IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


23rd December, 2019


India, Iran agree to accelerate Chabahar development

External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for a meeting of the 19th India-Iran joint commission, including talks on the Chabahar port, during a visit that could see him dealing with concerns of Indian expatriates over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as well.

Meeting Highlights:

-       Iran had expressed that it was disappointed that India had stopped all oil imports from Iran following the sanctions by the United States.

-       Iran’s Ambassador Ali Chegeni had earlier suggested that India’s adherence to U.S. sanctions was also affecting Chabahar port development plans.

-       Recently, a senior U.S. official made it clear that it would continue its “narrow exemption” to India to develop the Chabahar port, recognizing its role as “as a lifeline to Afghanistan in terms for India to be able to export humanitarian supplies and potentially helping Afghanistan diversify its export opportunities.”

-       Subsequently, diplomats from India, Iran and Afghanistan met in Delhi and discussed several new initiatives for the trilateral project at Chabahar.

About Chabahar port:

-       The Chabahar Agreement was signed in June 2015 and approved by Iran’s Guardian Council in November 2016.

-       Chabahar is being seen as a gateway for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with Central Asian countries.

-       Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country.

-       With Chabahar, India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.

-       Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.

-       The India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) and SPV of Indian Ports Global Ltd. in Iran have taken over interim operation of the Chabahar Port.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-iran-agree-to-accelerate-chabahar-development/article30374799.ece


FATF asks 150 questions to Pakistan, seeks answers against madrassas linked to proscribed outfits


The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had kept Pakistan on the Grey List for an extended period till February 2020 pressurizing it to take action to curb terrorism and money laundering.

FATF had warned that Islamabad would be put on the Black List if it did not comply with the remaining 22 points in a list of 27 questions. Pakistan submitted a report comprising answers to 22 questions to the FATF.

New Developments:

In response to the report submitted by Pakistan, the FATF’s Joint Group has sent 150 questions to Pakistan, seeking some clarifications, updates and actions taken against the madrasas belonging to the banned outfits.

-       The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions. 

-       The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

-       The FATF has developed a series of recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

-       FATF maintains the current list of nations: FATF blacklist (formally called the “Call for action”) and the “FATF grey list” (formally called the ‘”Other monitored jurisdictions”).

-       FATF Blacklist carried with it no formal sanction, in reality, a jurisdiction placed on the FATF Blacklist often found itself under intense financial pressure.



The 36 countries include mostly developed Western nations, but also China, Hong Kong (China), Malaysia, and Turkey.

-       Moving out of grey list requires at least 15 out of 36 votes.

-       Resisting to black list requires three votes minimum.

India is a voting member of the FATF and APG, and co-chair of the Joint Group where it is represented by the Director General of India’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Reference: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/fatf-asks-150-questions-to-pakistan-seeks-answers-against-madrassas-linked-to-proscribed-outfits/articleshow/72924978.cms


Countercyclical steps, structural reforms needed to counter slowdown, says RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das

Commenting on the current slowdown in economic growth, Mr. Das said there are structural issues, which need to be addressed.

Working of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC):

-       Since MPC involves a committee-based approach, more minds and views are going into the decision-making of the very important monetary policy.

-       The involvement of the three external experts brings in outside perspective, which improves the quality of decision-making and the outcome or final decision itself.

-       Since the time the MPC has been in place, by and large inflation has remained within the target.

-       Inflation has remained around 4%. Without a target, there were situations prior to the setting up of the MPC when CPI [Consumer Price Index] inflation was 10%.

-       The minutes of the MPC meeting are published which brings in greater transparency to the process of decision-making.

-       The minutes also reflect the thinking of each member making the whole process more deliberative.

Concern on Inflation Targeting:

-       There are concerns that inflation targeting has turned out to be detrimental to growth.

-       Controlling inflation without the necessary growth is meaningless; the monetary policy has to suitably factor in the growth aspect also.

Targeting of Headline Inflation vs. Core Inflation:

-       The MPC considers the headline inflation for inflation targeting. There have been suggestions to review this and consider Core Inflation as the basis of inflation targeting.

