Comprehensive News Analysis - 02 July 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. India abstains at UN vote on LGBT Independent Expert

2. Ministry seeks law panel’s opinion on uniform civil code

3. Connectivity aims to spur travel, airport usage

C.GS3 Related:

1. Islamic State claims responsibility for Dhaka attack

2. NASA’s Juno spacecraft swimsinto Jupiter’s magnetosphere

3. India’s thriving biodiversity: 445 new species added in 2015

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

The Hindu

1. Heeding the 24×7 potential

2. Sri Lanka must stay the course

The Indian Express

1. Why common personal law?

Others

1. PIB

a) India improves its ranking by 19 places on World Bank Logistics Performance Index

b) Third launch of MRSAM successful

c) Shri Nitin Gadkari launches initial plantation drive on 1,500 km of National Highways under Green Highways Project

d) Development of Port-Rail Connectivity Projects approved under Sagarmala Programme

2. The Financial Express:

a) Aadhaar based DBT pumps in Rs 61,284 cr, Jan Dhan accounts skyrocket

b) Brexit lesson for India: Why ‘Look East’ policy is crucial now

c) Make in India to take time, Research in India takes off

3. The Business Line:

a) Taking climate change in hand

b) Bangladesh: the war within

4. The Economic Times:

a) A quarter century of economic reform

5. Quick Bits and News from States

a) Modi set for four-nation Africa tour

b) Tap potential of youth, PM tells States

c) Politics stretches list of Smart Cities from 100 to 109

d) CAG moots the possibility of auditing Reserve Bank

e) P-Note investments rise to Rs. 2.15 lakh crore in May

f) Telecom companies oppose intermediary for free data

g) Pakistan Senate seeks abolition of Islamic council

h) 2nd airport in NCR to be constructed at the earliest: government

i) Cyprus treaty: India gets rights to levy tax on capital gains

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related


B. GS2 Related


1. India abstains at UN vote on LGBT Independent Expert

Topic: Rights Issues

Category: Polity

Key points :

  • India abstained from a voting at the UNHRC on a resolution to set up the office of Independent Expert to end discrimination against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual) persons
  • India avoided taking a position on the need to end discrimination based on sexual orientation at the Human Rights Council of the UN, as the Supreme Court is yet to “pronounce” on the issue of rights of LGBT persons, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said
  • The move to create this special office in support for the LGBT community follows the June 12 mass killing at an Orlando night club in Florida.The resolution which was backed by the Latin American member states was opposed by Russia and the Islamic countries as India, Philippines and South Africa abstained

 

2. Ministry seeks law panel’s opinion on uniform civil code

Topic: Law

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • The Union Law Ministry has asked the Law Commission to examine in detail all issues pertaining to the Uniform Civil Code and submit a report to the government
  • The Law Ministry had earlier also said the issue could be referred to the Law Commission, stating that a wider consultation will be held with various personal law boards and other stakeholders to evolve a consensus
  • the Preamble and Article 44 of the Constitution talks about Uniform Civil Code

 

3. Connectivity aims to spur travel, airport usage

Topic: Civil Aviation

Category: Governance

Keypoints:

  • The civil aviation ministry released the draft regional connectivity scheme on Friday in a bid to make flying affordable and to revive dormant airports
  • Once the scheme is implemented, passengers will be able to fly an hour’s journey (of about 500 km) for an all-inclusive fare of Rs 2,500. The passenger service fee and user development fee will not be applicable on this fare
  • However, the cap on the airfares will be applicable only to a limited number of seats in an aircraft and the passengers will be eligible for subsidised fare on a first-come-first served basis
  • Only routes covering a distance of 200-800 km connecting a ‘less connected or unconnected’ airport will qualify for the regional connectivity scheme and the airfare cap will be proportional to the air distance travelled
  • Airfares will be capped in the range of Rs.1,700-Rs.4,070 and will be revised every quarter based on the prevailing inflation rate
  • While the scheme will be applicable to airports with no flight connections in the previous two flying seasons, the government has identified 16 airports, receiving seven flights a week, which will also fall under the scheme
  • Some of them are: Agra, Allahabad, Pantnagar, Diu, Shillong, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Kullu, Tezpur, among others
  • While the Centre will provide 80 per cent subsidy to airlines for three years to fund the losses they incur, to enable them to charge lower airfares to passengers, the remaining 20 per cent will come from the states
  • The Centre will set up a regional connectivity fund, to be financed by a cess charged to airlines flying on metro or trunk routes for each departure

 

C. GS3 Related


  1. Islamic State claims responsibility for Dhaka attack

Topic: Terrorism

Category: Security

Key points:

  • Unidentified attackers traded gunfire with police on Friday night in the high-security Gulshan diplomatic area in the Bangladesh capital. At least 20 civilians, including foreigners, are believed to be held hostage.

