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Daily News Analysis 12-04-2016

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Maldives thanks India for support (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Visiting Maldivian President Abdullah Yameen has thanked India for protecting his country from possible punitive actions from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which had been asking Maldives to move towards genuine democracy.

2.

NIA seeks Interpol red-corner notice against Masood (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     The NIA has approached the Interpol for a red-corner notice against JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf and two others for their alleged role in the attack on Pathankot airbase.

3.

Link between Paris and Mumbai attacks? (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Austrian prosecutors said that they are probing a possible link between a Pakistani held in Salzburg in connection with last Novembers terror assaults in Paris and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

4.

Giving peace a chance in Yemen (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     A UN-backed ceasefire between the Saudi-allied forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and Shia Houthi rebels took effect in Yemen on April 10, raising hopes that the warring factions may purposefully work towards a negotiated solution.

5.

Clearing the smoke on LPG reform (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     For truly smokeless kitchens, the government must follow up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG.

6.

NITI Aayog plans new planning framework (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Union Finance Secretary Ratan P. Watal told that NITI Aayog (the govts policy think tank) is working on a sector-based medium-term planning framework.

7.

Health cover: Too little, too scarce (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Health

a)     The latest National Sample Survey says that over 80 percent of Indias population is not covered under any health insurance scheme.

8.

Private forecaster predicts above average monsoon (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     The New Delhi-based weather forecaster Skymet (a private agency) said that Indias monsoon rainfall is expected to be above average.

9.

Big cat population up by 690 (Page 20)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     According to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum, the number of wild tigers has gone up globally by 22 percent to 3890 (from the 2010 estimate of 3200) based on the best available data.

10.

Proof to link Zika virus with brain defects (Page 14)

a)     Health

b)     S&T

a)     Researchers have now produced evidence of how Zika virus causes brain defect in babies. Several cases of microcephaly continue to be reported in Brazil following the outbreak of Zika virus, first detected in the country in May 2015.

11.

Artificial comet decodes lifes origin on Earth (Page 20)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)    In a first, researchers have shown that ribose (a sugar that is one of the building blocks of genetic material in living organisms) may have formed in ice on comets.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Maldives thanks India for support (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Maldives relations

b)     Counter-terrorism cooperation

c)     Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)

 

a)     Visiting Maldivian President Abdullah Yameen has thanked India for protecting his country from possible punitive actions from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which had been asking Maldives to move towards genuine democracy.

b)     Yameen said his govt was trying to achieve the same goal based on universal human rights and democratic principles, which were essential if his country had to provide employment to youngsters prone to radicalisation.

c)     Yameen drew international criticism in November 2015 after he declared national emergency ahead of a big wave of protests against his political opponents. The Emergency was withdrawn later.

d)     The Maldivian govt has announced that the former President Mohammed Nasheed (now in the UK on medical leave) can still seek extension of leave, by submitting the required documents.

2.

NIA seeks Interpol red-corner notice against Masood (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Terrorism

c)     Pathankot terror attack

d)     Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)

e)     Joint Investigation Team (JIT)

f)    National Investigation Agency (NIA)

a)     The NIA has approached the Interpol for a red-corner notice against JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf and two others for their alleged role in the attack on Pathankot airbase.

b)    A red corner notice already exists against Azhar for orchestrating the 2001 Parliament attack.

c)     The NIA has forwarded the warrant to Interpol along with the gist of evidence that it has found against the four, which includes telephonic conversation between the terrorists and their handlers such as Jaan and Latif.

3.

Link between Paris and Mumbai attacks? (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Terrorism

b)     Mumbai terror attacks 2008

c)     Paris terror attacks 2015

d)     Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)

e)     Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)

f)     Islamic State

 

a)     Austrian prosecutors said that they are probing a possible link between a Pakistani held in Salzburg in connection with last Novembers terror assaults in Paris and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

b)     A source in Paris and The Sunday Times said that the man is thought to be a bomb maker for Pakistani extremist organisations LeT and LeJ.

c)     French investigators suspect that the Islamic State sent both men to Europe to carry out attacks.

4.

