Comprehensive News Analysis – 10 October 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Janani Suraksha Yojana pays dividends

2. Centre to invite bids for the implementation of National waterways project

3. Coalition to investigate Yemen attack

C. GS3 Related:

1. Indian researcher produces stable solar cells

2. Treaty hurdle no bar for U.S. investments

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

The Hindu

1. The ground beneath our feet

2. Leading the divided nations

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

Nothing here today folks!

B. GS2 Related
  1. Janani Suraksha Yojana pays dividends

Category: National programs and policies

Topic: Janani Suraksha Yojana

Key Points:

  • A new study brings in first conclusive evidence of the role played by Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) in reducing socioeconomic disparities existing in maternal care.

The program was launched in 2005 as part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to improve maternal and neonatal health by promotion of institutional deliveries (childbirth in hospitals).

  • According to a working paper by National centre for applied economic research – NCAER and University of Maryland, JSY has led to an enhancement in the utilisation of health services among all groups especially among the poorer and underserved sections in the rural areas, thereby reducing the prevalent disparities in maternal care.

Though the previous studies had shown the impact of JSY in reducing maternal mortality, it was not known if it had reduced socioeconomic inequalities – differences in access to maternal care between individual people of higher or lower socioeconomic status. The study found that after the implementation of the JSY, there was generally a narrowing of the gap between the less educated and more educated women and between the poorer and richer women.

  • The study was conducted using data from two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) conducted in 2004-05 and 2011-12. The IHDS data serves two advantages in this case –

First, round 1 of IHDS was conducted in 2004-05 when the JSY was not in place and round two was conducted six years after the launch, providing a before-after scenario for comparison. Secondly, the IHDS is a longitudinal data set same households were interviewed in both rounds, which allows to examine changes in maternal care patterns.

  • Three key services of maternal care were used for the analysis: full antenatal care (full ANC), safe delivery, and postnatal care.

There were three major findingsFirst, the increase in utilisation of all three maternal healthcare services between the two rounds was remarkably higher among illiterate or less educated and poor women. Secondly, the usage of all three maternal healthcare services by the OBC, Dalit, Adivasis and Muslim women increased between the surveys. It was found in the survey that women in their early twenties were more likely to avail of each of the three maternal health care services as compared to their older women. Also, the incidence of women availing maternal healthcare services decreases with the increase in the number of children they have delivered.

Note – High incidence of maternal mortality continue to plague India. As per the latest Lancet series on maternal health, India accounted for 15 per cent of the total maternal deaths in the world in 2015, second only to Nigeria with 45,000 women dying during pregnancy or childbirth.

 

2. Centre to invite bids for the implementation of National waterways project

Category: National programs and policies

Topic: National waterways

Key Points:

  • The government said it will augment the process of development for 36 waterways in the first phase and soon float tenders to invite bids for the project to get its ambitious National waterways project under way. The centre plans to develop these in a major way in the first phase as India has huge potential in this so-far-untapped segment despite being endowed with rivers that could change the economy.

The Union minister of Transport said the environment-friendly and cost-effective mode of transportation will reduce the logistics costs significantly from as high as 18 per cent in India.

  • Note – In 2016, Parliament had enacted a legislation allowing 106 rivers across the country to be converted into National Waterways (NWs) in addition to the existing 5 such NWs in a bid to boost movement of goods and passengers via rivers and reducing transportation costs substantially.

 

World’s diamond city can guide India’s waterways –

  • Belgium’s Port of Antwerp could well be India’s lighthouse. In its bid to drastically cut logistics costs, India is planning to pump in billions of dollars to make its dry river beds navigable and develop over 2,000 river ports across 111 national waterways spanning 20,000 km. And, it could take away a few lessons on generating cargo close to its proposed riverine ports from its European counterpart.

The Port of Antwerp, a river port set up over 500 years ago, and Europe’s second largest port behind Rotterdam, attracts some of the biggest vessels to its 86 terminals located 80 km inland, away from the North Sea, as it has emerged as one of Europe’s major transshipment hubs feeding cargo to large parts of Europe through water, rail and roadways.


