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Daily News Analysis 22-12-2014








India may end support to Palestine at UN (Page 1)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Israel relations

b)     Palestinian issue

c)     International Atomic Energy Agency  (IAEA)

a)     The Modi govt is looking at changing Indias supporting vote for the Palestinian cause at the UN to one of abstention.

b)     Like other foreign policy issues, the Modi govt is looking at Indias voting record at the UN on the Palestinian issue.

c)     Despite the growing defence and diplomatic ties with Israel, the UPA govt which discarded traditional ally Iran to vote with the US at the IAEA in 2005, had resisted at making any change in Indias support to the Palestinians.

d)     Even former PM Vajpayees govt (which invited Israeli PM to India in 2003) did not amend Indias voting record at the UN.

e)     Indias stance at the UN has been an irritant in Indo-Israeli relations, with Tel Aviv frustrated that close bonds had not resulted in any change in the stance on Palestine.


India – Russia talks on to finalise copter deal (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Russia relations

b)     Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)

c)     Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA)

a)     Following the in-principle agreement reached by India and Russia for the production of Russian helicopters in India, both sides are carrying out discussions to work out the details to quickly conclude a deal.

b)     Initially the helicopters will be used to meet the requirements of the Indian armed forces and only after that will exports happen.

c)     This effectively means that the utility helicopter deal (which was earlier cancelled as a global tender and changed into Buy and Make category under the DPP) will go the Russian way.

d)     Russian Deputy Premier who accompanied President Putin to India on Dec 11 has said the understanding is to assemble 400 advanced Kamov-226T helicopters per year built by Russian technologies in India.

e)     On the FGFA of which there was no mention in the recent joint statement, embassy officials have said negotiations to sort out the work share are going on and an agreement is likely as early as January.

f)     On the new line of submarines under Project-75I, Russia is open to technology transfer and joint production of diesel-electric submarines.

g)     For advanced defence equipment, India and Russia should reach a governmental agreement under the inter-governmental framework on similar lines that India has with the US.


Deal for high-altitude UAVs likely (Pages 1 and 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – US relations

b)     Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

c)     High-altitude, long-endurance (HALE)

d)     Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)

e)     Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)

f)     Global Hawk

a)     India and the US are negotiating a deal for the purchase of HALE UAV.

b)     An agreement or announcement to this effect is likely when US President Obama visits India as the chief guest for the Republic Day ceremony next month.

c)     It has been learnt that the UAV in question is most likely the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, a non-combat drone and the largest unmanned aircraft system built by the US.

d)     Global Hawk is a HALE UAS with extraordinary ISR capabilities, providing near-real time, high resolution imagery of large geographical areas both during the day and night, in all types of weather.

e)     The Global Hawk has a capacity of over 24 hours and can operate at an altitude of 60,000 feet.

f)     The US has extensively established it in Afghanistan and Iraq.

g)     The Indian Navy has earlier shown interest in acquiring six to eight of the maritime variants of the US HALE UAV for extended ocean surveillance.

h)     The Global Hawk has been established by the US in Japan and the US approved the sale of four Global Hawks to South Korea this week.

i)     Australia and Japan also have expressed interest in these drones, though Australia later backed out because of the high price.

j)     If the deal goes through, it will be a huge force multiplier for the Indian military in carrying out round-the-clock surveillance of terrorist movements across the border or tracking suspicious vessels in the open seas.

k)     Apart from the UAVs, both sides are also working to conclude final negotiations of the $2.5 billion helicopter deal for 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters.


Lima, a new low for climate action (Page 9)

a)     I.R

a)     Lima climate talks

b)     United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

c)     Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)

d)     Conference of the Parties (COP)

e)     Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)

f)     Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)

g)     Green Climate Fund (GCF)

h)     2015 Paris conference


a)     Twenty-two years after the UNFCCC and five assessment reports of the IPCC, the world is still waiting for decisive action.

b)     As the Lima talks were going nowhere, the Peruvian Environment Minister and president of the COP was called on to lead the consultations a day before the conference ended.

c)     Earlier, he had made a strong emotional appeal for consensus which received sustained applause from countries which had gathered there to further a new treaty in Paris and decide the scope of the INDCs.

d)     In the first week, the process of going through the text and making additions was finally accepted by the two co-chairs of the ADP.

e)     After a storm of revisions, the final text or the Lima Call for Climate Action which was agreed upon seemed to be more the result of a need for some basic consensus to get ahead and was low on commitment and ambition.

f)     The final text only underscores its commitment to reaching an ambitious agreement in 2015 that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances.

g)     It also urges developed countries to provide and mobilise increased financial support to developing countries for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions.

