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Daily News Analysis 03-03-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Tackling terror takes priority over dialogue (Pages 1 and 15)

a)     I.R

a)     Admitting for the first time that the Pathankot terror attack has had a deep impact on India-Pakistan dialogue process restarted in Dec 2015, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said that dealing with the attack took precedence over the Foreign Secretary talks at present.

2.

Two more AWACS from Israel (Page 15)

a)     I.R

a)     Ahead of PM Modis visit to Israel later this year, the Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared purchase of additional surveillance aircraft from the country.

3.

China set to hike military spending (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     China appears set to substantially hike its defence budget - a move that may have been triggered by the growing tensions in the South China Sea with the US, and rising cost of end-of-service payments to troops.

4.

Blow for reformists in Iran (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     Final results from Irans Feb 26 elections to Parliament and the clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, show that the moderates have clinched a resounding political victory.

5.

Why the WTO is right in the solar panel dispute (Page 13)

a)     International

b)     National

a)     India must resist the temptation of adopting protectionist measures such as domestic content requirements which are inconsistent with its international obligations.

6.

TN makes another bid to free convicts (Pages 1 and 15)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     In yet another bid to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Tamil Nadu government wrote to the Centre, seeking its views on its decision to free them.

7.

Huge budget cut for ICDS (Page 14)

a)     National

b)     Health

a)     For the second year in a row, the Modi government has reduced fund available to child health interventions, with a massive cut - from Rs. 15,483.77 crore last year to Rs. 14,000 crore in the latest budget.

8.

Provident fund reform needs more clarity (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)   The Central govt finds itself in thick of a controversy over the Budget proposal to tax a part of the accumulated corpus in Employees Provident Fund upon withdrawal.

9.

Govt nod for UDAY bonds (Page 18)

a)     Economy

a)     According to Minister of Power Piyush Goyal, the Finance Ministry has approved the issuance of Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana bonds by four states.

10.

Kondane cave art depicts myth and daily life (Page 22)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     A hunter stands poised with a bow and arrow. A barasingha (swamp deer) stands nearby. Then there are footprints, palm impressions and some trees. These were some of the depictions in the 40 rock paintings recently discovered in the Kondane caves in Raigarh district in Maharashtra.

11.

7.9-magnitude quake leads to tsunami alert (Page 16)

a)     Geography

a)     A powerful and shallow earthquake struck off western Indonesia on March 2, sending panicked residents of one city rushing from their homes, and local authorities issued a tsunami warning.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Tackling terror takes priority over dialogue (Pages 1 and 15)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Foreign Secretary talks

c)     Terrorism

d)     Pathankot terror attack

e)     Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)

f)     SAARC

a)     Admitting for the first time that the Pathankot terror attack has had a deep impact on India-Pakistan dialogue process restarted in Dec 2015, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar said that dealing with the attack took precedence over the Foreign Secretary talks at present.

b)  Senior officials now suggest the first time Indian, Pakistan Foreign Secretaries will meet will be at SAARC consultations in Kathmandu on March 14-15.

c)     External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is also expected to meet her counterpart Sartaj Aziz at same event on March 16-17, ahead of an expected meeting between PM Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Washington at the end of March.

d)     Thanking the US for its support in reviving the India-Pakistan dialogue, Aziz said it was unfortunate that the agreement on resuming the dialogue process was disrupted by the attack on Pathankot airbase on January 2, and listed several steps taken by Pakistan in its aftermath.

2.

Two more AWACS from Israel (Page 15)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Israel relations

b)     Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS)

a)     Ahead of PM Modis visit to Israel later this year, the Cabinet Committee on Security (chaired by Modi) cleared the proposal to acquire two more Phalcon AWACS at a cost of Rs. 7500 crore under a tripartite agreement with Israel and Russia.

b)    The AWACS are advanced radars mounted on an aircraft to give 360 degree coverage to detect incoming aircraft and missiles at long ranges.

c)     India had procured three Phalcon AWACS (Israeli radars mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft) in 2003 at cost of $1 billion. Indo-Israel ties got a major boost after Modi came to power.

3.

China set to hike military spending (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Chinas military deterrence

b)     South China Sea dispute

c)     Woody Island

d)     Triton islands

e)     Paracel chain

f)     Ease China Sea dispute

g)     Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku Islands)

h)     Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system

 

a)     China appears set to substantially hike its defence budget - a move that may have been triggered by the growing tensions in the South China Sea with US, and rising cost of end-of-service payments to troops.

b)     Analysts cite two factors that may explain the anticipated military spending increase. First, the Chinese armed forces are undergoing a structural change. Further, growing tensions with the US and Japan in the East and South China Seas are also significant drivers.

c)     In Jan, a US navy missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of the China-controlled Triton islands in the Paracel island chain of South China Sea, leading to calls within China for additional military preparedness.

d)     The US Navys Pacific Command has asserted that it would step up the so-called freedom of navigation missions in international waters of the South China Sea - a move that Beijing says is provocative and a challenge to its territorial sovereignty.

e)     Observers say that China can be expected to beef up defensive weaponry in the South China Sea. ImageSat International has already taken images showing the deployment of eight missile launchers and a radar system at the China-administered Woody Island, also in the Paracel chain.

f)   Tensions with Japan are also expected to trigger additional deployment of Chinese firepower in East China Sea, where Beijing and Tokyo have a territorial dispute over Diaoyu Islands, known as Senkaku in Japan. The friction between the two countries is reflected in the record Japanese defence budget of $41.1 billion this year.

g)     The possibility of the deployment of the US THAAD anti-missile system, following the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile technology tests this year, add another dimension, pushing China to adopt counter-measures.

