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Daily News Analysis 05-02-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

            

India in the loop on Taliban talks: Abdullah (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Ahead of the next round of talks in Islamabad on Feb 6, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said that India has been kept in the loop on each and every development in the Taliban reconciliation process.

2.

N-plant parts to be made in India (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     In a move that could become a model for countries keen on a share of Indias civil nuclear energy pie, India and Russia have set up a working group to locally build components for nuclear power plants of Russian design.

3.

India ratifies pact on nuclear compensation (Page 13)

a)     International

a)     Five years after signing the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, India ratified the convention on Feb 4.

4.

Protecting Indias trade interests (Page 11)

a)     International

b)     Economy

a)     Only a cohesive trade policy approach on the international and domestic front will help the country mitigate projected losses from Trans Pacific Partnership.

5.

US asks Russia to end strikes after Syria talks collapse (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     The US demanded that Russia immediately halt its bombing campaign in Syria after a bitter breakdown in peace talks exposed the deep rift between world powers aiming to end the five-year conflict.

6.

50 percent quota for women in panchayats planned (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Birender Singh has said the govt would be pushing a Constitutional amendment (first cleared by the UPA Cabinet) to increase reservation for women in panchayats from 33 percent to 50 percent in the budget session of Parliament.

7.

Going against the grain (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     For rural India to be vibrant, the way forward is to address the twin challenges of reviving the dynamism of the farm sector by building its climate resilience and creation of quality employment in non-farm segments.

8.

Big-ticket divestment likely BHEL, ONGC and IOC may witness strategic sale (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     The big thrust areas of Union Budget 2016-17 will be the agriculture and transport sectors and big-ticket disinvestment, including strategic sales in high-value companies such as BHEL, and oil and defence PSUs such as ONGC, IOC, HPCL, BPCL, HAL and BEML.

 

 

                                                              

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

            

India in the loop on Taliban talks: Abdullah (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Afghanistan relations

b)     Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA)

c)     Taliban talks

d)     Terrorism

e)     Pathankot terror attack

f)     Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)

 

a)     Ahead of the next round of talks in Islamabad on Feb 6, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said that India has been kept in the loop on each and every development in the Taliban reconciliation process.

b)    On the Pathankot attacks that occurred at the same time as the attack on the Indian mission in Mazar-i-Sharif in early January, Abdullah told that he could not rule out that both attacks were launched by the JeM, but said it was too early to make a judgement on any link between them or to the transfer of Mi-35 helicopters by India to Afghanistan just a week prior to the attacks.

c)     He said the visit of PM Modi to Kabul on Christmas had re-energised the SPA between India and Afghanistan, and SPA commission headed by the Foreign Ministers that had not met since 2012 would meet soon to take ties forward.

d)     On Taliban talks, he said there would be no preconditions for talks with the Taliban as and when they would be resumed, holding that the only redlines announced by former President Hamid Karzai, which insisted on Taliban giving up violence and accepting the Constitution, were meant to be outcomes of the talks, and not preconditions.

2.

N-plant parts to be made in India (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Russia relations

b)     Civil nuclear energy cooperation

c)     Kudankulam nuclear power plant

a)     In a move that could become a model for countries keen on a share of Indias civil nuclear energy pie, India and Russia have set up a working group to locally build components for nuclear power plants of Russian design.

b)    This is based on the Action Programme signed between Rosatom and the Department of Atomic Energy of India during PM Modis visit to Moscow in December last year.

c)     The Action Programme includes areas of cooperation in the field of joint machinery production, especially for nuclear power plants, as well as cooperation in the field of joint development, mastering and technological support of the implementation of end-to-end production technologies of products for heavy and power engineering industries.

d)    Russia is currently building six reactors in Kudankulam of which the first unit was commissioned in autumn 2013. It was shut for first scheduled preventive maintenance and has now successfully restarted power generation.

3.

India ratifies pact on nuclear compensation (Page 13)

a)     International

a)     Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage

b)     Indias Civil Law for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act in 2010

 

a)     Five years after signing the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, India ratified the convention on Feb 4.

b)     The CSC is a convention that allows for increasing the compensation amount in the event of a nuclear incident through public funds pooled in by contracting parties based on their own installed nuclear capacities. It entered into force on April 15 2015.

c)     India had also passed its own domestic nuclear liability law, the CLND Act in 2010. Countries such as US have said that the Indian laws provisions are violative of the CSC, but this has been denied by India.

4.

