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Daily News Analysis 17-12-2014

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.

 

132 children massacred in attack on school (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     International

a)     Terrorism

b)     Tehreek-e-Taliban

c)     Operation Zarb-e-Azb

d)     Operation Khyber-I

a)     Militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan shot dead 126 children on the premises of the Army Public School in Peshawar, claiming it as an act revenge for the Armys operation against them in the north-west frontier tribal areas.

b)     The Taliban were forced to attack the school because of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Khyber-I.

c)     A visibly shocked PM Sharif committed to continue the fight against terror. 

d)     He said we will work with Afghanistan towards ending militancy. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is progressing successfully and the country should pray for and support the operation.

2.

Indias ban on Islamic State (Pages 1 and 8)

a)     I.R

a)     Islamic State (IS)

b)     UNSC resolution

c)     Internet security

d)     Information Technology Act  

a)     Home Minister has told Parliament that India has banned the IS group.

b)     A resolution by the UNSC in August had called on UN member-states to take national measures to prevent fighters from travelling from their soil to join the groups restating obligations under previous counter-terrorism resolutions to prevent the movement of terrorists, as well as their supply with arms or financial support.

c)     With IS holding 40 Indian hostages, the govt did not want to take any step that might endanger their lives.

d)     The govt has also had to think on its feet while dealing with IS-related situations that have been thrown its way.

e)     Investigators have been hard put to determine the specific laws IS returnee Arif Majeed and tweeter Mehdi Biswas are alleged to have broken and have finally booked them under a law that prohibits waging war against an Asiatic ally of India and another that prohibits support to a terror group.

f)     While the concerns around banning IS in India will remain, how such a ban will address the challenge posed by the Internet needs to be watched for implications for free speech on this medium.

g)     What is certain is that the existing law under the Information Technology Act is very badly behind the times, both in terms of addressing security concerns and protecting the rights of users.

3.

How to talk climate change in Paris (Page 8)

a)     I.R

a)     Carbon emissions

b)     2015 Paris Climate summit

c)     Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

d)     National Council on Climate Change

a)     The US and China (the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases) have recently agreed on a timetable to limit their emissions.

b)     Under the agreement, the US has agreed to emit 26-28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005 while China will peak its emissions by 2030 and increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy mix to 20 percent by 2030.

c)     The US-China agreement came soon after a proposal by the EU (the third largest emitter) to reduce its emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, conditional on whether other countries would make similar commitments at the Paris summit in Dec 2015.

d)     The EU also proposes to raise its share of renewable sources to 27 percent in total energy consumption by 2030.

e)     Announcing a $3-billion contribution to the UN-supported climate change mitigation fund, Obama said that the US-China agreement showed the way forward.

f)     The UNs IPCC says a 2°C pathway requires annual greenhouse gas cuts of 40-70 percent by 2050, compared to levels in 2010 and to zero or below by 2100.

g)     Thus the promises by the three biggest emitters for 2025 and 2030 are not sufficient for limiting climate change to 2°C above the preindustrial average temperature and much less than what they can or should do.

h)     Some commentators say that the US-China agreement has shifted the focus to developing countries, especially India which is the fourth largest emitter.

i)     India has already committed itself to a 20-25 percent reduction in intensity of carbon emissions (tonnes of carbon dioxide divided by GDP) below 2005 levels by 2020.

j)     But the US-China agreement may put renewed pressure on India to do more.

k)     India may be the fourth largest emitter but its emissions are less than a fourth of China, about a third of the US and about half of the EU.

l)     Indias emissions are expected to be about 4000-5000 MMT by 2030 - still well below the emissions promised either by the US or China under the agreement. 

m)     Its per capita emissions are roughly a tenth of the US, less than a sixth of the EU, less than a fourth of China and about a seventh of Russia.

n)     Thus, there is absolutely no case for India to agree to cut its emissions at the 2015 summit in Paris.

o)     Though there is absolutely no case for India to curb its emissions, it is in its self-interest to increase the share of renewables in its primary energy mix — which can also be justified as its contribution towards controlling climate change and provide it greater energy security. 

