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Daily News Analysis 28-07-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Terror at the border (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     The terrorist attack on civilians and a police station in Gurdaspur district might have been the first such serious incident in Punjab in the last two decades, but it is of a piece with the recent violence from across the border in the Jammu region.

2.

Now, question mark over NSA talks (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     As details emerged of the Gurdaspur attack and similarities to fidayeen attacks launched in the past in J&K by Pakistan-based groups including LeT, officials would not comment on whether talks planned between Indian and Pakistani NSAs in August would go ahead.

3.

Beijing, Moscow enhance cooperation in S. China Sea (Pg 14)

a)     International

a)     Military tensions in the Pacific are on the rise as the US cements its China oriented Asia Pivot amid visible signs of naval cooperation between Beijing and Moscow.

4.

New Constitution needed: TNA (Page 14)

a)     International

a)    The Tamil National Alliance (a coalition of Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka) has demanded that the country frame a new Constitution to address a host of issues its struggling with, including the Tamil question.

5.

New Greek bailout talks start, creditors seek more action (P14)

a)     International

a)     Talks between Greece and its international creditors on a third bailout began in Athens but the lenders want to see more reforms turned into law before they disburse the first loans to keep the near-bankrupt country afloat.

6.

Talks with Taliban: more hype than hope (Page 10)

a)     International

a)    After many false starts, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Taliban are now settling on the starting blocks. This will be a long-lasting task and will not end so long as the Taliban and Pakistan talk peace and continue violence.

7.

SC judge faults Yakubs curative plea hearing (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     In an unexpected twist to Yakub Memons last-minute fight against his execution (scheduled for July30), a Supreme Court judge raised doubts about the procedure followed by the court while hearing the curative petition filed by the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

8.

India a source, destination, transit country for trafficking: US report (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Unveiling a closely watched annual anti-trafficking report this week the US State Department retained Indias classification as a Tier II nation for human trafficking concerns.

9.

All eyes on Pluto (Page 11)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     The icy dwarf planet may be located billions of miles from Earth, but studying it could help scientists understand our own planets history.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Terror at the border (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Border disputes

c)     Khalistan

d)     Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)

e)     Terrorism

f)     LeT

a)     The terrorist attack on civilians and a police station in Gurdaspur district might have been the first such serious incident in Punjab in last two decades, but it is of a piece with the recent violence from across the border in the Jammu region.

b)     The border district is situated close to Jammu, and the attackers would have found it a soft target. After security was stepped up in the border areas of J&K, militants operating from across the border appear to have been forced to take other routes close to Jammu to carry out assaults.

c)     Although Pakistan-based militants would like to keep the focus on J&K, any attack close to the Jammu region would serve their purpose. The Uri-Jalandhar highway runs close to the border with Pakistan at Pathankot near Gurdaspur, and provides access to the Jammu region from a section of the border that is not as heavily guarded as stretches in J&K.

d)     For Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, the immediate challenge it seemed was to counter the impression that the attack had something to do with demand for Khalistan. Unlike Khalistani militants in 1980s who predominantly adopted hit-and-run plans, the militants were suicide attackers who were intent on fighting till the very end, allowed him to assert that the attack was not an indication of any revival of terrorism in the State.

e)     However, irrespective of these facts, intelligence agencies have been warning of a rise in pro-Khalistan activity. Last month, RAW had sent a report to Union Home Ministry and the PMO on the Khalistan liberation movement finding support in Pakistan, as also in the US, the UK, Germany, France and the Maldives.

f)     Govt needs to take threats from this quarter also seriously. The cruel attack in Gurdaspur is a major setback to confidence-building process initiated by PM Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Sharif during their meeting in Ufa earlier this month. There can be no let-up on Indias part in countering acts of aggression from across the border. But attacks such as the latest one should not stop efforts to engage Pak in talks.

2.

Now, question mark over NSA talks (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Border disputes

c)     Line of Control (LoC)

d)     International Border (IB)

e)     Terrorism

f)     LeT

 

a)     As details emerged of the Gurdaspur attack and similarities to fidayeen attacks launched in the past in J&K by Pakistan-based groups including LeT, officials would not comment on whether talks planned between Indian and Pakistani NSAs in August would go ahead.

b)     The Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticised the terrorist attack in Gurdaspur in strongest terms and extended heartfelt sympathies and condolences to govt and people of India. In response, Home Minister Rajnath Singh indicated that the govt believes the attack was carried out from Pakistan and talks would not take place at the cost of our national pride.

c)     NSA Ajit Doval said the attack as very serious, adding more questions over whether Ufa process would be impacted. Several diplomats said the NSA talks should go ahead as planned despite the attack and firing at the border.

3.

