Comprehensive News Analysis – 01 January 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Grateful for shift in India’s position, says Israel envoy

2. Pakistan readies dossier on India

3. Sri Lanka parties slug it out over draft Development Bill

C. GS3 Related:

1. Agni-IV to be test-fired tomorrow

2. What is a Megamaser?

3. 3 lakh cr. plan afoot to double airport capacity

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

PIB

1. Year End Review 2016: Ministry of Railways

2. Year End review: Ministry Of Defence

3. English Text of PMs address to the nation on the eve of New Year 2017

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
I. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
1. Grateful for shift in India’s position, says Israel envoy

Category: International Relations

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points:

  • Israel’s Ambassador Daniel Carmon has said that Israel is grateful for the “changes and the shifts” in the Indian position at U.N. bodies in the past two years.
  • It is important to note that recently,  India has decided to abstain from resolutions critical of Israel at the U.N., the United Nations Human Rights Council and UNESCO.
  • Carmon has welcomed this shift.
  • The Israeli Ambassador went on to add that, “In the last couple of years we have seen a shift in various votes (by India) which reflects the present improvement in relations.”

Background of events

  • It is important to note that traditionally, India has stood unequivocally with the Palestinian cause, voting in favour of all resolutions critical of Israel.
  • However in July 2015, India abstained on a vote against Israel at the U.N. Human Rights Council, marking what seemed a major shift in policy, especially as it followed a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • India repeated the abstention in 2016, but explained that it was due to a reference to the International Criminal Court, which India doesn’t recognise.
  • The present government which came to power in 2014 has consistently promised better ties with Israel, which it considers an ally on counter-terrorism and defence cooperation.

 

  1. Pakistan readies dossier on India

Category: International Relations

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, India and the Neighbourhood- Relations 

Key Points:

  • It is reported that Pakistan would hand over a dossier on alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and evidence of attempted violation of maritime boundary by an Indian submarine to incoming UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 2nd Jan 2017, which would be his first working day after assuming office.
  • Maleeha Lodhi, who is Pakistan’s Permanent UN representative, will officially pass on the dossier to Guterres at the UN headquarters in New York.  
  • Pakistan has claimed that Jadhav, who is an Indian Navy officer and an alleged operative of India’s intelligence agency RAW, was caught by its security forces earlier this year.
  • In fact, his capture was announced in March and was flaunted by the military establishment in Pakistan as “proof of Indian interference and state-sponsored terrorism“.
  • It is important to note that Ms. Lodhi had in October 2015 presented three dossiers to the then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which were said to be containing proof of alleged Indian interference in Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Karachi. But, the move did not get much traction.

 

  1. Sri Lanka parties slug it out over draft Development Bill

Category: International Relations

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, India and the Neighbourhood- Relations 

Key Points:

  • As the year 2016 progressed, differences between the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) began to crop up.
  • A new issue that has caused heat within the ruling coalition is the draft Development (Special Provisions) Bill. This legislation has been bitterly criticised by Chief Ministers, mostly belonging to the SLFP. Provincial councils, one after the other, have adopted resolutions against the legislation. Proponents of the legislation believe that the initiative is meant to hasten the development process.
  • Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had assured the agitated Chief Ministers that the Bill would not encroach upon subjects coming under the purview of the provincial councils.
  • Tamil National Alliance chief R. Sampanthan has said that the attitude and approach of the present government are completely different from that of its predecessor.
  • Tamil National Alliance chief R. Sampanthan has also expressed his dissatisfaction over the progress in the issues of return of land, resettlement and housing requirements of Tamils and the establishment of truth and reconciliation commission.

 

C. GS3 Related
  1. Agni-IV to be test-fired tomorrow

Category: Science and Technology 

Topic: Developments

Key Points:

  • India’s strategic, ballistic missile, Agni-IV, will be flight-tested from a road-mobile launcher on the Abdul Kalam Island (earlier called Wheeler Island), off Damra village on the Odisha coast, on 2nd Jan, 2017.
  • Agni-IV is a two-stage, surface-to-surface missile that is 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes.
  • It can carry a one-tonne nuclear warhead over a distance of 4,000 km. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has designed and developed the missile.
  • On December 26, 2016, the DRDO successfully test-fired Agni-V, with a range of more than 5,000 km.

