Comprehensive News Analysis – 09 August 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

1. River-linking to cost Rs. 5-lakh crore

B. GS2 Related:

1. Amended GST Bill gets Parliament green signal

2. India seeks US help to crack Pakistan terror fund trail

3. RS passes Bill decriminalising suicide

4. Suicide strike at Pakistan hospital kills 70, injures 100

C. GS3 Related:

1. Ponzi schemes not under our purview: SEBI

2. ONGC overstated crude oil output, says CAG report

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

The Hindu

1. Not all are equal: Where health coverage lags behind

2. Grand larceny in Kuala Lumpur

3. History of cow politics

4. Legacy quest for a safer world

5. Casual Read:The mirror at the Olympics

Quick Bits and News from States

1. Irom Sharmila to end fast today

2. Close Gulen’s institutions in India, demands Turkey

3. Sushma misled nation on 39 abducted Indians: Cong.

4. Lodha Committee Recommendations

5. 15-day I-Day fete begins today

6. Panagariya blames industry for employment crisis

7. Malaysia revokes 68 passports over ‘IS links’

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

 

1. River-linking to cost Rs. 5-lakh crore

Topic: River Linking

Category: Geography

Key points:

  • The government expects to spend a massive Rs 5,60,000 crore on various river interlinking (ILR) projects, according to a statement by Minister of State, Water Resources(4% of India’s economy)
  • The National Water Development Agency — the central agency that plans and prepares cost estimates for such projects — has so far identified 16 peninsular rivers and 14 Himalayan rivers that could potentially be linked to transfer water.
  • ILR projects at the most advanced state of planning are those involving building canals and storage connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh; the Damanganga and Pinjal rivers involving water from Gujarat and Maharashtra. Pre-feasibility reports of 36 Intra-State link proposals out of 46 proposals of Intra-State links had also been completed, the Minister added
  • The controversial Ken-Betwa link that will partially submerge the Panna Tiger sanctuary, is yet to be cleared by the National Wild Life Board and discussions are on between the Water Resources Ministry and the Ministry of Environment and Forests to mitigate the potential loss of forests. The Government is planning to begin implementing this as a model ILR project, which will benefit the drought prone areas of Bundelkhand region
  • The peninsular component of the project could likely cost Rs 1,85,000 crore and the Himalayan Rs 3,75,000 crore.

 

B. GS2 Related

 

  1. Amended GST Bill gets Parliament green signal

Topic: Taxation

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • Eleven years after the GST was first proposed in 2005, Parliament on Monday passed the Bill. Now the amendment will have to be ratified by at least 16 States
  • The Prime Minister said the new indirect taxation regime, which will subsume 7-13 taxes, will free the nation from tax terrorism and help end corruption as traders will be compelled to give proper bills. “The consumer will be king”, he said

 

2. India seeks US help to crack Pakistan terror fund trail

Topic: Pakistan

Category: India’s Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • India has approached select European countries and the U.S., who are part of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to seek the bank transaction details of the Al Rehmat Trust, which operates a dozen offices in Pakistan. Indian agencies suspect that the Trust, founded by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, has over Rs. 100 crore in its kitty and the money is used for funding and training terrorist modules
  • It is Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)which carried out the attack at the Pathankot airbase in January this year
  • The National Investigation Agency had sent a letter rogatory (judicial request) to Pakistan in April this year, seeking the donation and bank details of the trust. But there has been no reply as of yet

Note:The FATF is a policy-making body and its objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system

 

3. RS passes Bill decriminalising suicide

Topic: Legislation

Category: Polity

Key points:

  • The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013, which was passed in Rajya Sabha on Monday says that any person who attempts suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have mental illness and shall not be liable to punishment under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code
  • “This is a historic and progressive Bill. It has been a long standing effort. It is patient-centric and focusses on how more facilities and support could be provided to the patients,” the health minister said
  • He said 6-7 per cent of the country’s population had some kind of mental illnesses, while 1-2 per cent had acute mental disease.The Bill focusses on community-based treatment. Special provisions for women’s health have also been provided for in the Bill.The Bill also provides for the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with mental illness during the delivery of healthcare in institutions and in the community

