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Newspaper Bits 07-03-2018

A compilation of Prelims and Mains related Current Affairs from various Newspapers and PIB.

India – China 

  • The Tibetan government-in-exile has called off two of its programmes in Delhi marking 60 years in exile of the Dalai Lama. While an interfaith prayer at Rajghat has been cancelled, a ‘Thank You India’ event has been shifted to Dharamsala
  • There was no direct message from the government to call off the commemorations, but it was conveyed to our leadership that perhaps these events should not be held in Delhi
  • it does India no good to be seen bending to Chinese pressure. Government can argue that its position on the Dalai Lama hasn’t changed. But the cancellation of the Delhi events to avoid Beijing’s displeasure signals weakness on New Delhi’s part.
  • The only way India can secure its own interests is by standing up to Chinese pressure.

Ayushman Bharat

  • Ayushman Bharat also includes a component that proposes to strengthen primary healthcare , this would be done by establishing 1,50,000 Wellness Centres.
  • More than five decades worth of experience with the provision of primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare by the government have been deeply disappointing.
  • Understand healthcare via our existing public healthcare system. 
  • Since at least the early 1960s, we have been investing in a massive network of sub centres (SCs), primary health centres (PHCs) and community health centres (CHCs) in rural India.
  • SCs serve as the first point of contact between people and public health system. They provide public health services such as immunisation, curative care for minor aliments and maternal and child health and nutrition. They employ one male and one female worker with the latter being auxiliary nurse and midwife.
  • PHCs serve as referral units for six SCs and have a qualified doctor and four to six beds.
  • CHCs serve as referral units for four PHCs. They have four doctors covering different specialties, 21 paramedical and other staff, 30 beds, an operation theatre and X-ray room.
  • Population norms per centre for the plains are
    • 5,000 for SCs,
    • 30,000 for PHCs
    • and 1,20,000 for CHCs.
  • With 1,56,000 SCs, 25,650 PHCs and 5,624 CHCs as per the Rural Health Statistics, 2017, we are currently within striking distance of these norms.
  • service delivery has been disappointing. In 2014-15, a mere 28% of those needing outpatient care came to these facilities. A hefty 72% of patients went to private providers.
  • proposed Wellness Centres are designed to succeed where SCs and PHCs have largely not succeeded.
  • Studies by experts do not give high marks to existing insurance schemes either. For instance, a 2017 study of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), concludes, “Overall, the results [of our study] suggest that RSBY has been ineffective in reducing the burden of out-of-pocket spending on poor households.”
Way Forward
  • idea of ‘One Nation, One Scheme’ is enticing, we should not lose sight of the fact that we are a diverse nation. While the scheme can be one, it has to have sufficient flexibility built into it so that local administrations can adjust it as per local needs.
  • The current approach of National Health Mission – whereby states must pre-commit to expenditure allocations across 2,000 budget lines with no real flexibility to subsequently move expenditures between different line items – will render NHPS ineffective.

Sri Lanka declares state of emergency

Sri Lanka on Tuesday declared an island-wide state of emergency to curb growing anti-Muslim violence in the country’s Central Province.The decision, taken at the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, came in response to a series of arson attacks targeting dozens of mosques and Muslim-owned shops and homes in Kandy, located in the Central Province.
Anti-Muslim violence has been on the rise in Sri Lanka in recent years as the country’s leaders have struggled to rein in the nationalist fervor of the majority Sinhalese Buddhists.

Banks face $3 bn write-off from PNB scam

  • According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, banks have to write off the entire loan amount once a fraud has been reported.
  • So, the entire $2 billion exposure of the country’s second largest bank PNB through LoUs issued in favour of Nirav Modi group firms will have to be booked as an NPA.
  •  Now, banks are preparing for another Rs. 8,000 crore or about $1.2 billion in bad loans, taking the total damage to about $3 billion.

