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Daily News Analysis 18-11-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Colombo to have centre to monitor India (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     Indias ongoing diplomatic tussle with Nepal has been noted by Sri Lanka, prompting prevention plans to avoid confrontation with a more assertive India.

2.

India, Bangladesh vow to end border killings (Page 14)

a)     I.R

a)     India and Bangladesh have agreed to bring border killings to an end and stressed greater awareness among citizens to avert such incidents in the future.

3.

Could have seized other islands in South China Sea, says China (Pg14)

a)     International

a)     A Chinese diplomat said that China has shown great restraint in the South China Sea by not seizing islands occupied by other countries even though it could have.

4.

Hollande signals rethink on anti-IS strategy (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     International

a)     French President Francois Hollandes willingness to talk to anyone in the interests of building an international coalition against the Islamic State or Daesh in Syria is a significant departure from his earlier position on alliance-building in the war against terrorism.

5.

Frances war on terrorists (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     French President Hollande has said that he will soon meet his Russian and American counterparts (Putin and Obama respectively) in an effort to settle on a united campaign to defeat the so-called Islamic State.

6.

Paris attacks complicate Europes strained border controls (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Amid the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and persecution, the increasing likelihood that one of the Paris attackers entered Europe with a Syrian passport last month has alarmed leaders and reinvigorated talk about tightening border controls.

7.

Greece strikes deal for €12-billion bailout funds (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Greece announced it has struck a deal with its international creditors to unblock some €12 billion in much-needed bailout loans.

8.

The case for the Rajya Sabha (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Another parliamentary session will be upon us in 10 days time. Both the government and the Opposition must be bracing for a stormy winter sitting.

9.

Emerging market fund managers bearish on India (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     Economy

a)     For the first time since October 2014, India has fallen out of favour among emerging market and Asian fund managers with its rating falling to neutral from being the most overweight.

10.

A clean-up act with a short sweep (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Environment

a)    The Environment Laws (Amendment) Bill is first step in quantifying and penalising environmental damage – but it falls short in gauging the scope and ramifications.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Colombo to have centre to monitor India (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Sri Lanka relations

b)     India – Nepal relations

c)     India-Nepal economic  blockade

d)     India Studies Centre

a)     Indias ongoing diplomatic tussle with Nepal has been noted by Sri Lanka, prompting prevention plans to avoid confrontation with a more assertive India.

b)     Colombos civil society figures have revived proposal to build the India Studies Centre, which was championed by the late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar to understand and correctly anticipate Indian policy behaviour to avoid any bilateral tensions.

c)     Its now more than ever necessary to understand what India plans for South Asia as the world seems to be making space for India in high tables of international diplomacy.

2.

India, Bangladesh vow to end border killings (Page 14)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Bangladesh relations

b)     Border issues

 

a)     India and Bangladesh have agreed to bring border killings to an end and stressed greater awareness among citizens to avert such incidents in future. This was decided at the home secretary-level meeting between India and Bangladesh, when the issue of killing along border came up prominently.

b)     India on earlier occasions announced plans to provide the BSF posted along Bangladesh border with non-lethal weapons; but that has not happened yet. At the two-day meeting, India assured Bangladesh of sharing intelligence on militancy.

c)    On the first day of meeting, India had raised the issues of the influx of fake Indian currency, cattle smuggling, and illegal infiltration, and sought Dhakas cooperation to completely stop these, while Bangladesh strongly spoke against the border killings.

3.

Could have seized other islands in South China Sea, says China (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     South China Sea dispute

b)     Spratly islands

a)     A Chinese diplomat said that China has shown great restraint in the South China Sea by not seizing islands occupied by other countries even though it could have.

b)     China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. But he said that China was the real victim as it had had dozens of its islands and reefs in Spratlys illegally occupied by three of the claimants.

c)     He said the Chinese govt has the right and the ability to recover the islands and reefs illegally occupied by neighbouring countries.

d)  US President Obama offered Philippines a warship as part of a $250-million aid package to Southeast Asian allies worried about Chinese efforts to control the South China Sea.

4.

Hollande signals rethink on anti-IS strategy (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     International

a)     Anti-IS strategy

b)     Islamic State (IS)

c)     Paris terror attacks

a)    French President Hollandes willingness to talk to anyone in the interests of building an international coalition against the Islamic State or Daesh in Syria is a significant departure from his earlier position on alliance-building in the war against terrorism.

b)     Hollande has been seen as a hardliner within the western alliance, often equating the IS and Syrian President Bashar al-Asads regime as entities not very different from each other.

c)     His statements after the Paris attacks now suggest a new pragmatism leavened by the realisation that in war against terror the primary target is IS.

d)    At G20 meeting in Antalya (Turkey), Russian President Putins statements on Syria point to agreement in the Kremlin on the necessity of international cooperation to defeat the IS.

