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Daily News Analysis 19-08-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Sharif discusses agenda for NSA-level talks (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Resumption of Foreign Secretary-level talks, issue of bail granted to the main accused in Samjhauta blasts and Indias alleged interference will be high on Pakistans agenda for first NSA-level talks in New Delhi next week.

2.

The sprouting of the Look West policy (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)    Narendra Modis Look West Policy (unveiled in the India-UAE Joint statement) will succeed because West Asia is looking East worried about the emerging strategic instability in its own neighbourhood and the structural shift in the global energy market.

3.

Ranil to return as Prime Minister (Pages 1 and 14)

a)     International

a)    The former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksas attempt to make a political comeback suffered a huge blow as parliamentary election results showed a surge in support for rival Ranils United National Party.

4.

A vote for continuing change (Page 11)

a)     International

a)      The Sri Lankan electorate has voted to reject polarisation and reinforce the process of democratization.

5.

India requests Myanmar to hand over NSCN(K) leaders (P 1, 12)

a)     I.R

b)     National

a)     India has asked Myanmar to hand over 4 top leaders of NSCN-Khaplang (including its chief S.S. Khaplang), holding them responsible for attacking an Army convoy in Manipur in June.

6.

Women police personnel face bias (Page 13)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     A new report says that women in Indias police forces face bias from male and sometimes female counterparts and superiors who consider them weak, less willing to work and less tough.

7.

Delhi is now Indias rape capital, show NCRB data (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     For the first time in history, Delhi is officially the rape capital of India. Even while the pace of increase in the number of reported rapes in the city has slowed down, the number of such cases proportionate to its women population was higher than for any other city or State last year.

8.

After Fitch, Moodys too lowers Indias growth forecast (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)    Global rating agency Moodys lowered Indias growth forecast for 2015 to 7 percent from 7.5 percent projected earlier over monsoon concerns. It retained the forecast for 2016 at 7.5 percent but cautioned that the slow pace of reforms of Modi govt poses further risks to growth.

9.

Fossilised remains of worlds oldest flower found (Page 22)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)    Ancient aquatic plant thought to be worlds first flower; studying it could provide a solution to modern pollination issues linked to decline of bees.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Sharif discusses agenda for NSA-level talks (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Border issues

c)     Line of Control (LoC)

d)     RAW

e)     ISI

a)     Resumption of Foreign Secretary-level talks, issue of bail granted to the main accused in Samjhauta blasts and Indias alleged interference will be high on Pakistans agenda for first NSA-level talks in New Delhi next week.

b)     Govt sources said it was decided that Indian intelligence agency RAWs alleged interference in Pakistan would be among the top agenda items during the talks. They said the ISI chief briefed Sharif about RAWs activities in the country and repeated ceasefire violations by Indian troops along the LoC.

c)     Aziz will travel to India on August 23 for talks with his counterpart Ajit Doval. Sharifs discussions with the military top brass came a day after he chaired a high-level meeting to discuss the agenda of the NSA-level talks.

2.

The sprouting of the Look West policy (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     Indias Look West policy

b)     India Look East policy

c)     Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

d)     India – UAE joint statement

e)     Counter-terrorism

 

a)     PM Modis visit to the UAE this week has the potential to be remembered like PM P.V. Narasimha Raos visit to Singapore in Sept 1994. Through his famous Singapore Lecture, Narasimha Rao unveiled Indias Look East Policy. Through joint statement that he signed with UAEs leadership, Modi has unveiled Indias Look West Policy.

b)     Narasimha Raos Look East Policy succeeded because South-East Asia began to look West to India, seeking a balancer to China. Modis Look West Policy will succeed because West Asia is looking East worried about emerging strategic instability in its own neighbourhood and structural shift in global energy market.

c)     The foundation for Modis successful outreach to West Asia was in fact laid by his predecessor when India invited the King of Saudi Arabia to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade in 2006. This was followed by PM Manmohan Singhs visit to Riyadh and the India-Saudi defence cooperation agreement signed in 2014.

