Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Daily News Analysis, 28 September 2015 - IndianCivils

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Centre forms expert committee to review civil services exam pattern
An expert committee has been formed by the government to examine various issues related to age relaxation, eligibility, syllabus and pattern of the civil services examination to select IAS and IPS officers.“The committee will look into all aspects of civil services examination,” Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Sunday.Based on the report of the committee, further changes in the civil services exam pattern would be considered with the primary objective of providing a level playing field to aspirants from diverse streams like mathematics, engineering, medicine and humanities, he said. Till such time as the recommendations of the committee were received and the government subsequently took a decision, the General Studies Paper-II (also known as CSAT) in the preliminary examination would remain a qualifying paper, with the minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33 per cent.
Path-breaking
Meanwhile, the government’s decision taken last year to exclude the English portion, accounting for 22 marks in the General Studies Paper-II, from tabulation continued to remain in force, he told PTI here.The panel has been formed as a follow-up to a decision taken by the government in May this year, said Mr. Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.The panel would be headed by the former Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer B.S. Baswan and consist of leading academicians, technocrats and senior bureaucrats, officials said.Mr. Singh recalled that soon after the Narendra Modi government took over on May 26, 2014, it was confronted with the demands from across the country for revisiting the pattern and syllabus of the civil services examination.It was being alleged that the present syllabus and pattern tended to benefit students from mathematics and engineering backgrounds, he said.The decision to revise the civil services exam pattern was path-breaking and was aimed at achieving the basic objective of ensuring that the best and the most deserving got the opportunity to become a part of the administrative set up of rapidly developing 21st century India.The civil services examination is conducted annually in three stages — preliminary, main and interview.

Ministry plans independent panel to decide MPs’ salary
The Parliamentary Affairs Ministry is all set to create an independent Emoluments Commission that will be empowered to recommend salaries and allowances for MPs. The Ministry hopes this will help to check the growing criticism – including in the media — of MPs deciding their own emoluments.The proposal for an independent three-member commission is on the Ministry’s agenda for the two-day All India Whips Conference scheduled to be held in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh from September 29-30.The conference will be chaired by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.The Chief Whips and Whips of various parties in Parliament/Assemblies will discuss a plan to establish inter-party forums in the legislatures for better coordination to facilitate effective functioning of legislative bodies. The utility and shortcomings of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) in operation over the last 32 years will also be discussed, it is learnt.“The setting up of an independent Emoluments Commission for recommending the salaries and allowances of the Members of Parliament will not only put to rest the public outcry and media criticism over MPs themselves deciding their salaries, but also provide an appropriate opportunity to take into consideration the huge responsibilities and the important roles they play in our representative democracy,” say the Agenda Notes for the conference.The commission is expected to ensure that recommendations on Parliamentary salaries “are reached in a fair, transparent and equitable way.”“Once there is consensus on setting up of the commission, the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, will be suitably amended.”

‘Promote green credit’
Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on Sunday emphasised the need to promote green credit, instead of carbon credit, so that polluters do not get away with paying for carbon emissions.Addressing the Second Meeting of the Business Dialogue for COP-21 under the U.N. Framework Convention for Climate Change here, he said: “The world must incentivise green growth activities as ‘Green Credit’ instead of Carbon Credit Mechanism, which provides a way out for the Emitter to get rid of the blame of pollution by paying for the emissions.”The Minister stressed India’s proposed debate on lifestyle issues — where developed countries were urged to check unsustainable consumption practices — ‘climate justice’— focussing on the environmental rights of the people in developing and underdeveloped nations — and the green credit mechanism, ahead of the Modi-Obama meet on Monday, where climate change is likely to be a key subject of discussion.The demand-supply mismatch and low ambition for emission reduction expressed by developed countries led to the slowdown of the well-established CDM market, the Minister said.

Forward Markets Commission to merge with SEBI today
In the first ever merger of two regulators, over 60-year-old FMC (Forward Markets Commission) will merge on Monday with the younger but much bigger capital markets watchdog the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to create a unified regulatory body.SEBI was set up in 1988 as a non-statutory body for regulating the securities markets, while it became an autonomous body in 1992 with fully independent powers.FMC, on the other hand, has been regulating commodities markets since 1953, but lack of powers has led to wild fluctuations and alleged irregularities remaining untamed in this market segment.The commodities market has been known to be more prone to speculative activities compared to the better-regulated stock market, while illegal activities like ‘dabba trading’ have also been more frequent in this segment.Besides, the high-profile NSEL scam has rocked this market in the recent past and the subsequent regulatory and government interventions in this case eventually led to the government announcing FMC’s merger with SEBI.Taking forward the announcement made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech earlier this year, FMC would be merged with SEBI with effect from Monday.The merger would be consummated here on Monday at a function attended by Mr. Jaitley himself, along with SEBI Chairman U.K. Sinha and other top officials from the government and the regulatory bodies.This is the first major case of two regulators being merged, against the relatively more frequent practice world wide of creating new regulatory authorities, including by carving out new bodies from the existing entities.FMC’s merger with the market regulator was aimed at streamlining the regulations and curb wild speculations in commodities market, while facilitating further growth of the market.At present, there are three national and six regional bourses for commodity futures in the country. This is the first major case of two regulators being merged.