Beijing, Moscow enhance cooperation in S. China Sea (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     China – Russia relations

b)     Maritime cooperation

c)     US Pivot to Asia

d)     South China Sea

e)     Kuril islands 

a)     Military tensions in the Pacific are on the rise as the US cements its China oriented Asia Pivot amid visible signs of naval cooperation between Beijing and Moscow.

b)    China is closely monitoring USs decision to step up aerial monitoring and attack capability in the Pacific as part of a five-year plan.

c)     The strengthening of Asia Pivot (a containment doctrine targeting China) has escalated tensions over competing sovereignty claims over islands in the South China Sea. Chinese are especially concerned about a recent surge in US activism in the South China Sea.

d)   Last week, Chinese defence ministry criticised surveillance mission undertaken by US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift, who flew on a reconnaissance mission aboard a P-8A plane in the South China Sea.

e)     Philippines (a close US ally and a country which has a dispute with China in the South China Sea) welcomed Admiral Swifts flight, calling it a demonstration of USs political will to stand by its allies who have territorial disputes with China. Apart from Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have claims over islands in the South China Sea.

f)     Already allied with China in game-changing strategic projects in Eurasia, the Russia has now become unambiguous in accusing US of following a containment policy towards Russia and China.

g)     In counter-terrorism naval exercises in the South China Sea, Russia planned to join its Asia-pacific allies in May next year. Heightening the dispute in the area with Japan (a top US ally in the Pacific), the Russians have also announced beefing up its military presence in Kuril islands.

4.

New Constitution needed: TNA (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Sri Lankan internal issues

b)     Tamil National Alliance (TNA)

c)     13th Constitutional Amendment

d)     19th Constitutional Amendment

a)    TNA leader said a new Constitution should address not only the Tamil question but also other issues such as electoral reforms, human rights, corruption, right to information and public procurement.

b)     His observations came in response to question on whether the TNA was accepting the 13th Constitutional Amendment or favouring a new package. The 13th Constitutional Amendment (an outcome of Rajiv Gandhi- J. R. Jayawardene Accord of 1987) created Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka.

c)     The TNAs manifesto described the Amendment as faulty on the premise that power is concentrated on the central govt and its agent, the Governor. The TNAs position is that sovereignty lies with the people and not with the State.

d)    Indicating that components of 19th Amendment (expecting dilution of powers of Executive Presidency) would further be reformed, the TNA leader said the fate of the 13th Amendment would be determined on the basis of an agreement to be arrived upon later.

5.

New Greek bailout talks start, creditors seek more action (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Greece debt crisis

b)     European Union (EU)

c)     European Commission

d)     European Central Bank (ECB)

e)     International Monetary Fund (IMF)

a)     Talks between Greece and its international creditors on a third bailout began in Athens but the lenders want to see more reforms turned into law before they disburse the first loans to keep the near-bankrupt country out of debt.

b)     The govt of PM Tsipras has pushed two packages of measures through Parliament this month as conditions for starting negotiations on a three-year loan programme worth up to €86 billion to keep Greece in the Eurozone.

c)     With Athens missing a debt repayment to the IMF and forced to close the countrys banks for three weeks, Greece came close to the edge during a long deadlock between the govt and its creditors.

6.

Talks with Taliban: more hype than hope (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     Taliban and Afghan government peace talks

b)     Afghanistan – Pakistan relations

c)     Afghan High Peace Council (HPC)

d)     Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency

e)     Taliban

f)     Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

g)     Al-Qaeda

h)     Daesh

 

a)     Can negotiating with the Taliban result in peace and stability in Afghanistan? According to the author, it perhaps but not under current circumstances. Not while its govt is hampered by economic meltdown, is short on international assistance, and its security forces are struggling to hold their ground against a resurgent Taliban.

b)     Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani thinks he can achieve (through persuasion), what the US failed to get by coercion. He applauded the first direct meeting at Murree (Pak) on July 7 between a Taliban delegation and representatives of Afghanistans govt and HPC as the biggest achievement of Afghanistan over past 14 years.

c)     The format of the Murree talks was 2 (Taliban and HPC) + 1 (Pakistan) + 2 (China and the US), the last two attending as observers. Negotiations with the Taliban are meant to be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, inter-Afghan process. Yet, Pakistan is the guarantor and guide of this dialogue. Afghans are keen to hold the next round outside Pakistan, and with the main leaders of the Shura.

d)     When former Afghan President Hamid Karzai (in 2008) offered to talk to Mullah Omar anytime, anywhere, Pakistan denied having access to members of the Quetta Shura. That its horses are kept in Pakistans stables was implicitly confirmed the moment Pakistan agreed to facilitate the peace process.

