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Daily News Analysis 07-07-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

India mulling proposal to join Eurasian Union (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     PM Modis ongoing visit to Russia and five Central Asian nations could accelerate the feasibility studies under way to assess whether India should sign a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.

2.

Palestine shocked at Indian abstention (Pages 1 and 10)

a)     I.R

a)     Hitting out at Indias decision to abstain from the UN Human Rights Council vote because of technical reasons, Palestine has said the abstention marks a departure from Delhis traditional position.

3.

Is India bending towards Israel? (Page 9)

a)     I.R

a)     By abstaining from a crucial vote that would have allowed the ICC to investigate Israeli war crimes, India sends signals of a disturbingly different stance towards Palestine.

4.

Finance Minister resigns to smoothen talks with creditors (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     International

a)     Greeces outspoken Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned, removing one major obstacle to any deal to keep Athens in the euro zone after Greeks voted resoundingly to back the govt in rejecting the austerity terms of a bailout.

5.

Tibet poised to become part of Belt and Road initiative (Page 12)

a)     International

a)    Chinas efforts to forge a new social contract with people of Tibet Autonomous Region (based on generous subsidies, jobs and education) appear to be paying off, with the booming Tibetan capital showing little signs of remembering Dalai Lama on the eve of his 80th birthday.

6.

Iran talks drama enters final act (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     The last act of high-stakes Iran nuclear talks began with Foreign Ministers seeking to resolve a few remaining issues blocking a historic accord on the eve of a final deadline.

7.

IS seizes ground from Syrian Kurds (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     IS fighters stormed a Syrian town held by Kurdish-led forces near Raqqa city, part of a wider offensive by the militants two days after their de facto capital was hit by some of the heaviest US-led air strikes in the conflict.

8.

Controversial Meiji sites get world heritage status (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     UNESCO has decided to grant world heritage status to more than 20 old industrial sites in Japan after officials from the country agreed to acknowledge that some of them used Korean forced labourers before and during the Scond World War.

9.

Congress  wants  uniform  compensation (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Adding a fresh twist to controversial Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in LARR (Amendment) Second Bill 2015, the five Congress MPs on the joint parliamentary committee examining it have written to panel chairman S.S. Ahluwalia seeking an amendment to the 2013 Act that had been passed by the UPA govt.

10.

SCs in TN better off than FCs in Jharkhand (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     New data from SECC 2011 and UNICEFs Rapid Survey on Children show that while Indias SCs and STs have worse socio-economic indicators, disadvantage is varies substantially depending on State where they live.

11.

Rural realities (Page 8)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     New data for rural households revealed by the Socio Economic and Caste Census represent a grim reminder of the state of rural India.

12.

Comet that Philae is on may host alien life (Page 7)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Astronomers proposed a novel explanation for the strange appearance of the comet carrying Europes robot probe Philae through outer space - alien microscopic life.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

India mulling proposal to join Eurasian Union (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Eurasian Union relations

b)     Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)

c)     Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

d)     Latin American Integration Association (ALADI)

e)     North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

f)     ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA)

g)     India – Uzbekistan relations

h)     Situation in Afghanistan

a)     PM Modis ongoing visit to Russia and five Central Asian nations could accelerate the feasibility studies under way to assess whether India should sign a FTA with the EEU.

b)     Even as it is yet to firm up its agreements with EU, India is considering option of signing a pact with the EEU, which has Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia as members, and will see inclusion of Tajikistan later this year.

c)     An invitation to join the bloc was extended by Russia, and a joint statement for establishment of a joint study group between India and EEU was signed when Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala visited Russia recently.

d)     A senior official said though India is keen to secure its position vis-a-vis tariff lines, it is also considering signing up with different trade blocs like the ALADI which now has 13 members, NAFTA and AFTA.

e)     He said trade is becoming more and more regional; the EU is focusing on trade within members. While India has to protect investment and trade from becoming imbalanced, it also has to ensure that its goods are not discriminated against. It is best for India to gain access to all important trade blocs.

f)     India is keen to enhance its ties with the Central Asian countries, which have huge oil and gas reserves and are an important link to Afghanistan.

g)     While officials are weighing up the consequences of joining the EEU and the EU, there are also reports of Iran, Egypt and Israel considering the possibility of signing FTAs with the EEU. Vietnam too has signed a FTA with the EEU.

h)     On his first visit to Central Asian countries, PM Modi held talks with Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov on key bilateral and regional issues including the situation in Afghanistan as the two countries signed 3 pacts to boost cooperation between their foreign offices and in the field of culture and tourism.

i)     They discussed ways to enhance strategic, economic and energy ties apart from reviewing key regional issues including situation in Afghan.

