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Daily News Analysis 18-12-2014

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.

 

Officials try to break nuclear logjam ahead of Obama visit (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – US relations

b)     Civil nuclear cooperation

c)     Indias Nuclear Liability Act

d)     Sections 17(b) and 46 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (2010)

e)     International Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage

a)     Officials of the India-US contact group on civil nuclear cooperation met in Delhi to try and break the deadlock between both countries ahead of US President Obamas visit on Jan 24.

b)     In an indication that they are trying to find a way around US concerns, the statement said the contact group would meet again in early January.

c)     It is the objections by these US companies over Indias Nuclear Liability Act that have held up nuclear business being transacted between the two countries, despite the govt allocating land in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

d)     Their objections are to their financial liability specified in Sections 17(b) and 46 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (2010) that they say runs against the International Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.

e)     While Section 17 (b) says the operator (NPCIL) has the right to recourse against suppliers in case of a nuclear accident, clause 46 says suppliers can be appealed under other Indian laws as well.

f)     Officials insisted that India would have to come up with a solution to the concerns.

g)     However, the USs green signal will ease the way for India to conclude other negotiations on reactors with countries like France or on nuclear fuel with Japan and Australia.

2.

An opportunity to outmuscle China in oil (Page 11)

a)     I.R

a)     India – China relations

b)     Global oil resources

c)     Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh (OVL)

d)     China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)

e)     Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)

a)     The race between China and India for global oil resources was over before it started.

b)     From Central Asia to Africa, Chinas large and powerful national oil companies dominated their smaller Indian counterparts.

c)     But the recent fall in international oil prices (from a peak of $115 per barrel in mid-June to below $70 in early Dec) presents a rare opportunity to India.

d)     If lower oil prices are sustained throughout next year, Indian national oil companies will find the cost of overseas mergers and acquisitions more affordable.

e)     Last year, in oil-rich Kazakhstan, Indias OVL was closing in on a desired stake in the Kashagan project, which contains some of the largest oil discoveries made in the world in the past 40 years.

f)     But before it could seal the deal, CNPC entered the scene and outbid OVL.

g)     Although China is known for its enormous desire for overseas energy resources, it remains the worlds fourth largest oil producer at over four million barrels per day in production.

h)     Indias leading company (ONGC) produces a fraction of that amount at home with slightly over 5,00,000 barrels in daily production.

i)     While fuel price controls and subsidy burdens drag down the earnings of both Asian oil giants, CNPCs profits were six times higher than ONGCs last year.

j)     Unlike China, India has a Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, which offers a bureaucratic buffer between oil executives and political leadership.

k)     The Indian cabinet must approve any large overseas deals. 

3.

US, Cuba agree to re-establish diplomatic ties (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     US – Cuba relations

b)     Cold War

c)     US trade ban

a)     The US and Cuba made a historic breakthrough in their Cold War deadlock, moving to revive diplomatic ties and launch measures to ease a five-decade US trade ban.

b)     In the wake of a prisoner exchange, President Obama said the US was ready to review trade ties and to re-open its embassy in communist Cuba that has been closed since 1961.

c)     Cuban President cautioned that the issue of the ban remained to be resolved.

d)     In Washington, Obama admitted the US ban had failed and said he would approach the US Congress to discuss lifting it alongside the advances in diplomatic and travel links.

e)     The US imposed a trade ban against Cuba (the Cold War enemy closest to its shores) in 1960 and the two countries have not had diplomatic relations since 1961.

4.

SC: why is eastern border still porous? (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     India – Bangladesh relations

b)     Border disputes

c)     Illegal migration issue

d)     Land Border Agreement

e)     Supreme Court

 

a)     The Supreme Court questioned the govts resolve to secure the eastern border of the country.

b)     A bench said we are at a loss to understand why 67 years after independence the eastern border is left insecure.

c)     We have been reliably informed that the entire western border with Pakistan (3300 km long) is not only properly fenced but properly manned as well and is not insecure at any point.

d)     Expressing concern at the large inflow of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Justice Nariman noted that the insecure border with not even a proper fencing, risks the lives of citizens of the border States including Assam.

e)     The court ordered that the Union will take all effective steps to complete the fencing in such parts of the Indo-Bangla border (including Assam) where presently the fencing is yet to be completed.