e)     No known senior members of the Shura were present at Murree. A noteworthy inclusion was that of Mullah Yahya of the Haqqani network, which is known to act as a veritable arm of Pakistans ISI agency. The exclusion of Syed Tayyeb Agha (head of Taliban political office in Qatar) adds to the uncertainty of the peace talks, as he is recognised as the sole figure authorised to negotiate on behalf of the Taliban.

f)     Ghanis play of the dice has logic, since the Quetta Shura operates under the umbrella of the Pakistan Army. Karzai had attempted to engage Pakistan exactly the same way. He failed, but not for lack of trying. His later efforts, to contact individual Taliban leaders resulted either in their incarceration or elimination.

g)     When in a creative move, the US helped Qatar set up a Taliban office in Doha to give Taliban representatives a measure of independence from Pakistan, the ISI sought to infiltrate and control that office. The recent arrest of Tayyeb Aghas brothers in Pak might have been part of this effort.

h)     Indications of the Talibans readiness to sit down to talk have been in the air for a few years. The question is, under what conditions and to what purpose? Some Afghan participants who participated in the recent meetings feel that the Taliban has principally used its international exposure to charm foreign interlocutors, instead of committing to abjuring violence and joining democratic process.

i)     While Afghans suffer intimidation and terror at its hands, the Taliban projects itself as a moderate and nationalist force, promising to protect womens rights and female education, and provide a clean administration. They claim ideological and organisational disassociation with extremist groups like the al-Qaeda and Daesh.

j)     These talks are unlikely to deliver peace and reconciliation because the objectives of the protagonists do not match. Ghani hopes to make the negotiations a continuing process, and meanwhile build mutual confidence, outline the agenda issues necessary for peace, and eliminate violence.

k)     The Taliban wants the exit of foreign forces, power-sharing, constitutional changes establishing the supremacy of the Sharia, and re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reversing gains of Afghan people over the past 14 years. Its immediate objectives are seeking release of Taliban prisoners, ending targeted sanctions, and a removal of the bounty lists for information leading to the location and capture of its prominent leaders.

l)     Ghani often says that Pakistan has been in an undeclared state of hostilities with Afghanistan. For him, Pakistans acceptance that the real conflict is between the two States (rather than within Afghanistan) is development. He said the problem is not about peace with Taliban, but the problem is fundamentally about peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

m)     Facilitation of direct talks with Taliban is not enough to prove the Pakistan Armys bona fides. It has failed to provide Afghanistan direct access to key members of the Shura, take action against the Haqqani network, and restrain the Taliban from its 2015 offensive.

n)     Pakistan has paid a heavy price for its complicity with the Taliban. Moreover, a Taliban govt in Kabul might not serve Pakistans best interests. The US desire to disengage, and Chinas decision to invest in Afghans stability (to deny a safe haven for Uighur insurgents and follow its regional interests) serve as incentives for Pakistan to alter its behaviour.

o)     The Murree meeting foresees future conversations, which are bound to be long and complex. Attempts to conciliate Taliban were made even before its resurgence in 2005-06. After many false starts, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Taliban are now settling on the starting blocks. This will be a long-lasting task and will not end so long as the Taliban and Pakistan talk peace and continue violence.

7.

SC judge faults Yakubs curative plea hearing (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Death penalty

b)     Curative petition

c)     Mumbai serial blasts case 1993

d)     Supreme Court

 

a)     In an unexpected twist to Yakub Memons last-minute fight against his execution (scheduled for July30), a Supreme Court judge raised doubts about the procedure followed by the court while hearing the curative petition filed by the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

b)     The curative petition (a rare remedy) is the last of a series of judicial processes made available to a condemned man in the Supreme Court. Once his original appeal against the death penalty is dismissed, a death row convict can file a review petition and then a curative petition.

c)     Though the hearing was on Yakubs petition challenging the undue haste being shown by the State govt to execute him, Justice Joseph said a curative petition should be circulated not only among 3 senior-most judges of Supreme Court but also among judges who passed the judgment complained of, if available. However, he pointed out that neither he nor Justice J. Chelameswar were included in the subsequent curative process.

d)     Attorney-General Rohatgi countered that there was no need to include Justice Joseph or Justice Chelameswar in the curative process. He said curative pleas challenged the original judgment of confirmation of the death penalty, and not the review of the original judgment.

8.

India a source, destination, transit country for trafficking: US report (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Human trafficking

b)     Trafficking Victims Protection Acts (TVPA)

a)     Unveiling a closely watched annual anti-trafficking report this week, the US State Department retained Indias classification as a Tier II nation for human trafficking concerns, which implied that US viewed India as a country whose govt did not fully comply with its TVPA minimum standards, but was making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

b)     While Indias ranking has been at Tier II level since 2011, it was until 2010 ranked as a Tier II Watch List, implying that absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking was highly significant or increasing; that there was a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or that the assessment of its progress in combating human trafficking was based on future commitments made by the govt.

c)    Noting that India continued to be a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, the report urged India to increase its reporting of anti-trafficking data.

