News Snippet

  1. News 1: Current account deficit widened to 2.8% of GDP in Q1 (It is important as it helps us understand a portion of external sector and has come in UPSC prelims 2011 and in UPSC prelims 2020)
  2. News 2: Small savings Instruments (Important to know as it comes under other liabilities of public debt)
  3. News 3: External debt of India declines (External debt carries a crucial position in Indian economy and relations and implications on other parameters can be understood)
  4. News 4: Petition on process to activate ‘living will’ to be heard by Supreme Court (A judgement in 2018 which legalized passive euthanasia and it is important as it comes under Right to Life: Article 21)
  5. News 5: Ensuring equal Net privacy for Indians and others (Data protection and right to privacy)
  6. News 6: SC ruling on abortion comes as a ‘ray of hope’ (Medical termination of pregnancy now accessible to unmarried women and important as per GS paper 2)
  7. News 7: Doctors need not report identity of minors seeking abortion, says SC (Rights of safe abortion and POCSO laws)
  8. News 8: Centre gives approval to 22nd tranche of poll bonds (Electoral bonds scheme deals with political funding and representation of people act which is a part of GS mains paper 2)
  9. News 9: UNESCO lists 50 iconic Indian textiles (UNESCO’s work to conserve intangible and tangible diversity of India
  10. News 10: India climbs six notches to 40th position of Global Innovation Index (Index indicates innovation of a country and its relative performance and important because UPSC prelims exam questions have been asked about indexes)
  11. Other Important News
    1. NATO
    2. International Day of Translation

 

News 1: Current account deficit widened to 2.8% of GDP in Q1


Background

India’s current account deficit (CAD) widened to $23.9 billion, or 2.8% of GDP, in the April-June period, from $13.4 billion or 1.5% in the preceding quarter, and compared with a surplus of $6.6 billion (0.9%) a year earlier.

Reasons behind widening CAD

  1. The CAD widened mainly on account of the merchandise trade deficit as well as an increase in net outgo of investment income payments.
  2. While debits were to the tune of $254.9 billion, credits totalled $231 billion.

Implications

  1. CAD will certainly widen further despite the moderation in crude oil prices.
  2. India can attract more capital inflows if and only if it shows an improvement in growth prospects.

Current Account Deficit

 

Current Account has two components:

  1. Balance of Trade or Trade Balance
  2. Balance on Invisibles

Balance of Trade (BOT) is the difference between the value of exports and value of imports of goods of a country in a given period of time. Export of goods is entered as a credit item in BOT, whereas import of goods is entered as a debit item in BOT. It is also known as Trade Balance.

Balance of Net Invisibles is the difference between the value of exports and value of imports of invisibles of a country in a given period of time. Invisibles include services, transfers and flows of income that take place between different countries. Services trade includes both factor and non-factor income. Factor income includes net international earnings on factors of production (like labor, land and capital). Non-factor income is net sale of service products like shipping, banking, tourism, software services, etc.

UPSC questions:

2011 prelims

Consider the following actions which the Government can take:

  1. Devaluing the domestic currency.
  2. Reduction in the export subsidy.
  3. Adopting suitable policies which attract greater FDI and more funds from FIIs.

Which of the above action/actions can help in reducing the current account deficit?

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 3 only

(d) 1 and 3

Ans: (d) (Official UPSC answer key)

2020 prelims

With reference to the international trade of India at present, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. India’s merchandise exports are less than its merchandise imports.
  2. India’s imports of iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizers and machinery have decreased in recent years.
  3. India’s exports of services are more than its imports of services.
  4. India suffers from an overall trade/current account deficit.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 3 and 4 only

Answer: Option d


News 2: Small savings Instruments


Background

The Centre recently announced increases of 0.1-0.3 percentage points in interest rates payable on five small savings instruments (SSIs).

Small Savings Instruments

  1. Small Savings Schemes are a collection of savings instruments. It aims to encourage all residents, regardless of age, to save consistently.
  2. They are well-liked because they offer perks such as a sovereign guarantee, tax advantages, and returns that are typically higher than bank fixed deposits. 
  3. Small savings programs are created to offer the public secure and alluring investment options while simultaneously mobilizing funds for development. 

Social Security Programs

A minimum income for those in need and a decent replacement income for those who have contributed in accordance with their level of income are the two main goals of the majority of social security programs.

  1. Public Provident Fund: The National Savings Institute introduced a post office savings program in 1968. The Public Provident Fund is a well-liked savings option for long-term objectives like retirement. The minimum amount is 500/ annum.
  2. Sukanya Samriddhi Account: In 2015, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign introduced the Sukanya Samriddhi Account. It was created specifically for girl children. A girl under ten can have an account opened in her name and the maximum number of accounts allowed per family is two with a minimum deposit of 250 rs. The investment will mature after 21 years since the account was opened or when the girl child marries after turning 18 years old
  3. Senior Citizens Saving Scheme: Any person over 60 may start a 5-year Senior Citizen Savings Account. Individuals can invest up to Rs. 15 lac (total balances across all accounts). The initial deposit must be at least Rs. 1000.

