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Daily News Analysis 25-08-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Pakistan Rangers confirm dates for talks (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Pakistan Rangers confirmed to the Border Security Force they would be attending the Director-General-level talks to be held in September.

2.

Losing the plot on India-Pakistan ties? (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     A diplomatic engagement requires a common script, more so the complex India-Pakistan relationship. Somewhere along the way (from Ufa to the cancelled talks in Delhi), it was clear that the plot was lost sight of and the management of the process was reduced to a rhetorical tit for tat.

3.

UN court for status quo in Italian marines case (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has put a status quo in the Italian marines case and asked both India and Italy to suspend all court proceedings and refrain from initiating new ones that might aggravate or extend the dispute that caused a diplomatic row.

4.

No change in stand on Palestine: Sushma (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India told the Arab League that its policy on the Palestinian cause remained unchanged and its support to the people of Palestine would be undiluted.

5.

The new Great Game in Asia (Page 11)

a)     I.R

a)     Two trade agreements (led by the US and China) are only superficially about trade. Given the strategic subtext, India would do well to push for space at table.

6.

North, South Korea agree to defuse crisis (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     North and South Korea wrapped up marathon talks with an agreement aimed at defusing a crisis that had pushed the rivals to the brink of armed conflict.

7.

IS blows up Palmyra temple (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Jihadists with the Islamic State group have blown up a famous temple at Syrias ruins of Palmyra, confirming fears they would destroy more world-class heritage sites.

8.

Cant bring political parties under RTI, Centre tells SC (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Political parties cannot disclose their internal functioning and financial information under the RTI Act as it will hamper their smooth functioning and become a weak spot for rivals with malicious intentions to take advantage of.

9.

Confusion over eco-sensitive zones has ended: Minister (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Environment

a)     Union Environment Minister Javadekar said the NDA govt in the past 15 months had done more to demarcate eco-sensitive zones than the previous UPA regime could do in its eight-year rule since the 2006 Supreme Court judgment came out.

10.

The crash of the markets (Page 10)

a)     Economy

a)     Market regulators and even governments have very few options when financial markets go into the kind of panic-driven free fall as witnessed on Aug 24. The shock waves caused by an over 9 percent fall in Chinese stocks hit capital and currency markets worldwide.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Pakistan Rangers confirm dates for talks (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Border disputes

c)     Border Security Force (BSF)

a)   Pakistan Rangers confirmed to the BSF they would be attending the Director-General-level talks to be held in September. Sources said India had finalised 11 agenda points to be shared with Pakistan.

b)    The agenda points finalised are the details of cross-border firing from May 1 2014-August 15 2015. For five months after the DGs of the two forces met in Dec 2013, there were no incidents of cross-border firing.

c)     During the coming talks with Pakistan Rangers, the BSF will present a month-wise data to establishing the number of infiltration bids foiled in the past one year.

d)     The Director-General-level talks are the result of an agreement reached between PM Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif after the Ufa talks in July.

2.

Losing the plot on India-Pakistan ties? (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Border disputes

c)     NSA talks

d)     Ufa joint statement

e)     Kashmir issue

f)     Hurriyat conference

g)     Shimla Agreement

 

a)     The non-event of talks between the NSA of India and Pakistan (Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz) has generated a fair amount of heat but does it also throw any light on PM Modis policy towards Pakistan?

b)     According to author, crafting a credible Pakistan policy has been a challenge for every Indian PM since Independence, and each one of them (from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru onwards) has tried to put his or her own personal stamp on it. Yet, it remains a complex relationship, saddled with the bitter legacy of Partition and four inconclusive wars, and mired in hostility which tends to flare up from time to time.

c)     Modi is a strong and decisive leader backed by a solid majority in Parliament. He got off to a flying start with his neighbourhood diplomacy initiative inviting all SAARC leaders to his swearing-in ceremony last May. Talks with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif opened the way for a meeting between the Foreign Secretaries to work out terms for a dialogue which had been stalled for over two years.