d)     Growing India-Saudi cooperation in field of terrorism may have also contributed to Indias relatively mild response to Saudi aggression in Yemen, but it did set the stage for wider engagement at a strategic level with the other states of GCC.

e)     Modis visit to UAE was preceded by significant visits to other GCC states by External Affairs Minister Swaraj. That Swaraj made Bahrain her first stop in the region (last Sept) was welcomed by Bahrains India-friendly leadership and showed growing sophistication in Indian thinking about region.

f)     Finally, over the last year, the Modi govt has put forward a nuanced view of the region openly declaring friendship with Israel, seeking better relations with Iran and, at same time, cementing a growing relationship with GCC states. It is expected that Modi may follow up his successful visit to the UAE with a productive visit to Iran and a historic one to Israel, being the first Indian PM to visit Tel Aviv.

g)     While all this fits into a pattern, one should not underestimate transformational significance of UAE visit and the Dubai declaration. The Joint Statement between the UAE and India is an important articulation of a significant shift in the Arab worlds view of India. It talks of historic ties of commerce, culture and kinship, drawing attention to the unique history of Arab interaction with Indian communities of the west coast, from Gujarat to Kerala.

h)     Outlining closer govt-to-govt (G2G) relations, the joint statement draws attention to the vibrant business-to-business (B2B) and people-to-people (P2P) relationships and commits the UAE to a sharp increase in its investment in India. The statement expresses the hope that proximity, history, cultural affinity, strong links between people, natural synergies, shared aspirations and common challenges create boundless potential for a natural strategic partnership between India and UAE.

i)     What is significant about the new strategic partnership outlined by the UAE and India is the fact that it is defined not just by Indias Look West policy, based on its energy and financial needs, but that it is equally defined by the GCCs Look East policy, soliciting greater Indian engagement with West Asia. Several factors have contributed to this fundamental shift in West Asian strategic thinking.

j)     First, the structural change in the global energy market with West Asian oil and gas increasingly heading to South and East Asian markets rather than to Trans-Atlantic markets. Second, partly as a consequence of this change in flows and partly due to fiscal stress faced by trans-Atlantic economies, West Asia is looking to India and other Asian powers to step in and offer security guarantees to the region.

k)     Third, in the wake of the Arab Spring and the mess in Egypt and Iraq, the Gulf states find India and China to be more reliable interlocutors than many western states. Fourth, under pressure from radical and extremist political forces within West Asia, most states in the region have come to value the Indian principle of seeking and securing regional stability as an over-riding principle of regional security.

l)     In the specific case of India-UAE relations, it appears the Emirati have come to appreciate Indias view that state-sponsored or supported cross-border terrorism poses a grave threat to regional security and so must be controlled and stopped. Modis bold public statements on terrorism could not have been made in Dubai if they did not have the implicit endorsement of his hosts.

m)     In short, it would seem, the India-UAE strategic engagement is the product of a mutual look-at-each-other policy. If Chinas rise offered the backdrop for South-East Asias look at India policy, the Wests failures and weaknesses, and a weakening of the strategic trust between West and West Asia may have contributed to the GCCs look at India policy.

n)     Stepping away from religious extremism and accepting pluralism and multi-culturalism as the defining principles of a modern state is the only way forward for each of the countries of Asia - from West to East. Indias appeal to Asia as a whole is built on these foundational principles of its Constitution.

3.

Ranil to return as Prime Minister (Pages 1 and 14)

a)     International

a)     Sri Lankas internal issues

b)     United National Party (UNP)

c)     United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA)

d)     Tamil National Alliance (TNA)

e)     19th Amendment

a)    The former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksas attempt to make a political comeback suffered a huge blow as parliamentary election results showed a surge in support for rival Ranils UNP. The UNP has emerged as the single largest party with 106 seats in the 225-member legislature.

b)     Of the 225 seats, district-level seats account for 196, for which polling took place. Seats under the national list will be allotted on the basis of votes polled. In addition to winning 93 seats, the UNP got 13 seats under the national list, taking its tally to 106. Rajapaksas UPFA (led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party) gave a stiff fight and obtained 95 seats, including 12 under the national list.

c)     Its after a gap of 14 years the UNP is emerging victorious in a Parliamentary election in Sri Lanka.

d)     The past decade marked a lean phase for Wickremesinghe, (who lost narrowly in the 2005 Presidential elections to Rajapaksa of the UPFA. It was only after Sirisena became the President in Jan that the UNP leader could come back to power again.

e)     A couple of months after surprise defeat of Rajapaksa in presidential elections, the UNP began demanding for early parliamentary polls. Sirisena (who got the 19th Amendment adopted by Parliament in April) had pushed for electoral reforms as well, but failed. In late June, he dissolved Parliament.