Saving Certificates

The National Savings Certificate is a fixed-income investment program offered by the Government of India that is simple to open at any post office. It is a savings bond program that entices participants, mainly low- to middle-income investors, to invest while reducing their income tax liability under Section 80 C.

Kisan Vikas Patra: Introduced by India Post in 1988 to facilitate people to invest in a long-term savings plan. The Kisan Vikas Patra, available to everyone, doubles your initial investment after 124 months, resulting in an annualized return of 6.9%. There is no maximum investment amount; the minimum is Rs 1000. Its original purpose was to help farmers save money over the long term, hence the name. It is now accessible to everyone.


News 3: External debt of India declines


Background

  1. India’s external debt during the first quarter of 2022-23 declined by $2.5 billion to $617.1 billion.
  2. The external debt to GDP ratio declined to 19.4%

External debt:


News 4: Petition on process to activate ‘living will’


Background:

  1. The Constitution Bench recently asked if a lone committee of doctors, judicial officers and government officers along with the next of kin of a terminally ill person can sit together and decide the “genuineness and authenticity” of his living will.
  2. The Bench led by Justice K.M. Joseph is considering a plea to modify a March 2018 judgment which had upheld passive euthanasia and ‘living will’ but gave the job of ascertaining the genuineness of the document to multiple committees of doctors, magistrates and the District Collector, virtually making the judgment itself redundant and unworkable.
  3. The court had placed a huge onus on the treating hospital and physicians to take the initiative to form a committee and activate the Living Will or advanced directive.

Passive euthanasia and living will

  1. Passive euthanasia means withdrawing life support to induce death in a natural way.
  2. In contrast, active euthanasia means injecting legal drugs to induce death.
  3. The Supreme Court of India legalized passive euthanasia in 2018, stating that it was a matter of ‘living will’.
  4. Supreme Court held that the ‘living will’ should be permitted since a person cannot be allowed to continue suffering in a comatose state when he or she doesn’t wish to live.
  5. A living will be a written document by way of which a patient can give his explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when he or she is terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent.
  6. Passive euthanasia, meanwhile, is a condition where there is withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient.


News 5: Ensure equal Net privacy for Indians and others: Centre


Background

The government recently stated in the Supreme Court that it expects social media companies, however “big” they were, to treat Indian users’ privacy on a par with foreign customers.

Waiting for outcome

The Bench decided to wait for the outcome of the government’s efforts to bring a Bill and posted the case for January 17 for final disposal.

The case is based on a petition by Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi challenging a 2016 policy of instant messaging app – WhatsApp – to give Facebook access to information and personal details shared by millions of its users.

Against free speech

  1. The petitioners had said the policy was a violation of their privacy and free speech.
  2. The duo had moved the apex court after the Delhi High Court upheld the contract.
  3. The High Court had taken a nuanced position by confirming the legality of the policy while directing WhatsApp to “delete completely” from its server information or data or details of all users who choose to delete their account.

Right to Privacy

  1. The Indian Supreme Court with nine-judge bench under JS Khehar, ruled on 24 August 2017, that the right to privacy is a fundamental right for Indian citizens per Article 21 of the Constitution and additionally under Part III rights.
  2. Personal Data Protection Bill 2019: To provide for the protection of individuals’ privacy in relation to their personal data, and to establish a Data Protection Authority of India for these purposes and matters relating to an individual’s personal data. Based on the B N Srikrishna Committee’s recommendations (2018).
  3. Information Technology Act, 2000: Provides protection against some data breaches involving computer systems. It includes safeguards to prevent unwanted access to computers, computer systems, and data stored on them.

News 6: SC ruling on abortion comes as a ‘ray of hope’


Background

Bench says prohibiting single women with pregnancies up to 24 weeks from accessing abortion while allowing married women with the same term to get the care amounted to discrimination; artificial distinction is not constitutionally sustainable

Supreme Court ruling on abortion by unmarried women

  • In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court recently declared that single women with pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks are entitled to access the same safe and legal abortion care as married women.
  • The judgment came in an appeal by a person who wanted to terminate her pregnancy before her term completed 24 weeks.
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 prohibits unmarried women who are between 20 and 24 weeks’ pregnant to abort with the help of registered doctors.

The rights of reproductive autonomy, dignity and privacy give an unmarried woman the right of choice as to whether or not to bear a child on a similar footing as that of a married woman,” – Justice Chandrachud

The case of abortion and bodily autonomy

  1. “This ruling interprets the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 in a progressive manner and questions the unreasonable classification made by this law.
  2. This interpretation is the law of the land and will ensure that single women seeking abortion beyond 20 weeks cannot be refused on the ground of the narrowness of the law.
  3. The judgment followed a petition seeking inclusion of unmarried women within the ambit of Rule 3 B of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003 amended in October 2021 for abortion between 20-24 weeks of gestation period.
  4. Activists and advocates often rue that abortion right is not an absolute one in India, but conditional, and women have no agency as they have to seek the permission of a medical practitioner.
  5. The top court on recognised this gap, calling it a “provider-centric” law, and asserted that reproductive autonomy “requires that every pregnant woman has the intrinsic right to choose to undergo or not to undergo abortion without any consent or authorisation from a third party”.