 

2. NASA’s Juno spacecraft swimsinto Jupiter’s magnetosphere

Topic: Space

Category: S&T

Key points:

  • NASA’s Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft has entered the planet’s magnetosphere, where the movement of particles in space is controlled by what is going on inside Jupiter
  • Juno is on course to swing into orbit around Jupiter on July 4. Science instruments on board detected changes in the particles and fields around the spacecraft as it passed from an environment dominated by the interplanetary solar wind into Jupiter’s magnetosphere

 

3. India’s thriving biodiversity: 445 new species added in 2015

Topic: Biodiversity

Category: Ecology

Key points:

  • Four species of reptiles, six species of amphibians, 26 species of fishes, three species of wild ginger and three of figs are among the 445 species new to science identified in India in 2015. The figure includes 262 animal species and 183 plant species
  • Some of the notable additions to the list of animals include a rock gecko (Hemidactylusyajurvedi) found in KankerChhattishgarh, a new frog species (Fejervaryagomantaki) from the Western Ghats, and a shiny new species of fish (Bariliusardens), also from the Western Ghats
  • Among the plants, a new species of ginger Zingiberbipinianum has been found in the South Garo hills of Meghalaya, and a species of mushroom (Bondarzewiazonata) has been collected from north Sikkim at an altitude of 2,829 m
  • Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) are delighted that all regions in the country have recorded new species while those from the Zoological Society of India (ZSI) are excited that more than 15 per cent of the new species are higher vertebrates
  • The most discoveries were made in the Eastern Himalaya region, which accounts for 19 per cent of the total discoveries followed by the Western Ghats (18 per cent) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands at about 15 per cent
  • The Environment Ministry announced that two new regional centres of ZSI at Bhuj in Gujarat and Gangtok in Sikkim are to be set up. At present, the ZSI has 16 regional centres.

 

thriving biodiversity

(Clockwise from top left) Hemidactylusyajurvedi, Bondarzewiazonata, Bariliusardens and Zingiberbipinianum


D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu


  1. Heeding the 24×7 potential

Topic: Labour Issues

Category: Economy

Keypoints:

  • Removing regulatory barriers to employ more people in various areas of economic activity is a national priority, and the Centre’s Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016 to enable operation of such services all 365 days of the year, and round-the-clock, is a significant step forward
  • As the Economic Survey for 2015-16 notes, there is a robust annual growth in services such as trade, hotels, transport and communications. Creating a healthy environment for the growth of consumer-focussed services will catalyse it further
  • The model law, which is available to the States to either adopt fully or in a modified form, is to be welcomed for specifying labour issues such as working hours, overtime, casual and earned leave, protection for women including transport access for those opting to work night shifts, and workplace facilities
  • It is all too evident that in the existing regulatory regime, many of these aspects are impressively inked on paper, but with poor outcomes in practice. Workers are left without effective mechanisms of redress. In the model law, protections are to be enforced by a cadre of Chief Facilitators and Facilitators. This is a moment to strike a blow for the rights of workers, and State governments must show as much concern for labour welfare as the facilitation of business
  • The Labour Ministry can achieve this by welcoming online registration of complaints, and the process can be aided by trade unions
  • There is much to welcome in the model law; its major innovation is the elimination of the licensing bureaucracy, and therefore a lot of corruption. A simplified, online common registration procedure for the businesses covered by the Act should definitely be part of State law; this would be a big leap in ease of doing business. State governments looking to accelerate economic activity and generate higher revenues should adopt the law immediately
  • Two areas that need urgent reform in all States are provision of reliable public transport and strong law enforcement. Even in big cities with organised bus, rail and feeder networks, these systems are not reliable at night
  • The new sharing economy has been filling the gap with app-based commercial taxi services operating 24×7, but a decision to promote retail services round-the-clock requires a good, affordable public transport backbone with security arrangements to ensure safe travel
  • One other aspect of reform to support employees of shops and establishments is health care. It should be mandatory for employers to cover their medical expenses through standalone or group insurance policies, since private health insurance is generally unaffordable to such workers


