IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


8th January, 2020


Five months later, government invites diplomat delegation to Jammu and Kashmir

Five months after its decision on Article 370, the government has invited the first group of Delhi-based diplomats to travel to Srinagar and assess the situation there.

About the visit:

-       This visit is being organised completely by the government, including the Ministry of External Affairs, Home Affairs and Defence.

-       Security, hotel and travel arrangements are in place for the visit that is expected as early as this week.

-       Invitation has been extended to about 20 Ambassadors and senior diplomats from the European Union, Gulf countries and others to visit Kashmir.

-       They will meet with various civil society groups, journalists, sarpanchs, municipal councillors as well as local businessmen there.

Diplomat’s reservations:

-       They are not satisfied to undertake the visit on the same terms as the MEPs delegation was taken on.

-       They wanted more access to their own contacts on the ground as well as a wider range of areas to visit.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/five-months-later-government-invites-diplomat-delegation-to-jammu-and-kashmir/article30505185.ece

Model code in place, civic bodies told to enforce provisions

With the announcement of the dates for the Delhi Assembly elections, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come into place.

Actions in MCC:

-       Departments need to take down political posters and images of political leaders from their websites and social media accounts.

-       Enforcement of the anti-defacement law. Removal of defacement from Private Property.

-       No new development work must be started.

-       Government vehicles and other resources are not misused.

Digital Voter Slip:

-       At 11 constituencies in Delhi, voters will also have the facility to use a digital voter slip.

-       At such polling stations, mobile phones will be allowed inside the booth for the QR code on the digital slip to be scanned following which phones will have to be deposited in a tray before the vote is cast and can be picked up later.

About Model Code of Conduct:

-       The Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines that are issued by India’s Election Commission for candidates and political parties during elections.

-       The guidelines have been created through the consensus of all political parties who have agreed to follow the regulations.

-       This code comes into effect as soon as the EC announces the election schedule.

-       The model code is required in order to ensure free and fair elections in the country.

-       Mainly, the code seeks to prevent communal clashes and the practice of corruption during the election process.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/model-code-in-place-civic-bodies-told-to-enforce-provisions/article30507540.ece

It is up to States to provide 10% EWS quota: Centre

Centre informed the Supreme Court that it would be the States’ prerogative to provide 10% economic reservation in government jobs and admission to education institutions.

Government argument in court:

-       Whether or not to provide reservation to the economically weaker section in appointment to State government jobs and admission to State government educational institutions, as per provisions of the newly inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) of the Constitution, is to be decided by the State government concerned.

-       Department of Social Justice and Empowerment “has no role in deciding the reservation policy of any State government”.

EWS reservation:

-       The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act provides for 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically weaker section in the unreserved category.

-       The Act amends Article 15 and 16 to provide for reservation based on economic backwardness.

Positives of EWS reservation:

-       It provides legitimacy to already existing reservation. Now, universities will not be segregated between merit candidates and reserved communities.

-       It is secular in nature and includes all religions: Muslims, Christians

-       Economic justice is the philosophy behind it. In an increasing economic society, class becomes a tool of oppression.

-       It address contemporary reservation movements like Jats reservation, Patel reservation.

-       Eight Lakh is creamy layer identified in OBC reservation. Hence, eight lakh is justified as a basis of class criteria.



Concerns/drawbacks of EWS reservation:

-       It violates Indira Swahney judgement of Supreme Court, which applied 50% cap on the reservation.

-       Social justice has been the philosophy behind reservation. Upper caste is at the top of caste pyramid and does not require any reservation.

-       It is not based on any scientific data. A survey of 450 educational institutions had found 28% students belonging to EWS section.

-       The criteria qualifies around 90-95% population.

-       The reservation does not make any sense when jobs are on the rise in private sector. Public sector is already declining and not creating many jobs.

-       This reservation move can be abused by changing the economic status by selling property or showing lower income.


-       Administration must ensure that non-deserving population does not get the EWS certificate. Only genuine poor and needy section should get the opportunity.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/it-is-up-to-states-to-provide-10-quota/article30506662.ece


Genome of Indian cobra sequenced

A consortium of scientists, including some from India have mapped the genome of the Indian Cobra, among the most poisonous snakes in the country.

Significance of the move:

-       Helpful in understanding the chemical constituents of the venom

-       Contribute to development of new anti-venom therapies.

-       It will enable generation of a comprehensive catalogue of venom-gland-specific toxin genes that can be used for the development of synthetic anti-venom of defined composition.


