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Daily News Analysis 23-03-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Modi to announce n-security plans in US (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     During the short three-nation visit next week, PM Modi will cover two of Indias foreign policy priorities by attending the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC, India-EU summit in Brussels and then by flying to Saudi Arabia in his first official visit.

2.

Pak probe team will get access to Pathankot airbase (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has received visa applications from five Pakistani officials, part of the Joint Investigation Team on Pathankot attack, even as sources said the team would be given access to the Air Force base stormed by terrorists in January.

3.

India to host BRICS summit in October (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     India will host the eighth annual summit of BRICS from October 15-16 in Goa, in its capacity as chair of the influential bloc comprising five countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.

4.

Reconciliation: Colombo set to launch consultations (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Face to face consultations with stakeholders throughout Sri Lanka are expected to commence early next month to design reconciliation mechanisms.

5.

Suu Kyi to be Foreign Minister (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Aung San Suu Kyi will be Foreign Minister in Myanmars first civilian government for decades, giving the democracy champion a formal post despite being blocked from the presidency.

6.

A pivotal shift to Cuba (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     American President Barack Obamas visit to Cuba is a remarkable moment in global diplomacy for various reasons.

7.

LPG for every Indian household (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme (which recognises the importance of clean cooking energy) is welcome. But we need to focus on issues of cash flow, awareness, availability and administration.

8.

New insurance scheme to cover 50 percent of farmers, says Jaitley (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana will reduce the distress of farmers in the country as it will grant insurance cover to 50 percent of them.

 

 

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Modi to announce n-security plans in US (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – US relations

b)     Nuclear Security Summit

c)     India-EU summit

a)     During the short three-nation visit next week, PM Modi will cover two of Indias foreign policy priorities by attending the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC, India-EU summit in Brussels and then by flying to Saudi Arabia in his first official visit.

b)     The 4th Nuclear Security Summit to be held from March 31 to April 1, is significant as this is the last summit under President Obamas Presidency when countries (including India) will come out with a communique for the future of the nuclear security regime which will become a significant diplomatic achievement for Obama and the world leaders.

c)    Member countries will also submit latest progress reports on steps taken to prevent non-state actors from gaining access to nuclear material. PM Modi will also make some specific announcements during his intervention on nuclear security, which will be made public in due course.

d)   The summit which comes in the backdrop of terror attacks in Brussels will highlight Indias official concerns on nuclear terrorism and the threat posed by terrorists gaining access to nuclear material.

e)     Following the visit to Washington DC, Modi will undertake the first official visit to Saudi Arabia between April 2 to 3. Modi will hold talks on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest with the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Saud.

2.

Pak probe team will get access to Pathankot airbase (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Terrorism

c)     Pathankot terror attack

d)     National Investigation Agency (NIA)

a)     The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has received visa applications from five Pakistani officials, part of the Joint Investigation Team on Pathankot attack, even as sources said the team would be given access to Air Force base stormed by terrorists in January.

b)     The submission of the visa applications is linked to the anticipated meeting between the PMs of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC during March 31-April 1.

c)     India and Pakistan decided to take the investigation into the Pathankot terror attack forward when External Affairs Minister Sushma met her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz during the SAARC ministerial in Kathmandu on March 17.

d)     Government sources said the National Investigation Agency would be coordinating the visit of the Pakistan team.

3.

India to host BRICS summit in October (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     BRICS summit

 

a)     India will host the eighth annual summit of BRICS from October 15-16 in Goa, in its capacity as chair of the influential bloc comprising five countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.

b)  India assumed chairmanship of BRICS from Russia on Feb 15 and will hold the position till Dec 31. The seventh summit was held in Ufa, Russia.

c)     The External Affairs Minister said Indias core theme during BRICS chairmanship will be building responsive, inclusive and collective solutions for the grouping.

4.

