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Daily News Analysis 25-03-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Lashkar made an attempt to kill Bal Thackeray, says David Headley (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley told a court on the second day of his cross-examination that the money spent for the recce of Mumbai and the Taj Hotel to plan the 26/11 attacks came from Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence.

2.

Be bold at the Nuclear Summit (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     Nuclear security is not about nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, or nuclear safety. This leads some to downplay its significance or suspect that it is a ploy to constrain Indias nuclear programme.

3.

After Oli, Army Chief to visit China (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Nepals Army Chief Gen. Rajendra Chhetri is likely to leave for a week-long trip to China on March 27 to strengthen bilateral military ties between two countries.

4.

Milestones on Beijings OBOR plan (Page 11)

a)     International

a)     As China begins its assertion in Eurasia, it is the Asian flank that remains the weakest link.

5.

Hope that radiates from Havana (Page 11)

a)     International

a)     President Obama (who represents the idea of a liberal democracy) and President Castro (whose regime is moving away from hard-edged socialism) are writing a new chapter in history.

6.

Iraq begins offensive to retake Mosul (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     The Iraqi army said its troops and allied militia had launched what is expected to be a long and difficult offensive to retake the second city of Mosul, the Islamic State groups main hub in Iraq.

7.

Towards a law for Good Samaritans (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The Karnataka governments decision to frame a Good Samaritan law as part of an effort to encourage people to offer assistance without the fear of any criminal or civil liability, is a step in the right direction.

8.

India-Bangladesh feeder service begins (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     The maiden coastal feeder service between India and Bangladesh commenced on March 23, after facing a minor hitch, at Chittagong Port in Bangladesh.

9.

Scientists create bacterium with fewest number of genes (Page 20)

a)     S&T

a)     According to The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything but a team of biologists has shown that a better answer, to the ultimate question of life at least, maybe 473.

 

 

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Lashkar made an attempt to kill Bal Thackeray, says David Headley (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Terrorism

c)     26/11 Mumbai terror attacks

d)     Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)

e)     Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

f)     National Investigation Agency (NIA)

a)     Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley told a court on second day of his cross-examination that the money spent for the recce of Mumbai and the Taj Hotel to plan the 26/11 attacks came from Pakistans ISI.

b)     Deposing through a video link, the accused-turned-approver said he had not requested or demanded any money from the ISI. He said the entire plan, visits, execution and recce for the attacks cost him much much less than Rs. 40 lakh.

c)     Headley said he was planning more attacks. He visited India again in March 2009, after being given 1 lakh Pakistani rupees in cash by Iliyaz Kashmiri (an Al-Qaeda operative) and he visited the National Defence College in Delhi, Chabad Houses in Pune, Pushkar and Goa.

d)     Headley informed the court that he visited Shiv Sena Bhavan twice to target the chief Bal Thackeray. He said that LeT commander Sajid Mir instructed him to visit the Sena Bhavan and wanted to kill him whenever a chance arose. He said he did not have first-hand knowledge but an attempt was made to kill Bal Thackeray.

e)     He said the NIA had not made a request for his voice sample but if it did, he had no objections to giving it.

2.

Be bold at the Nuclear Summit (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     Nuclear Security Summit (NSS)

b)     Nuclear Security Fund

c)     Global Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Energy Partnership

d)     United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

e)     International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

f)     Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT)

a)     Next week, PM Modi will be in Washington DC for the Nuclear Security Summit, the fourth and the last in a series that was launched by US President Barack Obama in Washington in 2010. Follow-on summits have been held in Seoul and The Hague in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

b)     India has played an active role in the process with PM Manmohan Singh attending the first two summits. A voluntary contribution of a million dollars to Nuclear Security Fund has been made. More significant has been the initiative for establishment of a Global Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Energy Partnership.

c)     Indias profile in the NSS process is natural given our concerns about global terrorism and the growing threat posed by terrorists seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Since 2002, India has been introducing a resolution on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in UNGA, adopted by consensus every year.

d)     It laid the groundwork for the legally binding Security Council Resolution 1540 adopted in 2005.

e)    There is another reason too. Nuclear power today constitutes a small part in Indias electricity generation, but this is due to change. Currently, the twenty nuclear power plants in operation have a capacity of 4.8 GW, out of a total installed power generation capacity of 240 GW.

f)     A quarter of Indias population does not have access to electricity and energy poverty has been identified as a major obstacle to economic growth. The Integrated Energy Policy visualises the installed capacity rising to 1200 GW by 2035, with nuclear power contributing 60 GW. This will be 5 percent, but it is critical in terms of reducing fossil fuel dependence and mitigating the carbon footprint.

g)     Any breach in nuclear safety or security that could undermine public confidence in nuclear energy would have grave repercussions on Indias long-term energy planning. Therefore, for India, nuclear security is not a new objective, but has always been a priority along with nuclear safety.

