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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS from THE HINDU 26th September 2017 By Jatin Verma Educator Unacademy
News Articles To be Discussed. I. PM launches 'Saubhagya' plan for household electrification. 2. Mullaperiyar Row gets re-ignited. 3. Illegal sale of Oxytocin continues 4. Economic panel- PMEAC- to be revived 5. India counters Pakistani narrative. 6. Jim Mattis likely to push for Indian troops in Afghanistan 7. Putin to send special representative 8. Merkel faces tough coalition talks after election victory. 9. N. Korea,Venezuela in new travel ban. 10. Database soon of savings schemes linked with Aadhaar. I l . Intervention, rethinking needed to stir demand'.
Page-l: PM launches 'Saubhagya' plan for household electrification. The Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna, named 'Saubhagya' aims to improve the environment, public health, education and connectivity with the help of last-mile power connections across India. It will help reduce the use of kerosene lamps in non-electrified households Details of the Scheme: I. Eligibility:Under the scheme, electricity connections will be given free to people identified by the Socio Economic and Caste Census of 201 Iwhile others will get it for Rs 500, payable in 10 instalments in the bill. Staggered Approach: After connecting each house with electricity, the government's next target would be to end load shedding and provide 24x7 power. Funding:The scheme would inject Rs 16,000 cr. into the economy, create assets & generate employment. 2. 3. 60% by central grants, 30% by bank loans and 10% by states Extra Bonanza: States that complete the scheme by Dec. 2018 would be given an additional 15% grant by the Centre as incentive. Importantly, electricity would be billed without any subsidy..
4. Benefits: Remote hamlets will be powered with solar panels along with five LED lamps, a DC Rural Electrification Corp will be the nodal agency for the scheme throughout the The scheme primarily benefits rural areas, which have the vast majority of households without fan, and a plug point along with repair and maintenance for five years 5. country power connections. Of the total outlay of Rs 16,320 crore, rural areas will get Rs 14,025 crore
Page-5: Mullaperiyar Row gets re-ignited. Issue: Raising of Mullaperiyar Dam water level: Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said Tamil Nadu will take measures to raise the Mullaperiyar water level to 152 ft. and discussions in this regard will be held with the Kerala Government. It is feared that the leakages would increase once more water is stored with the pressure on the dam increasing. Why Tamil Nadu wants to increase water level? Even though, the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam was raised by the Supreme Court in its order in 2014 from 136 ft to 142 ft. Tamil Nadu tried for further raising the water as there was severe shortage of water in the five districts where farm lands are irrigated from the Mullaperiyar dam water The water level reached below I10 ft prior to the southwest monsoon this year.It was one of the lowest levels in the recent years making the intake of water from the dam by Tamil Nadu only for meeting the drinking water purposes. Large stretch of areas in Cumbom Valley was kept uncultivated during the last two seasons with severe shortage of water experienced there. In addition to meeting the drinking water and irrigation purposes, Tamil Nadu also produces power from the water of controversial dam.
. Supervisory Committee: Meanwhile, Kerala has demanded that the Supervisory Committee appointed by the Supreme Court should immediately visit the dam in the wake of new leakages found on the block 10 and I 1 of the old structure. .A team of Water Resource Department led by Kerala's representative in the Mullaperiyar sub panel George Daniel visited the dam. As per the Supreme Court order, the sub-panel should visit the dam every week when the dam waters rise above 125 ft (The present level is 127.4 ft).Though Kerala had demanded visit by the Mullaperiyar panel, it had not turned up since the monsoon started. . Kerala alleged that the meeting of the sub-panel was delayed as Tamil Nadu put pressure to do so.
Page-7: Illegal sale of Oxytocin continues Despite a ban on the retail sale of hormone drug Oxytocin (that is used to induce labour in women) for veterinary use, several pharmacies in the State continue to sell it illegally over the counter to dairy owners and farmers, who use it to boost milk production. Harmful effects: In the long run, it lowers the lifespan of cows and makes them infertile sooner. Under Schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, the drug can be distributed on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner only. Preventive action taken: [ilTo avoid its bulk sale, Oxytocin injections are packed only in single unit blister packs. [ii] The manufacture and sale of the drug without licence is a cognizable and non-bailable offence under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act Health Minister admitted that despite strict monitoring of the drug sale, it continues to find its ay into the market illegally.
. Page-10: Economic panel-PMEAC-to be revived PM's Economic Advisory Council reconstituted. The formation of the Council at this time suggests it could play a critical role in reviving the economy's growth momentum that has slumped over the past few quarters, with the first quarter of this financial year clocking just 5.7% growth, down from 7.9% a year ago. Economist Surjit Bhalla, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy director Rathin Roy and Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research professor Ashima Goyal have also been roped in as members of the Council. Addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister. This could be either suo motu or on reference from the Prime Minister or anyone else is the key term of reference for the panel. The terms of reference of the Council include analysis of any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the PM and advising him on the same, and attending to any task 'as may be desired' by the PM from time to time, as per an official statement.
