13 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Hima Das’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Hima Das has created athletics history. She got India its first ever track gold at a global event by winning the 400 metre final at the World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
With this win, Hima joined an elite club of Indian athletes who have won medals at the World U20 Championships. But she is the only runner in a hall of fame that has throwers like Seema Punia (bronze, discus), Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze, discus) and Neeraj Chopra (gold, javelin).
‘Oil Crisis’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Rising global oil supply, driven by crude giants Saudi Arabia and Russia, may come under pressure as key producers face disruptions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) observed
Other observations made by IEA
- It pointed to supply disruptions in Libya after a string of attacks on infrastructure which would cause volatility in the market
- It also highlighted continuing unrest in Venezuela and a drop in Iranian exports after President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the landmark nuclear deal reached in 2015.
- Despite higher output in June, Opec oil supply was down 700,000 barrels per day compared to a year ago, with Venezuela lower by nearly 800,000 barrels per day, Angola by 210,000 barrels per day and Libya by 130,000 barrels per day
‘Trade Deficit’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s trade deficit widened to its highest in more than five years in June, driven largely by a surge in oil imports.
What is driving Trade deficit?
Though merchandise exports rose 17.57% year-on-year in June, the trade deficit widened to $16.6 billion due to a rise in oil imports that surged 56.61% to $12.73 billion.
India’s gold imports fell 2.8% year-on-year to $2.39 billion in June from a year ago
What is Merchandise Exports?
Export merchandising is a method of offering retail goods for sale in a foreign consumer market. Many large companies across the country maintain entire divisions devoted to finding ways to better enter foreign retail markets through export merchandising to increase profit and sustain growth.
What is Trade Deficit?
A trade deficit is an economic measure of international trade in which a country’s imports exceeds its exports. A trade deficit represents an outflow of domestic currency to foreign markets. It is also referred to as a negative balance of trade (BOT).
Trade Deficit = Total Value of Imports – Total Value of Exports
‘Core Inflation’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Core inflation, or inflation in items other than food and fuel, is going up. Economists track this inflation yardstick, because it gives an indication of whether the output gap, or the amount by which the actual output of an economy falls short of its potential output, is closing.
Core CPI is consumer price inflation excluding the fuel and food groups.
About Core Consumer Price Index
Core Core CPI is inflation excluding food group, fuel & light group and petrol, diesel & other fuels for vehicles. And Super Core is consumer price inflation excluding all the above as well as house rent. Rising core inflation is an indication of robust growth.
‘Twin Trouble’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s factory output growth slowed to a seven-month low in May while retail inflation quickened to a five-month high in June, signaling a worsening macro-economic environment.
Data released by the statistics department showed the index of industrial production (IIP) grew at 3.2% in May compared with a revised 4.8% growth a month ago while Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation accelerated by 5% in June against 4.87% in the preceding month.
What is driving this trend?
- A surge in crude oil prices, weakening rupee and increase in minimum support price (MSP) of summer-sown crops by the government are further expected to put upward pressure on retail inflation.
- India Ratings and Research estimates the hike in MSP for the 2018-2019 season will push up retail inflation by 70 basis points.
- Slowing IIP growth was led by the manufacturing sector despite electricity and mining output growing faster than in April. Ten out of the 23 industry groups in the sector showed negative growth, indicating the broad-based nature of the slowdown.
About Index of Industrial Production (IIP)
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index for India which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity and manufacturing. The all India IIP is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period. It is compiled and published monthly by the central statistical organisation (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation six weeks after the reference month ends.
The level of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an abstract number, the magnitude of which represents the status of production in the industrial sector for a given period of time as compared to a reference period of time. The base year was at one time fixed at 1993–94 so that year was assigned an index level of 100. The current base year is 2011-2012.
The Eight Core Industries comprise nearly 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). These are Electricity, steel, refinery products, crude oil, coal, cement, natural gas and fertilizers
‘National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has fixed the retail prices of 56 formulations, excluding GST
These formulations include those used for treating diabetes, cardiac conditions and hepatitis C, among others.
The prices have been fixed/revised under the Drug (Prices Control) Order, 2013
- NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995.
- The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
- It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.
Functions of NPPA
- To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
- to deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority;
- to monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps;
- to collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulations;
- to undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals;
- to recruit/ appoint the officers and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government;
- to render advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy;
- To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.
‘Finance Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 proposes a comprehensive resolution framework for specified financial sector entities and service providers to deal with bankruptcy in banks, insurance companies and financial sector entities.
Significance of the bill
The Bill seeks to give comfort to the consumers of financial service providers in financial distress. Its objectives include the maintenance of financial stability during a crisis.
Highlights of the bill
- The second schedule of the Bill lists 11 categories of institutions which would come under the definition of specified service providers. These include any banking institution other than eligible cooperative banks, including an insured service provider; insurance companies; any financial market infrastructure; any payment system, as defined under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007; any non-banking financial company; branch offices of body corporate incorporated outside India, carrying on the business of providing financial service here; and any other entity/ fund which may be notified by the government.
- The Bill proposes the setting up of a Resolution Corporation by the Central government.
- The government lists the functions of the Resolution Corporation to include protecting the stability and resilience of the financial system, public funds, and consumers of covered obligations up to a “reasonable limit”.
- The recently enacted Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 to deal with the insolvency resolution issues of non-financial entities will be complemented by the proposed Bill.
‘Swach Survekshan Grameen 2018’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The Centre has launched the Swachh Survekshan Grameen, 2018, a nationwide survey of rural India to rank the cleanest and dirtiest States and districts on the basis of qualitative and quantitative evaluation.
