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Daily News Analysis 17-10-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Pranab stresses Indias balancing act (Page 15)

a)     I.R

a)     President Pranab reiterated Indias approach towards Israel and Palestine - continue to support the Palestine cause while pursuing improved relationship with Israel.

2.

Its time to be a good neighbor (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     As long as the Nepalis perceive the outcomes of the special relationship between India and Nepal to be unfair, it will be difficult to secure their cooperation. It is upto Modi to change that.

3.

Yechury, Bilawal Bhutto clash over Kashmir (Page 14)

a)     I.R

a)     An international conference of political parties on the revival of the ancient Silk Road became a platform where the visiting Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury clashed with Bilawal Bhutto (chairman Pakistan Peoples Party) over the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue.

4.

Pakistan, Russia sign gas pipeline pact (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Pakistan and Russia signed an agreement to build a gas pipeline stretching hundreds of kilometres from Karachi on the Arabian Sea to the eastern city of Lahore.

5.

State case on EU reform in writing, top leaders tell Britain (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     European leaders forced David Cameron to agree to show his hand on British demands for reform of the European Union at the summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

6.

EU refugee deal unacceptable: Turkey (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu slammed an EU offer of financial help to Turkey to ease the refugee crisis as unacceptable, saying an action plan agreed in Brussels was a draft and not final.

7.

A Nobel for the idea of well-being (Page 12)

a)     International

b)     Social issue

a)    Angus Deaton (the winner of this years Nobel in economics) has contributed immensely to understanding of poverty, prices, nutrition and well-being in India. His work has been guided by the belief that economic progress must lead to better lives for everyone.

8.

SC Bench strikes down NJAC Act as unconstitutional and void (Pages 1 and 11)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Declaring that the judiciary cannot risk being caught in a web of indebtedness towards the govt, the Supreme Court rejected the NJAC Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment which sought to give politicians and civil society a final say in the appointment of judges to the highest courts.

9.

An assertion of primacy (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)  It is extraordinary that there should be near-unanimity in the country that the present system of judicial appointments that was put in place in 1993 is deeply unsatisfactory, and yet the most significant legislative effort to reform it should fail before the Supreme Court.

10.

Sex ratio falls to 898 girls per 1000 boys (Page 14)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     New official data suggest that despite the 2011 census setting alarm bells ringing about Indias worsening sex ratio, the gap between male and female registered births in India fell further in 2012 and 2013.

11.

Indias subsonic Nirbhay missile fails again (Pg 10)

a)     National

b)     S&T

a)     Nirbhay (the subsonic cruise missile developed by the DRDO) failed again when it lost control after about 12 minutes of flight and fell into the Bay of Bengal.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Pranab stresses Indias balancing act (Page 15)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Palestine relations

b)     India – Israel relations

c)     Israel-Palestinian conflict

d)     Palestinian issue

e)     UNSC

a)     President Pranab reiterated Indias approach towards Israel and Palestine - continue to support the Palestine cause while pursuing improved relationship with Israel.

b)     He reiterated Indias principled support to the Palestine cause and called for a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Quartet Roadmap and relevant UNSC resolutions.

c)    He was referring to a peace plan proposed by the Quartet on the Middle East - the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

d)     During his visit, both countries signed two govt-level agreements and exchanged eight MoUs between educational institutions from India and Israel.

e)     Israel PM Netanyahu expressed unhappiness with Indias lenience towards Palestine to President Pranab. He told Pranab that Israel expects India to change its stand towards Palestine.

2.

Its time to be a good neighbor (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Nepal relations

b)     Nepals new Constitution

c)     Madhesis

 

a)     This week, Nepali people faced another humanitarian crisis because the flow of fuel and supplies from India stopped. Media questioned Indias claim that the protesting ethnic groups inside Nepal were obstructing supplies. Furthermore, a new govt came to power in Nepal that seems less amenable to their dissenting views.

b)    The introduction of a new Constitution in Nepal presented a chance to alter the entrenched belief that the outcomes of Indias special relationship with Nepal will always be unfair. Unfortunately for India, most Nepalis blame Prime Minister Modi, the public face of the Indian government in Nepal.

