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Daily News Analysis 31-01-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.

Nuclear deal no cause for celebration (Page 11)

a)     I.R

a)      Modi and Obama discussed methods of avoiding the Indian nuclear liability law to protect American reactor suppliers from the consequences of accidents caused by design defects.

2.

Climate change deniers (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     The US Keystone XL pipeline project became a controversial project due to its worse consequences for global warming.

3.

New China-Myanmar oil pipeline bypasses Malacca trap (Page 14)

a)     International

a)      China is starting a pipeline that will bring crude oil from Maday island in Myanmar, along a transit route that will bypass the Malacca Straits.

4.

Human rights group slams Indias record (Page 12)

a)     National

a)      The HRW has criticised the Indian govt for its insufficient support extended for human rights and focused on the situation of those involved in manual scavenging.

5.

Food insecurity acts (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     The Shanta Kumar Committees recommendations to split the Food Corporation of India are in tune with US-led demands raised in the WTO.

6.

FDI inflows beat global trends, surge 26 percent (Page 13)

a)     Economy

a)     The latest Global Investment Monitor report released by the UNCTAD said Global FDI inflows fell due to the weakness of the global economy, policy uncertainty and geopolitical risks.

7.

Base year change pushes GDP growth to 6.9 percent in 2013-14 (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     Govt revised Indias 2013-14 GDP growth estimate to 6.9 percent from 4.7 percent.

8.

US growth slows to 2.6 percent in fourth quarter (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     The US economy slowed in the final three months of 2014 as a big burst in consumer spending was effect by weakness in other areas.

9.

Fiscal deficit overshoots budget target (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     The govt had put in place a fiscal consolidation roadmap as per which the fiscal deficit has to be brought down to 3 percent of the GDP by 2016-17.

10.

Agni-V to be test-fired from canister today (Page 13)

a)     S&T

a)     Canister based Agni-V will lift off from the Wheeler Island by carrying a 1.1 tonne nuclear warhead over 5000 km.

11.

A village in Rajasthan yields artefacts of yore (Page 20)

a)     National

b)     History

a)      Excavation is under way at Pachamta, which belongs to the Ahar-Banas culture under the Mewar Plains Archaeological Assessment.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.

Nuclear deal no cause for celebration (Page 11)

a)     I.R

a)     India – US relations

b)     Civil Nuclear Agreement

c)     Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act 2010

d)     Fukushima disaster 2011

e)     Three Mile Island disaster 1979

f)     Convention on Supplementary Compensation

g)     Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR)

a)     At their recent meeting, Modi and Obama discussed methods of avoiding the Indian nuclear liability law to protect American reactor suppliers from the consequences of accidents caused by design defects.

b)     The importance of supplier liability is illustrated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

c)     Under Japanese law, the supplier is secured from liability for an accident. This is the framework of impunity under which nuclear suppliers like to operate.

d)     Legal security for suppliers creates a moral risk - encouraging suppliers to take excessive risks since they dont have to pay for the consequences. 

e)     The Presidential commission appointed to study the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster (which saw a partial nuclear meltdown) pointed out that the supplier was already aware of design defects that contributed to the accident but never bothered to resolve them.

f)     Nevertheless, suppliers have defended their privilege of being free of liability and they exerted tremendous pressure on the Indian govt when the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act was framed in 2010.

g)     Several clauses in the law were directly lifted from an annex to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, created by the US govt to benefit its nuclear industry.

h)     The law is designed to protect the financial interests of the operators and the supplier; victims or the taxpayers will simply have to bear costs beyond the cap.

i)     The most confusing feature of the current agreement is that it holds no real benefits for India.

j)     The US has offered to sell two reactor designs - both of which are expensive and untested.

k)     The Westinghouse AP1000, which has been chosen for Mithi Virdi (Gujarat) is not in commercial operation anywhere and has encountered difficulties wherever it is being built. 

l)     Even less can be said for GEs ESBWR, selected for Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh). 

m)     Last week, the residents of Mithi Virdi wrote an open letter to Obama and Modi reminding them that the gram panchayats of four most-affected villages have passed a resolution declaring the entire region as a nuclear free zone.

n)     The leaders of the worlds largest democracies face a clear choice.

o)     They can channel billions of dollars into nuclear corporations by sacrificing safety and economic wisdom. Or they can notice the democratic voices from Mithi Virdi and cancel these unnecessary deals.

2.

