November 2019

Daily Current Affairs (24-11-19)

POLITY & GOVERNANCE

“RULE 12” USED BY CENTRE TO END PRESIDENT’S RULE IN MAHARASHTRA

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Indian Constitution [Paper-I]: Indian Constitution and its salient features, Constitutional Authorities – Powers, Functions and Responsibilities

News

To revoke President’s Rule in Maharashtra, Central government has used a special Section in the Union government’s Transaction of Business Rules, which allows for revocation of President’s Rule without Cabinet approval if the Prime Minister “deems it necessary”.

Rule 12 of the Transaction of Business Rules, 1961

  • It allows the PM to depart from laid down norms at his discretion.
  • Titled “Departure from Rules”, Rule 12 says that “The Prime Minister may, in case or classes of cases permit or condone a departure from these rules, to the extent he deems necessary.”
  • The Cabinet can subsequently give post-facto approval for any decision taken under Rule 12.

Circumstances under which Rule 12 is used

  • Rule 12 is usually not used to arrive at major decisions by the government.
  • However, it has been used in matters such as withdrawal of an office memorandum or signing of MoUs in the past.
  • The last big decision taken through the invocation of Rule 12 was re-organisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh on October 31, 2019.
  • This Rule was invoked by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975, as the head of the executive branch, to unilaterally assume emergency powers without consulting Union cabinet.
[Source: Indian Express]

 

ECONOMY

CONSUMER EXPENDITURE SURVEY (CES)

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Economy and Planning [Paper-II]: Indian Economy in post reform period

News

  • In view of “data quality issues”, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation had decided not to release the results of the all-India Household Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) during 2017-2018.
  • Central government also announced that it was “separately examining the feasibility of conducting the next Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) in 2020-2021 and 2021-22 after incorporating all data quality refinements in the survey process”.

What is the CES?

  • It is traditionally a quinquennial (recurring every five years) survey.
  • It is designed to collect information on the consumption spending patterns of households across the country, both urban and rural.
  • The data gathered in this exercise reveals the average expenditure on goods (food and non-food) and services and helps generate estimates of household Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) as well as the distribution of households and persons over the MPCE classes.

Significance

  • The estimates of monthly per capita consumption spending are vital in gauging the demand dynamics of the economy as well as for understanding the shifting priorities in terms of baskets of goods and services, and in assessing living standards and growth trends across multiple strata.
  • It is an invaluable analytical as well as forecasting tool.
  • It will help the policymakers to spot and address possible structural anomalies that may cause demand to shift in a particular manner in a specific socio-economic or regional cohort of the population.
  • It is used by the government in rebasing the GDP and other macro-economic indicators.

Critical Aspects

  • Central government’s decision to withhold the survey’s findings deprives policymakers of invaluable contemporary consumption data that would have helped drive their intervention strategies.
  • The next survey’s findings (2020-21 or 2021-22) would end up coming after 9 or 10 years, after the 2011-12 survey.
  • As a subscriber to the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), India is obliged to follow good practices in four areas in disseminating macroeconomic statistics to the public.
  • These comprise the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of data; public access to those data; data integrity; and data quality.
  • IMF’s ‘Annual Observance Report’ for 2018 have already flagged concerns about India’s delays in releasing economic data and the decision to withhold the survey risks the country falling out of its SDDS obligations.
[Source: The Hindu]

 

STRATEGIC DISINVESTMENT

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Economy and Planning [Paper-II]: Indian economy in post reform period – new economic reforms

News

  • Central Government gave in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of the government shareholding in five public sector enterprises along with management control.
  • These five PSUs are Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL); Shipping Corporation of India; Container Corporation of India; Tehri Hydro Power Development Corporation (THDCIL), and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (NEEPCO).

Why do governments divest stake in PSUs?

  • According to some economists, “the government has no business being in business”.
  • It means that the government’s role is to facilitate a healthy business environment and the core competence of a government does not lie in selling fuel or steel at a profit.
  • With governments always having to spend more than they earn through taxes and other means, additional income from the proceeds of a stake sale is always welcome.
  • In the case of India, the government has to spend higher amounts on infrastructure to boost economic growth, along with its commitments on health and education.

What is strategic disinvestment?

  • A strategic sale by a government is one where the management control is ceded to the buyer.
  • Strategic disinvestment would imply the sale of substantial portion of the Government share holding of a central public sector enterprise (CPSE) of upto 50%, or such higher percentage as the competent authority may determine, along with transfer of management control.
  • It is guided by the basic economic principle that the Government should discontinue its engagement in manufacturing/producing goods and services in sectors where the competitive markets have come of age, and such entities would most likely perform better in the private hands due to various factors.

Benefits

  • The resources unlocked by the strategic disinvestment would be used to finance the social sector/developmental programmes of the Government benefiting the public.
  • The unlocked resources would form part of the budget and the usage would come to scrutiny of the public.
  • It is expected that the the strategic buyer/ acquier may bring in new management/technology/investment for the growth of these companies and may use innovative methods for their development.

Background

  • Since liberalisation began in India in 1991 under the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, the country saw a steady flow of disinvestment decisions.
  • However, privatisation, where buyers took over management control, began later.
  • Arun Shourie, the country’s first Disinvestment Minister is credited with the privatisation of Maruti, Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd., Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited and Hindustan Zinc through the strategic sale process.
  • In 2015, Union Government reinitiated the policy of strategic disinvestment in order to open up sectors for private enterprise to bring efficiency in management that would contribute to general economic development.
  • In her budget speech of 2019, Union Finance Minister had announced that in view of current macroeconomic parameters, more CPSEs will be offered for strategic disinvestment.

[Source: The Hindu, Economic Times, All India Radio]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

ETVAX: POTENTIAL DIARRHEA VACCINE            
  • The researchers of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have developed a potential Diarrhea vaccine, namely ETVAX.
  • The research was published in the journal ‘The Lancet Infectious Diseases’.
  • It studied the safety and effectiveness of an oral, inactivated vaccine called ETVAX against toxin-producing E. coli bacteria which caused diarrhea.
  • Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) bacteria are primary cause of diarrhea, leading to substantial illness and death in children in lowand middle-income countries (LMICs).
  • ETVAX vaccine was developed at University of Gothenburg in collaboration with Scandinavian Biopharma, Stockholm.
  • The vaccine used in the study consisted of inactivated E. coli bacteria expressing high levels of proteins that triggered the immune reaction, and a subunit protein called ‘LCTBA’.
  • Currently there is no ETEC vaccine available on the market for use in either children or travelers to ETEC high-risk areas, and ETEC vaccine development is a World Health Organization priority.
5% QUOTA FOR NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL MEDALLISTS
  • Madhya Pradesh government has decided to provide 5% reservation for national and international medallists in government jobs.
  • MP Sports minister Jeetu Patwari made this announcement while inaugurating the Regional Olympic Games at Kampoo sports complex in Gwalior.
LUMPY SKIN DISEASE
  • The outbreak of `lumpy skin disease’ in cattle in certain parts of Odisha has prompted China to issue a warning notification against imports of cattle and cattle products from India.
  • On November 18, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying informed the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) on three recent cases of occurrence of `lumpy skin disease’ virus in cattle in Odisha reported in August, 2019.
  • `Lumpy skin’ is an infectious disease in cattle which damages the skin and may result in chronic debility, reduced milk production, poor growth, infertility and even cause death.
  • It is caused by lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), a virus from the family Poxviridae, also known as Neethling virus.

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