c)     The relationship between India and Nepal is complex. India increasingly needs Nepal to safeguard its vital interests. But Nepal depends on India far more. Nearly all of its fuel imports come from the Indian Oil Corporation. The Nepalese Rupee continues to be pegged to the Indian Rupee. India is Nepals main trading partner, and the border is open. By some estimates, one seventh of the entire population of Nepal resides and works in India.

d)     Despite this uneven interdependence, Indian diplomats have sought to cultivate the delicate impression that they are not viceroys. Even before the recent events, they strained to convey that India cared about the well-being of the people of Nepal, regardless of political uncertainties. They restate that they attach greatest importance to the relationship between India and Nepal.

e)     There is a critical need for India to shape perceptions in Nepal and erase misunderstanding. It must reaffirm the unity of the people of Nepal while recognising their diversity. This current crisis has political origins. But India should respond as it did after the earthquake. It was the compassionate first responder, decisive and focussed on alleviating the palpable suffering of the population of a neighbouring country.

f)     Nobody denies Indias immense power in Nepal. With power comes responsibility. As long as the people of Nepal perceive the outcomes of the special relationship to be unfair, it will be difficult to secure their cooperation. It is up to Prime Minister Modi to change that. South Asia and the world are watching.

3.

Yechury, Bilawal Bhutto clash over Kashmir (Page 14)

a)     I.R

a)     International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) on the Silk Road

b)     Chinas Maritime Silk Road (MSR)

c)     Indias Maritime Spice Route

d)     Kashmir issue

e)     Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)

f)     China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

 

a)   An international conference of political parties on revival of the ancient Silk Road became a platform where the visiting CPI (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury clashed with Bilawal Bhutto (chairman Pakistan Peoples Party) over the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue.

b)     Bhutto detailed the importance of the CPEC, which passes through parts of the POK, dubbed Azad Kashmir by Islamabad. He stressed that Beijing had categorically brushed aside Indian worries regarding the routing of the CPEC through Azad Kashmir.

c)   Yechury strongly advocated convergence of Chinas Maritime Silk Road initiative with Indias Maritime Spice Route. He pointed out that Chinas one belt one road concept (of which the MSR is a part) cannot comprehensively realise the inherent potential of the region unless the Maritime Spice Route is simultaneously revived. In his perception, the Spice Route is the mirror image of the Silk Road on the seas.

d)     He pointed out that the Spice Route had extended from Canton (Guangzhou) through the Malacca Straits, India-Sri Lanka onwards to Arab lands and further on to Alexandria, Florence and Constantinople, the capital of Roman empire.

4.

Pakistan, Russia sign gas pipeline pact (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     Pakistan – Russia relations

a)     Pakistan and Russia signed an agreement to build a gas pipeline stretching hundreds of kilometres from Karachi on the Arabian Sea to the eastern city of Lahore.

b)     The 1100-km (680-mile) pipeline (with a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic metres per year) will connect liquefied natural gas terminals in Karachi with those in Lahore.

c)     Russia has long been the largest supplier of weaponry to Pakistans nuclear-armed archrival India, which is the worlds top arms buyer. But now Moscow appears to be pivoting towards Islamabad as New Delhi becomes closer allies with Washington.

d)     Sources reported in June that Russia had lifted its embargo on arms supplies to Pakistan and was holding talks on supplying Islamabad with combat helicopters.

5.

State case on EU reform in writing, top leaders tell Britain (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     EU reform

b)     Brexit

c)     EU refugee crisis

a)     European leaders forced David Cameron to agree to show his hand on British demands for reform of the European Union at the summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

b)     Putting his demands on paper will bring clarity to the position of the Cameron govt and the Conservative party, but also draw clear battle lines in the Brexit (Britains exit from EU) debate which has divided both government and party.

6.

EU refugee deal unacceptable: Turkey (Page 16)

a)     International

a)     EU refugee deal

b)     Refugee crisis

a)     Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu slammed an EU offer of financial help to Turkey to ease refugee crisis as unacceptable, saying an action plan agreed in Brussels was a draft and not final.

b)     He complained that the EU had been seeking to give the funds out of the budget allocated for Turkey. It is out of the question for us to accept an understanding of aiding Syrian refugees from funds allocated for Turkey.

7.

