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Daily News Analysis 29-07-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

India ignored as Pakistan takes charge of Afghan-Taliban talks (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     As representatives of the Afghanistan govt prepare for another round of talks in Pakistan with Taliban representatives, India is being frozen out of the talks. The official stand of the govt is that it is supportive of the peace process provided it brings genuine peace and internationally accepted red lines.

2.

E-visa facility for Chinese tourists from tomorrow (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     The electronic tourist visa facility for Chinese nationals announced by PM Modi in May will be rolled out from July 30 onwards.

3.

China says it is not planning military bases in the Maldives (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     After the Maldives allowed foreigners to own land despite opposition concern the reform could be used for military expansion by China, Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China is not planning to build military bases on the Maldives.

4.

Pak gets $336m to support forces in Afghanistan (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Pakistan received $336 million from the United States for its ongoing role in combating a Taliban insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan.

5.

NATO backs Turkeys war on terror (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     The NATO promised strong support for Turkeys fight against terrorism at an emergency meeting called to discuss Ankaras strikes against Islamic State fighters and Kurdish rebels.

6.

Centre returns controversial Gujarat Bill (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill 2015 has been sent back to the State following an objection by the IT Ministry.

7.

Yakub plea goes to new Bench as judges differ (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Within hours after a divided Supreme Court Bench left Yakub Memons plea for staying his execution on July 30 in void, a new three-judge Bench has been constituted to hear afresh the petition of the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

8.

Sowing the seeds of a disaster (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Environment

a)     The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill in its present form could misuse away staggering amounts on meaningless afforestation. It must be recast to protect Indias forests.

9.

Mixed views on move to dilute powers of RBI Governor (Pg 15)

a)     Economy

a)     RBI Governors always had privilege of independent decision-making on issues related to monetary policies, which helped the Indian economy for a long time.

10.

Benchmarks for banks (Page 11)

a)     Economy

a)     As private banks are profit-oriented and citycentric, and public sector banks are socially oriented, the performance norms for the two should be different.

11.

Surface-to-air missile to be tested in Israel (Page 8)

a)     S&T

a)     Official said the long-range surface-to-air missile being developed with Israel will go in for national trials for the Navy once it is tested in Israel in October, with production following definitely next year.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

India ignored as Pakistan takes charge of Afghan-Taliban talks (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Afghan – Taliban peace talks

b)     Afghanistan – Pakistan relations

c)     Afghan High Peace Council (HPC)

d)     Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency

e)     Taliban

 

 

a)    As representatives of the Afghanistan govt prepare for another round of talks in Pakistan with Taliban representatives, India is being frozen out of talks. The official stand of the govt is that it is supportive of the peace process provided it brings genuine peace and internationally accepted red lines.

b)     In 2010, former President Hamid Karzai had listed these red lines as an acceptance of the Afghan Constitution; peace or a ceasefire as a pre-condition for talks; and following an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led process, which had been endorsed by the UPA government.

c)     In contrast, the current round of talks initiated by President Ghani is happening without a ceasefire in place, where Taliban representatives are pushing for re-establishment of an Islamic Emirate, rather than Constitution.

d)     In addition, the talks are being hosted by Pakistan govt, with senior ISI intelligence officials sitting in on all the discussions that were held on July 7 in the Pakistani hill station of Murree between Afghan officials and Taliban leaders produced by Pakistan. The next round of talks is expected to be held in Pakistan on July 31, according to a representative of Afghan HPC.

e)     With each round of talks, a senior diplomat said both Afghanistan and international community are accepting that the Taliban is a legitimate representative of Afghans, when in fact they are a terror group under Pakistani control.

f)     Given that India has little say in the outcome, officials in New Delhi and Kabul concede that the govt will take a more realistic position.

2.

E-visa facility for Chinese tourists from tomorrow (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     India – China relations

b)     E-visa facility

c)     Arunachal Pradesh issue

 

a)     The electronic tourist visa facility for Chinese nationals announced by PM Modi in May will be rolled out from July 30 onwards. Along with citizens of China, the e-tourist visa facility will also be offered to nationals of Hong Kong and Macao.

b)     Modi had made the announcement notwithstanding frequent issuance of stapled visas by China to people from Arunachal Pradesh and J&K.

c)   India had last year launched e-tourist visa facility (which was earlier called tourist visa on arrival enabled by electronic travel authorisation) for more than 40 countries, including the US. The scheme was later extended to 36 more countries with effect from May.

d)     Under the e-visa scheme, an applicant receives an email authorising him or her to travel to India after it is approved and he or she can travel with a print-out of this authorisation. On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country.