2. Sri Lanka must stay the course

Topic: Sri Lanka

Category: India’s Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • The frequent human rights updates in Geneva provide an occasion for the world to discuss Sri Lanka’s post-war situation, especially the progress made in investigating the excesses during the last phase of the civil war that ended in 2009. Until last year, the country considered the process hostile and inimical to its interests. Now, with a new government in Colombo, there has been constructive engagement with the international community and Sri Lanka says it is looking for ways to implement a unanimous resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in October 2015
  • The UNHRC has tried to nudge Sri Lanka towards rebuilding civilian lives through resettlement, reducing the military presence in the north and east, and delivering accountability for past crimes through a credible judicial process with international participation
  • However, the update presented by High Commissioner in Geneva does not present an encouraging picture. He expressed concern about the “heavy military presence” in Tamil areas, noting that the process of the military returning land to its civilian owners has been tardy. There is a lack of urgency in coming up with tangible measures to build confidence among minorities and victims of human rights violations
  • In turn the Foreign Minister has informed in the ongoing session in Geneva that the government has instructed the military to release by 2018 all civilian land it holds. He has promised that the proposed judicial mechanism will inspire confidence among the stakeholders, but has drawn attention to the “divergent views” in the country on it, perhaps a hint of further delay
  • Sri Lanka went through a democratic transition in 2015 when it elected new government. The rule of the previous government was marked by post-war triumphalism and a disregard for the plight of ethnic minorities. Later, the parliamentary election led to a national unity government that promised good governance, economic revival, and transitional justice for the war-affected
  • But even today the High Commissioner has reason to be anxious that those promises are at risk. The road was not expected to be smooth for Sri Lanka when it embarked on an ambitious effort towards national reconciliation and accountability. But the government is frittering away energy and time on political controversies, the row over the appointment of a new Central bank governor being an example. Having set in motion the process for a new Constitution and measures for reconciliation and reform, any loss of momentum now on the part of the government will result in a loss of credibility

 

The Indian Express


  1. Why common personal law?

Topic: Uniform Civil Code

Category: Polity

Key points:

  • There is a good deal of misunderstanding about the subject itself, which is aggravated by the language of Article 44 of the Constitution. Most people believe that we do not have common civil laws in this country
  • The reality is, all civil laws are common, except one law, namely the personal law which varies with the religious groups. The personal law relates to marriage, divorce, succession and inheritance, maintenance, custody of children and adoption. By tradition, the personal law is treated as religious, though religion has nothing to do with it
  • It is interesting to note that the Hindus, who are clamouring for the common civil law, had themselves, led by iconic leaders like Bal GangadharTilak, claimed that the Hindu personal law was a religious law and had warned the then British regime not to interfere with it, when the minimum marriageable age of the female was sought to be raised from 10 to 12 years by a bill tabled by on January 9, 1891 by Sir Andrew Scoble in the then imperial legislature
  • The minorities, and particularly the Muslims, are raising the bogey of interference in their religious affairs
  • It is therefore first necessary to correct or to read correctly, the language of Article 44, to mean that the direction is to secure a uniform “personal” law
  • Second, it must be borne in mind that Chapter IV of the Constitution which contains Article 44, is a chapter on Directive Principles of the Constitution. There are other more vitally important and crucial directive principles contained in the chapter which need to be implemented in the interests of all sections of the people and of the nation as a whole
  • The insistence of the Hindu bigots on uniform personal law is not borne out of any principles or values. This is not to deny the desirability of a uniform personal law consistent with human rights and the principles of equality, fairness and justice. In fact, these norms have to be observed in all human transactions in any civilized society. The question is of the appropriate method to be adopted for enacting the law. The subject being sensitive and almost certain to give opportunity to the religious diehards to raise communal controversies and create clashes, is it the proper time to secure such law? What is the urgency of the law? Which national interests are in danger for want of the law? Which aspect of progress or development is threatened, obstructed or impaired but for the law? Whose welfare is to be secured by the law?
  • Statistics show that the percentage of Muslims marrying more than one woman is sharply dwindling throughout the country on account of various factors including poverty, spread of education both among men and women, increasing exposure to a more modern life-style, desire for improved standard of living, decreasing means of livelihood, unemployment etc. Secondly, the ratio of females to males born is the same for all communities in the country, and the said ratio shows 986 females to 1,000 males. Muslim women are not “surplus”, that Muslim males may marry more than one woman. Most critically, Muslim women are not dumb victims or spectators, as they might have been in the past
  • Child marriages, the absence of basic rights for deserted and divorced women and the status of fatherless and abandoned children among all religious communities — including the prohibition of widow remarriage among vast sections of the Hindus even today — is the burdensome baggage of human hardships that this country has to bear in the 21st century
  • Coming to the triple talaq practised by Indian Muslims. There is no doubt it is not consistent with either morality, rationality or human rights, and needs to be done away with as early as possible. It is also not sanctioned by the Koran. Many Muslim countries have modified the provisions of the personal law prohibiting bigamy and divorce by voicing talaq, talaq, talaq. No doubt, Muslim women also have a similar right which is known as khulla; this practice comes with restrictions, and in an overall situation dominated by patriarchy, it is as good as ineffective
  • There is no doubt that all personal laws have to be just and equitable to both men and women and, hence, the good from all personal laws has to be accepted and the bad to be discarded. Hence the uniform code, if and when enacted, will have to be a different one from the personal laws of all religious communities. It will have to be framed by consensus among all the religious groups and will have to conform to the norms of modern values of freedom, equality, rationality, justice and humanism, for both men and women. A deeper reading of all personal laws will reveal that each of them contains some good and equitable provisions, which are worth incorporating in an ideal code
  • It is true that if a rational common personal law is enacted, it will help eradicate many evil, unjust and irrational practices prevalent across the communities, and will also strengthen the unity and integrity of the country. However, it is wrong to assume that the process of integration is thwarted for want of such law. Such simplistic assumptions may be good propaganda material in the hands of the fascist religious forces, but is a harmful method of achieving unity. Apart from being counter-productive, it may divert our attention from the crucial socio-economic and political causes which need to be attended to, to achieve the integration of the communities


