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Daily News Analysis 21-05-2015

 

S.NO.

NEWS   ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE   OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

LAC, PoK issues block full blooming of India-China ties   (Pages 1 and 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India and China have   established a detailed framework of partnership during PM Modis visit, but   the delay in clarification of the Line of Actual Control and Chinas proposed   forays into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir are obstructing the full development of   ties.

2.

PMs next stop is Russia (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     PM Modi is   expected to visit Russia and five Central Asian states in July this year. The   visit timed around the BRICS and SCO summits on July 9-10.

3.

Theres no free Chinese lunch (Page 8)

a)     I.R

a)     The   China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is being termed as a game and fate changer   for Pakistan, but the new projects under it may not have much of a future,   and both Pakistan and China know this China established a decade ago that it   would be prohibitively expensive to pump or carry oil and gas over Karakorams   to Xinjiang.

4.

N. Korea claims nuclear breakthrough (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     North Korea   said it had perfected the technology to make nuclear warheads, dramatically   upping military brinkmanship with its US-led enemies.

5.

Bad loans are bad news (Page 8)

a)     Economy

a)     With the   Indian economy not picking up speed as was being anticipated, the spotlight   is on the banking industry.

6.

Astra missiles test-fired successfully (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     S&T

a)     Two   indigenously developed beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (Astra) were   successfully launched from Su-30 MKI fighter jet in two developmental trials   conducted at the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur.

7.

Upgraded detector to study gravitational waves (Page 14)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Last year,   there was much excitement as scientists at the BICEP2 telescope at the South   Pole claimed to have gathered evidence of gravitational waves that were   released shortly after the Big Bang.

8.

Real-time identification of algal blooms a reality (Page   14)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     The real-time   assessment and species identification of algal blooms (which add colour to   the oceanic waters) has been made possible by using a satellite-based remote   sensing technique.

9.

Snakes evolved on land, not in sea (Page 14)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     A new study   says that although snakes are found in a wide range of habitats such as land,   water and on trees, they first evolved on land and not in the sea as is   popularly believed.

 

 

S.NO.

NEWS   ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT   POINTS

1.         

 

LAC, PoK issues block full blooming of India-China ties   (Pages 1 and 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – China   relations

b)     Line of   Actual Control (LAC)

c)     Pakistan-occupied   Kashmir (PoK)

d)     China-Pakistan   Economic Corridor (CPEC)

e)     UNSC

f)     Nuclear   Suppliers Group (NSG)

g)     Chinas belt   and road initiative

h)     Indias Mausam   and Spice Route connectivity projects

a)     India and China have established a   detailed framework of partnership during PM Modis visit, but the delay in   clarification of LAC and Chinas proposed forays into PoK are obstructing the   full development of ties.

b)     During his   China visit, PM Modi stressed that LAC clarification could be done without   prejudice to our position on boundary question. That reduce worries among a   section of the Chinese establishment that India would insist on turning the   LAC into a permanent border once it was clarified.

c)     During talks, India has stated with   clarity its objections to the making part of proposed CPEC pass through the   PoK. Indias core concerns that are restraining ties (which include LAC   clarification and use of PoK territory in defining the CPEC) were covered in   remarks by the PM.

d)     During PM Modis visit, India made it   transparent that Chinas explicit support for New Delhi as a full member of   the UNSC and NSG will raise ties to a new level.

e)     Analysts say that any accommodative   shift in Chinas position on the NSG is likely to recalibrate Beijings ties   with Pakistan. Pakistan has been vocal in opposing Indias entry, after US   President Obama supported Indias membership in January.

f)     Sources   said the harmonisation of Indias Mausam and Spice Route connectivity projects   with Chinas belt and road initiative was not discussed in the talks.

2.

