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Daily News Analysis 13-01-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.

 

Obama, Modi to focus on nuclear challenge (Pages 1 and 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – US relations

b)     Civil nuclear deal

c)     Economic ties

d)     Defence partnership

e)     2015 Paris climate conference

a)     Acknowledging for the first time that the US hopes for some sort of breakthrough in the talks on the civil nuclear deal with India, Secretary of State John Kerry said it was one of four very specific areas where we are going to try to make some progress.

b)     He said the other three would also be the focus of talks between President Obama and PM Modi when they meet this month are renewable energy and climate change cooperation, defence partnership and economic relationship.

c)     Kerry said he had discussed bilateral issue and the visit of President Obama when he met Modi.

d)     He said that the PM and I discussed challenges in our relationship, which if solved, do have an ability to take our relationship forward.

e)     Sources reported earlier this month on the nuclear contact group talks between India and the US held to discuss two possible solutions to the nuclear liability law challenge that had held up nuclear plants due to be set up by US companies in Gujarat.

f)     The proposal involve a $242 million general insurance fund for the fallout of any nuclear accident and the other involved clarifying Section 46 of the liability law, which now does not differentiate between the civil and criminal liability of the suppliers.

g)     On climate change issues, Kerry said the US is committed to working with India to reach a landmark climate change agreement in Paris at the climate change conference at the end of this year.

h)     He also spoke about an agreement on renewable energy that would help reach 24/7 power to Indias poorest people.

2.

Ban, Sushma discuss peace-keeping (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     UN peacekeeping missions

b)     UNSG

c)     Terrorism

d)     Paris climate talks

a)     External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held discussions with the visiting UNSG Ban Ki-moon, focussing on the role and mandate of troop-contributing nations for peace-keeping operations and increasing their say in decision-making.

b)     This was a discussion which covered a lot of ground, helped us understand the UNs perspective on a lot of things and it indicates our engagement on the global stage on a variety of issues.

c)     Ban said a committee had been set up to look into all aspects of this issue and a report would be submitted in the next few months.

d)     India has been one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping missions.

e)     Currently there are more than 8000 Indian soldiers serving under the UN flag in ten of its 16 peacekeeping missions.

f)     He raised the issue of air component in peacekeeping operations.

g)     The second issue discussed was the coming summit on climate change in Paris at the year end. 

h)     Swaraj explained the measures taken by India in terms of its own commitments to ensure that its development is sustainable.

i)     Terrorism as a growing global concern also figured in the discussions.

3.

|World Bank signs pact for Smart Cities (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     Smart cities

b)     Swachhta abhiyaan

c)     Make in India campaign 

d)     World Bank

a)      The Govt of Gujarat, the Govt of India and the World Bank have entered into a tripartite agreement in support of Gujarats swachhta abhiyaan and smart city initiatives.

b)      Around 2100 MoUs to the tune of 25 lakh crore and 1225 strategic partnership agreements were signed at the Summit in the areas of skill development, defence, renewable energy and biodiversity.

c)      Given the volume of expected investments in Gujarat, the States challenge had just begun.

d)      The agreements will increase Gujarats inclusive development.

e)     They will restore confidence among investors about the investment climate in Gujarat and also help in furthering the Make in India campaign.

4.

Kerry will have to walk a tightrope (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     US – Pakistan relations

b)     Kerry Lugar Bill

c)     Indias concerns

d)      Terrorism

e)     LeT

f)     JeM

g)     Taliban

h)     Haqqani group

i)     LoC

 

a)      US Secretary of State John Kerry will be walking a tightrope on terrorism as he begins the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue in Islamabad, telling officials to crack down on groups like the LeT, even as he deals with the unhappiness over the delay in funding promised to the country.

b)      He is likely to discuss some of Indias concerns, expressed by Modi, over anti-India terror groups that continue to operate in Pakistan.

c)     He said the US was working to strengthen Indias counter-terrorism efforts.

d)      Last week, the govt reacted sharply on the U.S. commitment of $532 million in civilian aid under the Kerry Lugar Bill and reports of the US certifying Pakistani action against groups, including the LeT and the JeM.