4.

A vote for continuing change (Page 11)

a)     International

a)     Sri Lankas internal issues

b)     Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)

c)     United National Party (UNP)

d)     United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA)

e)     Tamil National Alliance (TNA)

f)     Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

a)     There are two significant political consequences following Sri Lankas parliamentary elections. First, the majority of voters have given a verdict in favour of completing the partial political change that began with the presidential election of Jan 8 this year. Second, it has dashed the hopes of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to return to power as Prime Minister.

b)     The final tally of seats obtained by UNP-led coalition does not constitute a majority (a minimum of 113 seats) in the new legislature. This was a scenario predicted by many analysts.

c)     Under existing system of proportional representation and in the present balance of political forces in the country, no party or coalition could get a working majority unless there was a massive wave of support, as in 2010 when Rajapaksa-led UPFA coalition won election with just 2 seats short of the two-thirds majority. That was under unusual circumstances of the Rajapaksa govt having won the war against the LTTE.

d)    In post-civil war Sri Lanka, electoral politics has reached a degree of normalcy that does not facilitate electoral waves, as evidenced by the results. The UNPs coalition has managed the highest number of parliamentary seats (yet is short of a clear majority), followed by Rajapaksa-led UPFA. The idea of a national govt (which both Sirisena and Ranil have been promoting for the past several months) will certainly provide the political cover for some crossovers in the run up to the finalisation of the new government and its cabinet.

e)     Two factors seem to have contributed to Rajapaksas second defeat within just seven months. The first is a failure to learn political lessons from the January defeat and second is the erosion of Rajapaksas personal electoral appeal.

f)   The Rajapaksa camp should have learnt one crucial lesson from the January defeat - the need to erase the trust deficit between the former President and the ethnic and religious minorities. The victory of Sirisena was facilitated by the ethnic and religious minority voters throughout the country and particularly from Northern and Eastern provinces.

g)     The loss of Rajapaksas personal appeal is also a factor that found no acknowledgment in the UPFA camp. He was immensely popular only among the Sinhalese voters and even that suffered a setback after his defeat in the Jan presidential election. In fact, the UPFA campaign failed to generate any new wave of support for the coalition, or its prime ministerial candidate.

h)     Meanwhile, the power struggle between President Sirisena and Rajapaksa for control of the SLFP and UPFA too may have worked against the latters electoral fortunes. In that power struggle, Rajapaksa put a great deal of pressure on Sirisena to declare him prime ministerial candidate of the UPFA of which Sirisena became the leader when he was elected President in January.

i)     The final figures of the strength of each political party and coalition have not yet been officially declared. With its national list seats, the UNP-led UNFGG is likely to have the final tally of about 105 seats, still short of a majority in parliament. On the other hand, the UPFA will emerge as a very strong opposition with about 92 seats.

j)     Among the new govts immediate challenges will be the handling of UNHRC report on alleged war crimes (due in September) just in a few weeks. UNHRC and the govt are likely to cooperate on an agenda of compromise, but at the risk of provoking anger among Tamil activist constituencies, at home and abroad. Effective devolution of power to North and East and constitutional reforms in that direction too will return to the political debate sooner than later.

5.