Giving peace a chance in Yemen (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     Yemen crisis

 

a)     A UN-backed ceasefire between the Saudi-allied forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and Shia Houthi rebels took effect in Yemen on April 10, raising hopes that the warring factions may purposefully work towards a negotiated solution.

b)     It is not clear how long the truce will hold, given the complexity of the conflict and past experience. Three previous attempts to reach a ceasefire had collapsed. This time around, the rebels and the Saudi-backed forces have announced that they will respect the truce.

c)     Saudi Arabia and its allies started bombing Yemen in March 2015 with the obvious goal of reinstating the ousted government of President Hadi and weakening the Shia Houthi rebels who had captured the capital Sanaa. But after a year of relentless bombing by Riyadh, the Houthis still hold the capital city and control much of western Yemen.

d)     The stateless chaos amid a disastrous war has helped al-Qaeda expand its footprint steadily in the country, and it now runs a mini state from southeastern Yemen. On the other side, the war has turned Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe.

e)     The real reason for the conflict lies in the complex geopolitics of the region. Saudi Arabia sees the Houthis as a front for Iran and does not want a Shia-dominated govt in its backyard.

f)     Western countries (particularly the US and the UK) have continued to supply weapons to Riyadh and turned their eyes away from the brazen violation of human rights for fear of further antagonising Saudi Arabia, their key West Asian ally that is already piqued by the Iran nuclear deal. This has given the Saudis a free hand in Yemen.

g)     However, the ceasefire is a starting point. But for it to succeed, the regional powers should set aside their geopolitical games and come together to address the humanitarian problem pragmatically.

h)     The Saudis should realise that they cannot forcibly keep away from power the Houthis, who claim to represent the countrys Shia community that makes up between 30 and 45 percent of the total population. The Houthis and their Iranian backers should also understand that they cannot just take over the whole country.

5.

Clearing the smoke on LPG reform (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     LPG reforms

b)     Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

c)     Poverty

d)     Below Poverty Line (BPL)

e)     Household Air Pollution (HAP)

f)     Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana

 

a)     According to the author, one of the less discussed but potentially far-reaching features of this years Budget was the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. The Rs. 8000-crore scheme aims to provide subsidised LPG connections to about 60 percent of BPL households by 2019.

b)     The idea itself is not new as subsidised connections to BPL households have been provided under various schemes even earlier. However, the scale of this programme is what sets it apart. Until 2013, 75 lakh predominantly rural, subsidised BPL connections were disbursed under various schemes.

c)     Fifty-five lakh subsidised BPL connections are claimed to have been provided in the last year under the Give Back scheme linked to the Give It Up campaign. In comparison, the PMUY aims to provide subsidised connections to five crore households in three years.

d)     About 75 crore Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe HAP from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as second leading risk factor contributing to Indias disease burden.

e)     Thus, the PMUY is a very welcome initiative. However, the real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. To pass this test, a few more issues need to be addressed.

f)     First, cooking fuel should be available at an affordable cost to back up initial provision of subsidised connections. Each BPL household would have to spend up to Rs. 5000 each year on LPG even at current subsidised prices (in addition to a one-time cost of Rs. 1800 for the connection) which may be unaffordable to many.

g)     The PMUY has proposed payment in instalments for stoves and cylinders to address this challenge, which is welcome. In addition, it may consider increasing LPG subsidies for the first few cylinders bought in a year by BPL households.

h)     Second, the distribution system needs to be strengthened to be able to meet the expected increase in demand, particularly in rural areas, as non-availability of fuel could push people back towards using solid fuels. Ensuring reliable, sustained, last-mile supply would require multiple steps.

i)   Reports that many Jan-Dhan accounts have zero balance raise concerns about whether subsidy transfer to such accounts will work effectively; so, implementation of direct benefit transfer schemes must be made more robust.

j)     Effective monitoring and grievance redressal systems are equally important to ensure that problems in the scheme are highlighted and addressed early.

k)     In the absence of such supporting measures, the PMUY runs the risk of failing like the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, which succeeded in extending physical electricity infrastructure at great cost but has not been able to ensure a reliable supply of affordable electricity to households.

l)     Finally, while the PMUY targets only BPL households, there is a need to widen the net for two reasons: one, because of known inclusion and exclusion errors in BPL lists, and two, because BPL may be a narrow definition of deprivation and many non-BPL households may also not be able to afford LPG connections.

m)     The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. It will result in truly smokeless kitchens only if govt follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.

6.

NITI Aayog plans new planning framework (Page 15)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     NITI Aayog

b)     Planning Commission

c)     12th five year plan

d)     13th five year plan

a)     Union Finance Secretary Ratan P. Watal told that NITI Aayog (the govts policy think tank) is working on a sector-based medium-term planning framework.

b)     He said the new planning framework could replace five-year plans, the last of which is set to end in 2016-17. It was possible to synchronise with the finance commission cycle, the financial approval of schemes and projects of both the central and state governments.

c)     The current financial year (2016-17) is the last year of the 12th five-year plan.

d)     With the Planning Commission scrapped, the process for formulating a 13th five-year plan govt has not been initiated, as a consequence of which the era of five-year plans is set to end in India this year.

7.

