Summary

Page no. 1

Critical of govt, Muslim law board will not file review

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) executive committee meeting which was held on Sunday didn’t discuss any filing of a review petition against the order of Supreme Court against triple talaq illegal. However, during the discussions, it was felt as if a review plea may be thrown open for other more religious practices like polygamy to judicial scrutiny. Triple talaq is a practice in Muslim religion under which a Muslim man can easily divorce his wife by simply uttering the word 'talaq' three times. This practice is prevalent in India among the Muslim community, the majority of which follows the Hanafi Islamic school of law. The Supreme Court of India, on 22nd August, banned the practice of 'triple talaq' or instant divorce, describing it as unconstitutional. The AIMPLB earlier opposed the order of the Supreme Court and the governmental interference in the personal laws held by the Muslim community. The Muslim community constitutes about 14% of the Indian population of 1.3 billion. The meeting held by the AIMPLB on Sunday was the first one since the order of the Supreme Court. The board maintained a studied restraint on the order. According to sources, the topmost echelons of the AIMPLB felt that a review petition for the triple talaq verdict in jeopardy would not be a sensible move at this moment and the board has resolved to form a panel which would examine the judgment for getting any inconsistencies with the Shariah. The AIMPLB also stated that it would stand by its commitment to carry forward any large scale reforms.
Page no. 11

Why infections picked up in hospitals are the big threat today, how the world is trying to cope

A Bengaluru based firm is India's first to receive the acclaimed international CARB-X grant which aims at developing antibiotics for treating hospital-acquired infections. CARB-X (Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator) is a public-private international partnership, which focuses on the innovations for improving diagnosis and treatment of drug resistant infections. Set up in the year 2016, it formed out of 2015 Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) initiative by former US President Barrack Obama and is funded by Welcome Trust, a biomedical research charity based in London and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) under the US Health and Human Services Department. The partnership between the two countries on this will provide a new collaborative approach for speeding research work, development, and delivery of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics as well as other innovative products required for addressing the urgent problem of drug-resistant bacterial infections. India, being haunted by poor literacy, awareness and lack of control over medical practices is on the frontlines of the global AMR (antimicrobial resistance) public health crisis. According to a WHO multi-country survey in 2015, there is a widespread misunderstanding of the public about the antibiotic usage in India. In 2016, Health Minister J P Nadda also flagged antimicrobial resistance as a major threat to global public health. According to the National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR), India has a crude mortality arising from infectious diseases of 417 per 100,000. Also, India is counted among the countries having the highest burden of bacterial infections. The Indian company, Bangalore based firm Bugworks Research, received an initial fund of $ 2.6 million (about Rs 16.6 crores) for its research work on antibiotics to fight 'ESKAPE' group of pathogens. The ESKAPE pathogens are the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections across the world.
Page no. 15

Fiscal position of Centre worsened during Q1: RBI

The Reserve Bank of India recently stated that the fiscal position of the Central government has degraded and worsened in terms of key deficit indicators on the first quarter of the current financial year. This low was in comparison to the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal year. The revenue deficit and the gross fiscal deficit (GFD), both of which are absolute terms and percent of BA, were earlier higher than this year. This deterioration is the outcome of a lower growth in the revenue and an increase in the expenditure. When it comes to receipts, a growth in the tax revenue declined sharply because of a slowdown in the taxes- income tax, customs duties, excise duties, service tax. The total expenditure of 30.3% of the Budget Estimate was much higher than the 25.9% recorded in the corresponding quarter. This was due to higher revenue expenditure and a subsequent sharp turnaround in the capital account. As per the information acquired by 26 state governments, degrade in the GFD, revenue and primary deficits in 2016-17 vies-a-vies the Budget Estimate was recorded. This happened largely due to the shortfall in the revenues and an expenditure overshooting. The GFD-GDP ratio of the states is expected to improve to 2.3% during 2017-18 and the revenue account is also widely expected to raise a surplus during the year. In terms of revenue also, the implementation of GST has temporarily impact tax receipts largely.
Page no. 15

