Insights Daily Current Events, 08 October 2015
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure
Banks killed road sector: official
Road Secretary Vijay Chhibber recently told that “banks have killed the road sector”. According to him, banks caused a bubble, failed to do due diligence and lent more than what was warranted to developers, and this has led to the high Non-Performing Assets (NPA) arising out of the road sector.
His allegations on banks:
- There was a bubble because the banks gave developers money even before the land was made available.
- They allowed funding to happen to these projects which were not yet ready for construction.
- They agreed to costs and TPCs [total project cost] much higher than what NHAI had assessed.
- Ultimately, developers received loans for amounts far higher than the government’s project cost estimates.
He also calls it a scam. Why?
Banks have not done proper diligence before releasing so much money. Here, developers do not have any problem. They have taken their money out of the projects, but the banks are the ones in trouble. And, taxpayers are asked to re-capitalise the banks. Thus, he calls it a scam.
In August 2015, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the road sector was responsible for the second highest amount of NPAs, after the steel sector.
A recent Crisil report said “almost half of the road projects, being constructed under the build, operate, transfer with a sanctioned debt of Rs. 45,900 crore, are at high risk of not being completed.
- The developers are entitled to a higher TPC due to delays, but they usually take advantage of it. Even if there is a delay, at best, there will be a 10% increase or a 20% increase in overall cost. But, in a portfolio of 70 projects, most of the projects see more than 70% increase.
- NHAI is a professional road construction company. It had assessed a project at Rs. 1,000 crore, but the developers said the total cost was Rs. 2,000 crore.
Sources: The Hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Dengue alert could have helped save lives: experts
Public health experts feel that effective risk communication strategy by public health authorities to warn and alert people in advance of impending outbreak of diseases and protective measures to be taken could have prevented avoidable deaths such as those caused by dengue in different parts of the country.
Risk communication is an essential public health function to disseminate information about outbreaks, epidemics and upcoming emergencies to people.
Practices in other countries:
Risk communication has evolved as a sophisticated tool and deployed effectively in developed nations for people to take protective measures during natural disasters, disease outbreaks and food-borne illnesses, among others.
In US –
- Here, colour-coded risks, developed by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with red indicating the highest threat, are used. Recently, after hurricane Katrina claimed over 1,200 lives and damaged property estimated at nearly $ 108 billion, FEMA disseminated information through cooperation and collaboration with State and local public health authorities.
- Similarly, US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have dedicated teams of epidemiologists to scour their passive surveillance system to identify any disease outbreaks. The CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC), which was formed after the 9/11 attacks and anthrax threats, has dedicated personnel who draw lessons from public health emergencies to improve and strengthen communication.
In UK –
- In the United Kingdom, the Cabinet provides specific guidelines on communicating risks to their population.
Although the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme in India has a long-term action plan document to prevent and control dengue and chikungunya with the States expected to prepare a contingency plan, very little communication has been in the public domain. Despite being inundated with information, the public health sector lacks the wherewithal to communicate appropriately.
Need for India:
- With large population in India susceptible to infectious disease outbreaks, it is important that any information about potential outbreaks or diseases be communicated appropriately and repeatedly to the public.
- Year after year, dengue cases are seen popping up in India exactly for the same reasons—lack of awareness about daytime mosquito bites, lack of knowledge about signs and symptoms and lack of resources on seeking help in a timely manner. Hence, Information about dengue and measures for protection should be issued at the start of the monsoon season with repeated reminders.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
‘Govt. can’t punish us for lack of education’
Women candidates affected by Haryana’s new poll law imposing minimum educational qualifications to contest panchayat elections recently told the Supreme Court that “people do not choose to be illiterate.”
- They say it is the State’s failure to have not provided them with education and hence, they should not be punished for the State’s failure.
- According to them, India is a country where primary and secondary education is hardly available.
- This was the maiden hearing following the Haryana government’s decision to freeze its panchayat elections scheduled in October after the Supreme Court refused to stop questioning the constitutionality of imposing minimum educational qualifications on candidates aspiring to be part of grassroots democracy.
- Many candidates have been affected by the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015.
- The court had stayed the new amendments in the State’s panchayat poll law, seeing it as prima facie a move affecting poor illiterate people from contesting elections.
- The State government had gone ahead with the changes despite the Punjab and Haryana High Court staying the relevant ordinance in August 2015.