h)     With the emergence of global jihadi threats like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, nuclear security has taken on additional urgency. Three potential nuclear terrorist threats have been identified.

i)     First is the threat of terrorists making or acquiring a nuclear bomb and exploding it; second is the possibility of sabotaging an existing nuclear facility to create an accident; and finally, third is possibility of use of radioactive material to create a dirty bomb or a radiological dispersal device.

j)     It is well established that in the past al-Qaeda has not only considered and pursued all the 3 options, but also had access to nuclear expertise. Al-Qaeda may have been weakened today but the IS is also known to harbour similar ambitions.

k)     Often there is some confusion in India about our role because nuclear security is neither nuclear disarmament nor non-proliferation, nor is it nuclear safety. This leads some to downplay its significance or suspect that it is a ploy to constrain Indias nuclear programme.

l)     Neither perception is correct; in fact, as a responsible nuclear weapon state, it is incumbent on India to ensure that all nuclear materials and facilities (both civilian and military) are subjected to the highest levels of security.

m)     Rather than attempt to negotiate a new treaty, the NSS process has focussed on urging states to tighten national laws, rules and capabilities by using best practices and international cooperation. Establishing global centres of excellence (like the one in India), launching the Nuclear Security Fund, and expanding the activities of the IAEAs Nuclear Security Training and Support Centres are some of the outcomes.

n)     The big subject for discussion in Washington will be about sustaining the process and political engagement. Since there is no new organisation being set up, three existing institutions are expected to adopt specific action plans.

o)     The UN will sustain the political momentum and continue to monitor the implementation of UNSCR 1540; the IAEA will strengthen its database of cases of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials and a Contact Group will be set up in Vienna for follow-up which would include a ministerial-level conference, possibly every two years; and Interpol will act as the nodal agency to deter nuclear smuggling.

p)     The US and Russia will continue to co-chair GICNT, which is a voluntary grouping of 86 states with working groups on nuclear detection, forensics and mitigation. A G-8 Global Partnership to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction has been another initiative but clearly what G-8 or GICNT can achieve will depend on political ups and downs between major powers.

q)     PM Modi has carried forward the nuclear diplomatic agenda that was begun in 1998: to establish India as a responsible weapon state and ensure its participation in civilian international nuclear trade and cooperation.

r)     Shortly after the NDA came to power in 2014, India completed its procedures for adherence to IAEAs Amended Protocol, and last month announced ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage which had been part of the understanding reached on nuclear liability issues during President Obamas visit in Jan 2015.

3.

After Oli, Army Chief to visit China (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     China – Nepal relations

b)     Agreement of Transit and Trade

c)     Military agreement

 

a)     The visit of Nepals Army Chief Gen. Rajendra Chhetri to China will begin on March 27, the same day as PM of Nepal K.P. Oli returns to Kathmandu after completing his week-long trip to China. During the trip, Nepal signed a landmark Agreement of Transit and Trade with China.

b)     Gen. Chhetri is likely to express Nepals appreciation of medical and military support provided by Chinese military following the devastating earthquake of April 2015.

c)     Nepali Army Chiefs visit appears on the same style of civil-military engagement policy of China, which reflects coordination between different wings of Nepali government and China.

d)  The Nepali Army has grown in international importance due to its involvement in multilateral peacekeeping missions across the world.

e)     China (which has traditional ties with the Nepali Army) has provided training and military equipment to its forces. With the upgrading of political and economic ties, military ties are also expected to undergo transformation.

4.

Milestones on Beijings OBOR plan (Page 11)

a)     International

a)     Chinas One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative

b)     Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

c)     Korean Peninsula crisis

d)     South China Sea dispute

e)     US Pivot to Asia

f)    Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

a)     In tune with its economic rise, China has taken a conscious decision to cement its place as a great power on global stage. Chinese aspirations have followed the careful crafting of a grand strategy designed to best ensure Beijings peaceful rise. The core of this strategy is Eurasia and its instrumentality is the OBOR initiative.

b)     With an economically dynamic China as its nucleus and in partnership with resource-rich Russia, Beijing has decided to knit the rest of Eurasia with roads, railways, cyber-connected hubs, smart cities, and industrial parks.

c)     With the financial reins of the initiative firmly in grasp through the $40-billion Silk Road fund and the 57-nation AIIB, China has begun the journey to generate new growth engines along all the flanks of the new Silk Road. So far, the European, Central Asian, and African integration with China is on a fast track.

d)     But the initiative is facing serious obstacles in the Asia-Pacific. The crises in Korean Peninsula and South China Sea, where the interests of China and the US collide, are emblematic of a tense geopolitical tug of war in the Pacific.

