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Daily News Analysis 08-03-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Buying influence in Washington Americas decision to supply (Pg 13)

a)     International

a)    Pakistan with F-16 fighter aircraft (despite protest from India) suggests the effectiveness of lobbying within the ambit of Washingtons Beltway politics.

2.

Male urges Opposition to engage in talks (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     The Maldives govt has called on the main Opposition party (the Maldivian Democratic Party led by former President Mohamed Nasheed) to engage in the political process and contribute to a more sane, sensible and less hysterical political discourse.

3.

Move to divide Jerusalem unites people (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     A new plan on how to divide Jerusalems Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods has had the peculiar distinction of uniting people against it.

4.

Syria peace talks from March 14 (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Syrias regime said it had been invited to peace talks in Geneva from March 14 but the opposition said it was still considering whether to attend despite a major lull in fighting.

5.

Time to deliver on Womens Bill (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari have called for reviving the Constitution (108th) Amendment Bill to reserve for women one-third of seats in Parliament and the State legislatures.

6.

Full marks on fiscal deficit (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     There is some fear of overestimation of revenues and underestimation of expenditures in the Budget. But the decision to stick to fiscal consolidation sends out a clear message that the goal is to accelerate growth under conditions of macroeconomic stability.

7.

Indians could face a higher risk of diabetes-induced lung ailments (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Health

a)     Diabetes may be impeding the normal functioning of lungs and common medicines that are used to treat insulin resistance may actually be exacerbating conditions such as asthma.

8.

Fresh evidence of Stone Age cultures in Kerala (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Culture

a)     Belying 19th century British geo-archaeologist Robert Bruce Footes argument on prehistoric habitation in the State, north Kerala is fast emerging as the site of fresh discoveries of remnants of Stone Age cultures.

9.

Lake in heart of Bengaluru city turns graveyard for fish (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)    Garden citys famed Ulsoor Lake became a graveyard on March 7. Thousands of fish were found dead, floating on the lakes waters, all victims of the early summer heat and soaring temperature.

 

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Buying influence in Washington Americas decision to supply (Page 13)

a)     International

a)     US – Pakistan relations

b)     F-16 fighter aircraft

c)     Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

d)     India – US relations

e)     India-US civil nuclear deal

a)     A shock wave ripped through South Asian policy circles in mid-February when the US confirmed that lengthy negotiations between US and Pak had resulted in a decision to supply Pak with eight F-16 fighter aircraft worth $699.04 million, despite a year of unrelenting protest from India.

b)     While the deal marked the continuation of standard US policy on Pakistan, namely support for an ally in the global fight against terror, it reflects a troubling conundrum for India, which is that US appears to be unable or unwilling, to scale back military transfers to Pak despite evidence of complicity between the Pakistani ISI and various extremist groups.

c)     With the sale announced a little more than a month after the Pakistani-origin attack in Pathankot, Indias Ministry of External Affairs immediately summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma to express its displeasure.

d)     An all-too-familiar subcontinental dilemma for India has again resurfaced. On one hand, Osama bin Ladens hideaway villa was discovered in Abbottabad, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad attempted to spectacularly car-bomb New Yorks Times Square, and Haqqani network terrorists regularly flee to safe havens inside Pakistan after attacking US soldiers in Afghanistan.

e)   On the other, the US readily proffered financing to Pakistan enabled by the Kerry-Lugar Bill, sold the country around $5.4 billion worth of military equipment from 2002 to 2014, and is now handing over even more F-16s, beyond the 70 that the Pakistani Air Force has gradually acquired since 1980s.

f)     Setting aside explanations based on strategic calculus, all of which would in some way return to central dictum that US cannot afford to lose a nuclear-armed Pakistans goodwill in fighting more dangerous foes, an alternative theory that could partially explain the all-weather nature of this one-way partnership is the effectiveness of Pakistani lobbying within the ambit of USs beltway politics.

g)     As much as the historical record of the Pakistani lobby in the US reflects creativity and single-minded focus, in equal measure it has allowed itself to be carried too far into the dark side of backroom politicking, with the expected toxic fallout.

