himachal Pradesh reporting another 49, according to information given to Parliament by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • Of this, 64 cases of leopard poaching were recorded in 2015, 83 in 2016, 47 in 2017 and 66 till October 2018, the data tabled in the Lok Sabha show.
  • Central Indian States like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also recorded a high number of cases of leopard poaching in the past four years, at 25 and 21 respectively.
  • Poaching of leopards was reported by 19 States, including Assam and West Bengal in the east, Punjab in the West and Telangana and Tamil Nadu in the south.
  • Replying to a question by BJP MP Rattan Lal Kataria, the MoEFCC said the figures had been compiled from data furnished by State enforcement agencies, as the management and protection of wildlife, including leopards, is primarily the responsibility of States and Union Territories.
  • It added that information on the killing of leopards by villagers was not collated by the Ministry.
  • Wildlife organisations, however, estimate leopard poaching to be at a much higher level based on the seizures of body parts.
  • 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.
  • Experts point out that since leopards live in close proximity to human habitations and are found all across the country, the cases of poaching too are spread countrywide, with a significant number of such incidents not showing up in government records.
  • There are also several incidents of leopard deaths on account of road kills, particularly in States such as Maharashtra and Karnataka.

GS II: SOCIAL – RIGHTS

RTI activists living dangerously in Bihar

  • While the recent brazen murders of businessmen and a bank official in Bihar has caught media attention, the State is equally dangerous for Right to Information (RTI) activists, with five of them been killed in 2018 alone.
  • The latest victim was Bhola Sah, an RTI activist who had exposed several financial irregularities in government social welfare schemes.
  • Since 2010, as many as 15 RTI activists have been killed in Bihar
  • “Government officials and scamsters always try to implicate RTI activists in false cases and if they fail to do so, they do not hesitate to get us killed. Nothing happens to them,” an activist said.
  • Recently, two prominent businessmen in Vaishali and Darbhanga districts, were allegedly killed by extortionists.
  • A local businessman said as many as 38 businessmen had been killed in the State in 2018 alone.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

30 mn newborns cry out for help

  • An estimated 30 million newborns require specialised care in hospital every year without which many either die or develop preventable health conditions and disabilities that affect them for life, according to a recent study by a global coalition that includes UNICEF and WHO.
  • The report urges countries to invest in healthcare to prevent neonatal deaths among the most vulnerable newborns — the small and the sick.
  • It points out that nearly 2.5 million newborns died during the first 28 days of life in 2017, of which approximately 80% had low birth weight and more than 65% were born prematurely.
  • An additional 1.5 million small and sick newborns survive each year, with a long-term disability, including cerebral palsy and cognitive delays.
  • The study, ‘Survive and thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn,’ underlines that universal access to quality care could prevent 1.7 million neonatal deaths, or 68% of the deaths that will otherwise occur in 2030.
  • Low and middle income countries will be able to avert two out of three neonatal deaths by 2030 if they increase investment by $0.20 per capita.
  • According to an earlier study by UNICEF, India witnesses 25.4 newborn deaths per 1,000 births and 0.64 million annually.
  • 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.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-ASIA

Spat over gas leaves Indian diplomats in the cold

  • India is not ruling out retaliatory measures in response to the Pakistan government’s delays in sanctioning gas connections to the residential complex at its High Commission in Islamabad.
  • The delay, officials said, were part of a series of measures aimed at “making life difficult” for Indian diplomats in Pakistan.
  • New Delhi again raised the problems caused by the lack of gas connections in the newly built residential section of the Indian High Commission complex in the diplomatic zone in Islamabad, just a kilometre from the Pakistan Foreign Ministry.
  • The problem is more acute now as winters in Islamabad often see sub-zero temperatures, and gas is the most popular means of heating in Pakistan.
  • The diplomats also reported frequent power outages and slow Internet connections.

GS II: POLITY – STATES

Striking a balance in M.P.

  • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath formed his Cabinet and the Ministers who were administered the oath by Governor Anandiben Patel included 27 from the Congress and one Independent.
  • The strength of the Council of Ministers cannot exceed 34, or 15% of the total number of seats in the 230-member Assembly.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Banks under PCA sitting on cash pile

  • Commercial banks, under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), are sitting on a pile of cash as they don’t have too many options to lend, even as the banking system is scrambling for liquidity.
  • The 11 public sector banks under the PCA, enjoying 25% market share among commercial banks, are facing restrictions on lending while their deposit mobilisation has been healthy.
  • The average liquidity deficit in the banking system has been about Rs. 1 lakh crore since October 2018 with the shadow banks impacted the most as they are finding it difficult to raise funds following the IL&FS crisis.
  • This, in turn, is affecting the loan market.
  • A senior official from a mid-sized public sector bank said the bank’s daily excess cash was about Rs. 40,000 crore.
  • As a result, the bank’s statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) was about 27-28%, much higher than the RBI mandated 19.5%.
  • SLR is the minimum amount of liabilities that a bank must invest in government securities.
  • Investments in government bonds is the most risk-free avenue to park funds which, in banking parlance, is known as ‘lazy banking.’
  • The government has sought Parliament’s approval to provide Rs. 41,000 crore to PSBs in the current fiscal. The aim is to provide capital to the banks under PCA, which will help them come out of restrictions imposed.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

A year of disruptions for the banking sector

  • The year 2018 has been one of disruption for the banking industry.
  • A tough loan default classification rule by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the out-of-the-blue IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services) imbroglio and the spat between the government and the central bank have combined to make 2018 a year that the banking and financial services industry would like to quickly consign to the pages of history and move forward for good.

Tough loan default classification rule by RBI

  • RBI’s decision in February 2018 requiring banks to classify even a day’s delay in the payment of loan dues as default and report the same to the central bank set the stage for the industry to traverse a difficult road ahead. The move elicited strong reactions from the corporate world.
  • Not surprisingly, banks saw a sharp rise in accounts classified in the first bucket of special mention accounts (SMA-0).
  • An account is identified as an SMA-0 account if the payment is delayed even by one day.
  • Reporting such accounts to the Central Repository for Information on Large Credits on a weekly basis becomes mandatory for accounts where outstanding loans are more than Rs. 5 crore.
  • For cases where the exposure goes beyond Rs. 2,000 crore, banks are expected to initiate rectification or restructuring procedures immediately.
  • Banks have 180 days to complete this restructuring before they refer the account for insolvency proceedings.
  • Predictably, banks and others alike raised ‘reputational risks’ involved in the rule with cascading consequences for future borrowings.
  • Earlier, accounts overdue by 90 days were classified as NPAs (non-performing assets).

IL&FS crisis

  • The IL&FS story is a reiteration of the need for a well-oiled long-term debt market.
  • Many former development finance institutions have converted themselves into commercial banks.
  • The IL&FS payment default is a warning signal for quick action on the long-term debt finance front.

RBI-govt spat

  • The open fracas between the government and the central bank with the government demanding its right to enforce its will on the central bank and the RBI stoutly defending its known stand vis-a-vis sharing its reserves and accommodating the government on other issues.
  • In the end, RBI Governor Urjit Patel had to quit, citing personal reasons though.
  • As 2018 nears its end, the new year will be well served if lessons are learnt from immediate history.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

Foreign fund outflows highest since 2008

  • 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.
  • In the Indian context, 2018 would also be only the third such year in the last decade when foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) would end a calendar year as net sellers of Indian shares.
  • Market participants are of the view that such significant outflows were primarily on account of the weakness in the rupee and the volatility of the stock markets.
  • The one big 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,” an expert said.
  • “There was also heightened volatility globally due to the concerns related to the trade war between U.S. and China that made investors stay away from the emerging market pack, including India. The bubble kind of situation in the mid-cap and small-cap segments at the start of the year also led to profit booking from such investors,” added Mr. Kumar.
  • Meanwhile, most market participants believe that the potential losses this year have been largely mitigated due to the strong buying support, especially in index constituents, from domestic institutional investors such as mutual funds and the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).
  • Strong buying by domestic investors also helped the Indian stock markets overtake Germany for the first time ever in terms of market capitalisation.
  • According to data from the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), the market capitalisation of India was pegged at $2.06 trillion in December 2018, slightly higher than Germany’s $1.9 trillion.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICTORS

Gold ETFs lose sheen, investors withdraw Rs. 280 cr. in April-Nov.

  • Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) continue to lose steam, with investors pulling out Rs. 280 crore during the April-November period of the current fiscal, preferring to invest in equities despite volatile markets.
  • In comparison, 14 gold-linked ETFs had witnessed a withdrawal of Rs. 511 crore in the first eight months of 2017-18.
  • Indian investors have traditionally preferred to hold gold in physical form, rather than ETFs which are actually a better form of holding from an investor’s perspective.
  • On the other hand, equity and equity-linked savings schemes saw an infusion of over Rs. 82,200 crore in the April-November period of 2018-19 despite volatile equity markets.

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