 

4. Suicide strike at Pakistan hospital kills 70, injures 100

Topic: Pakistan

Category: India’s Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • Explosives packed with ball-bearings carried by a suicide bomber tore through a Pakistani hospital on Monday, killing at least 70 people
  • The bomber struck a crowd of 200 people who had gathered at the Civil Hospital in the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta after the fatal shooting of a senior local lawyer earlier in the day

 

C. GS3 Related

 

  1. Ponzi schemes not under our purview: SEBI

Topic: Regulation

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Monday denied any regulatory purview over ponzi schemes, squarely placing the responsibility of protecting investors on State governments
  • “Ponzi schemes do not fall under the regulatory purview of SEBI. The same is banned under the Prize Chit and Money Circulation (Banning) Act, 1978 and the State government concerned is the enforcement agency. Though it is a Central Act, the respective State governments are the enforcement agency of this law,” SEBI submitted in an affidavit perused by the Bench on Monday
  • SEBI expressed its helplessness in regulating “banned activities” unless made aware of their existence. If informed, the regulator would stop these activities. Besides, it said, the Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) was not a banned activity. A CIS was authorised if it was registered with SEBI or got prior permission from the regulator

 

2. ONGC overstated crude oil output, says CAG report

Topic: Regulation

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • State run ONGC had to bear a larger share of subsidy (Rs 18,626 crore paid in addition)due to overstatement of reported crude oil production by inclusion of condensate and off-gas (7.06 per cent of condensate and 1 per cent of off-gas),” according to a CAG report tabled in Parliament on Monday
  • Upstream national oil companies such as ONGC and OIL shared the under-recoveries of oil marketing companies that arose from their having to sell petroleum products at subsidised rates. Under the subsidy sharing system in place since 2012, an upstream company’s subsidy burden was to be calculated on the basis of its total crude oil production
  • “If the actual crude oil production was reported, the company would not have met its crude oil production targets in any of the years (2010-11 to 2014-15)”
  • Further, the report found that the over-reporting of production in Ankleshwar and Assam assets — by inflating closing stock — had resulted in an additional subsidy burden of Rs.160.69 crore.

 

D. GS4 Related

 

E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu

 

  1. Not all are equal: Where health coverage lags behind

Topic: Health

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • Healthcare services vary in India in many ways: access and affordability across different States, and vivid differences between private and public healthcare and rural and urban health systems
  • India faces daunting healthcare challenges. Despite gradual progress in improving access to health systems, including a meticulously planned National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the problems of access and affordability remain
  • The bulk of the historically unreached populations are in rural areas and in remote locations, where the lack of access to healthcare is clearly demonstrated in poor human development indicators, which lag behind the State average
  • Poor maternal mortality rates, higher infant mortality rate, poor morbidity and higher mortality rates, high rates of infectious diseases, with high expenditure on healthcare are the discernible factors in these areas, served only by the Primary Health Centres (PHC)
  • As the last mile in healthcare delivery, PHCs have seldom received the kind of attention or fund allocation due to them, even in States with better outcomes. It was to set right this historical wrong that the Union government launched, in 2005, the NRHM to expand access to primary healthcare among rural populations. Towards this goal it ploughed in the necessary funds and diverted a fair bit of the attention to rural healthcare, especially in 18 high focus districts.
  • A January 2014 paper, by Health Policy Project researchers, noted that in 2011 theNRHM accounted for 54 per cent of the central government’s total health budget. From 2005 to 2011, the Centre released Rs. 52,832 crore for the NRHM, of which Rs. 38,420 crore was spent. Between 2011 and 2015, a total of over Rs. 55,000 crore have been used as the Centre’s allocation for the project (as per the Health Ministry) and additionally, there has been the States’ contribution
  • But the key to achieving the desired health outcomes, the Health Policy Project paper says, is to ensure the funds are targeted, allocated, and used effectively by the different States
  • Additionally, rational appointment of medical and nursing staff in the PHCs is vital. It is hoped that the Centre’s Universal Health Care project, launched in 2010, will be able to serve the goal of providing easily accessible and affordable healthcare to all Indians irrespective of caste, location or income

