GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Halimah Yacob Set To Be Singapore’s First Female President, First Malay Leader In 47 Years.

Background-

  • Former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob is set to be Singapore’s first Malay president in more than 47 years, after the Elections Department (ELD) said on Monday (Sept 11, 2017) that only one individual qualified for the inaugural reserved Presidential Election.
  • Among those who submitted application forms, only one individual received both Certificate of Eligibility and Community Certificates, said the ELD in its statement which did not name the individual.
  • Halimah, 62, is the only candidate who automatically qualifies for the election having served as a Speaker of Parliament for more than three years.

 

Highlights Of The Development–

  • Halimah will be Singapore’s eighth President and the first woman to hold the position as the country’s Head of State. The Returning Officer, Energy Market Authority chief executive Ng Wai Choong, will declare her as the elected President on Nomination Day on Wednesday, 13th September, 2017.
  • Former President Tony Tan’s six-year term expired on Aug 31 and J Y Pillay – the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers – has been the Acting President since Sept 1. There will not be a poll and Halimah will start her term as President on Thursday.
  • The ELD said the Community Committee issued three Malay Community Certificates while the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) decided to issue one Certificate of Eligibility.
  • This year’s Presidential Election has been reserved for the Malay community, following changes to the Elected Presidency scheme passed by Parliament last November (2016). The changes allow for the election to be reserved for a particular ethnicity that has not had an elected representative for five consecutive terms. President Yusof Ishak was Singapore’s first President and the only Malay to have held the office till he died in 1970.

Sources- New Straits Times.

GS Paper II- Governance, International Relations.

India Steps Up Afghan Aid.

Background

  • India on 11th September, 2017, promised to extend development assistance to nearly every province in Afghanistan through projects worth over $300 million, three weeks after US President Donald Trump demanded that New Delhi do more for the economic progress of the war-torn nation.
  • Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani unveiled a “New Development Partnership” under which India would implement 116 socio-economic projects across 31 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
  • The initiatives, described as “high-impact” development projects, will span sectors like education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports infrastructure and administrative infrastructure, the foreign ministers said.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • India committed to building the Shahtoot dam, setting up drinking water projects for Kabul and Charikar city, constructing low-cost houses for returning Afghan refugees in Nangarhar, developing roads in Bamyan province, and constructing a polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • The initiatives are part of a larger set of political, economic and diplomatic signals India is sending not just to Afghanistan, but also to the US and to Pakistan, which worries about New Delhi gaining clout with its western neighbour.
  • India has been one of Afghanistan’s most steadfast and consistent development partners since the 2001 war, pouring in billions of dollars in aid, training thousands of students and building critical infrastructure – dams, power transmission lines and the country’s new parliament.
  • But Trump had made clear last month that he wanted more from India – even as he criticised Pakistan for allowing terrorist safe havens in its territory – while outlining his strategy for South Asia in a televised August 21 (2017) speech.
  • India announced that it would begin the shipping of 170,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port. India and Afghanistan also inked a motor vehicles transit pact that would allow them to carry out land trade – if Pakistan were to allow it.

Sources- The Telegraph India.

GS Paper III- Economic Development.

World Bank Accepts Many Of India’s Reform Claims, Big Thumbs-Up Likely Next Month (October, 2017).

Background

  • The government expects a double-digit improvement in India’s rank in the global index on ease of doing business, likely to be announced by the World Bank next month (October, 2017).
  • The World Bank had shared its feedback, stating that it had accepted many of the reforms claimed by the government. Last year, India’s rank had improved by just one spot to 130 among 190 countries.
  • The World Bank has acknowledged around 20 reforms among many more mentioned by India in response to their study. The overall ranking will depend on how other countries have performed.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The World Bank had recently finished gathering feedback from users for its Doing Business Report. The cut-off date for implementing reforms for the study was June 1, 2017. Reforms implemented thereafter will not be counted for this year’s ranking.
  • Reforms such as GST have not been taken into account as the impact is yet to be felt by users. But India is expecting these to reflect in next year’s report and significantly boost the country’s position.
  • India had showed one of its poorest performances on the parameter of ‘Paying Taxes’ last time, ranking 172 among the countries surveyed for the report. That, along with an equally lower position in ‘Enforcing Contracts’, landed India at the 130th spot, falling behind countries such as Mexico (38), Russia (51) and Pakistan (138). The ranking considers business environment in Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Over the past few months, the government has taken up concerns about not getting due credit for its reform drive with the World Bank. While responding to the survey this year, the government flagged such issues citing examples of reforms undertaken for enforcing contracts, starting business and issuing construction permits, among other things.

Sources- Economictimes.