h)     Most well-known among these is the case of Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, a US citizen of Kashmiri origin who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2011 for clandestinely pushing the cause of the Pakistani government in seeking to influence the US position on the Kashmir issue.

i)     Yet if Pakistans lobbying efforts in US reflect somewhat unhinged but largely successful multi-decade adventurism, then Indias efforts are clearly lacklustre by comparison and hesitant in tenor.

j)     While the intense lobbying that characterised the inflection point in India-US ties may well have led to successful passage of the civil nuclear agreement, it was in no small measure a victory owed to unprecedented personal commitment of the US President and the Indian PM to see it through to ink on paper.

k)    Some experts characterised the deal as an inevitable blip within the broader rhythm of the bilateral compact between India and the US, but one that was perhaps less likely to cause genuine geopolitical instability in the region than scaremongers would have us believe.

l)     They argued that bilateral compact is more regularly validated by the vast strides that New Delhi and Washington have made together - for example, in terms of defence trade and technology transfers.

m)     Thus while lobbying US may bring quick wins or stave off tactical setbacks, strategic convergence between nations may depend much more on governments rolling up their sleeves and working together to deliver what lofty vision statements have promised.

2.

Male urges Opposition to engage in talks (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Maldives political crisis

b)     Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)

c)     Adhaalath Party

d)     Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)

a)     The Maldives govt has called on the main Opposition party (the Maldivian Democratic Party led by former President Mohamed Nasheed) to engage in the political process and contribute to a more sane, sensible and less hysterical political discourse.

b)     Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Mohamed Shainee said the principal opposition parties (MDP and Adhaalath Party) have refused to join political dialogue called by President Abdulla Yameen aimed at resolving the countrys political crisis.

c)    The CMAG recently issued a to-do list, urging the govt to take steps to solve the political crisis, including holding direct talks with the Opposition and releasing jailed opponents.

d)     The MDP and AP had said they would not take part in the talks with the govt until their jailed leaders were released.

e)     Shainee has also hailed his countrys ties with India. The relationship between our two countries is long-standing and very strong. On investment, the economy and regional security, they are our closest friends.

3.

Move to divide Jerusalem unites people (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Jerusalem issue

b)     Israeli-Palestinian relations

 

a)     A new plan on how to divide Jerusalems Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods has had the peculiar distinction of uniting people against it.

b)     The contentious plan (promoted by a group of liberal Israeli Jews and adopted in principle by centre-left Labor Party) would unilaterally fence off most of East Jerusalems Palestinian neighbourhoods and transfer responsibility for their 200,000 residents from City

c)  The new campaign describes Jerusalems Palestinian residents as imperilling the security, demographic balance, standard of living and economy of the city.

d)     Dividing Jerusalem (with sacred Jewish, Muslim and Christian sites at its core) has long been one of the most emotional and intractable issues of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

4.

Syria peace talks from March 14 (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Syria peace talks

b)     Syria crisis

c)     Islamic State

a)     Syrias regime said it had been invited to peace talks in Geneva from March 14 but the opposition said it was still considering whether to attend despite a major lull in fighting.

b)     The United Nations is hoping to restart peace talks that collapsed last month, building on a ceasefire that has led to the first significant decline in violence in Syrias nearly five-year civil war.

5.

Time to deliver on Womens Bill (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Womens Reservation Bill

b)     Constitution (108th) Amendment Bill

c)     Panchayati Raj Act

 

a)     President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari have called for reviving the Constitution (108th) Amendment Bill to reserve for women one-third of seats in Parliament and the State legislatures.

b)     PM Modi has been less forthcoming in revealing whether his govt has any plans to pilot the Bill through the Lok Sabha. This is particularly disappointing. The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010.

c)     Six years on, Modis BJP commands a clear majority in the Lok Sabha. It is therefore in a position not only to get the Bill passed by mopping up the support of just a few more MPs, but also to force the Congress and the Left into reaching out across the aisle in a polarised Parliament to affirm fidelity to a long-voiced promise.

