25 AUGUST 2019 || THE HINDU DAILY NEWS & CURRENT AFFAIRS ANALYSIS FOR UPSC, SSC, CAPF, CDS etc.

The Hindu Daily News Analysis

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1. Prime Minister’s Visit to the UAE

Background

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed ways to improve trade and cultural ties between India and the UAE with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
  • India and the UAE enjoy warm, close and multi-faceted relations underpinned by cultural, religious and economic linkages.
  • During the Prime Minister’s previous visit to the UAE in August 2015, the relationship got elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
  • A 3.3 million-strong Indian community in the UAE nourishes the vibrant people-to-people contacts between the two friendly countries.

Details

  • The crown prince expressed gratitude by addressing the Prime Minister as a ‘brother’ visiting his ‘second home’.
  • The leaders spoke about multiple subjects including ways to improve trade and people-to-people relations between India and UAE.
  • Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry, said that there was a “new energy” in the relationship between the two leaders.
  • Indian Prime Minister said that India has found a ‘valuable partner’ in the UAE to achieve its dream of becoming a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25.

Bilateral Investments

  • The UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner.
  • There is a robust flow of bilateral investments and an annual bilateral trade of about $60 billion.
  • It is also the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil to India.
  • There has been an increasing interest in investments in India in sectors such as renewable energy, food, ports, airports and defence manufacturing.
  • The UAE’s investments in infrastructure and housing are also being enhanced.
  • Both countries are working closely to implement the commitment of $75 billion investment by the UAE in India.

Order of Zayed

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was honoured with the ‘Order of Zayed’, the UAE’s highest civilian award as a mark of appreciation for his efforts to boost bilateral ties between the two nations.
  • The award has earlier been given to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Queen Elizabeth II and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • The award is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE.
  • The recognition acquires special significance as it was awarded to Prime Minister Modi in the year of the birth centenary of Sheikh Zayed.
  • PM Urges NRIs to Invest in J&K:
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that political stability and predictable policy framework have made India an attractive investment destination.
  • He urged the Indian business leaders in the UAE to invest in Jammu and Kashmir, which he said could emerge as the country’s growth engine.
  • Several herbal and organic products are scattered across J&K and Ladakh. If they are identified and marketed in the global market, then it will greatly benefit the people and farmers of these regions.

2. NCTE to Shut Down Bad Colleges

Background

  • The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is conducting the first-ever performance appraisals of the 19,000 institutions under its regulation.

Details

  • The teacher education institutions potentially produce 19 lakh graduates per year.
  • The 26 Cr. Students of India need only 90 lakh teachers overall, at the recommended teacher-student ratio of 1:27.
  • If each teacher serves about 30 years, the annual turnover is only about three lakh.
  • The NCTE is undergoing a re-evaluation of its mission and functioning in its silver jubilee year.
  • Its original objectives were to craft the syllabus and curriculum of teacher training and regulate institutions under its jurisdiction.

Reasons behind the Move

  • The procedure is aimed to weed out and shut down poor quality teacher education institutions, which have six times more capacity than needed.
  • The B.Ed has become a degree for marriage and social status rather than for teaching.
  • There are simply too many graduates seeking too few jobs.
  • In addition, there are spurious, fly-by-night institutions and graduates who obtain B.Ed degrees without attending any class and with no intention of ever becoming a teachers.
  • Even if we close down 10,000 institutions, we would still be oversubscribed by three times.
  • This oversupply is the main reason for derogation of the teaching profession.
  • Hence, they get away with paying ₹2,000-3,000 per month for a teacher who is supposed to be a leader, a motivator, a counsellor to a generation of children.

Target

  • The NCTE hopes to complete its performance appraisal process and weed out the worst institutions before the next academic year.
  • The Council also plans to start aspirational new initiatives, including 700 model institutions (at least one per district), a new leadership training programme for principals and head teachers and an experimental international teaching qualification.
  • This would cater to the international school market and also potentially prepare teachers who want to take their skills abroad.

National Council for Teacher Education

  • The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 and the Programme of Action thereunder, envisaged a National Council for Teacher Education with statutory status and necessary resources as a first step for overhauling the system of teacher education.
  • The NCTE came into existence as a statutory body under the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993.

3. Power Sector Woes

Background

  • The government is working on a new scheme involving reforms, incentive and investment support for the power sector.
  • The sector has distressed assets worth 65,000 MW to 75,000 MW and it is worth over ₹4 lakh Cr.
  • The stress cannot be easily resolved under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) process.
  • The Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) was introduced to make sure that power is being paid for.
  • Even after (UDAY), some entities started delaying payment and ₹40,000 Cr. bills are unpaid.

Earlier Attempts

  • Banks are trying to resolve the crisis in different ways:
  • Some have gone to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) route.
  • But, if you resolve through NCLT, nothing will survive, except the plant.
  • The power purchase agreement (PPA) and the fuel supply agreement (FSA) goes away.