e)      The State Department rejected that the US had notified Congress for the aid but added that the aid could be disbursed through additional funding.

f)     As a result, Pakistani newspapers have criticised India for stalling the funds, adding to the already high tensions between the two countries over firing across the LoC.

g)      Kerry has his task cut out, discussing the strategic relationship with Pakistans leaders including Army chief General on issues like security in Afghanistan after the US pullout and future civilian and military aid requirements for Pakistan.

h)      Part of the Secretarys core message will be to ensure that actions are met with a real and sustained effort to constrain the ability of the Haqqani network, the LeT, the Afghan Taliban and other militants who pose a threat to regional stability and to direct US interests.

5.

EU should curb mercury emissions from cremations (Page 9)

a)     International

 

a)     Climate change

b)     Carbon emissions

c)     Mercury emissions

a)      Environment campaigners are calling for curbs on mercury emissions from human cremations as part of pollution controls that EU authorities will debate this month.

b)     Increased cremation (as shortage of land makes burial expensive) has coincided with a rise in emissions of the toxic metal from fillings in teeth. An average cremation releases 2 to 4 grammes of mercury.

c)      Mercury is associated with mental development problems.

d)     After entering the air and then falling in rain it becomes concentrated in fish that (if eaten during pregnancy) can cause harm to unborn children.

e)      The European Environment Bureau (which is coordinating NGOs in Brussels in an increasingly polarised debate on air quality) says crematoria should be included in new standards on destroying waste.

6.

River linking will end water woes in Delhi, Mumbai (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Geography

a)     River linking

b)     Yamuna-Sarda river link

c)     Ken Betwa river link

d)     Par Tapi Narmada link

e)     Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project  

a)      Union Minister for Water Resources said that river linking of Sarda (or the Mahakali) river and the Yamuna (an offshoot of the agreement on Pancheswar between India and Nepal), which was revived last year would end Delhis water problem and ensure drinking water to the capital for many years to come.

b)     She said similarly a river linking project in Maharashtra involving the Damanganga and Pinjal would ensure drinking water supply to Mumbai till 2060.

c)     The 5600 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project was proposed on river Mahakali known as Sarda, which forms the international boundary between India and Nepal.

d)     Last year, PM Modi signed an agreement on the 5,600 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project to restart the project, which was signed way back in 1996.

e)      She said the proposed Yamuna-Sarda river link would ensure a continuous flow in the Yamuna.

f)     The river would flow through Uttarakhand and UP and meet the Yamuna in New Delhi and also help in reducing water shortage.

g)      The govt seems to be going ahead speedily on river linking and she said there was a lot of progress on the Ken Betwa river link.

h)      The govt had achieved progress in two major river linking projects apart from the Damanganga Pinjal and Ken Betwa, was the Par Tapi Narmada link.

7.

An uncertain Hobbesian life (Page 9)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)

b)     Small and marginal farming

c)     Small Farmers Development Agency (1971)

d)     Integrated Rural Development Programme (1980)

e)     Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) 1999

f)     Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

g)     Drought Prone Area Programme (1974)

h)     National Policy on Farmers (2007)

i)     Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (2011)

j)     Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR)

k)     Drip irrigation

l)     Soil erosion

a)      Of Indias 121 million agricultural holdings, 99 million are with small and marginal farmers with a land share of just 44 percent and a farmer population share of 87 percent.

b)     According to NSSO data, 33 percent of all farm households have less than 0.4 hectares of land.

c)      Rain-fed agriculture has been practised since antiquity in India, with Indus Valley farmers growing peas, sesame and dates.

d)      India has many vast plains of great fertility. Since there is a double rainfall, the inhabitants of India almost always gather in two harvests annually.

e)     With the British era came the zamindars, the ryots and extreme poverty.

f)      Indias marginal farmers have been worse off for centuries.

g)      Our policymakers recognised this dependence on rain and formulated policies focussed on supporting canal-fed crops and improving agricultural productivity.