2.

Palestine shocked at Indian abstention (Pages 1 and 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Israel relations

b)     Gaza conflict

c)     UNHRC resolution

d)     International Criminal Court (ICC)

 

a)  Hitting out at Indias decision to abstain from the UNHRC vote because of technical reasons, Palestine has said the abstention marks a departure from Delhis traditional position.

b)     Palestinian Ambassador to India said that Indias decision has been affected by its burgeoning military relationship with Israel.

c)     India refused to vote against Israel in a resolution related to strikes in Gaza over a period of 2 months in 2014 that left more than 2200 dead, including 1462 Palestinian civilians. The vote was on a report (submitted during the UNHRCs summer session in Geneva a year later) that blamed Israel for what it called extensive use of weapons with a wide kill and injury radius.

d)     The resolution (which said Israel should bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice) also called on Israel and Hamas to cooperate fully with ICC. It was this reference to the ICC that India said it could not support, as it is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that created the ICC, and had similarly abstained from resolutions against Syria and North Korea.

e)     The Ministry of External Affairs has denied clearly that there was any change in Indias longstanding position on support to Palestinian cause while explaining Indias decision to abstain from voting at the UNHRC resolution on Israels attacks on Gaza in 2014.

f)     Palestinian Ambassador to India termed Indias explanation of vote unconvincing, pointing out that other non-signatories to the ICC like Russia and China had supported the resolution.

g)   India was among 5countries which abstained, while 41 countries voted in favour of the resolution, and US remained the only country to vote against it.

3.

Is India bending towards Israel? (Page 9)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Israel relations

b)     Gaza conflict

c)     UNHRC resolution

d)     International Criminal Court (ICC)

e)     Davis Report

a)     A year ago, Israel began its assault on Gaza Strip. More than 2100 Palestinians died in the bombing. During the war, UNHRC enrolled a commission to investigate the conduct of both Israeli state and non-state Palestinian resistance. That panel (led by former New York Supreme Court Judge Mary McGowan Davis) has now produced a report that accuses the Israeli govt of actions equivalent to war crimes.

b)     The Davis Report is only the most recent of the many UN investigations into Israels 2014 bombing of Gaza. On April 27, the UNSG released a summary report on Israeli attacks on UN schools that had been used as shelters in the war. In none of the seven cases looked at in detail did Palestinian militants use the schools as a launch pad for their retaliation attacks.

c)     What the Davis Report found was that Israels military deliberately targeted civilian areas, hitting residential buildings, which are prima facie civilian objects immune from attack. Israels assaults on homes increased after 2009. Israel has made it a habit to bomb hospitals and power plants to impose punishment on Palestinians - a crime against the Fourth Geneva Convention.

d)     Strikingly, India abstained in its vote at the HRC. It joined Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia - all lobbied by Israel over the course of the year. The US was only country to vote against motion to accept the Davis Report and send the file over to the ICC. Forty-one states (including the 8 sitting European members) voted to censure Israel.

e)     Last year, India had voted in support of HRC resolution to set up the commission to investigate war crimes. In the debate last year, Indias ambassador to HRC expressed sorrow for the heavy air strikes in Gaza and disproportionate use of force resulting in the tragic loss of civilian lives. Now India has decided to abstain. Why?

f)     The Ministry of External Affairs says that there has been no change in its policy towards the struggle of the Palestinians. The reason for the abstention is that India is not a signatory of the Rome Statute that set up the ICC. The MEA claims that India has a policy not to vote for a resolution that refers a country to the ICC. But India has voted at least twice for UNHRC resolutions that do refer cases to the ICC.

g)     The principled stand to refrain from cooperation with ICC does not seem as clear as suggested by MEA. China (by the way) is also not a signatory to the Rome Statute. Yet, China voted with majority to accept the Davis report. Why did India vote to send the Syrian govt to the ICC but not the Israeli govt?

h)     One suggested answer is political. Israel has pinned its hopes on Modi govt to break Indias ties with the Palestinians and join US, Palau and Nauru in the pro-Israel bloc in the UN. The BJP and its ancestors have called for close ties with Israel since 1948, largely because of their hostility to Muslims. Modi has already suggested that he would be the first Indian head of govt to visit Israel. This new alignment could very well be signalled by Indias abstention on this vote.

i)     On June 14, Israel released its own report on war, which suggested that it had committed no war crimes. This is part of its campaign to whitewash the war and the continued occupation of Palestinian lands. Israeli policy directly leads to endless occupation and punctuated wars.

j)     That is why the Davis Report was concerned that nothing would come of their work, since impunity prevails across the boards for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law allegedly committed by Israeli forces, whether it be in context of active hostilities in Gaza or killings, torture and ill-treatment in the West Bank.

k)     Pressure on Israel to change its policy direction could come from an ICC investigation. Indias abstention does not help the situation in West Asia. In fact, it has given the Israeli policymakers respite, and has revealed the slim hopes of the Palestinian people.