Medical termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (Amendment 2021)

  1. The new Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021 expands the access to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds to ensure universal access to comprehensive care.
  2. The new law, which came into force from 25 March 2021, will contribute towards ending preventable maternal mortality to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

News 7: Doctors need not report identity of minors seeking abortion, says SC


Background

Registered medical doctors are exempt from disclosing to the police the identity of minors who have come in for abortion, the Supreme Court directed in a judgment recently.

A registered medical practitioner (RMP) is obliged under Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act to report to the police when a minor approach him or her for an abortion.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said in many cases minors and their guardians opt to go to an unqualified doctor for abortion rather than risk being involved in criminal proceedings following a report under Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act.

Reporting of offence

The court said it was necessary to harmonize the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and POCSO Act to enable minors to approach a registered medical practitioner for abortion without the fear of getting exposed.

It would also protect the statutory obligation of the RMP to report the offence under the POCSO Act and the rights of privacy and reproductive autonomy of the minor under Article 21 of the Constitution.

“For the limited purposes of providing medical termination of pregnancy in terms of the MTP Act, we clarify that the RMP, only on request of the minor and the guardian of the minor, need not disclose the identity and other personal details of the minor in the information provided under Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act,” the court ordered.


News 8: Centre gives approval to 22nd tranche of poll bonds


Background:

Ahead of Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the government recently approved issuance of the 22nd tranche of electoral bonds that will be open for sale.

Electoral bonds have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding.

State Bank of India (SBI) has been authorized to issue and encash electoral bonds through its 29 authorized branches.

Electoral Bonds scheme

  1. Electoral Bond would be a bearer instrument in the nature of a Promissory Note and an interest free banking instrument.
  2. A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond.
  3. Electoral Bond (s) would be issued/purchased for any value, in multiples of Rs.1,000, Rs.10,000, Rs.1,00,000, Rs.10,00,000 and Rs.1,00,00,000 from the Specified Branches of the State Bank of India (SBI).
  4. The purchaser would be allowed to buy Electoral Bond(s) only on due fulfilment of all the extant KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account. It will not carry the name of payee.
  5. Electoral Bonds would have a life of only 15 days during which it can be used for making donation only to the political parties registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or a Legislative Assembly.
  6. The Electoral Bond(s) shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through a designated bank account with the authorised bank.

News 9: UNESCO lists 50 iconic Indian textiles


UNESCO on recently released a list of 50 exclusive and iconic heritage textile crafts of the country. Toda embroidery and Sungadi from Tamil Nadu, Himroo from Hyderabad, and Bandha tie and dye from Sambalpur in Odisha were some of the textiles that made the cut.

UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizatio

  • Established: 1945
  • Headquarters: Paris
  • Type: Specialized Agency of UN
  • Members: 193 member states and 12 associate members, as well as partners in the non-governmental, intergovernmental and private sector
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture.
  • It is also a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG), a coalition of UN agencies and organizations aimed at fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

News 10: India climbs six notches to 40th position of Global Innovation Index


Background

India ranked 40th out of 132 countries in the Global Innovation Index 2022, on account of improvement in several parameters. India was at 46th position in 2021 and at 81st rank in 2015.

Global Innovation Index 2022

 

  1. China is nearing the top 10 while Türkiye and India enter the top 40 for the first time, according to the GII 2022.
  2. In 2022, Tokyo–Yokohama is the top science and tech hub in the world, followed by Shenzhen–Hong Kong–Guangzhou (China and Hong Kong, China), Beijing (China), Seoul (Republic of Korea) and San Jose–San Francisco (United States)

India specific

  1. India is the innovation leader in the lower middle-income group.
  2. It continues to lead the world in ICT services exports and holds top rankings in other indicators, including venture capital receipt value, finance for startups and scaleups, graduates in science and engineering, labor productivity growth and domestic industry diversification.
  3. WIPO said that India’s innovation performance is above average for the upper middle-income group in almost every innovation pillar, with the exception of infrastructure, where it scores below average.

Global Innovation Index

  • Released by: World Intellectual Property Organization
  • Parameters: Parameters for computing the index, include ‘institutions‘, ‘human capital and research‘, ‘infrastructure‘, ‘market sophistication‘, business sophistication‘, ‘knowledge and technology outputs‘ and ‘create outputs‘.
  • It reveals the most innovative economies in the world, ranking the innovation performance of around 132 economies while highlighting innovation strengths and weaknesses.

Other important news


NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

  1. Established: 1949
  2. Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
  3. Members: 30
  4. NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between member states which had its genesis in the aftermath of World War II.
  5. POLITICAL – NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
  6. MILITARY – NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.
  7. NATO is a system of collective security: its independent member states agree to defend each other against attacks by third parties. During the Cold War, NATO operated as a check on the perceived threat posed by the Soviet Union

International Translation Day: September 30, 2022

  • Theme: ‘A World Without Barriers’

 

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