p)    Increasing the share of renewables will prevent India from a lock-in in outdated and fossil-fuel dependent technologies as fossil fuels are fast depleting and will become more costly as the years go by.

q)     India should insist that there should be no reference to its annual emissions reduction till it achieves stabilisation as developed countries did and China proposes to do.

r)     India may commit itself to a 25-30 percent reduction in intensity of carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2025, higher than the already promised 20-25 percent reduction in intensity below 2005 levels by 2020. 

s)     India may propose to raise its share of renewable sources to 20 percent (the same as China) in its total energy consumption by 2030. 

t)     In its final report, the Planning Commissions expert group on low carbon growth strategy had projected that the contribution of solar, wind and biomass to electricity supply can realistically increase from the present 6 percent to 18 percent by 2030.

u)     The newly reconstituted National Council on Climate Change chaired by the PM can accept this target and announce it as Indias objective both domestically and internationally.

v)     India should take the lead in securing timelines and commitments on finance and technology, both crucial to addressing climate change.

w)     This would help keep intact its support among vulnerable developing countries and the small island states, which have been demanding that more concrete action be taken rather than efforts to just reduce emissions.

x)     Finally, India must put renewed pressure on the three biggest emitters to cut their annual greenhouse gas emissions by 40-70 percent by 2050, compared to levels in 2010.

4.

Debating the right to die (Page 9)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Right to die

b)     Section 309 of IPC

c)     Right to life

d)     Supreme court

e)     Mercy killing

 

a)     India has the highest suicide rate in the world after China.

b)     Last year, 1,35,445 people killed themselves - 371 suicides take place per day.

c)     Tamil Nadu tops the list followed by Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

d)     The Modi govt has initiated the process to decriminalise attempt to suicide, a move that will ensure that people who are driven to kill themselves do not end up in jail if they dont succeed. 

e)     The Ministry of Home Affairs is in the process of erasing Section 309 of the IPC.

f)     As many as 18 States and four UTs are in favour of deletion of Section 309.

g)     The move is justified because suicides are committed during temporary loss of soundness of mind and mental illness, as such is a complete defence even for killing other human beings.

h)     Section 309 is also arbitrary as it paints all suicides with one brush and makes no room for the particular circumstances.

i)     In 1994 the Supreme Court not only decriminalised the attempt to suicide but also observed that the right to life includes the right to die.

j)     In 1996, a five-judge bench headed by Justice J.S. Verma overturned the 1994 decision which brought Section 309 back to life.

k)     Attempt to suicide should stay on the statute book because suicide comes in conflict with the monopolistic power of the state to take away life.

l)     The holding of a right to die is in accordance with a capitalistic, property-oriented outlook which prefers to treat everything including the human body, organs and even emotions as a form of commodity.

m)     The right to die was also justified in the name of globalisation of Indian economy.

n)     The better option is not to punish anyone for attempting suicides but the law may be allowed to remain on the statute book as the chances of abuse of its deletion are very high, particularly by mother-in-laws or even by children in case of elderly parents. 

o)      Suicide and mercy killing are different and should not be confused as one and the same. In the former no third party is involved but in the latter the third party is crucial. 

5.

GST Bill: States to get relief (Pages 1 and 10)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     GST Bill

b)    122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill

c)     Entry tax

d)     Central sales tax

e)     Services tax

f)     Excise duties

g)     Stamp duties

a)     Union Finance Minister will seek the Cabinets nod for the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill on the GST.

b)     The GST will subsume into one levy all indirect taxes imposed by the Centre and the States. These include entry tax.

c)     The Minister also proposes to extend the GST to all petroleum products and real estate transactions.

d)     It is proposed that the Constitution itself will provide that the Centre transfer funds to States to make good their losses of revenue due to the shift to the GST over the first five years of the transition.

e)     The Bill provides further comfort to States by allowing them to charge additional 1 to 2 percent GST to cover up for losses.

f)     Extending the GST to real estate transactions will reduce black money generation in the sector.

g)     The GST will subsume the services tax, excise duties, stamp duties, entry tax, central sales tax etc.

h)     The Constitutional Amendment Bill proposes to empower both the States and the Centre to levy the GST.

i)     At present, the Centre can tax services but not sales and distribution of goods. States can currently tax sales and distribution of goods but not services.

j)     The Bill proposes that the Centre be empowered to tax sales of goods and States get to tax services.

