Table of Contents:
A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:
D. GS4 Related
5. Quick Bits
Useful News Articles
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here today folks! J
B. GS2 Related
Topic: International Relations
Category: Indo-US Relations
Location: The Hindu
- Outstanding Issues:
- The strategic convergence between India and the US on the east, with regard to China is going perfect, but on the west, U.S’s continuing indulgence towards Pakistan, even in the face of protests from India makes for a contradiction. India cis unhappy about U.S’s Pakistan-Afghanistan policy, while the U.S is raising objection to India’s trade/commerce policies
- What are the long-standing American complaints and demands with regard to trade and commerce?
- India’s intellectual property protection regime is not good enough, its emphasis on localisation of manufacturing is bad; bureaucracy is troublesome, dispute resolution is protracted, FDI caps are restrictive, public sector units must be dismantled, labour laws should be flexible, land acquisition must be instantaneous
- Is there a new polarisation in South Asia?
- While the alliance system remains completely informal, the U.S. and India have come closer to each other, and China and Pakistan have come much closer together
- Progress in the economic relations
- India has ordered 14 billion worth of arms from U.S companies. In 2013 end, U.S. equity investment in India was 7 billion dollars; by 2015 end it was 12 billion dollars. GM has announced two billion and Ford has announced one billion in investments in India
- The Middle Path
- While the U.S. must understand India’s economic priority is not about adhering to some textbook notions of free market but to overcome poverty and seek development, India could begin to appreciate that U.S has a Pakistan-Afghanistan policy guided by multiple factors, and cannot change it only to please India
C. GS3 Related
Topic: Security Issues
- India will soon ask Pakistan to send 13 witnesses to depose before a special National Investigation Agency court conducting the trial of the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast that killed 68 people
- The trial had entered its last phase and more than 200 witnesses had been examined. The Pakistani witnesses include the ones injured in the blast and relatives of those killed
- Pakistan has raised Samjhauta blast at diplomatic levels and has blamed India for going soft against the accused
2. Rs. 19,762 cr. package to decongest DelhiTopic: Environment
Category: Pollution Control
Location: The Hindu
- The High Power Committee set up for suggesting measures to reduce pollution in the capital has proposed that with a disproportionate increase in parking prices the number of private vehicles can be effectively brought down
- In addition, it has also argued that construction of new flyovers or widening of roads should be discouraged while gated communities must be turned into free zones so that people can walk through them and take “short cuts.”
- Since 21 per cent of city’s area has limited scope for road expansion and 80 per cent of passenger trips are below six kilometres, the Ministryof Urban Development finds it necessary to develop a road infrastructure that allows walking and cycling
- In view of Delhi’s transportation being controlled by “18 different central and Delhi government departments and agencies,” the Ministry is thinking about setting up a “Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority for better coordination, quick decision making and execution.”
- The Ministry will also deploy a fleet of 2,000 buses in coming months and add 4,000 more to it in the next phase
- All this would cost an estimate of Rs.19,762 crore
- The break-up of this sum would be utilised in development of seven pilot Parking Management Districts under PPP, integration of 207 metro stations with other forms of public transit systems, building of cycling tracks and footpaths and removal of “choke points” across the capital
- Introduction of a Congestion Tax is also being considered
Note: Suggest other methods to decongest our cities
2. J&K militants use app to evade Army snoopingTopic: Security
Location: The Hindu
- A new app, “Calculator”, found on the smartphones of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, helps them remain in touch with their handlers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) without being detected by the Army’s technical surveillance
- The technology is based on the concept of ‘cognitive digital radio’ that enables users to turn their smartphones into peer-to-peer, off-grid communication tools
- The network generates its own signal through proprietary ad hoc networking protocols and automatically coordinates with other units within range which enables users to send and get text messages, share their GPS locations on offline maps regardless of access to WiFi or cellular service
(The technology was first used by a U.S.-based company during Hurricane Katrina so that the affected residents could remain in touch with each other)
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
Topic: Law and Order
Category: Role of executive
- At least 27 people are dead, including a Superintendent of Police, after violence in Mathura, which has only begun to throw up details of a deeply secretive cult. But the longer timeline of the Swadhin Bharat’s land grab in the city’s JawaharBaghsince 2014 and the recap of those fateful final hours on Thursday draw a clear line of indictment running from officials in Mathura to the Uttar Pradesh administration in Lucknow