Facts from case study:
Labour pain: Sitapur’s maternity racket

  • Well into the post Millennium Development Goals (MDG) era, Uttar Pradesh’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) stands at 392 maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births. India’s national average is 178, which by itself is far from the MDG target of 109. Similarly for infants, 50 babies die per 1000 live births before they complete the first year. The national figure is 40, once again missing the MDG target of 29
  • P. is one of the worst States for women — they are least likely to be educated, most likely to die during pregnancy, most likely to bear sickly new-borns, and these new-borns are most likely to be under-nourished at the age of five years, if they reach that age at all
  • The government introduced the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), a conditional cash transfer scheme (under the National Rural Health Mission) to benefit expecting mothers. Under the scheme pregnant women are entitled to free medicines, hospitalisation, and free food during hospital stay, free transport (after the delivery) and a incentive of Rs. 1400 for choosing to deliver the baby at a government or private hospital

 

2. Grand larceny in Kuala Lumpur

Topic: Look East Policy

Category: International Relations

Key points:

  • Turmoil has gripped Malaysia ever since the U.S. Department of Justice announced on July 20 that the senior-most political leadership in Kuala Lumpur was under suspicion for money laundering and multi-billion dollar theft from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB),a corporation tasked expressly with financing Malaysia’s development. The revelation that this former sovereign wealth fund had been pillaged to the tune of at least $3 billion has ignited Malaysian pro-democracy groups, and led to calls for the resignation of Prime Minister NajibRazak, who until recently chaired the advisory council of 1MDB
  • From a global perspective, the ongoing fallout of 1MDB yet again highlights lack of regulation of dark pools of finance held by the ultra-wealthy. Despite the shockwaves of this year’s Panama Papers scandal, clearly much remains to be done in terms of tightening the laws around how this money gets moved in and out of offshore tax havens, particularly disclosure requirements and information-sharing agreements between authorities across disparate jurisdictions
  • The implications of this scandal for Malaysia are far-reaching and fundamental. Along with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, the country is known as a “tiger cub economy” for following in the growth-model footsteps of the tiger economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan
  • A critical element of the economic strategy promoted by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the early 1990s and successive leaders in Kuala Lumpur was the development of the export sector as an engine of growth. In Malaysia’s case, oil wealth and its evolution as a major centre for Islamic finance added an edge that came from closer ties to West Asian powers, particularly Saudi Arabia
  • Somewhere along the journey, a sense of elite impunity crept in and transformed these inherent advantages into rapacious tools for self-enrichment. It is the common person of Malaysia who will now be left to pick up the pieces of a crumbling governance model, set aside ethnic rivalries and demand transparent and accountable institutions

 

3. History of cow politics

Topic: Indian Political History

Category: Polity

Key points:

