GS 2: Polity & IR : 20/11/18
Govt, RBI call truce after a marathon board meeting
- The tension between the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) appeared to have defused for the time being with both agreeing to settle for a middle ground .
- The most contentious issue between the central bank and the Finance Ministry was the RBI’s capital.
- Now, while the RBI has agreed to set up an expert committee on the economic capital framework (ECF), its mandate is restricted to future earnings and not the existing reserves.
- On the PCA, the Board for Financial Supervision (BFS) of the RBI will review the norms and take a call if some of the parameters like net non-performing asset (NPA) ratio could be relaxed so that some of the banks come out of the PCA.
- There are 11 public sector banks out of 21 that are on the PCA.
- The BFS consists of the Governor, four Deputy Governors and a few other board members.
- Another significant decision was relief to micro, small and medium enterprises — the sector which is badly hit by the twin blows of demonetisation and patchy implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
NSA, Minister hampered Asthana probe
- DIG plea in SC against transfer alleges interference, bribery
- A senior CBI officer, who supervised the team probing the corruption case against the agency’s Special Director R.K. Asthana, moved the Supreme Court leveling a series of allegations involving National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Central Vigilance Commissioner K.V. Chowdhary, Law Secretary Suresh Chandra and Union Minister of State for Coal and Mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary.
Eateries must declare themselves smoke-free’
- lays out strict conditions for defining smoking zones
- Places having over 30 seats must create a separate smoking zone.
- No services should be provided in these zones, including sale of alcohol, cigarettes, or food.
- Smoking zones need to be set only after getting the required permission.
- Stringent steps will be taken to remove smoking zones in bars and restaurants, which are in violation of law
- Designated smoking zones in pubs and restaurants must not be provided services that encourage smokers to hang around in the area for long, while eateries must declare themselves smoke-free to protect their patrons from passive smoking.
- The smoking zones should not have any seating arrangements.
- Stringent steps would be taken to remove smoking zones in bars and restaurants, which are in violation of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 and Karnataka Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Act.
- It was issued as part of the joint consultation on ‘Advancing Urban Health Policies, Key policies for NCD prevention’ organised by the State government, National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), Association of Healthcare Providers (India) and Association of National Board Accredited Institutions.
- Second-hand smoking was a major contributor to cardio-vascular diseases. Nearly a quarter of non-smokers are exposed to tobacco smoke in public, while 14% of them are exposed in eateries.
It’s status quo on KPSC recruitment quota norms
- The State Cabinet has decided to maintain the status quo with regard to reservation in direct recruitments by the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC).
- Decision was taken to continue the earlier policy (2006), which allowed meritorious candidates from the reserved category to be appointed under general merit category.
- A recent Government Order had limited meritorious candidates from reserved category to be recruited in general category and this had evoked a strong protest from Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge and other leaders.
- Kharge had shot off a letter to CM H.D. Kumaraswamy stating that 50% of government jobs would be the limit for 93% of the population eligible to qualify under direct reservation if the order was to be implemented.
Kambala season set to begin
- The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are all set for the kambala (a traditional slush-track buffalo race)
- The first race, named ‘sathya-dharma’, is scheduled at Kakkyapadavu, Bantwal taluk in Dakshina Kannada on November 24. The last and the 18th ‘soorya-chandra’ kambala will be conducted at Talapady-Panjala in Mangaluru taluk on March 23, 2019.
- All of them would be held under the auspices of the District Kambala Committee.
- It is customary for the kambala to be held for five months, from November to March, in ‘hagga’, ‘kane halage’, ‘naegilu’ and ‘adda halage’ categories, each year. The race can go on right through the day and on to night, depending on the number of buffalo teams participating.
- With the Governor giving approval for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Second Amendment) Act, 2017, and the State government notifing the same on February 20, 2018, kambala organisers are happy that they can conduct the race without the threat of a ban hanging over the event as it did in the 2016-17 season.
- Kambala was not held in the coastal districts during 2016-17 due to a ban imposed by Karnataka High Court in November 2016 on a PIL filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
- Later, the President promulgated The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance 2017, which was valid till January 20, 2018 paving the way for conducting ‘kambala’ in 2017-18.
- Though the PETA challenged the ordinance in the Supreme Court, it refused to pass an interim stay on the Ordinance. Hence some ‘kambalas’ were held in the last season.
‘Literacy levels in rural India suffer from migration of families’
- UNESCO report says that 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education and 40% were likely to end up in work
- Literacy levels in rural households of India dip with seasonal migration, the UNESCO global education monitoring report 2019 has observed, bringing out the educational challenges thrown up by migration.
- In India, 10.7 million children aged 6 to 14 lived in rural households with a seasonal migrant in 2013. About 28% of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to 18% of the cohort overall
- About 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education near work sites, and 40% are likely to end up in work rather than education, experiencing abuse and exploitation.