-       Headline inflation is a measure of the total inflation within an economy, including commodities such as food and energy prices (e.g., oil and gas).

-       Core inflation (also non-food-manufacturing or underlying inflation) is calculated from the consumer price index minus the volatile food and energy components.

-       Core inflation represents the long-run trend in the price level.

-       There are also arguments that what matters more for the common person of our country is the food inflation. The weightage of food items in the overall CPI basket is 47-48%. The neglecting of this aspect by considering core inflation might not be wise.

Concern on Monetary Transmission:

-       Back-to-back policy rate cuts of 135 basis points have been announced by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) between February-October 2019.

-       The policy rate cuts by the Monetary Policy Committee were unable to bring down the bank lending rates proportionately.

-       The system liquidity, which was in deficit till the end of May 2019, is in the surplus from June 2019 onwards.

-       It has been observed earlier that monetary policy transmission takes time.

Working on NBFC:

-       In the backdrop of the recent crisis with respect to a few NBFCs, the RBI has identified 50 critical NBFCs for close monitoring.

-       In case of vulnerabilities in such NBFCs, they have been identified and RBI has constantly engaged with the promoters and management, nudging them to take necessary, market-related measures like to mobilize additional capital and to deleverage, to show better recoveries, etc.

Concern related to Urban Cooperative banks:

-       In the case of the urban cooperative banks, there is no RBI representative on the Boards. RBI is mainly involved in supervision. RBI does not do any audit.

-       RBI is planning to use technology, data analytics, in a big way. There are plans of setting up a research and analysis wing within the department of supervision which will collate and correlate all the data, see the interconnectedness and will be able to comprehensively look at the banking structure.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/food-inflation-spike-transient-says-rbi-governor-shaktikanta-das/article30373407.ece

Railway unveils new signalling system


-       The Railways will roll out its new signalling system from April 2020 onwards.

-       The implementation will begin with four sections of about 640 route kilometres with an estimated cost of around Rs.1,810 crores.

-       This is expected to be a pilot project for pan-India implementation of the nearly Rs.78,000 crores project to modernize the signalling system.

Importance of signalling system:

-       The new signalling system is expected to make train travel faster and safer.

-       The implementation of these new systems will also improve safety, reduce congestion, increase line capacity and improve punctuality.

-       The system will act as a pilot for signal modernization across the 70,000 km network of the Railways.

Technology of new signalling system:

-       The modernization of the signalling system will include implementation of technologies such as the automatic train protection system that helps in adhering to permissible speed limits without driver intervention.

-       4G-based mobile train radio communication system, which can be used for emergency communications.

-       A centralized traffic control system similar to the air traffic control system is being envisaged.

-       A remote diagnostic and predictive maintenance system will also be implemented to supplement the proposed upgrade.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/railway-unveils-new-signalling-system/article30374161.ece


Flying squads to check quality of Palle Pragati works: KCR

-       After launching Palle Pragati, a programme aimed at comprehensive development of rural areas, the State government has focused its attention on ascertaining the quality of works by constituting flying squads.

-       The squads would undertake surprise checks of the projects launched from January 1 and submit reports from time to time.

-       Squads would consist of IAS, IPS and IFS officers and each would be given the charge of inspecting works in 12 mandals randomly allotted to them.

-       These checks would not only reveal the progress but also enable the government to elicit suggestions to improve works.

-       The inspections could be construed as a test of the performance of the officials and elected representatives.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/flying-squads-to-check-quality-of-palle-pragati-works-cm/article30373609.ece


Arunachal to mark schools as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’

Arunachal Pradesh will soon have schools marked ‘hard’, ‘soft’ and ‘medium’. Geography, lack of infrastructure and reluctance of teachers to work beyond their comfort zones are the reasons for this categorisation.

About the Policy:

-       All government schools will be divided into three categories — hard, medium and soft — based on topography, accessibility and degrees of difficulty in staying at the place of posting.

-       All new recruits will be given a hard posting for a mandatory three years period, inclusive of their probation period.

-       The next five years will be in schools with levels of medium difficulty, followed by posting in soft schools.