About the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015:
- According to the amendments, general category candidates require a minimum qualification of Class X pass, men contesting in the Scheduled Caste category and women in the general category need to be Class VIII pass, while women in the Scheduled Caste category need to be Class V pass to be eligible.
- The amendments also require that candidates should not have any dues in co-operative banks, electricity bills should be paid up and there should be a functional toilet at home.
The petition also says that 83% of Dalit women and 71% women in general and 56% males would be excluded from contesting the panchayat polls by this law, affecting fundamental rights of the candidates.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Hoesung Lee to head U.N. climate panel
Hoesung Lee, 69, a Korean professor of economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development, has been elected as head of the Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change. He succeeds R.K. Pachauri of India.
- Lee, until now one of the vice-chairs of the IPCC, served as executive member of the Korean Academy of Environmental Sciences; a member of the Asia Development Bank President’s advisory board; a council member of the Global Green Growth Institute; and an editorial board member of the U.K.-based Climate Policy.
- He was the founding president of the Korea Energy Economic Institute and the former president of the International Association for Energy Economics. He has been serving the IPCC in various capacities, including as Working Group III Co-Chair since its Second Assessment Report of 1992.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments.
- It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly.
- Membership of the IPCC is open to all members of the WMO and UNEP.
- The IPCC produces reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the main international treaty on climate change.
- The IPCC does not carry out its own original research, nor does it do the work of monitoring climate or related phenomena itself. The IPCC bases its assessment on the published literature, which includes peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources.
- Thousands of scientists and other experts contribute, on a voluntary basis, to writing and reviewing reports, which are then reviewed by governments.
- IPCC reports contain a “Summary for Policymakers”, which is subject to line-by-line approval by delegates from all participating governments.
- The IPCC provides an internationally accepted authority on climate change, producing reports which have the agreement of leading climate scientists and the consensus of participating governments.
- The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was shared, in two equal parts, between the IPCC and Al Gore.
sources: the hindu, wiki.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications.
Chemistry Nobel for mapping how cells repair damaged DNA
Tomas Lindahl, Paul L. Modrich and Aziz Sancar have jointly won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for having mapped and explained how the cell repairs its DNA and safeguards its genetic information.
About the awardees:
- Lindahl, of the Francis Crick Institute in London, was honoured for his discoveries on base excision repair — the cellular mechanism that repairs damaged DNA during the cell cycle.
- Modrich, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University School of Medicine, was recognised for showing how cells correct errors that occur when DNA is replicated during cell division.
- Sancar, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, was cited for mapping the mechanism cells use to repair ultraviolet damage to DNA.
Their systematic work has made a decisive contribution to the understanding of how the living cell functions, as well as providing knowledge about the molecular causes of several hereditary diseases and about mechanisms behind both cancer development and aging.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
Nanning emerges as a pillar of the Maritime Silk Road
China has made Nanning one of the focal points of the proposed Maritime Silk Road, leveraging the southern city’s natural connectivity linkages with Southeast Asia and growth hubs of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao.
- The waterways of Xijiang River that flows through Nanning city lead to the Pearl River and the South China Sea.
- Nanning would enable a cargo ship of 2,000 tonnes to head for the bustling commercial cities of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao. By 2020, Nanning port’s capacity is expected to rise to 22.83 million tonnes.
- The Guangxi province, of which Nanning is the capital, is also the gateway to a large landlocked space.
- Its prized geographic location is making the city the fulcrum of China’s access to the most dynamic zones of Southeast Asia.
The MSR(maritime silk road) is part of a string of Silk Road initiatives that the Chinese are undertaking that includes the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, which aspire to establish integral economic linkages between South and Southeast Asia.
- The Silk Road project is an initiative by China to resurrect the ancient maritime Silk Road. It is perceived to be an attempt by China to ameliorate relations with South and Southeast Asia.
- The new initiative is a pet project of President Xi Jinping for connecting Asia with Europe along a land corridor, with China as its hub.
- Under the new Silk Route, the Chinese want to open up the transportation channel from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea, from which would radiate rail and road routes, which would also connect with East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia.
- The Silk Road strategy’s ambitious vision aligns with Beijing’s goals much more closely than the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a reflection of the U.S. international trade model writ large.
- The Silk Road strategy aims to facilitate large-scale infrastructure construction, energy sale and transport, and relocation of manufacturing industries.
- This initiative aspires to deepen linkages between China and its neighbours via trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, and internationalization of China’s currency, the renminbi.
sources: the hindu.