  1. Coalition to investigate Yemen attack

Category: International issues

Topic: Yemen

Key Points:

  • The Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen said it will investigate an air raid that killed more than 140 people at a funeral, after U.S. announced it was reviewing support for the alliance. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels blamed the coalition for attack, one of the deadliest since it launched a military campaign against the Shiite insurgents in March 2015.

The attack could further sour U.S.-Saudi ties already strained over the coalition’s military intervention which is suspected of causing almost half of the more than 4,000 civilian deaths in Yemen’s conflict.

Note – It also risks embarrassing U.S. which has vehemently criticised Russia over the heavy civilian death toll from Russian air raids in support of Syria’s regime in Aleppo city.

 

C. GS3 Related
  1. Indian researcher produces stable solar cells

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Solar energy

Key Points:

  • In a first of its kind, a researcher from Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) has successfully produced a stable, high-efficiency, all-inorganic perovskite nanocrystal solar cells. The new material has 10.77% efficiency to convert sunlight to electricity.
  • Traditional research has been around a hybrid organic-inorganic halide perovskite material. Though the hybrid material has high efficiency of over 22%, the organic component in it is volatile and becomes completely unstable under ambient conditions within a short span of time. This renders the material unsuitable for commercial photovoltaic applications.

The researchers assembled the nanocrystals as a thin film. The thin film was used for making both solar cells and red LEDs. Solar cells made using the nanocrystal thin film has 10.77 per cent efficiency to convert sunlight to electricity and produce a high voltage of 1.23 volts.

 

  1. Treaty hurdle no bar for U.S. investments

Category: Economy

Topic: Investments

Key Points:

  • S. companies are finding novel ways to address investment protection and dispute-related issues with their Indian counterparts as talks remain in a limbo over a proposed Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). For instance, the Gujarat International Finance Tech-City (GIFT City) – India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) has offered American investors the option of using the Singapore arbitration model to solve disputes. The example of U.S. and China was quoted where a robust bilateral Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow between the two countries has happened so far without a BIT.

U.S. investors are also signing up with Indian firms to use London and Brussels as seats of arbitration. So, the absence of an India-US BIT is not an issue from an investor’s perspective.

  • According to the US – India Business Council (USBIC), a premier advocacy body to boost bilateral economic and commercial ties, the BIT is no showstopper for the flow of funds between the two nations. The BIT is aimed at promoting and protecting two-way direct investments.

 

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


  1. The ground beneath our feet
  • India needs a different approach to grow its economy and must remove bottlenecks so that foreign investors can operate in the country just as its own corporates expand their global footprint, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during his India visit last week.

His remarks may appear out of sync with the official discourse on India’s recent economic performance, especially the liberalisation of foreign direct investment and record inflows clocked since the Modi government was sworn in. Mr. Lee’s concerns, however, don’t stem from FDI policy per se, but two intertwined reform showpieces of the NDA one abandoned after hot pursuit in its first year and another that remains a work in progress.

  • These are amendments to the land acquisition law and improvements in the ease of doing business, respectively. Indian officials told business leaders accompanying the Singapore Prime Minister that they are free to invest in India if they can, on their own, acquire the land to set up shop on. As Mr. Lee pointed out, that makes investing in India virtually impossible industrial parks that Singapore had proposed in the past remain non-starters. The Centre may not be used to such public plain-speaking, even from Western leaders with longer reform wish lists, but it must take the Prime Minister’s cue for introspection and course correction.
  • Modernising India’s land laws was high on the government’s agenda in 2014-15; an ordinance was promulgated thrice to effect necessary changes till Parliament could pass a law. Global investors were assured that land acquired under the ordinance would be safe from any subsequent changes to the law. But the Centre wilted in the face of Opposition resistance. A model land-leasing law formulated by the Niti Aayog was mooted for States to adopt instead, but a billion-dollar plant is unlikely to come up on leased foundations. Since then, a proposed nuclear plant has moved out from Gujarat owing to land acquisition problems, India’s largest FDI proposal from South Korea’s Posco is all but off, and job creation has hit a five-year low.