PMs next stop is Russia (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India –   Russia relations

b)     BRICS summit

c)     SCO summit

d)     Chinas Silk   Route initiative

 

a)     PM Modi is expected to visit Russia and five   Central Asian states (Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and   Kazakhstan) in July this year. The visit timed around the BRICS and SCO   summits in the Russian city of Ufa on July 9-10

b)    Diplomatic   sources said his visit (which was last done by PM Nehru in June 1955) will   have a 3-fold focus - energy, exports, and as a counterpoint to Chinas   inroads in the region. Between them, the five states control the most   energy-diverse and oil-rich parts of the world, with Kazakhstan a major oil   producer, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with the biggest natural gas reserves,   and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan understood to have considerable untapped   reserves.

c)     His visit   will come after Chinese President Xis 2013 visit to all five Stans when he   announced billions of dollars in loans to the countries to build energy and   transport infrastructure, as well as a year after Russia and China announced   a $400 billion gas pipeline that would cover all the central Asian countries   in between.

d)     Fresh from   his visit to China, Modi will also be looking to work in parallel to Chinas   Silk Route initiative, which India is yet to sign on to. When asked at press   conference in China, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar said that Silk Road   Economic Belt or one belt one road initiative is yet to be discussed between   India and China.

e)     The visit to   Ufa for the SCO and BRICS summits will be no less important. India and   Pakistan are expected to be elevated from observers to members during the   current SCO summit, and hence it is the first time the Indian PM will attend   the grouping of Russia, China, and 4 of the Stans (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan,   Tajikistan, Kyrgyztan).

f)     Finally, Modi   will have an extended meeting with President Putin on plans to further   India-Russia ties that have seen a rise in goodwill after the govt sent   President Pranab to attend the 70th commemoration of world war II in Moscow,   despite a boycott from western countries.

3.

Theres no free Chinese lunch (Page 8)

a)     I.R

a)     China –   Pakistan relations

b)     China-Pakistan   Economic Corridor (CPEC)

c)     Organisation   for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

d)     Gwadar port

a)    The   CPEC (around which 51 agreements were signed during Chinese President Xis   visit to Pakistan in April 2015) promises such massive investments that it is   not surprising that the Pakistani govt flows over it as being a game and fate   changer.

b)     Its   Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 tripled economic assistance to   $7.5 billion spread over five years, but only $5.5 billion was actually   appropriated. The annual aid to Pakistan from the OECD (including the US) has   rarely risen above $3 billion. Therefore, this Chinese money in the financial   desert in which Pakistan wanders is a blizzard of manna.

c)     But   only $6 billion of the investment announced is for the improvement of   facilities in and around Gwadar and the building or expansion of roads that   will reach all the way up from there to the enlarged Karakoram Highway,   giving China access to Arabian Sea. Another $5 billion has been set aside for   a metro for Lahore, and to modernise railway track from Karachi to Peshawar.

d)     Reports   of corridor being a network of roads, railways and pipelines from Gwadar to   Kashgar are fantasies. China established a decade ago that it would be   prohibitively expensive to pump or carry oil and gas over the Karakorams to   Xinjiang. Since then, it has invested heavily in Kyaukpyu in Myanmar, through   which oil, gas and goods will travel via road, rail and pipelines to Yunnan.   Gwadar is less crucial to China now than it may once have been.

e)    Of   investments announced, $33.8 billion is for thermal, hydro, solar and wind   projects to tackle Pakistans energy crisis, which is now so bad that in March   this year there was speculation in its media that it could bring the govt   down. This looks like selfless assistance to a friend in need, but China has   agreed more than once before to finance huge power projects in Pakistan,   which its companies have then abandoned claiming that they were not feasible.  

f)     In   Jan, Chinese investors pulled out of a 6600 MW power project in Gadani in   Baluchistan, which was part of Economic Corridor. In Feb, work stopped on   five Chinese-backed power projects in the Punjab, which would also have   generated 6600 MW. These projects expected investments of about $16 billion.