For a win-win bilateral trade diplomacy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second visit to the U.S. is garnering even more interest than his first trip, particularly because in the intervening year, the India-U.S. dialogue has intensified. The Prime Minister is also slated to travel to California, the first to do so at a time when people of Indian origin have established themselves as frontrunners in technology and entrepreneurship in this vibrant region. Indian industry has high hopes from the visit.In the run-up to the Prime Minister’s visit, the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue included encouraging emphasis on economic cooperation, placing it at the heart of the India-U.S. relationship. A joint work stream on Ease of Doing Business has been launched to address trade issues through quarterly meetings. As noted in the joint statement, CII and the American National Standards Institute will be setting up a portal for standards information to update trading companies on trade requirements. A notable mention was made of discussions on Totalisation of social security arrangements, raising hopes that a solution could be evolved on vexing social security payments made by Indian companies for their short-duration workers in the U.S.Bilateral exchange of goods and services between the two countries crossed $100 billion in 2014, up five-fold from 2000. The U.S. is India’s second largest trade partner for goods and by far its largest export market. The two countries have decided to take strong measures to increase trade to $500 billion while notable steps have been announced for increasing investments.Indian investments in the U.S. are robust compared to investments in the other direction in relation to sizes of respective economies. As per a CII-Grant Thornton report, the top Indian companies in the U.S. have recorded over $15 billion of investment across all states and employ about 95,000 persons directly. U.S. investments in India stand at $28 billion cumulatively, according to U.S. sources. Indian industry expects Mr Modi’s visit to act on a dual-pronged approach. On the one hand, issues hindering trade in goods and services need to be resolved to achieve the $500 billion trade target in the shortest possible time. On the other hand, a huge push needs to be imparted to U.S. investments in India, particularly across manufacturing and infrastructure.Regarding trade, the multiple dialogue platforms revived during the past year have set the stage for new announcements. The Trade Policy Forum, High Technology Cooperation Group and CEOs Forum are looking at cooperation in areas such as agriculture, services, manufacturing and intellectual property. Some of the matters taken up in these meetings include social security totalization, visa regulations, ease of doing business and international standards.Trade in services can be promoted through facilitative regulations regarding movement of skilled personnel, technology and data. It is important to develop a separate work visa for professionals on short duration contracts so that they are exempted from Annual Quota, non-refundable social security taxes and labour conditions applications.
Stepping up investments
On the investment side, India’s development agenda presents many opportunities. The U.S.-India Infrastructure Collaboration Platform has been envisaged to assist U.S. companies explore infrastructure opportunities in India. U.S. initiatives through the U.S. EXIM Bank and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency would facilitate $4 billion worth of investments in India. The India-U.S. CEOs Forum has requested an ambitious Bilateral Investment Treaty.Under India’s Smart City initiative, the two governments have identified Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam for partnership with U.S. companies. High-level committees are being set up for each of these cities including representatives of different departments, State governments and U.S. industry, and three MoUs have already been signed.The manufacturing sector as a whole is set for rejuvenation under the ‘Make in India’ campaign. The 25 sub-sectors identified closely align with strengths of both U.S. and Indian industry, particularly in automotives, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.The campaigns of Skill India, Digital India, Clean Energy and Swachh Bharat offer attractive vehicles for U.S. investors. Technology companies are already exploring potential under Digital India and could work on creating digital infrastructure, setting up e-governance services and leveraging the huge mobile space. This partnership could gain hugely from the Mr Modi’s visit to California. With the strong personal commitment of leaders of both countries, the India-U.S. economic partnership is on track for a transformational jump and Indian industry greatly looks forward to the outcomes of the sustained dialogue process and the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit.

The challenge of skills and jobs
The scale of the skilling challenge that India faces, and the urgency involved, have been palpable for some time, but new official data put into cold numbers the extent of the problem. Fewer than one in 10 adult Indians has had any form of vocational training, and even among those who have, the type of training is not the sort of formal skilling that employers seek – the majority had either acquired a hereditary skill or learned on the job. Just 2.2 per cent in all had received formal vocational training. In comparison, 75 per cent of the workforce in Germany and 80 per cent in Japan has received formal skills training. Even among the BRICS countries, India lags behind – nearly half the Chinese workforce, for example, is skilled. Very few Indians get a technical education in medicine, engineering or agriculture; fewer than one in ten Indians is a graduate, and among those who are graduates, the majority get undergraduate degrees in arts, science or commerce. The problem is more acute in rural areas and for women. Without access to affordable and appropriate skills training, young people, particularly those leaving rural areas and small towns for big cities, will be stuck in low-wage, insecure jobs that will leave them in want or poverty. The Narendra Modi government has made skills and jobs one of its focus areas from the beginning of its term. In July, the Prime Minister launched an ambitious mission to impart skills training to 40 crore people by 2022, and the new government has a dedicated Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The problem is that the previous government talked the same talk on skills but was able to achieve precious little; the proportion of young adults who had received vocational training was virtually unchanged between 2004-05 and 2011-12. There isn’t any clear evidence yet that the new government is charting out a radically new path on skills. There remain multiple decision-making authorities on skills and little clarity about who exactly will do the work. Promises of corporate and foreign partnerships on skilling are pouring in, but how these mass skilling programmes will take off is unclear. Employers complain that job-seekers do not have the skills they look for; there is little evidence yet that curricula with these objectives in mind have been designed, or that new and affordable training institutes have been set up on a mass scale. Job creation has not kept pace with India’s demographic momentum, and that will in the coming days pose a problem for a skilled workforce. But let’s not put the cart before the horse – a poorly trained young workforce can neither bring workers out of poverty nor help a country grow quickly.

Source : The Hindu
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