5.

The cost of convenience (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Environment

a)     Plastic ban

b)     Swachh Bharat Mission

a)     Despite several committees constituted by the Union govt highlighting the many problems posed by thin, non-biodegradable, single-use plastic bags and a body of evidence also indicating their ill-effects, the govt stated recently that there would be no ban on manufacture and use of plastic bags in the country.

b)     Unfortunately, the other viable alternative of levying charges or raising taxes to check its use was overlooked.

c)     The stand taken by the govt is in complete contrast to the EUs decision.

d)     In a commendable move, EU member-states decided last month to cut the number of lightweight plastic bags consumed per person in a year.

e)     Even in a country where plastic manufacturers constitute a powerful lot, in Sept this year California decided to ban single-use plastic bags from July 2015.

f)     Though many cities have a similar ban, California is the first State in the US to do so.

g)     Several countries that have either banned it or made it chargeable have seen a precipitous drop within a short time in the number of thin bags used.

h)     After all, reducing waste should be the first goal under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

i)     It is strange and surprising that in a country where reuse and recycling are part of the climate, the unchecked use of disposable plastic bags has become second nature.

j)     At a time when solid waste management even for biodegradable waste is non-existent, it is innocent to think of ever managing single-use bag waste.

6.

India on track to 5.5 percent GDP growth, says ADB (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     GDP

b)     Fuel subsidy schemes

c)     Asian Development Bank (ADB)

a)     The ADB said that India is on track to achieve projected 5.5 percent economic growth rate in 2014-15 as declining oil prices present a golden opportunity for many beneficial reforms.

b)     Falling global oil prices presents a golden opportunity for importers such as Indonesia and India to reform their costly fuel subsidy programmes.

c)     The ADB said the Indian govt had demonstrated willingness to tackle contentious reforms by eliminating diesel subsidies but it must extend its efforts to reach the forecast of 6.3 percent GDP growth in 2014-15.

d)     In its update to the 2014 outlook, the ADB said that developing Asia was now expected to grow 6.1 percent this year.

7.

Forerunner of ISROs Human Space Travel (Page 13)

a)     S&T

a)     GSLV Mark-III

b)     Satish Dhawan Space Centre

c)     ISRO

a)     The GSLV Mark-III (which will blast off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre) could help India realise its dream of sending its astronauts into space.

b)     This is an experimental launch. The full-fledged launch is likely to take place in two years. No satellite will be put in orbit.

c)     The Missions main purpose is to test the atmospheric characteristics and stability of the rocket. It will not carry living beings.

8.

Curiosity finds methane, organic chemicals on Mars (Page 17)

a)     S&T

a)     Curiosity

b)     Red planet

c)     Gale Crater

d)     Martian soil

e)     Mount Sharp

f)     NASA

a)     Scientists said that Methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the red planets soil are the latest findings of NASAs Mars Curiosity rover as it hunts for clues about the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

b)     They said Curiosity found periodic bursts of methane (a gas that on Earth is strongly tied to life) in the atmosphere around its landing site in the red planets Gale Crater.

c)     The rover also has found organic chemicals in the Martian soil.

d)     There are many possible sources (biological or non-biological) such as interaction of water and rock.

e)      The latest findings combine more than two years of data collected by the rover since it sky-crane landing inside Gale Crater in August 2012.

f)     Last week, scientists said they had determined that billions of years ago, a lake filled the 96-mile wide crater being explored by Curiosity.

g)     This finding was another hint that Mars (the planet most like Earth in the solar system) was once suitable for microbial life.

h)     The rover has been exploring an area known as Mount Sharp (where rocks have been found containing water-deposited sediments) to learn if the life-friendly environments actually existed long enough for life to evolve.

9.

Mars atmospheric loss due to solar wind (Page 17)

a)     S&T

a)     Mars orbiter Maven

b)     Red planet

c)     Solar wind

a)     NASAs newest Mars orbiter Maven is revealing key features about the loss of the planets atmosphere to space by a process by which solar wind can penetrate deep into a planetary atmosphere.

NOTE: Read all snap shots in S&T Page 17.

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