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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 Aug 2017

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 Aug 2017


Paper 1:


Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


Startling figures of inequality in India offer an incomplete picture


Inequality is no longer a first-world phenomenon. It is very much at our shores, but the moot question remains if the trend is undesirable at all.

  • The data released by the Bloomberg Billionaire Index reveals some shocking statistics about the rise of inequality in India. It showed that the top 20 industrialists in India added a staggering $50 billion to their combined wealth in the first seven months this year, taking their total valuation to $200 billion — roughly 10% of India’s $2 trillion economy.
  • Similarly, an Oxfam report released this year revealed that 57 billionaires in India own as much as the bottom 70% of the population and, more broadly, the richest one percent holds 58% of the country’s total wealth — higher than the global average of 50%.


However, these studies offer an incomplete picture. How?

According to US economists Simon Kuznets, when economic growth takes place, at the disaggregated micro-level, individual economic agents move along the real income scale — a process which he termed as “income mobility. Now, income mobility can either be upward or downward but it is observed that during phases of rapid economic growth, opportunities for upward mobility far outweigh those for unchanged or downward mobility. Also, in the presence of income mobility, the identity of individuals at different levels of the income scale changes rapidly over time.

  • In such a scenario, average inequality indicators cannot reflect the true picture on the ground and can, therefore, prove to be misleading predictors of the adverse social outcomes of growing inequality. The tolerance level of inequality for the society in times of rapid economic growth may be much higher than what is reflected in inequality statistics as it fails to take income mobility into account.
  • Another problem with only looking at inequality statistics is the perception of a simplistic one-to-one correspondence between movements in income inequality and equity. Rising inequality cannot be equated to a one-on-one fall in equity. Therefore, more focus should be kept on the wealth accruing to the people at the bottom of the ladder to understand the real implications of rising inequality.
  • Finally, inequality data fail to take into account the public perception of rising inequality. A stagnant economy leads to a zero-sum game where economic advancement of others provokes a negative signalling effect of a possible deterioration of one’s own economic position. However, in times of rapid economic growth, there arises a positive-sum game where economic improvement of others signals an environment where there is hope for a rise in one’s own prosperity in the future.


Way ahead:

Thus, it needs to be understood that contrary to the common perception among individuals and policymakers, rising inequality is not necessarily inequitable, if and when it arises out of rapid economic growth. The startling figures of inequality in India that have been brought about of late, therefore, offer an incomplete picture. Moreover, use of these figures to argue that Indian economic development has had adverse distributional consequences offers the incorrect diagnosis and skews policymaking.


What needs to be done?

The focus on wealth accruing at the top needs to be supplemented with the income mobility achieved by those at the bottom of the pyramid and with a focus on elimination the social and economic barriers that they face in achieving upward mobility. A skewed focus on the top hardly serves any purpose other than providing shock value.


Sources: et.


Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Swachh Bharat launches Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017


The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has launched a third party verification survey report to take stock of the progress already made by the Mission in rural India. It also launched Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017.


About Swachh Survekshan Survey:

In order to foster a healthy competition between cities for improving cleanliness standards, the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) started the “Swachh Survekshan” survey, ranking of cities on cleanliness and other aspects of urban sanitation, in 2016 which ranked 73 cities across the country. On the same lines, MoUD has initiated “Swachh Survekshan” 2017 which will conduct a survey to rank 500 cities of India.


Key facts:

  • The Quality Council of India (QCI) has conducted a transparent third-party assessment of the present status of rural sanitation in all States and UTs, called Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017.
  • Under the Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017, QCI surveyed 1.4 lakh rural households across 4626 villages, and found the overall toilet coverage to be 62.45%.
  • At the time of the survey, i.e. May-June 2017, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) MIS reported the coverage to be 63.73%. The survey also observed that 91.29% of the people having access to a toilet, use it.
  • Kerala and Haryana have topped the survey. Northeastern States of Sikkim, Manipur and Nagaland have performed well with 95% rural households covered by toilets. And so were the Himalayan States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand with over 90% toilet coverage of the rural houses.



Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin seeks to eliminate open defecation in rural areas by 2019 through improving access to sanitation. It also seeks to generate awareness to motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices, and encourage the use of appropriate technologies for sanitation.

  • SBM-Gramin mainly focuses on ensuring the use of toilets, besides their construction. The States and their implementing agencies will be given incentives for meeting performance standards: reducing open defecation, sustaining their open defecation-free status and improving solid and liquid waste management in rural areas.
  • Over 4.54 crore household toilets have been constructed since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin. 2,20,104 villages, 160 districts and 5 States declared ODF. Sanitation Coverage has increased from 39% in October 2016 to 66% in August 2017.