- The settlers have expectedly been on edge after the Allahabad High Court ordered their eviction. “Lapses” is too mild a word to explain the botched operation to evict the encroachers, undertaken with a few dozen personnel but with the provocation of a bulldozer
- There was a clear intelligence failure — the administration was unaware of the large cache of arms stored by the settlers. The police were unprepared for the ferocity of the attack, during which LPG cylinders were exploded, destroying habitations and causing roughly half the total deaths, including that of the leader of the cult
- Swadhin Bharat had arrived in Mathura from Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district in April 2014, seeking permission to halt for a couple of days. They were ostensibly on their way to Delhi to stage a protest at JantarMantar. But they stayed on, and over time their list of irrational demands became known: annulling the election of the President and Prime Minister, issue of Indian National Army currency etc. At the same time, they chased Horticulture Department staff off the park and met any visitors with fierce violence
- Locals tell fantastical stories about their parallel administration, something the authorities were not wholly unaware of. FIRs were filed, the District Magistrate informed higher-ups in Lucknow formally, and attempts were made to use drones to snoop on the settlement. In the meantime, the two days became years
- There is a clear picture emerging that the group’s leadership enjoyed the patronage of the powerful. This must be inquired into, along with other lapses in the police action
2. Convergence, but hard choices ahead Topic: International Relations
Category: Indo-US Relations
- The highlights of the recent interactions between the US and India are the Delhi Declaration of Friendship and the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region, representing small but incrementally significant steps in the pursuit of strategic convergence.
- How strong is the bilateral relationship? Over a period of more than a decade or so, the relationship has grown and bilateral cooperation has certainly become more broad-based and multi-sectoral
- The bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement negotiated by the Indian government was considered so important as to risk the survival of the government of that time
- It has not resulted in any significant commercial contracting even though the potential is enormous. Its real significance lies in the fact that the rules of an international arrangement and a technology-denial regime were altered to admit India. This would not have been possible without heavy lifting by the U.S. Absent similar help from the U.S., India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group now could also be postponed indefinitely
- The “New Framework for the U.S.-India Defence Relationship” of 2005 and the updating and renewal of the Defence Framework Agreement for another 10 years in 2015 have resulted in the defence relationship emerging as a major pillar of the new India-U.S. strategic partnership
- Bilateral trade in goods has increased from $5.6 billion in 1990 to $66.9 billion in 2014. Trade in services stands at around $60 billion. The two sides set a target in 2014 to increase annual bilateral trade in goods and services to $500 billion.
- However, significant differences continue to characterise the two countries’ approaches to trade policy issues. The U.S. embarked on a series of free trade agreements outside the multilateral trading system in the mid-1980s. It is exasperated, or so it would appear, with the slow pace of negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is seeking plurilateral WTO plus arrangements outside, regionally and cross-regionally. It is not averse to using unilateral coercive measures in relation to perceived violation of its interests in the area of intellectual property, for instance
- There are also significantly different approaches the two countries adopt on issues relating to peace and security, the “use of force” and regime change in West Asia. Iraq 2003, Libya 2011 and the multi-layered crises in Syria, with an on-going civil war, a sectarian war and a proxy war, provide the best examples in the divergence of approach
- There are also significant differences in the perception and approaches of the two countries in relation to developments in the countries of our region, particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pentagon and the “deep state” with a long history of partnering Pakistan are unlikely to change sufficiently in a realistic time frame. At the very least, we should guard against hype
- Equally, not all elements of the U.S. State system are on board with the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran. The strongly entrenched Israeli lobby has lost for the present but will utilise the process leading up to the inauguration in office of the 45th President of the U.S. in January 2017 to reopen the deal. We have a window of opportunity to see if the new administration, post-January 2017, can be sensitised to our concerns in our western neighbourhood, particularly in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan
- Addressing Congress is both important and desirable. It occupies a unique position and plays a crucial role in the shaping of U.S. foreign policy. It has been known to be helpful to India when administrations were less inclined to be so. The prime minister will be welcomed by both the Republican and Democratic leaderships at a time when they have little convergence on pressing domestic issues