Others:


  1. PIB


a) India improves its ranking by 19 places on World Bank Logistics Performance Index 

India has improved its ranking in the World Bank Group’s bi-annual “Logistics Performance Index 2016”, jumping from 54th in 2014 to 35th in 2016

 

b)Third launch of MRSAM successful 

With a third consecutive successful test-firing today, the Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) air defence system has achieved a Hat-Trick. The missile was launched at 1020 hrs from the test range of ITR, Chandipur. The objective of today’s mission was for maximum range and high maneuvering target. The missile guided by armoured seeker system hit the last minute maneuvering target.

With this launch, MRSAM system has proved the air defence capability for three different boundary envelopes of the target

 

c) Shri Nitin Gadkari launches initial plantation drive on 1,500 km of National Highways under Green Highways Project 

Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping launched the initial plantation drive on 1,500 km of National Highways at a cost of about Rs 300 crore under the National Green Highways Mission in New Delhi today.

 

d)Development of Port-Rail Connectivity Projects approved under Sagarmala Programme 

The Ministry of Railways will be taking up 21 port-rail connectivity projects, at an estimated cost of more than Rs.20,000 Crores, as identified under the port-connectivity enhancement objective of Sagarmala, the flagship programme of the Ministry of Shipping

 

2. The Financial Express:


a) Aadhaar based DBT pumps in Rs 61,284 cr, Jan Dhan accounts skyrocket

Topic: Public Service Delivery

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • If the average balance in the country’s 219 million Jan Dhan accounts has more than doubled, from R795 in September 2014 to R1,735 in May 2016—according to IndiaSpend, the accounts themselves have quadrupled, from 53 million to 219 million—all the credit goes to the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer scheme which pumped in R61,284 crore into them in FY16 for various scholarships and social benefit programmes
  • Close to 60% of all 24 crore ration cards in the country have been seeded with an Aadhaar number—which also means that, in 14.27 crore cases, at least, there is no duplicate or fake card. And of the country’s 5-lakh-odd ration shops, around a fourth already have an ePoS (e-Point-of-Sale) biometric reader to ensure only genuine beneficiaries get rations. The plan, which could do with considerable speeding up, is to have 3 lakh shops with ePoS by March 2017
  • The problem here is that poor and populous states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh fare very badly on this score. Just 9,000 of Bihar’s 1.54 crore ration cards are Aadhaar-seeded and there are no ePoS devices in the state—naturally, theft levels here are very high. Uttar Pradesh is slightly better off with a 44% seeding but has only 2 operational ePoS shops. Neither has made progress on automation, critical to track movement of PDS supplies from the FCI godown to the ration shop
  • The savings with what has been achieved so far, though are considerable. The fact that 3.5 crore duplicate LPG accounts have been eliminated is well-known, but so have 1.62 crore bogus ration-card-holders—that has led to a saving of around R10,000 crore, including on kerosene supplies. In Haryana, just matching the LPG data with that of those receiving subsidised kerosene helped eliminate 6 lakh claimants. Another 1.5 lakh persons in the state were removed from the list of pensioners by using the Aadhaar de-duplication software. Uttar Pradesh claims to have saved R520 crore in the pension outgo using the same technique
  • Corruption in public service delivery is so rampant that there has been a 40% decline in post-matric scholarships in Haryana since Aadhaar-based de-duplication happened. In Kerala, Aadhaar-seeding of school children helped save R600 crore when it was found that, since SarvaShikshaAbhiyan grants were based on the number of students, fake children were being enrolled in large numbers. That’s great progress, and we are not even talking of the payments and other revolutions possible based on Aadhaar and what Aadhaar-founder NandanNilekani calls the ‘India-stack’ of innovations

 

b)  Brexit lesson for India: Why ‘Look East’ policy is crucial now

Topic: Lessons from Brexit

Category: Polity

Key points:

  • The United Kingdom’s shock vote to leave the European Union has roiled global markets and raised deep economic and political questions about the future of globalisation. What are the lessons for India?
  • First, sometimes it helps to be somewhat peripheral, in times of turmoil. Just as in the case of the global financial crisis of the previous decade, India’s markets have suffered a relatively small blip, and the short-term impact on the economy may be negligible. But India is globally connected, and a further slowdown in global growth, as Europe and the United States struggle with the uncertainty and transition costs of Brexit mean that overall, India’s economic growth will face further global headwinds, making internal reforms even more urgent
  • Second, the Brexit vote confirms the problems of Europe, not just its slow growth, but also its difficulties dealing with increasing economic inequality and social and ethnic diversity. This reinforces the need for a strong “Look East” economic policy for India. Of course, Europe is still wealthy, and will remain an important source of technology and potential buyer of whatever India can figure out how to make, but India’s future rapid growth has to involve greater economic integration with Pacific Asia
  • Third, the outcome of the UK referendum highlights the importance of inclusive growth, which is more challenging to achieve in the current global environment than ever before. Citizens in rural areas, in depressed post-industrial areas, older people, and less educated people voted to leave, whereas the young, those with higher incomes and education, and those in more prosperous parts of the UK wanted to remain, on balance. Scotland voted to stay, but that reflects its subordinate status in the UK, which is mitigated by EU membership, and it may well now choose to leave the UK itself, reversing an earlier referendum that rejected independence. The border regions of Northern Ireland also voted to stay in the EU, a reminder of Ireland’s own complex history of divisions. For India, inclusive growth has to remain a priority, but the problems of the UK highlight the difficult challenge of preparing a workforce for the new century, even in a rich, well-educated nation, let alone one in India’s situation
  • Fourth, dealing with ethnic diversity is as important as economic inclusiveness. The Brexit vote seemed to reverse much of the progress that the UK has made in recent decades toward becoming a multicultural and plural society. This process was neither smooth nor perfect, with many underlying tensions and issues remaining, but the vote to leave the EU has legitimised open expressions of xenophobia and racism. The US is facing the same problem with immigrants. India doesn’t seem to need foreigners to exacerbate social tensions associated with diversity and pluralism in areas such as religion and ethnicity. The current government seems to keep playing with fire in this dimension, whereas India needs to opposite approach to grow rapidly, welcoming diversity and positive new influences and ideas
  • Fifth, leadership matters. David Cameron made an opportunistic, if not cynical pledge to hold the referendum, to appease the right-wing of his party in the face of pressure from proto-fascists and nativists in the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He certainly did not expect this result. Surely, he has to be ranked as one of the worst British leaders ever. He also gave a platform to the UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, elevating him above previous British politicians of his ilk who have flourished from time to time in the UK. The quality of Farage’s own leadership is abysmal, including blatant falsehoods during the Brexit campaign, but the referendum gave him the spotlight and an undeserved political victory. The former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, round out a quartet of incompetent and self-serving political leaders that have damaged their country. India has had leadership of varied quality over the decades, but clearly it is going to need high quality political leadership going forward, and not just one person
  • Brexit was the outcome of a complex set of circumstances: major economic trends of technological change, a wave of globalisation that hit the wall of a severe financial and economic crisis, political instability in another region that was triggered by flawed US policy and spilled its human impacts across Europe, and myopic domestic political manoeuvring. The outcome is not economically disastrous—shooting oneself in the foot rather than in the head, but the political implications, if those who want narrow nationalism and fear diversity and pluralism have their way, could be much more severe. All of that gives India’s leaders and citizens much to reflect upon

 

c) Make in India to take time, Research in India takes off

Topic: Research

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • Make-in-India may be a long way from taking off but there can be little doubt that Research-in-India took off long ago, and is getting stronger by the day. While R&D work done in India by, say, a GE to re-imagine medical equipment to more than halve costs is well-known, a recent study by HfS Research says that of the 190 engineering R&D centres announced globally in Apr-Dec 2015, 57 were located in India and a third were driven by Make-in-India. And, according to Zinnov Consulting, the 1,165 MNC R&D centres in the country—owned by 928 MNCs—employ as many as 323,000 persons. By 2020, Zinnov projects 1,139 MNCs with Indian R&D and over half a million staffers
  • The R&D ranges from automobiles to artificial intelligence, communications to computers, medicine to medical equipment, and a lot more and, in many cases, the India operations are the second-largest after the home country—as compared to 10,000 people in its Bay Area headquarters, Google has 1,500 people here already. While the relative abundance and top quality of engineers brought in the Intels and SAPs—10% of SAP’s global patents come from the India centre— what is driving the increased pace of MNC R&D in India is the market + innovation feedback loop
  • Maruti has been contributing the lion’s share of Suzuki’s profits for years, but after experimenting with Indian designers for a long time, Suzuki now has a full-fledged R&D centre in Rohtak. India has already surpassed the US when it comes to the number of internet users and will soon overtake it in terms of the number of Android handset sales. Google plans to train 2 million Android developers over the next three years in India and is planning a Hyderabad campus with 13,000 employees. Chinese handset manufacturer Foxconn which has committed to investing $5 billion in manufacturing facilities here is also setting up R&D facilities; LeEco, another handset manufacturer, HfS research on the A-Z of R&D centres tells us, is planning a 1,000-man R&D facility here by the end of the year. While Bosch plans to recruit 3,200 engineers this fiscal for software development, Intel is setting up the Intel India Maker Lab in its Bangalore campus to nurture innovators and start-ups,Microsoft has a centre of excellence planned in Vizag and Nokia has an Internet of Things centre in Bangalore. In the auto sector, apart from Suzuki, Mercedes Benz plans to add almost 3,000 engineers to its Bangalore-based R&D centre
  • None of this should come as a surprise given that, with the addressable market growing so fast, India is increasingly the hotbed of innovation. The work by ISRO is in the limelight these days, and both Aadhaar and the National Payments Corporation are doing cutting edge work in their area. Eight of the world’s 140 unicorns—startups worth valued at $1 billion or more—are based out of India, as are the third-largest number of start-ups in the world