A Nobel for the idea of well-being (Page 12)

a)     International

b)     Social issue

a)     Poverty estimation

b)     National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)

c)     Randomised control trials (RCTs)

d)     Liberalisation

 

a)     According to the author, much of the work by Angus Deaton (the winner of this years Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences) has been focussed on measurement issues.

b)     He has questioned the quality of data collected in large surveys and suggested ways of improving the surveys. He has also thought very hard about how these data could or could not be used, how to reduce measurement errors, and what inferences one can (or cannot) draw from data that might suffer from measurement errors.

c)     His contribution to the understanding of price indices and poverty estimation has been very important. He has highlighted the problems with the computation of price indices in India and how these affect poverty estimation. His proposal to use prices implicit in the data collected by the NSSO was implemented by the Suresh Tendulkar committee some years ago.

d)     Along with poverty estimation, he has applied his deep understanding of several disciplines (ranging from biology to philosophy) to work on mortality, health, nutrition and well-being. In his latest book (The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality), he generously acknowledges Amartya Sens influence on this aspect of work.

e)     Much of this body of work on nutrition in India (and elsewhere) has come since the 2000s. A large part of it is India-focussed, much of it co-authored with Jean Dreze. In 1999-2000, there was a lot of interest in the poverty estimates as these were the first post-liberalisation estimates. Supporters of liberalisation were keen to show that poverty had declined, and that its rate of decline had accelerated since liberalisation. Those against it were unwilling to accept this.

f)    A change in methodology for data collection between 1993-94 and 1999-2000 made a straightforward comparison between the two point estimates impossible. Deatons work (with Dreze) on comparable estimates disappointed both camps. They found that while the official claim that poverty had declined in the post-liberalisation period was true, the claim that there had been an acceleration in the rate of decline was not.

g)     In 2009, Deaton and Dreze published a paper on the nutrition situation in India which once again provoked economists on both sides of the ideological spectrum. However, they pointed out that calorie intake was declining even at given levels of real per-capita expenditure, especially among the better-off households, and discussed other possible reasons for this pattern.

h)    On the other hand, in 2013, Arvind Panagariya challenged a long-held understanding among economists and nutritionists about anthropometric outcomes. The argument was not so much about whether height is a good indicator of nutrition, human development and well-being. Panagariyas thesis was that Indians are short, not because they are undernourished but because they are genetically programmed to be so.

i)     Deaton and Dreze pointed out in their response that all of his arguments about the role of genetics is residual. These two debates are illustrative of Deatons careful analysis and unwavering honesty, his ability to separate his social commitments from what his meticulous data work suggests.

j)     Another important part of his contribution has been to question dominant fashions in development economics. When instrumental variables were a popular tool to establish causality, he wrote that students no longer look for a thesis topic, but for an instrument.

k)     More recently, a new technique RCTs has taken development economics by storm. For some, RCTs are seen as the only form of evidence, disregarding not only other forms of quantitative evidence but also other forms of qualitative evidence. Deaton has been among the few voices to question our over-reliance on RCT experiments while that acknowledging it as a valid body of evidence.

l)     For Deaton, the problem is not with RCTs per se but rather with the view that it is the only form of evidence that matters or that it should be the only driver of policy decisions. He has his differences with arguments like that advocated by Abhijit Banerjee when he said that the World Bank should cease to fund any activity (including presumably macro policy advice) that has not been previously subject to evaluation by an appropriate RCT.

m)     He is a firm supporter of government action for social policy. Without being blind to the problems of governments in poorer countries, he forcefully argues for their greater accountability. He argued that the absence of state capacity is one of the major causes of poverty and deprivation around the world. Without effective states working with active and involved citizens, there is little chance for the growth that is needed to abolish global poverty.

8.

SC Bench strikes down NJAC Act as unconstitutional and void (Pages 1 and 11)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act

b)     99th Constitutional Amendment

c)     Collegium system

d)     Supreme Court

a)    Declaring that the judiciary cannot risk being caught in a web of indebtedness towards the govt, the Supreme Court rejected the NJAC Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment which sought to give politicians and civil society a final say in the appointment of judges to the highest courts.

b)     The Bench in a majority of 4:1 rejected the NJAC Act and the Constitutional Amendment as unconstitutional and void. It held that the collegium system (as it existed before the NJAC) would again become operative. But interestingly, the Bench admitted that all is not well even with the collegium system of judges appointing judges, and that the time is ripe to improve the 21-year-old system of judicial appointments.