- Whatever the outcome in the presidential elections in November, the incoming administration will not be in a position to turn its back on trading arrangements entered into such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and through the WTO and erect trade barriers
- Summit-level interaction does provide positive signals but entrenched bureaucracies and interests do not always fall in line. Obama’s previous pronouncements on India’s permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council and now on Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation remain to be acted upon. As do some commitments on our side
- The investment made in the bilateral relationship by India in the last two years will need to be followed up, reinforced and adapted to the new situation post-January 2017
- Strategic autonomy, as the cornerstone of our foreign policy, has served us admirably in the last seven decades. It has not prevented us from upgrading individual bilateral relationships and making merit-based choices. Some hard choices will be required to balance greater convergence with strategic autonomy
3. Obituary: Muhammad AliHeavy weight champion, Olympic gold winner (Rome Olympics 1960)
He is known for his strong political views as well
He took his anti-racism polemic to another level with conversion to Islam early in his reign as heavyweight champion of the world. He refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1967, and relinquished his title, and four years of his sporting prime, in becoming a conscientious objector exhorting his countrymen to settle the more important, internal war against racism. The words are telling: “No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.” His emergence as a counter-cultural icon of the 1960s inspired other African-American athletes in different professional sports, basketball in particular. Ali transcended boxing, and then transcended sport
4. Missing the wetlands for the waterTopic: Environment – Conservation(Role of executive)
- Wetlands need to be reinforced as more than just open sources of water. How they are identified and conserved requires a rethink
- The government is all set to change the rules on wetlands. The Draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016, which will replace the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules of 2010, seek to give power to the States to decide what they must do with their wetlands. This includes deciding which wetlands should be protected and what activities should be allowed or regulated, while making affable calls for ‘sustainability’ and ‘ecosystem services’
- On the face of it, this appears to favourdecentralisation and federalism. But the peculiar reality of wetlands shows that local pulls and pressures are not the best determinants for their protection. Both water in liquid form and wetlands in the form of ‘land’ are hotly contested, making wetlands the most imperiled natural ecosystem worldwide
- It is imperative that the Draft Wetlands Rules, 2016 (comments for which close today) be looked at with a hard, if not cynical, eye. Three issues are of immediate concern. First, the draft does away with the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, which had suo moto cognisance of wetlands and their protection. Second, the draft rules contain no ecological criteria for recognising wetlands, such as biodiversity, reefs, mangroves, and wetland complexes. And finally it has deleted sections on the protection of wetlands, and interpretation of harmful activities which require regulation, which found reference in the 2010 rules
- While water is used as a resource or good, public policy does not always grasp that it is part of a natural ecosystem. Efforts at engineering water systems are thus efforts at augmenting water supply rather than strengthening the capacities of ecological systems. There have been many recent attempts at this sort of engineering — Karnataka had dredged its rivers, for instance; other States may follow suit. The Ken and Betwa rivers in Madhya Pradesh are to be interlinked, and we have a history of building dams and barrages to store water. Parliament has already passed a Waterways Act, which will make navigation channels of 111 rivers, by straightening, dredging, and creating barrages
- While these projects require serious ecological consideration, they are usually informed only by the need to ‘use’ water. For instance, river dredging may increase the capacity of a river channel, but can also interfere with underground reservoirs. Over-dredging can destroy these reservoirs. River interlinking changes hydrology and can benefit certain areas from a purely anthropocentric perspective, but does nothing to augment water supply to other non-target districts. Constructions of barrages have impacts on ecosystems and economies: the commercially important hilsa fish are no longer found in the Padma river after the construction of the Farraka barrage across the Ganges
- In the case of wetlands like ponds, lakes and lagoons, the contestations are more fierce. Who owns the wetland is a common quandary — and what happens to the wetland also depends on this. Asia’s largest freshwater oxbow lake, the Kanwarlake in Bihar, has shrunk to one-third of its size due to encroachment, much like Jammu and Kashmir’s Dal lake. Water sources like streams, which go into lakes, also get cut off, as is the case of lakes in Bengaluru and streams in the Delhi Ridge. The political pressure to usurp water and wetlands as land is high — and for this reason, States have failed to secure perimeters and catchment areas or notify wetlands.