Climate change deniers (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     Climate change

b)     Global warming

c)     Greenhouse gas emissions

d)     Keystone XL pipeline bill

e)     Man-made climate change

a)     The passage of the Keystone XL pipeline bill (the first priority of the new US Senate controlled by Republicans) hit a roadblock on Jan 27.

b)     The nearly 1900km-long proposed pipeline, which will transport 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Albertas (Canada) vast oil sands to Nebraska, is a highly controversial project.

c)     Unlike conventional crude, mining and turning tar sands into oil is highly carbon-intensive and hence has far worse consequences for global warming.

d)     It is for this reason that President Obama had threatened to veto the bill.

e)     Though a majority of the Senators also agreed that humans are singularly responsible for climate change, two crucial amendments that pointed a finger at humans failed to cross the 60-vote threshold.

f)     Apparently, the emphasis on human contribution turned out to be the sticking point.

g)     The Senate has till date refused to widely agree that man-made climate change is real.

h)     The International Energy Agency estimated last year that the Earth is already on track to warm by 3.6° Celsius with continuing reckless emission of greenhouse gases.

i)     This is way beyond the goal of limiting the increase in global average surface temperature to 2°C above the pre-industrial level.

3.

New China-Myanmar oil pipeline bypasses Malacca trap (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     China – Myanmar relations

b)     Maritime Silk Road (MSR) project

c)     Malacca straits

d)     Maday island

e)     Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

 

a)     China has taken a firm step to grow up its energy security by starting a pipeline that will bring crude oil from a deep water port in Myanmar, along a transit route that will bypass the strategic Malacca Straits.

b)     The first tanker that will offload 300,000 tons of oil is expected to arrive at Maday Island - a deep water port developed by China in the Bay of Bengal.

c)     A gas pipeline (next to the Maday Island terminal) already runs from Myanmars port of Kyaukpyu.

d)     China also finalised plans to establish a rail corridor from Kyaukpyu to its Yunnan province.

e)     The strategic oil pipeline will service Chinas two major growth centres - Kunming and Chongqing, an industrial hub along the Yangtze River delta.

f)     Both cities are important in the development of Chinas Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st century MSR project.

g)     Kunming is one of the starting points of the Maritime Silk Road, because it connects with three countries belonging to the ASEAN - Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos.

h)     The new oil pipeline bypasses the Malacca Straits - a narrow channel that connects the Indian Ocean with the Pacific.

4.

Human rights group slams Indias record (Page 12)

a)     National

a)     Human rights

b)     Human Rights Watch (HRW)

c)     Child rights

a)     The HRW has criticised the Indian govt for its treatment of minorities, lack of protection for womens and childrens rights, restrictions on free speech and insufficient support extended for human rights.

b)     Citing numerous incidents of violence against minorities, including recent cases of discrimination against Dalits in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, the HRW report focused attention on the situation of those involved in manual scavenging, the cleaning by hand of human waste.

c)     The report said that in March 2014, the Supreme Court held that Indias Constitution requires state intervention to end the practice.

5.

Food insecurity acts (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Food insecurity

b)    Food Security Act (FSA)

c)     Minimum Support Price (MSP)

d)     Public Distribution System (PDS)

e)     Integrated Child Development Services

f)     Poverty

g)     APL

h)     BPL

i)     Shanta Kumar Committee  

j)     WTO issue

a)     The Shanta Kumar Committee report released last week on a range of issues relating to procurement, storage and distribution of food grains is not only deeply faulty in its reading of the situation on food security but also short on facts.

b)     For example, the report asserts that only 6 percent of all farmers have benefited from MSP through sale of food grains to an official procurement agency.

c)     It is true that large numbers of farmers are deprived of the benefits of MSP.

d)     It is not because they do not want to sell to the procurement agencies but because they do not have access to official procurement centre, which are set up only in selective States and regions. 

e)     For this large section of rural India, reforming the system would mean a substantial increase in the number of procurement centres and easier access, so as to enable it to benefit from MSP.

f)     As soon as the BJP assumed office, the first thing it did was to bring down the rate of increase of MSP to just about 3 percent over the previous year - this when the prices of farm inputs have increased phenomenally.

g)     Some States under pressure from Kisan movements decided to give a bonus over and above the MSP to help farmers.

h)     Govt ordered that it would not procure any food grains over and above the requirement for the PDS from such States which gave the farmers a bonus.

i)     The Shanta Kumar Committee report takes these dangerous steps further by advocating limited procurement as the officially declared policy.

j)     This is directly linked to its recommendation to remove the existing FSA.

k)     The Committee wants to reduce the coverage from 67 percent to 40 percent of the population.

l)     It also wants to double the prices that these food grains are to be sold at under the present Act by linking the price to the MSP.

m)     This means restoring the fraudulent and discredited APL and BPL estimations and desposing equally poor people of subsidised grains.

n)     The Shanta Kumar Committee wants to eliminate even the inadequate provisions under the existing FSA and push the country back to the worst days of food insecurity.

o)     Such a recommendation comes at a time when the UN agencies monitoring country-wise performances towards meeting the Millennium goals have praised India for its reduction of malnutrition, giving credit for this to food security systems like the ICDS as well as the PDS.

p)     Modi govt has already stayed the implementation of the FSA. It is preparing to shift to direct cash transfers for a more restricted number of families.

q)     The Shanta Kumar Committees recommendations to unbundle the FCI, allowing the free play of market forces in procurement and storage of food grains, and restricting the FSA are in tune with the demands raised by the western world led by the US in the WTO against Indias systems of procurement, storage and distribution.

r)     The India-US agreement to end the deadlock in the WTO process is clearly based on the changes being suggested by the Committee.

s)     The govt can be expected to try and clear the required amendments to the FSA through Parliament using its majority. 