g)    Pakistans   installed capacity is 22,800 MW, but it produces only 12,000 MW. The problem   is the circular debt that damages its energy sector. There are other   problems. Like the plants in Baluchistan and the Punjab (stopped by the   Chinese), 4 out of the 6 thermal power projects for which agreements have now   been signed are predicated on imported coal, in place of imported furnace   oil, from which 60 percent of Pakistans power is now generated.

h)     The solar   park at Bahawalpur was already up and running (funded by the Govt of Punjab);   100 MW (installed by a Chinese company in four months) came on stream this   April. Now, another Chinese company will invest $1.5 billion to add 900 MW.   This will be about 5 percent of Pakistans current installed power capacity   when it is completed in 2016 (over 8 percent of its current production), so   it is a very significant project.

i)     Chinese   companies that will build and operate the two hydropower projects   announced;  Suki Kinari in Pakhtunkhwa   and Karot in the Punjab, which (between them) will add 1600 MW to the grid.   These are substantial additions to installed capacity, but which light in   comparison to the Dasu on the Indus, which will add 4320 MW to the grid.   There too, a Chinese bank is the lead financier with the World Bank and   Deutsche Bank sharing most of the rest.

j)     If   these new projects go through, it is a given that the Chinese have received   guarantees that their fees will be paid by the Govt of Pakistan in full and   on time.

k)     Given   all this, it will be fascinating to see how many of the projects now   announced the Chinese will actually build. If they are built, and crucially,   if they run profitably, they will of course help change the game for   Pakistan, but so far this year, Chinese companies have cut and run.

4.

N. Korea claims nuclear breakthrough (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     North Koreas   nuclear development

a)    North Korea said it had perfected   technology to make nuclear warheads dramatically upping military brinkmanship   with its US-led enemies.

b)     It also cancelled a visit by UN chief   Ban Ki-moon after he accused it of fuelling regional tensions, in a week that   also saw US Secretary of State John Kerry criticise the Norths provocative,   destabilising and repressive actions.

5.

Bad loans are bad news (Page 8)

a)     Economy

a)     Banking system

b)     Bad loans

c)     Non Performing Assets (NPAs)

d)     Securitisation and Reconstruction of   Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SRFAESI)Act 2002

e)     Rating agency Crisil

a)     With   the Indian economy not picking up speed as was being anticipated, the   spotlight is on the banking industry. It has been asked why industry has been   reluctant to pass on the double-dose rate reduction effected by the RBI in   twin instalments outside the policy cycle this year.

b)     The rising load of bad loans has put   banks (especially those in the public sector) in a pincer-like situation. A   combination of factors saw gross NPAs drop from a high of 12 percent in   2000-01 to 2.5 percent in 2008-09. These included an improved economy,   establishment of debt recovery tribunals, and the enactment of the SRFAESI Act   2002.

c)     But the trend was reversed and the   figure rose to 4.6 percent in Sep 2014. An estimate by rating agency Crisil   suggests that stressed assets could stay flat at 6 percent in 2015-16. And   Crisil put the value of such assets at a mind-boggling Rs.5.3 trillion.

d)     RBI Governor Rajan has said he is not   quite sure if the banking system has seen the peak yet in bad loans. Since   public sector banks account for two-thirds of all banking activity, it is   turning out to be a huge worry.

e)     The need for stricter provisioning in   view of the new Basel stipulations will add to their problems. Moreover,   banks will no longer be allowed to treat restructured loans as standard ones.   The revamped 5/25 scheme is essentially meant to remedy the situation. It   allows banks to rearrange long-term infrastructure loans by refinancing or   selling loans every five years.

f)     But the scheme will at best mask   stressed assets since banks need not report such loans. Bad loans have put   govt in a moral difficult situation. Besides putting in place a watertight   loan appraisal mechanism, the situation calls for a new framework outside the   normal banking system to address the funding needs of long-term projects.

6.

