Comprehensive News Analysis – 09 January 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Blood ties matter, not colour of passport, Modi tells global Indians

2. Diaspora will help improve ties, says Portuguese PM

C. GS3 Related:

1. Ginger species with medicinal properties found in Andamans

2. Army enthused by new indigenous artillery gun

3. India sees increase in tourist arrivals

4. BHIM app safer than mobile wallets, says e-security firm

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

The Hindu

1. The slowing economy

2. Unclogging the cities

Indian Express

1. Making GST work

Economic Times

1. MPs, step on the gas for road safety

Business Line

1. Make e-payments a habit

PIB

1. Address by Minister of State for External Affairs at the Inaugural Session of Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on Role of Diaspora Youth in the Transformation of India

2. Prime Minister of Portugal calls on President

3. Shri Piyush Goyal to Dedicate World’s Largest Street Light Replacement Programme to the Nation tomorrow

4. DRDO at 104th Indian Science Congress-2017 in Tirupati

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

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
1. Blood ties matter, not colour of passport, Modi tells global Indians

Category: International Relations  

Topic: Indian Diaspora

Key Points:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8th January, 2017 assured non-resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) of continued support from the Indian government.
  • He further added that the government did not look at the “colour of the passport but only the blood relationship”. 

Steps Taken:

  • In the past two years, the government had facilitated repatriation of nearly 90,000 Indians working in 54 countries and assisted 80,000 Indians who were caught in dangerous situations.
  • Further, the ecosystem of administrative organisation had been strengthened to address issues such as loss of passport and need for legal advice, medical emergency, shelter and transportation.

 

  1. Diaspora will help improve ties, says Portuguese PM

Category: International Relations

Topic: Indian Diaspora  

Key Points:

  • Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas said that the Indian diaspora, which is well integrated in Portugal and contributing to the nation’s development, is willing to help improve ties between the two countries.
  • Costa, traces his roots to Madgaon in Goa.
  • Costa went on to add that Portugal received everyone with open arms —whether they were coming to invest, work, study or to simply live there.

 

C. GS3 Related
1. Ginger species with medicinal properties found in Andamans 

Category: Science and Technology, Geography  

Topic: Developments, Natural Vegetation  

Key Points:

  • Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have found a new species of Zingiber (commonly referred as Ginger) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 
  • The species Zingiber pseudosquarrosum, which is new to science, belonging to genus Zingiber, was already used by the local Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups ( PVTGs) of the Andamans for its medicinal values.
  • After collecting and systematically analysing the species, scientists found that the new species indeed possesses ethno-medicinal uses.
  • Like other species of Gingers, this new species is edible and can be propagated vegetatively from the rhizome.

 

2. Army enthused by new indigenous artillery gun

Category: Science and Technology 

Topic: Developments

Key Points:

  • A heavy artillery gun, known as the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), is being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation, in collaboration with the private sector.
  • The Army has given its thumbs-up to this heavy artillery gun.
  • It is important to note that the Army and the DRDO had considerable differences on projects in the past. But this development, is a significant step in indigenization.
  • ATAGS is a 155-mm, 52-calibre towed artillery gun being developed in mission mode for the Army’s artillery modernisation programme.
  • The government had informed Parliament in November that the gun had several significant features.

These significant features include:

  • An all-electric drive, high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system
  • Automated command and control system.
  • A range of 45 km, depending on the type of ammunition used.
  • The gun has to go through a rigorous integration and testing cycle before large-scale induction.

 

  1. India sees increase in tourist arrivals

Category: Indian Economy, International Relations

Topic: Tourism

Key Points:

Some important statistics:

  • India registered an 11 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in 2016 (calendar year) over 2015,
  • As many as nine million tourists visited the country. \
  • This excludes visits by non-resident Indians.

‘Liberal visa regime’

  • It is important to note that India’s e-tourist visa is one of the most liberal visas.
  • 161 countries are being covered under the scheme.
  • India is also emerging as a popular destination for wedding tourism.

Plans to promote tourism in the country include, development of 13 theme-wise circuits, including spiritual, heritage, wildlife, Buddhist, Ramayana and Krishna.

These circuits are to be introduced in 12 to 18 months at a cost of Rs. 100 crore each.

 

  1. BHIM app safer than mobile wallets, says e-security firm

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • Saket Modi, CEO of Lucideus, one of the many firms involved in testing the  digital payment application BHIM said that the increasing adoption of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payment mechanism would spell doom for mobile wallets.
  • It is important to note that mobile wallets had seen a surge in their usage in the past two months owing to the cash crisis following the demonetisation of high-value currency on November 8.