 

3. The Business Line:
a) Taking climate change in hand

Topic: Climate Change

Category: Environment

Key points:

  • The historic Paris agreement has created a new landscape for galvanising and catalysing collective action. However, delivering climate action to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degree above pre-industrial levels would need enormous will, collaboration and finance. The collective cost of implementing Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs) in developing countries alone amounts to $3.5 trillion, according to Carbon Brief, a UK-based climate think tank
  • The Indian government estimates that the cost for India alone is at $2.5 trillion. Further, the funding required to work towards meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs) is estimated to be $172.5 trillion until 2030. These figures are significant but achievable through major collective action by global actors. The Paris agreement has armed us with a plan and now it depends entirely upon our collective ability to visualise, strategise and actualise that plan. It is evident that a transition to a low-carbon economy would require a radically transformed financial system, and there are clear, visible signs that financial institutions, businesses and investors are now increasingly putting climate at the centre of their decision-making
  • While public financing and development aid would remain crucial sources of funding for NDCs and SDGs, the agility of the private sector to mobilise mainstream finance in the form of private financing, foreign direct investments and social impact investments, would be critical in addressing a predicted deficit in public finance.
  • Hence, greening of the global financial systems would require financial institutions to play the proactive role of ‘sustainability catalysts’ and address the global challenges by aligning the financial systems to build a more robust financial architecture, which is also explicitly mentioned in the recent UNEP inquiry report
  • The need is to create a business case for opportunities balancing economic growth and sustainable development. An impetus on unique, scalable and sustainable business strategies would drive businesses and financial institutions to perform better and there are five key focus areas that the financial sector needs to look at
  • First, clarity on what constitutes green finance: There is no single definition. The terms ‘green finance’, ‘sustainable finance’, ‘climate finance’ are understood as an overlapping territory environmental, social, economic and governance issues. Once a definition is arrived at, the financial sector would be comfortable funding ‘green initiatives’
  • Second, focusing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures and integrating ESG parameters into lending decisions: This would create a robust framework for sustainability performance measurement and reporting. Embedding ESG parameters into core business strategy would be a crucial shift towards recalibrating risk, dealing with climate stress, and improving mitigation measures. Enhanced ESG disclosures in the form of checklists as part of annual reports would assist investors in making well-informed decisions
  • Third, investing proactively in positive impact sectors: India’s transitioning economy is faced with basic developmental challenges such as access to clean and affordable energy, clean drinking water, financial inclusion, and employment generation. The Government has an ambitious target of generating 175GW renewable energy by 2022. This, coupled with understanding inherent risks, availability and access to latest technology and enabling policies, have contributed to making this sector commercially viable. Its success could serve as a perfect template for creating a strong business case to attract investments
  • Fourth, greater use of differentiated financial instruments such as green bonds India’s first Green Infrastructure Bond was issued in February 2015.This opened up avenues for international financing for end-use domestic markets. The success of this initiative demonstrates that financial institutions in developing economies could source overseas funding through financial instruments such as climate bonds.
  • Lastly, mainstreaming sustainability among stakeholders: Leveraging the collaborative power of coalitions and collectively working along with relevant stakeholders would help achieve SDGs and NDCs. National and international entities including World Business Council for Sustainable Development, World Resources Institute, Carbon Disclosure Project and The Climate Group has brought together the diverse skillsets and mindset needed to deal with global agendas shaping a new era for businesses.
  • In conclusion, a globalized response to the world’s challenges is required, and cohesive efforts from all alone would adequately deliver on our stated goals, which in turn would add to meeting the target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. The call for climate action would need both, nations and corporations, to innovate, and collectively work towards a sustainable future for not only emerging economies such as India, but the entire world

