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Daily News Analysis 12-08-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

PMs sudden UAE trip takes many by surprise (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     PM Modis visit to the UAE has set off speculation for the suddenness of its announcement, which has caught many within the government and even the organisers in Dubai by surprise.

2.

US tells Afghanistan, Pak to fight extremism together (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     The US has called for reducing tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan and has asked leaders of both the countries to work together to combat violet extremism.

3.

Turkey bombs PKK targets (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Turkish warplanes carried out a new wave of air strikes against Kurdish militants in the southeast of the country in retaliation for a day of bloody attacks.

4.

Greece, lenders clinch deal after marathon talks (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Greece and its international lenders reached a multi-billion euro bailout agreement after talking through the night, potentially saving the country from financial ruin.

5.

General consensus on GST Bill likely (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The Modi government moved for consideration of the Rajya Sabha the Constitution Amendment Bill for the introduction of the Goods & Services Tax.

6.

Aadhaar  not mandatory, says SC (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Leaving the decision to sign up for Aadhaar entirely to citizens, the Supreme Court ordered that balance of interest was better served if obtaining the unique identity number was made optional and not mandatory.

7.

BIMARU grouping still intact (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

a)     PM Modis statement in Gaya that Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were no longer BIMARU States but Bihar remained so is not necessarily true.

8.

5 mercy petitions  with President (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Lok Sabha was informed that a total of 339 convicts were awarded capital punishment during 2011-13 and 5 cases of mercy petitions were pending with the President.

9.

Accountability with autonomy (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     By clarifying the objective of the RBI, the monetary policy framework has enhanced its autonomy. Nothing should be done to dilute the authority that goes with this responsibility.

10.

A bird, a dam and a belief (Page 11)

a)     Environment

b)     Geography

a)     The Nyamjang Chhu dam will inundate Zemithang Valley, the winter home of the black-necked crane thats sacred to Buddhists. Can development override nature and faith?

11.

Soon, space programmes will use indigenously made titanium sponge (Page 9)

a)     National

b)     S&T

a)     The national Space programme can now fully bank on made-in-India titanium sponge that goes into making its satellite and launch vehicle parts.

12.

Quran dating back to Akbars period recovered in Mysuru (Page 8)

a)     National

b)     History

a)    A 410-year-old Quran (calligraphed during Mughal ruler Akbars period) was recovered by Mysuru district police.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

PMs sudden UAE trip takes many by surprise (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – UAE relations

b)     Trade ties

c)     G-20

d)     Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

 

a)     PM Modis visit to the UAE has set off speculation for the suddenness of its announcement, which has caught many within the government and even the organisers in Dubai by surprise.

b)     Announcing the trip, the Ministry said the PM would visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai on August 16 and 17. Trade, investment, energy and the Indian community will be the main focus of this visit.

c)     While the Ministry has been speaking of a Gulf trip by Modi, sources said what was expected was a visit to the UAE during a trip to Saudi Arabia and Qatar or while returning from the G-20 visit to Turkey in November.

d)   The agreements on bilateral investment promotion and anti-terror cooperation between India and the UAE had been pending since March 2013, when the visit of the then PM Manmohan Singh was cancelled at the last minute. Other experts suggest that Modis trip to the Arab world is a balancing act ahead of his visit to Israel.

2.

US tells Afghanistan, Pak to fight extremism together (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Afghanistan – Pakistan relations

b)     Extremism

c)     Taliban

 

a)     The US has called for reducing tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan and has asked leaders of both the countries to work together to combat violet extremism.

b)     US Secretary of State John Kerry called up Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss situation on the ground in the aftermath of the series of terrorist attacks in Kabul over the last one week. Kerrys call has come in the wake of accusation from Ghani that terrorist safe havens continue to exist in Pakistan.

c)     He said that it is in urgent interest of both countries to eliminate safe havens and to reduce operational capacity of Taliban on both sides of border.

3.

Turkey bombs PKK targets (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Islamic State (IS)

b)     Syria and Iraq crisis

c)     Kurdish forces

d)     Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)

a)     Turkish warplanes carried out a new wave of air strikes against Kurdish militants in the southeast of the country in retaliation for a day of bloody attacks.

b)     The new wave of strikes carried out after one of the bloodiest days of attacks in the country since Turkey launched a relentless bombing campaign against PKK targets late last month. Ankara is pressing a 2-pronged anti-terror offensive against IS jihadists in Syria and PKK militants in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey following a wave of attacks in country.

c)     The US is deploying six F-16 jets and about 300 personnel to Incirlik air base in Turkey to launch further air strikes against the so-called IS militant group in Syria and Iraq.

