General Studies-02

Hate messages could have communal angle: Kerala police.

News:

  • A fake audio clip about a hotel owner in Kozhikode bludgeoning to death a migrant worker had recently spawned a visceral sense of insecurity among other-State labourers in North Kerala.

Beyond News:

  • The police pointed out that the bulk of the migrant labour community in Kerala relied exclusively on WhatsApp groups to communicate with each other and their families in Assam, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand. Such groups were their sole source of news.
  • They conceded that running to ground the perpetrators of the disinformation campaign might be difficult given the fact that such platforms used encrypted communication. Senior police officers pointed out that a similar set of regional language chauvinists had unleashed a comparable fake news campaign in Mumbai last year to drive out migrant workers.
  • They have also not ruled out the possibility that business rivalry between labour suppliers could have motivated the fake news.
  • The police have launched a social media campaign to counter the attempt to sow division between migrant workers and the indigenous population and to reassure other-State workers.

India, U.K. to firm up defense links

  • Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to London in 2015, the two countries agreed to hold regular dialogues, as part of the India-U.K. Defence Consultative Group.
  • Since then, a step change in terms of depth had taken place in cooperation and dialogue in the area, Mr. Mitra said.
    Wide-ranging dialogue
    During his trip which focused on meetings of the Defence Consultative Group.
    ‘Make in India’ push
    India has pegged the defence sector as one of the major areas where the bilateral partnership could be expanded around the “Make in India” campaign.
  • During Mr. Modi’s visit in 2015, the two sides agreed to move towards a new Defence and International Security Partnership that would “intensify cooperation on defence and security, including cybersecurity, and maritime security” pushing for joint working in key strategic areas.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan to visit India and Pakistan

News:

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and Deputy Mayor Rajesh Agarwal are to visit India and Pakistan later this year.

Beyond News:

  • In the first official trip by a senior British politician to both countries, as city authorities seek to reassure businesses and others across the world of the resilience and strengths of the city post-Brexit.
  • The six-day visit due to take place at a yet-to-be-confirmed date later this year is part of the Labour Mayor’s ‘London is Open’ campaign.

Significance: 

  • European cities and financial centres have launched aggressive bids for international business amid the insecurity thrown up by Brexit.
  • London, while not complacent, remained confident that it would retain its current status.
  • He also highlighted concerns about the impact of U.K. government immigration policy on international students.
  • While the U.K. government couldn’t do trade deals with non-EU countries while still in the EU, it could take steps to ease relations with them.
  • The Mayor will also be accompanied by a delegation of businesses that are part of his International Business Programme, focussed on helping city businesses attract international business and investment.
  • The visit was intended to demonstrate how Britain was equal partners with both countries, with Britain able to offer India and Pakistan as much as the other way around.

{Op-Ed}Foggy thinking — on SC restoring ban on cracker sales in Delhi

Issse: Editorial is all about supreme court ban on Firecrackers during deepavali.

Pollution BAN cartoon
Image Credits: THE HINDU { Cartoon says it all perfectly}
  • For the second time since November 2016, the Supreme Court has temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region.
  • The idea is to test whether it cuts the deadly pollution levels seen in Delhi during and after Deepavali.
  • More importantly, despite delivering a big blow to the industry and incurring the displeasure of many, it offers too piecemeal a solution, akin to the even-odd licence number scheme of the Delhi government in 2015.

Core issues:

  • The major sources of pollution in the NCR have been clear enough to drive policy changes.
  • While their relative contributions are still indeterminate, these include construction dust, vehicular pollution, waste burning, generators and crop residue burning in the Indo-Gangetic plains.
  • To tackle each of these will take decisive and persistent policy actions, not panic-driven and ill-considered bans.

Back to History:

  • Take the 2015 ban on crop-residue burning in Punjab and Haryana for example.
  • Two years later, farmers continue to violate it, because the State governments have still not taken the steps required to solve the underlying problem — the high cost of cleaning the paddy stubble instead of burning it to prepare the field to sow wheat.
  • Another option is biomass-energy plants that buy paddy straw from farmers for use in generating power.

Solutions:

  • The only answer is for the Punjab and Haryana governments to move purposefully on the solutions they know will work — just as the only option for the Delhi government is to raise awareness on the impact of firecrackers, while also tackling vehicular pollution, construction dust and other pollution sources.
  • In the absence of these less dramatic, but more feasible solutions, it is unlikely a firecracker sale ban will avert the kind of health emergency that struck Delhi last year.

General Studies-03

IMF lowers forecasts for India

News:

  • India’s economic growth for 2017 and 2018 will be slower than earlier projected, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest World Economic Outlook released on Tuesday.

Beyond News:

  • The report cited “lingering impact” of demonetization and the Goods and Services Tax for the expected slowdown during the current and the next year.
  • The IMF projected India to grow at 6.7% in 2017 and 7.4% in 2018, which are 0.5 and 0.3 percentage points lower than the projections earlier this year, respectively.
  • India’s slowdown is happening even as the world economy is picking up steam.
  • The IMF has revised upwards “global growth projections to 3.6% for this year and 3.7% for the next.”

The wrong options

  • It has been well over three years since the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed power at the Centre.
  • Mr. Modi’s election promise of creating a “minimum government” that would liberalise the economy by cutting down the size of the government’s influence over the economy remains a pipe-dream.
  • Instead, each passing day, the goods and services tax (GST) and demonetization are being touted as big-bang reforms that, despite the short-term costs, will bring long-term economic benefits to the nation.

Unnecessary pain, no gain

  • What India needs, in other words, is not increased tax compliance among citizens, but pro-market reforms that will make the country a free and competitive marketplace.
  • A government that allows free competition, without favouring special interest groups, either through pro-business or pro-poor policies, will also be sowing the seeds for improved living standards.
  • As several scholars have pointed out, historically this is pretty much the only way countries have managed to free themselves from the shackles of poverty.

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