27 December, 2019

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GS-II : International Relations
China sails carrier group through Taiwan Strait as election nears

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the developments in the China-Taiwan relations; One-China Policy and how it is different from One-china principle

News: China has sailed its new aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Thursday, as a presidential election campaigning was in full swing on the island amid heighten tension with Beijing.


  • Taiwan holds a presidential vote on Jan. 11 with President Tsai Ing-wen hoping to win re-election. She has repeatedly mentioned what she sees as the threat of China as a warning to voters.
  • Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party is pro-independence, although she has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.
  • Democratic Taiwan is claimed by China as a wayward province and is the Communist Party’s most sensitive and important territorial issue. China has threatened to attack if Taiwan moves toward formal independence.
  • President Xi Jinping said in January that China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification”.

About the Chinese aircraft carrier

  • The Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, China’s second largest, entered service at a base in the South China Sea last week in a big step in the country’s ambitious military modernization.
  • Last month, the ship, still unnamed at the time, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on its way to what China called routine exercises in the South China Sea, with Taiwan scrambling ships and aircraft to monitor the group.

One China Policy

The One-China policy refers to the policy or view that there is only one state called "China", despite the existence of two governments that claim to be "China".

  • As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with People's Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice versa.
  • The One China policy is different from the "One China principle", which is the principle that insists both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single China

What is the ‘One China’ principle?

The principle affirms Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and is the cornerstone of bilateral diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing.

  • Any country that wants to establish political and diplomatic relations with China must agree to adhere to this principle and not recognise Taiwan as an independent country.
  • Currently, 21 states recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country. India does not maintain any diplomatic ties with the Taiwan.
  • In practice, the ‘One China’ principle is a stabilisation mechanism that preserves the status quo over Taiwan’s political status while allowing it to function as an independent economic, civic and administrative entity.
  • Since 1979, Taiwan has had to negotiate its ‘international living space’ but it has largely honoured the ‘One China’ principle.

Source: Indian Express

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Good Governance Index released by Central govt.

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

Prelims and Mains focus: About the Good Governance Index and its significance; performance of different states

News: Tamil Nadu has topped the Good Governance Index released by the Centre on Wednesday, followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

About the occasion

  • The government celebrates December 25 as Good Governance Day to mark the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • The rankings were launched by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions) and the Centre for Good Governance.

State-wise performance

  • Odisha, Bihar, Goa, and Uttar Pradesh did not fare well in the Big States category and Jharkhand was at the bottom of the list.
  • The other two classifications are North-East and Hill States, and Union Territories
  • In the North-East and Hill States category, Himachal Pradesh ranked first, followed by Uttarakhand, Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim. Jammu and Kashmir is at the sixth place, followed by Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Among the Union Territories, Puducherry emerged as the best-governed, ahead of Chandigarh and Delhi. Lakshwadeep was found to be the worst-performing.

About the Good Governance Index

  • The index is a uniform tool to assess the status of governance and the impact of various interventions by state governments and Union Territories.
  • The Index was designed scientifically based on various parameters of governance.
  • As per the methodology of the index, states are assessed on their performance in 10 sectors — agriculture and allied sectors, commerce and industries, human resource development, public health, public infrastructure and utilities, economic governance, social welfare and development, judicial and public security, environment and citizen-centric governance.

Sector-wise performance of states

  • In the agriculture and allied sector, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Daman and Diu are the best performing states in their respective classifications, taking into account the growth rate of agriculture and allied sector, food grain production, horticulture produce, milk and meat production, and crop insurance.
  • In the category of commerce and industries, Jharkhand was at the top among big states, Uttarakhand among hill states and Delhi among Union Territories.
  • West Bengal emerged as the topper in the Environment category among the big states and Jammu and Kashmir has topped among the North-East and Hill States.
  • Chhattisgarh has topped the Social Welfare and Development Sector ranking among big states and Meghalaya is on the top in its category.
  • In Economic Governance, Karnataka has emerged at the top among big states and Uttarakhand has topped among North-East and Hill States.
  • In terms of Public Infrastructure and Utilities, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh have topped their respective categories.
  • Kerala is on top in terms of Public Health.

Source: Indian Express

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Regulator moves to curb sales of antibiotics without prescriptions

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

Prelims and Mains focus: about the threat of antimicrobial resistance; Challenges and efforts made by the world community; About DGCI

News: The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has asked authorities of all states and Union territories (UTs) to stop pharmacies from selling antibiotic drugs without a doctor’s prescription in a step aimed at tackling drug resistant bacteria.

  • The regulator also asked All India Organization of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD) to “educate their members” on licensing conditions regarding antibiotic sales, and told drug makers to discourage pharmacists from selling drugs without prescriptions.