h)     A bewildering array of schemes was launched - Small Farmers Development Agency 1971, Integrated Rural Development Programme 1980, SGSY 1999 and the MGNREGA.

i)     Sudden change by a bureaucratic approach, these schemes focussed on creating yearly jobs and roads, while resisting decentralisation and localised decision-making.

j)      The Drought Prone Area Programme (1974) was concerned with drought proofing rather than livelihoods and growth-focussed development.

k)     The National Policy on Farmers (2007) focussed on improving farmer income through better risk management and an improved price policy.

l)      The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (2011) allocated Rs.10 lakh to each district to prepare and implement the Comprehensive District Agriculture Plan with the participation of local panchayats.

m)       Farmers in arid regions were encouraged to plant high-yielding wheat instead of Malwi Ghehu (a local wheat variety) while depending on declining groundwater. 

n)       Punjab is well past unsustainability, with 110 blocks out of 137 falling under the over-exploited category.

o)      Rajasthan (despite low rainfall) is buffering by integrated farming - having subsidiary farm enterprises such as dairy, poultry, sericulture and goats.

p)     States with little rainfall such as Haryana can be encouraged to shift back to oilseeds and coarse cereals.

q)     Rice cultivation could be increased in rainfed Odisha and Assam, while incentives to promote wheat and rice are realigned. 

r)      With conventional irrigation mostly tapped, drip irrigation is an obvious solution.

s)     By accommodating irregular field sizes and unlevelled topography, water application efficiency (greater than 70 percent) can be kept high, lessening soil erosion.

t)      Pushing farming households through subsidy schemes like SGSY can help structure such transactions. 

u)      The ICAR has been primarily focussed on breeding higher yielding varieties for rice and wheat, while mostly ignoring coarse cereals. 

v)      A restructured funding scheme, with a focus on Research and Development in 10-12 crops in dryland agriculture can be encouraged.

w)      Even the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture has been hit by a funds crush.

x)     This mission would have focussed on mitigating risks associated with climate change and ensuring food security with a focus on organic farming and System of Rice Intensification propagation.

y)      Agriculture can be further customised through soil test labs at the ground level that provide advice to farmers on a personalised basis, while promoting greater water efficiency.

z)     Taxes on agricultural machinery should be removed and agro-based industries encouraged with commodity parks created at the district level.

8.

Indian economy sees growth momentum  firming up: OECD (Page 13)

a)     Economy

a)     Economic growth

b)     GDP

c)     Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

d)     Composite Leading Indicators (CLIs)

a)      According to Paris-based think tank OECD, Indias economic growth is making up even as mixed trends are projected for most of the developed and developing nations,.

b)      India (along with Japan) is expected to see positive changes in growth momentum.

c)      The OECDs projections are based on its CLIs - which are designed to anticipate turning points in economic activity relative to trend.

d)      The OECD said the indicators for November 2014 showed diverging growth patterns across most major economies.

e)      Based on Indias November CLI of 99.5, the grouping said in a statement that the countrys growth is making up.

f)      After slowing to sub-5 percent growth in the previous two financial years, Indian economy has started showing signs of pick-up.

g)     The GDP expanded by 5.7 percent and 5.3 percent in the first two quarters of current financial year.

h)     According to its projections, Indias economy is expected to grow 6.4 percent this year and even faster in 2016.

i)      The OECD said stable growth momentum is anticipated for the US, Canada and China.

9.

Retail inflation inches up to 5 percent (Page 13)

a)     Economy

a)     Retail inflation

b)     Consumer price inflation

c)     Inflation

d)     GDP

e)     RBI

a)     Retail inflation picked up pace in December, growing 5 percent against 4.38 percent in November.

b)      Rising consumer prices of fruit and vegetables pushed up retail inflation.

c)      Despite the low base effect in December, retail inflation now stands well within the RBIs target of 8 percent for Jan 2015, implying prices were indeed cooling down.

d)     The global slide in oil prices has provided a further cushion.

e)      Consumer price inflation printed in line with expectations mainly driven by base effects.

f)     However, food prices continue to remain a wild card and we are likely to see inflation move up in coming months.

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