IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


18th May, 2020


Licensed to beat, abuse and kill

- Police have beaten many migrants black and blue.

- Taking a serious view of police brutality, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in March issued a set of guidelines for police, and prohibited them from using force on persons violating the lockdown regulations.

- The Bengaluru Police later set an example by divesting the policemen of batons and instead engaging in the use of persuasive methods to seriously implement the lockdown.

Trained to be fierce

- A legacy of the British rulers, brutality has been a tenacious characteristic of the Indian police.

- Part of the training: Most policemen are made to believe from their very training days that brutality is inherent in the very role to be performed by then, to instil a certain degree of fear in the citizens.

- The attitude is reinforced by training instructors, who abuse and even manhandle errant trainees.

- Application of force is definitely a legal requirement and it is justified by arming policemen with lathis, pistols, rifles and other modern weapons.

- But the mere issue of lathis and weapons in no way justifies their indiscriminate use on innocents or even the accused. Prudence demands that these weapons be used in a just manner.

Poor training: Though the subject of human rights is a part of training curriculum in training institutions, no seriousness is attached to it.

- Lack of accountability: Those who violate human rights are seldom taken to task.

- Acceptability: Most superiors overlook instances of brutality as they consider it an innate demand of the job of policing.

- Lack of senior officers: To make matters worse, seldom are senior officers seen on the spot when their junior-ranking personnel are on duty.

Difficult working conditions

- Long duty hours tend to test the patience of police officers.

Working under tremendous pressure without any respite for relaxation, some of them are constantly on a short fuse and tend to vent their ire on innocent victims.

- Large vacancies in police forces are also responsible for this state.

- Against the UN recommendations of 222 police personnel for a population of one lakh, most States in our country have around 100 personnel only.

- Proper planning in recruitment, training in service courses and close supervision by senior officers can go a long way in reducing, if not eradicating, brutality by police officers.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/licensed-to-beat-abuse-and-kill/article31610992.ece


Where is health in the stimulus package?

Conditions of the India before Covid Spread:

- India's GDP growth for 2019-20 was lowered to 4.1% from 5% projected by several agencies before the outbreak of the virus.

- Recent reports predict that the impact of COVID-19 might reduce GDP growth rate to 1.1% or even lower in the current financial year.

- Unemployment has been growing since January 2020 when the first cases of coronavirus emerged.

- According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, India’s unemployment rate at the end of May 16, 2020 was staggeringly high at around 24%.

- Our healthcare delivery system in most States is extremely fragile.

Restoring livelihoods

Focus of government:

- On ending the lockdown,

- Reviving economic activities,

- Restoring livelihoods,

- Addressing concerns of hunger and starvation,

- Stimulating small and medium enterprises,

- Enhancing farm incomes.

- The package of Rs. 20-lakh crores, equivalent to about 10% of India’s GDP is expected to restore the livelihoods of millions of migrants and other workers.

Actual conditions:

- The fear factor in reviving employment and business is real.

- Economic desperation might leave poor workers with no choice but to return to work.

- Businesses are also genuinely concerned about the collapse of demand and shutting down of retail outlets.

- Equally disconcerting for them are the difficulties in and consequences of not adhering to conditions set by the government.

- Worried about the unpredictability of government’s actions and policy revisions. This could well be a reason why, according to recent reports, in the midst of the long-term structural shift from China, companies prefer to relocate manufacturing to countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, and not India.

Strengthening public health

- The low level of public spending stuck at around 1.15% of GDP for well over a decade, is both a cause and an exacerbating factor.

- It accounts for the poor quality, limited reach and insufficient public provisioning of healthcare.

- The Union and State governments seem to have found the financial resources to provide an emergency response to deal with the pandemic.

- With agility and speed, orders have been placed for PPEs, ventilators, testing kits, and other supplies needed to detect and treat COVID-19 patients.

- It is possible that resources allocated for other health programmes are being diverted to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The opportunity cost of such diversion of funds could be high.