d)    However, in Aug 2014, the talks were called off after the Pakistan High Commissioner decided to go ahead with a much publicised meeting with the Hurriyat leaders. The cancellation of talks was followed by an intensification of firing incidents along the LoC, with India adopting a muscular retaliatory posture. Both Modi and Sharif were in Kathmandu for the SAARC summit in November 2014 but registered no progress regarding resumption of talks.

e)     Months later, in the run-up to the BRICS and SCO summit meetings in Ufa in July, Indian side sought a bilateral meeting. A crisp Joint Statement emerged and one of outcomes was the scheduling of meeting between the two NSAs; other decisions included meetings between the chiefs of BSF and Pakistan Rangers and Directors General of Military Operations; releasing fishermen in each others custody; facilitating religious tourism; and an agreement to discuss ways and means to speedup Mumbai trial.

f)     The cancellation of the NSA-level talks has been accompanied by acrimonious exchanges leaving the future of other meetings uncertain.

g)     Disagreement on the agenda for the talks was now becoming apparent and only exposed the fault lines. Details of dossiers being prepared by both sides to be handed over to the other side were leaked. Pakistan took three weeks to confirm the dates proposed by the Indian side, fuelling speculation. Meanwhile, the media continued to drive up expectations on both sides and eventually ended up determining the outcome.

h)     Both sides accused each other of moving away from the terms of the dialogue set out in the Ufa joint statement. Swaraj highlighted that the Ufa joint statement mandated the NSAs to only discuss all issues related to terrorism, and second, that a meeting between Aziz and the Hurriyat leaders amounted to introducing a third party into the bilateral dialogue, which was contrary to the spirit of the Shimla Agreement.

i)     Accordingly, talks between the two NSAs could only go forward provided Pakistan gave an assurance on these two counts. Aziz pointed out that the Ufa statement also contained a willingness to discuss all outstanding issues, implying Kashmir, and advising against a meeting with Hurriyat leaders amounted to laying down preconditions which were unacceptable.

j)     For nearly a quarter of a century, some form of dialogue with Pakistan has been pursued by various govts, both officially and through back channels. Engaging in tit-for-tat hostility and rhetoric with Pakistan diminishes Indias standing and attracts unwelcome and gratuitous suggestions of third parties who are often prone to raising the notion of a nuclear flashpoint.

k)     The focus on confidence building measures and communication links, particularly after 1998 (following the nulcear tests), was undertaken with this clear purpose in mind. Admittedly, it has not been smooth sailing but when it has worked, it has made the LoC peaceful, increased Indias diplomatic leverage and also given political space to deal with the domestic aspects of the Kashmir issue.

l)     This broad policy bears the individual imprints of each of PMs (P.V. Narasimha Rao, I.K. Gujral, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh) but also reflects a degree of consistency. It does not anticipate any breakthroughs with Pakistan but acknowledges that there are elements in Pakistans decision-making circles that would seek to sustain a hostile relationship with India. As long as these elements remain influential, a normal state to state relationship will elude us.

3.

UN court for status quo in Italian marines case (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Italy relations

b)     Marines issue

c)     International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)

a)     The ITLOS has put a status quo in the Italian marines case and asked both India and Italy to suspend all court proceedings and refrain from initiating new ones that might aggravate or extend the dispute that caused a diplomatic row.

b)     Italy had moved ITLOS in July, challenging Indias jurisdiction to try the two marines. It said the incident took place in international waters, and as per international norms they ought to be tried in Italian courts.

4.

No change in stand on Palestine: Sushma (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Palestine relations

b)     Palestinian issue

c)     Gaza conflict

d)     UNHRC

e)     International Criminal Court

a)     India told the Arab League that its policy on the Palestinian cause remained unchanged and its support to the people of Palestine would be undiluted.

b)     On July 3, India for the first time abstained from voting on an anti-Israel resolution at UNHRC. The resolution called for accountability from parties to last years conflict in Gaza that killed over 2000 people and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory.

c)     India later said its abstention was on account of a direct action-oriented reference made in the resolution to the International Criminal Court, of which it is not a member.