Protecting Indias trade interests (Page 11)

a)     International

b)     Economy

a)     Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP)  

b)     Nairobi Ministerial meeting of the WTO

c)     India-EU Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)

d)     Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

e)     Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

a)     The TPP has been signed in Auckland on February 4 by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

b)     Even as it is touted as the worlds biggest trade deal to date, with signatory countries accounting for more than 50 percent of global GDP, the TPP still has a long-drawn ratification process ahead of it.

c)     Signing of the agreement provides an opportune moment for India (which is not part of the TPP) to take stock and formulate its response to the trade challenges it now faces on both international and domestic fronts.

d)     The TPP contains detailed obligations on so-called new issues such as labour, investment, environment, e-commerce, competition and govt procurement. These issues are not covered under the WTOs multilateral umbrella. However, as the recent Nairobi Ministerial Declaration stated, some members want to explore and discuss new issues and architecture at the WTO.

e)     There is an increased likelihood of the US pushing the TPP as the negotiating template for new issues at the WTO, since it better reflects the interests of its own domestic lobbies. As new issues are not likely to be in Indias overall interest, the country must firmly resist such attempts. But this may only be accomplished with a high degree of preparedness and smart coalition-building with like-minded allies.

f)     India also needs to closely watch the regulatory regimes in TPP countries, ensuring that these countries do not violate their WTO commitments in the process of implementing the TPP. The WTO does allow a member to deviate from its obligations with respect to a free trade area; however, such a deviation is not unqualified.

g)     If a TPP country restricts the market access for non-TPP members such as India on account of higher labour standards, a potential violation of WTO provisions may arise, which India should not shy away from pursuing using the WTOs dispute settlement mechanism.

h)     India should actively seek disciplines on private standards at the WTO to restrict their proliferation. The TPP attempts to regulate and legitimises this regime. A number of studies have predicted that the TPP will lead to proliferation of private standards.

i)     Impelled by the looming onset of the TPP, India should conclude (on a priority basis) its ongoing free trade negotiations. These include the India-EU Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement and the mega Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China and others.

j)     Benefits from these agreements will help mitigate some of the export losses that India may face in leather goods, textile, and plastics on account of trade diversion due to TPP. Aiming to diversify export destinations to hitherto untapped markets like Latin America and Africa would also help.

k)     India also needs to identify its trade interest areas and propose alternative negotiating templates. One such area is biopiracy, protection of traditional knowledge, and the link between the WTOs Trade-Related Aspects of IPR agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

l)    The govt should launch a comprehensive initiative to enable Indian exporters to not only comply with standards prevalent in the importing market, but also demonstrate the compliance through appropriate conformity-assessment procedures.

m)     India should resist any attempt to converge its domestic public standards with the dominant private standards in TPP countries. If Indias public standards are harmonised with foreign standards, they will be equally applicable to domestic and export sales on account of the national treatment principle of the WTO which prohibits less favourable treatment to imported products.

n)     The harmonised standards may result in most producers not only being excluded from export markets, but also being edged out of the domestic market, undermining the Make in India initiative in the process.

o)     By not being part of the TPP, India will certainly incur losses on account of trade diversion. Yet, joining the TPP is not an option for the country.

5.

US asks Russia to end strikes after Syria talks collapse (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Syria crisis

b)     Syria peace talks

 

a)     The US demanded that Russia immediately halt its bombing campaign in Syria after a bitter breakdown in peace talks exposed the deep rift between world powers aiming to end the five-year conflict.

b)     According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, nearly 40,000 people have fled an offensive this week by President Bashar Al-Assads regime north of the city of Aleppo. Assads forces also entered two Shia villages that were under siege by rebels.

6.

50 percent quota for women in panchayats planned (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Women reservation in Panchayats

b)     Panchayati Raj system

c)     Constitution 110th Amendment Bill

d)     Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act

a)     Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Birender Singh has said the govt would be pushing a Constitutional amendment (first cleared by the UPA Cabinet) to increase reservation for women in panchayats from 33 percent to 50 percent in the budget session of Parliament.

b)     He said that though some States have provided 50 percent reservation to women in panchayats, the govt will ensure that it is implemented in the whole country.

c)    The Constitutional Amendment was to ensure that 50 percent of total seats filled by direct elections in every panchayat be reserved for women.

d)     Among the States that already follow 50 percent reservation for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions are Bihar, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

e)     The Minister also made a strong pitch for the faster implementation of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act by States for the uplift of tribals, saying that had already waited for 65 years for development.

7.