  • The agenda of cow protection has been, since the 1880s, embedded in communal imaginaries, positioning of non-Hindus as the other, and communal rioting between Hindus and Muslims
  • The history of movements for the protection of cows in India is a sordid one. It has nothing to do with religion
  • This history recounts two overlapping tales of cynical politics
  • The first tale is that of unifying a deeply divided and hierarchically ordered Hindu community under the banner of cow protection. Whether the so-called lower castes, who not only consume beef but are also fated to skin dead cows, bought into this upper-caste agenda is still a matter of debate among historians. But the project, fashioned by cultural entrepreneurs and innovators in late 19th century north India, succeeded in achieving the second objective, that of identifying and metaphorically crucifying Muslims as beef-eaters, and as killers of cattle particularly during the festival of Bakr-i-Id.The cow protection movement told us one tale of unifying a caste-ridden society, and of expanding the constituency of right-wing politics to the countryside
  • The second tale relates to the different ways in which the constituency of Indians was divided and fragmented by the symbolic body of the holy cow. Expectedly, both tales constructed Muslims as the other. The process treaded a well-worn path: the collective self is invariably defined in opposition to a manufactured ‘enemy’ with whom there can be neither truck nor transaction.
  • The cow protection movement in the 1880s followed three sorts of strategies to achieve its twin objectives
  • One, a number of cow protection associations were set up throughout India. Swami DayanandSaraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, travelled across the northern part of the country to establish gaurakshak societies
  • Two, he and his followers mobilised public opinion on the issue through distribution of pamphlets and speeches
  • Three, Arya Samajists collected thousands of signatures and attached them to petitions addressed to the colonial government. These petitions implored the Government of India to ban cow slaughter
  • The outcome of these efforts could be foretold. Leaders of the Muslim community reacted indignantly, and in 1893 a number of riots between Hindus and Muslims broke out in Bombay, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and other parts of north India right up to Rangoon, and right up to the middle of the 20th century
  • Because cow protection had become a politically significant issue, it was taken up in the Constituent Assembly. A provision for the protection of cattle was incorporated in the Directive Principles of State Policy. In the 1960s, a major movement for banning of cow slaughter was conceptualised and authored by then RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh chief M.S. Golwalkar
  • It is a pity that the horrific incidents connected with cows are waved away as an aberration, and as an appropriation by the wrong people. It has to be recognised that the issue itself is embedded in communal imaginaries and electoral calculations, or that it destroys bonds of citizenship through cynical deployment of divisive agendas signifying who belongs and who does not. The entire history of riots since the last decades of the 19th century shows the link between the issue of protecting cows and that of identifying non-Hindus as people who do not belong

 

4. Legacy quest for a safer world

Topic: U.S

Category: International Affairs

Key points:

  • Prominent goals Obama could be targeting in his remaining months are reported to include introducing a no-first use (NFU) policy on nuclear weapons; bringing the U.S. strategic forces to a state of de-alert; reaffirming the international norms against nuclear testing despite the Senate’s refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; extending the term of the New START arms reduction treaty by another five years; and cutting back long-term plans for modernising the nation’s nuclear arsenal
  • Each of these measures would be a significant step in reducing nuclear dangers, especially de-alerting the U.S. strategic forces from their current fully alert, launch-on-warning status. Nuclear folklore contains numerous instances, confirmed by reliable sources, of when the world was just a few minutes away from a holocaust either because of false alarms of enemy attack or excessive nuclear brinksmanship. De-alerting of nuclear weapons by any country, especially a major power like the U.S., would be a big step forward in lowering the risk of a nuclear catastrophe
  • The value of adopting a policy of NFU, apart from lowering tensions at times of crisis, would be more on the diplomatic side. Recall that India’s own declaration of NFU soon after the Pokhran-II explosions, in 1998, did much to assuage the world community’s concerns over our having gone manifestly nuclear. Similarly, U.S. attempts to control nuclear weapon proliferation around the world cannot carry much credibility if it continues to retain its own option of a first strike with a trigger-alert arsenal. The same argument holds for weapon modernisationprogrammes
  • Furthermore, in objective terms he has already made important strides in reducing nuclear dangers. His successful negotiation of the New START treaty with Russia and the four Nuclear Security Summits devoted to securing nuclear materials are major examples
  • Clearly, at this stage Mr. Obama can make further progress on his arms control agenda only through executive action, given the shortage of time and the mood and composition of the current U.S. Congress. Technically speaking, all the actions listed earlier can be taken by invoking executive authority
  • But even if prior or immediate approval by the elected legislators may not be strictly needed for adopting these measures, the prospects of them being effective and continuing to survive the transition to the next presidential regime after six months will depend on their acceptability to the Congress and the public
  • Extending the New START by five more years would take it into 2025 — covering the next two presidential terms and tying his successor’s hands on this important matter.
  • There has also been support from NGOs committed to arms reduction, such as the Arms Control Association, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and even from countries under the U.S. nuclear umbrella such as Japan
  • One does not know which, if any, of these arms control steps the President will decide to take. Presumably when the White House put out word of these proposed changes, it was not done merely to test the waters but with the serious intent of going ahead with at least some of them. That is worth doing even if the measures end up not surviving beyond the Obama presidency. Let the onus of repealing them lie with the incoming leadership. Meanwhile, even their brief existence will set a precedent, making it easier to introduce similar measures in the future

 

5. Casual Read: The mirror at the OlympicsNote: Look into the number of new entrants in Rio Olympics- countries and events and  issues like Zika outbreak and Gaunabara Bay pollution

 

Quick Bits and News from States

 

  1. Irom Sharmila to end fast today

After being on fast for nearly 16 years in protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, IromSharmila will end her hunger strike on August 9, 2016.

