UPSC IAS The Hindu Current Affairs 14th May 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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14 May 2018
Karnataka’s 72% turnout is a record
Election commission of India’s effort to educate voters has paid off in Karnataka. It has registered a highest voter turnout in this assembly elections.
Supreme Court seeks action on choked Jails
Supreme Court of India has expressed concern about overcrowding in Prisons. It has asked all the high courts to consider the issue as it involves human rights violations.
Government of India holding back few names in the collegium referred list is expected to have adverse impact on independence of Judiciary. Though, he is appointed on reiteration of collegium, It adversely affects seniority of the Judge to be elevated as a member of collegium/CJI. As per the 2nd and 3rd Judges case seniority is the only criteria to be elevated to collegium or to be appointed as CJI.
Lebanon has a unique power distribution structure among the social groups. President shall be from christian community, Prime Minister a sunni muslim and speaker a Shia Muslim.
Internationally, Shia faction led by Hezbollah gets its support from Iran, Sunni faction from Arab nations.
In the present election Hizbollah won the elections and it is expected to consolidate its power on the Government.
The changing terms of endearment
Growing conflict between plaits and hindutva must be seen in the context of paradigm shift in UP politics. It includes
- Failure of development to reach to gross root levels. Illogical connections between Hindutva and development.
- Increased violence and atrocities against Dalits.
- Growing tactical political adjustments among opposition parties.
An open letter to finance ministers
Issues in relation to terms of reference given to 15th finance commission
- On vertical devolution :
- centre has asked commission to review recommendations of 14th finance commission which has increased vertical devolutions to 42% of sharable pool of taxes.
- It has asked finance commission to look in to imposition of limitations on borrowing powers of states, elimination of revenue deficit grants.
- Added to this, finance commission is asked to examine in to populist programs . All the above are meant to decrease state autonomy in fiscal space.
- On horizontal devolution
Population criteria based on 2011 census will adversely effect the sates that have actively implemented national population policy.
so, Political alignments shall not come in the way of defending fiscal rights of the states.
Kerala’s developmental paradox
Social movements in Kerala has strong foundation in land reform movements pioneered by communists. It has developed a strong civil society in Kerala. This is one of the reasons for high developmental indices in Kerala.
Today, land and agriculture are no more issues for mobilisation. Increasing corporate ownership of land and resources, growing divides among people are a stark reality.
Trust in the time of polls
Disinformation actively propagated by political parties is generating information asymmetry in Indian media space. Here, fact check website, alt news are able to create awareness to eat extent. But their space is minimal.
Centre plans ordinance on SC/ST act
Government is planning to issue an ordinance to overturn the supreme court Judgement that prohibited immediate arrest of individuals accused of discrimination. It also has relaxed provisions related to anticipatory bail.
A tight rope walk over china for Prime Minister
- Prime Minister is giving a key note address at shangri La Dialogue in Singapore.
- Prime Minister is about to participate in SCO – famously described as eastern NATO.
- Indonesia is seen as a focal point in Indo Pacific. It has recently increased its engagement with Japan and Australia. Prime Minister is making a visit to Indonesia too.
ISRO making green propellant.
ISRO is planing to replace Hydrazine – a carcinogenic, Highly corrosive rocket fuel with Hydroxyl ammonium nitrate based mono propellant. ( Instructions to R&D team – develop notes here )
China’s first indigenous air craft carrier begins sea trial
China became country with its own air craft carrier (Type 001A) along with USA, Russia , Britain. It indicates rising maritime power of china.
Government regulators mull shell firm definition.
Government is trying to put in a proper definition for shell companies.
Customer rights still a gray area in insolvency and Bankruptcy code
In IBC, only two types of creditors are identified – financial and operational creditors. It conspicuously misses customers who paid advances to companies.
An Inch forward, miles to go
Challenges in indigenous oil production in India.
- Demand growth is buoyant and production is not rising in proportion to demand.
- Public sector still holds monopoly over fuel transportation pipe lines – ex – GAIL.
- Indirect taxes are high on fuel production, refining and sale.
On the other side,
- Open acreage licensing policy is incentivising explorers.
Read this article from Hindu
The lowdown on the recent OALP round
What is OALP?
The policy was brought out in June 2017 and marked a departure from the previous regime in terms of the geographical area that could be explored, the number of licences required, the manner in which proceeds are to be shared with the government, and the procedure to sell what is extracted. OALP is a part of HELP, which itself was a replacement to the New Exploration and Licensing Policy.
How is the new policy different?
The ‘open acreage’ in OALP refers to the fact that potential investors are now able to choose exactly which areas they want to explore and develop.
Under NELP, the government used to select an area and then place it on the block, and investors had to bid for the entire block even if they were interested in only a portion.
Under OALP, investors choose the exact areas they are interested in, convey their interest to the government, which then places just those blocks up for bidding, typically twice a year. However, the government has indicated that bidding could take place even more frequently, if needed.
What else is different?
The other major difference between the new and old policies is the new one doesn’t require developers to apply for separate licences for each of the hydrocarbons they want to extract from the block. They can obtain a single unified license that will allow them to extract and market oil, gas, coal bed methane, shale oil and shale gas.
The new policy also does away with the earlier provision for a profit-sharing model with the government. Profit sharing as a policy led to a number of delays and complications over what exactly constituted the cost, and therefore profit, of the firm doing the exploring. The new policy hinges on revenue-sharing, doing away with this ambiguity.
What happened in the bids?
The DGH said that it received 110 e-bids for the 55 blocks on offer by the deadline of midnight on May 2, 2018. Of the 110 e-bids received, 92 were received for inland blocks and 18 for offshore blocks.
Nine companies — ONGC, OIL, GAIL India, IOCL, BPRL, Vedanta, Selan, HOEC and Sun Petro — participated in the bid. Of these, ONGC placed 37 bids both individually and with consortium partners, and Cairn Vedanta placed 55 bids.
Question of the day
Fiscal federalism is a tight balance of matters. It need to address developmental responsibilities of states and macro-economic concerns of union. Discuss above statement in the context of recent controversies surrounding finance commission.