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DAILY CURRENT EVENTS CIVILS360

September 9, 2017

Unruly fliers now face lifetime ban

  • Air passengers can now be banned for a lifetime for unruly behaviour on flights by both domestic and foreign airlines, the Union government announced on Friday.
  • The unruly passenger will be put on a no-fly list, which will be made public and maintained by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
  • The ban will range between three months and a lifetime depending upon the gravity of the offence.
  • For physical gestures, verbal harassment and being unruly while inebriated, there will be a ban on passengers for up to three months; for physically abusive behaviour including pushing, kicking, hitting or sexual harassment, up to six months; and for life-threatening behaviour the ban may range from two years to a lifetime.
  • In case a passenger is a repeat offender, the duration of the flying ban will be twice that of his previous ban, according to the DGCA rules.
  • Airlines, on receiving complaint of unruly behaviour by the pilot-in-command, will refer the matter to an internal committee chaired by a retired district and sessions judge and members would include a representative each from different airline and passenger associations or consumer forums.

No compensation

  • The internal committee will decide the quantum of ban based on evidence produced by both airline and passenger including eye-witnesses, within a period of 30 days failing which the passenger will be free to fly.
  • The passenger will not be allowed to fly till the decision of the internal committee. However, there will be no compensation in case the allegations by airlines are proven wrong.
  • However, other airlines will not be bound by the no-fly list of an airline, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said. Aggrieved passengers can appeal within 60 days to an Appellate Committee constituted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation chaired by a HC judge.

SC upholds conversion of MBBS NRI seats to general category

  • The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the writ petitions submitted by two MBBS aspirants against the conversion of NRI quota seats to general category seats during the spot allotment for MBBS courses held here the other day.The plea was heard by a Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Deepak Mishra.
  • Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the State government, argued that it was because the candidates did not have sufficient documents with them to prove that they were legitimate claimants to the NRI quota that the seats were later converted to general category seats.

Bali action puts India on other side of debate

  • India’s decision to reject a joint statement by the World Parliamentary Forum in Indonesia, that included references to human rights in Myanmar in its ‘Bali declaration’, was a major show of support for the Suu Kyi government just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended his bilateral visit there. The move, however, has put India on the other side of the Rohingya refugee debate from Myanmar’s other neighbours and countries in the region.
  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were all among countries that joined the Bali declaration at Nusa Dua on Thursday, that India disassociated from, according to Indonesian officials.
  • In their explanation, the Indian delegation headed by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had said the reference to Myanmar had been “proposed at the eleventh hour” and was unjustified as the Parliamentary forum was meant to focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and not a particular country.
  • In two separate paragraphs, the Bali Declaration that was eventually made by 49 countries, expressed concern about the recent violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where the UN says at least 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed, and 2,70,000 have fled, mainly to Bangladesh, in the past two weeks.
  • The statement “called on all parties to contribute to the restoration of stability and security, exercise maximum self-restraint from using violent means, respect the human rights of all people in Rakhine State regardless of their faith and ethnicity,” as “there can be no sustainable development without peace”.

Aranmula regatta held amid colour and gaiety

  • The famous annual snakeboat regatta Uthrittathi Vallamkali was held in the river Pampa at Aranmula in Kerala with colour and gaiety on Friday afternoon.
  • The snakeboat ( palliyodam ) belonging to the Poovathoor-East Palliyoda Karayogam won the race to bag the Mannam Trophy in the ‘B’ category, while the result of the finals held in the ‘A’ category was withheld owing to a dispute over certain flaws that reportedly occurred at the starting point.

India could embrace CO2 capture technology

  • India will explore the possibility of introducing technologies for capturing carbon dioxide emitted while burning coal and other fossil fuels, the country’s Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar has said. Mr. Kumar is leading an Indian delegation at an international conference on Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) in Alabama.

Commercial uses

  • A lot of advanced research in the area, of late, has been focussing on capturing carbon dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants, to either reuse or store it so it will not enter the atmosphere. CO2 has commercial and industrial uses, particularly for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) in depleting oil fields. Carbon dioxide has the ability to change the properties of oil and make it easier to extract.
  • The International Energy Agency’s Green House Gas Research and Development initiative organises the annual Post Combustion Carbon Conference, which is currently in session in Birmingham, in the State of Alabama.
  • Dr. Prabhat Ranjan, Executive Director of Technology Information Forecast and Assessment Council (TIFAC) of Department of Science and Technology; S.K. Acahrya, Chairman and Managing Director of Neyveli Lignite Corporation; and other officials are part of the Indian delegation at the conference.

No shift in policy on Pakistan: China

  • After agreeing to list Pakistan-based outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as international terror groups during this week’s Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit, China on Friday reassured Pakistan that there was no shift in its policy of recognising Islamabad’s role in countering global extremism.
  • During a press conference with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that Beijing saw Islamabad as a close ally that is a key part of the battle against international terrorism.