A Technical Analysis:

  • BHIM has only two main features — send or ask for money and see your account balance or previous UPI transactions.
  • BHIM is only an abstraction layer on top on UPI.  BHIM uses three-factor authentication and hence, is relatively more secure from a consumer point of view. It also combines the convenience of a mobile wallet with the security of net banking.
  • It is important to note that when a user opens BHIM application for the first time, the application automatically binds itself to their device ID and phone number — both of which are unique.
  • This means that the same UPI cannot be used from two phones. The BHIM application will also not work on a phone which doesn’t have a SIM card.

 

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
1. The slowing economy

Category: Indian Economy    

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • India’s economic momentum has slowed down
  • Advance GDP estimates and gross value added (GVA) for the current fiscal year from the Central Statistics Office clearly reveal the extent of the slowdown. 
  • GDP growth is now pegged at 7.1 per cent
  • Mining and quarrying is estimated to shrink 1.8 per cent this year after expanding 7.4 per cent a year earlier, while electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services — collectively an indicator of broader economic activity — is slowing to 6.5 per cent from 6.6 per cent.
  • What is more worrying, is that the seven-month numbers establish that two key engines of the economy, manufacturing and services, are losing momentum faster than was anticipated.
  • In conclusion, it is important to note that if farmers countrywide can tide over the acute cash shortage resulting from demonetisation and ensure that the sowing translates to strong growth in output, we could see rural consumption provide some cushioning from the slowdown.
  • Nonetheless, in the Union budget due next month, the Centre will have to work in a substantial fiscal fillip to help rekindle economic momentum.

 

2. Unclogging the cities

Category: Indian Economy   

Topic: Infrastructure, Transport, Planning

Key Points:

  • It is important to note that urban design in India is the preserve of State governments and local bodies, which have failed to provide a safe, comfortable and accessible experience for walkers.
  • There has been a recently launched pilot project in the national capital, i.e. to make New Delhi’s iconic Connaught Place a pedestrian zone from February, and keep out cars and other vehicles from its middle and inner circle roads. This will be observed over a three-month trial.
  • Thus, this pilot project is being looked upon as a refreshing change, and appears to have taken a leaf out of the book of global cities that have pedestrianised their landmarks.

 

International Experience

  • There were apprehensions that such restrictions would affect commercial activity. But, the international experience suggests the opposite.
  • Some of the positives are as below:
    a)  better walking and public transport infrastructure
    b) better availability of food plazas which attract more people
    c) an improved local economy.  
  • For example, in America, pedestrian injuries decreased after vehicles were removed from Times Square.


The Way Forward

  • Keeping powered vehicles out of core areas, expanding pavements for pedestrians and facilitating the use of bicycles is today a high-priority goal for mayors and urban governments the world over.
  • Under India’s ongoing smart cities programme, it has been suggested that many cities may find it rewarding to levy a stiff congestion charge on personal vehicles entering designated areas.
  • Further, it should be mandated by law that all the proceeds would go towards funding walking, bicycling and emissions-free public transport infrastructure.
  • In conclusion, it is important to note that while cars will continue to remain relevant for longer-distance travel, dense urban areas need relief from excessive motorisation.
  • Union Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu has favoured people-centric ideas for Connaught Place- these also include aesthetic features such as water fountains and areas for relaxation.
  • It must be remembered that these are not expensive to put in, and State governments must extend the template to all cities and towns.

 

Indian Express

1. Making GST work

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy, Taxation  

Key Points:

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitleysaid last week that the government and states were racing against time to meet the proposed April 1 deadline for the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • At the last meeting of the GST Council, a binding solution to contentious issues such as dual control on tax administration and cross empowerment and the issue of powers to levy taxes in territorial waters proved to be elusive. 
  • In the absence of a consensus on these, it is virtually impossible to implement the law.
  • The states’s have laid claim for administrative control over taxpayers with a turnover of below Rs 1.5 crore.  
  • The industry has also pointed out that they will have to deal with dual authorities or agencies for firms and businesses that have inter-state transactions and linkages.
  • For example, banks have indicated they may have to create profit and loss accounts state-wise in a regime of dual control. States have argued that their concerns are legitimate from a revenue perspective.
  • Further, it must be noted that the states’s claim for administrative control over taxpayers with a turnover of below Rs 1.5 crore may not be entirely unreasonable, considering that the tax administration of states may be better equipped to levy and collect taxes from this segment.

 

Economic Times

1. MPs, step on the gas for road safety

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy, Transportation   

Key Points:

  • Under the Brasilia Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals, India has committed to halve the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.
  • Unfortunately, progress on the ground is negligible.
  • Reducing road fatalities will require drastic action and concerted efforts. Every hour, there are 53 road accidents, killing 17, 10.5 per cent of whom are children.

