Comprehensive News Analysis – 09 February 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Trump-backed Bill seeks to cut legal immigrants by half

C. GS3 Related:

1. Digital payment costs are a hindrance: TRAI

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

The Hindu

1. Growing insecurity in Afghanistan

2. Getting back home, safely

Economic Times

1. Oil spills call for legal, technical fix

PIB

1. Shri Piyush Goyal to launch TAMRA Portal and Mobile Application to ensure transparent award of Statutory Clearances for Mining Operations

2. Cabinet approves ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ for covering 6 crore rural households

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. Trump-backed Bill seeks to cut legal immigrants by half

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

Key Points:

  • In a recent development, two top U.S. Senators have proposed legislation to cut the number of legal immigrants to the U.S. by half within a decade.
  • It is believed that this move could adversely hit those aspiring to get a green card or permanent residency in the U.S., including a large number of Indians.
  • The legislation is called the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment, or Raise Act.
  • This was introduced by Republican Senator Tom Cotton and David Perdue from the Republican party.

 

C. GS3 Related
1. Digital payment costs are a hindrance: TRAI

Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Money and Banking

Key Points:

  • The chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has recently said that the surge in digital payments in the country, driven largely by short-term incentives, will become sustainable if the costs of making such payments are addressed.
  • The TRAI chief has said that “Digital financial transactions are not sustainable unless you address the issues of cost, convenience and confidence.”

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

 
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
1. Growing insecurity in Afghanistan

Category: International Relations
Topic: India and its Neighbourhood- Relations

Key Points:

  • Kabul’s anti-terror strategy has hardly been effective.
  • Insurgents have made inroads in the recent years.
  • After most foreign troops withdrew in 2014, the Taliban have steadily stepped up attacks, expanding the civil war into residential areas.
  • According to a UN report, 2016 was the bloodiest year for Afghan civilians since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2001.
  • The Taliban’s territorial control has grown in strength.

Concluding Remarks

  • For Afghanistan, the threat is multiplying.
  • The Islamic State has established some presence in the country and declared a “province” of the ‘Caliphate’ in eastern Afghanistan — Wilayat Khorasan.
  • It has been suggested that to turn its fortunes around in the 15-year-old civil war, Afghanistan needs to strengthen the administration.
  • Mr. Ghani should initiate the administrative reforms he had promised and put up a stronger, united fight against terrorist groups.
  • Kabul should seek more help and a higher level of commitment from other countries, including the U.S., in combating terror.
  • A weakening of the civilian government and its capacity to ensure security is not in the interest of any global power.
2. Getting back home, safely

Category: International Relations, Disaster Management
Topic: Indian Diaspora, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

Key Points:

  • In 2015, the Indian government successfully conducted Operation Raahat to evacuate almost 5,000 Indians and nearly 1,000 citizens from 41 other countries.
  • In this operation, besides Air India aircraft, the Indian Navy deployed vessels, and the Indian Air Force C-17 Globemasters for strategic airlift.
  • Such unprecedented efforts and resources reflect New Delhi’s new drive to protect the lives and assets of its citizens abroad in times of crisis.

Changing Dynamics

  • In India, the increasing size and complexity of the diaspora requires the government to expand capacity and improve procedures.
  • More than 11 million Indians now reside abroad and 20 million travel internationally every year.
  • It is important to note that as political instability rattles the West Asian region, which hosts more than seven million Indians, the government can no longer rely on heroic efforts by individual officials or quick-fix solutions.

The Way Forward- Suggested Reforms

  • It has been suggested that the Government build on its rich experience in conducting more than 30 evacuation operations since the 1950’s, and that by supporting policy-oriented research at universities and think tanks to document the memory of senior officials, the government would also facilitate the transmission of their expertise to younger officials.
  • It has also been suggested that an inter-ministerial committee should prepare a manual with guidelines that establish a clear chain of command and division of competencies; identify regional support bases, assembly points and routes for evacuation; develop country-specific warden systems to communicate with expatriates; and establish evacuation priority and embarkation criteria.
  • Further, India’s diplomatic cadre must be given specific training to operate in hostile environments.
  • In order to achieve this objective, the government could instruct the police or army to train Indian Foreign Service probationers to operate in war zones; conduct frequent evacuation simulations and emergency drills; and create rapid reaction teams of Indian security personnel to be deployed to protect diplomatic staff and installations abroad.
  • It has also been suggested that India will have to invest in cooperative frameworks that facilitate coordination among countries that have large expatriate populations in West Asia, in particular Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and among leading powers with evacuation capacity in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Further, it has been suggested that the government will have to assign a greater role to its armed forces. It has been suggested for example, that the Government direct the military to develop a non-combatant evacuation (NEO) doctrine, designate the Integrated Defence Staff as the nodal organisation to improve inter-services and civil-military coordination, direct the services to conduct more multilateral NEO exercises, and adapt military modernisation plans to increase capacity for out-of-area deployment and evacuation.
  • Further, to avoid cost inflation and delays, the government must establish a permanent civil reserve air fleet that pools aircraft from all Indian airlines based on pre-established requisition and reimbursement procedures.
  • It has also been suggested that the government will have to invest in new technologies to better monitor the diaspora’s profile and mobility.
  • In conclusion, it has been suggested that the government must expand efforts to manage public opinion and be able to conduct a quiet diplomacy that is crucial to safely extricate Overseas Indians from conflict zones.