4.

Greece, lenders clinch deal after marathon talks (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Greece debt crisis

a)     Greece and its international lenders reached a multi-billion euro bailout agreement after talking through the night, potentially saving the country from financial collapse.

b)     The agreement must still be adopted by Greeces Parliament and Eurozone countries. The single currency blocs finance ministers are due to meet, giving time to finalise the deal before a major debt repayment next week.

c)     The bailout negotiations appeared to have resolved all the main outstanding issues, after Greeces Leftist govt effectively capitulated last month to creditors demands for deep austerity measures in order to receive loans.

5.

General consensus on GST Bill likely (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)    Goods and Services Tax (GST)

b)     Constitutional (122nd) Amendment Bill

c)     Parliament

d)     Lok Sabha

e)     Rajya Sabha

a)     The Modi govt moved for consideration of Rajya Sabha the Constitution Amendment Bill for introduction of GST.

b)     Official said that if the Bill is not passed in current session of Parliament then it will become very difficult to roll out the new indirect tax regime by the target date of April 1 2016 but also added that in case its passage is pushed to the Winter Session, efforts will be made to enforce it by target deadline.

6.

Aadhaar  not mandatory, says SC (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Aadhaar

b)    Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI)

c)     PDS scheme

d)     Right to privacy

 

a)     Leaving the decision to sign up for Aadhaar entirely to citizens, the Supreme Court ordered that balance of interest was better served if obtaining the unique identity number was made optional and not mandatory.

b)     The Bench ordered the govt to give wide publicity in the media that it was not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card. Secondly, it ordered that production of an Aadhaar card would not be a condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.

c)     Thirdly, it directed govt that an Aadhaar card would not be used for any purpose other than PDS Scheme, particularly for distribution of foodgrains and cooking fuel such as kerosene. It should also be used for LPG distribution scheme.

d)    Fourthly, the court directed that information about an individual obtained by the UIAI while issuing an Aadhaar card should not be used for any other purpose, except as might be directed by a court for purpose of criminal investigation.

e)     The order would be in vogue until a five-judge Bench decided on larger constitutional issue whether the Aadhaar scheme and its biometric mode of registration amounted to an intrusion into citizens privacy. For this, the Constitution Bench would look into whether right to privacy was a guaranteed right under the Constitution and if so, what were the contours of such a right.

f)     The court accepted the Attorney Generals statement that Aadhaar registration should continue on a consensual basis on the condition that no personal information (including biometrics collected at the time of registration) of the card holder would be shared with any other person or authority.

7.

BIMARU grouping still intact (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

a)     BIMARU

b)     Population

c)     Per capita income

d)     Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

 

a)     PM Modis statement in Gaya that Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were no longer BIMARU States but Bihar remained so is not necessarily true.

b)    The term BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) was coined by demographer Ashish Bose in a paper he wrote in early 1980s.

c)     He examined a range of demographic indicators to conclude that these States (home to 40 percent of countrys population) lagged significantly behind the southern States, and were contributing the most to Indias population explosion. He also looked at five additional indicators, including per capita income.

d)   In May this year, economist Vinita Sharma recalculated Boses indicators (updated for 2011) after adding the newly created States of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, in a paper published in the Economic and Political Weekly.

e)     She found that while the States had made individual progress, on the whole, the BIMARU States had not converged with the national average; in fact, on half of the 13 indicators, they had diverged. While none of States had been able to move out of grouping, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh showed a greater degree of improvement than Bihar.

f)     On the key demographic indicator (TFR) there are now two distinct Indias: one on the road to achieving replacement levels, and the other still a long distance off. In 2013, the States with a TFR higher than national average were (in descending order): Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

g)     On per capita income, while the poorer States (led by Bihar) have grown faster year on year than richer States, the gulf remains wider than ever. In 1980-81, the average per capita income of the four States was 74 percent of all-India figure, but in 2010-11 it declined to 59 percent of it. As of 2014-15, the richest among the BIMARU was Rajasthan with a per capita income of Rs. 65,974, but this was still less than half that of richer States like Haryana.

