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Daily News Analysis 19-03-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Indias beef-free pork import norm draws US protest (Pages 1 and 14)

a)     I.R

b)     National

a)     Buoyed by its victory at the WTO last year against Indias poultry import ban, the US has now trained its guns on the countrys pork import regulations - which include a condition that such consignments must be beef-free.

2.

EU, Turkey strike deal to ease migrant crisis (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     After months of acrimony, the European Union and Turkey reached a landmark deal on March 18 to ease the migrant crisis and give Ankara concessions on better EU relations.

3.

North Korea test-fires two ballistic missiles (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     North Korea test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles on March 18, just days after leader Kim Jong-Un promised a series of nuclear warhead tests and missile launches amid surging military tensions.

4.

The cyberthreat is very real (Page 12)

a)     International

b)     National

a)     Despite having a national cybersecurity policy, risks to out critical infrastuructre remain. The Aadhaar concerns are valid, but India needs both offensive cyber operations and strengthened cybersecurity to deal with new onslaughts.

5.

Govt slashes interest on small savings (Page 14)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     The Union government slashed interest rates on small-savings schemes, including the Public Provident Fund and Kisan Vikas Patra.

6.

Niti Aayog task force backs Tendulkar poverty line (Page 17)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)    A panel tasked with devising ways to reduce poverty has backed the controversial Tendulkar poverty line (which categorised people earning less than Rs. 33 a day as poor) on the ground that the line is primarily meant to be an indicator for tracking progress in combating extreme poverty.

7.

India mulls private financing agencies for industrial corridors (Pg 17)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     The Indian government (which is executing the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project at a total investment of $ 90 billion) is looking at private financing agencies for its implementation.

8.

Experts unsure if El Nino will fade away (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     A good number of meteorologists expect the monsoon in 2016 to be normal, though they are unclear whether the El Nino will completely fade away during the crucial rain months from June to September.

 

 

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Indias beef-free pork import norm draws US protest (Pages 1 and 14)

a)     I.R

b)     National

a)     India – US relations

b)     WTO

c)     World Organisation for Animal Health

a)     Buoyed by its victory at the WTO last year against Indias poultry import ban, the US has now trained its guns on the countrys pork import regulations - which include a condition that such consignments must be beef-free.

b)     During recent bilateral discussions, India made it clear that the requirement (that pork import consignments must be beef-free) cannot be done away with due to apprehensions of such a move hurting religious sentiments and provoking riots.

c)     Also, beef ban (in States such as Maharashtra) had recently become controversial and the BJP had turned beef into a major political issue.

d)     India has emphasised that if the US wants to export pork/pork products to India without trouble, all such consignments must come with an official veterinary certificate that the animal (pig in this case) was not fed with feed derived from cows/beef/ beef products.

e)     Sources said the US claims the condition is not based on a scientific risk assessment and the concerned international standard (World Organisation for Animal Health). However, citing the example of Australia fulfilling all the pork import norms of India to increase their exports, the Indian authorities have asked US to do the same.

f)     The US has won cases against India at the WTO, including in the ones related to its poultry import ban and the domestic content requirement in its solar power programme.

2.

EU, Turkey strike deal to ease migrant crisis (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Europes refugee crisis

a)     After months of acrimony, the EU and Turkey reached a landmark deal on March 18 to ease the migrant crisis and give Ankara concessions on better EU relations.

b)     The 28 EU leaders and Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu sealed an agreement that will allow thousands of migrants to be sent back to Turkey, while Ankara will see fast-track procedures to get billions in aid to deal with Syrian refugees, unprecedented visa concessions for Turks to come to Europe and a re-energising of its EU membership bid.

3.

