IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


25th January, 2020


Nepal pitches for informal SAARC summit

Nepal will be “happy” to host an informal summit of the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on the sidelines of the coming Sagarmatha Sambaad.

Nepal statement:

-       Nepal would work to build greater connectivity with China.

-       Nepal will be happy to welcome all SAARC leaders and provide them with an opportunity to discuss measures informally to develop cooperation.

-       Nepal had served out its tenure as chair of the regional body and was “eager” to pass the position to the next in line, Pakistan.

-       Coordination at the regional level would be essential to tackle challenges before South Asian countries.

-       The offer of an informal summit is in line with the current global trend whenever a formal agenda could not be worked out because of the contradictory positions of the stakeholders.

-       Nepal wants to build cross border railways, highways and port connectivity with China.

-       Nepal’s border dispute with India at Kalapani as a burden from history. 

About SAARC:

-       The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia.

-       Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

-       Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

-       The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration.

-       It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006.

-       The SAARC summit could not be held in Islamabad in 2016 after India faced terror strikes blamed on elements in Pakistan.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/nepal-pitches-for-informal-saarc-summit/article30646568.ece


Direct tax collections set to drop for first time in two decades

Tax Collection:

-       India’s corporate and income tax collection for the current year is likely to fall for the first time in at least two decades.

-       Government was targeting direct tax collection of Rs. 13.5 lakh crores ($189 billion) for the year ending March 31, a 17% increase over the prior fiscal year.

-       The tax department had managed to collect only Rs. 7.3 lakh crores as of January 23, more than 5.5% below the amount collected by the same point last year.

-       Officials typically garner about 30-35% of annual direct taxes in the final three months.

-       Direct tax collections this financial year were likely to fall below the Rs. 11.5 lakh crores collected in 2018-19.

About direct tax:

-       Direct taxes include tax varieties such as income tax, corporate tax, wealth tax, gift tax, expenditure tax etc.

-       A direct tax is a tax imposed upon a person or property as distinct from a tax imposed upon a transaction, which is described as an indirect tax.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/direct-tax-collections-set-to-drop-for-first-time-in-two-decades/article30646905.ece

IMF chief calls India’s growth slowdown temporary

IMF observation:

-       Growth slowdown in India appears to be temporary and that she expects the momentum to improve going ahead.

-       The world appears a better place in January 2020 compared to what it was when IMF announced its World Economic Outlook in October 2019.

-       Factors driving this positive momentum include receding trade tension after the U.S.-China first phase trade deal and synchronized tax cuts.

About IMF:

-       The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries.

-       It is working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.

-       The IMF's primary purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system—the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables countries (and their citizens) to transact with each other.

-       The IMF provides loans to member countries experiencing actual or potential balance of payments problems to help them rebuild their international reserves, stabilize their currencies.

-       The IMF’s employees come from all over the world; they are responsible to the IMF and not to the authorities of the countries of which they are citizens.

-       Each member country of the IMF is assigned a quota, based broadly on its relative position in the world economy.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/imf-chief-calls-indias-growth-slowdown-temporary/article30644876.ece

Monetary policy has its limits, reforms must continue: Das

Comment of RBI Governor:

-       Though recognizing the signs of an economic slowdown and acting early helped the central bank to reduce interest rate as falling inflation provided space, monetary policy has its own limits.

-       Structural reforms and fiscal measures may have to be continued and further activated to provide a durable push to demand and boost growth.

-       Inflation had fallen successively and averaged below 4% since 2017-18.

-       RBI follows a flexible inflation-targeting framework defined by a target of 4% for consumer price headline inflation with a tolerance band of +/- 2% around it.

-       The central bank’s primary objective is price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth, as defined by the RBI Act.

-       There are some potential growth drivers which, through backward and forward linkages, could give a significant push to growth.

-       These areas include prioritizing food processing industries, tourism, e-commerce, start-ups and efforts to become a part of the global value chain.