 

  1. What is a Megamaser?

Category: Science and Technology

  Topic: Developments

Key Points:

  • Megamaser’s are cousins of lasers.
  • Lasers are devices used to emit a beam of light by controlling the emission of photons from excited atoms. While ‘masers’, which are a play on the word ‘laser’, do the same in the microwave region.
  • ‘Masers’ can be made in labs or can also be found naturally in galaxies such as the Milky Way.
  • Recently, the Hubble telescope found a ‘Megamaser’ that was around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way.
  • This megamaser galaxy, called IRAS 16399-0937, is located over 370 million light years from Earth. It hosts a double nucleus, formed of two separate cores in the process of merging.

 

  1. 3 lakh cr. plan afoot to double airport capacity

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Infrastructure- Airports

Key Points:

  • Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha has said that the Centre will require up to ₹3 lakh crore for doubling the airport capacity over the next 10 to 15 years.
  • He went on to add that the Centre had done an extensive city-by-city analysis of airport traffic projects and worked out a plan to double the airport capacity over the next 10-15 years.
  • It is important to note that at present, out of 125 airports managed by Airports Authority of India (AAI), 69 airports receive commercial flights. Further, according to AAI, the existing airport terminals can handle 25 crore passengers per annum.

National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2016

  • The National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2016 has called for adopting a hybrid-till model for all airports under which 30 per cent of airport operator’s non-aeronautical revenues would be used to subsidise airport costs.
  • Since its inception, the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) has adopted a single-till model to determine aeronautical charges at 20 major airports across the country, including Kolkata and Chennai.
  • The airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad follow a shared-till model.
  • It is important to note that under the single-till model, both aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues are taken into account to calculate passenger fee.
  • Moreover, apart from its core operations, airports earn income from the non-aeronautical side which includes food and beverages, duty-free shops, advertising, car parking and hotels.

Note to Students: The National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2016 is important for Civil Services aspirants to go through. The below link will prove beneficial to aspirants.
https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/national-civil-aviation-policy

 

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

PIB

  1. Year End Review 2016: Ministry of Railways

Category: Polity and Governance, Indian Economy

Topic: Government Initiatives, Government Schemes

Key Points:

Note to students: This is a very important article and should be read in its entirety from the PIB website. Kindly refer to the URL above to read the complete article.

PASSENGER AMENITIES, SERVICES

  • Initiation of “Janani Sewa” announced – i.e. Hot Milk, Hot Water and Baby Food items at stations and children’s menu items on Trains.
  • Self Help Groups have been roped in to make local Cuisines available through E-Catering Services of Its PSU IRCTC. 
  • The Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme (ATAS) also known as VIKALP now available on sectors viz., Delhi- Howrah, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Secunderabad  is now being extended to other sectors and instructions have been given to Zonal Railways to this effect.

DIGITAL INDIA INITIATIVES

  • Implementation of E-enabled Track Management System (TMS) & Mobile Application of TMS on Indian Railway and Track Inventory Management System inaugurated on Northern Railway.
  • Go India Smart Card introduced on pilot basis in select sectors (New Delhi – Mumbai, New Delhi – Howrah) to facilitate Cashless transactions and to reduce the time taken at Booking Counters. 

SYSTEM IMPROVEMENT AND INNOVATION

  • Indian Railways appointed Ernst Young (EY) as consultant to tap advertising potential of stations and trains.
  • EY to identify assets and pricing strategy across 7000 stations for the purpose of advertising.

SAFETY

  • TRI-NETRA – Terrain Imaging for Diesel Drivers- Infrared Enhanced Optical and Radar Assisted (Tri-NETRA) systemtrial launched.
  • Japan and Korea are roped in to improve the safety performance of Indian Railways 

GREEN INITIATIVES

  • ‘First Green Train Corridor namely Rameswaram – Manamadurai’ free from human waste discharge inaugurated.
  • “Okha-Kanalus and Porbandar-Wansjaliya Sections in Gujarat of Western Railways inaugurated as Green Corridor Sections (Free from human waste discharge from trains).

INITIATIVES FOR THE SENIOR CITIZENS & PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

  • Railway Streamlined procedure for issue of concession certificate to physically challenged persons (Divyang)
  • With a view to provide support to old and differently abled passengers requiring assistance at the stations, introduced Yatri Mitras Sewa for enabling passengers to book wheelchair services cum porter services.