d)    In two decades since it was first presented in Parliament, different govts have tried clearing it but faced tremendous opposition. Opposition to the Bill has often taken the form of a demand for the proposed quota to be diced along other parameters of disadvantage, such as caste and class.

e)     Women need to overcome gender prejudice firstly in their respective parties before entering the wider electoral fray. It is also a sign of lack of seriousness on the Bill that parties have not taken up a considered discussion of impact of the rotation of reserved constituencies envisioned

f)     To have more women in legislatures and the govt is a big step towards empowering women in society. The experience of several village panchayats that have women as effective leaders bears testimony to this fact.

6.

Full marks on fiscal deficit (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Union Budget 2016-17

b)     GDP growth

c)     Fiscal deficit

d)     Fiscal consolidation

e)     Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act 2003

f)     Aadhaar

g)     Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) projects

h)     Motor Vehicles Act

i)     Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill

j)     Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill

k)     Ease of doing business

a)     According to the author, the high point of the Budget for 2016-17 is its adherence to road map for fiscal consolidation by fixing the fiscal deficit at 3.5 percent of the GDP. This is an extremely welcome step and sends out a clear message that the goal of govt is to accelerate growth under conditions of macroeconomic stability.

b)     However, in this context, two different questions arise. One is about the credibility of this commitment and the other (a more fundamental one) is whether it is necessary at all to adhere to a fixed road map.

c)   On credibility, let us look at the numbers. Total expenditures are projected to increase by 10.8 percent. However, it is not clear to what extent the burden of the Seventh Pay Commission has been taken into account. There is some fear of underestimation as far as expenditures are concerned.

d)     On the revenue side, gross tax revenue is projected to grow by 11.7 percent against a backdrop of the nominal GDP growing at 11 percent. This is a reasonable assumption. However, receipts from disinvestment in 2016-17 are estimated at Rs. 56,500 crore as against an actual collection of Rs. 25,300 crore in 2015-16.

e)     The projected receipts of Rs. 99,000 crore from spectrum auction in 2016-17 are also way above what was obtained in 2015-16. Thus there might be an overestimation of revenues. Therefore some doubts persist around the fiscal deficit target of 3.5 percent.

f)     As for the need for containing the fiscal deficit, it is important to note that sustained high fiscal deficits not only lead to a rise in the debt-GDP ratio but also to an increase in interest payments as a proportion of revenues, leaving less for productive expenditure.

g)     As a percentage of net tax revenues to the Centre, interest payments have jumped from 38.9 percent in 2007-08 to 46.7 percent in recent years. For 2016-17, the Budget retains it at the same level. It is a good sign that the ratio remains the same despite the revenue base coming down because of increased devolution to States.

h)   Under the FRBM Act 2003, the mandated target for Central govt is 3 percent of GDP. The States taken together will also take another 3 percent of GDP. Thus the combined fiscal deficit of the Centre and the States will be 6 percent of GDP.

i)     In fact, so far the govt has not taken a rigid position on fiscal deficit. The fiscal deficit for 2015-16 is almost 1 percent above the mandated level. Flexibility should not mean undercutting the basic principle.

j)     The major thrust of Budget speech was in outlining various schemes of public spending in agriculture, infrastructure and social sectors. With reference to public spending, there are two issues. The first relates to the design of schemes. Sector experts need to examine carefully how well the proposed schemes meet the needs of the sector.

k)     The second and more important issue relates to the ability of the govt to ensure that the schemes are actually implemented on the ground. It may also be noted that while a large increase in capital expenditure on infrastructure has been contemplated, a significant proportion of the financing will come from extra budgetary resources, which means borrowing.

l)     This will be over and above what the government is borrowing. Capital expenditures of the government showed a steep rise this year. But in 2016-17, the rise has been projected at only 3.9 percent.

m)     There are minimal changes in relation to taxation. The expectation of a change in corporate tax rate has been belied. The proposed reductions are limited to a small subset of companies. The changes in tax exemptions are more in the nature of modification than elimination.