Reconciliation: Colombo set to launch consultations (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Sri Lankas internal issues

b)     Reconciliation process

c)     Sri Lankas human rights issue

d)     UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

a)     Face to face consultations with stakeholders throughout Sri Lanka are expected to commence early next month to design reconciliation mechanisms.

b)     Among the mechanisms planned by the Sri Lanka government are an Office of Missing Persons; a Truth, Reconciliation, Justice and Non-Recurrence Commission; an accountability mechanism and an Office of Reparations.

c)     During the Sept-Oct 2015 session of the UNHRC where a resolution on accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka was adopted, the government mooted the idea of having the proposed mechanisms.

d)     Meanwhile, the UN has reiterated its position for a credible investigation into alleged violations of human rights in the final phase of the civil war.

e)     Early last month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein had told on the issue of Sri Lanka too sponsoring the UNHRC resolution that it was the countrys commitment to both itself and to the world to confront the past honestly and, by doing that, take out comprehensive insurance against any future devastating outbreak of inter-communal tensions and conflict.

5.

Suu Kyi to be Foreign Minister (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Myanmars politics

b)     Myanmars Constitution

c)     National League for Democracy (NLD)

a)     Aung San Suu Kyi will be Foreign Minister in Myanmars first civilian govt for decades, giving the democracy champion a formal post despite being blocked from the presidency.

b)     The Nobel laureate has already vowed to rule above the man picked as President (Htin Kyaw) in the govt which comes to power next week in the former army-ruled nation.

c)  Suu Kyi was the sole woman and one of only six members of her NLD party in a Cabinet list read out to lawmakers by the Parliament Speaker Mann Win Khaing Than.

6.

A pivotal shift to Cuba (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     US – Cuba relations

b)     US trade embargo on Cuba

c)     Cold War

a)     American President Barack Obamas visit to Cuba is a remarkable moment in global diplomacy for various reasons.

b)     The two countries (bitter foes during the Cold War era) remained hostile towards each other even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, till President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro (who succeeded his brother and leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro in 2008) began a process of rapprochement in Dec 2014.

c)     Over the past several months, US took a number of steps (including removing Cuba from its list of nations charged with sponsoring terrorism) to restore confidence in bilateral relations. Havana reciprocated by reopening its embassy in Washington.

d)     Obamas visit (the first by a US President since 1928) is the symbolic culmination of this diplomatic engagement. It confirms the view that USs traditional Cuba policy (rooted in Cold War animosity) is way past its use-by date. 

e)     In July 2015, after both countries announced that they would restore diplomatic relations, Obama said the US had been clinging to a policy that was not working. Despite US efforts to weaken the Communist Partys rule, Cuba stood tall in Latin America.

f)     Even those who expected Cuba to fall after disintegration of the Soviet Union (as the country was largely dependent on aid from Moscow) were proved wrong. A new wave of socialist forces in the continent actually strengthened Cubas standing in the region.

g)     The blunted opposition of Cuban American community towards Havana, as well as the demand from American capitalist sections (especially big farming) for new markets, may also have influenced Obamas thinking. Cubas positive responses to US overtures (mainly driven by economic imperatives) set the stage for a grand deal.

h)    President Castro demanded that the embargo be lifted and Guantanamo returned to Cuba for full normalisation of relations. President Obama said he had pressed the Cuban leader over his countrys treatment of dissidents. All this indicates that full normalisation of ties will take time.

i)     The removal of sanctions needs Congressional approval, which, given the opposition to the rapprochement from Conservative Republicans, is unlikely to come in the near future. Also, it has to be seen what the next US Presidents Cuba policy will be.

j)     On the other side, Cuba is unlikely to radically overhaul its approach towards dissent. Nor does the Communist Party have any plan to end its monopoly over power. But future challenges should not cloud the significance of this weeks breakthrough.

7.