3.

China says it is not planning military bases in the Maldives (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Maldives land law

b)     Indian Ocean

c)     String of Pearls

d)     South China Sea

a)    After the Maldives allowed foreigners to own land despite opposition concern the reform could be used for military expansion by China, Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China is not planning to build military bases on the Maldives.

b)     The Maldives passed legislation last week to allow foreigners to own land within a project site on condition at least 70 percent of the area is reclaimed from the sea.

c)     India (which traditionally has strong ties with the Maldives and Sri Lanka) has been concerned about Chinas growing involvement in the Indian Ocean as it opens its purse strings and builds a network of ports dubbed the String of Pearls.

d)     Meanwhile, China said it conducted air and sea drills in South China Sea as it stakes an increasingly assertive claim to virtually the whole sea despite rival claims by neighbours.

4.

Pak gets $336m to support forces in Afghanistan (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     US – Pakistan relations

b)     Coalition Support Fund (CSF) programme

c)     Taliban

d)     NATO

a)     Pakistan received $336 million from the US for its ongoing role in combating a Taliban insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan.

b)     Officials said the injection of cash (which comes as the Taliban steps up its annual summer offensive launched in late April) has helped Pakistans foreign exchange reserves reach a fresh high of about $19billion.

c)     Regular payments to Pakistan under CSF programme began in 2001 when Pakistan joined the US-led coalition in Afghanistan as a frontline ally. Pakistan provides use of its air bases and other facilities in exchange for reimbursements.

d)     US-led NATO forces ended their combat mission in Afghanistan last December, leaving local forces to battle militants alone, but a 13,000-strong residual force remains for training and counter-terrorism operations.

e)     Meanwhile, the Afghan govt conducted its first face-to-face talks with Taliban cadres on July 7 in a Pakistani hill station, aimed at ending the 14-year insurgency.

5.

NATO backs Turkeys war on terror (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Islamic State (IS)

b)     Syria and Iraq crisis

c)     Kurdish forces

d)     Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)

e)     NATO

f)     Incirlik airbase

a)     The NATO promised strong support for Turkeys fight against terrorism at an emergency meeting called to discuss Ankaras strikes against IS fighters and Kurdish rebels.

b)     Once-reluctant Ankara has since launched attacks against IS targets in Syria and Kurd positions in northern Iraq, despite the fact that Kurdish forces have had some of the biggest military successes against the jihadists.

c)     Turkey has also agreed with the US to create an IS-free zone in northern Syria and dropped its previous refusal to let US aircraft use its Incirlik airbase to launch attacks on the jihadists.

d)    Turkeys President Erdogan insisted Ankara would press its attacks to the full and said he considered peace talks with the outlawed PKK dead in water.

6.

Centre returns controversial Gujarat Bill (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill 2015

b)     Section 25 of the Bill  

a)     The controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill 2015 has been sent back to the State following an objection by the IT Ministry. This means the Bill will not be sent for Presidential assent and cannot become law yet. Any Bill passed by an Assembly on issues contravening Central laws needs Presidential assent.

b)     After it was rejected thrice by two former Presidents (the late A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2004 and Pratibha Patil in 2008 and 2009), the Gujarat House passed the Bill again on March 31 this year.

c)     It was first introduced as GUJCOC Bill in 2003 (when Narendra Modi was CM) with provisions like increasing the period to file charge sheet from 90 to 180 days and strict conditions for granting bail to an accused.

d)     President Abdul Kalam who returned the controversial Gujarat Bill in 2004 wanted the clause relating to interception of communication to be removed.

e)     Centre has also objected to another provision in Section 25 of Bill, which makes the govt immune from any legal action for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of this Act.

7.