- Why then do the Draft Wetland Rules award full authority to the States? The particularly complex case of wetlands warrants more checks and balances. In the proposed scenario, with an absence of scientific criteria for identifying wetlands, it is imperative to have a second independent functioning authority.
- What comprises a wetland is an important question that the Draft Rules leave unanswered. Historically, as wetlands did not earn revenue, they were marked as ‘wastelands’. While the Wetland Atlas of India says the country has 1,88,470 inland wetlands, the actual number may be much more: U.P. itself has more than one lakh wetlands, mostly unidentified by the government
- Significantly, the 2010 rules outline criteria for wetland identification including genetic diversity, outstanding natural beauty, wildlife habitats, corals, coral reefs, mangroves, heritage areas, and so on. These criteria would refer to wetlands like Pulicat in Andhra Pradesh which have nearly 200 varieties of fish
- The Ramsar Convention rules are the loftiest form of wetland identification that the world follows. Ramsar has specific criteria for choosing a wetland as a Ramsar site, which distinguishes it as possessing ‘international importance’. An important distinguishing marker is that Ramsar wetlands should support significant populations of birds, fish, or other non-avian animals. This means that it is ecological functioning which distinguishes a wetland from, say, a tank, which is just a source of water. However, man-made tanks or sources of water can also evolve into wetlands. For instance, Kaliveli tank in Tamil Nadu, an important bird area, is fed by a system of tanks and man-made channels forming a large and vibrant landscape
- A wetland is more than a source of water, or a means for water storage, though it is often reduced to only that. By removing ecological and other criteria for wetland identification and protection, and the examples of activities that could hamper this physical functioning, the new draft underlines the same malaise which misses the wetlands for the water
- While the new draft calls for sustainability, this is a difficult concept to enforce, particularly with regard to water. Regulation of activities on a wetland and their “thresholds” are to be left entirely to local or State functionaries. There are insufficient safeguards for the same, with the lack of any law-based scientific criteria or guidance. For instance, it is telling that regulation of activities in the draft rules do not make any obvious connection with existing groundwater legislations because these two aspects are still seen as separate
- The 2016 Draft Wetland Rules also call for wise use of wetlands. ‘Wise use’ is a concept used by the Ramsar Convention, and is open to interpretation. It could mean optimum use of resources for human purpose. It could mean not using a wetland so that we eventually strengthen future water security. It could also mean just leaving the wetland and its catchment area as is for flood control, carbon sequestration, and water recharge functions
- Finally, in a country which is both water-starved as well as seasonally water-rich, it is not just politics and use that should dictate how wetlands are treated. Sustainability cannot be reached without ecology. Towards this end, our wetland rules need to reinforce wetlands as more than open sources of water, and we need to revise how wetlands should be identified and conserved
- The third global coral bleaching — after events in 1998 and 2010 — in less than two decades, and the longest and most severe so far, is laying waste thousands of square kilometres of unique oceanic ecosystems. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rang the alarm in October 2015, and frightening images emerged last week of ghostly white corals in the Maldives. The bleaching, which began in 2014 and is likely to last through 2016, will impact over a third of the world’s corals, and kill 12,000 sq km of reefs
- In the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef, site of the largest bleaching, only 4 of 520 individual reefs are now healthy. Damaged or dying reefs have been found from Réunion, off Madagascar, to East Florés, Indonesia, and from Guam and Hawaii in the Pacific to the Florida Keys in the Atlantic.The longest and most severe El Niño ever has added to relentlessly warming seas, killing in weeks or months swathes of an oceanic biosphere that took up to millions of years to come into existence. It is an ecological catastrophe that can destroy the livelihoods of 500 million people, rob them of incomes worth over $ 30 billion, and change the planet forever
- What are corals?
- Small (0.25-12 inches), soft-bodied marine organisms called polyps that live in spectacular colonies called reefs that they build using a limestone skeleton (calicle) lying at their base. A polyp — which may live for 2 to several hundreds of years — starts building a reef by fixing itself to a sea-floor rock, and then budding into innumerable clones that fuse into each other to create a colony that acts as one organism
- The colonies grow over thousands of years, and fuse into other colonies to become reefs. Some of today’s coral reefs started growing over 50 million years ago. Corals themselves are translucent animals related to sea anemones and jellyfish, but the reefs hostzooxanthellae algae, which give them a range of dazzling colours. The algae have a symbiotic relationship with the polyps, capturing sunlight and carbon dioxide to make sugars that feed the polyps. The corals also feed on zooplankton and small fish.
