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Daily News Analysis 05-03-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

India takes on US at WTO over visa rules (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     India has filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization against the United States over its measures raising fees on some applicants for temporary work visas, mostly involving the tech sector.

2.

US Pivot to Asia responsible for tensions in S. China Sea, says Beijing (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     China has slammed the Pivot to Asia doctrine of the US, blaming it for the growing tensions the South China Sea, where a trilateral exercise involving New Delhi, Washington, and Tokyo is scheduled later this year.

3.

Kim orders n-arsenal on standby (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered North Koreas nuclear arsenal to be readied for preemptive use at any time, in an expected escalation of military rhetoric following the UN Security Councils adoption of tough new sanctions on Pyongyang.

4.

The fidgety pursuit of a pensioned society (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     The broader idea behind successive Budgets of this govt has been to cast the pension net wider, but tardy follow through has marred the process even as 82 percent of the workforce is still stuck with informal jobs. The shifting stance over taxing provident fund savings only illustrates the lack of a clear road map.

5.

Government announces third round of Gold Bond Scheme (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     The government announced that the application window for the third tranche of the Sovereign Gold Bond scheme will be March 8-14 and the bonds issued on March 29.

6.

Zika virus kills cells that form key brain tissue: report (Page 14)

a)     Health

a)     In what may be the first lab evidence of the potency of the Zika virus, researchers in the United States have found that it severely damages a type of neural stem cell that gives rise to the brains cerebral cortex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

India takes on US at WTO over visa rules (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     India – US relations

b)     World Trade Organization (WTO)

a)     India has filed a complaint to the WTO against the United States over its measures raising fees on some applicants for temporary work visas, mostly involving the tech sector.

b)     The WTO said that India has notified it has started dispute proceedings alleging the US measures are not consistent with USs commitments to accept services from other countries. In its request for consultation, India alleges the US had increased fees for temporary visas in December.

c)     It argues that as a result, some Indians receive unfair treatment compared with Americans in the United States in providing similar services in sectors like computer services.

d)     India in effect is seeking consultations with the US. The WTO will make further information available in coming days.

e)    The Indian move is unusual at the WTO, where most disputes involve goods, tariffs and restrictions, not services.

f)     Last summer, the WTO upheld a ruling that India was unfairly blocking imports of US poultry and eggs, which the Obama administration called a major victory that could expand export opportunities for American farmers.

2.

US Pivot to Asia responsible for tensions in S. China Sea, says Beijing (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     South China Sea dispute

b)     US Pivot to Asia

c)     Woody Island

d)     Paracel island

e)     Nansha (Spratly) islands

f)     Malabar naval exercise

a)     China has slammed the Pivot to Asia doctrine of the US, blaming it for the growing tensions the South China Sea, where a trilateral exercise involving New Delhi, Washington, and Tokyo is scheduled later this year.

b)     The war of words between China and US escalated when Fu Ying (the spokesperson for National Peoples Conference), countered the US assertion that China was responsible for the militarisation of the South China Sea.

c)     China claims sovereignty over most of South China Sea, a position that is contested by several countries including Vietnam, Philippines and Taiwan. It has recently accelerated conversion of some of disputed reefs into artificial islands, and positioned surface-to-air missiles at Woody Island in the Paracel island chain.

d)     The U.S. has claimed that it takes no position on the dispute on the disputes of the Nansha (Spratly) islands.

e)     The US Admiral revealed that that the forthcoming Malabar naval exercise comprising India, US and Japan would be held in the north Philippine Sea, not far from the South China Sea. Besides, he called for USs inclusion in a strategic dialogue, which has so far been held among India, Japan and Australia.

3.

Kim orders n-arsenal on standby (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     North Koreas nuclear arsenal

b)     UNSC

 

a)     North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered North Koreas nuclear arsenal to be readied for preemptive use at any time, in an expected escalation of military rhetoric following the UN Security Councils adoption of tough new sanctions on Pyongyang.

b)     In Seoul, President Park Geun-hye promised South Korea would mete out stern punishment in the event of any North Korean provocation.

4.