India moved up 12 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index last year and may rise further. But the index is only based on speed of paperwork in Mumbai and Delhi, where there is little space for big new industries; such rankings don’t directly translate into more FDI. The Prime Minister has set a target for India to reach the top 50 ranks in the index, but getting a construction permit online is no good if large tracts of land cannot be provided job-creating investment. If the idea to bury the land reform was to secure farmers’ votes and, in the process, alternative jobs are not created for the young and those who want to move out of agriculture, castles in the air are all that will be built.

 

2. Leading the divided nations

  • The United Nations Security Council’s broad consensus in nominating António Guterres for the post of Secretary-General is an auspicious start to what could be a more assertive UN in wrestling with the many crises of the world. 13 of the 15 members of the Council, including the five veto-wielding permanent members, sent the name of the former Portugal Prime Minister to the General Assembly for final approval.

If the Assembly passes his nomination, then as the UN’s ninth Secretary-General Mr. Guterres will have to expediently attend to a number of pressing issues, including the worsening international refugee crisis and the scourge of terrorism, both in part linked to the debilitating Syrian war. His experience as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees will come in handy as he goes about negotiating to find shelter for and rehabilitate refugees from Syria, who at last count numbered well above four million worldwide. At the UNHCR, Mr. Guterres is said to have focussed on organisational reform and innovation by taking funding out of the headquarters and pushing more money out to the field. It is clear that he is passionate about the cause of refugees; he has frequently appealed to the international community over the migrant crisis and has vowed to continue being their spokesman.

  • An equally challenging agenda point facing Mr. Guterres is to find creative ways to bridge the chasm between Western powers on the one hand and Russia and China on the other. Ironically, owing to his very commitment to address the refugee crises, he may be considered an activist. This could be a recipe for stasis, if not disaster, in any campaign to broker a peace deal in Syria. Mr. Guterres can ill afford such obstructionism.

As an institution, the UN is frequently accused of being bloated and bureaucratic, and has come under fire over allegations of sexual abuse by its peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. Although he has a reputation for being an instinctive strategist, Mr. Guterres will have to hand-pick a capable team of advisers. But has he already struck bargains with China or Russia over who will get some key political posts? Will he stay true to his promise, made earlier, to ensure that the higher echelons of the UN have 50 per cent women employees? That goal, set 20 years ago by the UN, is far from being met. In fact, Mr. Guterres’ own candidacy came as a disappointment for some, given that there were no fewer than seven women in the race and not one of them even came close to winning.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana
  • National waterways project
  • UN Secretary-General
  • Solar energy
  • Yemen crisis
  • Bilateral investment treaty
  • Foreign Direct investment



H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements about the ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana’-
  1. It aims to promote institutional deliveries
  2. It provides monetary assistance to the mother to meet the cost of delivery
  3. It avails services of Direct benefits transfer

Which of the statements given above is /are correct?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 only

c) 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3


Question 2: Former Portugal Prime Minister - Antonio Guterres has been proposed to be appointed as

a) UN Secretary General

b) UN High Commissioner for Refugees

c) Director general of WTO

d) None of these


Question 3: India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) is in -

a) New Delhi

b) Noida

c) Maharashtra

d) Gujarat


Question 4: Consider the following statements about Bilateral Investment Treaty –
  1. It aims at promoting and protecting two-way direct investments.
  2. India and U.S. recently signed it

Which of the statements given above is /are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1&2

d) neither 1 nor 2


Question 5: Sometimes ‘Operation Rahat’ appears in news. It is:

a) Indian Navy’s rescue operation to evacuate civilians stuck in strife-torn Yemen in 2015

b) NATO’s Mission to end Arab Spring in middle-east

c) International Security assistance mission in terror hit countries

d) None


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