India requests Myanmar to hand over NSCN(K) leaders (Page 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

b)     National

a)     India – Myanmar relations

b)     Security cooperation

c)     National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Khaplang)

a)     India has asked Myanmar to hand over 4 top leaders of NSCN-Khaplang (including its chief S.S. Khaplang), holding them responsible for attacking an Army convoy in Manipur in June.

b)     The NSCN(K) violated a ceasefire with the government in March and has been involved in a series of attacks on security forces in Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

c)     The request was placed at the meeting of the first India-Myanmar Joint Consultative Committee held in July. A joint statement issued that both Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to fight the evil of terrorism and insurgent activity in all its forms and manifestations. They highlighted need for enhanced cooperation between security forces and border guarding agencies for securing peace, security and stability in the border areas which is crucial for overall development.

d)     A senior Home Ministry official said that the Myanmar delegation remained non-committal over Indias request to hand over NSCN-K leaders. NSCN-K is in a ceasefire pact with the Myanmar government.

6.

Women police personnel face bias (Page 13)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Gender inequality

b)     Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)

a)     A new report says that women in Indias police forces face bias from male and sometimes female counterparts and superiors who consider them weak, less willing to work and less tough. While more women are urgently needed in the police forces, the numbers alone will not be enough without equity.

b)     Officials will release the report by the CHRI on women police in South Asia. The report examines the situation of women in the police forces in the Maldives, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

c)  While the number of women in the police forces nationally has grown in India, it remains just over 6 percent. There is a wide variation between States, with 12 percent of Tamil Nadus police force being women as against less than 1 percent in Assam. This is despite the fact that 12 States have over the years passed rules setting a quota of 30 percent or more for women in the police force.

7.

Delhi is now Indias rape capital, show NCRB data (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

b)     Nirbhaya Act

 

a)    For the first time in history, Delhi is officially the rape capital of India. Even while the pace of increase in the number of reported rapes in the city has slowed down, the number of such cases proportionate to its women population was higher than for any other city or State last year.

b)   During the past years, Delhi reported a larger actual number of reported rapes than other cities, but cities in Madhya Pradesh (including Gwalior and Jabalpur) reported higher numbers of rapes proportionate to their populations. According to data from NCRB, this year, Delhi is higher in both absolute and proportionate terms.

c)     There was a sharp rise in reported crimes against women between 2012 and 2013, as a result of increased awareness following Dec 2012 gang-rape, but the increase was sharply lower between 2013 and 2014.

8.

After Fitch, Moodys too lowers Indias growth forecast (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     Indias economic growth

b)     Rating agency Moodys

c)     Rating agency Fitch

d)     GDP

a)    Global rating agency Moodys lowered Indias growth forecast for 2015 to 7 from 7.5 percent projected earlier over monsoon concerns. It retained forecast for 2016 at 7.5 percent but cautioned that the slow pace of reforms of Modi govt poses further risks to growth.

b)     Last month, Fitch Ratings had lowered its GDP growth forecast for India to 7.8 percent for current financial year 2015-16 from an earlier projection of 8 percent. For 2016-17, it cut its projection to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent. The agency listed deficient rains, lack of pick-up in capital expenditure and weak rural and export demand as the factors leading to the revision in its forecast.

c)     Moodys said the growth outlook is resilient beyond the short-term monsoon effects and in fact benefits from the fall in commodity prices over the past year as India is a net importer of commodities. It further said economic activity will continue to strengthen on the back of a gradual implementation of reforms that foster domestic and foreign investment.

9.

Fossilised remains of worlds oldest flower found (Page 22)

a)     S&T

b)     Geography

a)     Montsechia vidalii

b)     Cretaceous period

a)     A beautiful aquatic plant (dating back to the start of the Cretaceous period) is believed by scientists to be the oldest flowering plant on Earth. New analysis of fossilised remains show that the plant is about 130 million-years-old, meaning it was around at the same time as feathered dinosaurs.

b)     The plant (Montsechia vidalii) resembles the modern-day coontail (commonly used to populate aquariums) and is thought to have grown underwater in shallow lakes.

c)     To study the ancient plant, researchers slowly dissolved the limestone around more than 1000 fossils. This left them with small fragments of plant that could then be bleached and their structure examined using powerful microscopes.

d)     The plant appears to have had no roots or petals. Its leaves were arranged in two forms: either in a spiral or opposite one another along an axis. The plant developed several tiny flowers, each of which contained a single seed.

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