4.

Finance Minister resigns to smoothen talks with creditors (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     International

a)     Greece debt crisis

b)     European Union (EU)

c)     European Commission

d)     European Central Bank (ECB)

e)     International Monetary Fund (IMF)

a)    Greeces outspoken Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned, removing one major obstacle to any deal to keep Athens in the euro zone after Greeks voted resoundingly to back the govt in rejecting the austerity terms of a bailout.

b)     Official said that Leftist PM Tsipras promised German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Greece would bring a proposal for a cash-for-reforms deal to an emergency summit of euro zone leaders. However, Merkel said that the conditions for fresh talks on a new rescue package sought by Greece from the European Stability Mechanism were not yet met.

c)    Tsipras said that No victory in countrys bailout referendum did not mean Athens was headed for a so-called Grexit. This is not a mandate of rupture with Europe, but a mandate that strengthens our negotiating strength to achieve a viable deal.

d)     French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel said the door was open for a return to debt negotiations with Greece, but called on Athens to make serious proposals.

5.

Tibet poised to become part of Belt and Road initiative (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     Tibet – China relations

b)     Tibet Autonomous Region

c)     Chinas Belt and Road initiative

d)     Qinghai-Tibet railway project

e)     Jokhang temple 

a)    Chinas efforts to forge a new social contract with people of Tibet Autonomous Region (based on generous subsidies, jobs and education) appear to be paying off, with the booming Tibetan capital showing little signs of remembering the Dalai Lama on the eve of his 80th birthday.

b)     Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, there was serious rioting in the Tibetan capital at the popular Barkhor Street, adjoining the nearby Jokhang temple. Four years later, the same area became the scene of first self-immolation in Lhasa.

c)    Jokhang temple is an iconic structure, which is regularly jammed with Buddhist pilgrims. A world heritage site, the Jokhang temple remains one of the vibrant symbols of the shared Buddhist heritage of China and South Asia.

d)     In a White Paper on Tibet released in April, Chinese have criticised the Dalai Lama group for starting self-immolations.

e)     Tibet is now poised to become an important component of President Xis pan-Eurasian Belt and Road initiative. Its position on the Eurasian railway map has been reinforced by the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which has reached Shigaste, close to the borders of Nepal and Bhutan.

6.

Iran talks drama enters final act (Page 12)

a)     International

a)      Iran – P5+1 nuclear deal

b)     Irans nuclear programme

c)     P5+1 group

a)     The last act of high-stakes Iran nuclear talks began with Foreign Ministers seeking to resolve a few remaining issues blocking a historic accord on the eve of a final deadline.  

b)     With Ministers back in Vienna on a 10th day of talks, both sides warned however that success in their search to nail down an agreement ending a 13-year-old deadlock was far from guaranteed. US Secretary of State John Kerry said it is now time to seal the deal.

7.

IS seizes ground from Syrian Kurds (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     Islamic State (IS)

b)     Syria and Iraq crisis

c)     Kurdish forces

d)     Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

e)     Raqqa

f)     Aleppo

g)     Ain Issa  

h)     Euphrates river

 

a)     IS fighters stormed a Syrian town held by Kurdish-led forces near Raqqa city, part of a wider offensive by the militants two days after their de facto capital was hit by some of the heaviest US-led air strikes in the conflict.

b)     The Kurdish YPG militia said it was fighting to expel IS fighters who had attacked Ain Issa, captured from them only two weeks ago with aerial support from US-led military alliance. Ain Issa sits on a major east-west highway from Aleppo in the west to the Iraqi city of Mosul.

c)     Defense Secretary Carter said air strikes targeting bridges and IS positions around its declared capital of Raqqa were aimed at limiting the groups freedom of movement and ability to counter those capable Kurdish forces.

d)     The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS forces had taken Ain Issa and areas around it some 50 km north of Raqqa city. Air strikes at the weekend destroyed seven bridges over waterways in Raqqa, which is bordered to the south by the Euphrates river.

e)     YPG spokesman said the attack on Ain Issa was part of a coordinated IS offensive on YPG positions that also targeted northeastern province of Hasaka, bordering Turkey to the north and Iraq to the south. YPG has been the only notable partner to date on the ground in Syria for the US-led alliance.