- Why do corals matter?
- Coral reef ecosystems are less than 0.1% of the ocean area but provide food and shelter to 25% of all marine species. They support fish stocks on which some 500 million people are dependent globally, including an estimated 30 million smallscale fishermen and women whose livelihoods depend directly on the reefs’ survival. Losing a coral reef can have catastrophic consequences for local food, fisheries and livelihoods
- WHAT CAN bleaching Do?
- With rising ocean temperatures, some bleaching is now reported every summer from across the world. In mass or global bleaching events, entire reef systems, and not just a few individual corals, bleach. This was first recorded in 1979 — when scientists reckon that short-term temperatures increases that normally accompany El Niño events started to exceed the temperatures that corals could tolerate. The 2015-16 mass bleaching has come along with possibly the worst and longest El Niño event ever
- Mass bleaching can turn a coral dominated reef to an algae dominated one in the space of a few months — a process that can take decades or longer to reverse. The reefs in the Galapagos Islands, where mass bleaching and mortality were first documented, lost over 95% of their coral during the 1982 event. It is estimated that global warming, pollution and sedimentation could kill off more than 30% of the world’s reefs well before we are in the second half of this century
- THE REASON Corals GO WHITE
- Warmer water: If the temperature of the ocean is just 1 degree C higher than the average summer maximum for 4 weeks, bleaching can start.
- Strong sunshine: Excessive sunlight adds to the impact of rising ocean temperatures. It is made worse by calm seas and low tides.
- Healthy: The brilliant colours of a healthy coral colony comes from tiny plant-like cells that live inside the clear body tissue of the animal. These plant-like algae convert sunlight into food for the corals
- Bleached: Heat or pollution stresses the symbiotic relationship between the polyps and the algae. As the algae turn toxic, they are expelled by the coral, resulting in the coral’s white skeleton showing through
- Dead: Without enough plant cells to provide the coral with food, it soon starves or becomes diseased. With time, the tissue of the coral disappears altogether, and the exposed skeleton is covered with algae
- How common is coral bleaching?
- It is becoming increasingly common as a direct result of warming oceans, which are now significantly warmer than they were 50 years ago. Some bleaching has been reported every summer in recent years — a very visible indicator of climate change
- In the Maldives, ‘skeletons glowing white’
- In May, the XL Catlin Seaview Survey captured undersea images in the crystal clear waters of the Maldives, which, released on June 1, showed reefs that had remained healthy through an intense earlier bleaching event, bleached a dazzling white
- THE REEFS SURVEY
- The XL Catlin Seaview Survey, a partnership between the Irish insurance giant XL Catlin, The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Google, and the ocean conservation non-profit Ocean Agency (formerly Underwater Earth), is a pioneering scientific expedition revealing the impact of environmental changes on the world’s coral reefs. The Survey, currently focused on the Pacific and Indian Oceans, aims to create a high-resolution 360-degree panoramic vision of coral reefs that would provide a vital scientific baseline for the study of the reefs. Other partners include the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s oldest and largest environmental organization, and NOAA, of the US Department of Commerce. The Survey has so far studied 32 representative reefs along the Great Barrier Reef, and collected more than 1,00,000 stitched images
a) Environment Ministry to create ‘urban forests’ in 200 cities to increase green cover
- The Environment Ministry will launch the ‘Urban Forestry Scheme’ in Pune, where 6000 saplings will be planted to create an ‘urban jungle’ on about 80 acres of land
- Drawing attention to this year’s theme of the World Environment Day – “Go Wild For Life”, the Environment Minister underlined government’s resolve for protection of wild-life. He said the Government began this year’s World Environment Day celebrations by launching Asia’s first Vulture Re-introduction Programmeat Pinjore in Haryana
- On this occasion the Environment Minister released a leaflet “Living With The Leopards” that lists out practical tips to minimize danger to ourselves
Practical Ways to Live With Leopards and Minimize Danger to Ourselves
- Recognize that leopards are the residents of the area and mere sighting does not translate into danger.