5.

Frances war on terrorists (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     Terrorism

b)     Paris terror attacks

c)     Islamic State in Syria (ISIS)

d)     Syria crisis

a)     French President Hollande has said that he will soon meet his Russian and American counterparts (Putin and Obama respectively) in an effort to settle on a united campaign to defeat the so-called IS.

b)   Though the French govt has initiated a massive mobilisation of security personnel at home and stepped up bombing targets in Raqqa, the so-called capital of the Caliphate, what would matter eventually in the fight against ISIS is the resolve of the major world powers to formulate a coordinated strategy thats not driven by their own narrow geopolitical ambitions but by a common goal of defeating the jihadists.

c)   France has to first tackle the challenges it faces at home. The immediate need is to tighten the loose ends in security and intelligence. Paris (along with other European capitals) should also prevent right-wing groups from utilising the post-attack scenario to the benefit of xenophobic politics.

d)     More important, France faces tough choices in the war against IS in Syria. Its initial response (to bomb Raqqa) was on expected lines. The eastern Syrian city was bombed by the Americans, the Russians, and now the French. Still its the capital of the Caliphate.

e)   If France believes enhanced air strikes will weaken ISIS, it could well be proved wrong, while the mindless bombing may actually drive more people towards ISIS. A more effective strategy appears to lie in reorienting the French govts policy towards Syria.

f)     Instead of trying to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime, Paris and other Atlantic capitals along with their Gulf allies should work towards finding a political settlement to Syrian civil war. They should also offer support for forces battling ISIS on the ground, such as the Shia militias and Kurdish rebels, besides the Syrian and Iraqi national armies.

6.

Paris attacks complicate Europes strained border controls (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Paris terror attacks

b)     EU Refugee crisis

a)     Amid the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and persecution, the increasing likelihood that one of the Paris attackers entered Europe with a Syrian passport last month has alarmed leaders and reinvigorated talk about tightening border controls.

b)     Part of the complication with border checks involves the different kinds of borders in Europe: the outer border, such as between Turkey and Greece, which marks the boundaries of EU, and internal open borders of the 26-nation Schengen area.

7.

Greece strikes deal for €12-billion bailout funds (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Greece debt crisis

 

a)     Greece announced it has struck a deal with its international creditors to unblock some €12 billion in much-needed bailout loans.

b)     Greece in July accepted a 3-year, €86-billion EU bailout that saved it from crashing out of the eurozone, but the deal came with strict conditions.

c)     Athens has since adopted a number of the unpopular reforms but creditors have wanted it to do more.

8.

The case for the Rajya Sabha (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Rajya Sabha

b)     Lok Sabha

c)     Parliament

d)     Money bill

e)     Constitutional amendment bill

a)     Both the govt and the Opposition must be bracing for a stormy winter sitting. Besides routine obstructions in both Houses, the NDA is certain to be confronted once again with the inescapable reality that it is woefully short of a majority in the 245-member Rajya Sabha.

b)     We may hear yet again the now-familiar lament that the indirectly elected Council of States is preventing the govt of the day, with a comfortable majority in the directly elected House of the People, from implementing its legislative agenda.

c)     Voices questioning the power of Upper House to stall legislation passed by the Lok Sabha have been frequently heard under the present regime. Three months ago, Finance Minister Jaitley called for a debate on whether an indirectly elected body could hold back reforms that had the approval of elected majority in Lok Sabha.

d)     Having a second chamber is not only for ensuring checks and balances in the system. It is a mechanism devised to give the constituent States of Union a say in running the countrys affairs. A permanent Upper House is also a check against any abrupt changes in the composition of Lower House.

e)     At the same time, the Constitution preserves primacy of the House of the People in money bills. Nor can the Upper House vote on demands for grants. In the event of a disagreement between the two Houses on a bill, the option of a joint sitting of both chambers is available. However, this will not apply to a money bill or a Constitution amendment.

f)     This constitutional scheme should not be trifled with just because of a political stalemate between the principal parties. Any such attempt would dilute the countrys federal character and weaken the ties between the Centre and the States.

g)     After all, multi-partisan cooperation is written into the idea that the Constitution can be amended only with a two-thirds majority in Parliament. It is equally true that far-reaching economic and social legislation ought not to be held hostage to any partisan blockade by the Opposition.