NPA as per RBI

An asset, including a leased asset, becomes non-performing when it ceases to generate income for the bank. A ‘non-performing asset’ (NPA) was defined as a credit facility in respect of which the interest and/ or instalment of principal has remained ‘past due’ for a specified period of time.
 Non ­performing Assets


  • An asset, including a leased asset, becomes non­ performing when it ceases to generate income for the bank.
  •  A non ­performing asset (NPA) is a loan or an advance where;
  1.  interest and/ or instalment of principal remain overdue for a period of more than 90 days in respect of a term loan,
  2.  the account remains ‘out of order’ as indicated at paragraph 2.2 below, in respect of an Overdraft/Cash Credit (OD/CC),
  3.  the bill remains overdue for a period of more than 90 days in the case of bills purchased and discounted,
  4.  the instalment of principal or interest thereon remains overdue for two crop seasons for short duration crops,
  5.  the instalment of principal or interest thereon remains overdue for one crop season for long duration crops,
  6. the amount of liquidity facility remains outstanding for more than 90 days, in respect of a securitisation transaction undertaken in terms of guidelines on securitisation dated February 1, 2006.
  7.  in respect of derivative transactions, the overdue receivables representing positive mark-to-market value of a derivative contract, if these remain unpaid for a period of 90 days from the specified due date for payment.
  8. In case of interest payments, banks should, classify an account as NPA only if the interest due and charged during any quarter is not serviced fully within 90 days from the end of the quarter.

IMPRINT India programme

  • IMPRINT-II, a fund was being created by the Department of Science and Technology and the HRD Ministry
  • It is a major boost for research and innovation 1,000 crore have been sanctioned for the scheme .
  • These projects cover crucial domains like security and defence, information technology, energy, sustainable habitat, advance materials, health care, nano technology, climate change, etc.

Sharp correction

  • After a strong start to the year, since the beginning of February, stock markets around the world have witnessed a sharp correction. The U.S.’s decision to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminium was the latest development to infuse a sense of uncertainty.
  • Notably, this correction comes after a record bull run that stocks enjoyed in 2017. While the Sensex advanced about 28% in 2017, the Nifty climbed 30%.
  • Whether they will break lower to experience further correction or consolidate for a while before moving upwards is anyone’s guess.
  • the biggest challenge to stock prices will be higher interest rates as central bankers move to rein in inflation amid strengthening economic growth.

Make the neighbourhood first again

  • India’s neighbourhood policy is clearly adrift. New Delhi’s connect with its South Asian neighbours is weaker than it has been for a very long time.
  • The first problem is that for various reasons other governments in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region are either not on ideal terms with New Delhi, or facing political headwinds.
    • Maldives President is challenging the Indian govt.
    • In Nepal, the K.P. Sharma Oli government is certainly not India’s first choice.
    • With Pakistan, it is difficult to see Delhi pushing for official dialogue
  • In other parts of the neighbourhood, where relations have been comparatively better for the past few years, upcoming elections could turn the tables on India.
    • Srilanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh, elections this year and the next could pose challenges for India.
  • The second problem impact of China’s unprecedented forays into each of these countries.
    • For Nepal China opened up an array of alternative trade and connectivity options after the 2015 India-Nepal border blockade
    • In Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan, China holds strategic real estate, which could also be fortified militarily in the future
  • Beijing is now taking on a role New Delhi should have been in a better position to play, and by refusing to play it Delhi is being shown up as unfeeling, partisan or, worse, ineffective in the bargain.
  • The third issue is that the government’s decision to use hard power tactics in the neighbourhood has had a boomerang effect.
  • India should be expected to hold greater sway over each of its neighbours.
    •  However, the “surgical strikes” on Pakistan of 2016 have been followed by a greater number of ceasefire violations and cross-border infiltration on the Line of Control.
    • The 2015 Nepal blockade and a subsequent cut in Indian aid channelled through the government did not force the Nepali government to amend its constitution as intended.
    • Mr. Modi’s decision to abruptly cancel his visit to Male in 2015 did not yield the required changes.
    • Even in Bangladesh, the Indian Army chief, General Bipin Rawat’s tough talking last week about immigration has drawn ire there.
Way Forward
  • fundamental facts of geography and shared cultures in South Asia are also undeniable, and India must focus its efforts to return to a more comfortable peace, and to “Making the Neighbourhood First Again”.
  • India’s most potent tool is its soft power. Its successes in Bhutan and Afghanistan, for example, have much more to do with its development assistance than its defence assistance.
instead of opposing every project by China in the region, the government must attempt a three-pronged approach.
  • First, where possible, India should collaborate with China in the manner it has over the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic corridor.
  • Second, when it feels a project is a threat to its interests, India should make a counter-offer to the project, if necessary in collaboration with its Quadrilateral partners, Japan, the U.S. and Australia.
  • Third, India should coexist with projects that do not necessitate intervention, while formulating a set of South Asian principles for sustainable development assistance that can be used across the region.
Learning from ASEAN
  • leaders of SAARC countries meet more often informally, that they interfere less in the internal workings of each other’s governments, and that there be more interaction at every level of government.
  • “It is much safer to be feared than to be loved,” wrote Niccolo Machiavelli, “when one of the two must be wanting.” The government’s challenge is to steer India towards a course where it is both feared and loved in appropriate measure, and away from a situation in which it is neither feared nor loved.