- Leopards do not recognize our kind of boundaries, forest areas and housing colonies.
- Ensure that children are supervised by adults, especially after dark
- Do not move about alone after dark. If necessary, play music on your mobile phones to allow leopards to realize that there are humans around. Leopards are sensitive enough to avoid contact with humans and do their best to avoid us.
- If a leopard is sighted, give it right of way and allow it to move off peacefully.
- If a leopard is sighted, do not form a crowd around it. Mob behavior will cause the animal to panic and possibly harm someone in its effort to escape.
- Ensure effective garbage disposal and keep the dogs indoors.
- The Forest Department is the sole authority to deal with any leopard related incident. Promptly call the control room
b) Suresh Prabhu launches Tiger Express train on the World Environment Day In terms of Budget Announcement 2016-17, Minister of Railways today flagged off the inaugural run of the Tiger Trail Circuit
The train with 5 days/6 nights itinerary will start from Delhi Sufdarjung railway station and travel via Katani, Jabalpur, Bandhavgadh, Kanha. The semi-luxury train will take the guests onboard to the world famous Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks in Madhya Pradesh. In addition the trip will also take tourists to Dhuadhar Waterfall in Bedhaghat near Jabalpur
Speaking on the occasion, the Railway Minister said that Indian Railways is fully committed to address environmental issues. Now there is a separate, dedicated Environment Directorate in the Ministry of Railways
Route of Tiger Express
C). PM Narendra Modi conferred with the Highest Civilian Honour of AfghanistanThe Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been conferred with Amir Amanullah Khan Award, Afghanistan’s highest civilian honour. He was bestowed the honour by President Ashraf Ghani after the inauguration of the landmark Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat
The Amir Amanullah Khan medal is highest civilian honor of Afghanistan. The award is named after the Afghan national hero, Amanullah Khan (Ghazi), who championed the cause of Afghanistan’s freedom. He was the ruler of the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1919-1929 who led Afghanistan to independence
King Amanullah advanced Afghanistan’s modernist constitution, incorporated equal rights and individual freedom. He modernised the country, creating cosmopolitan schools for both boys and girls and also increased Afghanistan’s trade with Europe and Asia. The vision of King Amanullah for an independent and modern Afghanistan remains as relevant today as ever
King Amanullah had strong ties with India, and moved here briefly in 1929. His affectionate ties for the country continue to be reflected in the strong partnership between the two nations
d). India becomes co-chair of Working Group on Maritime Situational Awareness under Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia The 19th Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) took place in Mahe, Seychelles during 31 May – 3 June 2016. India was chosen to co-chair the important Working Group on Improving Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) in the Region through consensus. The session was chaired by Mr. Joel Morgan, the Foreign Minister of the Seychelles and more than 60 countries and organisations participated in the four-day meeting.
Seychelles is the current chairman of the CGPCS for the biennium 2016-17
- the government tried to regulate the royalty that technology providers charge licensees but was forced to considerably dilute its stand
- it would be prudent to reject the request seed companies have made to the agriculture ministry, to advise the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) to scrap the need for GM technology providers to certify replication by licensees
- A handful of seed companies, which had taken on Bt cotton pioneer Monsanto, would have been the obvious beneficiaries had the earlier government order on royalty regulation been enforced
- They now want to force Monsanto into ceding most of its control on the anti-bollworm GM technology it developed with Bt cotton. They have contended that the mandatory certification by trait providers should make way for GEAC certifying the technology in their seeds based on the results of testing done by public-sector labs to ascertain the presence and efficacy of the genetic modification. Once Monsanto no longer needs to certify their seeds, their logic probably is, it will be easier for them to stop paying it royalty
- Apart from the fact that a trait provider is best placed to certify a technology, there are other reasons to stick to the 2006-GEAC norm. Different laboratories that do the tests may get different results. More important, since a Monsanto’s credibility depends on the quality of the final product, apart from certifying the existence of the trait, it will also rigorously monitor the quality of the seed companies using its technology. If this is done away with, however, Monsanto’s quality control will no longer be available
- Also, if there is some problem that develops later, the technology supplier can well wash its hands off this, claiming the seed never had its trait in the first place. And in a country with such a forceful anti-GM lobby, this could end up undermining the adoption of GM technology itself
- In the process, India, which needs increased GM adoption if it is to increase its agricultural productivity in the face of climate-change challenges, could well become a warning for other economies in their attitude towards protecting intellectual property
3. The Business Line: Why this obsession with fiscal deficit?Topic: Economy
Category: Fiscal Responsibility