Yakub plea goes to new Bench as judges differ (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Death penalty

b)     Curative petition

c)     Mumbai serial blasts case 1993

d)     Article 21 of the Constitution

e)     Order 48, Rule 4 of the Supreme Court Rules 2013

f)     Supreme Court

 

a)     Within hours after a divided Supreme Court Bench left Yakub Memons plea for staying his execution on July 30 in void, a new three-judge Bench has been constituted to hear afresh the petition of the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

b)     A split Bench saw Justice Anil R. Dave reject Yakubs contention that the Maharashtra government was showing undue haste to have him executed. He said Yakubs remedies had been exhausted and a clemency plea pending before the Maharashtra Governor had nothing to do with the Supreme Court.

c)     Staying the death warrant, Justice Joseph said the court did not follow the mandatory rules of procedure while constituting the Bench which dismissed the curative petition. He observed that Order 48, Rule 4 of the Supreme Court Rules 2013 was violated by not including all the judges, who heard Yakubs review petition in the curative process.

d)     Dismissing Attorney-General Rohatgis argument that the curative procedure lapse in Yakub Menons case was only a technical problem, Justice Joseph said it almost cost a man his life and would lead to miscarriage of justice. He said a prisoner (especially a death row convict) was entitled to the due process of law under Article 21 of the Constitution.

8.

Sowing the seeds of a disaster (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Environment

a)     Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill 2015

b)     Compensatory Afforestation Management Planning Authority (CAMPA)

c)     National Afforestation Programme

d)     Reserved Forest

e)     Protected Areas (PAs)

f)     12th five year plan

a)     While strongly continuing a slew of reforms to ease forest clearances, the PM and his Environment Minister have stated that development will not be continued at the cost of Indias remaining forests. So, there is cause for worry in the form of the CAF Bill 2015, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 8 2015.

b)  Compensatory Afforestation is a convenient Indian concept that has been in place since 1980. Whenever development projects seek land inside a Reserved Forest or a Protected Area (such as a sanctuary or a national park), certain levies are imposed on the project proponent. This money is to be utilised to plant trees elsewhere, apparently to compensate for the loss of forest.

c)     Over the last 10 years, a staggering amount of Rs.35,000 crore has collected from such levies in a fund called CAMPA. The Central govt now wants to release 90 percent of this money to States for carrying out afforestation projects. On the face of it, this might seem like a progressive step. But given that the Bill is anchored on a faulty and unscientific premise, it is only likely to provide a fig leaf for covering up the increasing diversion of forests in the name of development.

d)     When ill-planned development projects are thrust into the heart of PAs, the result is fragmentation - the breaking up of large forest blocks into smaller and more vulnerable patches. Scientific research has clearly established that fragmentation is one of the most serious threats to long-term biodiversity conservation, causing several devastating impacts; among other things, it disrupts landscape connectivity, affecting dispersal of animals, and creates new edges that expose forests to exploitation and severe degradation.

e)   Sadly, instead of addressing this critical issue, successive govts have been following the faulty idea of trying to compensate for forest loss and fragmentation by raising artificial plantations elsewhere.

f)     The CAF Bill 2015 (if approved in its current form) would end up repeating such huge mistakes all over the country. In order to provide real benefits, the Bill must be modified to allow a major percentage of CAMPA funds to be utilised for consolidating the remaining large blocks of natural old-growth forests.

g)     Despite the investment of more than Rs.4600 crore during the last three decades, from international aid agencies, there is adequate evidence of the extremely poor results of past afforestation efforts.

h)     Under the 12th Plan, an allocation of Rs.2500 crore was made for National Afforestation Programme, but with little to show on ground. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology and Environment and Forests in 2015 has recorded that despite massive budgetary provisions, 40percent of forests in the country are still degraded.

i)     Ignoring all this, the Ministry of Environment is pushing forward with a poorly conceived CAF Bill that will only cause massive corruption in the forestry sector, without providing any ecological benefits to the country.

j)    There is further justification for a review of the CAF Bill. CAMPA is Indias sovereign fund, and is thus the only one available for consolidation of large forest blocks. None of the international aid agencies funding afforestation projects allows for this ecologically vital activity.

k)     Other than investments to consolidate large Reserved Forest blocks, PAs, and the creation of wildlife corridors, the other important activity that needs to be funded through CAMPA is natural restoration or regeneration of degraded forests. The approach must be to first identify degraded forest areas with existent root stock, and invest only on appropriate protection measures such as trenching, fencing and fire prevention.

l)     We are at a critical moment in Indias fight to achieve ecological security while ensuring economic and social progress. If recast on the basis of sound science, the CAF Bill 2015 will form the basis of a far-sighted and genuinely beneficial strategy to protect Indias forests.

9.