5.

The new Great Game in Asia (Page 11)

a)     I.R

a)     Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

b)     Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

c)     Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

d)     Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

e)     WTO

a)     Two strategic agreements currently being negotiated by the worlds trading giants will likely determine global balance of economic power for years to come: the TPP and the RCEP. The TPP and RCEP are not radically different instruments - they are both FTAs designed to lower tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade between countries that conduct the bulk of global commerce.

b)     TPP negotiations are led by the US and involve 11 other nations that share a Pacific Ocean coastline. Seven of those countries (Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam) are also party to RCEP negotiations. RCEP comprises ASEAN nations and six others: India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

c)     In addition to trade in goods and services, both agreements cover the critical area of intellectual property rights. RCEP is the more modest of the two, seeking to implement and build on WTO commitments incrementally.

d)     TPP seeks to frame a new agenda for global trade, requiring countries to commit beyond their existing multilateral obligations under the WTO. TPP negotiations broke down earlier this month, after countries were unable to find common ground over IPR protections the US sought to introduce, especially in cyberspace.

e)     RCEP negotiations have seen progress, though haltingly. The Press Trust of India reported last week that ministerial delegations from RCEP member countries will meet in Malaysia in August to finalise modalities. RCEP is an important agreement for India, as it involves many of the countrys major trading partners.

f)     Their basic nature aside, both agreements reflect a competing political dynamic. The TPP has become the centrepiece of USs Asia policy, with Obama-led administration investing considerable political and diplomatic capital in it.   RCEP is not a China-led process, but involves Beijing as a key player. China is acutely conscious of RCEPs political significance.

g)     The RCEP story would underline 3 crucial conclusions: first, that China is willing to engage actors within a pluri-lateral setting, and set aside competing political interests, especially around South China Sea concerns, for overall economic gain. Second, that Beijing leadership is capable of absorbing multilateral instruments into domestic law to secure regional interests even if it goes against established economic policies, especially on IPRs.

h)     Third, and most important, China is comfortable with conceiving and implementing international norms while it emerges as a hegemon in the Asia-Pacific. These conclusions would signal a decisive shift in the regional locus of power from the US to China.

i)     What does this political narrative mean for India, with its renewed ambition to Act East? Regrettably, the discussion around FTAs and mega-regional agreements in India has focused solely on their economic aspects, with scant attention paid to the underlying strategic dimensions. The TPP has invited reflexive criticism for rewriting rules of global trade.

j)     On the foreign policy front,  it has moved closer to the US, but wants to remain invested in RCEP. At same time, it does not want to be seen as being too close to China, whose IPR and cyber policies leave a lot to be desired. If this reflected a multi-alignment policy, Indias negotiating line in RCEP would have been calibrated to respond to specific concerns from across the table, but the draft text does not seriously evaluate whether domestic IPR policy can accommodate RCEP provisions.

k)     As highlighted through the infographic IPR protection in cyberspace is one of the most important themes and a major source of disagreement in both TPP and RCEP.  TPP provisions would require a major restructuring of Indias IP enforcement framework, and may not be immediately feasible.

l)     With some creative diplomacy, India could propose treaty language that resonates strongly with Indian position. Enforcement of IPR claims is anyway conducted bilaterally, which allows the Indian govt to interpret RCEP provisions on a case-to-case basis.

6.

North, South Korea agree to defuse crisis (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     North Korea – South Korea relations

b)     Korean War 1950-53

a)     North and South Korea wrapped up marathon talks with an agreement aimed at defusing a crisis that had pushed rivals to the brink of armed conflict.

b)     The two also agreed to work towards a resumption next month of reunions for families separated by the Korean War.

c)     The negotiations in the border truce village of Panmunjom had played out against a dangerous military stand-off, which caused a rare artillery exchange over the border last week.

7.