The guilty men of Partition

  • It is commonly recognised that by 1946, leaders of the Muslim League were enamoured of the idea of Pakistan without thinking through its negative consequences for the Muslims in the minority provinces.
  • It is less widely understood that Partition also suited the Hindu nationalists in the Congress.Hindu nationalists were concerned that the national persona of independent India would not be anchored in Hindu identity since Muslims would form more than a quarter of the population.
  • The unequivocally secular Nehru eventually came to accept Partition for very different reasons. He realised that neither a strong state nor a planned economy, both dear to his heart, would be possible as long as the Muslim League was in control of Muslim majority provinces, an outcome indicated by the 1946 provincial elections. Nehru reluctantly concluded that it was better to hive off these provinces to prevent India remaining a weak state.
  • Congress Working Committee preferred Partition on communal lines to a united India. This was clear proof that despite its proclamations to the contrary the Congress accepted Jinnah’s two-nation theory.
  • The responsibility for Partition is more widely shared than is commonly recognised. It was not, as some assert, just a British ploy to which Indian leaders succumbed.


CJI-led Bench to resolve conflict over judgments

  • a five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Tuesday decided to resolve the conflict which once again threatened to lay bare the simmering tensions within the highest judiciary.
  • The controversy is centred on a February 8 judgment by a three-judge Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, in a land acquisition compensation case.
  • This judgment, in a majority opinion, had declared a previous 2014 verdict of another three-judge Bench of then Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, Justices Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph on the same subject, as per incuriam — that is, delivered without care for the law or facts.
Suggested reading

Sensex slumps to year’s low

  • India’s benchmark equity indices lost ground in the last hour of the trading session on Tuesday as select index constituents like ICICI Bank, State Bank of India and HDFC fell after it emerged that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) summoned top officials of ICICI Bank and Axis Bank as part of their probe in the Punjab National Bank scam.

India to join multilateral lender EBRD

India to join European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), after shareholders of the London-based multilateral lender agreed to the country becoming its 69th member, enabling Indian companies to undertake joint investments in regions in which the EBRD operates.

  • Set up in 1991, based on a proposal by former French President Francois Mitterand, the bank’s initial focus was helping central and Eastern European nations reconstruct their economies in the post-Cold War era.
  • It remains committed to furthering the development of “market-orientated economies and the promotion of private and entrepreneurial initiative.”
  • that the membership, which will see India take up a small stake in the bank, would spur further investment by Indian firms in a range of sectors from solar to utilities, providing them access to fast growing markets.
  • In 2017, the EBRD signed a pact with the International Solar Alliance, which was unveiled in 2015 in Paris.
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.


  • The EBRD is owned by 66 countries from five continents, as well as the European Union and the European Investment Bank. The EBRD President is currently Sir Suma Chakrabarti. Each shareholder is represented on the Board of Governors, which has overall authority over the EBRD.
  • active in more than 36 economies, from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, to Central and Eastern Europe, to Central Asia.
ONGC Videsh
  • The overseas arm of government-owned ONGC, has signed a cooperation agreement with Iran’s IDRO Oil to jointly bid for a $900 million development plan of Susangerd oilfield in southwest Iran.
  • ONGC  is India’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company. It produces around 77% of India’s crude oil and around 62% of its natural gas.
  • It was conferred with ‘Maharatna‘ status by the Government of India in November 2010.