4.

Blow for reformists in Iran (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     Irans elections

b)     Iran – P5+1 nuclear deal

c)     Irans nuclear programme

a)     Final results from Irans Feb 26 elections to Parliament and the clerical body (the Assembly of Experts) show that the moderates have clinched a resounding political victory.

b)     In the 290-seat Parliament, the reformist allies of President Hassan Rouhani won at least 85 seats, while the moderate conservatives secured 73 seats. Together they will control the House. The hardliners (who were steadfastly opposed to Rouhanis reform agenda) won only 68 seats.

c)     This was the first election after Rouhani secured historic nuclear deal with world powers last year, ending the countrys isolation in return for giving up its nuclear programme. The hardliners were opposed to the nuclear deal.

d)    Had the moderates suffered an electoral setback, it would have been a major blow to Rouhanis reform agenda. It would also have cast a shadow on his re-election prospects next year. Now it is evident where the popular support lies.

e)     The election of more moderate candidates into the Assembly of Experts than hardliners is a significant achievement for the reformist movement. The Assembly is an important clerical body in Irans Islamist establishment which can choose the next Supreme Leader.

f)     The system is too complicated, with direct checks on the powers of everyone but the Supreme Leader. As long as the Supreme Leader backs the hardliners, Rouhani is unlikely to take any radical initiatives.  

5.

Why the WTO is right in the solar panel dispute (Page 13)

a)     International

b)     National

a)     Solar panel dispute

b)     Indias national solar programme

c)     Make in India initiative

d)     WTO

e)     General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

 

a)     In a significant ruling last week, a WTO panel found that domestic content requirement imposed under Indias national solar programme is inconsistent with its treaty obligations under the global trading regime.

b)     The ruling has been described as yet another instance of archaic trade rules trumping important climate imperatives. However, this criticism is not entirely justified.

c)     Indias national solar programme (which was launched in 2010) aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.

d)     To incentivise the production of solar energy within the country, the govt under the programme agrees to enter into long-term power purchase agreements with solar power producers, effectively guaranteeing the sale of the energy produced and the price that such a solar power producer could obtain.

e)     Thereafter, it would sell such energy through distribution utilities to the ultimate consumer. However, a solar power producer (to be eligible to participate under the programme) is required compulsorily to use certain domestically sourced inputs, namely solar cells and modules for certain types of solar projects.

f)     In 2013, the US brought a complaint before the WTO arguing that the domestic content requirement imposed under Indias national solar programme is in violation of the global trading rules.

g)     India argued that the measure was justified under the general exceptions since it was necessary to secure compliance with its domestic and international law obligations relating to ecologically sustainable development and climate change.

h)     The panel examined in detail the submission of the parties and rightly concluded that India (by imposing a mandatory domestic content requirement) had violated its national treatment obligation.

i)     In so far as the government procurement derogation was concerned, the panel found that the product being subject to the domestic content requirement was solar cells and modules, but the product that was ultimately procured or purchased by the govt was electricity.

j)     Finally, the panel found that since India failed to point out any specific obligation having direct effect in India or forming part of its domestic legal system (which obligated India to impose the particular domestic content requirement), the general exception was not available to the Indian government in the instant case.

k)     However, the ruling has come under intense criticism (particularly from environmentalists), as undermining Indias efforts towards promoting the use of clean energy. However, there appears to be no rational basis for how mandatory local content requirements contribute towards promoting the use of clean energy.

l)     Perhaps, what is even more instructive is the fact that India during its submissions before the WTO did not invoke the general exceptions under article XX(b) or (g) of the GATT typically relied upon in trade disputes by parties seeking to protect their domestic regulations on environmental or health grounds.

m)     Therefore, India did not itself believe that the local content requirement under the programme was imposed for the conservation of clean air.

n)     However, the panel ruling is not final and reports indicate that India will prefer an appeal to the appellate body. Simultaneously, India may be exploring the option of filing a counter complaint against US.

o)     Nevertheless, amidst the cacophony of the Prime Ministers Make in India campaign, India must resist the temptation of adopting protectionist measures such as domestic content requirements which are inconsistent with its international obligations.

6.

