Comprehensive News Analysis – 08 February 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. ‘1892 Cauvery pact an unequal bargain’

2. Trump should not address British Parliament, says Speaker Bercow

3. Japan eases permanent visa norms to draw global talent

C. GS3 Related:

1. India to frame policy on synthetic biology

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

The Hindu

1. Testing times on NEET

Economic Times

1. To fill the vacuum after scrapping FIPB

PIB

1. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)

2. Smart city development not elitist; it’s a trigger for inclusive and comprehensive urban development, says Shri Venkaiah Naidu

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

 

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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs

 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 
B. GS2 Related
1. ‘1892 Cauvery pact an unequal bargain’

Category: Governance
Topic: Center-State Relations, Tribunals

Key Points:

  • It is important to note that in 1892 there was an agreement signed between the erstwhile Mysore and Madras Governments to share the Cauvery river water.
  • In reference to the above, recently, the Karnataka counsel has told the Supreme Court that the agreement can claim no validity after birth of Indian Constitution.
  • In fact, the Karnataka counsel has called this agreement an “unconscionable bargain” to share the Cauvery river water.
  • Karnataka counsel and senior advocate Fali Nariman, said that both the 1892 and 1924 pacts between the then princely State of Mysore and the Madras government reflected an “inequality of bargaining power” which was “without conscience” and which could claim no validity after the birth of the Indian Constitution.

 

2. Trump should not address British Parliament, says Speaker Bercow

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

Key Points:

  • In a landmark development, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, said he would oppose U.S. President Donald Trump addressing the Parliament during his planned state visit.
  • It is important to note that the British Parliament, has to date, been more outspoken in its criticism of Mr. Trump than the government.
  • After the travel ban on nationals of seven mainly-Muslim states, the House of Commons held an emergency debate, and unanimously passed a motion describing the move as divisive, and counterproductive.

 

3. Japan eases permanent visa norms to draw global talent

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

Key Points:

  • In a recent development, Japan is wooing foreign direct investment through a slew of measures such as an easier visa regime and lower corporate taxes.
  • In a bid to attract global talent, from India and other nations, Japan has said it will soon introduce a new Green Card programme —billed as the fastest such system in the world — and expedite the granting of permanent residency to highly skilled foreign professionals.
 

 

C. GS3 Related
1. India to frame policy on synthetic biology

Category: Science and Technology
Topic: Developments

Key Points:

  • India is taking its first steps to evolve a policy on synthetic biology.

What is synthetic biology?

  • Synthetic biology  is an emerging science through which new life forms can potentially be made in labs and existing life forms, such as bacteria and other microbes, tweaked to produce specific proteins or chemically useful products.

What promise does it hold?

  • Synthetic biology in microbial systems holds promise for production of drugs, vaccines, fuel components and other chemicals.
  • A popular example is the production of artemisinin, a powerful anti-malarial drug, in yeast, at a commercial level.
  • Microorganisms have also been constructed to act as sensors that can detect a toxin in vitro (outside a living organism) or in vivo (inside a living organism).

Government’s Position

  • The Environment Ministry will be convening a group of experts on biodiversity and biotechnology, to assess synthetic biology work pursued in Indian labs, potential benefits and risks, and the implications of the trans-boundary movement of such life forms.
  • Significantly, it is important to note that India, so far, has no policy on synthetic biology.
 
D. GS4 Related

Nothing Here for today!!!

 
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
1. Testing times on NEET

Category: Polity and Governance
Topic: Government Policy, Government Interventions

Key Points:

What is (NEET)?

  • NEET refers to the “National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)”, which is a uniform examination that will decide admission to medical courses all over the country.
  • Recently, the state of Tamil Nadu, has taken the legislative route to grant itself exemption from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).

Action taken by the State

  • Recently, the Tamil Nadu State Assembly, passed two Bills, in an effort to retain its present admission system for under-graduate and post-graduate medical courses based on marks obtained by students in their higher secondary school examination.
  • The Supreme Court insists that the NEET marks be the sole basis for admission. Thus, the two bills passed by the Tamil Nadu State Assembly, are likely to displease the Supreme Court.

Position Taken by Tamil Nadu

  • Tamil Nadu argues that NEET would be traumatic for both parents and children, as it would be based on a syllabus different from the one taught in schools under the board for higher secondary education.
  • The fear is that NEET would be insurmountable for students from rural areas and under-privileged backgrounds and those who cannot afford coaching centres.
  • Its concern that urban students, especially those from streams such as the CBSE, would dominate admissions under NEET cannot be dismissed easily.
Concluding Remarks
  • There is now an inevitable conflict between the need for a fair and transparent admission system to curb rampant commercialisation of medical education and the socio-economic goals of the State, which is worried about producing enough committed doctors ready to serve in rural areas. Both objectives are indeed laudable.
  • However, a moot question is whether uniformity should be thrust on a country that has wide regional, economic and linguistic disparities.
  • Normally it is the political leadership, and not the courts, that should harmonise such differences and evolve a viable admission policy.
  • At the same time, States cannot remain forever insulated from the need to upgrade educational standards.
  • It may be easy to advise the courts to keep out of the policy domain, but a more difficult task is for institutions in the government and the private sector to maintain standards and pass the court’s triple test of fairness, transparency and freedom from exploitation.