The fidgety pursuit of a pensioned society (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Union Budget 2016-17

b)     Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY)

c)     Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

d)     Employees Pension Scheme (EPS)

e)     Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC)

f)     New Pension Scheme (NPS)

g)     Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA)

h)     Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana

i)     Atal Pension Yojana

j)     Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana

 

a)     According to the author, Finance Minister Arun Jaitleys 2016-17 Budget speech aimed to signal the govts commitment to the weakest sections of society, but all of that has been hijacked by the brouhaha over the tax he introduced on provident fund savings.

b)  This was the subhead Jaitley used for three paragraphs relating to social security in his maiden Budget presented for nine months of the year. He began by offering a limited revival of the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana that was started by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime well over a decade ago.

c)     He then set his eyes on the large amount of money lying as unclaimed amounts in Public Provident Fund, post office saving schemes and other such accounts.

d)     Jaitley also asserted the newly elected NDA govts commitment to the social security and welfare of employees serving in the organised sector.

e)     To prove this, it extended a minimum pension of Rs. 1000 for all members of employees pension scheme run by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation. It also raised the wage ceiling for mandatory Employees Pension Scheme membership from Rs. 6,500 per month to Rs. 15,000 per month.

f)     The number of paragraphs devoted to social security went up to seven in Jaitleys second Budget as he announced three new schemes as part of the governments commitment.

g)     The schemes he unveiled: a Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (accidental death cover of Rs. 2 lakh at Rs. 12 premium a year), an Atal Pension Yojana that would give a fixed pension (with a limited co-contribution up to Rs. 1000 from the govt), the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (natural and accidental death risk cover of  Rs. 2 lakh at  Rs. 330 premium a year) and a scheme for providing physical aids and assisted living devices for senior citizens living below the poverty line.

h)     He also remarked that both EPF and ESIC (that provides medical care to organised sector workers) have hostages, rather than clients and workers with low incomes suffer on account of high statutory deductions to such schemes.

i)     He promised to provide employees the option to leave the EPF and opt for the NPS launched by the PFRDA. He also said that employees below a certain level of monthly income could decide if they wanted to stop their own contributions (12 percent of salary) to the EPF. He offered a similar option for workers to opt for a health insurance product instead of ESI.

j)     The latest Budget made a pensioned society one of the nine new pillars for growth, but devoted just five unusual paras with 188 words that reflect the circuitous route NDA is taking on social security, partly driven by amnesia and the failure to meet its previous Budgets pursuit to make the countrys largest retirement fund (with Rs. 10 lakh crore) unattractive.

k)     It levied a tax on EPF savings (run by the Labour Ministry) in order to make the NPS (promoted by the Finance Ministry) even more attractive.

l)     The Economic Survey for 2015-16 talked about creating good jobs for the countrys youth, by rationalising statutory deductions from salaries (like EPF) that hit take-home salaries and force people to opt for non-formal employment even in the organised sector.

5.

Government announces third round of Gold Bond Scheme (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme

b)     RBI

 

a)     The govt announced that the application window for the third tranche of the Sovereign Gold Bond scheme will be March 8-14 and the bonds issued on March 29. The announcement comes at a time when gold prices are rallying.

b)     The govts plan behind the SGB scheme is to encourage those who use gold as a store of value to instead invest in the gold bonds as opposed to the physical yellow metal itself.

c)     Among others, the idea is to reduce Indias substantial gold imports, which were at $2.9 billion in January 2016, up 85 percent over the same month of the previous year.

d)     The bonds (issued by RBI on behalf of the govt) have a tenor of eight years with an exit option from fifth year onwards.

6.

Zika virus kills cells that form key brain tissue: report (Page 14)

a)     Health

a)     Zika virus

b)     Microcephaly

c)     WHO

a)    In what may be the first lab evidence of the potency of the Zika virus, researchers in the United States have found that it severely damages a type of neural stem cell that gives rise to the brains cerebral cortex.

b)    The findings are significant given that the WHO is set to decide whether the Zika virus is indeed wholly responsible for the outbreak of microcephaly, or deformed skulls, in newborns in Brazil and other parts of South America.

c)     Researchers saw the virus destruction on neuronal cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.

d)     These findings may correlate with disrupted brain development, but direct evidence for a link between Zika virus and microcephaly is more likely to come from clinical studies.

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