Way Forward

  • The government is planning for reviving the sector.
  • New schemes are planned, where reforms can be brought in backed by incentive and investment support by the government.
  • The key in power sector is that power needs to be paid for.
  • Union Finance Secretary advocated the involvement of Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) for resolving stress in the power sector instead of resolving under the provisions of existing bankruptcy laws.
  • ARCs and the industry need to come together and bid.
  • External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) norms have been amended to allow foreign funds to be brought in to repay debts.
  • There is the need for new industry players besides existing ones to bid for these assets.

5. A New Battlefront in the WTO

Background

U.S. President Donald Trump recently attacked the World Trade Organization (WTO) for allowing
countries such as India and China to engage in unfair trade practices that affect American economic interests.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

  • The WTO was envisaged as an international trade body to help foster more trading in goods and services between nations.
  • It tries to achieve the goals by lowering various barriers to trade such as tariffs, subsidies and quotas.
  • Several trade agreements have been ratified over the years under the WTO. U.S’ Allegations:
  • Trump strongly opposed the “developing country” status enjoyed by India and China at the WTO.
  • He argued that these countries are grown economies that do not deserve any preferential trade treatment over developed countries.

‘Developing Country’ Status

  • The status allows a member of the WTO to seek temporary exception from the commitments under various multilateral trade agreements ratified by the organization.
  • It was introduced as a mechanism to offer some relief to poor countries while they try to adjust to a new global trade order marked by lower barriers to trade.
  • As many as two-thirds of the 164 members of the WTO have classified themselves as developing countries.
  • India, China, etc. have argued that their economic backwardness should be considered when it comes to the timeline of implementation of WTO agreements.
  • Over the issue of farm subsidies, rich and poor countries have had major disagreements.

Benefits from the Special Status

  • Developing countries can seek to delay the implementation of the WTO agreements.
  • They can continue to impose tariffs and quotas on goods and services in order to limit imports (that are lower in price or better in quality) and promote domestic producers.
  • India gives subsidies in agriculture in the name of food security and protection of farmers.

Challenges

  • The WTO does not formally classify any of its members as a developing country.
  • Individual countries are allowed to unilaterally classify themselves as developing economies.
  • Even many developed economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong (which have per capita income levels higher than the U.S.) have made use of the provision to classify themselves as growing economies.
  • Countries such as China justify that while their per capita income level has increased over the last few decades, these are still far below that of high income levels in countries such as the U.S.
  • While local producers may be protected by protectionist barriers such as tariffs, consumers in India and China will have limited access to foreign goods.
  • Mr. Trump may have a prima facie case in urging the WTO to address the issue of how countries arbitrarily classify themselves as ‘developing’.

Other Issues in the WTO

  • Developed countries have tried to force poorer countries to impose stringent labor safety and other regulations.
  • These regulations can make the developing countries uncompetitive by increasing the cost of production.
  • Further, the introduction of labor issues into trade agreements is viewed as beyond the scope of the WTO.
  • Many economists oppose the argument of poorer countries that low per capita income levels justify their decision to raise trade barriers.
      • According to them, free trade benefits all countries irrespective of their income levels.
      • They also argue that protectionist trade barriers obstruct the transition of developing economiesto higher income levels.
  • The dispute resolution mechanism of the WTO lacks the powers to enforce the judgments, as the enforcement is left to individual member states.
  • The WTO has now deteriorated into a forum where competing governments fiercely try to protect their narrow interests, even though it was initially envisaged as a global body to promote free trade.

What Lies Ahead?

  • Trump’s criticism may be the opening of a new front in his trade war against China.
  • Earlier, the U.S. President had termed China as a ‘currency manipulator’ for allowing the Yuan to depreciate against the dollar.
  • China and the U.S. have also been placing steep tariffs on imports from each other.
  • Global trade rules are unlikely to experience any huge reform any time soon, since that goes against their economic interests.
  • The inability of the WTO has raised questions about its
  • Global tariff rates over the years have dropped more due to bilateral trade agreements rather than due to multilateral trade agreements brokered at the WTO.
  • The ministerial level talks of the WTO scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan next year will be crucial for the continuation of the relevance of the organization.

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    25 AUGUST 2019 || THE HINDU DAILY NEWS & CURRENT AFFAIRS ANALYSIS FOR UPSC, SSC, CAPF, CDS etc.
    Get Daily News Analysis, Editorial Analysis and Current Affairs from The Hindu newspaper for free. The Hindu newspaper is one of the most important source for preparing GS/Gk for any competitive exam in India. This free Daily News Analysis, Editorial Analysis and Current Affairs from The Hindu newspaper will help you make notes for various competitive exams like SSC, CDS, UPSC Civil Services, UPSC CAPF, Banking, Railways RRBs, Insurance, UPSC IES, UPSC IFS, etc. This complete analysis contains both fact based news highlights for objective exams and in depth analysis of editorials and opinions for descriptive papers and essays in very easy and simplified language.
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