 

 

Economic Times
1. To fill the vacuum after scrapping FIPB

Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • It has been suggested that the government has done well to announce the decision to abolish the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in 2017-18. 
  • It is important to note that more than 90% of the foreign direct investment, in any case, comes through the automatic route and sectoral regulation has also become far more robust, obviating the need for the board that was set up in early 1990s. 
  • Advanced countries, by and large, welcome all foreign investment, but have institutional mechanisms to block any foreign investment proposal that hurts national interest and security. India must also have such institutional safeguards. The RBI is best placed to play the nodal agency for review; after all, all foreign investment into the country has to comply with its foreign exchange reporting requirements.
  • It has been suggested that the government should enact a law to give the RBI powers that go beyond collection of information to refer proposals for vetting for possible security implications to relevant ministries of the Union government.
  • The executive government can then decide on whether to prohibit or suspend a transaction. That decision and the factors that guided the decision must be placed before a committee of the legislature, for the sake of transparency.
  • In conclusion, India needs not just a robust arrangement but also stringent timelines to conclude an RBI-initiated review and report to Parliament.

 

PIB

1. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)

Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Taxation

Key Points:

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT),Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance has entered into four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)
  • The four APAs signed pertain to the Manufacturing, Financial and Information Technology sectors of the economy. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Contract Manufacturing, IT Enabled Services and Software Development Services. 
  • With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 130. This includes 8 bilateral APAs and 122 Unilateral APAs.
  • In the current financial year, a total of 66 APAs (5 bilateral APAs and 61 unilateral APAs) have already been entered into. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed before the end of the current fiscal.
  • The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the “Rollback” provisions were introduced in 2014.
  • The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the prices of international transactions in advance.
  • Since its inception, the APA scheme has evinced a lot of interest from taxpayers and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) being filed so far in about five years. 
  • The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Government’s resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.
  • The Indian APA program has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner.
 
2. Smart city development not elitist; it’s a trigger for inclusive and comprehensive urban development, says Shri Venkaiah Naidu

Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Infrastructure, Urban Development

Key Points:

  • Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venakaiah Naidu has asserted that smart city development is not elitist and on the other hand it has triggered inclusive and comprehensive urban planning and development addressing the inherited deficit in urban governance. Addressing a Business Conclave at Shri Ram College of Commerce, the Minister said that Smart City Mission has brought about a paradigm shift by enabling the mission cities approach the challenges differently rather than doing different things.
  • Shri Venkaiah Naidu explained that the Smart City Mission has been so designed to promote inclusive development benefitting all sections of people besides promoting sustainable urban development practices and actions in the context of urban citizens being starved of breathing and living spaces. He said that this mission is a ‘behavioral change’ initiative requiring all stakeholders including elected and executive leadership and citizens to change their attitudes and approaches towards urban planning and execution. Smart leaders and smart citizens are crucial for the success of the mission, he said.
  • Referring to the growing spirit of competition among cities and towns to do better than others, Shri Naidu said that moving away from archaic ways of urban governance, cities are now vying for credit ratings for mobilization of resources through municipal bonds, reflecting on their keenness to think and act differently. He informed that of the 97 smart cities, 89 have initiated this process of which 70 have completed it and 26 of them have already been given credit rating. Eight cities viz., Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Indore, Jaipur, Kakinada, Pune, Rajkot and Visakhapatnam have already appointed Transactional Advisors for issuing municipal bonds. Total of 44 cities including 25 AMRUT cities have so far got credit ratings, Shri Naidu informed.

 
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn

AMRUT

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)

 

G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
 
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements:

1] Synthetic biology  is an emerging science through which new life forms can potentially be made in labs and existing life forms, such as bacteria and other microbes, tweaked to produce specific proteins or chemically useful products.
2] Synthetic biology in microbial systems holds promise for production of drugs, vaccines, fuel components and other chemicals.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 Only , (b) 2 Only, (c) Both 1 and 2, (d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 2: Consider the following statements:

1] The four main islands in Japan are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.
2] Honshu is the largest of the four, followed in size by Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 Only , (b) 2 Only, (c) Both 1 and 2, (d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 3:  “Artemisinin”, was recently in the news. What is it?

a) A powerful anti-malarial drug

b) A new species of Dolphin

c) A new plant species

d) A new species of Butterfly

Question 4: Consider the following statements:

1] The Gulf Stream starts in the Gulf of Mexico.
2] The Labrador Current is a cold current in the North Atlantic Ocean which flows from the Arctic Ocean south along the coast of Labrador and passes around Newfoundland.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 Only , (b) 2 Only, (c) Both 1 and 2, (d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: ‘Baffin Island’ is located in which of the following countries? 
  1. Canada
  2. U.S.A
  3. Argentina
  4. U.K.


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