Post-BRICS balancing

  • Wang embarked on a post-BRICS balancing act when he praised Pakistan as Beijing’s “good brother and iron friend”. “For years Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism. More importantly Pakistan is an important participant in the international cooperation against terrorism.” He added: “When it comes to the issue of counterterrorism, Pakistan has done its best with a clear conscience. In comparison, some countries need to give Pakistan the full credit that it deserves.
  • Mr. Asif said that China had played a crucial role in bringing Pakistan and Afghanistan together. “To support that initiative Pakistan has already undertaken many steps and will pursue those steps for improving relationship with Kabul.”

Engagement with Kabul

  • The Chinese have escalated their engagement with Kabul, especially after the collapse of the four-party talks involving the United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In June, Mr. Wang had visited Kabul and Islamabad to reinforce a Beijing-driven initiative in Afghanistan.
  • At the Friday press conference, Mr. Wang said that Beijing was “exploring” hosting a China-Pakistan-Afghanistan conference later this year. He said that “strategic communication, security dialogue and practical cooperation” would be the pillars of the new platform for regional cooperation.

Nepal, China discuss railway connectivity project

  • Nepal on Thursday began talks about a railway connectivity project with China. Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who visited Beijing, held talks with top Chinese decision-makers and said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) opens up the railway connectivity project as a national priority of Nepal.
  • “Government of Nepal has accorded high importance to the implementation of MoU on BRI signed between the two countries… Mahara expressed Nepal’s strong support to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.”
  • Apart from the talk on railways, both sides also sealed an agreement on energy cooperation. A third agreement signed on Thursday opened up Nepal’s tourism sector for greater Chinese investment.

‘Income inequality in India at its highest level since 1922’ – an e-mail interview, Lucas Chancel

  • According to a research paper by renowned economistsThomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel, income inequality in India is at its highest level since 1922, the year the Income Tax Act was passed. In December, they will release the first ‘World Inequality Report’ where they will compare India’s inequality trajectory with other emerging, industrialised and low-income countries and suggest ways to tackle global and national inequality.

Can you summarise key findings of the paper?

  • According to our benchmark estimates, the share of national income accruing to the top 1% income earners is now at its highest level since the creation of the Indian Income Tax [Act] in 1922. The top 1% of earners captured less than 21% of total income in the late 1930s, before dropping to 6% in the early 1980s and rising to 22% today.

You have said the income inequality has been at the highest level?

  • Since the 1980s, India did not only open-up and liberalise its economy, it did it in a way that was very favourable to top income earners and capital owners.Top tax rates which were very high in the 1970s (up to 98%) decreased to 30% in the 1980s. Wages set by governments in government enterprises were liberalised after privatisations and the dispersion increased.
  • It is also likely that privatisations principally benefited richest income groups, those who already had capital, rather than the majority of the population which didn’t access equity.
  • On the other hand, growth at the bottom of the distribution was notably lower than average growth rates since the 1980s.

Is this finding unique for India?

  • To better understand the rise in Indian inequality, let’s look at other emerging countries. China also liberalised and opened up after 1978, and in doing so, experienced a sharp income growth as well as a sharp rise in inequality.\
  • This rise, however, stopped in the 2000s so that inequality is currently at lower level there than [in] India (top 1% income share at 14% versus 22% in India, according to our estimates).
  • In Russia, the move from a communist to a market economy was extremely brutal and today has a similar level of inequality as in India.

There have been counter arguments to your thesis?

  • Some commentators argue that without extreme growth at the very top of the distribution, there wouldn’t have been high growth in India. There is, in fact, little evidence supporting this claim. The top 0.1% captured more total income growth as the bottom 50% since 1980. Would all income growth have disappeared if the situation had been reversed? We can also doubt this. The highest growth period in Western Europe, after the second world war, was also a period of equitable redistribution of the fruits of growth. Europe grew as a market economy but it was not a market society. It had institutions, rules, norms limiting the power of capital accumulation and of income concentration.

What do these findings mean for India?

  • There are many options and we do not claim to put an end to debates. Regarding rising inequality at the very top of the distribution, we show that after 1980, in India, top Income Tax rates were brought from extreme levels to much lower ones.
  • Land concentration is also an issue in India. where agriculture remains a key sector.
  • Indeed, access to free and quality education and health is crucial to raise bottom 50% incomes.

IMG proposals: Telecom panel seeks clarification

  • The Telecom Commission (TC) sought clarification from the inter-ministerial group (IMG), looking into the financial stress in the sector, on some of its recommendations, including extending the timeline for deferred spectrum payment by telcos to 16 years against 10 years at the present.
  • The Commission, which is the highest decision making body in the Department of Telecom, met on Friday to discuss the report submitted by IMG, prepared after detailed deliberations with stakeholders, including telcos and the banks.
  • The IMG had suggested shifting from prime lending rate (PLR) to marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) for interest and penalty payments with regard to licence fee and spectrum usage charges.