Health cover: Too little, too scarce (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Health

a)     National Sample Survey (NSS)

b)     Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY)

a)     The latest National Sample Survey says that over 80 percent of Indias population is not covered under any health insurance scheme. The data reveals that despite seven years of the Centre-run RSBY, only 12 percent of the urban and 13 percent of the rural population had access to insurance cover.

b)     The data showed that around 86 percent of the rural population and 82 percent of the urban population were not covered under any scheme of health expenditure support.

c)     Further, it was found that coverage is correlated with living standards, as in urban areas, over 90 percent of the poorest residents are not covered, while the figure is 66 percent for the richest residents. According to the report, the poorer households appear unaware or are beyond the reach of such coverage, both in rural and urban areas.

8.

Private forecaster predicts above average monsoon (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     Monsoons

b)     El Nino

c)     La Nina

d)     IMD

e)     Skymet

 

a)     The New Delhi-based weather forecaster Skymet (a private agency) said that Indias monsoon rainfall is expected to be above average.

b)    According to the company, India will get 5 percent more rain than the normal 887 mm that it gets in the monsoon months of June, July, August and September. There was only a 15 percent chance of the monsoon being below normal, defined as monsoon rains being less than 95 percent of normal.

c)     Skymet said in a statement that central India and the western coast would see fairly good rains and the latter half of the monsoon was likely to see better rainfall than the first half. Rainfall in June is likely to be 10 percent deficient with a pickup expected in July and August, the most important months as far as cropping is concerned.

d)     Parts of Maharashtra are reeling under drought-like conditions with key Indian reservoirs at a decadal low. A good monsoon this year is critical to boost agricultural productivity as well as farm incomes, especially on the back of successive monsoon failures in 2014 and 2015.

e)     Several agencies from around the world (including the IMD) have hinted that the monsoon could be better than previous years. The key reason being a waning El Nino: a meteorological phenomenon associated with heating up of Central Pacific and frequently responsible for drying up monsoon rains in India.

9.

Big cat population up by 690 (Page 20)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     Tiger population in India

b)     Project Tiger

c)     International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

a)     According to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum, the number of wild tigers has gone up globally by 22 percent to 3890 (from the 2010 estimate of 3200) based on the best available data.

b)     The 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation that takes off on April 12 in New Delhi will be opened by PM Modi, who represents the country that leads tiger population countries with an estimated population of 2226, according to a 2014 national survey.

c)    Indias own tiger population has gone up significantly from 1706, as per its own national estimates, reported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 2010.

d)     The updated minimum figure (compiled from IUCN data and the latest national tiger surveys) can be attributed to multiple factors including increase in tiger populations in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan, improved surveys and enhanced protection.

e)     Despite countries such as India, Nepal, Russia and Bhutan registering a spike in tiger population, the status of the animal remains endangered.

f)     Statistics from TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network) show that a minimum of 1590 tigers were seized by law enforcement officials between Jan 2000 and April 2014, which feed a multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade.

10.

Proof to link Zika virus with brain defects (Page 14)

a)     Health

b)     S&T

 

a)     Zika virus

b)     Microcephaly

c)     Dengue

a)     Researchers have now produced evidence of how Zika virus causes brain defect in babies. Several cases of microcephaly (a rare birth defect in which the brain fails to grow properly) continue to be reported in Brazil following the outbreak of Zika virus, first detected in the country in May 2015.

b)     To study how the virus causes birth defects in babies, they used human induced pluripotent stem cells to make neural stem cells, neurospheres and brain organoids.

c)     The researchers used the virus-infected neural cells and cultured them as neurospheres (a culture system composed of free-floating clusters of neural stem cells). While those cells not infected with the virus generated normal neurospheres, the virus-infected neural cells generated neurospheres with abnormalities. At the end of six days, the virus killed most of the neurospheres.

d)     To check if dengue virus (a flavivirus with similarities to Zika) caused similar effect on neurogenesis, the researchers infected human neural stem cells with dengue virus 2 (DENV2). After six days, significant difference in cell viability was seen between dengue-infected calls and Zika-infected neural stem cells.

e)     However, further studies are needed to characterise the consequences of Zika infection during different stages of foetal development.

11.

Artificial comet decodes lifes origin on Earth (Page 20)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Evolution of comets

b)     DNA

c)     RNA

a)    In a first, researchers have shown that ribose (a sugar that is one of the building blocks of genetic material in living organisms) may have formed in ice on comets.

b)     The genetic material of all living organisms on Earth, as well as of viruses, is made up of nucleic acids, DNA and RNA.

b)   By simulating the evolution of the interstellar ice making up comets in the laboratory, French research teams have successfully obtained ribose - a key step in understanding the origin of RNA and of life.

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