CLEANLINESS (SWACHH RAIL MISSION)

  • In order to carry out efficient disposal of waste, Indian Railways has decided to provide separate dustbins for collections of biodegradable (wet waste) and non-biodegradable (dry waste) on the platforms and all passenger interface areas in A1 & A category stations apart from vending stalls.
  • “Clean My Coach” Service launched to ensure cleanliness in Trains.

HIGH SPEED RAILWAY

  • High Speed Train between Mumbai – Ahmedabad Corridor already sanctioned and under implementation with financial & technical assistance from Japan.
  • Mission Raftaar launched to work towards increasing speed of existing trains in Indian Railways
  • Semi-High Speed Train between Delhi – Agra called Gatimaan Express started.

 

  1. Year End review: Ministry Of Defence

Category: Security

Topic: Government Policy, Defence

Key Points:

Note to students: This is a very important article and should be read in its entirety from the PIB website. Kindly refer to the URL above to read the complete article.

  • Speedy modernisation of the Armed Forces to meet present and emerging challenges, development of requisite capacities and infrastructure for making up critical deficiency of weapons and equipment and creating a robust defence set up in the country through the ‘Make in India’ initiative, were the salient achievements of the Ministry of Defence during 2016.

Key Highlights:

  • The year also saw progress for the welfare of Ex-Servicemen as the much awaited One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme funds reaching the accounts of Ex-Servicemen and families.
  • India engaged with its neighbours and Far Eastern countries,as well as also developed countries through bilateral talks, ship visits and bilateral as well as trilateral military exercises.
  • the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex body of the Ministry of Defence in matters of acquisitions, cleared different critical and high end defence procurement proposals to the tune of more than 1 lakh crore.
  • The new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 was promulgated for capital procurements and came into effect from 1stApril.  DPP-2016 has a focus on achieving the ‘Make in India’ vision by according priority to ‘Buy Indian – IDDM (Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured) and ‘Buy (Indian)’ categories. It also focuses on enhancement and rationalization of indigenous content.