9.

Emerging market fund managers bearish on India (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     Economy

a)     Global fund managers

b)     Indias foreign investment flows

c)     US Federal Reserve

a)     Based on our Asia-Pacific ex-Japan investor panellists, India has fallen out of favour from being most overweight to neutral, something not seen since Oct 2014. China moved up to the most overweight as investors probably anticipate more easing from authorities to combat the sharp slowdown and deflationary pressure.

b)   The change in view towards India is already being witnessed in the form of an overall slowdown in foreign fund flows into the domestic equity market.

c)     The current calendar year saw a net inflow of $3.55 billion in the equity market, which is significantly lower than the annual flows witnessed in the past few years.

d)   According to survey, global fund managers positioning in emerging markets remain near record lows, even with improving China growth prospects at the margin and massive undervaluation, as investors worry about weak earnings outlook, collapsing commodity prices, stronger US dollar and higher global yields.

e)     A growing number of fund managers are expecting a rate hike being announced by US Federal Reserve in Dec, which would again impact the foreign investment flows in emerging markets, including India.

10.

A clean-up act with a short sweep (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Environment

a)     Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill

b)     Environmental damage

c)     Pollution

d)     Air Pollution

a)     New Delhi is in the news again as respirable particulate matter is said to have crossed hazardous limits. On the one hand, this is environmental damage that affects everyone, while on the other, it is damage with multiple determinants - vehicle exhaust, construction dust, Diwali firecrackers, pollution caused by burning of paddy stumps and agricultural residue, etc.

b) In quantifying environmental damage, there are at least two stumbling blocks: identifying when the damage started and what its impact will be; and finding the source and cause of damage.

c)     The Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill seeks to define the scope of damage by gauging its distance from a project site, and circumscribing penalties for damage. While this is an important first attempt, the Bill falls short in understanding the scope, ramifications and extent of environmental damage.

d)     The Bill focusses on environmental damage as pollution. It is only when we experience pollution that we become alert to environmental problems or damage. Water pollution makes potable water undrinkable, soil pollution contaminates ground water or renders soil infertile, while air pollution exacerbates respiratory ailments.

e)    While the Bill suggests that there are three kinds of environmental damage (substantial, non-substantial and minor), it does not elaborate on what the differentiating factors between these categories are. It suggests that damage under these 3 categories is contained within pollution and hazardous substances.

f)     It states that substantial damage means damage to the environment whether by release of environmental pollutant or environmental pollution or handling of hazardous substance or any other substance or otherwise determined in the manner as may be prescribed by which the environment is affected or is likely to be affected.

g)     But there are several other types of environmental damage that merit inclusion in the Bill that change the ecological integrity or character of an ecosystem. These include dredging activities that can fill up an important wetland or the cutting off of water supply.

h)     The extent or presence of environmental damage can be quantified by measuring a difference or drop in ecosystem services. For example, land degradation can affect plant pollination and forests can turn barren, in turn affecting carbon sequestration and air purification.

i)   Further, the idea of pollution as damage is interlinked with our health. Legislation in other parts of world has gone beyond human-centric definitions. For instance, under British law, environmental damage is defined as that which causes a significant, harmful effect on the conservation status of an EU protected species or natural habitat.

j)     Thus, these points merit further debate. In India, would we consider damage to wild species and wild places as environmental damage? Or would we confine ourselves to damage that is pollution? These are tough questions that need to be posed to scientists, ecologists, affected communities and citizens.

k)     The second major point is the role of distance as a factor in determining environmental damage, and its use in setting the extent of penalties. The Bill suggests that the costs of environmental damage, in the form of hazards and pollution, may extend to 10 crore rupees within a 5 km distance from a project site. For damage within 5 to 10 km from a site, the sum should be between Rs. 10-15 crore and beyond 10 kilometres,   Rs. 15-20 crore. 

l)     In several cases such as radiation or air pollution, proximity to the site of damage exacerbates damage and suffering. While air pollution causes grievous harm, the nature of the pollutant is such that it causes more harm through proximity, and not through distance.

m)     In the end, there are questions related to both science and perception. While science and laboratory tests can determine impact on health, there must be larger consensus on whether we want to go beyond the perception of pollution as constituting environmental damage. 

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