  • The ministry of health and family welfare had issued a National Action Plan on anti-microbial resistance (AMR) in 2017, seeking a coordinated move with the help of various other ministries such as animal husbandry and environment.
  • The advisory by the DCGI comes two months after the department of pharmaceuticals wrote to drug manufacturers, warning against antibiotic residues in the effluents of their plants.

Current scenario of Antibiotics market in India

  • Antibiotics fall under schedules H and H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, which means they can be sold only under prescription.
  • However, regulations for pharmacies are lax and violations are rampant. A number of such medicines are sold widely over the counter without prescriptions.

What does this move signify?

  • The move by the regulator indicates increased awareness about anti-microbial resistance, where bacteria and other microbials become immune to medicines on overuse, thereby making them ineffective against the infection.

Challenge of anti-microbial resistance

  • Anti-microbial resistance is globally seen as a major problem in the pharmaceutical sector with the United Nations’ Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance estimating drug-resistant infections to cause at least 700,000 deaths every year, including 230,000 from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis alone.
  • A worst-case scenario developed by the World Bank has suggested that this figure could rise to 10 million deaths every year by 2050 if no action is taken.
  • Around 10 million lives a year and a cumulative $100 trillion of economic output will be at risk because of the rise of drug-resistant infections by 2050, according to estimates from another study supported by the UK government and Wellcome Trust in 2016.

Situation in India

  • India, home to an estimated 130,000 multidrug resistant TB patients in 2019 according to the World Health Organization, is crucial to the success of this global fight.
  • However, the sale of medicines without prescriptions is not the only reason for the rise in anti-microbial resistance, according to experts. Effluents discharged by drug manufacturing units also add to the problem.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is working on effluent treatment norms for pharmaceutical companies. CPCB had set up an expert committee to draft standards for antibiotic residue in industrial effluents. The draft is now close to finalization.

About Drug Controller General of India (DCGI)

  • DCGI under gamut of Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is responsible for approval of licenses of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, vaccines, IV fluids and sera in India.
  • DCGI lays down standards and quality of manufacturing, selling, import and distribution of drugs in India.
  • It acts as appellate authority in case of any dispute regarding quality of drugs.

Source: mint

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NPR: house­to­house verification planned

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

Prelims and Mains focus: about NPR and the controversy around its implementation

News: The central government proposes to update the National Population Register (NPR), which already has an electronic database of more than 119 crore residents, by verifying the details of all respondents through house­to-house enumeration, according to an official manual for conducting the fresh NPR exercise.


  • The NPR exercise has become controversial because the Citizenship Rules, 2003, link the Population Register to the creation of a National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or National Register of Citizens.
  • Coupled with the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which excludes Muslims, fears about an NPR­NRC have brought lakhs of people on to the streets in protest.

About NPR

  • Data for the NPR was first collected in 2010 and updated in 2015. The Modi government has proposed that the next phase of NPR be conducted, along with the census exercise, between April and September 2020.
  • The enumerators, all government officials, will “modify and correct the demographic data items”. They are also tasked with collecting mobile, voter card, Indian passport and driving licence numbers from residents.
  • The govt. manual requires the “inclusion of all new residents, new households found in the local area during the field work”.

Other details as mentioned in the manual

  • The 2010 NPR form collected details on 15 parameters, whereas a “pre­test” form that was used to collect data on a trial basis from 30 lakh people in September this year sought additional details on columns such as “place of birth of father and mother, last place of residence,” etc. It also added details such as Aadhaar number, voter ID card number, mobile phone number and driving licence number.
  • The manual states that in cases where the date of birth or age was not known, the enumerator could help the respondent by “stimulating her/his memory” with reference to historical events well known in the area such as a “war, flood, earthquake, change in political regime, etc.”
  • The manual says that if the respondent does not know the age of any member of the household and probing also does not help in determining the age of that person, “you will have to estimate her/his age by using your best judgment.”
  • The manual was prepared before the pretest was conducted.
  • The additional details related to the place of birth of the parents of a person being enlisted, Aadhar number and last place of residence were being recorded as part of basic requirements for NPR.

About National Population Register (NPR):

  • It is a Register of usual residents of the country.
  • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  • Definition: A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
  • The NPR database would contain demographic as well as biometric details.
  • As per the provisions of the NPR, a resident identity card (RIC) will be issued to individuals over the age of 18. This will be a chip-embedded smart card containing the demographic and biometric attributes of each individual. The UID number will also be printed on the card.

Source: The Hindu

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UGC issues norms for ethics in higher education

Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Prelims and Mains focus: about the guidelines issued by UGC and their significance; About UGC and HECI

News: Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Thursday launched new guidelines for values and ethics in higher education.