h)     There was much jubilation over the GCF crossing the $10 billion mark but this is hardly a matter for celebration since the original target was to reach $100 billion by 2020.

i)     Countries have promised various amounts for four years and GCF will disburse funds for projects from 2015.

j)     The whole principle of polluter pays and historical responsibilities has been diluted over the years and developing countries now face a double burden that of reducing their pollution and since there is inadequate financial flows from the developed world, also raising funds to pay for climate actions.

k)     The new deal (which will be negotiated in Paris) is unlikely to have a strong base to ensure any binding commitments from the developed countries post 2020.

l)     The failure of Lima lies precisely in not arriving at a level playing field for a new deal.

m)     It is left to each country to come up with what it can do in its own capacity, which will not even be subject to scrutiny of any sort.

n)     With US President Obama making climate change a priority, the US seemed to be keen on moving ahead and achieving a new agreement next year.

o)     While making strong points at first, India and other developing countries could not hold their collective position to demand stronger commitments.

p)     Minister of State for Environment and Forests had said that India was committed to protecting the interests of the poor.

q)     Even though the final agreement in Lima was against that spirit, he expressed happiness that it had addressed the concerns of developing countries and that the efforts of some countries to rewrite the UNFCCC have not productive. 

r)     According to the agreement in Lima, the UNFCCC will publish on its website the INDCs as communicated and prepare by Nov 1 2015 and a synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the INDCs communicated by countries by Oct 1 2015.

s)     This would form the basis for the new treaty in Paris.

t)     The climate summit in Warsaw agreed to create a separate mechanism for loss and damage and groups like the Alliance of Small Island States want this to be anchored in the 2015 agreement, distinct from adaptation.

u)     Lima marks a new low for climate action and while the multilateral process has been kept alive, there needs to be a real and immediate momentum for change on the ground.


Just 17 percent of Indians have health coverage (Pages 1 and 10)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Health insurance in India

b)     Primary healthcare

c)     Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority  (IRDA)

d)     World Bank

e)     Poverty

f)     BPL

a)     Fresh official data show that the number of people covered by health insurance in India could be far fewer than earlier calculations.

b)     Only 17 percent of the population had health insurance at the end of March 2014.

c)     The estimate (prepared by the IRDA and tabled in Parliament by Union Finance Minister) is sharply lower than that projected by the World Bank.

d)     In a report released in Oct 2012, the World Bank estimated that more than 25 percent of the population gained access to some form of health insurance by 2010. More than 18 crore of them were people living below the poverty line.

e)     Noting that health spending was one of the important causes of poverty in India, the report found that from 2007 to 2012, the govt-sponsored schemes contributed to a significant increase in the population covered by health insurance at a pace possibly unseen elsewhere in the world.

f)     This was the World Banks first comprehensive review of Indias major govt-sponsored health insurance schemes undertaken in keeping with plans for significant increases in public spending on health care.


Is Swachhata only about litter? (Page 9)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

b)     Purna Swachhata

c)     Public Health Act

a)     Given rapid urbanisation and similar conditions today in our cities and towns, Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan is a programme whose time has indeed come.

b)     At present, the focus of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan seems to be on encouraging individuals not to rubbish.

c)     But the programme needs to retain the momentum of a movement rather than a waste-cleaning project.

d)     Besides, Purna Swachhata is not just about waste.

e)     Experts say Purna Swachh requires three things to be addressed.

f)     The first is sewerage or wet waste generated from bathrooms, for which we need a proper system of sewers and sewerage treatment plants

g)     The second is storm drainage or rain water, for which water tables need to be recharged through natural and man-made water drains which remain dry during the monsoons.

h)     The third is solid waste which needs to be dealt with through landfill, burning and so on.

i)     Given the range of tasks that need to be undertaken, just sweeping waste from the roads under the carpet is not going to solve much.

j)     Action is needed to increase knowledge, change attitudes and transform practice.

k)     While an excellent start has been made by targeting attitudes, synchronous action on other fronts is needed to ensure progression from one step to the other.

l)     In the context of promoting practice, we could well ask of the SBA campaign: When are dustbins, clean public toilets, functional sewers and adequate sewage treatment plants going to be provided?

m)     Sanitised and clean public spaces are a public good and have to be provided by the state.

n)     It is worthwhile reflecting on the broad area of interventions (including pieces of legislation) which accompanied sanitary reform in Britain and other industrialising countries about 150 years ago.

o)     First, the sanitary movement involved linking cleanliness with sanitation and water supply.

p)     Second, it established the inescapable links between public health and sanitation in the form of a Public Health Act, initiating the idea of public health districts with sanitary inspectors and public health officers.

q)     Third, it made municipal authorities responsible not just for cleanliness but for health in cities with a gradual transition from permissive to compulsory legislation.

r)     A Swachh Bharat is however not going to be achieved by 2019 by focussing only on citizen participation in clearing waste.

s)     This is a start but it is going to require appropriate budget allocations, which reduced govt expenditure on health care and higher growth due to a healthy labour force would more than make up for. 