6.

FDI inflows beat global trends, surge 26 percent (Page 13)

a)     Economy

a)     Foreign direct investment (FDI)

b)     United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

a)     According to a UN report on global investments, FDI inflows to India increased by about 26 percent to $35 billion in 2014, despite macroeconomic uncertainties and financial risks.

b)     However, China received inflows worth $128 billion and with a modest increase of 3 percent, went on to become the worlds largest recipient of FDI.

c)     The US fell to the third position.

d)     Among the top five FDI recipients in the world, four are developing economies - Hong Kong, Singapore and Brazil.

e)     The latest Global Investment Monitor report released by the UNCTAD said Global FDI inflows fell due to the weakness of the global economy, policy uncertainty and geopolitical risks.

7.

Base year change pushes GDP growth to 6.9 percent in 2013-14 (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     GDP growth

b)     Base year

a)     The Modi Govt sharply revised Indias 2013-14 GDP growth estimate to 6.9 percent from 4.7 percent. The 2012-13 growth estimate was revised to 5.1 percent from 4.5 percent.

b)     GDP data for a fiscal undergoes three rounds of revisions; the process takes three years.

c)     The estimates also follow a change in the base year for calculating national accounts to 2011-12 from 2004-05 in addition to the routine annual revision - where changes are made only on the basis of updated data becoming available.

d)     The base year was last revised in Jan 2010.

8.

US economic growth slows to 2.6 percent in fourth quarter (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     US economic growth

b)     GDP

c)     Recession

a)     The US economy slowed in the final three months of 2014 as a big burst in consumer spending was offset by weakness in other areas.

b)     Over the past five years since the recession ended in 2009, economic growth has averaged just 2.2 percent, far below the kinds of gains normally seen after a deep recession.

c)     The growth in 2014 (as measured by the GDP) came after a 2.2 percent gain in 2013.

9.

Fiscal deficit overshoots budget target (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     Fiscal deficit

b)     GDP

c)     Fiscal consolidation

a)     Indias fiscal deficit overshot the budget estimate of Rs.5.31 lakh crore by Dec-end and may cause the govt to take tough steps in the remaining part of 2014-15 to restrict it to 4.1 percent of GDP.

b)     The fiscal deficit (the gap between govt expenditure and revenue) during the same period last year was at 95.2 percent of that years target.

c)     The govt had put in place a fiscal consolidation roadmap as per which the fiscal deficit has to be brought down to 3 percent of the GDP by 2016-17.

10.

Agni-V to be test-fired from canister today (Page 13)

a)     S&T

a)     Agni-V

b)     Canister method

c)     Wheeler Island

d)     DRDO

a)     Agni-V (Indias most powerful strategic missile) developed by the DRDO will lift off from the Wheeler Island off Odisha.

b)     This is the third launch but the first from a canister, a method that will allow the missile to be fired even from roads.

c)     Agni-V can carry a 1.1 tonne nuclear warhead over 5000 km.

11.

A village in Rajasthan yields artefacts of yore (Page 20)

a)     National

b)     History

a)     Harappan culture

b)     Ahar-Banas culture

c)     Pachamta

d)      Banas river

e)     Berach river

f)     Gambhiri  river

g)     Bhari river

a)     Artefacts (such as perforated jars, shell bangles, terracotta beads, shells and the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli), different types of pottery and two hearths have been found during excavation under way at Pachamta, a village 100 km from Udaipur in Rajasthan.

b)     Pachamta belongs to the Ahar-Banas culture in the Mewar region, which was contemporaneous with the early and mature Harappan culture.

c)     The Ahar culture (datable to 3000-1700 BCE) was chalcolithic (the Bronze Age) and its people had trade links with the Harappans.

d)     Rajasthan has several Harappan sites, including Kalibangan, Karanpura, Bijnor and Tarkkhanewaladera.

e)     Sites in the Ahar-Banas complex are situated in the valleys of the rivers such as Banas, Berach, Gambhiri and Bhari and their tributaries. 

f)     The Ahar-Banas people introduced reserved slip ware, which was later adapted by the Harappans and learnt the standardised brick ratio from the Harappans.

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