North Korea test-fires two ballistic missiles (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     North Koreas nuclear arsenal

b)     UNSC

 

a)     North Korea test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles on March 18, just days after leader Kim Jong-Un promised a series of nuclear warhead tests and missile launches amid surging military tensions.

b)     Friction on the divided Korean peninsula has deepened since the North carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6, followed a month later by a long-range rocket launch that was widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.

c)     US defence officials said they had tracked two launches - both believed to be medium-range Rodong missiles fired from road-mobile launch vehicles. Rodong is a scaled-up Scud variant with a maximum range of around 1300 km.

d)    They came a day after US President Barack Obama signed an order implementing tough sanctions adopted earlier this month against North Korea by the UNSC, as well as fresh unilateral US measures.

e)     For the past two weeks, Pyongyang has maintained a daily barrage of nuclear strike threats against both Seoul and Washington.

4.

The cyberthreat is very real (Page 12)

a)     International

b)     National

a)     Cyber threat

b)     Cyber security

c)     National Cyber Security Policy (2013)

d)     National Cyber Security Coordinator (2014)

e)     National Technical Research Organisation

f)     National Security Agency (NSA)

g)     Islamic State (IS)

h)     Aadhaar Bill 2016

i)     Section 29(iv) and Section 33 of the Bill

j)     Unique Identification Number (UIN)

a)     According to the author, the debate in Parliament on the Aadhaar Bill 2016 is quite revealing. Concerns expressed that the Bill contained certain provisions (Section 29(iv) and Section 33) that provide avenues for surveillance of citizens require a discussion to remove any lingering suspicion about the govts intentions.

b)     The parliamentary debate reminds us of concerns expressed in the US following whistle-blower Edward Snowdens revelations of the NSAs retention of American metadata. Mere assurances that the Aadhaar Bill contains provisions to bar sharing of biometric information and that UIN is limited to establishing identity will not suffice.

c)     In the US, concerns expressed were less about misuse and more about the NSA collecting and having in its possession large amounts of metadata which could be misused. A debate could remove latent suspicions.

d)     Cyberspace is today a shorthand for the myriad computing devices that constitute the Internet. However, the proliferation of autonomous systems posits not only new advances but also new threats. By 2020, online devices are projected to outnumber human users by a ratio of 6:1. The next impending wave (the Internet of Things) is expected to ring in even more fundamental, technical and societal changes.

e)     The past few years have seen successful attacks against the best-guarded installations of advanced nations. In the past two years alone, reports have been doing the rounds of cyberattacks on the Pentagon computer network in the US (including by the Islamic State) to gain access to the personal data of several hundreds of US military personnel.

f)   The past year also witnessed a devastating attack on Ukraines critical infrastructure. It is evident that no rule of law exists in cyberspace. The domain has already become a dangerous place.

g)    Threats in cyberspace have waxed and waned over the years. Among the more common types of cyberattacks perpetrated by state-sponsored agencies are Distributed Denial of Service attacks targeting critical networks. In the 1990s, malware and viruses were the big threats. Worms took over in the early 2000s (Stuxnet was among the best known).

h)     A few years later, spyware became a big thing (BadBIOS, Bitter Bugs, Heartbleed and Bash were among the most notorious). Today cloud security is the issue. By 2020, security teams would need to determine what additional security mechanisms like encryption and authentication will be needed to check penetration and hacking.

i)     However, securing cyberspace will be hard. The architecture of the Internet was designed to promote connectivity, not security. Cyber experts warn that nations that are unprepared to face the threat of a cyber 9/11. The more technologically advanced and wired a nation is, the more vulnerable it is to a cyberattack.

j)     Cybersecurity has an interesting parallel to terrorism. Both are asymmetric. Ensuring security of data, information, and communication is considerably harder than hacking into a system. The attacker has an inherent advantage in both conventional terrorism and cyberattacks. In the case of state-sponsored attacks, the challenges are of a much higher magnitude.

k)     Cybersecurity is somewhat unique, and rests on the fundamental pillars of mathematics and computer science. The need is to accelerate the pace at which cybersecurity specialists are produced, to meet the growing threat - one estimate puts the approaching cybersecurity talent shortage at almost two million people worldwide.

l) The cyberthreat to India must not be minimised. The number of attacks on security, military and economic targets is going up. India remains vulnerable to digital intrusions such as cyberespionage, cybercrime, digital disruption and Distributed Denial of Service.