State Psu losses rise to Rs 74, 724cr in FY16

The companies owned by State Governments plunged low in comparison to the centrally owned companies who are enjoying high profits. As per a review of 994 state owned PSUs balance sheets, it highlighted their combined annual losses increased a total of 13% from Rs 74, 724 in the financial year'16 even as their cumulative investments from the money earned from taxpayers jumped 22% per year to Rs 12.57 lakh crore. The budget support for the firms in FY16 was around 2 lakh crores, a 42% higher than the previous year amount. The aggregate turnover from the state PSUs in total 26 states in the financial year'16 was 48% lower than its investments. It was also highlighted that the state governments are much reluctant to restructure the assets despite regular reminders by the Centre. This is because a restructuring the assets would mean large scale retrenchment or even closing down many companies. Among the state PSUs, Uttar Pradesh incurred the majority of losses in FY16 with a loss amount of Rs 17,790 crores, followed by Tamil Nadu at Rs 14,873 crores and Rajasthan at Rs 12, 347 crores.

Editorial

Page no. 1

Indians can live 4 years longer if air meets WHO norms

Indians could live four years longer on average, if India is able to reduce air pollution to comply with the World Health Organisation’s standards, according to the Air Quality-Life Index (AQLI) tool developed by the Energy Policy Institute at The University of Chicago (EPIC). According to official figures, the average life expectancy in India is 67.3 for males and 69.6 for females
Page no. 2

DCGI, health ministry must act together to ensure stable drugs

Stability testing is one of the most important quality tests mandated for drugs around the world. It entails putting manufactured drugs through a series of stress tests that involve subjecting the drugs to varying temperatures, sunlight, etc. The aim of these tests is to ensure that the drugs do not lose their potency after they get shipped out into the market where storage conditions will greatly vary during the supply chain. While certain drugs will always need refrigeration, most drugs are expected to meet certain specific quality standards wherein they remain stable even in a hot and humid climate as is found in several parts of India. Stability testing ensures the drugs are stable in conditions expected in the Indian climate. If the drugs are not stable, they can lose their effectiveness even due to slight atmospheric changes. Currently, in India, stability testing is compulsory only for those “new drugs” that are regulated by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). Once a drug loses its “new drug” status after 4 years, any new manufacturing applications are handled by the state regulators. The Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945, India, has no compulsory norm requiring stability data at present.India can improve the quality of drugs made available to Indian patients by amending the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945 to make stability testing compulsory.
Page no. 5

What is the Air Quality-Life Index (AQLI) tool?

The AQLI translates particulate pollution concentrations into their impact on lifespans and complements the frequently used Air Quality Index (AQI) that does not directly map the effects of air pollution on health. The AQLI is based on data from a pair of studies; Chen et al. 2013 and Ebenstein et al. 2017, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The AQLI provides India a tool to make the benefits of policies to reduce air pollution.According to WHO, reducing annual average particulate matter (PM10) levels from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) can cut air pollution-related deaths by around 15 per cent. A WHO factsheet of September 2016 states that the annual acceptable mean for PM2.5 has been set at 10 µg/m3 and for PM10 at 20 µg/m3. The national guidelines in India have set the annual acceptable mean for PM2.5 at 40 µg/m3 and PM10 at 60 µg/m3.In Delhi, which was for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015 ranked as the most polluted city in the world, people could live nine years longer if it met WHO standards and six years longer if it met the country’s own national standards.
Page no. 5

Seven states account for 62% of new projects in last 5 years

According to the RBI study on private corporate investment, Gujarat accounted for the highest share (22.7 per cent) in 2016-17 followed by Maharashtra (8.6 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (8.2 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (7.4 per cent), Karnataka (6.6 per cent), Telangana (5.5 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (4.5 per cent). The RBI study says power sector projects occupied a major share in all these states with the exception of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu where the construction industry had a majority of projects with 54.3 per cent and 67 per cent, respectively.The RBI report has revealed a significant fall in the capital expenditure of projects planned in the current fiscal. Based on the projects which have been sanctioned in preceding years, the planned capex could amount to Rs 69,400 crore in 2017-18 against Rs 154,800 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 174,400 crore in 2015-16. This is a big fall from Rs 361,800 crore of capex planned in 2011-12, after which capex planned has been falling year after year.The RBI study hoped that the near term outlook for new investment appears to be improving, as reflected in continued intentions to commission projects in power and construction sectors, in the first half of FY18. FDI and private placement of debt has gained momentum and should boost financing of capex in the year. Although there was a seasonal drop in new project announcements in Q1, the investment climate may improve in subsequent quarters in view of business sentiment polled in various surveys and policy initiatives on GST and FDI.
Page no. 5