Child marriages decline in India

  • India saw a sharp decline in child marriages over the last ten years with 27% of girls getting married before their 18th birthday as against 47% a decade ago, the UNICEF said on Tuesday.
  • Twenty-five million child marriages were prevented globally in the last 10 years (2005-06 and 2015-16) with the largest reduction in South Asia with India being at the forefront.
  • The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund was created by the United Nations General Assembly on the 11th of December 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II.
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF  is a United Nations (UN) program headquartered in New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

Innovations to combat ‘microfiber’

  • Innovators are coming up with tools to keep tiny pieces of thread that are discharged with washing machine effluent from reaching marine life. Such “microfibres” are too small to be caught in conventional filters, so they eventually pass through sewage plants, wash out to waterways, and can be eaten or absorbed by marine animals, some of which are later served as seafood.
  • A 2011 study, led by Australian ecotoxicologist Mark Browne, found that microfibres made up 85% of man-caused shoreline debris.
  • The UN has identified microfibre pollution as a key outgrowth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced annually. And a 2016 study in the Environmental Science & Technology found that more than a gram of microfibres is released every time synthetic jackets are washed and that as much as 40% of those microfibres eventually enter waterways.
Innovations aimed at curbing microfibres
  • Guppyfriend is a polyamide washing bag designed to prevent tiny threads from escaping.
  • Cora Ball is a multicolored ball designed to bounce around the washing machine, trapping microfibres in appendages that resemble coral.
  • Lint LUV-Ris a filter that attaches to a laundry water discharge hose.

Saving Cyber Network from Criminal Threat

As per the data maintained by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 9622, 11592 and 12,317 cyber-crime cases were registered during the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Government has taken various measures for preventing cyber crime in the country which inter-alia includes:

  •  The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently set up a Cyber & Information Security Division to look into relevant matters relating to cyber-crime & information security.
  •  Ministry of Home Affairs is implementing a scheme ‘Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children’ (CCPWC) from NIRBHAYA funds for setting up of one cyber forensic training laboratory in each State/UT.
  •  Various steps are taken by MHA as well as States to modernize the preventive setup and equip police personnel with knowledge and skills for prevention and control of crime through various national and state police academies/institutes. CCPWC scheme of Ministry of Home Affairs aims to train 27,500 police personnel across the country in the field of cyber domain.
  •  Information Technology Act, 2000 has adequate deterrent provisions for cyber threats and cyber attacks.
  •  All the new government websites and applications are to be audited with respect to cyber security prior to their hosting.  The auditing of the websites and applications is to be conducted on a regular basis after hosting.
  •  The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is regularly tracking the hacking of websites and alerts the website owners concerned to take actions to secure the websites to prevent recurrence.
  •  Government has formulated Cyber Crisis Management Plan for countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.
  •  CERT-In issues alerts and advisories regarding latest cyber threats/vulnerabilities and countermeasures to protect computers/servers on regular basis.Also conducts regular training programmes for key stakeholders.
  •  Cyber security mock drills are being conducted regularly to enable assessment of cyber security posture and preparedness of organizations in Government and critical sectors.
  •  Government has initiated setting up of National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC).
  •  Government has launched the Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre).
  •  NIC which provides IT/E-Governance related services to Government Departments protects the cyber resources from possible compromises through a layered security approach in the form of practices, procedures and technologies.

Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP)

  • NITI Aayog, the premier think tank of the country will launch its Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) on 8th March tomorrow, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.

Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) would provide a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem where women do not face any gender-based barriers. The platform aspires to substantially increase the number of women entrepreneurs who will create and empower a dynamic New India.

WEP will provide opportunities to women to realize their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale-up innovative initiatives and chalk-out sustainable, long-term strategies for their businesses.

The WEP shall aim to:

  • Promote women entrepreneurship by collaborating with various partner organisations
  •  Provide industry linkages & partner support to women entrepreneurs Increase the visibility of existing schemes, programmes & services across government and private sectors
  •  Identify and address issues and bottlenecks through appropriate channels
  •  Develop a national database through a centralised portal for registration of women entrepreneurs
  • Provide evidence-based policy recommendations to develop a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem



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