m)     The spectre of growing cyberthreat demands changes in the attitude of users of systems, a proactive approach to investment in hardening systems, better training in computer security practices, and careful engineering of things to be connected to networks.

n)     Despite having a National Cyber Security Policy (2013), risks to our critical infrastructure remain. The Policy Framework details a series of policy, legal, technical and administrative steps, with a clear delineation of functional responsibilities among the stakeholders.

o)     In spite of instituting a National Cyber Security Coordinator (2014), internecine rivalries between the National Technical Research Organisation (the nodal agency for cybersecurity) and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology impede cooperation.

p)     Unwillingness on the part of defence and intelligence agencies to integrate their own cyber defence and cybersecurity strategies with the national strategy acts as a roadblock. The earlier the weaknesses in our cybersecurity defences are rectified, the better prepared would we be to face ongoing challenges.

q) China has already announced plans for comprehensive digital surveillance. Chinas emphasis on cloud computing techniques, and the involvement of its Ministry of State Security in this endeavour, suggests that it is preparing for all-out offensive cyber operations. India would be a prime target.

r)     Faced with potentially new cyber onslaughts, the danger to Indias economic and national security is going up in geometrical progression. To be forearmed, with both offensive cyber operations and strengthened cybersecurity, is essential.

5.

Govt slashes interest on small savings (Page 14)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Public Provident Fund

b)     Kisan Vikas Patra  

c)     Sukanya Samriddhi Account

d)     National Savings Certificate

 

a)     The Union government slashed interest rates on small-savings schemes, including the Public Provident Fund and Kisan Vikas Patra. The decision is aimed at aligning these administered rates closer with the market rates.

b)     After the decision taken last month to revise the interest rates on small savings every quarter, Public Provident Fund rate will be cut to 8.1 percent from April 1 to June 30 from the present 8.7 percent.

c)     While the interest rate on the Kisan Vikas Patra will be cut to 7.8 percent from 8.7 per cent, that on post office savings is retained at 4 percent. The rates on term deposits of durations varying from one to five years have been cut.

d)     The five-year National Savings Certificate will earn 8.1 percent as against 8.5 percent now. A five-year Monthly Income Account will fetch 7.8 percent as opposed to 8.4 per cent now. Sukanya Samriddhi Account for the girl-child will have an interest rate of 8.6 per cent as against 9.2 percent.

e)     The senior citizen savings scheme of five years will earn 8.6 percent compared with 9.3 percent.

6.

Niti Aayog task force backs Tendulkar poverty line (Page 17)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Poverty

b)     Below Poverty Line (BPL)

c)     Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)

d)     Tendulkar poverty line

e)     Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011

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

g)     Niti Aayog

a)    A panel tasked with devising ways to reduce poverty has backed the controversial Tendulkar poverty line (which categorised people earning less than Rs. 33 a day as poor) on the ground that the line is primarily meant to be an indicator for tracking progress in combating extreme poverty.

b)     It said the line is not meant to help identify those to whom government benefits need to be distributed. The report of the Niti Aayogs Task Force on Eliminating Poverty argues that the poverty line is not the basis of identification of the poor in India. Instead, it is the BPL Census on the basis of which state govts identify the poor. The latest of these is the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011.

c)     A Committee chaired by former Chairman of the PMs Economic Advisory Council and the National Statistical Commission (the late Suresh Tendulkar) computed poverty lines for 2004-05 at a level that was equivalent (in PPP terms) to one US dollar per person per day, which was the internationally accepted poverty line at that time.

d)     The PPP model refers to a method used to work out the money that would be needed to purchase the same goods and services in two places. Across countries, this is used to calculate an implicit foreign exchange rate (the PPP rate) at which a given amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries.

e)     Tendulkar computed poverty lines for 2004-05 at a level that was equivalent, in PPP terms to Rs. 33 per day.