-       19 toxin genes are expressed exclusively in the venom gland and verified the presence of protein for 16 of these genes.

-       Targeting these 19 specific toxins using synthetic human antibodies should lead to a safe and effective anti-venom for treating Indian cobra bites.

About Snakes in India:

-       The ‘Big 4’— the Indian cobra, the common krait, Russell ’s viper, and the saw-scaled viper kills 46,000 people and disables 140,000 people in India from snakebites.

-       These 4 species are not found in northeastern India but the region reports a significant number of snakebites.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/genome-of-indian-cobra-sequenced/article30505210.ece


Army gets working on Government Owned Contractor Operated model to improve efficiency

The Army has initiated the process of identifying potential industry partners to implement the Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) model for its base workshops and ordnance depots intended to improve operational efficiency.

Conditions in GOCO Model:

-       The GOCO model was one of the recommendations of the Lt. Gen. DB Shekatkar.

-       The selected Service Provider will take over present infrastructure and related services from COD Kanpur on “as-it-is-and-where-it-is basis”.

-       Maintenance of complete infrastructure will be thereafter the responsibility of the service provider.

-       The existing civilian manpower/workforce will have to be absorbed by the selected Service Provider.

-       The service provider should be an Indian registered company with at least 10 years of working experience in related domains.

-       It must have an average annual turnover of ₹50 crore for each of the last three financial years.

Tasks under GOCO model:

-       It will include warehousing operations, transportation of stores and area maintenance.

-       Repairs and overhaul of T-72 and T-90, guns, mortars and small arms, vehicles, communication systems, radars, air defence systems, armoured personnel carriers and manufacture of spares (indigenisation) and overhaul of aviation rotables.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/army-gets-working-on-government-owned-contractor-operated-model-to-improve-efficiency/article30506622.ece


Government projects slower GDP growth

The government expects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at a slower pace of 5% for the full year 2019-20, as compared to 6.8% in the previous year.

Released data:

-       The manufacturing sector is estimated to grow by 2% as compared to a robust growth of 6.9% in 2018-19.

-       The growth in the construction sector for the fiscal is expected to see a sharp decline to 3.2% as against a growth of 8.7% in the previous year.

-       Slower rate of growth for real Gross Value Added (GVA) at 4.9% as against 6.6% in 2018-19.

-       Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector will grow by 2.8% almost at the same pace as in 2018-19 when it grew by 2.9%.

-       Electricity, Gas, Water Supply and Other Utility Services’ sector is expected to grow by 5.4% as compared to a growth of 7% in 2018-19.

-       Nominal GDP growth will fall to 7.5% in FY20 as compared to the previous peak of 13.8% in FY13.



Challenges in achieving the GDP growth rate:

-       Rising global tensions.

-       Rising oil prices.

-       Expectation of a deceleration in government expenditures given stress on the revenue front.

-       Increased pressure on the fiscal deficit.

About GDP:

-       It is the sum of private consumption, gross investment in the economy, government investment, government spending and net foreign trade (difference between exports and imports).

-       The following equation is used to calculate the GDP: GDP = C + I + G + (X – M) or GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government investment + government spending + (exports – imports).

About Gross Value Added (GVA):

-       It is a measure of total output and income in the economy.

-       It provides the rupee value for the amount of goods and services produced in an economy after deducting the cost of inputs and raw materials that have gone into the production of those goods and services.

-       It also gives sector-specific picture like what is the growth in an area, industry or sector of an economy.

Nominal GDP:

-       The nominal GDP is the value of all the final goods and services that an economy produced during a given year. It is calculated by using the prices that are current in the year in which the output is produced.

-       If prices change from one period to the next and the output does not change, the nominal GDP would change even though the output remained constant.

Real GDP:

-       The real GDP is the total value of all of the final goods and services that an economy produces during a given year, accounting for inflation.

-       It is calculated using the prices of a selected base year.

-       Real GDP, therefore, accounts for the fact that if prices change but output does not, nominal GDP would change.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/gdp-seen-dropping-to-5-in-2019-20-govt-data/article30504392.ece

Govt. plans to cut spending by ₹2 lakh crore to curb deficit

India's government is likely to cut spending for the current fiscal year by as much as ₹2 lakh crore as it faces one of the biggest tax shortfalls in recent years.

Reasons for spending cut:

-       Revenue shortfall of about ₹2.5 lakh crore.