Mixed views on move to dilute powers of RBI Governor (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     Monetary Policy Committee

b)     Indian Financial Code (IFC)

c)     RBI

a)     RBI Governors always had privilege of independent decision-making on issues related to monetary policies, which helped the Indian economy for a long time. Even at times of major financial crisis crippling the global economy, the RBI Governors decisions had helped the Nation.

b)     As per the new draft of the revised proposal for IFC (which would replace the multiple laws governing the Indian financial sector), the central bank Governor will not have the veto power over the interest rates. Moreover, the Govt will have the power to appoint a majority of the members of the proposed monetary policy committee of the central bank.

c)     Though govt is trying to clarify that RBIs independent decisions on monetary policies would not be diluted, the Govt is proposing a bill to have greater say in RBIs rate decision-making. The new financial code also proposes a frame-work for inflation-targeting under which the Government and the central bank together will set the target.

d)    Experts say that the interest rate decision should lie with the RBI. The RBI needs enough autonomy to be accountable.

10.

Benchmarks for banks (Page 11)

a)     Economy

a)     Public sector banks (PSBs)  

b)     Private Banks (PRBs)

c)     Non-Performing Assets (NPAs)

d)     RBI

a)     PSBs have been critically evaluated in the last few months because of stressed assets including rising NPAs. There is a need to critically review the performance of PSBs and the factors that are responsible for such high stressed assets, especially when tax payers have to provide resources for recapitalisation.

b)     The sectoral analysis based on latest available data for Dec 2014 from the RBI reveals that industry continued to record high stressed assets at 17.9 percent of advances followed by services at 7.5 percent. The retail sector (in which PRBs have a dominant share) recorded the lowest stressed assets at 2 percent.

c)     The sub-sectoral analysis reveals that mining, textiles, iron and steel, infrastructure and aviation are the major contributors to stressed assets, followed by food processing, engineering, vehicles, wood, paper, glass and glassware, and construction. Thus, the economic slowdown is clearly transmitting through waves and ripples across different sectors of the economy.

d)    If carefully analysed, PSBs account for a substantially large share of stressed assets in mining, iron and steel, textiles, infrastructure and aviation as compared to PRBs because of substantially larger exposure to these sub sectors. Thus, the performance of PSBs is not inferior to that of PRBs. Also, the sub sectors referred to previously generally require a large amount of resources, which only PSBs have the capital to provide.

e)     Though India has weathered a significantly higher ratio of stressed assets during the initial period of reforms in 1993-94 and a similar ratio of about 13 percent in 2001, the current critical situation should be used for introspection and undertaking structurally corrective measures.

f)     The govts proposal to try senior officials from PRBs to chair PSBs can be expected to yield positive results and should be experimented in a few banks initially before scaling up to many more. Interestingly, efficient and experienced officials from PSBs are regularly poached by PRBs.

g)     Since first nationalisation of SBI in 1955, followed by more in 1969 and 1980, PSBs were created to follow social objectives and focus on banking the unbanked. Consequently, PSBs have been at the forefront in rural areas and have been relentlessly continuing implementation of govt welfare schemes in terms of priority sector lending, and pension and insurance, including those recently announced.

h)     Despite following social objectives, PSBs are competing well on various financial parameters with PRBs. But the authorities need to consider that in the absence of a level playing field, should PSBs and PRBs be evaluated on similar norms?

i)     Therefore, the norms and benchmark for these unique financial creatures typical to India have to be designed (especially for PSBs) and comparison and contrasts of performance evaluated among themselves. The incomplete growth and welfare-based agenda of new government will again need active support of geographically widespread PSBs. Therefore, comparison of socially oriented PSBs with profit-oriented, citycentric PRBs needs to be revisited.

11.

Surface-to-air missile to be tested in Israel (Page 8)

a)     S&T

a)     Long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM)

b)     Medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM)

c)     Akash programme

d)     DRDO

a)     Official said the long-range surface-to-air missile being developed with Israel will go in for national trials for the Navy once it is tested in Israel in October, with production following definitely next year.

b)     The missile (said to reach targets of up to 70 km) is being developed by the DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries for the Navy over the last 5 years. An Army version is being ground tested and an Air Force variant is in the works, both as medium-range or MR-SAMs.

c)     He said the requirement of the LR/MR-SAM from the services would almost match the order of the Akash medium-range mobile-launched SAM.

d)     The Akash programme started in 2011 had matured over the last three years and had been delivered supplies for eight IAF squadrons.

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