IS blows up Palmyra temple (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Islamic State (IS)

b)     Syria and Iraq crisis

c)     Palmyra

d)     UNESCO World Heritage sites

 

a)     Jihadists with the IS group have blown up a famous temple at Syrias ruins of Palmyra, confirming fears they would destroy more world-class heritage sites.

b)    The destruction of the Baal Shamin temple (considered ancient Palmyras second-most significant temple) raised concerns for rest of UNESCO World Heritage-listed ruins.

c)     Famed for its well-preserved Greco-Roman ruins, Palmyra was seized from govt forces in May, prompting concerns IS might destroy it as it has done with heritage sites in parts of Syria and Iraq under its control.

8.

Cant bring political parties under RTI, Centre tells SC (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     RTI Act

b)     Income Tax Act 1961

c)     Representation of the People Act 1951

d)     CIC

a)     Union govt said to the Supreme Court (against making political parties publicly accountable under the RTI Act) that the political parties cannot disclose their internal functioning and financial information under the RTI Act as it will hamper their smooth functioning and become a weak spot for rivals with malicious intentions to take advantage of.

b)     Supreme Court had earlier issued notice to six national parties (including the BJP and the Congress), asking them why they cant come clean and explain their hesitation to disclose complete details of their income, expenditure, donations, funding, including donor details, to the public under the RTI Act.

c)     The CIC had declared all national and regional political parties as public authorities under RTI in its 2013 order. In March this year, it had restated the order as final and binding.

d)     It said there were already provisions in Income Tax Act 1961 and Representation of the People Act 1951, which demand necessary transparency regarding financial aspects of political parties.

9.

Confusion over eco-sensitive zones has ended: Minister (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Environment

a)     Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)

b)     Protected Areas (PAs)

c)     Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)

a)  Union Environment Minister Javadekar said the NDA govt in the past 15 months had done more to demarcate eco-sensitive zones than the previous UPA regime could do in its 8-year rule since the 2006 Supreme Court judgment came out.

b)  Terming it as a major reform in environmental governance, he said this will ensure that the confusion pertaining to ESZ demarcation is put to an end.

c)     In Dec 2006, the Supreme Court had ordered all States and UTs for sending proposals to MoEF for demarcation of ESZs. The court also said that in case no ESZ proposal is sent, ESZ of 10 km shall apply around PAs.

d)     The purpose of declaring an ESZ is to create a buffer zone, where activities will be regulated to protect areas demarcated as Protected Areas.

10.

The crash of the markets (Page 10)

a)     Economy

a)     BSE Sensex

b)     Currency devaluation

c)     SEBI

d)     Current account deficit (CAD)

e)     Inflation

f)     GST

a)    Market regulators and even govts have very few options when financial markets go into the kind of panic-driven free fall as witnessed on Aug 24. The shock waves caused by an over 9 percent fall in Chinese stocks hit capital and currency markets worldwide.

b)     India was no exception to the global sell-off, with the BSE Sensex shedding over 1624 points (nearly 6 percent) and the rupee tumbling at one point to Rs. 66.60 against the US dollar, its lowest level since 2013. The immediate task for market regulator SEBI will be to put in place measures to ensure that there are no major settlement defaults, which can cause a systemic collapse.

c)     On the currency front, RBI Governor Rajan has given out the assurance that the central bank has sufficient foreign currency reserves to dampen any major volatility of the rupee. However, it can only flatten the trajectory of any fall, not reverse it. Besides, it needs to keep the powder dry to tackle any further devaluation of yuan, which China might be forced to do if growth continues to be slow.

d)     For India, the Chinese collapse might actually provide an opportunity. As Rajan has pointed out, India has a low CAD, the fiscal deficit is manageable, inflation is moderating and short-term foreign currency liabilities are low. Despite a downward revision by global rating agencies in the growth forecast, growth is still fairly robust compared to other major economies.

e)     The fall of the rupee has been largely offset by a slump in crude prices, which should further ease pressure on CAD. A cheaper rupee will also help revive exports. Progress on key reform measures such as the GST and Land Bills, and a step-up in infrastructure spending, could boost industry. A strategically timed interest rate cut can help revive consumer and investor sentiment.

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