e)     The Chinese are not the first to recognise Eurasia as the gateway to achieve global influence. While recognising connection between Eurasia and global eminence, the Chinese are nevertheless scripting a differentiated discourse.

f)     Instead of pursuing the blood and iron path of former colonial powers, they are trying to achieve a great power status through a cooperative and collegiate approach by combining financial and economic heft with eastern soft power attributes.

g)     The OBOR initiative has provided China significant manoeuvring space to permeate and shake up Europes post-war architecture premised on the US-led Atlantic Alliance. The Chinese managed to draw Europe, which has been unable to extricate itself from the pitfalls of the 2008 financial crisis, into the OBOR paradigm through the formation of AIIB.

h)     Defying exhortations from Washington, Britain jumped onto the AIIB bandwagon, and others including Germany and France followed soon after. Cracks in the post-war alliance system (led by Washington) only widened after Australia, New Zealand and South Korea also signed up to the AIIB.

i)  As China begins its assertion in Eurasia, it is the Asian flank that remains the weakest link. It is in the Asia-Pacific that China confronts the US, which is reinforcing six decades of Pax Pacifica through President Obamas Pivot to Asia doctrine.

j)     Consequently, the Chinese are engaged in feverish diplomacy to undermine the Pivot, which is being reinforced by two vectors: the nuclear tensions in the Korean peninsula and the crisis in the South China Sea.

k)     On the Korean Peninsula, the Chinese are unequivocal in advocating denuclearisation, but also insist that Pyongyangs nuclear disarmament must be tied up with the signing of a formal peace treaty between North and South Korea.

l)     If this happens, it would remove a major rationale for the US Pivot. Simultaneously, a formal peace treaty could premise the rapid integration of the Korean peninsula in the OBOR initiative.

m)    The nuclear deal with Iran, in which both Russia and China played a major part, not only removed chances of a military attack but also opened the door for Irans integration with the Eurasian core through the SCO and the OBOR initiative.

n)    In any case, as it reinforces its European flank through the powerful attraction of OBOR initiative, Chinas grand strategy of cooperative dominance over Eurasia faces its toughest test in Asia.

5.

Hope that radiates from Havana (Page 11)

a)     International

a)     US – Cuba relations

b)     US embargo on Cuba

c)     Cold War

 

a)     According to the author, it is no mean achievement that President Raul Castro and President Obama pulled off the latters historic visit to Cuba, the first since President Calvin Coolidge did so 88 years ago.

b)     The process of normalisation of ties that led to this visit has addressed the ease of travel, allowing Cuban émigrés to send remittance to their homeland, eliminating a ban on Cuban financial transactions going through US banks, among many others. It has also included the reopening of embassies in respective capital cities of US and Cuba.

c)     A major hurdle still persists in the conclusion of the normalisation process, as the US-imposed embargo on the Caribbean island nation remains in place. While Obama has emphasised the need to end this embargo, he can only get it done with Congressional approval.

d)     This seems improbable in immediate future, considering Republican majority in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate and the deep chasm between the Grand Old Party and the Obama White House over practically every legislative issue.

e)   But what Obama has sought to do is to chip away at the embargo bit by bit, by allowing the building of business relationships through small measures and hoping that economic reason will finally overturn domestic opposition to the ending of Cuban embargo.

f)     There is support also from the influential farm sector in the US, which seeks to access the Cuban market and which is also closely linked to the Republican party in American mid-West. Apart from the changing Cuban-American dynamics in Florida, these sectors have marshalled the possibilities of normalisation recently and eased Obamas policy-setting.

g)     During his visit, Obama did lay out his differences with Cubas political system even as he emphasised that the US must not impose its values upon its neighbour.

h)     He called into question Cubas policies on political prisoners, positions on political dissidence and universal human rights - which Castro sought to counter with the USs record on universal health care and education, which are guaranteed in the island nation, as well as on race relations and economic inequality.

i)     The rapprochement with the US comes at a time when Cuba is itself undergoing substantive change. The regime of President Raul has initiated steps to ease state control of the economy, and has allowed capital (both domestic and even foreign) greater play in many sectors.

j)     The regime has maintained free health care, free education and social welfare and tried to retain alternative modes of economic activity such as cooperatives, but it is unmistakeable that Cuba has realised the need for efficiency via markets as opposed to overarching state control, leading towards steady economic liberalisation.

k)     The ending of the embargo should also give Havana the reassurance to abandon its excuse that the country is under siege, and allow a shift from a de facto one-party state to a more vibrant participative democracy that countenances political dissent. Indeed, Cuba can learn lessons on democratic socialism from its own pupils in Latin America who look up to it for inspiration.

l)     The meeting between Presidents Obama and Castro is in some ways a dialogue between two regimes that represented conflicting ideologies and whose battle split the world during the Cold War in the 20th century.

m)  The fall of the Soviet Union was celebrated by many as a triumph of capitalism and the end of history. But the financial and economic crisis in the developed world in past decade, the survival of Cuba and the re-emergence of socialist regimes in Latin America suggests that history is still unfolding.

n)     President Obama (by representing the idea of a welfare and liberal democracy that is willing to listen to contrarian views) and President Castro (leading a regime that is moving away from the 20th century version of hard-edged socialism) are in the process of writing a new chapter in contemporary history.