What are the guidelines issued?

In a section on the role of different stakeholders, the guidelines prepared by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has the following advice for student unions:

  1. Support the administration for right and timely decision [and] raise legitimate issues in dignified manner.
  2. The guidelines also call for students to “observe modesty in their overall appearance and behaviour”, “maintain good health and refrain from any kind of intoxicants” and “maintain harmony among students belonging to different socio-economic status, community, caste, religion or region”.
  3. With regard to professional ethics, the UGC now requires all Ph.D. candidates to complete two compulsory credit courses on publication ethics from the coming academic session. The 30­hour courses would provide awareness on publication ethics, misconduct and research integrity.

About UGC

The University Grants Commission (UGC) of India is a statutory body set up in 1956, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.


  • Previously, UGC was formed in 1946 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and, Delhi. In 1947, a Committee was entrusted with the responsibility of dealing with all the then existing Universities.
  • After independence, the University Education Commission was set up in 1948 under the Chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan and it recommended that the UGC be reconstituted on the general model of the University Grants Commission of the United Kingdom.
  • The UGC was however, formally established in November 1956, by an Act of Parliament as a statutory body of the Government of India.

Important functions performed by the commission:

  • It provides recognition to universities in India.
  • It oversees distribution of grants to universities and colleges in India.
  • It provides scholarships/fellowships to beneficiaries.
  • It monitors conformity to its regulations by universities and colleges.

Note: To know the difference between the proposed HECI and UGC click on the link below:


Source: The Hindu

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GS-III : Economic Issues Banking
As stress piles on, Indian lenders are on their way to large write-offs

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

Prelims and Mains focus: about the problem of NPAs in the banking sector; types of NPAs; loan write off and waiver

News: Indian banks have been facing a tough time getting back their monies from recalcitrant borrowers for long now. But their biggest hurdle in getting back dues is time. As time stretched, bad loans have only got worse and banks have had to keep increasing their provisions at the cost of profits.


  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) came into force in June 2016 and was expected to boost banks’ efforts to recover dues. Even after three years after the code’s implementation, recoveries have not improved significantly.
  • The objective of the IBC was to provide resolution swiftly so that the value of the asset is not eroded. The fact that bad loans have only got worse in the past three years shows that the code has had limited success in enabling quick resolution.

The following chart shows the surge in various types of bad loans.

Types of NPAs

  • Labelling an errant borrower as bad is only the first step by a bank. The real challenge begins when the borrower is either unable or unwilling to clear dues for a long period.
  • According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), a loan is non-performing if dues are unpaid for 90 days or more.
  • A non - performing loan may bounce back to being standard if the borrower restarts regular payments, or it could slip further to being sub-standard and doubtful to finally a loss asset.
  • Loss assets are invariably written off.
  • Doubtful assets are those that have been bad for more than a year. These assets formed 6.4% of bank loans as of March 2019, a sharp rise from 4.4% in FY16.

How are banks dealing with the Bad loan situation?

  • Though the stock of bad loans has come down but banks have been bringing down their bad loan pile largely through write-offs.
  • The surge in doubtful assets portends a rise in write-offs, going ahead.

Way ahead

The enabling conditions for a bad loan to become standard are absent. The economy is in protracted slowdown and several stressed sectors are yet to emerge out of their problems. Even as fresh stress has been piling onto bank balance sheets, past pain is only getting intense and this does not augur well for future recoveries.

What is a loan write-off and how is it different from loan waiver?.

  • Writing off a loan or asset means considering that it does not have future value or no longer serves the purpose. A non-performing asset is written off after all avenues of recovery are exhausted and chances of recovery of due loan seem remote. To clear the balance sheet, all such kind of loans are written off once for all.
  • It is a regular exercise that banks conduct in order to clean their balance sheet as well as to achieve tax efficiency. Although bad loans are written off, borrowers of such loans remain liable for repayment. There are several cases when such bad accounts were written off but loan recovery was done. Recovery of such accounts, however, happens on ongoing basis under the legal mechanism.

  • Loan waiver is quite different from writing off a loan as it is the cancellation of recovery or refraining from claiming the dues.
  • In simpler terms, banks will completely give up on such loans and no recovery will be made.
  • While in cases of writing off, recovery can be made.
  • Waiving a loan is a relief that is normally provided to farmers, who are in severe distress due to abnormal conditions such as crop failures, poor monsoon, floods, earthquake, draught etc that are considered as natural calamities. These are the conditions, which are beyond control, and result in borrowers unable to pay back to banks.
  • However, waiving farmers’ loan has now become a political move as a catching device for votes.

Source: mint

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