2nd November 2018, Current Affairs and News Analysis for UPSC Civil Service Examination, SSC CGL and State Civil Service Examinations.

2nd November 2018 - Current Affairs for UPSC IAS and State Civil Service Exam

Economy

Ease of Doing Business Index: India jumps 23 notches, Now at 77th rank

In the last two years the country has climbed 53 notches, a performance matched in the past only by Bhutan. The biggest gain was in construction permit where India climbed 129 ranks to 52nd place on the back of targeted government effort to remove hurdles.

  • Ease of doing business: This index is an aggregate figure that includes different parameters which define the ease of doing business in a country.
  • The index ranks 190 countries based on 10 indicators across the life-cycle of a business, from “starting a business” to “resolving insolvency.” (observe figure below)
Ease of Doing bussiness India Rank 77
  • India jumped 23 ranks in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2019 to 77 (for 2018). In the 2018 report, the country was ranked 100 (for 2017).
  • India became the top ranked country in South Asia for the first time and third among the BRICS.
  • In the last two years the country has climbed 53 notches, a performance matched in the past only by Bhutan.
  • The biggest gain was in construction permit where India climbed 129 ranks to 52nd place on the back of targeted government effort to remove hurdles.

Technology/Space

The Kepler Telescope’s decade-long run comes to an end

The US space agency's Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel and is being retired after nine and a half years, having helped discover more than 2,600 planets, some of which may hold life.

About Kepler Telescope

  • The Kepler Space telescope has run out of fuel and will be retired nearly after 9-year mission.
  • It is an observatory in space dedicated to finding planets outside our solar system.
  • It was originally launched in 2009 as part of NASA’s Discovery Program.
  • It was approved far beyond its original mission length and was operating well until May 2013, when a second of its four reaction wheels or gyroscopes failed.
  • It targets particularly alien planets that are around the same size as Earth in the “habitable” regions of their parent star.
  • Since 2009, it has discovered extra-solar planets in the range between the size of Earth and Neptune.
  • It was the first telescope to find a planet (Kepler-69c) approximately the size of Earth in the habitable region of a star.
  • It examined the TRAPPIST-1 system which likely has multiple Earth-sized planets in it between December 2016 and March 2017.

Govt Schemes

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)

Recently the Government of India informed that PMBJP has led to the total savings of approximately Rs. 600 crores for common people, as these medicines are cheaper by 50% to 90% as compared to average market price of branded medicines.

The PMBJP medicines are procured from only World Health Organisation-Good manufacturing practice (WHO-GMP) certified manufacturers and each batch is tested at National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited independent labs.

  • Good manufacturing practice (GMP) is a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.
  • It is designed to minimize the risks involved in any pharmaceutical production that cannot be eliminated through testing the final product.
  • GMP covers all aspects of production; from the starting materials, premises and equipment to the training and personal hygiene of staff.
  • Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals in November 2008 under the name Jan Aushadi Campaign.
  • Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementation agency for PMBJP.
  • It aims to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses. PMBJP stores have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs.
  • Extend coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person.
  • Create awareness about generic medicines through education and publicity so that quality is not synonymous with only high price.
  • Create demand for generic medicines by improving access to better healthcare through low treatment cost and easy availability wherever needed in all therapeutic categories.

Social Issue

SC: live-in partner can seek maintenance

The Supreme Court observed that a live-in partner can seek maintenance under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

A three-judge bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice KM Joseph was considering the questions referred to it in Lalita Toppo vs. State of Jharkhand.

Before the apex court, an order of Jharkhand High Court, which held that Section 125 CrPC does not provide for the grant of maintenance to a woman who is not legally married to the person to whom such maintenance is claimed, was assailed. In this case, it was admitted that it was a live-in relationship.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice TS Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph, following questions to a larger bench:

  • Whether the living together of a man and woman as husband and wife for a considerable period of time would raise the presumption of a valid marriage between them and whether such a presumption would entitle the woman to maintenance under Section 125 CrPC?
  • Whether strict proof of marriage is essential for a claim of maintenance under Section 125 CrPC having regard to the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005?
  • Whether a marriage performed according to the customary rites and ceremonies without strictly fulfilling the requisites of Section 7(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, or any other personal law would entitle the woman to maintenance under Section 125 CrPC?