9.

An assertion of primacy (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act

b)     99th Constitutional Amendment

c)     Collegium system

d)     Supreme Court

a)  It is extraordinary that there should be near-unanimity in the country that the present system of judicial appointments that was put in place in 1993 is deeply unsatisfactory, and yet the most significant legislative effort to reform it should fail before the Supreme Court.

b)     It is no surprise that a five-judge Bench has struck down the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act 2014, by which the govt established a NJAC to select members of the higher judiciary. There were doubts whether the composition of the NJAC, especially the inclusion in it of the Union Law Minister and two eminent persons appointed by the govt, would survive judicial scrutiny.

c)     For, the law also gave any two members a veto over all decisions, raising the question whether the judicial members could be overruled by the executive representatives. The Attorney General could not convince the court that the amendment (along with NJAC Act) was aimed at restoring the system of checks and balances which (according to the govt) was lost after the Supreme Court created the collegium scheme of appointments.

d)     The core question was whether the new institutional mechanism to appoint judges impinged on the independence of the judiciary, a basic feature of the Constitution. The court has ruled that it does. Justice J.S. Khehar has held that the clauses provided in amendment are inadequate to preserve the primacy of the judiciary. The inclusion of the Law Minister in the body impinged on both the independence of the judiciary and the doctrine of separation of powers.

e)     Justice Khehar has said the conduct of political executive showed it tended to reward favourites in many fields. Preserving the primacy of the judiciary was a safe way to shield the institution from the regime of the spoils system. Justice Chelameswar is candid in questioning the lack of transparency in the collegium system. Even while restoring this system, the majority has invited suggestions to improve it so that it is more responsive to expectations of civil society.

f)     While to some it may appear that striking down a Constitution amendment passed unanimously in both Houses of Parliament and ratified by 20 State Assemblies amounts to negating the peoples will, it cannot be forgotten that the judiciary remains the sole authority to decide whether a law violates the basic structure of the Constitution.

g)    What the situation indicates is that India is still struggling to put together a transparent appointment system not vitiated by executive patronage or judicial nepotism.

10.

Sex ratio falls to 898 girls per 1000 boys (Page 14)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Sex ratio

b)     Civil Registration System (CRS)

c)     Registrar General of India (RGI)

d)     Sample Registration System (SRS)

e)     Census of India 2011

a)     New official data suggest that despite the 2011 census setting alarm bells ringing about Indias worsening sex ratio, the gap between male and female registered births in India fell further in 2012 and 2013.

b)     Indias CRS (administered by the office of the RGI), which also conducts the decadal census, comprises all officially registered birth and death data. It is mandatory to register all births and deaths within 21 days of their occurrence.

c)  Since 2011, when the census found Indias child sex ratio at birth to have fallen to 910 girls for every 1000 boys, the situation may have worsened. Newly released CRS data show that the sex ratio of registered births fell from 909 in 2011 to 908 the next year and 898 in 2013. Manipur and Haryana do particularly badly, as do Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

d)     There are problems with using CRS data on the sex ratio. For one, it counts registered births only and since girls are less likely to be officially registered than boys, the sex ratio derived from the CRS is artificially depressed. Secondly, the RGIs SRS (which selects a nationally representative sample to derive data on births and deaths) is considered to be more rigorous than CRS which relies on local authorities.

e)     A comparison of the data does indicate a small difference between CRS and SRS for the same years, and large differences at the State level between CRS and census data. CRS data are also at times prone to wide year-on-year variation at the State level.

11.

Indias subsonic Nirbhay missile fails again (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     S&T

a)     Nirbhay missile

b)     DRDO

a)     Nirbhay (the subsonic cruise missile developed by the DRDO) failed again when it lost control after about 12 minutes of flight and fell into the Bay of Bengal.

b)    Nirbhay takes off vertically like a missile, jettisons its booster engine, then its wings spread out and it starts flying horizontally like an aircraft at a subsonic speed of 0.7 Mach. It is a combination of the missile and aeronautical systems.

c)     Nirbhay is a surface-to-surface, long-range cruise missile. It is a tree-top missile, which can fly at varying heights from five metres to five km.

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