8.

Controversial Meiji sites get world heritage status (Page 12)

a)     International

a)     Japan – South Korea relations

b)     Meiji sites

c)     UNESCO world heritage sites

d)     Scond World War

a)     UNESCO has decided to grant world heritage status to more than 20 old industrial sites in Japan after officials from the country agreed to acknowledge that some of them used Korean forced labourers before and during the Scond World War.

b)    The 23 Meiji period (1868-1912) sites include coalmines and shipyards that Japan says contributed to its transformation from feudalism into a successful modern economy.

c)     However, South Korea had opposed the application for world heritage status unless clear reference was made to the use of an estimated 60,000 labourers forced to work at 7 of the sites (including the island coalmine Gunkanjima) during Japans 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

d)   After UN bodys 21-member panel in Bonn postponed a decision to give the two sides more time to negotiate, Japan agreed to acknowledge the use of conscripted labour.

e)     While South Koreas govt welcomed the agreement, politicians in Tokyo attempted to play down the significance of Japans concession. Local supporters celebrated the sites inclusion, which is expected to boost tourism and opens up sources of funding for preservation work.

9.

Congress  wants  uniform  compensation (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act 2013

b)     Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency

c)     Social Impact Assessment (SIA)

d)     Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC)

a)     Adding a fresh twist to controversial Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in LARR (Amendment) Second Bill 2015, the five Congress MPs on JPC examining it have written to panel chairman seeking an amendment to the 2013 Act that had been passed by UPA govt.

b)     The 2013 Act had mandated a compensation of twice the market value in urban areas, and between two and four times in rural areas, depending on the distance from a town or city. The BJP govt had amended this slightly, leaving compensation in urban areas to twice as much as in Act, but made it a flat four times in rural parts, abandoning the concept of the sliding scale.

10.

SCs in TN better off than FCs in Jharkhand (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011

b)     Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC)

c)     Census of India 2011

d)     UNICEF

a)     New data from SECC 2011 and UNICEFs RSOC show that while Indias SCs and STs have worse socio-economic indicators, this disadvantage is varies substantially depending on State where they live.

b)     Both sets of data show that SC and ST households remain significantly worse off on average. Rates of stunting and severe stunting in children under the age of five are highest among SC and ST children with ST children faring worst. For both stunting and underweight, OBCs and others have substantially better indicators.

c)     However, the national averages hide State-level dynamics. Among States with substantial SC populations, Kerala, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh have the lowest levels of underweight SC children. Therefore, an SC child in these States is less likely to be underweight than an other category child in Gujarat, Jharkhand or West Bengal.

d)     Among States with significant ST populations, the north-eastern States have lower levels of ST children underweight than other category children in most of the northern and eastern States, as well as Gujarat.

e)     Similar is the case with SECC data. Nationally, other households have far better socio-economic indicators than SC and ST households. However, once State location is factored in, dynamics change.

11.

Rural realities (Page 8)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011

b)     Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC)

c)     Census of India 2011

d)     UNICEF

e)     Poverty

f)     Below Poverty Line

a)     New data for rural households revealed by SECC represent a grim reminder of the state of rural India. In over 90 percent of households, the main earning member makes less than Rs.10,000 a month. Over half the households are landless and a similar share of them rely on casual manual labour for the larger part of their income.

b)     The numbers should come as a reality check for those who talk of Indias uncontrolled growth, and arrival on global stage as a superpower. The countryside remains unable to find jobs that can pull families out of poverty. Agriculture remains at subsistence levels, with low mechanisation, limited irrigation facilities and little access to credit.

c)     The eastern and central States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have the poorest indicators. Even in the developed southern States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, family incomes are low and dependence on casual manual labour is high.

d)     Modi govt is yet to make its intentions clear on SECC, especially with regard to the difficult issue of where to draw the line. Instead of a fresh round of debating over where to set Indias poverty line, the govt would be well-advised to expand and universalise its social protection schemes, and leave some space for States to innovate.

e)     It would also be wise for the govt to release caste-wise information on socio-economic indicators collected by SECC but not yet put in the public domain. Those numbers would allow (for first time since 1931) for the relative socio-economic status of various caste groups to be compared while framing policies of affirmative action.

12.

Comet that Philae is on may host alien life (Page 7)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Philae

b)     Alien microscopic life

a)     Astronomers proposed a novel explanation for the strange appearance of the comet carrying Europes robot probe Philae through outer space - alien microscopic life.

b)     They said many of its features (which include a black crust over lakes of ice, flat-bottomed craters and mega-boulders scattered on the surface) were consistent with the presence of microbes.

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