f)     Based on the Tendulkar panel norms, the Planning Commission had announced that in absolute terms the number of poor stood reduced from 40.7 crore to 35.5 crore during period 2004-05 to 2009-10 and 26.9 crore in 2011-12.

g)   Following criticism of these estimates, the UPA Govt had in May 2012 set up the 5-member expert group (headed by the then Chairman of the PMs Economic Advisory Council C. Rangarajan) to revisit the way poverty is estimated.

h)     In the report Rangarajan submitted to Union Planning Minister Rao Inderjit Singh in July 2014, it was suggested that persons spending below Rs. 47 a day in cities and Rs. 32 in villages be considered poor.

i)     It has also recommended sweeping changes to the MGNREGA for allowing use of the programmes funds to pay for labour on private farms. Another of its suggestion for eliminating poverty within 5-7 years is modest cash transfers to the poorest five families in every village to be identified by Gram Panchayats.

j)     It has also said that the Aadhaar accounts will give govt an excellent database to assess the total volume of benefits accruing to each household, which can pave the way for replacing myriad schemes with consolidated cash transfers, except where there are compelling reasons to continue with in-kind transfers.

7.

India mulls private financing agencies for industrial corridors (Page 17)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project

b)     Bengaluru-Mumbai Corrdior project

c)     Amritsar-Kolkata Corridor project

d)     Chennai-Bengaluru Corridor project

e)     Chennai-Visakhapatnam Corridor project

f)     Public-Private Partnership (PPP)

g)     Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

h)     Asian Development Bank (ADB)

 

a)     The Indian govt (which is executing the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project at a total investment of $ 90 billion) is looking at private financing agencies for its implementation.

b)     A robust instrument of public-private partnership was in place with a legal framework for investment protection.

c)     There would be four more corridor projects - Bengaluru-Mumbai ($100 billion), Amritsar-Kolkata ($ 46 billion), Chennai-Bengaluru ($35billion) and Chennai-Visakhapatnam.

d)     Among the ingredients of the Delhi-Mumbai project were a dedicated freight corridor (1504 km) and 24 investment regions/industrial areas apart from developing sustainable industrial cities with world-class infrastructure. The Indian government had set apart $ 4.5 billion for developing base infrastructure such as roads, water and power supply.

e)     The Japan International Cooperation Agency would provide $10 billion for Delhi-Mumbai and Chennai-Bengaluru Corridors.

f)    In respect of the Chennai-Visakhapatnam Corridor, the Indian govt approved a project loan of $ 500 million from the Asian Development Bank apart from clearing another ADB loan of $ 125 million to the Andhra Pradesh Government.

8.

Experts unsure if El Nino will fade away (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     El Nino

b)     La Nina

c)     ENSO-neutral

d)     Nino neutral

e)     Monsoon

 

a)     A good number of meteorologists expect the monsoon in 2016 to be normal, though they are unclear whether the El Nino (a weather anomaly blamed for back-to-back droughts over India since 2014) will completely fade away during the crucial rain months from June to September.

b)     El Nino refers to an anomalous heating up of waters in the central-eastern regions of the equatorial Pacific and implies a consistent, average rise in temperature of 0.5 degree Celsius above normal. Historically that translates to the monsoon drying up over India six in 10 years.

c)     Conversely, the La Nina (or an anti-El Nino when waters in the same regions dip at least 0.5 degree Celsius and generally considered favourable for monsoon) is only expected to set in after September.

d)     A transition to ENSO-neutral is likely during late Northern Hemisphere spring or early summer 2016, with close to a 50 percent chance for La NiNa conditions to develop by the fall.

e)     Meteorologists said that Nino neutral conditions were likely to prevail during the crucial months of July and August that accounts for nearly 70 percent of the monsoon rainfall. Nino neutral (when sea surface temperatures are close to normal) can be a mixed bag for Indian monsoon but generally an El Nino year is followed by normal monsoon.

f)     To be sure, 2015 was only the fourth time in a 100-year span that El Nino-like conditions raged on for two consecutive years.

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