News Wrap


Job growth in India was 1.55 lacs in 2015, and 2.31 lacs in 2016, compared to a high of over 10 lacs new jobs created in 2009, when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA was in office. Job growth has fallen in key sectors to its lowest levels in eight years. There is no job creation, even though India’s economy seems to be picking up speed with GDP growth projected at over 7.5% in 2017-18. Companies are increasingly turning to automation and digital processes, even as they pare other costs, including wage bills, to future-proof growth and profits, in a competitive environment. India’s youthful working population, with an average age projected at 29, by the year 2020, would be one of the lowest in the world. 1.2 crore to 1.5 crore young Indians, join the ranks of job-seekers every year. Only 3.7 million (roughly 35%) of the 10.5 million new manufacturing jobs, created between 1989 and 2010, were in the formal sector. The informal sector is absorbing much of India’s new job seekers. Jobless growth is accelerating, in spite of the Modi-BJP government’s goal of creating 2 crore new jobs every year. There is low job growth in manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, hotels and restaurants, IT/BPO, education and health sectors. Jobs are shrinking in construction, and hotels and restaurants and even in IT sector.

Bengal’s GDP
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal did inherit a huge burden of public debt, when she stormed to power in 2011, after 34 years of Left Front rule. But the Trinamul Congress party’s fiscal management has been equally unsatisfactory, due to political expediency, a tendency to overspend on revenue expenditure, and lower capital expenditure. West Bengal’s debt-GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio has declined by nine percentage points, after Banerjee-led TMC took charge of the state. But the pace of decline in the state’s debt-GDP ratio between fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2016, was nearly the same as in the previous five years (2006-2011), when the Left Front was in power. West Bengal’s liabilities as share of GSDP is 32.9%, which is still higher than the all state’s average of 22%. West Bengal’s own tax revenue as a share of state GSDP is 5.09%, which is lower than that of other state at 7.06%. West Bengal’s lower capital expenditure has adversely affected the state’s growth path, as well as the state’s ability to lower the debt-GDP ratio. The recent land tax waiver in West Bengal is adding to the state’s fiscal strain, even though the move may have helped the TMC in local body polls. The annual average growth rate of 7.2% between 2011-12 and 2014-15, has not translated into significantly higher revenues for the exchequer. Only Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have been clocking faster growth.

Minority Status
The new rule, introduced by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) on 01 March 2017, requires educational trusts and societies seeking minority status to first register themselves with the Niti Aayog as NGOs, regardless of whether they are seeking government aid or not. In order to have a say in reservation quantum and limit interference from the government, proof of the minority status is mandatory for schools and colleges. The commission notification insists that all petitioners are required to submit Unique ID (identification) of the trust/society, as given by the Niti Aayog portal NGO Darpan. It is not needed only in cases of institutions run by individuals. The Unique ID should match corresponding details on the NGO’s website. Cases already being heard by the commission will continue to be heard. The minority status certificate will be awarded, only after the Unique ID is provided by the petitioner. The minority education commission, since inception in 2014, has awarded minority status certificates to nearly 13,000 institutions in India. Till beginning May 2017, the commission has never asked any applicant to register with Darpan. While India’s religious minorities enjoy constitutional protection, hardy any minority institution is seeking government funds.

Cyber-Attack Ransomware
YouTube has been providing a platform for hackers promoting and selling Ransomware, the type of malicious software that wreaked havoc in the National Health Services (Britain), for as little as £16. Hackers are posting step-by-step guides on YouTube, on how to build Ransomware. Links to websites where Ransomware can be bought are being provided. Technical support is displayed, on how to infect people’s computers. A global cyber-attack on 12 May 2017 hit more than 45,000 organisations in at least 99 countries. In Britain, 48 NHS organisations were hit including about 30 hospital trusts. As the computer-driven devices failed, operations were halted mid-surgery and patients were left stranded in scanners. One hacker, Mohammed Yahya, posted a video guide on how to make Ransomware. Sudden box, another YouTube user, posted a video on producing ransomware, with a link to a site, where it can be bought for $20. Security services worldwide, do not consider the attack to have been state-sponsored. Six NHS trusts were affected by the attack, which may have struck up to 70,000 devices across Britain’s health services. Besides the hospital computers holding patient records, the devices affected included MRI scanners, blood fridges and operating theatre equipment. The cyber-attack exploited an area of weak security, in an older version of Microsoft Windows, used by some NHS trusts, when many staff were on their lunch breaks on 12 May 2017. The Ransomware attack locked NHS staff out of devices. The attack threatened to wipe data, unless hundreds of pounds, in the cyber-currency known as ‘bitcoin’ were paid into an anonymous account. Out of commission computers, are being re-imagined and upgraded, on a one-by-one basis. Corrections system-wise basis are avoided, just in case the system is reinfected.

The unprecedented global ‘‘Ransomware’ attack hit at least 100 organisations, in 150 countries, including Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s National Railway, China’s Universities and scores of companies, factories and government agencies in Russia, Spain, USA and India. The attack is the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded. There were incidents in Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. In India, National Informatics Centre, which manages government websites, and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, installed security patches issued by Microsoft to immunise their Windows systems. Some districts in Bengal have also been affected by the ‘Wannacry’’ Ransomware. All versions of Windows, before Windows 10 are vulnerable to this attack, if not patched to MS17-010.

Vol. 50, No.10, Sep 10 - 16, 2017