9.

All eyes on Pluto (Page 11)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Pluto

b)     Kuiper Belt

c)     Kuiper Belt Object (KBO)

d)     Charon

e)     New Horizons spacecraft

f)     Hubble Space telescope

g)     Curiosity

h)     Rosetta

i)     Chandrayaan-1

j)     Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

k)     Hydrodynamic escape

l)     NASA

a)     Showing red and orange shades of the dwarf planet, flowing ice in its heart-shaped feature, some smooth plains and some mountains and craters, the enhanced images of Pluto that were recently released by Nasas New Horizons team were truly impressing.

b)     Before Plutos fly-by on July 14, interest in existence of life beyond Earth was rekindled by the findings from Mars rover Curiosity and Asteroid Mission Rosetta. Indias Chandrayaan-1 and MOM (both demonstrating technological skill and generating scientific interest) also inspired the younger generation in the country to choose a career in science.

c)     These astronomical observations help us learn about microscopic and macroscopic structure of the universe. Over the years, lunar and planetary missions have provided extremely valuable scientific data on formation and evolution of planets and their moons.

d)     That Pluto was discovered in 1930 as the ninth planet of the Solar system is well-known. Twenty years after its discovery, astronomers postulated the presence of the Kuiper Belt (comprising a vast collection of icy objects beyond the orbit of Neptune) in which Pluto itself was a member.

e)     International Astronomical Union in 2006 chose to classify Pluto and recently discovered large KBOs as dwarf planets. Kuiper Belt contains a sizable supply of ancient, icy and organic material that are held in deep freeze, and that were left over from birth pains of planets, containing evidences of distant past. Because of this, planetary scientists are keen to learn more about Pluto and its moons, Charon (the largest), Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra, and other objects in the Kuiper Belt.

f)     Astronomers are keen to study the formation of Pluto and its moons. The prevailing theory of the formation of Pluto system is that Pluto collided with another large body, and much of the debris from this impact went into orbit around Pluto and eventually combined to form Charon. Pluto has a reflective surface with distinct markings that indicate polar caps. Charons surface is far less reflective, with indistinct markings.

g)     Interestingly, Plutos density, size, and surface composition are strikingly similar to Triton (Neptunes largest satellite), considered to be a captured planet from the Kuiper Belt. A similar collision theory is also in place to explain the creation of Earths moon, and hence the study of Pluto and Charon could help scientists understand the history of our own planet.

h)     Pluto is about 40 times farther away from the Sun than Earth, has a diameter of about 2,380 kms, and orbits the Sun once every 248 Earth years. It is a rocky icy planet with 35 percent by mass being ice. Its atmosphere comprises mainly nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide (that regularly transition between solid and gas state) and is extremely rarefied.

i)     Pluto has a thin, tenuous atmosphere that expands when it comes closer to the Sun and collapses as it moves farther away - similar to a comet. Furthermore, Plutos surface temperature varies greatly because of the planets eccentric orbit and polar tilt. As the planet moves farther away and cools, the average surface temperature is expected to drop and most of the atmosphere will freeze out on the surface. As a result of this and also because the planet rotational axis is tilted by 28 degrees, Pluto may have the most complex seasonal patterns in the solar system.

j)     Scientists believe that Plutos atmosphere loses a lot of mass into space. The thermal energy of typical molecules in upper atmosphere is sufficient to escape Plutos gravitational hold, a process called hydrodynamic escape. Same may have been responsible for the rapid loss of hydrogen from Earths atmosphere early in our planets history, making Earth suitable for life. Pluto is only place in solar system where we can study hydrodynamic escape on a planetary scale today.

k)     Another important connection between Pluto and life on Earth is likely presence of organic compounds more complex than frozen methane on Plutos surface and water ice inside the dwarf planet. Recent observations of smaller KBOs show that they are also most likely to harbour large amounts of ice and organic substances.

l)     Such objects are considered to have routinely strayed into inner part of solar system billions of years ago, collided with Earth, and helped to seed the young Earth with building blocks of life. Given all these scientific motivations, it is understandable why there is increased scientific interest in Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

m)     NASA plans to turn around the spacecraft once it passes Pluto and try to map the planets night side, which will be softly illuminated by the moonlight from Charon. At this time, a powerful radio beam will be sent from Earth. This will aim to pass through Plutos atmosphere and reach the spacecrafts. By measuring the effects of atmospheric refraction on the radio beam as it travels to the spacecraft, the temperature, density and composition profile of the atmosphere all the way to the surface can be estimated.

n)     Valuable insights into the origin of the outer solar system and that of planet and satellite systems are expected to be discovered from the data sent by NASAs New Horizons. This will raise scientific intense all around.

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