 

b) Bangladesh: the war within

Topic: Bangladesh

Category: India’s Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • Since 2013, nearly two dozen people have been killed in Bangladesh, mostly hacked to death — liberals, atheists and those blogging their criticism of radical Islam. Beginning last year, the guns were trained on unsuspecting victims — an Italian and a Japanese aid worker, a Buddhist monk, a 65-year-old Sufi and a professor who loved Sufi music. Over the last couple of months, the target has shifted to Hindus — the single largest, yet dwindling 8 per cent minority. The victims are all commoners: a tailor, the priest of a nondescript village temple, a school teacher, and there’s fear in the community
  • Evidently it is a backlash of the gritty stance of PM Hasina against the rapists and murderers of the 1971 war that was much appreciated by the majority of Bangladeshis. The trial initiated in her first term (2009-2014) saw nearly half-a-dozen criminals, including the top guns of the radical Jamaat-e-Islami (which sided with Pakistan in the Liberation War) and former ministers of the BNP-Jamaat regime sent off to the gallows
  • The aim is crystal clear: to destroy the growth-oriented, secular-democratic image of Bangladesh that Hasina is trying to build and force the global powers, especially India, to withdraw support to her so as to bring political control back to the radicals
  • The attacks have been stepped up at a time when Bangladesh is taking quick steps to take advantage of the Indian growth story. And Indian corporates, for the first time in history, are taking Bangladesh seriously as an investment destination
  • Security experts say it’s a new strategy adopted by the global terror network. Stray youths are radicalised and outsourced by local agents, who are far removed from the bigger plot. The responsibility is shared by different outfits such as Al-Qaeda or ISIS, to divert attention
  • But instead of retaliating with administrative measures, the government has chosen to heap blame on the BNP-Jamaat coalition. However, the charge rings hollow as not a single murder has been solved. The police failed to extract clues from three assailants caught redhanded (by onlookers) in two separate incidents. One of them was later killed in an encounter
  • Meanwhile, the BNP is in complete disarray. The war crimes trial and corruption cases saw them running for shelter. Jamaat is surely a dangerous force. Though not popular, they grew in strength thanks to support from the former army ruler and founder of BNP, Ziaur Rahman. But, it is under tremendous pressure currently
  • On the contrary, there’s no pressure on other radical forces such as the Hefazat-e-Islam and Hizbut-Tahrir who are united in the cause of the caliphate
  • All this does not mean Hasina is soft on radical Islam. After her father and the first prime minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was assassinated in 1975, she is the best bet to build a strong Bangladesh. And there is no threat to her leadership either

 

  • The problem may lie in the uncontested 2014 election that was boycotted by BNP. It might have ensured she remained in power but it affected the morale. Moreover, absolute power invited unbridled corruption and rusted the party machinery. The next few months will decide how Hasina shapes the future of Bangladesh


4. The Economic Times:


a) A quarter century of economic reform

Topic: Economic Reforms

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • India’s contemporary economy began to take shape a quarter of a century ago, on July 1, 1991, with the first of a two-step devaluation of the rupee to the tune of a fifth. It was not apparent then. Indeed the mood around new government of PV Narasimha Rao was politically adversarial, fearful about the present and apprehensive about what the future would bring. But the economy was in a desperate shape. The expanisonary policy of the ’80s had widened the fiscal and current account deficits, the first Gulf War had triggered financial global panic and India had just enough foreign exchange for two weeks of imports. Correcting the overvaluation of the rupee was the necessary first step
  • The rest of the story, through 1991-92, involved pioneering measures: the dismantling of industry’s Licence-Permit Raj, lower taxes and duties, opening up to overseas investments, institutionalisation of equity regulator SEBI to replace the Comptroller of Capital Issues, the creation of India’s first automated bourse – the National Stock Exchange – and a swift return to economic stability
  • Rao adjusted India’s foreign policy to the post-Soviet unipolar world, ended its westward bias. Ironically, as the economy recovered, anti-reform voices across the political spectrum got louder, as did the ‘Bombay Club’ of entrenched business interests. Inflation surged in 1994, and Rao effectively put reforms on the shelf to prepare for polls in 1996. Despite that, successive regimes, have stuck with reform, even if in fits and starts. As Singh said later, we act decisively in the face of crisis. In better times, twiddling our thumbs is a national pastime.
  • India joined the World Trade Organization, lowered tariffs and brought its patent laws in line with global expectations. India became an IT powerhouse, poverty fell sharply. Despite these and other achievements, much work remains, inlcuding the Goods and Serivces Tax. Nostalgia on an anniversary is fine. Action is better


5. Quick Bits and News from States

 

a) Modi set for four-nation Africa tour

  • In a bid to strengthen India-Africa ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will undertake his first visit to the “African mainland” between July 7 and 11, covering four countries(Mozambique,SouthAfrica,Tanzania,Kenya), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced
  • “The Prime Minister’s visit reflects India’s desire to further strengthen and reinvigorate bilateral ties with our African partners which were renewed at the successful IAFS-III in October last year” said MEA

 

b) Tap potential of youth, PM tells States

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked all States to put in place a 14-point charter to tap the potential of youth to the optimal level and increase their participation in national schemes.At a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on April 18, it was decided that youth must be cultivated for greater participation in cleaning of schools/colleges/public places and statues, for making villages open defecation-free, creating national awareness on water conservation and construction of farm ponds, recharge wells. The youth must also be tapped for planting of saplings, for ‘actively supporting’ Indra dhanush immunisation programme, and popularising the game of football.States had been asked to create their own youth portals to make available information that is of interest to the younger generation.