The questions referred would not require any answer

Referring to provisions of Domestic violence Act, the bench observed that the petitioner, in this case, would have an efficacious remedy to seek maintenance under the Act even assuming that she is not the legally wedded wife and, therefore, not entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. It also said that economic abuse also constitutes domestic violence as per the provisions of the Act.

In fact, under the provisions of the DVC Act, 2005 the victim i.e. estranged wife or live-in-partner would be entitled to more relief than what is contemplated under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, namely, to a shared household also, the court said.

Declining to answer the questions referred to it, the bench said: “The questions referred to us by the Referral Order were formulated on the basis of the decisions of this court rendered in Yamunabai Anantrao Adhav vs. Anantrao Shivram Adhav and another and Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya vs. State of Gujarat and others which were rendered prior to the coming into force of the DVC Act, 2005. In view of what has been stated herein before, it is, therefore, our considered view that the questions referred would not require any answer.”

International Relations

India Signs $950 Million Contract With Russia To Buy Two Stealth Frigates

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched the Soura Jalanidhi scheme that aims to increase use of solar energy for helping farmers in irrigating their land.

'Soura Jalanidhi', is a dug well based solar pump irrigation system in convergence mode. Under the scheme, 5,000 solar pumps will be given to Odisha farmers at a subsidy of 90% to irrigate 2,500 acres of land.

Define ‘strategic partners’: India-U.S. Relations

  • The U.S. President Donald Trump has turned down an invitation from India to attend next year’s Republic Day parade as the chief guest even though India is a purported U.S. strategic partner.
  • India and U.S. differ on what constitutes as being ‘Strategic’ in their relationship.
  • For more than a decade, a bipartisan consensus in Washington had supported India’s entry into an exclusive club of the U.S.’s strategic partners.

India US transformation

  • Along with India, only Israel, the U.K., Australia, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia enjoy the “strategic” or “special” relationship designation.
  • The former U.S. President Barack Obama shifted the date of his State of the Union address so that he could come to India in January 2015.
  • The U.S.’s relationship with India, and the broader world, is drastically different now, amid the revolution in its foreign policy since Mr. Trump’s arrival in the White House.
  • Today, U.S. officials pay lip service to notions of a strategic partnership with India; the Trump administration, led by its businessman-in-chief, is transactional to the core.

What is Strategic relationship?

  • India currently does not define Strategic relationship.
  • Its usage in international diplomacy signifies a bilateral relationship more important than others, but stops short of an actual alliance.
  • The term “strategic” further implies a future convergence of interests in areas that are vital: security, defence and investment.
  • However the term is now being used in a loose sense, with India having strategic relationship with over 50 countries ranging from US to Rwanda.

Where do India & US differ?

  • India expects technology transfers, intelligence sharing in defence cooperation, however the US still consider India as importer of defence equipment and not co-developer of defence equipment.
  • US expects operational cooperation with India such as through LEMOA, however cooperation under these foundational defence agreement is yet to move forward on the ground.
  • Both countries are yet to have a common understanding with regards to Rise of China and terrorism from Pakistan.
  • India-US relationship is largely a transactional relationship under Donald Trump that focuses on achieving a set of objectives but may not be considered as a priority that a strategic relationship entails.

Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

  • IIP for the month of September 2018 stood at 4% higher compared to IIP of September 2017.
  • IIP denotes the level of economic activity in different sectors, including manufacturing, mining and power.
  • It measures actual production output across the industrial sector.
  • It is calculated by Central Statistical Office (CSO) under Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation.
  • The base year for calculating IIP is 2011-12.
  • The total number of items in IIP is 809 within major categorization of manufacturing, mining and electricity.
  • The manufacturing is given the highest weightage (77%) followed by mining (14%) and electricity (7%).
  • Within IIP, there are 8 core industries which includes Coal, fertilizer, electricity, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, steel, and cement.
  • These 8 core industries comprise 40% of the weight of items included in IIP.

Polity/Economy/Act

Section 7 of the RBI Act, 1934:

The Union Ministry of Finance on October 31, 2018 clarified that “the autonomy for the Central Bank, within the framework of the RBI Act, is an essential and accepted governance requirement”.

The Ministry also stated that both the Government and the Central Bank need to be guided by public interest and the requirements of the Indian economy and for this purpose, extensive consultations on several issues take place between both the bodies from time to time. The final decisions are then communicated to the public.