The Way Forward

  • The need of the hour is a sustained and enhanced public awareness and enforcement of laws.
  • Improving post-crash response will help reduce fatalities.
  • The amendments to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill address many of these issues.
  • Urban development authorities must work with those in road safety to achieve town design that prevents a mistake on the road from becoming a death sentence.


Business Line

  1. Make e-payments a habit

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Money and Banking     

Key Points:

  • As a result of demonetisation and restrictions on cash withdrawals, the number of digital transfers jumped 43 per cent in December 2016 from November 2016.
  • Now, while the increase in digital payments in a welcome development, it is difficult to judge whether such modes of payment will become a habit.
  • There has been a rise in use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • The usage of debit and credit cards at point of sale (POS) machines, too, climbed: the number of transactions rose to 31.10 crore in December 2016, up from 20.55 crore in November 2016.
  • The Government is euphoric about the nearly 5 million downloads of the BHIM app launched on December 30.
  • Although, these do not necessarily translate into usage, digital payments need to be made a habit with newer incentives and cash payments disincentivised.

 

PIB

  1. Address by Minister of State for External Affairs at the Inaugural Session of Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on Role of Diaspora Youth in the Transformation of India

Category: International Relations

Topic: Indian Diaspora

Key Points:

Note to aspirants:
Many of the points from this speech can be used while writing answers and essays on topics concerning the Indian diaspora.

Excerpts from the speech:

  • Whether you are looking for adventure tourism, or affordable quality education, or tech start-ups or even a market for novel utility products, India offers limitless opportunities.
  • For example, Bengaluru alone is home to many educational and research institutions such. It is also home to several active tech startups. Similar facilities and opportunities exist in towns and cities across the country.
  • The Know India Programme, is a scheme aimed to give a flavour of India and provide a platform for interaction with policy makers; industry and civil society.
  • The Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children enables Diaspora youth to pursue Undergraduate courses in Indian Universities and Institutes.
  • This programme has recently been revamped and extended from 44 to 66 countries; and the number of scholarships has also been increased.
  • A portal has been set up to enable online application and processing.
  • Bharat Ko Janiye (Know India) Quiz programme which Prime Minister launched for young overseas Indians in the last PBD in 2015 in Gandhinagar was another initiative which received tremendous response.
  • The winners received medals from PM during the inauguration of Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra on Gandhiji’s birthday, October 2 this year.
  • The 2015 Youth PBD was about 3Cs, Connect- to connect the Indian Diasporas to their motherland; Celebrate- to celebrate the pride in the history and civilization heritage of India and; Contribute- participation in transforming India.
  • Youth PBD 2017, is about 4 Ts through which you can transform your lives as well as that of India. These are:

A)Talent
B)Technology
C)Training
D) Teamwork

The first T: Talent

By 2020, the average age in India will be 29 making it the world’s youngest country with 64% of the population in the working age group. The Prime Minister’s vision will make India the skill capital of the world by 2022. Whatever your chosen field of endeavour, you will encounter many Indians in your peer group. If you have the relevant talent, relevant skill-set and are willing to partner with us, there is a world of opportunity for you. Cross-fertilization of ideas can also bring rich rewards to your host country.

Sharpening of talents or skills requires infrastructure that we can build together as partners. Skilling is not a zero-sum-game. An increase in competence levels and range of skills in India would contribute to greater employment opportunities both within India and elsewhere, thanks to linkage and multiplier effects. 

 

The second T: Technology

Indian achievements in the field of Science and Technology need no reiteration: From super computer to indigenous space programme; Mars Mission to Chandrayaan; Antarctic mission to oceanographic research, there are several stellar examples. We have always believed in Technology with a human face. 

Knowledge-based economies know no boundaries. Today, the world is already a digital village. With technology, we can transform lives at the touch of a button.

From the use of networking platforms to stay connected; or social media to disseminate information; creation of technology partnerships, there are a zillion ways in which you can transform lives through technology.

 

The third T: Training

In an age of rapid technological transformation, learning is not a one-time process with a fixed beginning and end, but a continuous flow of constantly learning, unlearning and relearning.

We consider this as a two-way process. Knowledge multiplies when shared.

Training could also take the shape of internships; volunteering or even philanthropy. 

Living far from home as students is challenging. We must make it easier for students to focus on excellence– whether they are Indian students abroad, or NRI students or other foreign students in India. To help us understand the related issues and possible solutions, the Youth PBD 2017 includes plenary sessions on issues faced by Indian students abroad and NRI and PIO students in India.

 

And finally, T: Teamwork

Global good cannot be achieved by any single country alone. Also, the challenges that we face in the world today are too complicated to be addressed by any single country. We need to realize this and stand together. We need to strengthen the bridges that connect us and create new ones. 