- The report says that the construction sector absorbs the majority of short-term migrants.
- A survey in Punjab State of 3,000 brick kiln workers in 2015-16 found that 60% were inter-State migrants. Between 65% and 80% of all children aged 5 to 14 living at the kilns worked there 7 to 9 hours per day. About 77% of kiln workers reported lack of access to early childhood or primary education for their children.
- Inter-State migration rates have doubled between 2001 and 2011.
- An estimated 9 million migrated between States annually from 2011 to 2016.
- It also warns of the negative impact on education for children who are left behind as their parents migrate:
- Test scores were lower among left-behind children aged 5 to 8.
- The Right to Education Act in 2009 made it mandatory for local authorities to admit migrant children.
- National-level guidelines were issued, allowing for flexible admission of children, providing transport and volunteers to support with mobile education, create seasonal hostels and aiming to improve coordination between sending and receiving districts and states.
- Some State governments have also taken steps for migrant children’s education. It, however, observes that most interventions are focused on keeping children in home communities instead of actively addressing the challenges faced by those who are already on the move.
- It also talks of a failed initiative: “A pilot programme used on brick kiln sites from 2010-2011 in Rajasthan to track the progress of out-of-school children did not improve learning in any substantial way. Teachers on the sites cited culture, language, lifestyle, cleanliness and clothing as major barriers between them and the kiln labour community. Teacher and student absenteeism were rampant.”
- The growth of slums and informal settlements — where schools are often scarce — due to migration as a challenge.
- 18% of the students displaced by a riverfront project in Ahmedabad dropped out and an additional 11% had lower attendance.
- There is only one urban planner for every 1,00,000 people in India, while there are 38 for every 1, 00,000 in the United Kingdom.
Maratha quota is a betrayal: OBC groups
- A day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a new Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) category under which Marathas will be given reservation, organisations of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) that this was an attempt to give a share of their reservation to that community.
- As per Section 340 of the Constitution, the term Socially and Educationally Backward Class is being used for the OBCs. How can Marathas be termed so and get the same reservation?
- the State Backward Classes Commission report, by giving Marathas the SEBC status, had included them in the OBCs. They would hence be eligible for a share of OBC reservation.
Sri Lanka House adjourned
MPs aligned to Ranil seek the suspension of state funds to the PM’s Office, now occupied by Rajapaksa
- MPs aligned to ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and from other Opposition parties have sought the suspension of state funds to the PM’s Office, now occupied by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose administration they consider illegitimate.
- The development is the latest in the series of events since President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Mr. Wickremesinghe on October 26, and replaced him with Mr. Rajapaksa.
- The political stalemate in Sri Lanka’s legislature has been dragging since, because MPs backing the Sirisena-Rajapaksa combine continue opposing a vote in the House that could test claims to a majority.
- In a bid to resolve the complex political quandary, Mr. Sirisena convened an all-party conference, where he urged MPs to go for a vote by name or by the electronic system.
Maldives to pull out of China FTA
· Trade imbalance between the two is too huge: Nasheed
- The Maldives’ new government will pull out of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, said Maldivian Democratic Party leader Mohamed Nasheed.
- Former President Abdullah Yameen signed the FTA during a visit to Beijing in December last year, and the same month, his Parliament ratified the treaty.
- Nasheed, now an adviser to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, said that Parliament would not pass the changes required for the agreement to come into force.
- Maldives’ imports from China were $342 million, while its exports to China were just $2,65,270, according to Maldives customs data. The island nation bought meat, agricultural produce, flowers, plants, electronics and toys from China among many other items.
- The Yameen administration said at the time that the FTA would help diversify the $3.9 billion economy and boost fisheries exports from the Maldives, crucial since the European Union declined in 2014 to renew a tax concession. The two countries would open up services such as finance, health care and tourism, China said at the time. The Maldives has no free trade pacts with any other country.
Global fight on malaria stalled: WHO
· The number of cases of the killer disease climbed by 2 million to 219 million in 2017
- The World Health Organisation said global efforts to fight malaria have hit a plateau as it reported there were more cases of the killer disease in 2017 than the previous year.
- The latest WHO report showed that the number of malaria cases climbed to 219 million last year, two million higher than 2016, while international funding has declined.
- Malaria, which is spread to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes, occurs in 91 countries but about 90% of the cases and deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Foreign funding to some of the most affected countries has declined, in certain instances by more than 20 percent for every individual at risk of contracting the disease.
- A considerable proportion of people at risk of infection are not being protected, including pregnant women and children in Africa.
- The disease killed 4,35,000 people last year, the majority of them children under five in Africa.
- Another constraint in fighting malaria has been mosquitoes building up resistance to some insecticides.
- WHO said it was embarking on new ways to scale up the battle against one of the world's deadliest diseases.
- Most malaria cases reported last year were in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.