About QCI:

Quality Council of India (QCI) was set up in 1997 as an autonomous body jointly by the Government of India and the Indian Industry represented by the three premier industry associations i.e. Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), to establish and operate national accreditation structure and promote quality through National Quality Campaign. The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, is the nodal ministry for QCI.

Chairman of QCI is appointed by the Prime Minister on recommendation of the industry to the government.


Sources: pib.


Paper 2:


Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.


NITI Aayog selects 3 States for transformative change in Health & Education sectors


In a major push to competitive, cooperative federalism, NITI Aayog has announced partnership with three States each to radically transform their Health and Education sectors.

  • NITI Aayog has selected Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Karnataka to improve healthcare delivery and key outcomes in these States.
  • In Education, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand have been selected for support to better learning outcomes.


Selection process:

The six States have been chosen after a rigorous competitive process based on comprehensive metrics to determine potential for impact and likelihood of success.

States were called to, first, express intent of collaborating with NITI Aayog to better their Health and Education indices. States then made presentations for each sector which was assessed by a committee comprised of senior members of NITI Aayog and Health and Education ministries. The States highlighted the initiatives undertaken by them thus far, their willingness to accelerate improvement and justified why they should be selected for the institutional support being offered by NITI Aayog.


What next?

On thorough technical evaluation, the chosen States have committed to time-bound, governance reforms in both sectors. A Program Management Unit to push for efficiency and efficacy in governance structures and service delivery will now be available in the six chosen States for a period of 30 months. It is expected that these three years of focussed attention and support from the premier think tank will lead to a marked transformation and also provide a model for other States to replicate and adapt.



This three-way partnership between NITI, State Governments and a knowledge partner for each of the sectors is part of the Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) initiative of NITI Aayog.


About SATH programme:

Furthering the agenda for cooperative federalism, NITI Aayog has launched SATH, a program providing ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human capital’ with the State Governments. The vision of the program is to initiate transformation in the education and health sectors. The program addresses the need expressed by many states for technical support from NITI.

  • SATH aims to identify and build three future ‘role model’ states for health systems.
  • NITI will work in close collaboration with their state machinery to design a robust roadmap of intervention, develop a program governance structure, set up monitoring and tracking mechanisms, hand-hold state institutions through the execution stage and provide support on a range of institutional measures to achieve the end objectives.
  • The program will be implemented by NITI along with McKinsey & Company and IPE Global consortium, who were selected through a competitive bidding process.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.


Supreme Court seeks Centre’s reply on validity of special status to JK


The Supreme Court has sought the Centre’s response on a plea against a Delhi high court order which had rejected a petition challenging validity of Article 370 of the Constitution giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The court has issued the notice to the Centre and sought its reply within four weeks.

  • The court also questioned the Centre’s decision to delegate matters such as citizenship to the state government and the state’s decision to have a separate Constitution, when it had ratified its accession to India unconditionally.



In April, the Delhi High Court had rejected the plea challenging the validity of Article 370, saying nothing survives in it as the Supreme Court has already dismissed a petition on the issue. The petitioner in high court had claimed that the issue raised before the high court was different from the matter which was put before the apex court.


What’s the issue?

The petitioner had contended that Article 370 was a temporary provision that had lapsed with the dissolution of the state’s Constituent Assembly in 1957.

  • The petition had said the continuance of the temporary provision of Article 370 even after dissolution of the state’s Constituent Assembly and its Constitution which has never got the assent of the President of India or Parliament or the Government of India, “amounts to fraud on the basic structure of our Constitution”.
  • The petition also claimed that as per the Indian and the J&K Constitutions, the state is an integral part of India. Therefore, the President could declare Article 370 in operative. It also questioned the validity of the J&K Constitution on the ground that it was yet to be ratified either by the President or Parliament.


What is Article 370?

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ which grants special autonomous status to Jammu & Kashmir.

  • Under Part XXI of the Constitution of India, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been accorded special status under Article 370.
  • All the provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K.


Important provisions under the article:

  • According to this article, except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus the state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.
  • Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Under Article 370, the Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state. It can declare emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression. The Union government can therefore not declare emergency on grounds of internal disturbance or imminent danger unless it is made at the request or with the concurrence of the state government.
  • Under Article 370 the Indian Parliament cannot increase or reduce the borders of the state.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Commerce Ministry to wind up DGS&D this fiscal


The commerce ministry has started the process of shutting down over 100-year-old government procurement arm – Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D)- in this fiscal.


Key facts:

  • The public procurement of goods and services is being managed by the ministrys e-market platform (GeM) since last year.
  • Currently, the directorate has four regional offices including Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. It has 12 Purchase Directorates (Commodity-wise) at its headquarters here. Besides, there are 20 offices /sub centres and the staff strength is over 1,200.
  • Before closing, the ministry has to decide upon the issues concerning manpower, land and office spaces of the directorate, which are present all over the country.