8.

5 mercy petitions  with President (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Mercy petition

b)     Death penalty

c)     National Crime Records Bureau

d)     President

e)     Article 72 of the Constitution

a)     Lok Sabha was informed that a total of 339 convicts were awarded capital punishment during 2011-13 and 5 cases of mercy petitions were pending with the President.

b)     As per available records, there are five cases of mercy petitions pending under Article 72 of the Constitution

9.

Accountability with autonomy (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Monetary policy

b)     Inflation

c)     Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

d)     Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission

e)     RBI

a)     Discussions have shifted from objectives of monetary policy to the appropriate mechanism for formulating monetary policy. In Feb 2015, RBI and Govt of India entered into an agreement on a new monetary policy framework. Under this framework, the inflation target is set at 4 percent with a band of +/- 2 percent beginning 2016-17.

b)     Under the agreement, the RBI shall be seen to have failed to meet the target if inflation is more than 6 percent for three consecutive quarters for the financial year 2015-16 and all subsequent years and less than 2 percent for three consecutive quarters in 2016-17 and all subsequent years. If RBI fails to meet target, it will have to send a report to central govt giving reasons for its failure to achieve target and remedial measures that would be taken by the RBI.

c)     Thus control of inflation has emerged as the dominant objective of monetary policy. The clarity with respect to the objective establishes the accountability of the central bank. This also implies that the govt will not interfere with any action that RBI may take to keep inflation within the limits

d)     The RBI is not an insular institution. Before any major policy decision is taken, it holds extensive consultations with banks, industry associations, economists and various market participants. It discusses the various alternatives with the Govt. The Board of the RBI is not involved in the specific policy decisions. However, the broad contours of monetary policy are discussed at the meetings of the Central Board.

e)     Since 2005, a technical advisory committee comprising of experts, has been set up to advise RBI on policy matters, particularly with respect to changes in the policy rate. The Committee remains advisory in character and the majority view is not binding. Ultimately, the responsibility for the decision rests with the Governor. The question that arises is whether (in the context of new policy framework) a change is called for in the process of policy formulation.

f)     Even among central banks across nations that have adopted inflation targeting, there is no uniform organisational structure regarding policy making. While many central banks have set up monetary policy committees, there are important exceptions. New Zealand (a pioneer in the adoption of inflation targeting) has no committee with external members. In fact, the tenure of the Governor is at stake if the inflation target is violated.

g)     The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission in its report in 2013 recommended the setting up of a MPC. The Urjit Patel Committee endorsed the idea but had a different view on its composition. The key issue is the proportion of external members to RBI representatives in the Committee. There are three possible alternatives.

h)     First, the Committee could have a majority of members nominated by the RBI. This will help to fix responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the RBI for keeping inflation within the agreed limits.

i)     Second alternative is to have parity between members nominated by RBI and external members. If there is a tie, the Chairperson who is Governor, can have a casting vote. Even in this set up, the accountability of RBI holds good.

j)     The third alternative is one in which the majority of the committee comprises of external members. In this case, the accountability of RBI can be established only if Governor is given the power of veto.

k)     The MPC is identified with its suggestions on the policy rate. Changes in policy rate do play an important role. They act as signals from the central bank. They also affect the borrowings of banks from the central bank, which lead to changes in other rates. Central banks must adjust the liquidity in the system such that changes announced are effective. Without corresponding action on liquidity in the system, the rate changes can at best have only an announcement effect.

l)     The recent monetary policy framework (entered into between the RBI and the Govt) is an important land mark in the evolution of monetary policy in our country. By clarifying the objective of the RBI, it has enhanced its autonomy. Nothing should be done to dilute the authority that goes with this responsibility.

m)     There is some concern whether the pursuit of objective of price stability compromises its ability to take care of other objectives, most notably growth. This is not necessarily so. So long as inflation stays within the agreed zone, it becomes easy for the central bank to take care of other objectives. It is only when inflation goes beyond the limits, control of inflation becomes the exclusive concern of the RBI.

n)     However even this task is going to be difficult because of many structural features. Any mechanism that we create such as a MPC should not weaken but strengthen hands of RBI to deal effectively with inflation.

10.