-       The government approved the Arunachal Pradesh Teachers’ Transfer & Posting Policy, 2020, for ensuring need-based distribution of teachers to protect the academic interest of students and optimise job satisfaction among the teachers in a free and transparent manner.

Need for Policy:

-       Teacher absenteeism has been a major issue across 3,513 government schools, including 211 community schools in the state.

-       The student-teacher ratio has consequently been skewed in favour of urban centres with better connectivity.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/arunachal-to-mark-schools-as-hard-and-soft/article30374214.ece


Curry leaf farmers gear up to produce oil to stay afloat

-       Two years ago, a few farmers joined hands to form the Prakruthi Udyana Utpattidarula Sangham, a farmer producer organisation (FPO), in Agiripalli of Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district.

-       The farmers associated with the organization are cultivating curry leaves on about 100 acres. As the production touched 20 tonnes per acre, they had to look for alternatives, apart from supplying dried leaves to companies that make herbal medicines.

-       The association, which has been exploring options available for export of horticultural products, is now eyeing curry leaf oil extraction.

-       The Department of Horticulture has come forward to provide financial assistance to the FPO to set up the infrastructure. The society members will be sent to the CFTRI for training.

-       Essential oils like curry leaf oil are primarily used in cosmetics and toiletries, food items and beverages. There is a demand for the oil in European countries, the Middle East and Asian countries.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/curry-leaf-farmers-gear-up-to-produce-oil-to-stay-afloat/article30375274.ece



Nagpur Resolution: A Holistic approach for empowering citizens’ adopted during regional conference organised by DARPG in Nagpur

The ‘Nagpur Resolution- A holistic  approach for empowering citizens’ was adopted during the Valedictory session of the two-day Regional Conference on ‘Improving Public Service Delivery – Role of Governments’, in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

The conference was organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Government of India, in collaboration with the Government of Maharashtra and the Maharashtra State Commission for Right to Public Services.

On earlier occasions, the Shillong Declaration and the Jammu Resolution have been adopted for good governance.

The Resolution adopted states that the GOI, the Government of Maharashtra and other participating States shall collaborate to:

-       To empower the citizens by policy interventions for better service delivery through timely updation of citizens charters.

-       Implementation of enactments and benchmarking standards for continuous improvement;

-       To empower citizens by adopting a bottom-up approach to bring massive improvements in quality of grievance redressal and reduction in timelines of grievance redressal;

-       To adopt a holistic approach of systemic public grievance reforms through improved mapping, formulation of monitoring matrix, data collection and evaluation in quality of grievance redressal;

-       To provide an enabling environment for States and Ministries/Departments of the Government of India for creating web portals and to adopt a holistic approach for improved service delivery through digital platforms;

-       To focus on dynamic policy-making and strategic decisions, monitoring of implementation, appointment of key personnel, coordination and evaluation;

-       To achieve a sense of common identity by exchange of technical expertise in the areas of Improved Service Delivery between the paired States under the Ek Bharat – Shreshth Bharat Program;

-       To work towards long-term engagements in the areas of Improved Service Delivery for Empowering Citizens through greater cooperation between the DARPG and the participating States and,

-       To ensure timely publication of Good Governance Index to identify the quality of governance in 10 sectors especially those pertaining to welfare and infrastructure at the Union, State and District levels.

Indian Railways to Procure 44 rakes of Vande Bharat Trains from ICF: Tender published for supply of electrical equipment and other items

Indian Railways to procure 44 rakes of Vande Bharat Trains from the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Chennai.

-       As part of the continuing initiative of Make in India, the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai has published the tender for supply of electrical equipment and other items for 44 Trainsets of 16 coaches each.

About the Vande Bharat Trains:

-       Vande Bharat Express, also known as Train 18, is an Indian semi-high speed intercity electric multiple unit.

-       Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the maiden run of the Vande Bharat trainset on New Delhi – Varanasi route in February 2019.

-       The second such train set service between New Delhi and Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Katra was flagged off by the Home Minister in October 2019.

-       It was designed and built under the Indian government’s Make in India initiative over a span of 18 months.