6.

Iraq begins offensive to retake Mosul (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Iraq and Syria crisis

b)     Islamic State (IS)

c)     Geneva peace talks

a)     The Iraqi army said its troops and allied militia had launched what is expected to be a long and difficult offensive to retake the second city of Mosul, the IS groups main hub in Iraq.

b)     It said four villages had been taken between the town of Qayyarah, which is still held by IS, and Makhmur, where US-backed Iraqi forces have been massing in recent weeks.

c)     Iraqi forces have scored important recent gains against IS, including by last month retaking Anbar provincial capital Ramadi. But Mosul (which along with Raqqa in Syria is one of the jihadists two main hubs) would be a major prize for Iraqi forces.

d)     US Secretary of State John Kerry said that a fragile partial truce in Syria had reduced levels of violence there, but that he wanted to see a further reduction as well as greater flows of humanitarian aid.

e)     Peace talks in Geneva between representatives of the Syrian govt and opposition are bogged down, and Washington believes that Moscow (closely allied to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad) can nudge Damascus to make concessions.

7.

Towards a law for Good Samaritans (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Good Samaritan law

a)     Karnataka govts decision to frame a Good Samaritan law as part of an effort to encourage people to offer assistance without the fear of any criminal or civil liability, is a step in the right direction. The govts of other States and UTs such as Rajasthan and Delhi are also in process of drafting similar Bills.

b)     In the absence of national legislation on the subject, in Oct 2014 the Supreme Court directed the Union govt to frame guidelines for the protection of Good Samaritans, or helpful bystanders, and a Standard Operating Procedure to make them work.

c)     The Union Road Transport Ministry notified the guidelines in May 2015, and followed it up with a Standard Operating Procedure in January 2016. The crux of the guidelines is that no bystander rushing to the rescue of an accident victim should be subject to civil or criminal liability and/or be forced to be a witness.

d)     Any disclosure of personal information or offer to be a witness, in the event of the Good Samaritan also being an eyewitness to an accident, ought to be voluntary. Further, the examination of such a volunteer as a witness shall be done only on a single occasion and without harassment or intimidation.

e)   State governments may also institute a system of reward and compensation to encourage more bystanders to be Good Samaritans, and initiate action against officials or police personnel violating these guidelines.

f)     The SaveLife Foundation, a voluntary organisation that moved the Supreme Court in 2012 and obtained an interim order on the need to frame guidelines to protect the interests of Good Samaritans, has been campaigning for a comprehensive law.

g)     The court has reserved judgment on giving directions to the Union government and the States until a law is in place. The question then arises whether a Central law or State-specific laws will adequately meet the purpose of Good Samaritan protection.

8.

India-Bangladesh feeder service begins (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     India-Bangladesh trade ties

b)     EXIM policy

c)     Chittagong Port

 

a)     The maiden coastal feeder service between India and Bangladesh commenced on March 23 at Chittagong Port in Bangladesh.

b)  India and Bangladesh signed a coastal shipping deal during Nov 2015 to promote coastal shipping, enhance bilateral trade between the two countries and bring down transportation costs for EXIM cargo. Bangladesh imports onion, rice, lentils, cotton, industrial raw materials and machinery.

c)     As per the deal, the vessel would call at the ports of Kolkata, Haldia, Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Krishnapatnam and Chennai, while in Bangladesh it would be at Chittagong, Pangaon ICT, Narayanganj, Ashuganj, Payra, Khulna and Mongla.

9.

Scientists create bacterium with fewest number of genes (Page 20)

a)     S&T

a)     Human genome

b)     Mycoplasma genus

c)     DNA

a)     Researchers report the making of a living, replicating and stable cell that uses the minimum number of genes (437) to be considered biologically alive.

b)     In the natural world, no living organism is ever known to possess fewer than 1000 genes. The knowledge gained from this creation may be foundational to understand how organisms can be created from scratch.

c)     Ever since the human genome (the complete sequence of genes that make up human DNA) was deciphered at the turn of the century, researchers have tried to understand precise functions of these 25,000 genes and the way they network with other pieces of DNA in the cell to keep it functional.

d)    They have sought to study bacteria of Mycoplasma genus (as it has relatively few genes and multiplies quite quickly) to analyse the relationship between genes and the chemical pathways they make.

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