- People’s access to routine maternal and child health as well as family planning services in parts of the country has been negatively impacted.

- Many States are simply not in a position to deal with a second wave of infections.

- Most private healthcare providers seem to be incapable of and unwilling to help even during a national crisis. And India’s private sector in health is sizable.

- According to recent figures, the private sector accounts for 93% of all hospitals, 64% of all hospital beds, and 80-85% of all doctors.

- Rapidly declining revenues and sharply eroding profits are leading to the closure of many private hospitals.

Need to invest more:

- Not addressing weaknesses in the public health delivery system can thwart all efforts at reviving the economy.

- The worst maybe yet to come.

- Nearly every country in the world that has achieved anything like UHC has done it through the public assurance of primary healthcare.

- At least 1% of GDP out of the stimulus package should be earmarked for improving the country’s health infrastructure and strengthening public health service delivery.

- And up to 70% of the additional expenditures should be ring-fenced for primary healthcare and further strengthening health and wellness centres, primary health centres and community health centres.

This is the time then to seize the opportunity and invest in universal health coverage (UHC) by reversing the financial neglect of public healthcare.



Afghan President and rival sign power sharing deal


- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and political rival Abdullah Abdullah have signed a power-sharing agreement.

About the deal:

- The deal calls for Abdullah to lead the country’s National Reconciliation High Council and some members of Abdullah’s team would be included in Ghani’s Cabinet.

- Mr.Ghani would remain President of the war-torn nation.

- The Reconciliation Council has been given the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to Afghanistan’s peace process.

- The agreement is expected to speed up the intra-Afghan dialogue preparations that have been delayed.

Political turnmoil in Afghanistan:

- Mr.Ghani and Mr. Abdullah both declared themselves president in parallel inauguration ceremonies in March leading to the power clash.

- The discord prompted the Trump administration to announce it would cut $1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan.

- The U.S. has been trying to get the Taliban and the Afghan government to begin intra-Afghan negotiations.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/afghan-president-and-rival-sign-power-sharing-deal/article31609012.ece



This really is paper gold

About Sovereign Gold bond:

- Sovereign gold bond is a substitute for holding physical gold.

- The bonds are issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on behalf of the government and are denominated in gold.

- SGB has a fixed tenure of eight years, though early redemption is allowed after the fifth year from issuance.

Benefits of Sovereign Gold Bond:

- These bonds are backed by a sovereign guarantee and can also be held in demat form. Further, they are priced as per the underlying spot gold prices.

- Hence, investors who want to invest in gold can buy the bonds without worrying about safekeeping of physical gold along with locker charges, making charges or purity issues.

- They will help in reducing the import bill of gold thus saving the precious foreign reserves.

- They also help government to mobilise the liquidity by issuing these bonds.

- Since, gold is considered most safe asset, these bonds allows people to save themselves.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/this-really-is-paper-gold/article31610978.ece


Centre throws open all sectors to private players



- The Centre has agreed to demands from States to hike their borrowing limits from 3% to 5% of their GDP in light of the COVID-19 crisis, but on the condition that they implement specific reforms.

- Included an additional Rs. 40,000 crore allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

- A new policy welcoming private companies into every sector of industry, while limiting public sector enterprises to strategic sectors only.

- Corporate enterprises were also offered some relief via changes to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and the Companies Act.

Comment on Package:

- The total package amounts to almost Rs. 21 lakh crore by the Centre’s accounting, but is heavy on credit-related measures.

- It amounted to double counting as the credit guarantee schemes to support small companies and non-banking finance companies would also tap into the RBI’s measures.

- only Rs. 2.2 lakh crore can be traced as direct additional budgetary cost to the Central exchequer, while another Rs. 1.55 lakh crore relates to already budgeted expenditures.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/centre-throws-open-all-sectors-to-private-players/article31611087.ece



Lockdown extended; States will take a call on infection zones



Government announcement:

- The Centre on Sunday extended the nationwide lockdown, first imposed on March 24, for the fourth time till May 31

- States will decide the red, green and Orange zones.