n)     Increased spending on agriculture and rural development besides increasing agricultural output may push up rural demand for manufactured goods. There is also the hope that after two years of drought, the monsoon will be good in the coming fiscal. The additional spending on infrastructure may draw in private investment.

o)     As far as reforms are concerned, there are references to new pieces of legislation relating to Aadhar, dispute resolution in PPP projects and modifying Motor Vehicles Act. Important pieces of legislation such as the GST Bill and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code are already caught in the political logjam.

p)     Under the circumstances, the govt must move strongly in the area of administrative reforms so that cumbersome procedures are eliminated and the administrative machinery (including the delivery system) functions more efficiently. The ease of doing business is influenced by how well the government functions.

q)     The decision to stick to the path of fiscal consolidation is a wise one. It will send out right signals to the investors. The impact of high public spending will depend upon the drive and efficiency with which the new projects and programmes are taken up and executed. Implementation is the key to boosting investor confidence.

7.

Indians could face a higher risk of diabetes-induced lung ailments (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Health

a)     Diabetes

b)     Airway Smooth Muscle (ASM) cells

a)     Diabetes may be impeding the normal functioning of lungs and common medicines that are used to treat insulin resistance may actually be exacerbating conditions such as asthma.

b)     Expert suspects a link between diabetes (a condition characterised by the hormone insulin failing to regulate blood sugar in the body) and impaired lung function that makes Indians particularly vulnerable to respiratory diseases.

c)     Recently, there have been a number of studies showing that when adjusted for body size, Indians have among the smallest lungs in the world or nearly a third smaller than a white European of similar size.

d)     This means a reduced efficiency to filter oxygen from ingested air, an accelerated decline in lung function with age as well as an increased propensity to contract respiratory diseases.

e)     Diabetes has emerged as a serious disease burden for India over the past two decades. The reports said that while diabetes rate has increased by around 45 percent globally, it jumped 123 percent in India between 1990 and 2013. Nearly 6.9 crore people in India were suffering from diabetes in 2015 and their ranks are expected to swell to 12.5 crore by 2040.

f)     The researchers reinforced their findings by examining samples of human lung tissue that were treated with excessive insulin and saw an abundance of two kinds of tissue (primary human airway smooth muscle cells and induced collagen) that are known to indicate deteriorating lung quality.

8.

Fresh evidence of Stone Age cultures in Kerala (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Culture

a)     Stone Age cultures in Kerala

b)     Palaeolithic sites

c)     Mesolithic sites

d)     Neolithic sites

e)     Megalithic sites

 

a)     Belying 19th century British geo-archaeologist Robert Bruce Footes argument on prehistoric habitation in the State, north Kerala is fast emerging as the site of fresh discoveries of remnants of Stone Age cultures.

b)     They have discovered many Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Megalithic, and Neolithic tools and several Megalithic sites in north Kerala.

c)     Find include the typical Palaeolithic hand-axe from Vanimel river basin (Kozhikode) and pointed choppers and side scrapers from Anakkayam and Cheerkkayam river basin of Chandragiri (Kasaragod) are some of first-time evidence of Palaeolithic implements in these districts.

d)     This revealed that hand-axe fabrication technique in quartz was also familiar among the prehistoric settlements in the area. They had discovered Mesolithic tools from Chevayur (Kozhikode), perhaps the first Stone Age evidence in Kerala during 1930-35.

9.

Lake in heart of Bengaluru city turns graveyard for fish (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     Ulsoor Lake

a)    Garden citys famed Ulsoor Lake became a graveyard on March 7th morning. Thousands of fish were found dead, floating on the lakes waters, all victims of the early summer heat and soaring temperature.

b)     Fish kill in the citys lakes have almost become an annual phenomenon, during the onset of summer. It is usually a direct result of reduced dissolved oxygen level in the water.

c)     While algae in the lake release oxygen into the water during daytime, it uses up dissolved oxygen during night time along with the fish creating a big drop in the dissolved oxygen levels. So, most fish kills are observed in early mornings.

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