: Minister’s promise

Rajnath Singh’s statements in Kashmir signal a welcome openness. It need to be owned by his party and governmentThe space for political dialogue and engagement has shrunk in Kashmir since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016. The protests and unrest are now common in Kashmir. While the Indian army defended their position in Kashmir by saying “people have to be afraid of us” if the army has to “maintain law and order”, National Investigation Agency (NIA) had taken action on some separatist leaders over allegations of terror funding. The validity question of Article 35(A), which enables the state government to provide special provisions for “permanent residents”, united Kashmir across the political spectrum.In this situation, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Kashmir and said he is willing to talk to “all stakeholders” and had come with an “open mind” hold the promise. He has promised compensation and better equipment to the local police and security forces. He also addressed the recently stoked fears among the people about the challenge to Article 35A. Singh’s message that the youth of the Valley must not be criminalised, and reform rather than retribution should be the defining feature of engagement, needs to be internalized by all organs of government and the state.
Page no. 6

Direct tax revenue grows 17.5% to Rs.2.24 lakh crore

Direct Tax collections in the first five months of the current fiscal grew 17.5 per cent to Rs 2.24 lakh crore. This is 22.9 per cent of the total budget estimates of direct taxes, which comprise personal income and corporate tax, for the current financial year. This year collection is 17.5 per cent higher than the net collections for the corresponding period of last year. The government estimates to collect Rs 9.80 lakh crore from direct taxes in the current fiscalIn terms of gross revenue collections, personal income tax collections (including Securities Transaction Tax) rose 16 per cent, while corporate tax mop-up grew 5 per cent. Refunds amounting to Rs 74,089 crore have been issued during April-August 2017 which are 7.2 per cent lower than the refunds issued during the corresponding period last fiscal.
Page no. 12

Shifting Ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to Myanmar highlights the 70-year-old bilateral relationship between India and Myanmar. India and Myanmar share deep historical ties backed by cultural links, a flourishing commerce trade, and common interests in all regional affairs. India is by far the largest market for exports of Myanmar. India is Thailand's 4th largest trading partner and the second largest export market of Myanmar. India and Myanmar also share bilateral border trade which is carried out from three assigned border points at Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland. However, over the past 25 years, New Delhi worked uncomfortably for squaring a complicated relationship. In addition to the high principle and Aung San Suu Kyi, New Delhi also worked to woo the Myanmar junta who imprisoned her for around two decades. After Myanmar became a democracy post the release of Suu Kyi, India again had to make another adjustment. Suu Kyi presently holds the super presidential post and the de facto foreign minister for her role as a State Counsellor. However, the Myanmar army still plays a good role in the domestic and foreign policies and are certainly more comfortable doing good business with China. This can be seen with the mega investments by China like the oil and gas pipeline from Myanmar to China, a number of port projects, the Myanmar-China railway projects, mining as well as hydropower projects between Myanmar and China. India on its part is much slow despite the Look East talks. Slower that is highlighted in the Kaladan multi-modal project for connecting North eastern states to the rest of India via Myanmar is still lacking and yet to be completed. Even the contracts for the remaining tri-lateral highway project between India and Myanmar to Thailand is pending with its timeline and credit investments running in it. India has focussed more on cultural diplomacy. During PM Modi's visit, one can say the most significant agreement made was the offer by India to assist in the restoration as well as conservation of 92 ancient pagodas and structures in Bagan by the Archaeological Survey of India. India and Myanmar already signed a MoU on this. On the Rohingya situation, PM Modi reiterated from the issue in respect of the security of the country rather than any human rights issue of the persecuted stateless minority. Modi condemned the terrorist attacks on Rakhine and also voiced praise for the military operation in Rakhine. The joint bilateral statement by India and Myanmar doesn't see any mention of Rohingyas.

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