- Eased restrictions considerably by allowing inter-State movement of buses and cars, opening of all shops, except those in malls and containment zones and the delivery of non-essential items through online shopping platforms.

- The 33% restriction on workforce in offices has also been done away with.

- The decision to extend the lockdown was taken after the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) directed the Centre and the State governments to continue the lockdown measures to contain the spread of the novel corona virus.

Lockdown related decisions:

- The National Executive Committee (NEC) was directed to modify the lockdown guidelines keeping in view the need to restart economic activities.

- It has been set up under disaster management act to assist the national authority in performance.

- Union home secretary is ex-officio secretary of this committee.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/lockdown-extended-states-will-take-a-call-on-infection-zones/article31611090.ece



Over 42,000 under trials released to unclog prisons: NALSA report

Finding of the NALSA report:

- The NALSA is a statutory body to provide free legal services to the weaker sections.

- 243 under trial prisoners had been granted bail and 9,558 persons in remand had been given legal representation across the country.

- Highest number of under trial prisoners released was 9,977 in Uttar Pradesh, followed by 5,460 in Rajasthan and 4,547 in Tamil Nadu, 3,698 in Punjab and 3,400 in Maharashtra.

- The NALSA, in coordination with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, has issued directions to the State legal services authorities to collaborate with One Stop Centres (OSCs) established in each State for providing legal assistance to women facing domestic violence.

Court Observation:

- The Supreme Court observed in March that physical distancing, an effective measure to check the spread of the novel coronavirus, would be difficult in prisons.

- National Crime Records Bureau put the rate of occupancy at Indian prisons at 117.6%.

- The court issued guidelines, formed committees and asked the legal services authorities to work together and release under trial prisoners and those on bail and parole to bring the prison population down.

About NALSA:

- National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) was formed on 9 November 1995 under the authority of the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987.

- Its purpose is to provide free legal services to eligible candidates (defined in Sec. 12 of the Act), and to organize Lok Adalats for speedy resolution of cases.

- The Chief Justice of India is patron-in-chief of NALSA while second senior most judge of Supreme Court of India is the Executive-Chairman.

- The prime objective of NALSA is speedy disposal of cases and reducing the burden of judiciary.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/over-42000-undertrials-released-to-unclog-prisons-nalsa-report/article31609154.ece


Prelims Bits:


- A tropical cyclone striking at the cost of Odisha.

- The IMD has issued an ‘orange alert’ for May 19 and 20 when heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely to take place in coastal districts.

- Very heavy rainfall may take place in districts of marked red zone during the pandemic of corona.

Color coding by IMD:


- Take action

- Extremely bad weather is expected.

- People need to take action to keep themselves and others safe.

- Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life are likely.

Amber (Orange)

- Be Prepared

- An increased likelihood of extremely bad weather, which could potentially cause travel delays, road and rail closures, and interruption of power supply.

- People need to be prepared to change plans and protect themselves.


- Be Aware

- Severely bad weather is possible over the next few days.

- Plan ahead thinking about possible travel delays and disruption of day-to-day activities possible.


- All is normal.


Coast Guard Fleet

 - Indian coast guard now has 150 ships and boats and 62 aircraft.

- The ships are deployed extensively for Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance, coastal security and other duties as enshrined in the Coast Guard charter of duties, to safeguard the maritime interests of the nation.

- Ship ICGS Sachet is the first in a series of five offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) being built by the Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL).

- The IBs, C-450 and C-451, are designed & built by the Larsen & Toubro Shipyard, Hazira.


Lipulekh Pass road

- It is a new 80-km road built by the Border Roads Organisation from Ghatiabgarh in Uttarakhand to Lipulekh just five km short of the LAC.

- It significantly reduces the travel time.

- It was made under the directions of the China Study Group

- It is funded under Indo-China Border Roads.

- It makes travel easier for the pilgrims going to Kailash-Mansarovar.