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Daily News Analysis 18-03-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Pathankot probe: Pak team to visit India on March 27 (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     After a meeting with her counterpart Sartaj Aziz in Nepal, External Affairs Minister Sushma announced that an investigation team from Pakistan will visit India on March 27 to carry out inquiries into the Pathankot attack.

2.

Nepal should stay the course on amendments (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     India and other members of the Human Rights Council pushed Nepal on March 17 to carry out more constitutional amendments to accommodate the democratic aspirations of citizens from Nepals plains.

3.

Obama signs sanctions order against N. Korea (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     US President Obama signed an order implementing UN-backed sanctions on North Korea after a nuclear test and missile launch this year, as Pyongyang promised reprisals.

4.

Kurds declare federal region in Syria (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Syrias Kurds declared a federal region in areas under their control in the north of the conflict-hit country, but both the government and an opposition coalition rejected the move.

5.

Be bold in revisiting the sedition law (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The govts admission in Parliament that the present definition of sedition in the Indian Penal Code is too wide and requires reconsideration, is the first indication that the fallout of the Kanhaiya Kumar episode has had a chastening effect on the ruling party.

6.

Privacy is a fundamental right (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The Aadhaar Bill has been passed with no public consultation about the privacy safeguards necessary for such a database and no provision for public or independent oversight. The rights to liberty and freedom of expression cannot survive if the right to privacy is compromised.

7.

Double-digit growth difficult to achieve, says Arun Jaitley (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the present global economic environment is not conducive for the country to achieve a double-digit growth.

8.

Yellen steers Federal Reserve with cautious hand, despite hints of inflation (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     Federal Reserve policymakers urging caution over interest rate hikes have gained the upper hand in the central banks internal debate, but the risk for the US economy is that they are wrong to downplay a recent rise in inflation.

 

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Pathankot probe: Pak team to visit India on March 27 (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Terrorism

c)     Pathankot terror attack

d)     Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)

a)     After a meeting with her counterpart Sartaj Aziz in Nepal, External Affairs Minister Sushma announced that an investigation team from Pakistan will visit India on March 27 to carry out inquiries into the Pathankot attack.

b)     Officials said the two leaders had also discussed arrests made by Pakistan in the attack in which seven Indian security personnel were killed. The discussion covered the case of JeM chief Masood Azhar, who has been in detention since January 14.

c)     The meeting also comes two weeks before a possible meeting between PM Modi and Sharif in Washington, where they will both attend the Nuclear Security Summit.

2.

Nepal should stay the course on amendments (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Nepals constitutional amendments

b)     Human Right Council (HRC)

 

a)     India and other members of the Human Rights Council pushed Nepal on March 17 to carry out more constitutional amendments to accommodate the democratic aspirations of citizens from Nepals plains.

b)     Analysts have pointed out that Indias reminder on the amendments is significant as it came after the meeting between Foreign Secretary Jaishankar and Nepals Madhesi leaders in Kathmandu.

c)    While countries like China, Pakistan, Singapore, and Maldives adopted a softer tone at the HRCs meeting for Outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Nepal, India reminded Nepal to stay the course on the path of more constitutional amendments which was started to end the five-month long economic blockade by the Madhesis.

3.

Obama signs sanctions order against N. Korea (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     North Korea nuclear arsenal

b)     UNSC

 

a)     US President Obama signed an order implementing UN-backed sanctions on North Korea after a nuclear test and missile launch this year, as Pyongyang promised reprisals.

b)     The measures were agreed to at the UN in response to the Jan 6 nuclear test and Feb 7 ballistic missile launch.

c)    In response to Obamas executive order, Beijing said that it opposes any countrys unilateral sanctions.

4.

Kurds declare federal region in Syria (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Syria crisis

b)     Islamic State (IS)

c)     Kurdish forces

a)     Syrias Kurds declared a federal region in areas under their control in the north of the conflict-hit country, but both the govt and an opposition coalition rejected the move. The announcement is likely to anger neighbouring Turkey and has complicated peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending the five-year civil war.

b)     The US (a key backer of Kurdish fighters in the battle against the IS) has also warned that it would not recognise any self-ruled Kurdish region within Syria.

c)     More than 150 delegates from Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian and other parties meeting in Syria agreed to create a federal system unifying territory run by Kurds across several Syrian provinces.

d)     Kurdish parties already operate a system of three autonomous administrations in Syrias north, with independent police forces and schools. The three cantons stretch along Syrias northern border with Turkey and are known as Afrin and Kobani (both in Aleppo province) and Jazire in Hasakeh province.

e)     The new federal system is expected to centralise governance in the three cantons under elected councils.

5.

Be bold in revisiting the sedition law (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Sedition law

b)     Section 124-A of the IPC

 

a)     The govts admission in Parliament that the present definition of sedition in the Indian Penal Code is too wide and requires reconsideration, is the first indication that the fallout of the Kanhaiya Kumar episode has had a chastening effect on the ruling party.

b)     Further, legal luminaries had pointed out that the essential ingredient of sedition (an imminent threat to public order) was absent in the case. Opinion is growing that the relevant provision (Section 124-A) has no place on the statute book.

c)     Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju made a pointed reference to concerns that the definition of sedition was very wide. He recalled that the Law Commission in its 42nd Report had rejected the idea of repealing the section altogether.

d)     A look at the 1971 report shows that in fact it wanted to expand the term relating to exciting disaffection towards the government established by law to cover disaffection towards the Constitution, Parliament, the government and legislatures of the States, and the administration of justice.

e)     In penal law, vague and over-broad definitions of offences often result in mindless prosecutions based merely on the wording of the act that seems to allow both provocative and innocuous speeches to be treated as equally criminal.

f)     While upholding sedition as an offence that fell under the public order restriction on free speech, Supreme Court ruled that it ought to be invoked only if a particular speech or action had a pernicious tendency to create public disorder.

g)     Words such as excites or attempts to excite disaffection or brings into or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt are unacceptably vague, and the further explanation that disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity compounds the problem.

h)     The Law Commission should take into account recent developments, especially the flagrant instances of misuse of sedition law and the tendency to invoke it against those involved in strident forms of political dissent and scathing criticism of governments.

