Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 September 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 September 2017


 

Paper 2:

 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

All set for NIRF ranking exercise next year

 

The Centre has set the ball rolling for a more comprehensive ranking of higher educational institutions in the next round of the National Institutional Ranking Framework in 2018.

  • The idea: instead of institutions choosing to take part in the exercise, they are being auto-registered through a large online database — the All-India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) portal — of institutions available with the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The institutions, however, have to provide details like patents, publications, research projects and campus placements that are not available on the portal.

 

Background:

The 2016 and 2017 NIRF lists reflected the ranks of only those institutions that had taken part in the exercise. The number was about 3,300 in 2017. Among universities, Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore was ranked first and Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi was second. Miranda House in Delhi was ranked India’s best college.

 

What is NIRF?

The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was approved by the MHRD and was launched in September, 2015. This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country. The methodology draws from the overall recommendations and broad understanding arrived at by a Core Committee set up by MHRD, to identify the broad parameters for ranking various universities and institutions.

  • The parameters broadly cover “Teaching, Learning and Resources”, “Research and Professional Practices”, “Graduation Outcomes”, “Outreach and Inclusivity” and “Perception”.
  • NIRF has been given the responsibility of ranking institutions that have applied and submitted their data. The ranking of the Institutions will be done based on the parameters proposed by NIRF for different disciplines.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

India at 103 rank on Global Human Capital Index

 

The Global Human Capital Index for the year 2017 has been released by WEF.

 

About GHC Index:

The Global Human Capital Index 2017 ranks 130 countries on how well they are developing their human capital on a scale from 0 (worst) to 100 (best) across four thematic dimensions and five distinct age groups to capture the full human capital potential profile of a country. It aims to be used as a tool to assess progress within countries and point to opportunities for cross-country learning and exchange.

  • The list compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) takes into account “the knowledge and skills people possess that enable them to create value in the global economic system” to measure the ‘human capital’ rank of a country.
  • The report measures 130 countries against four key areas of human capital development; Capacity (determined by past investment in formal education), Deployment (accumulation of skills through work), Development (continued upskilling and reskilling of existing workers) and Know-how (specialised skills-use at work).

 

Performance of India:

  • India has been placed at a low 103 rank, the lowest among BRICS economies. India also ranks “among the lowest in the world” when it comes to the employment gender gap, but has fared well when it comes to development of skills needed for the future with a rank of 65 out of total 130 countries surveyed.
  • Among the South Asian countries also, India was ranked lower than Sri Lanka and Nepal, although higher than neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  • India is held back by a number of factors, including low educational attainment (primary education attainment among 25 -54 year olds is 110th for example) and low deployment of its human capital, meaning the skills available are not getting put to good use.

 

Performance of other countries:

  • The overall list was topped by Norway, followed by Finland and Switzerland in the second and third place respectively.
  • Other countries in the top 10 include, the United States (4th), Denmark (5th), Germany (6th), New Zealand (7th), Sweden (8th), Slovenia (9th) and Austria (10th).

 

Sources: et.

 


 

Paper 3:

 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Corporate debt, a drag on economy

 

Thomson Reuters data, based on the latest annual earnings reports, shows India’s corporate debt rose to a seven-year high at the end of March.

 

Highlights of the report:

  • More than a fifth of large companies did not earn enough to pay interest on their loans and the pace of new loans fell to the lowest in more than six decades.
  • Net debt for 288 companies with a market capitalisation of more than $500 million, covering most big firms in India, has hit at least a seven-year high of ₹18 trillion ($281 billion). Soured debt was 12% of total loans held by lenders at the end of March.
  • More than a fifth of 513 Indian companies had interest cover of less than 1%. New loans are also hard to come by. On an annual basis, the pace of new loans in the year to the end of March, fell to the lowest since the fiscal year ended in March 1954.
  • The impact can be seen in the GDP data. Gross capital formation, a gauge of private investment, fell to less than 30% of GDP in the June quarter, from 31% a year earlier and 38% a decade ago.

 

Concerns associated:

Corporates are more concerned about the impact of soured loans on bank balance sheets, which prevent them from getting the full benefit of central bank rate cuts. That is sapping India’s economic vitality, they say. Since January 2015, the central bank has cut policy rates by 200 basis points, or 2 percentage points, but commercial bank benchmark lending rates have come down less, by about 120 basis points.

 

How bad is India’s corporate debt problem compared to its peers?

A cross-country analysis of corporate debt suggests that India’s total corporate debt relative to its gross domestic product (GDP) is less than that of several major economies. However, the quality of debt in India is far poorer, with a large fraction of indebted firms losing their repayment ability, and saddling banks with a rising pile of non-performing assets (NPAs). According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), India’s corporate debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 51% of GDP as of 31 March 2016. The size of India’s corporate debt, relative to GDP, is much lower than other major economies such as the US (72%) and the European Union (105%).

  • The depressed interest coverage ratio of Indian firms is primarily because of two key reasons: the slower revenue growth of indebted firms, and a relatively higher interest rate in India compared to most other economies.
  • Given the relatively high interest costs in India, many firms have often opted to raise money from abroad. The outstanding external commercial borrowings (ECBs) amounted to $177 billion at the end of June 2016—roughly 17% of total corporate debt outstanding. While ECBs allow companies to borrow cheaply, they also expose them to currency risk. In the absence of adequate hedging by corporations, this too could become a point of stress.
  • Thus, while India’s corporate debt level is not significantly higher than that of its peers, the poor quality of debt and the low repayment ability of indebted firms continue to put an enormous strain on India’s economy and the banking system.