TN makes another bid to free convicts (Pages 1 and 15)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Rajiv Gandhi assassination case

b)     Section 435 of the Cr.PC

c)     Article 161 of the Constitution

d)     Supreme Court

 

a)    In yet another bid to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Tamil Nadu government wrote to the Centre, seeking its views on its decision to free them.

b)     Under Section 435 of the Cr.PC, the State has to consult the Centre before releasing prisoners prosecuted by the CBI or under a Central law.

c)     In December last year, the Supreme Court had ruled that the State government had no power to release the Rajiv Gandhi case convicts without the Centres concurrence.

d)     A defence lawyer has termed pretence the Tamil Nadu govts letter to the Centre, seeking its views on its decision to free all the convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

e)     He said the State govt can release all the life convicts today under Article 161 of the Constitution. The power under Article 161 is unfettered. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is categorical that this power is untouchable by the court.

f)     He said there is no need to obtain any permission or any views from the Central govt for releasing the life convicts. The State government is well within its right to release them immediately under Article 161.

7.

Huge budget cut for ICDS (Page 14)

a)     National

b)     Health

a)     Union Budget 2016-17

b)     National Family Health Survey (NFHS)

c)     Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)

d)     Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme

a)     For the second year in a row, the Modi govt has reduced fund available to child health interventions, with a massive cut - from Rs. 15,483.77 crore last year to Rs. 14,000 crore in the latest budget.

b)     The NFHS-4 data for 15 States shows that 37 percent of children under the age of five are stunted; 22 percent are wasted while 34 percent under the age of 5 are under weight.

c)     The ICDS has seen a 7 per cent reduction in fund. The scheme (implemented by the Women and Child Development Ministry) is the countrys flagship intervention to improve child nutrition in the country.

d)     The percentage share of the Mid-Day Meal scheme in total Union Budget allocation has gone down from 0.74 per cent in 2014-15 (BE) to 0.49 percent in 2016-17 (BE). The allocation for the MDM scheme for 2016-17 stands at Rs. 9700 crore (2016-17 BE).

e)     The total amount spend on child health by the govt would be Rs. 65,758 crore. Over the last two years, allocations for ICDS has seen a sharp decrease.

8.

Provident fund reform needs more clarity (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Employees Provident Fund (EPF)

b)     National Pension Scheme (NPS)

c)     Employee Pension Scheme

 

a)     The Central govt finds itself in thick of a controversy over the Budget proposal to tax a part of the accumulated corpus in EPF upon withdrawal. The proposal is seen to hurt particularly the salaried middle class, considered a core constituency of the BJP.

b)     Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed tax exemption for withdrawal of up to 40 per cent of the corpus at the time of retirement in the case of the National Pension Scheme.

c)     In case of superannuation funds and recognised provident funds (including the EPF), the same norm of 40 percent of the corpus being tax-free would apply to contributions made after April 1 2016. From a larger social security perspective, Jaitleys intention to lay the groundwork for a pensionised society is laudable.

d)     In an ideal environment, there is a justifiable case for prescribing a level-tax treatment for similarly positioned pension plans. However, in the pursuit of a principled taxation policy, the govt should have imposed a similar provision for its own employees retirement savings in the General Provident Fund.

e)     The govt should have also tried to distinguish between a regular pension scheme and a provident fund (that also provides a pension).

f)     If the intention is to prod people to plan for pension, the government would do well to invigorate the Employee Pension Scheme, which exists today as a component of EPF.

9.

Govt nod for UDAY bonds (Page 18)

a)     Economy

a)     Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY)

a)     According to Minister of Power Piyush Goyal, the Finance Ministry has approved the issuance of Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana bonds by four states.

b)     The Finance Ministry has approved issuance of UDAY bonds by four states. They are Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.

c)     Manipur and Tripura have agreed to join UDAY. This takes the total number of states that have agreed to join UDAY to 16. So far, six states have signed the UDAY contract.

10.

Kondane cave art depicts myth and daily life (Page 22)

a)     National

b)     Culture

a)     Kondane caves

b)     Rock paintings

a)   A hunter stands poised with a bow and arrow. A barasingha (swamp deer) stands nearby. Then there are footprints, palm impressions and some trees. These were some of the depictions in the 40 rock paintings recently discovered in the Kondane caves in Raigarh district in Maharashtra.

b)     The images were found in both natural caverns and man-made caves. The man-made caves also feature Buddhist architecture such as a chaitya (prayer hall) and a monastery.

c)     The rock paintings (in red and black hues) were found in the corners and the ceilings of the caves.

11.

7.9-magnitude quake leads to tsunami alert (Page 16)

a)     Geography

a)     Earthquake

b)     Tsunami

c)     Epicentre

d)     Mentawai Islands

e)     Pacific Ring of Fire

a)     A 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck off western Indonesia on March 2, sending panicked residents of one city rushing from their homes, and local authorities issued a tsunami warning.

b)     The epicentre was several hundred kilometres from the Mentawai Islands, a small island chain southwest of the countrys main western island of Sumatra.

c)     Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes strong seismic activity, and is frequently hit by earthquakes.

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