UPSC IAS The Hindu Current Affairs 12th April 2018 highlights are:
- They allow for flexibility to continue political engagement and economic cooperation with their common adversary.
- They avoid entrapment of being dragged in to a partners dispute and potentially in to a conflict.
- At the same time, strategic partnership provides for regular political and military interactions for a collaborative approach to strategic policies.
India and Japan relations perfectly figure in to the above relationship.
- India will not get deep in to Japan disputes and the same is the case with Japan. A mutual cooperation exists on the wider issues where win win situation exists.
Important developments of India – Japan special strategic and global partnership are
- Japan is the only country India allowed to invest in infrastructure in North east.
- There is a joint infrastructure project development – Asia – Africa Growth corridor.
- Japan and India agreed to have annual summits and 2+ 2 format for defence and foreign ministers meeting.
- India is buying ShinMaywa Amphibious ships from Japan.
- Japan is investing in infrastructure development in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Nuclear deal in danger
Trump’s continuous tirade against Iran nuclear deal appears to be an end to Obama era pragmatism. Nuclear deal was successfully able to stop Iran form developing a nuclear weapon. Added to this, Iran never violated the deal. In these circumstances USA imposing sanctions against Iran, will set a dangerous precedent in international agreements. Iran nuclear deal being multilateral agreement, President shall end his rhetoric.
A big broom
Government effort to release names of shell companies, Name and shame its directors may not yield sufficient results to fight unaccounted money. In the process, there is a possibility of harassing genuine companies or directors.
The best way forward is to arrest systemic shortcomings.
Tax payer rights and obligations
Indian tax administration system shall move from an enforcement to a service based model. Intentions of reforms are good but they are reactive. DTAA, GAAR, transfer price mechanism, implementation of GST all have challenges.
improvement in taxpayers’ service, enhanced use of information and communication technology, exchange of information with other agencies, expansion of tax base, compliance management, etc. Need to be improved to make tax administration Service oriented.
Beyond social Media
In India Geographical indications (Registration and protection) act 1999 has provided for registration of Geographical indications. There is no effective monitoring mechanism for quality compliance of the same. Unlike this in the European regulation clearly provides for monitoring at multiple levels. India also shall have the same.
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12 April 2018
Heed the federal framework
The finance commission shall respect the principles of equity and fairness in allocating resources between centre and states.
Constitution of India has created mutual interdependencies between centre and states in relation to distribution of resources and developmental work. Constitution entrusts finance commission of India to address this. But, the terms of reference of 15th finance commission are directed to give a greater role to centre over the states. The issues are
- In the light of demonetisation and GST, States have suffered a loss of revenue. States freedom to raise tax revenue has been restricted by the introduction of GST.
- Using population data will affect the states that have successfully reduced their rate of population growth. These states have incurred huge fiscal costs in order to achieve a lower population growth and healthy demographic indicators. Added to this, rise in dependency ratio due to reduction in fertility rate is another challenge for these states.
- Terms of reference of finance commission talks about road maps of fiscal management. It is to the democratically elected state governments to decide on that. Another issue is – commission was asked to examine whether revenue deficit grants be provided at all. It mean that developmental efforts of the sates will be determined by the centre. To discontinue post tax devolution of revenue deficit grants would go against the principles of cooperative federalism.
- The terms of reference explicitly privilege the committed expenditures of the centre. It means that centre is expecting finance commission to take a residual approach to the question of vertical devolution. That is distributing whatever left over after providing for the requirements of centre.
- Another issue is to consider performance based incentives to the states. Here performance criteria will be decided by the centre. It is an ideological imposition of centre over the states. In a diverse country such as India states have to set their agenda. At the same time , it is not for the finance commission to declare policies as populist.
- The fiscal argument that Centre’s fiscal space got reduced after increasing tax devolution to 42% after 14th finance commission is also not true. It is offset by decreasing devolution on centre sponsored schemes.
Facing the future of development
The existing developmental model is unsustainable. The reasons are
- Urbanisation and industrialisation led economic growth can lead to food insecurity and unemployment. Automation can threaten jobs and costs of enormous infrastructure that need to be built to make cities habitable is unviable.
- Access to resources in skewed against urban elite in comparison to rural masses, industry against agriculture. It can be seen in access to water, loans, land etc.
- There are many successful alternatives exist in India – achievement of complete food security by Dalit women farmers of Deccan development society, small peasants of Timbaktu collective in Andhra-Telangana, generation of decent livelihoods through crafts, small scale manufacturing, community based tourism, traditional health services by Jhar craft, Kudumbashree, Maati, Khamir, SrujanQasaba re right suited for India.
Building India’s talent base
As resources are limited – states in India need to build high impactful skill policies rather spreading their resources across multiple initiatives with out a direction. Study of Tata Trusts and Copenhagen consensus centre for Indian projects study in AP shows that
- Spending on SME through loans and spending on increasing access to vocational training programmes can be helpful.
- The same programs are not so impactful in Rajasthan.
A promise falls short
Supreme Court of India in NALSA vs Union of India case held that right to gender identity is inherent in ones right to life, autonomy and dignity. It also stated that
- Central and state Governments shall grant legal recognition to gender identity to transgenders.
- To provide reservations to public education and employment.
- To provide medical care and serrate toilets and other facilities.
After three Years of Judgements,
It is still difficult to change name and gender identity . No reservations or amenities are provided to transgenders.
Hyper nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban got elected to office for third time in Hungary. It can have serious implications of EU and Human rights, immigrant policies of Europe.
End to cattle curbs
Government of India withdrew the restrictions imposed on cattle trade through a fresh notification.
See the comparison chart