- Fiscal consolidation has always been at the forefront of evaluation of the economic space of a country, and the numbers relating to revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and debt are the variables that are under constant scrutiny. The assumption is that these numbers should be coming down progressively
- The existing framework in India served well considering that fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) was a new concept; it was felt that there was need for signposts that would guide the Government. Evidently, a review is required as the FRBM Act, now 13 years old, needs to be revisited
- The purpose of setting these goal-posts was to ensure there was some discipline in government borrowing as it was believed that without such norms, there would be no end to fiscal spending. These rules were applied at both the central and State levels. While it was a case of self-discipline at the Centre, States did not have a choice, with the Centre playing the role of monitor as permitted by the Constitution
- It has worked fairly well; while most States have been compliant, the Centre too has observed the new norm, even as it has taken the liberty to deviate when necessary. There is always the clause of “exceptional circumstances” which provide an alternative route
- There is an ideological question today over the relevance of FRBM. The role of the government in any country is to bring about economic development and step into areas where the private sector would not, as well as address social needs. Therefore, governments need to spend money for which they have to borrow from the market
- Ironically, if governments decided not to borrow there would be a problem in the monetary space as there would be no securities to hold or trade, and this would impact the financial system. The SLR (statutory liquidity ratio) actually helps the system and rewards banks — the fact that banks voluntarily hold on to such paper bears testimony to the value attached to G-secs despite the constant demand that the SLR be lowered. Further, the SLR actually provides a strong liquidity buffer for banks, especially the weak ones
- Besides, if the government is able to borrow funds in domestic currency thus not posing any risk to the global system and is able to manage liquidity in a manner where the private sector is not crowded out under stable inflationary conditions, then one cannot have any quarrel with such borrowings
- Therefore, setting such targets for the Centre in terms of how much can be borrowed could be debated, though at the State level, it can still be defended. Two issues stand out. The first is that by framing such norms on government borrowing, it has been seen anecdotally that sticking to the norm becomes a goal for the government and supersedes other obligations. The result is that we always seem to be working backwards after anchoring this number. Consequently, expenditure has to be pulled back and the onus falls on discretionary expenditure, which often is capital expenditure. This malaise has come in the way of growth picking up through a Keynesian stimulus
- The views of global rating agencies and other multilateral bodies appear to become more important and the FRBM route is persevered with. Hence, while a number of developed countries are pumping money into their economies, we are unable to do so because of this self-imposed constraint. Such action or inaction can affect the economy, as was the case during FY13-FY15, when fiscal targets were met at the cost of investment even as the private sector was not spending
- The second conundrum relates more to State finances. While they have been allowed space of 3 per cent fiscal deficit with some being allowed to go to 3.5 per cent due to their special status, the current UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) scheme provides an exemption for DISCOM debt. While this is a good step, it erodes the sanctity of the FRBM rules. While these kinds of problems will come up regularly, the FRBM rules have to be relaxed
- How then should we view FRBM? It should not be carved in stone and must provide a broad range within which the Government should function. There is nothing sacrosanct about numbers such as 3 per cent for the Centre and 3 per cent for all States combined. It could be 2 or 4 per cent
- Allowing a wider range will always be prudent so that the government could work according to three factors: state of the economy, liquidity status and contingency actions (such as UDAY). The advantage that India has is that all debt is internal and does not involve external financial borrowing or assistance
- Also, there is little evidence to show that higher government spending leads to demand-pull inflation as we have been perennially afflicted by supply-side pressures. Further, with excess borrowing being earmarked to spending on infrastructure projects, the likelihood of generating demand pull forces would be mitigated
- The basic takeaway is that FRBM should be a guiding light, but not the be-all-and-end-all when drawing up a budget
- The Government will become a more pro-active agent of development as we move away from blind adherence of self-imposed norms. Ideally, a corridor should be specified within which the government deficit could move
4. The Economic Times: Worrying signs of political instabilityTopic: Political history
Category: India after independence/Lessons from History
- There are times in the history of a nation when the rulers reign in apparent peace but the kingdom falls apart in slow motion. A good example of this from recent history is India in the 1980s, when governments headed by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had, respectively, a comfortable and a brute majority but strife ravaged the nation: the Assam agitation in the northeast, separatist militancy in Punjab and Kashmir, Tamil Tigers turned rogue in the south and communal mobilisation across north India to demolish a mosque and build a temple at its site. The time is at hand, perhaps, to remind ourselves of the distinction between stability of the regime at the Centre and political stability in general