-       Government was also focusing on infrastructure spending which would augment the growth potential of the economy.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/monetary-policy-has-its-limits-reforms-must-continue-das/article30646516.ece


Candidates with criminal past should not get ticket, Election Commission of India tells Supreme Court



Court Observation:

-       Just a move to steer politics away from the denizens of the criminal world would definitely serve national and public interest.

-       EC had tried several measures to curb criminalization of politics, but to no avail.

-       Agreed to examine a proposition made by the Election Commission (EC) to ask political parties to not give ticket to those with criminal antecedents.

Supreme Court Judgment in September 2018:

-       Urged Parliament to bring a “strong law” to cleanse political parties of leaders facing trial for serious crimes.

-       Rapid criminalization of politics cannot be arrested by merely disqualifying tainted legislators but should begin by “cleansing” the political parties.

-       Parliament frame a law that makes it obligatory for political parties to remove leaders charged with “heinous and grievous” crimes like rape, murder and kidnapping, only to a name a few and refuse ticket to offenders in both parliamentary and Assembly polls.

-       It had also issued guidelines, including that both the candidate and the political party should declare the criminal antecedents of the former in widely-circulated newspapers.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/candidates-with-criminal-past-should-not-get-ticket-election-commission-of-india-tells-supreme-court/article30641893.ece

Centre seeks to revamp child care scheme in urban areas

Urban areas are likely to receive a renewed focus under the government’s ICDS programme, which provides for anganwadis or day-care centers across the country for delivery of nutrition and pre-school education.

Approved Paper by Niti Ayog:

-       Health and ICDS models that work in rural areas may not work in urban areas because of higher population density, transportation challenges and migration.

-       Because of these issues it may not be possible for a community worker to keep in contact with the beneficiaries, which she is able to achieve in rural settings.

-       According to government data from 2018, of the 14 lakh anganwadis across the country there are only 1.38 lakh anganwadis in urban areas.

Urban Challenge:

-       Malnutrition among children in urban India is characterized by relatively poor levels of breastfeeding, as mothers have to travel long distances for work.

-       Children in rural parts on the other hand suffered from higher levels of stunting, were more underweight and wasting and the lower consumption of milk products were more prevalent.

-       Children in urban areas were overweight and obese as indicated by subscapular skinfold thickness (SSFT) for their age.

Some Key Suggestions:

-       Improving infrastructure in urban areas would be key as the government embarks on improving service delivery under the ICDS programme.

-       Other crucial steps for anganwadi services in urban areas is strengthening safety and infrastructure.

-       AWC provides to the community as a safe place where kids can be left and services availed.

About ICDS scheme:

-       It is a centrally sponsored Scheme implemented by States/UTs across the country.

-       The responsibility for implementation of ICDS Programme including computerization if any and providing supplementary nutrition under it has and management thereof rests with States/UTs.

Scheme was launched with the objectives

-       To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;

-       To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;

-       To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;

-       To achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development;

-       To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.

In order to achieve these objectives, a package of six services namely 

-       Supplementary nutrition (SNP),

-       Immunization,

-       Health check-up,

-       Referral services,

-       Pre-school non-formal education

-       Nutrition& health education are provided. 

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-seeks-to-revamp-child-care-scheme-in-urban-areas/article30646763.ece

Plea for judicial probe in custodial death cases

The Supreme Court asked the government to respond to a petition seeking implementation of Section 176(1A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides for mandatory judicial inquiry in cases of death, disappearance or rape in police and judicial custody.

Petitioner’s argument:

-       Since the enactment of Section 176(1A) in 2005, the National Human Rights Commission has recorded 24,043 custodial deaths/rapes between 2005-2006 and 2018-2019.

-       National Crimes Records Bureau’s annual reports from 2005 to 2017 state that judicial inquiry was not conducted in about 80% of the cases recorded by it.

-       With respect to 476 cases of “death or disappearance of persons remanded in police custody by court,” 266 cases were registered and 54 police officers were charge sheeted, but not a single police officer was convicted.

-       Out of the 827 cases of death or disappearance of persons in police custody without court remand, judicial inquiry was ordered only in 166 cases — 20% of the total cases.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/plea-for-judicial-probe-in-custodial-death-cases/article30646740.ece