We have launched a number of flagship programmes to achieve our developmental objectives. Our dream is of a prosperous, skilful, enterprising, clean and futuristic India. The Smart Cities Mission; the Digital India; the Skill India; the Start Up India; the Swacch Bharat Campaign are all part of our efforts to realize that dream. We also look at our friends and partner countries to realize that dream. Our challenges also offer opportunities for you to be part of India’s growth story through which you will also realize your dreams. 

 

  1. Prime Minister of Portugal calls on President

Category: International Relations  

Topic: Bilateral Agreements

Key Points:

  • His Excellency Mr. Antonio Costa, the Prime Minister of the Portuguese Republic called on President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 7, 2017.

India- Portugal Historical ties

  • Welcoming the Portuguese Prime Minister to India, the President said India attaches great value to its historical bonds with Portugal spanning over 500 years.  
  • India and Portugal share core values of democracy, pluralism, multiculturalism and rule of law.  
  • The two countries built on many commonalities and have developed a broad programme of mutually beneficial co-operation.

Background of Visit  

  • The President said Prime Minister Antonio’s visit takes place at a time when relations between India and Portugal are in an excellent state.
  • In trade and investment, scientific research, education, culture and security, our success is substantial.  
  • There is much promise and potential for building on our friendship and strengthening our 21st century partnership.  Both the countries seek to strengthen their collaboration in areas where they have synergies including defence, maritime cooperation and oceanography and partnerships in third countries.  
  • Trade and investment ties between India and Portugal have much scope for improvement. Bilateral trade is of the order of USD 700 million.  
  • It needs to be energised and the trade basket diversified. The President also praised the 70,000 strong Indian Diaspora in Portugal for playing an important role in strengthening India-Portugal relations.
  • The Portuguese Prime Minister reciprocated the President’s sentiments and said he was honoured to pay a state visit to India as the first Portuguese Prime Minister of Indian origin.  
  • He said the two countries share history and common values.  
  • There is need to strengthen and modernize the United Nations. Therefore, Portugal supports the inclusion of countries like India in the UN Security Council.  
  • Only a strong UN can deal with challenges like terrorism, climate change etc.  
  • He said there is need to do much more than has been done in the past as far as bilateral relations concerned.  Portugal is keen to strengthen relations with India. 

 

  1. Shri Piyush Goyal to Dedicate World’s Largest Street Light Replacement Programme to the Nation tomorrow

Category: Indian Economy  

Topic: Government Initiatives, Infrastructure  

Key Points:

  • Union Minister of Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal will dedicate the Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), currently running in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) area, to the Nation in New Delhi on 9th January, 2017. It is the World’s Largest Street Light Replacement Programme, which is being implemented by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture under the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
  • The SLNP programme is presently running in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. A total of 15.36 lakh street lights have already been replaced in the country with LED bulbs, which is resulting in energy savings of 20.35 crore kWh, avoiding capacity of 50.71 MW and reducing 1.68 lakh tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum. The energy efficiency market in India is estimated at US$ 12 billion that can potentially result in energy savings of up to 20 per cent of current consumption, by way of innovative business and implementation models.

 

  1. DRDO at 104th Indian Science Congress-2017 in Tirupati

Category: Science and Technology

Topic: Developments

Key Points:

  • The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is participating in “Pride of India-Science Expo-2017” being held from 3-7 January at the Sri Venkateswara University Campus, Tirupati.
  • The five-day event has been organized as part of 104th Indian Science Congress (ISC-2017) inaugurated by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

 

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI)


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016 


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following are the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals?
  1. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  2. End 40% poverty in all its forms everywhere
  3. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

a) 1, 2

b) 1, 3

c) 2, 3

d) All of the above

Question 2: Sustainable Development Goals and targets are to be achieved by- 

a) 2020

b) 2025

c) 2050

d) 2030

Question 3: The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), is being developed by which of the following organizations,

a) Defence Research and Development Organisation

b) Department of Scientific and Industrial Research

c) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

d) National Aerospace Laboratories

Question 4: Consider the following statements,
  1. Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have recently found a new species of Zingiber (commonly referred as Ginger) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  2. The species Zingiber pseudosquarrosum, which is new to science, belonging to genus Zingiber, was already used by the local Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups ( PVTGs) of the Andamans for its medicinal values.
  3. Unlike other species of Gingers, this new species is inedible and can’t be propagated vegetatively from the rhizome.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a) 1 and 3 only

b) 1 and 2 only

c) 2 and 3 Only

d) All, 1, 2 and 3

Question 5: Consider the following statements,
  1. The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) will enable money transfers – both ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ through smart phones.
  2. UPI allows a customer to pay directly from a bank account to different merchants, both online and offline, without the hassle of typing credit card details, IFSC code, or net banking/wallet passwords.

Which of the following 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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