 

Background:

The Indian government reported on August 31 that annual GDP growth in the quarter ended June dropped to 5.7%, an envious pace for many countries but India’s weakest since early 2014. It was blamed on attempts by the government to flush out money hidden from the tax man, which caused a cash crunch, and the introduction of a general sales tax (GST), which prompted businesses and consumers to hit the pause button.

 

Way ahead:

India’s fragile corporate metrics and its bad loan problem are but the mirror images of each other. Till the corporate deleveraging cycle bottoms out, bank profitability and credit growth are unlikely to recover.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

 

RBI is not comfortable with bitcoins, says Sen

Image result for RBI is not comfortable with bitcoins, says Sen

The Reserve Bank has indicated that it is uncomfortable with “non-fiat” cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

 

Fiat cryptocurrency and non- fiat cryptocurrency:

A non-fiat cryptocurrency is “Bitcoins for example. That’s a private cryptocurrency.” Whereas, the fiat cryptocurrency is a digital currency which would be issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in place of the physical one at present.

 

Background:

The RBI has been repeatedly cautioning everyone about the usage of cryptocurrencies, flagging a slew of concerns. It had stated that Bitcoins posed potential risks. According to some media reports, there has been a growing number of investors in such currencies over the last few years, especially with the huge spurt in the value of a few of them since the Trump administration came in the U.S.

 

What are cryptocurrencies?

Crypto-currency that is planned to be brought under the regulatory regime is a digital currency which allows transacting parties to remain anonymous while confirming that the transaction is a valid one. It is not owned or controlled by any institution – governments or private. There are multiple such currencies — bitcoin, ethereum, ripple are some of the popular ones. Currently, they are neither illegal nor legal in India.

 

Need for regulation:

Cryptocurrencies have gained popularity in the last few years. Currently, they are neither illegal nor legal in many countries including India. The market cap for all crypto-currencies has just crossed $100 billion, with most of the increase coming in the past few months. On April 1, 2017, the total market cap was just over $25 billion, representing a 300% rise in just over 60 days. One bitcoin today is worth as much as 60 grams of gold.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Mouse deer released in Amrabad Reserve for the first time

Image result for Mouse deer released in Amrabad Reserve for the first time

In a novel and unique initiative attempted anywhere in the country, the Telangana State Forest Department has re-introduced the endangered ‘mouse deer’ into the forests of Nallamalla in Amrabad Tiger Reserve.

 

Key facts:

  • The release of these mouse deer into the protected enclosure of 2.4 hectares is aimed at improving the biodiversity. The Amrabad Tiger Reserve was chosen because these animals were earlier wandering in this area.
  • The deer will gradually be weaned-off externally supplied food. Afterwards if they get a clearing by the field biologists, they will be released from their enclosure into the wild.

 

About Mouse deer:

Also called ‘spotted Chevrotain’, it is one of the endangered species usually found in deciduous and evergreen forests of the country. It has its own family called Tragulidae.

  • These animals are nocturnal in habitat and because of their small size they are called ‘smallest ungulates’ too.
  • Also called “Jarini Pandi” in Telugu, their number has been decreasing at an alarming rate in recent years because of destruction of habitat and poaching.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

 

Home Ministry team to study risks faced by border villages

Image result for Home Ministry team to study risks faced by border villages

The home ministry will set up an expert group to look into the problems people living in villages along the Line of Control (LoC) face. The study group will look at ways to improve lives of cross-border ceasefire violation victims.

  • The study group is expected to come up with suggestions to not only increase the safety and security of the border residents but also to look at ways of making funding in Border Are a Development Programmes effective.

 

Background:

In 2011, there were 62 ceasefire violations by Pakistan. There were 114 of those in 2012 and 347 in 2013. In 2014, the number of cross- fire violations went up to 583. It was 405 in 2015 and 449 in 2016. In 2017, till August, there have been 418 ceasefire violations by Pakistan, according to numbers in the home ministry.

 

Concerns:

Many people have abandoned their home and have been living in relief camps for the last four months to escape firing and shelling from across the border. Lives of the people who faced such frequent firing are fraught with risks and more is needed to be done.

 

Sources: et.


 

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

 

India will soon grant citizenship to Chakma, Hajong refugees

 

The Centre will soon grant citizenship to nearly one lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees, who came from the erstwhile East Pakistan five decades ago and are living in camps in the northeast.

  • In 2015, the Supreme Court had directed the Central government to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees, mostly staying in Arunachal Pradesh.

 

Who are they?

Chakmas and Hajongs were originally residents of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the erstwhile East Pakistan. They left their homeland when it was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s.

  • The Chakmas, who are Buddhists, and the Hajongs, who are Hindus, also allegedly faced religious persecution and entered India through the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram). The Centre moved the majority of them to the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), which is now Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Their numbers have gone up from about 5,000 in 1964-69 to one lakh. At present, they don’t have citizenship and land rights but are provided basic amenities by the state government.

 

Way ahead:

Several organisations and civil society in Arunachal Pradesh have been opposing citizenship to the refugees saying it would change the demography of the state. The Centre is trying to find a workable solution to the issue by proposing that Chakma and Hajong refugees will not be given rights, including ownership of land, enjoyed by Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh. However, they may be given Inner Line permits, required for non-locals in Arunachal Pradesh to travel and work.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 

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