Patented medicine and affordability (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     Intellectual property rights (IPRs)  

b)     Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement

c)     US Trade Representative (USTR)

d)     India-US trade and economic relationship

e)     Out-of-cycle review (OCR)

f)     WTOs Bali declaration

g)     Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)

h)     National Intellectual Property Rights policy

a)     Indias ongoing efforts at safeguarding its IPRs have been facing challenges from different directions.

b)     Since 2005, patent protection has been incorporated into domestic laws.

c)     Under the flexibilities that India has been interpreting the TRIPS agreement, the govt can issue compulsory licences to manufacture drugs that are considered unaffordable to large sections of the people.

d)     There are serious implications for Indias public health programme, especially in providing affordable drugs without in any way compromising on the treaty obligations with other countries.

e)     Indian pharmaceutical companies have substantial expertise in manufacturing generic drugs to serve to the vast sections which cannot afford costly patented drugs. 

f)     The debate over IPR (especially relating to the pharma industry) extends beyond courts.

g)     Of special concern has been the pressure being brought to bear by the US authorities at the request of influential lobbies. 

h)     Almost coinciding with the last national elections, the USTR placed India on a priority watch list of countries whose IPR regimes would be scrutinised during the year. 

i)     The consequences would have been serious for India-US trade and economic relationship.

j)     In a more recent development, the US authorities appear to have back-tracked an OCR has apparently cleared Indias IPR regime for the moment at least.

k)     President Obamas forthcoming visit may have something to do with it.

l)     It might be a coincidence but it was in Nov that the US formally announced the completion of the WTOs TFA, first rose in Bali a year ago and virtually vetoed by India in July. India has claimed a big victory.

m)     Led by the US, the WTO members have agreed not to challenge Indias domestic food procurement programme for an indefinite period.

n)     An important initiative of the new govt has been the setting up of an IPR think tank, which will help in formulating a National Intellectual Property Rights policy for the first time. 


Charting rivers beyond borders (Page 7)

a)     Geography

a)     International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

b)     Ganga river

c)     Brahmaputra

d)     Bizni

e)     Sonai Bardal

f)     Talma  

a)     Fifty-four rivers flow between India and Bangladesh sustaining the lives of 620 million people along their banks.

b)     Charting their course and the cultures that grew around it is a trans-boundary river atlas, Rivers Beyond Borders (a first such publication) brought out by the IUCN.

c)     Not only the mighty Ganga and the Brahmaputra but even less-known rivers such as the Bizni, the Sonai Bardal and the Talma find a place in the atlas.

d)     The atlas provides information about the origin of the rivers, their confluence with the sea, important places along their course and the quality of water in them.

e)     The names of the rivers show the diversity of language, cultures and even the terrain as if rivers are not physical entities but carriers of cultural threads. 


Coral bleaching in Pacific may become worst die-off in 20 years (Page 9)

a)     Geography

b)     Environment

a)     Coral bleaching

b)     Coral reefs

c)     Marshall Islands

d)     Hawaii islands

e)     Kiribati

f)     Atolls

g)     Currents

h)     El Nino

i)     Climate change

j)     Global warming

k)     Sea level rise

a)     Scientists warn extreme sea temperatures could cause a historic coral reef die-off around the world over the coming months, following a massive coral bleaching already under way in the North Pacific. 

b)     A huge area of the Pacific has already been affected including the Northern Marianas Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Hawaii, Kiribati and Florida.

c)     In the Marshall Islands, bleaching of unprecedented severity is suspected to have hit most of the countrys 34 atolls and islands.

d)     Warm water will soon begin hitting reefs in the southern Pacific and the Indian Ocean as the seasons and currents shift. 

e)     Bleaching is caused by persistent increases in sea surface temperature.

f)     Just 1°C of warming lasting a week or more can be enough to cause long-term breakdown of reef ecosystems.

g)     The worst coral bleaching event on record is a mass die-off during 1998.

h)     A massive El Nino event combined with climate change to raise global sea and air temperatures to never-before-recorded levels and killed around 15 percent of the worlds corals.

i)     High sea surface temperatures due to climate change are making El Nino a less decisive factor in coral bleaching.

j)     The combined effect of rising temperatures and sea levels could mean the end for coral reefs in the next 50 years.


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