 

Economic Times

1. Oil spills call for legal, technical fix

Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • The recent oil spill off the Chennai coast has exposed the lack of preparedness and accountability on the part of Indian agencies.
  • In fact, the slow and ineffective response also reveals a lack of appreciation of the environmental and public health fallout of accidents/incidents of this nature and of organisational preparedness.

Government Intervention:

  • It is important to note that since the mid-1990s, India has a National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan.
  • The plan is clear in setting out the responsibilities of the Coast Guard, state and central governments and local authorities.
  • The Coast Guard is the nodal agency for the security of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone, including of the coastal environment.
  • It not enough to have a contingency plan, the Coast Guard needs to have the competence to respond to devastating emergencies such as oil spills.

The Way Forward:

  • The focus needs to be on monitoring movement, augmenting information collection, proper training and ensuring that the Coast Guard is well-equipped to handle such situations.
  • To this end, the Coast Guard must be supported through appropriate statutory backing and proper funding.
  • The Coast Guard is the nodal agency for the security of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone, including of the coastal environment.
  • Parliament must pass the amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act to ensure compliance to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001.

 

PIB

1. Shri Piyush Goyal to launch TAMRA Portal and Mobile Application to ensure transparent award of Statutory Clearances for Mining Operations

Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • With an objective to enhance transparency and accountability as a part of the Ease of Doing Business in the Mining sector, Shri Piyush Goyal will launch TAMRA (Transparency, Auction Monitoring and Resource Augmentation) portal and Mobile Application.
  • The Ministry of Mines has developed the TAMRA Portal and Mobile Application which is a step to speed up mining activity in India and facilitate all the stakeholders to track the status of the statutory clearances associated with mining blocks for getting mines to reach till operationalisation for the same.
  • TAMRA will be an interactive platform for all the stakeholders to compress the timelines for statutory and other clearances as it would help minimize the gestation period for commencing production.
  • TAMRA covers block-wise, state-wise and mineral-wise information of the blocks to be auctioned, monitors various statutory clearances, and also highlights the additional resources generated through e-Auction.
  • In case of delay in obtaining any clearances, TAMRA will send triggers to the concerned authority so that the remedial steps can be taken immediately by those responsible.
  • The Ministry of Mines will also receive triggers generated by TAMRA and will facilitate in expediting clearances. This portal also enables successful bidder to give suggestions/inputs.

 

  1. Cabinet approves ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ for covering 6 crore rural households

Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ (PMGDISHA) to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate. The outlay for this project is Rs.2,351.38 crore to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March,.2019. This is in line with the announcement made by Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2016-17.
  • PMGDISHA is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world. Under the scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; 275 lakh in the FY 2017-18; and 300 lakh in the FY 2018-19. To ensure equitable geographical reach, each of the 250,000 Gram Panchayats would be expected to register an average of 200-300 candidates.
  • Digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers/digital access devices (like tablets, smart phones, etc.), send and receive emails, browse internet, access Government Services, search for information, undertaking cashless transactions, etc. and hence use IT to actively participate in the process of nation building.
  • The implementation of the Scheme would be carried out under the overall supervision of Ministry of Electronics and IT in active collaboration with States/UTs through their designated State Implementing Agencies, District e-Governance Society (DeGS), etc.

Background:

  • As per the 71st NSSO Survey on Education 2014, only 6% of rural households have a computer. This highlights that more than 15 crore rural households (@ 94% of 16.85 crore households) do not have computers and a significant number of these households are likely to be digitally illiterate. The PMGDISHA being initiated under Digital India Programme would cover 6 crore households in rural areas to make them digitally literate. This would empower the citizens by providing them access to information, knowledge and skills for operating computers / digital access devices.
  • As the thrust of the Government is on cashless transactions through mobile phones, the course content would also have emphasis on Digital Wallets, Mobile Banking, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), etc.
 
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
  • ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’
  • TAMRA (Transparency, Auction Monitoring and Resource Augmentation) portal and Mobile Application
 
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
India Innovation Index: A joint initiative of NITI Aayog, DIPP and CII Links to Refer
India Innovation Index: A joint initiative of NITI Aayog, DIPP and CII http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=157941
 
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements:
  1. The Coast Guard is the nodal agency for the security of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone, including of the coastal environment.
  2. At the apex level the National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS), headed by the Cabinet Secretary, coordinates all matters related to Maritime and Coastal Security. 

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: “Operation Raahat” was in the news. What is it?
  1. An HADR operation undertaken by Government of India
  2. A joint military exercise
  3. A scientific research initiative
  4. A poverty alleviation measure
Question 3: Consider the following statements:
  1. ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ (PMGDISHA) is a digital literacy programme.
  2. The implementation of the Scheme would be carried out under the overall supervision of Ministry of Electronics and IT in active collaboration with States/UTs through their designated State Implementing Agencies, District e-Governance Society (DeGS), etc.

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

Question 4: Consider the following statements:
  1. Bioremediation consists of using naturally occurring or laboratory cultivated micro-organisms to reduce or eliminate toxic pollutants.
  2. Using bioremediation techniques, TERI has developed a mixture of bacteria called ‘oilzapper’ which degrades the pollutants of oil-contaminated sites, leaving behind no harmful residues. This technique is not only environment friendly, but also highly cost-effective.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) Middle East b) South East Asia c) Latin America d) Scandinavia

Question 5: Consider the following statements:
  1. According to Article 320 of the Indian Constitution, it shall be the duty of the Union and the State Public Service Commission to conduct examinations for appointments to the services of the Union and the services of the State respectively.
  2. Article 262 of the Constitution of India, relates to adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter State rivers or river valleys.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

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