The clarification came in the wake of widespread rumours about government’s decision to invoke never-before-used powers by invoking Section 7 of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act, 1934, allowing it to issue directions to the RBI Governor on matters of public interest such as liquidity for NBFCs, capital requirement for weak banks and lending to SMEs.

What led to this situation?

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on October 30, 2018, during a meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), blamed the RBI for failing to stop a lending spree during 2008-2014 that left banks with USD 150 billion of bad debt.

RBI Governor Urjit Patel and officials from the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) attended the meeting to discuss the liquidity crunch.

This rift between the Central Government and the RBI grew after the RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya said in a speech on October 26, 2018 that undermining a central bank’s independence could be “potentially catastrophic”, an indication that the regulator is pushing back hard against government pressure to relax its policies and reduce its powers.

Acharya also said that, “Governments that do not respect central bank independence will sooner or later incur the wrath of financial markets, ignite economic fire, and come to rue the day they undermined an important regulatory institution...

Section 7 of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act, 1934

  • The Section 7 of the RBI Act empowers the Central Government to consult and give instructions to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to act on certain issues, that the government considers serious and in public interest.
  • The Central Government may give such directions to the Bank from time to time, after consultation with the Governor of the Bank, consider necessary in the public interest.
  • Once the Section 7 is invoked, the general superintendence and direction of the affairs and business of the Bank is entrusted to a Central Board of Directors which may exercise all powers and do all acts exercised or done by the Bank.
  • It is considered that such a move could be a last resort for the Government to increase liquidity, ease pressure on banks and businesses, and boost economic growth.

SSC Focus

Cabinet Approves Renaming Of Jharsuguda Airport, Odisha As “Veer Surendra Sai Airport, Jharsuguda”

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the renaming of Jharsuguda Airport, Odisha as “Veer Surendra Sai Airport, Jharsuguda”. Veer Surendra Sai is a well-known freedom fighter of Odisha.

Renaming of the Jharsuguda airport in his name will fulfill the long-pending demand of the Odisha Government, which reflects the sentiments of the local public of the respective area. It will also be a befitting tribute to the contribution of the revered personality associated with the State.

RBI Clears Re-Appointment of Aditya Puri as HDFC Bank CEO

HDFC Bank had announced that the RBI had approved the re-appointment of Aditya Puri as MD and CEO of the bank for another two years. Aditya Puri will now serve the office from November 1, 2018 to October 26, 2020.

Puri has been with HDFC Bank since 1994, making him the longest-serving head of any private bank in the country.

Pankaj Advani Became First Indian To Win Asian Snooker Tour Title

Nineteen-time world champion Pankaj Advani has won the second leg of the Asian Snooker Tour in Jinan, China.

Advani delivered a power-packed performance to outclass China’s Ju Reti 6-1 in the final and become the first Indian to win an Asian Snooker Tour event.

'Train 18'- India's 1st Engineless Train

India's first engine-less train, "Train 18", developed by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and seen as a successor to the prestigious Shatabdi Express, was unveiled by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani.

The Rs. 100-crore train is the first long-distance train, without a separate locomotive (engine). It was flagged off at the ICF premises by Mr Lohani and would undergo trials.

According to ICF, the train is capable of running at a speed of up to 160 kmph and comes with technical features for enhanced quick acceleration.

The swanky 16-coach train will cut journey time by 15% compared to the 30-year old Shatabdi.

Malala Yousafzai To Be Honoured Gleitsman Award by Harvard University

Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai will be honored by Harvard University for her work promoting girls' education. Harvard's Kennedy School stated that Yousafzai will be conferred with the 2018 Gleitsman Award at a ceremony on 6th December.

Yousafzai is a student at Oxford University in England. The Gleitsman Award provides 125,000 US dollars for activism that has improved quality of life around the world.

Anupam Kher Resigns As FTII Chairman

Actor Anupam Kher has resigned as the chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India citing commitments to an international TV show for which he has to be stationed in the U.S.

Anupam Kher resigns

Anupam Kher took office as the Chairman of the prestigious organisation in October 2017. Prior to Kher, Gajendra Chauhan was the Chairman of FTII. Chauhan left office in March 2017.

He offered his resignation through a letter addressed to the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Here’s is his resignation letter: