Current Affairs for IAS Exams – 30 July 2013
NEWEST SET OF CONSUMPTION EXPENDITURE DATA FOR 2011-12, RELEASED BY
The National Sample Survey Organisation’s newest set of
consumption expenditure data for 2011-12 gives an insight into how those
across the spectrum, from the poorest to the richest, live in different
parts of India.
An individual who spends over Rs. 2,886 per month in a
rural area or Rs. 6,383 per month in an urban area is in the top 5% of the
country (and this is using the modified mixed reference period, which gives
the most generous expenditure estimates). This translates to spending Rs.
96.2 and Rs. 212.77 per day. The top 10% of the country includes anyone who
spends over Rs. 2296 per month in a rural area and Rs. 4610 per month in an
Moreover, even though poverty rates are converging,
massive inter-State differences remain. A person spending over Rs. 1995 per
head would be well into the top 5% of rural Bihar, but more than half of
Kerala is spending at that level. Similarly, spending Rs. 1710 per month
would put a person in rural Jharkhand into the top 5% of her State, but over
60% of Punjab is spending at that level.
In urban India, spending Rs. 3400 per month in urban
Bihar would put a person into the top 5% of that State, but only the top 30%
of Delhi. Conversely, 30% of urban Chhattisgarh lives on a monthly per
capita expenditure of Rs. 1046, while less than 5% of Kerala lives at that
level of expenditure.
Then there is the question of what the rich and poor are
spending their money on; absolute spending on food rises as one climbs the
income ladder in both rural and urban India, even as its proportion in total
Myanmar pipeline to diversify China energy supply
- China has started receiving natural gas from Myanmar through an 800
km-long pipeline project. The opening of the pipeline hailed by State media
here as a landmark step towards diversifying China’s energy supply routes.
The gas pipeline, which can transport 12 billion cubic
metres annually, runs from Kyaukpyu to Ruili in southwestern Yunnan
province, which borders Myanmar. China is also building an oil pipeline that
will bring 22 million tons annually to Yunnan when completed.
“At present, as many as 80 per cent of China’s oil
imports depend on the supply line going through the Malacca and Singapore
straits, while the maritime route is patrolled by fleets headed by the U.S.
- Samet Island, a popular destination for weekend getaways from Bangkok,
is situated about 150 km south-east of the city.
Earlier this month, Russia and China held their largest
joint naval exercises in the Sea of Japan. Later this week, the land armies
of the two countries will hold a joint drill in the Ural Mountains in
Russia. In between these two events, Russia staged its biggest yet military
manoeuvres in Siberia and the far eastern region along China’s borders.
- The exercises reflect the dual nature of Russia’s relations with its
giant neighbour. China is Russia’s strategic partner but also a source of
profound security fears.
Code-named Joint Sea 2013, the joint naval drills were
the largest in the history of the two countries and saw the Chinese Navy’s
“single biggest deployment of military force in any joint foreign exercise,”
RIDICULOUS COUNTING OF POOR
The Planning Commission has once again embarrassed us
with its claims of decline in poverty by 2011-12 to grossly unrealistic
levels of 13.7 per cent of population in urban areas and 25.7 per cent in
rural areas, using monthly poverty lines of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 816
respectively, or Rs. 33.3 and Rs. 27.2 per day.
The Commission instead simply applied price indices to
bring forward the base year monthly poverty lines of Rs 49 rural and Rs.56
urban in 1973-74. The Tendulkar committee did not change this aspect; it
merely altered the specific index.
STRENGTHENING SEBI the right way
- The government is conveying a sense of urgency in plugging
loopholes in capital market regulations
- The former failed after collecting huge sums of money through its Ponzi
schemes, causing acute financial and social distress in eastern India.
- SEBI’s case against the Sahara group was buttressed by the Supreme
Court, which ordered a refund of more than Rs.20,000 crore to investors.
- The Indian financial code which has been drafted to address
inter-regulatory issues has not found universal acceptance and will take
time before it is adopted.
BUREAUCRACY AND POLITICAL INTERFERENCE
- The relationship between the political executive and the civil service,
often called the “permanent executive”, is governed by clear rules.
- the former frames policy, the responsibility of the latter is to
effectively implement it. In practice, their tandem functioning is not
- Transfers and postings can then become prizes or punishments, if used by
the political establishment to send a message to officers, or if loyalty is
rewarded over competence.
- Durga Shakti Nagpal, an IAS officer who had been visibly tackling
illegal sand mining in the Yamuna and Hindon riverbeds, was recently
transferred by the Uttar Pradesh government. The state’s justification was
that Nagpal had pulled down the wall of a mosque being built without
clearances, a decision that, it insisted, “lacked foresight and disturbed
- While political leaders have the right to choose the officers best
suited for various jobs, and to move them as they see fit, arbitrary or
self-serving decisions can corrode the quality of public administration.
- It takes a while for civil servants to understand the complexity of
their new roles, and the various pressures and interest groups at play.
- Transferring them before they have had a chance to make an impact, or
sometimes if they have made too much of an impact, would ensure that the
system doesn’t have a chance to deliver.
- The prime minister has emphasised this point repeatedly, and there have
been several attempts to create predictable work environments.
- The Central government introduced the Indian Administrative Service
(Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations, 1955 (amended in 2010), which
provides for a minimum tenure for postings for civil servants, but only 13
states and Union territories have formally indicated their acceptance.
Maharashtra has a specific law, ensuring a minimum tenure of three years for
all IAS officers, and any violation must be taken up with the state
- Fixed tenures for civil servants are not ideal. They reduce flexibility
and they can hinder the executive. But at the same time, political leaders
cannot transfer civil servants on a whim, without credible reasoning. Having
been given these wide powers, they must be obliged to provide a convincing
rationale for moving officers.
Preventive Vaccination Against Yellow Fever
caused by a RNA virus, the first human virus discovered.
The yellow fever virus is transmitted by the bite of
female mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti, and other species) and is found in
tropical and subtropical areas in South America and Africa.
Even though the main vector Aedes aegypti also occurs in
Asia, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East, yellow fever does not occur in
these areas; the reason for this is unknown.
Yellow fever presents in most cases with fever, chills,
anorexia, nausea, muscle pain (with prominent backache) and headache, which
generally subsides after several days
- Besides vaccination, control of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti
is of major importance, especially because the same mosquito can also
transmit dengue fever and chikungunya disease. Aedes aegypti breeds
preferentially in water, for example in installations by inhabitants of
areas with precarious drinking water supply, or in domestic waste;
especially tires, cans and plastic bottles.
- The Nalanda Mahavihara (ancient Nalanda University) had been a great
seat of learning for about eight hundred years (from 5th century to 13th
century A. D.).
- At the very beginning it was a monastic institution accommodating
thousands of travelling monks coming from different regions.
- During their stay at Nalanda monastery the Buddha’s Dhamma and Vinaya
based on ‘Pariyatti’ and ‘Patipatti-dhammasasanam’ etc.
- Actually the Nalanda Mahavihara had not only been a great seat of
learning. But it also became a great centre of culture and civilization.
- Geographically speaking, Nalanda can be spotted on tourist map of India
as one of the best archaeological sites that we Indians can be proud of.
- The ruins of famed University were found in Bargaon situated near the
Nalanda Railway Station of Bakhtiyarpur-Rajgir branch line of the Eastern
- Nalanda was an example of the Guru-Shishya parampara, a great Indian
tradition. The authority of the Guru (teacher) over the Shishya (student)
was absolute, and yet dissent was permitted in academic matters. The
tradition, although going back thousands of years, flourished at Nalanda
more than elsewhere.
However, the Governments initiative has been already
taken for the revival of Nalanda. Now the Parliament has passed Nalanda
University Bill. Accordingly the Central and State Government started the
work for making Nalanda an academic institution of world class.
India’s First Dedicated Navigational Satellite IRNSS-1A
- With the launch of IRNSS-1A satellite, India has joined a select group
of nations with indigenously developed navigation systems.
- India’s first dedicated navigational satellite the IRNSS-1A developed by
the ISRO was successfully put into orbit on the night of 1st July 2013
- This is the first of the seven satellites of the Indian Regional
Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
- IRNSS is an Independent regional navigation satellite system being
developed by India.
- It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users
in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 Km from its boundary,
which is its primary service area.
- The Extended Service Area lies between primary service area and area
enclosed by the rectangle from Latitude 30 degree South to 50 degree North,
Longitude 30 degree East to 130 degree East.
IRNSS will provide two types of services, namely,
Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all the users and
Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the
- The IRNSS System is expected to provide a position accuracy of better
than 20 metres in the primary service area.
Sources: Various News Papers