Astra missiles test-fired successfully (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     S&T

a)     Astra missile

b)     Su-30 MKI fighter jet

c)     DRDO

a)     Two indigenously developed beyond visual   range air-to-air missiles (Astra) were successfully launched from Su-30 MKI   fighter jet in two developmental trials conducted at the Integrated Test   Range, Chandipur (Odisha).

b)     With these tests, seven developmental   trials were conducted and the missile is expected to be inducted by 2016   after a few more tests. The 3.8-metre tall Astra is a radar homing missile   and one of the smallest weapon systems developed by the DRDO.

7.

Upgraded detector to study gravitational waves (Page 14)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Gravitational   waves

b)     BICEP2   telescope

c)     Big Bang

d)     Einsteins   general theory of relativity

a)     Last year, there was much excitement as   scientists at the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole claimed to have gathered   evidence of gravitational waves that were released shortly after the Big   Bang. However, it was later shown that intergalactic dust had led them error   in their observations and they had not detected gravitational waves at all.

b)     This leaves the field open for   experimental groups to search for first direct evidence of gravitational   waves. The experiments are very challenging, given the fact that these waves   are very faint and extremely difficult to detect.

c)     As early as 1916, Einstein predicted   gravitational waves as a consequence of his general theory of relativity.   Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time produced by   violent events such as the collision of two black holes or by cores of   supernova explosions. They are produced by accelerating masses, just the same   as accelerating charged particles produce radio waves.

d)     In fact, the waves have not been   directly detected so far, but indirect evidence that they exist comes from   1974 discovery of the Hulse-Taylor binary pulsar whose period of orbit   decreases in a manner exactly predicted by general theory of relativity. This   system is believed to emit gravitational waves, in accordance with what   Einstein had predicted would happen to masses moving relatively to each   other.

e)     Gravitational wave detectors receive signals   from all directions. However, to locate the sources of the waves, a network   of detectors is needed. There is a proposal to establish one such detector in   India.

8.

Real-time identification of algal blooms a reality (Page   14)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Algal blooms

b)     Noctiluca   scintillans

a)    The real-time assessment and species   identification of algal blooms (which add colour to the oceanic waters) has   been made possible by using a satellite-based remote sensing technique.   Researchers have also developed an algorithm for the process.

b)     Scientists claimed to have perfected the   algorithm for identification of Noctiluca scintillans (the algal bloom and a   diatom) which gives dark green colour to oceanic waters.

c)  They described the approach for detection   of bloom-forming algae N. scintillans and its discrimination from diatoms   using moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer in a mixed species   oceanic environment.

d)     The present analysis has been carried   out by utilising species-specific response of phytoplankton from remote   sensing reflectance spectra obtained with a Satlantic underwater profiling   radiometer.

e)     The bloom (also   known as green tide) occurs during the winter-spring and spreads to the   entire northern half of the basin. Researchers had found the colour of water   was remarkably dark green in ocean depths exceeding 2000 metre.

f)     Though not toxic, it is classified as harmful   algal bloom as its spread can lead to depletion of dissolved oxygen in the   bloom region. The decay of the high biomass can lead to the release of   ammonia and steep reduction in dissolved oxygen, which may force other marine   organisms to move to safe regions.

9.

Snakes evolved on land, not in sea (Page 14)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Snake   ancestor

b)     Laurasia

c)     Colubroidea

 

a)     A new study   says that although snakes are found in a wide range of habitats such as land,   water and on trees, they first evolved on land and not in the sea as is   popularly believed.

b)     Researchers   noted that the original snake ancestor was a nocturnal, stealth-hunting   predator that had tiny hind limbs with ankles and toes. They most likely   originated in the warm, forested ecosystems of Southern Hemisphere around 128   million years ago. They most likely came from ancient supercontinent of   Laurasia.

c)     While many   ancestral reptiles were most active during the daytime (diurnal), the   ancestral snake is thought to have been nocturnal. Diurnal habits later   returned around 50-45 million years ago with the appearance of Colubroidea -   the family of snakes that now make up over 85 percent of living snake   species.

NOTE: Read all snapshots in S&T Page 14.

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