6.

Privacy is a fundamental right (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Aadhaar Bill

b)     Right to privacy

c)     Fundamental rights

a)     The Central government has forced the Aadhaar Bill through Parliament in a week. Aadhaar has had an invasive and controversial presence well before the governments attempt to legitimise it. It has been challenged before the Supreme Court, and in defending it, our Attorney General (funded by our taxes) has argued that we have no right to privacy.

b)    There are extensive threats to privacy contained within this legislation, which seeks to institutionalise an extensive, pervasive database that links multiple other databases containing our personal information. It is unconscionable for govt to pass the Aadhaar Bill with no public consultation about the sort of privacy safeguards that are necessary for such a database.

c)     It is truly unfortunate that the privacy debate in India is circling back to its initial stages in 1948-49. While drafting the Constitution, amendments were moved to insert safeguards against search and seizure within the fundamental rights chapter.

d)   Dr. B.R. Ambedkar pointed out that these safeguards were already provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure but he agreed that adding them to the Constitution would make it impossible for the legislature to tamper with them.

e)     Although no convincing arguments were made against the amendment, there was commotion in the House. The vote was deferred. Eventually the amendment did not pass through the House but the debates were disappointing since they offered no discernible reason for this choice.

f)     However, the Supreme Court soon read the right to privacy into the Constitution. Progressively, it realised that the rights to liberty and freedom of expression cannot survive if the right to privacy is compromised.

g)     It began with recognising peoples rights against govt intrusion into their homes and went on to build this norm over the years across a variety of cases. This is all a result of the Supreme Court recognising time after time, across decades, that our other rights will not stand for much without privacy.

h)     The Aadhaar database is a dangerous thing in itself. Despite multiple assurances of safety, the Govt of India has offered citizens no guarantee of compensation or recompense if its poor choices endanger them.

i)     The exception permits govt to access the database in two separate ways. One way is if a district judge orders disclosure of information. This is very dangerous if one bears in mind that we have inadequately trained district judges all over the country, and that they are not given enough support to understand the implications of a database like Aadhaar.

j)     District judges in far-flung districts have been authorising mass blocking of online content and gag orders. These judges can now authorise access to Aadhaar data without any disclosure or discussion with the citizen affected - only the Aadhaar authority will have the right to contest the order if it is so inclined.

k)     The legislation offers no avenue where the affected party may appeal if her rights are affected. This creates a huge window for access and misuse of the database.

l)     There is a second way in which the govt may abuse its power and access the Aadhaar database. A Joint Secretary authorised by the govt can direct disclosure of information in the interests of national security. This direction again leaves the affected party out of the equation, and nothing in the legislation compels any kind of public or independent oversight that may help ensure that there is no abuse of power.

m)     While this order will be reviewed by a committee consisting of the Cabinet Secretary and the Secretaries to the Government of India in the Department of Legal Affairs and Department of Electronics and Information Technology, this is an inadequate safeguard for multiple reasons.

n)     The Aadhaar Bill excludes courts from taking cognisance of offences under legislation, requiring that the authority that runs Aadhaar consent to prosecution for any action to be taken under the legislation.

o)     This part of the Bill completely undermines all the safeguards that do exist within it, since citizens cannot access these safeguards without co-operation from the authority which is arguably in a position of conflict of interest.

7.

Double-digit growth difficult to achieve, says Arun Jaitley (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Indias GDP growth

b)     GST Bill

a)     Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the present global economic environment is not conducive for the country to achieve a double-digit growth. He said if necessary reforms are executed it would push Indias growth rate much higher than the current 7.3 percent.

b)     The govt has been trying to pass the GST Constitutional Bill in Rajya Sabha for more than a year now. However, it is pending for want of two-thirds majority in the Upper House. He also rejected a demand by the Congress for a cap on GST rate, to be introduced in the Constitution Amendment Bill, saying it would be difficult to accede to it.

c)     He said that agriculture had the maximum potential for growth in India.

8.

Yellen steers Federal Reserve with cautious hand, despite hints of inflation (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     US Federal Reserve

b)     Inflation

 

a)     Federal Reserve policymakers urging caution over interest rate hikes have gained the upper hand in central banks internal debate, but the risk for the US economy is that they are wrong to downplay a recent rise in inflation.

b)     Fed Chair Janet Yellen told that caution is appropriate when it comes to raising interest rates. She said she was not convinced underlying inflation had accelerated.

c)     But many private economists buy into the argument by an opposing faction within the Fed that US inflation is indeed stirring.

d)     They point to a range of recent data to back their view, including a reading showing underlying US inflation rose 2.3 percent in 12 months through February, the biggest increase in more than 3 years. The Feds target is 2-percent inflation.

e)     The Fed raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point in December, the first time it lifted rates in nearly a decade. Its target now stands as between 0.25 and 0.50 percent.

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