DAILY CAPSULE-UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS -AUG 11 2017

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Daily current affairs for IAS upsc

It’s time to focus on the toxic air we breathe

News:

  • Niti Aayog released the draft National Energy Policy.

What next?

  • An important aspect that the draft policy ignores is public health, especially in the context of the energy mix envisaged under the NITI Ambition Scenario.
  • The Ambition Scenario is a tool to arrive at a range of possible energy futures for the energy sector till 2040.
  • The range presents the scenarios which India may follow if it were to follow a business-as-usual path versus if it were to transition to an ambitious pathway which is cleaner and more sustainable.

NITI-Aayog-Internship-Scheme

Draft in detail:

  • In the document, there are 14 references to health, of which only five relate to public health in the context of household cooking fuel.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that air pollution is the number one environmental health risk.
  • In 2012, about three million premature deaths were attributable to ambient air pollution. The cumulative toll in terms of illness and impairment is likely to be greater.
  • The WHO’s initial findings from an expert consultation on Health Indicators of Sustainable Energy provide a good outline to kick-start a similar exercise in India.
  • The core indicators address issues related to health equity where health impact assessments become an integral part of energy policy design and implementation.
  • A nation’s energy policy can have a huge bearing on society and health. It is thus important to ensure that policies directed at energy security are compatible with public health goals.

No more vehicle insurance without pollution certificate

  • In a decision with far-reaching consequences, the Supreme Court directed that vehicles without valid pollution under control (PUC) certificates would not be eligible for the annual insurance.
  • A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta accepted the recommendations of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) for mandatory linking of PUC certificates with annual insurance.

Amended Banking Regulation Bill gets elders’ nod

News:

  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, which empowers the Reserve Bank of India to issue instructions to the banks to act against major defaulters.

What next? 

  • The Bill, earlier passed by the Lok Sabha, will replace the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said there was nothing wrong in banks giving out loans and trying to recover them.
  • It was only on the strength of the banking finance that businesses expanded, jobs were created and the economy moved on.
  • Only in cases of normal commercial transactions were the names not made public.

Towards a clean-up

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission is a high-profile national programme enjoying extraordinary political and budgetary support.
  • With its subsidy-based mass toilet-building programme, it has put up millions of individual house latrines in rural areas: a government-commissioned survey estimates that the coverage now extends to 62.45% of households, up from 39% in 2014.
  • Among these households, nearly 92% of people who have access actually use the toilets.
  • The most important of these is reduced stress for women, who suffer silently in its absence.

Well-known gains to public health as well.

  • Success can be measured, however, only through a rigorous assessment of how the new facilities fare over time.
  • There is data from undivided Andhra Pradesh to show that household latrines built before the current Swachh programme lapsed into disuse because many rural households did not have a water source.
  • The newer ones may meet the same fate without access to water.
  • Rural housing also needs stronger policy support, without which it cannot wipe out the deficit of about 60 million units that are needed to plan for universal toilet access.

Failing India’s children

News: 

The government’s proposal to amend the Right to Education Act and allow States to drop the no-detention policy at the primary and middle school levels will have far-reaching consequences for the education scenario.

What next?

  • The proposal, which will give States the choice to detain children in classes 5 and 8, does not consider socio-economic factors and the state’s limitations in providing education, especially for the weaker sections.
  • According to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the dropout rate in elementary school was about 4% in 2014-2015.
  • Detaining children on the basis of examinations will lead to an increase in the dropout rate. Parents may feel the child will be better off going to work as he/she can help bring additional income to the family and learn a skill for survival.
  • Economically disadvantaged groups do not have access to private tuitions to train their children to perform better the following year in the same class.
  • This will mean more youngsters out of school with no prospects of a productive future.
  • The RTE should not be curtailed for any reason.
  • Many children from weaker sections have benefited from this right. Taking away the guarantee the Act offers up to the middle school level is retrograde.

Confusion in the case of cross-voting

  • The Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat highlighted the procedural matrix of the ‘open ballot’ system under Rule 39AA of the Conduct of Election Rules of 1961.
  • This says that a voter may show his/her marked ballot paper to the authorised representative of his/her political party before dropping it into the ballot box.
  • The question of law which cropped up was whether this kind of an ‘open’ election process had any secrecy of vote involved at all.

What next?

  • ‘Instructions to the voters for casting vote in the Rajya Sabha elections’, an official communication dated August 1 sent by the Assistant Election Officer and Deputy Secretary of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly to the MLAs, confirms that their votes, even though cast in an open ballot system, are secret.
  • On four separate occasions, the instructions invoke Rule 39AA to remind the MLAs that their marked votes are to be shown only to the authorised representative of their political party before being dropped into the ballot box, and any transgression will amount to their votes being declared invalid.

Note ban dents RBI income

News:

Costs incurred due to the demonetisation exercise dented the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) income resulting in the central bank transferring less than half the funds (surplus) to the government compared with the previous year.

Statistics: 

  • For the 12 months ended June 30, 2017, the RBI will transfer a surplus of Rs. 30,659 crore to the Government of India, sharply lower than the previous year’s Rs. 65,876 crore.
  • The RBI’s central board, approved the amount to be transferred.
  • This is the lowest-ever surplus transfer by the RBI to the Centre since 2011-12 when it transferred Rs. 16,010 crore.
  • RBI transferred about 80% of its income as surplus in the previous three years.

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