A bird, a dam and a belief (Page 11)

a)     Environment

b)     Geography

a)     Black-necked crane

b)     Sangti valley

c)     Zemithang Valley

d)     Nyamjang Chhu dam   

e)     National Green Tribunal (NGT)

f)     Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)

g)     Yakka skink

a)     This month, an Australian court declined environmental clearance to industrial group Adani for coal mining in Queensland, Australia. The reasons for this have been made clear by the court: the proposed project is likely to harm a skink and a snake species found in the area. The emphasis is on the very existence of the species.

b)     There is something similar playing out in Indias North-east for the vulnerable black-necked crane. Magnificent, wild, flamboyant and territorial, the black-necked crane is a central force in Buddhist mythology.

c)     Found only in China, Bhutan and India, one of the cranes few global wintering sites is in Arunachal Pradesh, and it has chosen two places here for its winter migration: Sangti and Zemithang Valley. Zemithang (nurtured and conserved by the Buddhist community for years) will get submerged by the proposed Nyamjang Chhu dam.

d)     There is an ongoing case in the NGT against the project. The legal team that is arguing in favour of the hydroelectric project claims that the numbers of the black-necked crane are too low to merit stopping the project. On the other side of the argument is not just existence of the crane at Zemithang, but also the belief in its presence and in its wilful choice of Zemithang as a wintering site.

e)     The case brings to light several dilemmas: one, whether the presence of black-necked cranes and other biodiversity at Zemithang is good enough to stop a project. Two, whether projects need to be appraised in the light of spiritual, altruistic and religious concerns. Three, whether the EIA need to be re-conducted after these concerns come to light.

f)     The bird is a restricted species, which favours cold, high-altitude spots, overlapping with countries and regions that follow Buddhism. In Buddhist lore and mythology, this elusive but magnificent crane is a companion to the lamas.

g)     In ecology, the crane has been recorded in just 3 places in India: it breeds only in Ladakh (about a hundred birds), and it has only the two wintering sites in  Arunachal Pradesh, which are themselves part of less than 10 global wintering sites.

h)     The case of the dam site in Arunachal Pradesh is similar to that of Carmichael mine. Yakka skink (conservation of which the Australian court upheld) is a restricted-range species, found only in Queensland. Like the black-necked crane, the species is still visible, but only due to the conservation of a few and spatially small sites.

i)     EIAs are meant to give details of flora and fauna at the site of the proposed project, as well as the impact on that flora and fauna by the project in question. In the case of the Nyamjang Chhu dam (which proposes to generate 780 MW of power), the primary impacts will be the submergence of the cranes habitat in a biodiversity hotspot. This is not acknowledged in the EIA.

j)     The final question is: how does belief and faith inform our planning and development decisions? For Buddhists, the black-necked crane visiting their remote, snowy home is living proof of their belief and faith. For conservationists, birds that traverse long migratory distances to transform landscapes in winter are part of a more secular belief system, one that valorises Nature and its surprises.

k)     Whether a major dam gets built on Nyamjang Chhu river is not the only question. The question is also whether such a project can go ahead without taking into account certain complex realities.

11.

Soon, space programmes will use indigenously made titanium sponge (Page 9)

a)     National

b)     S&T

a)     Titanium sponge

b)     Titanium reserves in India

c)     ISRO

a)     The national Space programme can now fully bank on made-in-India titanium sponge that goes into making its satellite and launch vehicle parts. The titanium sponge plant initiated and sponsored by the ISRO nine years back became operational at Chavara in Kerala last month.

b)     This will mean a big saving on foreign exchange considering that the ISRO alone has been importing a significant 200-300 tonnes of titanium sponge each year from Russia, Japan or China.

c)     ISRO said the precious commodity was being imported because of the absence of a plant to make high-quality sponge although the country has the third largest reserve of minerals bearing titanium.

12.

Quran dating back to Akbars period recovered in Mysuru (Page 8)

a)     National

b)     History

a)     Quran

b)     Mughal rule

c)     Akbar

d)     Hijri calendar

a)    A 410-year-old Quran (calligraphed during Mughal ruler Akbars period) was recovered by Mysuru district police.

b)     Expert said it was written in 1050 of the Hijri calendar, which works out to 1605 AD. It was around the period when Mughal rule was at its peak in India and the time when Akbar was succeeded by Jehangir.

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