About the survey
- This is the first comprehensive survey for rural India, which has been launched after three successful editions of a similar survey in urban India
- The rankings will be based on three basic parameters: direct observation of public places by independent surveyors, service-level progress using data from the Swachh Bharat Mission’s information system and citizens’ feedback.
- . The feedback will be solicited through village meetings, online feedback and direct interviews, as well as discussions with key influencers such as local officials, elected representatives and anganwadi workers
‘RISE 2018’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: From tattooing to dress rentals to security solutions, there is an astounding variety of Indian startup dreams searching for funding at ‘RISE 2018’, Asia’s largest tech event
By a rough count, as many as 200 Indian start-ups in alpha, beta and growth stages are at the ongoing event to secure funds either for kick-starting their entrepreneurial dreams or expanding their businesses.
The present summit is taking place in Hong Kong
‘India-Indonesia ties’ (GS2: Bilateral Relations)
Issue: Taking forward the India-Indonesia shared vision on maritime cooperation in Indo-Pacific, an Indian team visited Sabang in Indonesia to “discuss steps for mutual collaboration.”
Indonesia has recently agreed to give India access to its port for operational turnaround which will increase the Navy’s footprint in the region.
‘Buddha’ (GS1: Indian culture)
Issue: The Buddha of Swat, carved on a cliff in the seventh century, was dynamited by the Pakistani Taliban in 2007. Now it has been restored
The reconstruction of the face itself was first prepared virtually in the laboratory, in 3D, using laser surveys and old photos.
Historical monuments found in Swat valley
It has a rich historical past: “Udayana” (the “Garden”) of the ancient Hindu epics; “the land of enthralling beauty”, where Alexander of Macedonia fought and won some of his major battles before crossing over to the plains of Pakistan, and “the valley of the hanging chains” described by the famous Chinese pilgrim-chroniclers, Faxian and Xuanzang in the fifth and seventh centuries. Swat was once a cradle for major strands of Buddhism, where 1,400 monasteries flourished: Little Vehicle, Great Vehicle and the Esoteric sects. It was the home of the famous Gandhara School of Sculpture which was an expression of Graeco-Roman form in the local Buddhist tradition.
However, the ruins of great Buddhist stupas, monasteries and statues are found all over Swat.
About Gandhara School of Art
The Gandhara School of Art (also Gandharva School of Art) occupies a high place in the history of the Indian Art. This art form has played an important part in the development of the Indian art.
It is even believed that this school of art produced far reaching effects on the art of such distant countries as China, Japan and Central Asia.
Features of the Gandhara School of Art
The Gandhara style might have been originated under the Indo-Bactrian and Indo-Parthian rulers but it was under Kanishka that made a rapid development. Some of the chief features the Gandhara style are the following:
- Unlike the older schools of art, under Gandhara school of art there was dominance of lively statues of Gautama Buddha.His existence was shown only by symbols such as foot-prints, the Bodhi-tree, a vacant seat or the umbrella.
- In this school a great care was taken to show the physical features, muscles and moustaches, etc. of a figure in as natural a way as was possible.
- A great importance was attached to refineness and polish in the Gandhara School of Art.
- The technique and forms applied were Greek in nature but the ideas, inspirations and subjects were all Indians.
- The Gandhara art was mostly used to make statues and images of Lord Buddha. But from a study of certain specimens of this school that are now placed in Lahore, Calcutta and Peshawar museums, we can say that sometimes this art was used to depict certain scenes from Buddha’s life and also to make statues of the Kushan rulers.
- Most of the specimens of this school were executed in stone but the discovery of a large number of images in stucco, cement, terracotta and clay, show that along with stone, sometimes stucco, cement, terracotta and clay were also used for making statues, images and sculptures concerning the Buddhist faith
- The chief centre of the Gandharva School of Art was no doubt Gandhara itself but the discovery of Gandhara specimens from Afghanistan and Taxila goes to prove that this Indo-Greek art flourished over a vast region.
The Gandhara School of Art was different from the Sanchi and Bharhut Schools of Art.
In the older schools the dress and ornaments were seldom used but in the Gandhara School of Art an excessive use of dress and ornaments was made and every attempt was made to show each and every fold and turn of the dress.
Again, in the Bharhut and Sanchi Schools of Art not much attention was paid to refinement and polish but these were the chief characteristics of the Gandhara School of Art.
Thirdly, the earlier school, portrayed scenes from Buddha’s life but he himself was never carved in stone. His existence was shown by symbols like Bodhi-tree, foot-prints, a vacant seat or the umbrella. Hence-forward the lifelike statues of the Lord began to be made in large numbers by the Gandhara artists.
Fourthly, under the earlier schools not much attention was paid to portray the physical features of the human being very accurately but now every attempt was made by the Gandhara sculptors to show the physical features (muscles, nerves, nails, moustaches) as naturally as was possible.
‘Financial Health of State’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has pointed to the fiscal stress that States are facing due to several factors including farm loan waivers, and said higher borrowing by them could crowd out private investment.
What the report says?
- In a report ‘State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2017-18 and 2018-19,’ the central bank noted that States’ consolidated gross fiscal deficit (GFD) overshot the budget estimates in 2017-18 due to shortfalls in own tax revenues and higher revenue expenditure.
- There is a risk that private investment gets crowded out of the finite pool of financial resources
- Among the factors responsible for fiscal stress in certain States are farm loan waivers that have been announced since 2014, with States like Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and recently Karnataka announcing agriculture debt waiver schemes.
- Apart from having a dampening impact on rural credit institutions, such loan waivers, the report pointed out, impact credit discipline, vitiate credit culture and dis-incentivise borrowers to repay loans, thus engendering moral hazard