Page-10: India counters Pakistani narrative. Indian diplomat at its permanent mission in the United Nations replied to rebut Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi's allegations raised in UN. Ms. Lodhi had accused India of terrorism and human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and held out a picture in support of her arguments but that image turned out to be from Gaza. .Indian diplomat said the Pakistan PR yet again sought to divert attention from Pakistan's role as the hub of global terrorism
Page-ll: Jim Mattis likely to push for Indian troops in Afghanistan U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis landed in India for his maiden three-day visit, the first by a Cabinet member of the Trump administration. In the light of U.S. President Donald Trump's renewed engagement in Afghanistan and call for greater Indian role, Mr. Mattis could be expected to push for Indian troops in Afghanistan. Probable areas of discussion: [iJThe focus was on deepening the defence partnership and expand the high technology cooperation, [ii] Theprevailing situation in Afghanistan. [ii] The two sides could also discuss the new Chinese posturing in the region and terrorism originating from Pakistan. [iv] The two sides are expected to conclude the formal agreement for holding a bilateral maritime exercise, focused on providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. [v]They are also expected to discuss significant measures under the Major Defence Partner (MDP) status [vi]They will also review high technology cooperation under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)
. However, the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) cooperation is contingent on India signing other foundational agreements especially the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) The U.S. has been pressing for early conclusion of the agreement but India has been cautions probably due to text of COMCASA The text of Comcasa Between U.S and South Korea reads thus vThat text requires Korea to provide US personnel access to maintain and inspect CISMOA controlled equipment; bans the transfer of CISMOA-controlled equipment to any third party; bans its indigenous production; and stipulates stringent safeguards for securing, storing and accounting for COMSEC (communications security) equipment obtained from the US.
Page-l1 International News: Putin to send special representative Close on the heels of U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis and the arrival of Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Russia is sending President Putin's special representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov to Delhi in October. Mr. Kabulov's visit, when he is also expected to discuss Moscow's new position on talks with Taliban, will come amid growing concerns in India over Russia's ties with Pakistan. . A senior Russian diplomat said Russia is not supplying arms to the Taliban, but we think it is necessary to talk to those in Taliban willing to give up violence, and we hope India will join in the effort adding that in their assessment the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily by the government in Kabul. More U.S. troops The tough predictions are in sharp contrast to the U.S.s new Afghanistan policy, that will see at least 3,000 more troops sent to fight in Afghanistan, and offers India an increased role in development projects while pushing Pakistan to act against terrorist"safe havens"
Page-12 International: Merkel faces tough coalition talks after election victory. Germany's Angela Merkel began the tough task of trying to build a government after securing a fourth term as Chancellor, urging the centre-left Social Democrats not the shut the door on a re- run of their grand coalition". Damaged by her decision two years ago to allow more than one million migrants into Germany, Ms. Merkel's conservative bloc secured 33% of the vote, losing 8.5 points-its lowest level since 1949. Her coalition partners, the centre-left Social Democrats, also slumped and said they would go into Opposition Voters flocked to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), the first far-right party to enter the German Parliament in more than half a century. Many Germans see the rise of the AfD as a similar rejection of the status quo as votes for Brexit and Donald Trump last year.But Germany's political centre held up better than in Britain and the United States as more voters have benefited from globalisation and most shun the countrys extremist past.
Page-13 Business: Database soon of savings schemes linked with Aadhaar. The Cabinet Secretariat is keen on a central database of government and private sector employees who have subscribed to the general provident fund (GPF), public provident fund (PPF) and employees' provident fund (EPF) with Aadhaar as the primary identifier. . It has directed the various departments monitoring such savings schemes to ensure that 100% Aadhaar seeding of all salaried accounts takes place by December 3 1 Purpose: This database will enable Interoperability of savings schemes and linking them to Aadhaar. Employees' information: For government employees, the Ministry of Finance is developing Employees' Information System, an online salary application system, which may also be used to maintain information related to GPF While EPF is the savings scheme for private sector employees, the GPF is meant for government employees and PPF can be subscribed to by all workers.
While growth revival through public spending will itself create jobs especially in the construction sector, it is also necessary to focus on the labour-intensive sectors. e It is time to recast labour laws and allow fixed term employment contracts ensuring more flexibility The government's recent initiative on setting minimum wages is a move in the opposite direction and should be reconsidered. To quickly restore confidence among businesses, the government needs to resolve issues related to GST especially for the small and medium sector. [i]A clear and simple framework needs to be defined and instituted for claiming input tax credit. [ii]Problems faced by exporters such as withdrawal of duty drawback benefit need to be addressed immediately. [ii]ln the near to medium term, reducing the number of rates under GST and expanding its coverage to include electricity, oil and gas, alcohol and real estate at the earliest should be a priority.
The country has been fortunate to have two successive years of normal monsoon and good agricultural production . There is need to catalyse FDI in organized food retail which can create a supply chain transformation and strengthen the linkages between farmers and markets. RBI's supporting role The RBl also needs to play a role in providing support to the economy. For one, it needs to place some priority on growth while deciding on monetary policy. Having switched to an inflation-targeting regime, the monetary policy committee seems to be ignoring the weak growth trends while setting interest rates. The policy repo rate of 6% does seem excessively high for an economy that is facing recessionary pressure Phe RBl could outline a plan of cutting nterest rates over a period of time. Further, the exporters should have access to easily available credit. . This can be done by expanding interest rate subvention from the current rate to 4% and allowing commercial banks to lend more to SME exporters or tweaking working capital norms.
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