On Tuesday, she will inform the court about her decision and the court is likely to release her from judicial custody.

 

  1. Close Gulen’s institutions in India, demands Turkey

Turkey has officially asked India to act against the institutions affiliated to the network of Fethullah Gulen, the exiled Sufi leader it blames for the July 16 coup attempt. “Turkey has approached the Union Home Ministry and we are currently looking into the matter,” a senior diplomatic source confirmed.The official complaint against the Gulenist organisations in India is significant as it comes a week after Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, visited Pakistan and spoke in support of Pakistan’s position on Kashmir.

 

3. Sushma misled nation on 39 abducted Indians: Cong.The External Affairs Minister faced sharp criticism in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, with Congress MPs demanding to know the fate of 39 Indians kidnapped by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq in 2014.Most of them were from Punjab. Others were from West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh. She had said the government had six major sources who had informed that they are alive. Two years have passed without any information about them.

 

4. Lodha Committee RecommendationsAge cap of 70 on BCCI office-bearers, cooling off period, one State-one vote and ban on ministers and bureaucrats in BCCI.

 

5. 15-day I-Day fete begins todayPrime Minister Narendra Modi will start a 15-day programme to promote peace and social harmony in the country and celebrate 70 years of Independence.The programme, named Azadi 70, Yaad Karo Qurbani (Freedom 70, remember the sacrifices), will continue till August 23.August 9 has been chosen to mark the 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in the then Bombay in 1942.

 

6. Panagariya blames industry for employment crisisIndian entrepreneurs’ tendency to invest only in capital-intensive businesses or those requiring high-level skills is to blame for the employment crisis in the country, according to the Vice-Chairman, Niti Aayog. While Indian firms have succeeded in sectors such as automobiles, software, telecom, finance and engineering, investments in clothing, light manufacturing or food processing, where jobs could be aplenty for people with less or no skills, had been abysmal, he said.

 

7. Malaysia revokes 68 passports over ‘IS links’Malaysian authorities have revoked the passports of 68 citizens over their involvement in Islamic State (IS)’s activities abroad, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said, warning the threat from the dreaded terror outfit is real.The 68 Malaysians included two families which had travelled to Syria with the intention to fight for the IS, he said.

 

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • New START
  • Arya Samaj
  • DPSP
  • ILR Project

 

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. AryaSamaj was founded by Swami Dayananda
  2. He established”Vedic Schools” or “Gurukuls” which put an emphasis on Vedic values and culture

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

a) 1 Only

b) 2 Only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 2: Which of the following is/are included in Directive Principles of State Policy?
  1. Equal justice and Free Legal Aid
  2. Raising level of nutrition, standard of living and improvement of health
  3. Implementation of Uniform Civil code
  4. Protection and improvement of environment

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 2,3 and 4

d) All the above

 

Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are correct about the Mental Health Care Bill recently passed in Rajya Sabha?
  1. There is a provision for Advance Directive available to patients in the bill
  2. The bill decriminalizes suicide
  3. The bill provides for the establishment of central and state mental health authorities

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

(a) 1 Only

(b) 2 Only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 4: Which of the following is/are focus areas of the Millennium Development Goals?
  1. Poverty Elimination
  2. promoting gender equality
  3. promoting education
  4. promoting environmental sustainability

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 2,3 and 4

d) All the above

 

Question 5: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about New START which came into force in 2011?
  1. New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation
  2. Under terms of the treaty, the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half and a new inspection and verification regime will be established
  3. It does not limit the number of operationally inactive stockpiled nuclear warheads

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) All the above

 

Check Your Answers

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