-       Lack of demand and weak corporate earnings growth in the economy led to lagging tax collections this year.

-       The government is likely to keep the fiscal deficit under 3.8% of gross domestic product.

Expenditure trends of the year:

-       Spent about 65% of the total expenditure target of ₹27.86 lakh crore until November.

-       Reduced the pace of spending in October and November.

-       A ₹2 lakh crore reduction would be about a 7% cut in total spending planned for the year.

-       In October and November, government spending increased by ₹1.6 lakh crore, nearly half the 3.1 lakh crore it spent in September.

About Fiscal deficit:

-       The difference between total revenue and total expenditure of the government is termed as fiscal deficit.

-       It is an indication of the total borrowings needed by the government.

-       The gross fiscal deficit (GFD) is the excess of total expenditure including loans net of recovery over revenue receipts (including external grants) and non-debt capital receipts.

-       The net fiscal deficit is the gross fiscal deficit less net lending of the Central government.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/govt-plans-to-cut-spending-by-2-lakh-crore-to-curb-deficit/article30502268.ece

‘Mindset to blame for poor response to NPS’

It is not the money people must put into it, but a certain mindset of individuals and corporates that makes National Pension System (NPS) a less-preferred saving option, according to the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

Reasons behind low enrolment:

-       Most of us do not think of retirement and old age. However, the reality is our income will stop one day.

About NPS:

-       NPS currently has a total subscriber base of 3.25 crore, (with ₹4 lakh crores under investment as on December 31) which includes Central and State Government employees (66 lakh), employees of Central and State autonomous bodies, corporates, NRIs (6,000) and individuals.

-       It is managed by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

-       It is not like a public provident fund (PPF) account where everyone just has one option—you invest and get a predetermined interest rate.

-       The National Pension System (NPS) is a voluntary defined contribution pension system in India.

-       Like PPF and EPF is an EEE (Exempt-Exempt-Exempt) instrument in India, where entire corpus escapes tax at maturity and entire pension withdrawal amount is tax-free.

-       NPS started with the decision of the Government of India to stop defined benefit pensions for all its employees who joined after 1 January 2004.

-       While the scheme was initially designed for government employees only, it was opened up for all citizens of India between the age of 18 and 60 in 2009.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/mindset-to-blame-for-poor-response-to-nps/article30506496.ece


Taking stock of infant deaths: in Rajasthan, Gujarat and the rest of India

Every day, India witnesses the death of an estimated 2,350 babies aged less than one year. Among them, an average 172 are from Rajasthan and 98 from Gujarat.

Mortality Rates:

-       The infant mortality rate (IMR) in the country currently stands at 33 per 1,000 live births.

-       Between 2014 and 2017, India’s IMR has declined by 15.4%.

-       At a decline rate of 17.4%, Rajasthan has been ahead of the national average in reducing IMR while Gujarat has a decline rate of 14.3%.

-       Arunachal, Tripura and Manipur have recorded a negative reduction rate between 2014 and 2017, which means child death rates there have gone up.

Reasons behind high Infant Mortality Rates:

-       Lack of education among mother

-       Malnutrition (more than half of Indian women are anaemic)

-       Age of the mother at the time of birth, spacing between pregnancy

-       Whether the child is born at home or in a facility

-       Children born to mothers with at least 8 years of schooling have 32% lesser chances of dying in neonatal period and 52% lesser chances in the post-neonatal period, as compared to the illiterate mothers.

-       According to the National Family Health Survey-4, only 78.9% births in India happen in a facility.

-       Apart from the obvious infection risks in a non-institutional birth, vaccine compliance too is usually worse in these cases.

Measures undertaken:

-       Special newborn care units (SNCUs) have been established at district hospitals and sub-district hospitals with an annual delivery load more than 3,000 to provide care for sick newborns.

-       Early identification and appropriate management of Diarrhoea and Acute Respiratory Infections

-       Improving Infant and young child feeding practices including breastfeeding promotion.

-       Immunisation against seven vaccine preventable diseases.

-       Vitamin A supplementation and Iron and Folic Acid supplementation;

-       Establishment of Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres to address severe and acute malnutrition.

-       Promotion of institutional deliveries through Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)

-       Operationalization of sub-centres, Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres and District Hospitals for providing 24x7 basic and comprehensive obstetric care services

-       Engagement of more than 8.8 lakhs Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to generate demand and facilitate accessing of health care services by the community.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/taking-stock-of-infant-deaths-in-rajasthan-gujarat-and-the-rest-of-india/