Going against the grain (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Agriculture in India

b)     Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

c)     Employment in India

d)     Soil Health

e)     Irrigation

a)     Recent reports say India has become the worlds fastest-growing economy in terms of GDP growth, overtaking China. While this may be the case, we must pause and reflect over what this means for the 800 million-plus population that lives and works in our rural areas.

b)     Between 2003 and 2012, there was a clear turnaround in our agricultural performance. But the rate of growth in agriculture and allied activities is down from about 4 percent per annum in the 11th Plan period to just 1.7 percent in the first three years of the 12th Plan (2012-15).

c)     Worse, India is currently reeling under the impact of an unprecedented drought. Since agriculture is the source of livelihood for millions in rural India, droughts push the already precarious lives of smallholder farmers and agricultural labourers to the brink, leading to massive rural distress.

d)     The World Banks World Development Report 2008 shows that agricultural growth is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty compared to growth originating in non-agricultural sectors. In India, too, 80 percent of the people officially counted as poor lived in rural India in 2011-12.

e)    This means that for making a significant dent in poverty, rural incomes have to grow at a faster rate. The gap between urban and rural consumption levels has increased over the years.

f)     The rural economy in its current juncture is a lot less agricultural than it used to be earlier. With the fall in the average size of landholding, over 90 percent of farmers are now in the small and marginal category and they cultivate over 50 percent of the cropped area.

g)     Data from the 68th round of the National Sample Survey (2011-12) show that about 36 million workers have shifted from agriculture to non-agricultural sectors between 2004-05 and 2011-12, meaning that a major part of their income comes from work outside agriculture.

h)     On account of this inter-sectoral movement, the share of agriculture in the total workforce has fallen below the 50 percent mark for the first time after Independence. Hence, the huge challenge of employment generation needs to be addressed.

i)     The MGNREGA has provided relief employment to around 5 crore rural households per year over the last decade. However, since 2012, both the number of households covered and the number of person days of employment generated under MGNREGA in the country as a whole has undergone a steep decline.

j)     For rural India to be vibrant, the way forward seems to be to simultaneously address the twin challenges of reviving the dynamism of the farm sector by building its climate resilience on the one hand and creation of quality employment in non-farm segments of the rural economy on the other.

k)    Public investment holds the key to addressing the long-term structural constraints of the rural economy. Official land use statistics show that 55 percent of cultivated area still has no access to irrigation. Variations in the pattern of seasonal rainfall themselves create extreme vulnerability in this rainfed segment of Indian agriculture.

l)     Investments under MGNREGA and watershed programmes need to be converged in this overall framework of drought-proofing rainfed agriculture. Since rainfed agriculture produces about 40 percent of our foodgrain and a major share of pulses, millets and oilseeds, investments are urgently required from the point of view of food security.

m)    Soil is another critical area where investments are needed. Due to poor organic matter incorporation, organic carbon in soil is below the required level in most parts of India. Indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers has further eroded soil health.

n)     Crop diversification is another big challenge. Even with changing consumption patterns, pulses are main source of protein for the poor. They have a crucial place in countrys food security architecture. Minimum Support Prices have been beyond the reach of most of the farmers growing pulses or millets, and there has been no system of public procurement of these crops.

o)     Agricultural research plays a crucial role in promoting diversified cropping systems. Currently, the public expenditure on agricultural research is only 0.7 percent of the agricultural GDP. There is a strong case for raising this by at least three to four times.

p)     There is also the major challenge of employment generation to be addressed.

8.

Big-ticket divestment likely BHEL, ONGC and IOC may witness strategic sale (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Union Budget 2016-17

b)     Disinvestment

c)     Fiscal deficit

d)     Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL)

e)     Public Sector Units (PSUs)

f)     Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)

g)     Indian Oil Corporation (IOC)

h)     Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL)

i)     Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL)

j)     Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

k)     Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML)

a)     The big thrust areas of Union Budget 2016-17 will be the agriculture and transport sectors and big-ticket disinvestment, including strategic sales in high-value companies such as BHEL, and oil and defence PSUs such as ONGC, IOC, HPCL, BPCL, HAL and BEML.

b)     Finance Minister Jaitley will announce in his budget speech a new centrally sponsored scheme for irrigation.

c)     On the expenditure side, the big outgo will be on account of the implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission recommendations for pay and pension hikes with effect from January 1 this year.

d)     The Finance Ministry earlier sent its budget calculations including proposals related to the fiscal deficit for approval to the Prime Minister. Jaitley will present the budget in Parliament on February 29.

e)     To meet the fiscal deficit target, the government will rely on proceeds from disinvestment for which the budget will set ambitious targets.

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