TRAINING EVENTS & MILITARY EXERCISES

  • India-France Joint Military ‘Exercise Shakti – 2016’was conducted from 6-16 Jan. ‘Exercise Shakti-2016’ is the seventh edition in the series of bilateral exercises.
  • India-Nepal Combined Military Training ‘Exercise Surya Kiran IX’: An Infantry Battalion of the Indian Army and Shree RudraDhoj Battalion of the Nepalese Army participated.
  • India–IndonesiaJoint Training ‘Exercise Garuda Shakti IV’: The fourth edition of the joint exercise was conducted for 13 days from 10-23 Mar at Magelang, Indonesia.
  • ‘Exercise Maitree’:A joint exercise of the Indian Army and Royal Thailand Army was held from 15-30 July in Thailand. The aim was to train contingents of both armies on conduct of counter-terrorist operations in an urban environment. The exercise was designed to enhance mutual cooperation and interoperability between the two armies. 
  • ‘Exercise YudhAbhyas’:As part of the continuing Indo – US defence cooperation, the 12thedition of the joint military training ‘Exercise YudhAbhyas2016’ was conducted at Chaubattia in Uttarakhand from 14-27 Sep. The exercise was in a series of one of the longest running joint military training exercises covering counter-terrorist operations under the flagship of UN for countering international terrorism. It included a series of training events such as cordon and search operation, cliff chop assaults and other training events covering operational activities carried out under the flag of UN Mission.
  • ‘Exercise Indra – 2016’: As part of continued efforts to further strengthen Indo-Russian friendship, troops of two sides, participated in the eight edition of Joint ‘Exercise Indra – 2016’ from 22 Sep to 2 Oct. The 11-day exercise focused on Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency operations in semi-mountainous and jungle terrain under the UN mandate.
  • ‘Sino – Indian Joint  Exercise’:As part of the ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China, under the provisions of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, 2013, the Indian and Chinese armies held their Second Joint Exercise ‘Sino India Cooperation 2016’ on 19 Oct.
  • ‘India – China Joint Training Exercise’:The sixth India – China Joint Training Exercise “Hand – in – Hand 2016” was held at Pune from 16 – 27 Nov. The aim of the exercise was to enhance confidence and trust between the two armies which may be called upon to grapple with anti-terrorism operations under the UN mandate. The conduct of Joint Military Exercises is also an important step to uphold the values of Peace, Prosperity and Stability in the region.
  • Maiden Sea trials of Kalvari  – First Scorpene Class Submarine: ‘Kalvari’, the first of the Scorpene class submarines, being built at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd Mumbai (MDL), went to sea on 1 May under her own propulsion for the first sea trial, off the Mumbai coast.The submarine is presently under going advanced/ deep dive trials and is likely to be commissioned in early 2017.
  • Assistance to  Sri-Lanka: In response to the request for assistance made by the Government of Sri Lanka, thePrime Minister Shri NarendraModi, announced that India would provide aid on emergency basis to help those affected by the floods and landslides in various parts of Sri Lanka. Accordingly, two Indian Navy warships, INS Sutlej and INS Sunayna, were deployed to Sri-Lanka on 20 Mayto provide assistance due to the calamity caused by the cyclone “Roanu”.
  • The ships sailed from Kochi with 30-40 tons of relief material which included inflatable rafts, fresh water, medical supplies, clothing and other provisions necessary for disaster reliefoperations andreached Colombo harbour on 21 May.
  • Naseem-Al-Bahr: The Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman conducted the 10thbilateral maritime exercise Naseem-Al-Bahr from 22-27 Jan.
  • IFR 2016-Passage Exercise: The unprecedented scale and scope of the PASSEX are indicative of India’s growing stature in the maritime domain and the bridges that have been painstakingly built by the Indian Navy towards achieving the motto of the International Fleet Review in letter and spirit – ‘United through Oceans’.
  • Exercise MALABAR 2016: In consonance with India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and growing relations among India, US and Japan, IN ships Satpura, Sahyadri, Shakti and Kirch participated in the 20thedition of Ex MALABAR-16 with the US Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF).
  • India gets Women Fighter Pilots: History was created as the first three women fighter pilots of the IAF were commissioned at the Combined Graduation Parade at Air Force Academy, Dundigal on 18 Jun.
  • Desert Eagle II:This was the second in the series of bilateral exercises between the IAF and the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAE AF). 
  • Agni – V Successfully Test-Fired:Agni-V, the Long Range Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile was successfully flight tested by DRDO on 26 December from Dr. Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha. The full range test-flight of the missile further boosted the indigenous missile capabilities and deterrence level of the country. All the Radars, tracking systems and Range Stations tracked and monitored the flight performance and all the Mission objectives were successfully met. This was the 4th test of Agni-V missile and the second one from a Canister on a Road Mobile Launcher.
  • Surface-to-Air Missile ‘Akash’ :The medium range surface-to-air missile ‘Akash’ has been developed and inducted into IAF and Indian Army. During the year, Akash Army version,user exercise was carried out. The total production orders placed by Services for eight squadrons of IAF and two regiments of Indian Army for Anti-Missile System amounts to approximately Rs. 23,900 crore. Indigenous development of the system has given impetus to the Defence industrial base in the country. DRDO has also undertaken two new projects of Akash this year.

 

  1. English Text of PMs address to the nation on the eve of New Year 2017

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic:Government Initiatives

Key Points:

  • There is no precedent globally, to what India has done. Nations similar to us do not have the amount of currency that we had. Over the last ten to twelve years, 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes were used less for legitimate transactions, and more for a parallel economy.
  • The excess of cash was fuelling inflation and black-marketing. It was denying the poor, their due. Lack of cash causes difficulty, but excess of cash is even more troublesome. Our aim is to achieve a balance. Economists agree that when cash is outside the formal economy, it is a cause of worry.When it joins the mainstream, it is an opportunity for development.
  • It is accepted the world over, that terrorism, Naxalism, Maoism, counterfeit currency trade, drug trade, human trafficking – all of these depend on black money.
  • These evils have become a festering sore on society and Governments. Demonetistion has dealt a severe blow to these trades. Today, youth who had turned to the wrong path, are returning to the mainstream in large numbers. If we remain vigilant, we can now save our children from returning to those evil ways of violence and cruelty.  The fact that so much of the cash in circulation has been deposited in the banking system indicates the success of this mission.
  • India is celebrating the centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay as Garib Kalyan Varsh. Banks should also not let this opportunity slip. They should take appropriate decisions in public interest promptly.
  • When policies and programmes are made with clear objectives in mind, not only are beneficiaries empowered, but both short term, and long term benefits are achieved. Spending is carefully scrutinized, and chances of good results are maximized. The more the villages, the poor, the farmers, the dalits, the tribals, the marginalized, the oppressed, the deprived and women are empowered, and financially enabled to stand on their own feet, the stronger the country will become, and the faster will be the pace of development. Two new middle income categories have been created under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in urban areas. Loans of up to 9 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent. Loans of up to 12 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 3 per cent.
  • The number of houses being built for the poor, under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas, is being increased by 33 per cent. In addition to this, another scheme is being put in place for the neo middle and middle class in rural areas. Loans of up to 2 lakh rupees taken in 2017, for new housing, or extension of housing in rural areas, will receive an interest subvention of 3 per cent.
  • The Government has decided, that 3 crore farmers who have Kisan Credit Cards, will be given RuPay debit cards within three months. Kisan Credit Cards were launched in 1998, but so far, it was essential to go to a bank, to use them. Now, farmers will have RuPay Debit Cards, which they can use anywhere.
  • Just as agriculture is vital for the economy, so are the medium and small scale enterprises also called the MSME sector. Government has taken some decisions in the interest of small and medium businesses, which will also boost employment.
  • The progress of the MUDRA Yojana has been very encouraging. Last year, nearly 3 and a half crore people have benefited from this. The Government now aims to double this, giving priority to Dalits, Tribals, Backward Classes and Women. A new scheme is being launched for pregnant women. We are introducing a nation-wide scheme for financial assistance to pregnant women. 6000 rupees will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children. This scheme will help reduce the maternal mortality rate, in a big way. This will help ensure nutrition before and after delivery, and improve the health of mother and child. So far, pregnant women in 53 districts were being given financial assistance of 4000 rupees, under a pilot project.
  • The Government has launched a new, swadeshi platform for digital transactions – named BHIM after Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar. BHIM stands for Bharat Interface for Money. I call upon the youth, the trading community, and farmers to connect with BHIM as much as possible. Friends, the developments, decisions, and policies that were put in place after Diwali, will of course be evaluated by economists.

As a nation, India’s villages, poor, farmers, youth, educated and uneducated men and women, have all displayed infinite patience and people power.  In a short time, the new year of 2017 will begin. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1917, Mahatma Gandhi initiated a Satyagraha in Champaran. Now, a century later, we witness that the people of India continue to share that feeling towards truth and goodness. Today, Mahatma Gandhi is not among us. But the path towards truth that he showed us, is still most appropriate. As we begin the centenary year of the Satyagraha, let us recall the Mahatma and resolve to follow his message of truth and goodness.

 

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • MUDRA Yojana
  • Agni – V
  • Desert Eagle II
  • Exercise MALABAR 2016
  • Bharat Interface for Money
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: ‘Exercise Shakti – 2016’was a joint-military exercise held between which two countries?
a) India- France b) India- Germany c) India- Japan d) India- U.S.
Question 2: ‘Kalvari’, recently in the news is a,
a) Long Range Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile b) Scorpene class submarine c) Medium range surface-to-air missile d) A deep-sea port India is developing
Question 3: Consider the following statements regarding “Megamaser’s”, which recently appeared in the news,
  1. Megamaser’s are cousins of lasers.
  2. Lasers are devices used to emit a beam of light by controlling the emission of photons from excited atoms. While ‘masers’, which are a play on the word ‘laser’, do the same in the microwave region.
  3. Recently, the Hubble telescope found a ‘Megamaser’ that was around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way.

Which of the following statements is/are correct? a) 1 and 2 Only b) 2 and 3 Only c) All, 1, 2 and 3 d) 1 and 3 Only

Question 4: Consider the following statements, regarding developments from the Indian Railways,
  1. ‘First Green Train Corridor namely Rameswaram – Manamadurai’ free from human waste discharge was inaugurated.
  2. TRI-NETRA – Terrain Imaging for Diesel Drivers- Infrared Enhanced Optical and Radar Assisted (Tri-NETRA) systemtrial was launched.

Which of the following statements is/are correct? a) 1 only b) 2 only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Consider the following statements,
  1. Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd (MUDRA) has been formed with primary objective of developing the micro enterprise sector in the country by extending various support including financial support in the form of refinance, so as to achieve the goal of “funding the unfunded”.
  2. This Agency would be responsible for developing and refinancing all Micro-enterprises sector by supporting the finance Institutions which are in the business of lending to micro / small business entities engaged in manufacturing, trading and service activities..

Which of the following statements is/are incorrect? a) 1 only b) 2 only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

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