DGS&D has its origin in the India Stores Department, which was established in 1860 in London for purchase of imported stores. In 1922, India Stores Department was established in India to arrange purchases for Government Civil Departments and Military Purchases. In 1951, the set-up of Purchase and Inspection was reorganised and DGS&D was constituted, in its present form, to handle all government purchases centrally.

A minor restructuring happened in 1974, when defence and railways were allowed to procure items meant for their exclusive use. The directorate has two professional service cadres — Indian Supply Service and Indian Inspection Service.


What necessitated this move?

Last year, GeM was launched by the ministry to bring greater transparency and efficiency in public procurement. The GeM portal has eliminated human interface in vendor registration, order placement and payment processing to a great extent.

The central and state governments procure goods and services worth over Rs 5 lakh crore annually. Currently, over 20,000 sellers are registered on this portal for selling over 50,000 products.


Sources: et.


Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


e-Shakti initiative of NABARD


As per information compiled by NABARD, about 69,696 SHGs of the SHGs which have been digitised are credit linked as on 31st July, 2017. No SHG has been de-recognised on account of, or, after digitisation.


About e- Shakti:

e-Shakti is a pilot project of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for digitisation of Self Help Groups (SHGs). It was initiated to address certain concerns like improving the quality of book keeping of SHGs and to enable banks to take informed credit decisions about the group through a Management Information System (MIS). The project covers 25 districts and 1,30,176 SHGs have been digitised as on 31st March, 2017.


The project aims at digitisation of all the SHG accounts to bring SHG members under the fold of Financial Inclusion thereby helping them access wider range of financial services together with increasing the bankers’ comfort in credit appraisal and linkage by way of:

  • Integrating SHG members with the national Financial Inclusion agenda.
  • Improving the quality of interface between SHG members and Banks for efficient and hassle free delivery of banking services by using the available technology.
  • Facilitate convergence of delivery system with SHGs using Aadhaar linked identity.


Need for digitisation:

The need of digitisation of records of SHGs has been felt for quite some time due to patchy and delay in maintenance of books of accounts. Transparent and proper maintenance of records of SHGs will facilitate in nurturing and strengthening of SHGs.

It is also felt that digital empowerment will help in bringing SHGs on a common web based e-platform by making book keeping easy for low literacy clients. This will help in promoting national agenda of Financial Inclusion and pave the way of credibility of SHG data which can later be used by Credit Bureaus to reduce the issues related to multiple financing by banks.


Benefits of the project:

  • A comprehensive information base and robust MIS can be developed about poor community covered, which may facilitate suitable interventions and convergence of other programme for social and financial empowerment.
  • It will help in identifying suitable interventions and support for proper nurturing and strengthening of SHGs.
  • Ease of transfer of social benefits and Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) through Aadhaar linked accounts and convergence with other Government benefits.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Preparatory Meeting of the First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’


The two-day Preparatory Meeting of the First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ has begun in New Delhi. This marks the first phase of the First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’, being organized by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).


Key facts:

  • The Government of India has entrusted the responsibility of organizing the First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ to the NDRF.
  • This Exercise will provide a platform to share the Best Practices on comprehensive aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for Disaster Management among the BIMSTEC nations.
  • Senior officers from MHA, MEA, NDMA, NDRF and National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), besides representatives from all seven BIMSTEC nations, – namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, are participating in the Preparatory Meeting.
  • The main exercise will comprise of Table Top Exercise (TTX), Field Training Exercise (FTX) and After Action Review (AAR).


Significance of this exercise:

The impact of natural disasters is increasing due to growing population and urbanization. Sharing of Best Practices in DRR including Prevention, Mitigation and Resilience are critical to Disaster Management. Regional and International Cooperation in DRR is therefore critical to Disaster Management. The Disaster Management Exercise of BIMSTEC bloc will help in the augmentation of capacities, especially response capacity, besides promoting cooperation and coordination in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

  • India has been at the forefront of DRR efforts by hosting the South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) and the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR). India has also offered its expertise and capabilities in DRR such as the South Asia satellite, GSAT-9, and the Tsunami Early Warning Centre to other countries.
  • The modalities and requirements of the First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ would be worked during the course of the two-day Preparatory Meeting.




The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organization involving a group of countries in South Asia and South East Asia.

  • The BIMSTEC comprises of seven countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
  • The main objective of BIMSTEC is technological and economical cooperation among South Asian and South East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
  • The headquarters of BIMSTEC is in Dhaka.


Sources: pib