 

 

d) CAG moots the possibility of auditing Reserve Bank

Comptroller and Auditor General of India said there is a need to consider whether financial regulators such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) need to be audited.

“In the light of the growing incidence of financial frauds, it is a thought for consideration as to whether, in future, our audit should look into the risks and vulnerabilities facing our financial sector as well as the ability and effectiveness of regulators to mitigate such risks,” he said


e) P-Note investments rise to Rs. 2.15 lakh crore in May

P-Notes are typically instruments issued by registered foreign portfolio investors to overseas investors who wish to invest in Indian markets without registering themselves directly in India to save on time. But they still need to go through a proper due diligence process. According to SEBI data, the total value of P-Notes investment in Indian markets — equity, debt and derivatives — increased to Rs.2.15 lakh crore at the end of May from Rs. 2.12 lakh crore in March-end

 

f) Telecom companies oppose intermediary for free data

Telecom companies in their response to TRAI’s consultation paper have opposed mandating a Telecommunications Service Priority-agnostic intermediary for free data delivery, while pitching for free data for users.“We fail to understand that how a business model when adopted by the licensed operators is said to be discriminatory and prohibited on apprehensions of gate-keeping the content passing through its network, while if the same business model is being adopted by unregulated content providers or a TSP-agnostic portal, it is said to be facilitating innovation and increasing internet penetration in the country,” the industry bodies said

 

g) Pakistan Senate seeks abolition of Islamic council

The Pakistan Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights has sought the dissolution of the constitutionally crafted Council of Islamic Ideology (CCI) on the grounds that several of its actions were inimical to the interests of women.

 

h) 2nd airport in NCR to be constructed at the earliest: government

The government’s push for regional connectivity may fast track its plans to construct a second airport in the National Capital Region (NCR) as the existing Indira Gandhi International Airport is likely to see an increased load

 

i) Cyprus treaty: India gets rights to levy tax on capital gains

India and Cyprus have agreed to revise their tax treaty under which capital gains tax will be levied on sale of shares on investments made after April 1, 2017, thus bringing the island nation at par with Mauritius in terms of tax treatment on investments.The new Cyprus Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA), which has been agreed upon by both the countries, would provide for source-based taxation of capital gains on transfer of shares


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • UNHRC
  • Preamble
  • Art 44
  • Uniform Civil Code
  • Regional Connectivity Scheme
  • Juno Spacecraft
  • Zoological Survey of India
  • Sagarmala Programme
  • Aadhar based DBT
  • Look East Policy
  • National Payments Corporation of India
  • Green Finance
  • NEP-1991
  • Indhra dhanush Programme
  • Smart cities mission
  • CAG
  • P-Note
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following data is/are correct?
  1. Implementation of a Uniform Civil Code would lead to the elimination of Personal laws based on religious affiliations
  2. The constitution explicitly calls for implementation of Uniform Civil Code in Art 44


a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 2: Which of the following is /are new species discovered in 2015?
  1. Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis(purple Frog)
  2. Nilgiritragus hylocrius(mountain goat)
  3. Hemidactylusya jurvedi(rock gecko)
  4. Zingiber bipinianum(ginger )



a) 1 and 2 only

b) 3 and 4 only

c) 1,2 and 3

d) All the Above


Question 3: Immunization for which of the following diseases is/are covered under Indradhanush Mission?
  1. Malaria
  2. Measles
  3. Typhoid
  4. Tuberculosis



a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 4 only

c) 1,2 and 3

d) All the Above


Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct about theNational Payments Corporation of India(NPCI)?
  1. NPCI is a not-for-profit organization promoted by the country’s central bank
  2. It has successfully completed the development of a domestic card payment network called RuPay, reducing the dependency on international card schemes



a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 5: Which of the following is/are objectives of NASA’s Juno Mission?
  1. Measure the abundance of water in Jupiter
  2. Map Jupiter’s gravitational field to assess the distribution of mass in Jupiter’s interior
  3. Characterize and explore the three-dimensional structure of Jupiter’s polar magnetosphere and its auroras
  4. Obtain a better estimate of Jupiter’s core mass



a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 4 only

c) 1,2 and 3

d) All the Above


Check Your Answers

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H. Archives:

You can check out some more recent News Analysis sections to build even more context

1st July 2016: Daily News & Current Affairs Analysis

List of all DNA Articles

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