6.

Opportune time for reform (Page 8)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Public Distribution System (PDS)

b)     Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Scheme

c)     Govt subsidies

a)     The BJP-led govt is proceeding quickly to check in petroleum subsidies, which have been a major fiscal headache for successive govts.

b)     First, it turned to the task of cleaning out under-recoveries on diesel and freeing its pricing.

b)     Secondly, the DBT scheme for cooking gas is being rolled out across cities.

c)     Another recent step is the decision to do away with the supply of subsidised kerosene through the PDS.

d)     It is estimated that as much as 40 percent of the subsidised kerosene supplied through the PDS is diverted, mainly to polluted diesel.

e)     The govts decision to stop PDS supply appears well-founded.

f)     According to 2011 Census data, kerosene is no longer a fuel of choice for cooking but is used mainly for lighting.

g)     Cooking gas has replaced kerosene in urban and semi-urban areas as per the Census; biomass is the cooking fuel of choice in rural areas with less than 2 percent of rural households using kerosene as a medium.

h)     Armed with these findings, the govt now wants to move to a cash transfer system for rural households that deserve subsidy.

i)     The move will help the govt cut down kerosene subsidy to about a fifth of what prevails now.

j)     The decision, while helping to cut the Central budget deficit, shifts the onus to the States, which will now have to identify households that use the fuel for lighting.

k)     The choice will be between direct transfer of cash subsidy to these households on a regular basis, or upfront subsidy for them to install solar lighting systems.

l)     With the kerosene subsidy issue thus addressed, the govt should now turn its attention to cooking gas subsidy.

m)     With oil prices sliding, the time is opportune for the govt to align cooking gas prices to the market without much pain being felt by consumers.

n)     The time is also right for the govt to attempt some serious reform of the pricing policies of the oil companies, which are rather not-transparent at this moment.

o)     The policy of linking pricing of fuels such as petrol, diesel and cooking gas with their respective landed costs needs review.

7.

Gutka ban helped many kick the habit: WHO study (Page 7)

a)     National

b)     Health

a)     Smokeless tobacco

b)     WHO

a)     A study conducted by the WHO across seven States in India shows that banning gutka helps users kick the habit.

b)     India is estimated to be the worlds largest consumer of smokeless tobacco.

c)     The new study (conducted across Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, M.P, Maharashtra, Odisha and the National Capital Region) shows that there are strong indications that State-level laws banning gutka have a positive impact due to reduced product availability and a decrease in its consumption.

8.

Gonds may have migrated from Indus Valley (Page 7)

a)     National

b)     History

a)     Indus Valley Civillisation

b)     Harappan Civillisation

c)     Gond tribe

d)     Root morphemes

e)     Hampi pictographs

a)     A revolutionary finding is linking the adivasi Gond tribe to the Indus Valley civilisation, which developed between 2500 BC and 1750 BC.

b)     A set of 19 pictographs from a cave in Hampi were understood using root morphemes of Gondi language, considered by many eminent linguists as a proto Dravidian language.

c)     Eleven of the Hampi pictographs resemble those of the civilisation.

d)     Instead of looking at the painting from an archaeological or purely linguistic point of view, we took the cultural way to understand the pictographs.

e)     Gondi is a proto Dravidian language and gives enough scope for studying the pictographs though its root morphemes.

f)     Application of the root morphemes helped us in understanding the 19 pictographs.

g)     If the discovery stands the study of experts in the field, it would mean that the Gonds living in central and southern India could have migrated from the Indus Valley civilisation.

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