LPG for every Indian household (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme

b)     Direct Benefits Transfer of LPG (DBTL) subsidy  programme

c)     Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitaran Yojana (RGGLVY)

d)     Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana

e)     Below Poverty Line (BPL)

f)     National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)

g)     Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)

a)     Within a fortnight of the recently announced Union Budget, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, earmarking Rs. 8000 crore for it, with the aim of providing five crore subsidised LPG connections to  women of poor households (BPL) in the next three years.

b)     The Finance Minister had made a Budgetary provision of Rs. 2000 crore in the current financial year to provide deposit-free LPG connections to 1.5 crore women of BPL families. Further, the Budget announced that the scheme would be continued for two more years to cover five crore households.

c)     The scheme is remarkable for two reasons. First, it has brought focus to the important developmental issue of enabling clean cooking energy. This is because indoor air pollution, caused by smoke from the traditional chulha stove leads to 1.3 million premature deaths in the country every year.

d)     Second, the scheme improves the quality of life of poor women whose health interests are usually neglected in household priorities. 

e)     The largest rural energy access survey of India which was conducted last year by the CEEW and the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, shows that as many as 95 percent of LPG-deprived households cite their inability to pay as a barrier to their adopting LPG.

f)     Thus, the scheme is well-targeted to address the crucial impediment of a high upfront cost, which has limited the transition towards LPG use in poorer households. While the move is appreciable, other challenges that limit the use of this clean fuel in India must be resolved simultaneously.

g)     One such challenge is the high monthly expenditure incurred which 88 percent of LPG-deprived households in the survey cited as a barrier. The survey was across 8566 rural households in 714 villages of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 

h)    Similarly, NSSO data from the past also highlight the low expenditure capacity of poorer households in having access to LPG. However the high recurring cost is not only a problem of purchasing capacity but also a perception and cash-flow issue.

i)     CEEW analysis suggests that households that buy some or all of their biomass end up paying more than those who rely on LPG. Thus, LPG would be an economically attractive proposition for such households.

j)     However, those relying completely on free-of-cost biomass (about 50-60 percent of the rural population) would possibly opt for the subsidised connection, but would not spend on refilling cylinders regularly. We need to focus on reducing this gap between adoption and sustained use.

k)   In this, a threefold approach is needed. First, creating awareness about the actual cost of fuel and its benefits (especially those related to health) over status quo. Second, tackling the issue of cash flow, especially for the strata of population who find it difficult to pay for the aggregated cost of refilling a large cylinder.

l)     Third, leveraging mobile money for LPG payments. As LPG coverage expands in rural areas, the DBTL subsidy programme could create additional barriers for economically weaker households.

m)     While the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana has increased the number of rural households with bank accounts, we need innovative payment approaches to fill the gap of last mile access to banking services.

n)     Limited LPG distribution networks in rural areas also need simultaneous attention to cover five crore households in the next three years. Innovation is required in distributing LPG in the rural areas, beyond the traditional realm of a dealership model. Leveraging rural supply chains, only for the delivery of the regulated commodity, could be one such approach.

o)     Finally, the third major barrier - awareness and administrative issues. About 40 percent of LPG-deprived households in rural areas cite a lack of information about the process of getting a connection as a challenge. Therefore, awareness creation in rural areas and among the urban poor is a must.

p)     It is welcome that the govt has recognised the importance of clean cooking energy with the launch of this mammoth scheme. However, we need to go beyond subsidising connections and fuel costs and focus on issues of cash flow, awareness, availability and administration. 

8.

New insurance scheme to cover 50 percent of farmers, says Jaitley (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

b)     Kharif crops

c)     Monsoon

 

a)     Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana will reduce the distress of farmers in the country as it will grant insurance cover to 50 percent of them.

b)     Under the scheme, farmers will pay a lower premium for more coverage, while compensation will be higher in the event of any crop failure or damage. The scheme will be rolled out on a mission mode from April to cover kharif or summer crop from this year itself.

c)     The country (which has seen two successive droughts) is hoping for a better monsoon this year.

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