- A thuggish cult sporting sophisticated arms has recently attacked policemen in Mathura, who had come to evict it from a plot of land it had been occupying illegally. Powerful communities are on the warpath in Haryana and Gujarat demanding for themselves what they see as the privileges of affirmative action. In Karnataka, members of the legislative assembly are apparently hawking their votes in Rajya Sabha elections to the highest bidder. Violence on women continues its abhorrent pattern. In Kashmir, militancy is on the rise, as is public displays of fervent support for militants killed by security forces. In the northeast, an election was won on the promise of uprooting people who have been living in India for generations, a move that has the potential to unleash major schism
- Across central India, tribal lands continue to simmer with discontent. In Uttar Pradesh, vigilantism is being justified by elected members of the state and Union legislatures in the name of beef, with impunity. It is a likely precursor to more polarising politics in the run-up to assembly elections in that state early next year
- The political leadership’s response to these potent divisive tendencies has been to celebrate neglecting the hostile voices. The Opposition is caught up in its internal leadership problems. This drift cannot be allowed to continue. It makes little sense to wait for a flashpoint
a) Centre may set up agency for analysing services trade dataThe Centre will soon establish an institutional framework for better collection and analysis of data on India’s services export and import.
The framework is likely to include setting up of a nodal agency for international trade data in services, creation of an international services trade business directory, and provisions mandating enterprises to report their international services trade to the proposed nodal agency
To ensure legal certainty to the framework, there is a proposal to incorporate the above said provisions as amendments to the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008. A new law is also being considered as the Collection of Statistics Act is not specific to services sector.The nodal agency on services trade data could be the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S, which currently compiles and analyses only goods trade data) or an entirely new one
b) India’s black economy shrinks, says Ambit Capital ResearchPegging India’s ‘black economy’ at over Rs.30 lakh crore or about 20 per cent of total GDP, a new study said it has been contracting gradually over the years but still remains bigger than the overall economic size of countries like Thailand and Argentina
A majority of this black money is locked up in physical assets such as real estate and gold, it added.
Physical savings instruments have been historically preferred to financial savings instruments in India because purchase of physical assets can be funded using black money
The report the government has ensured a clear step-up in checks around gold transactions and it has become increasingly difficult to park unaccounted cash in the form of jewellery or bullion
c). Anti-dumping duty imposed on import of chemical from US, ChinaAnti-dumping duty of $0.277-0.404 per kg has been imposed on a compound, used in the pharmaceutical industry, imported from the US and China to protect domestic makers from cheap shipments.
The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has imposed definitive anti-dumping on import of Methyl Acetoacetate from the two countries for five years
The duty has been slapped following a recommendation by the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD)
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Anti-dumping duty is imposed when a foreign company sells its exports at a lower price than they sell for in the company’s home country
- Import of cheap products through illegal trade channels like smuggling fall within the purview of anti-dumping measures
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 2: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee(GEAC) is responsible for approving activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recom¬binants in research and industrial production
- GEAC has powers to inspect, investigate and take punitive action in case or violations of statutory provisions regarding the use of biotechnology for research and industrial purposes
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Coral bleaching occurs due to the death of the algae living within the corals
- The algae living in symbiosis with the corals turn toxic with the rise in temperature
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 4: : Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- The Tiger Express is an Indian Railway initiative to spread awareness regarding Tiger conservation
- It would run through all important rail networks conveying the importance of tiger conservation through exhibits and displays
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 5: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- SLR(Statutory Liquidity Ratio) denotes the reserve requirement that the commercial banks in India require to maintain in the form of gold, government approved securities
- The SLR is determined as a percentage of total demand and time liabilities
- The SLR is commonly used to control inflation and fuel growth, by increasing or decreasing it respectively
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) All the Above
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