Table of Contents:
A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:
C. GS3 Related:
D. GS4 Related
Useful News Articles
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here today folks!
B. GS2 Related
Topic: Gender Issues
- Women lawmakers on Thursday sought paternity leave norms to enable fathers to be active in childcare as the Rajya Sabha passed a Bill doubling the maternity leave for women
- The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill allows 26 weeks maternity leave as against 12 weeks now
|What the Bill gives you:|
|12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘Adopting mother’|
|Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children|
|Facilitate ‘Work from home’ if such a provision is provided by the Employer|
|Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees|
|The amendments are believed to help approximately 1.8 million women workforce in organised sector|
- the Supreme Court has observed that Union Territories, though Centrally administered, enjoy an independent identity
- “The administration of Union Territories is by the Central government but that does not mean the Union Territories become merged with the Central government. They are centrally administered but retain their independent entity,” the court observed
- The apex court was interpreting Section 119 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, which exempts properties of the Union from taxation
Topic: Digital India
- About Rs.10,000 crore will be spent in the current financial year from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to execute various digital infrastructure projects to boost connectivity in rural areas, a senior telecom ministry official said
- The USO Fund is maintained by the government. Under the New Telecom Policy, a provision was made to raise money for this fund through a ‘Universal Access Levy’, charged from operators as a percentage of various licenses fees being paid by them
- The Opposition parties want the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Union Home Minister in July, sent to a Standing Committee of Parliament. They say the amendments seek to give the granting of citizenship a religious twist
- The original Act, passed in 1955, lists the ways to acquire citizenship, denying it to undocumented migrants. The amendments now seek to allow citizenship to undocumented migrants of all faiths barring Islam from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh
- Now members of every major religious community barring Islam coming into India without legal passports or staying on without valid papers will be entitled to Indian citizenship after six years of residence in India
- However, defending the amendments, a senior Minister said, “The principle is victimhood. How can a Muslim claim he has been victimised in these countries?” But what if a Muslim is victimised? The answer is, “He can always seek asylum in India.”
C. GS3 Related
Topic: Indo-Pak Border
- The National Investigation Agency has alerted the Army after alleged Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Bahadur Ali revealed that his handlers showed him a video of a pre-decided infiltration route, highlighting the landmarks on the Indian side
- Before they were to cross the barbed-wire fencing, Ai said, their guide assured them that Pakistani Army men were keeping a close watch on the activities of Indian forces and that the route was “clean.” Ali and the other two crossed two fences that were damaged in the heavy snowfall last winter, on June 11 and 12
Category: Science and Technology
- NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has discovered steep-sided canyons, hundreds of meters deep, on Saturn’s moon Titan that are flooded with liquid hydrocarbons
- The finding represents the first direct evidence of the presence of liquid-filled channels on Titan, as well as the first observation of the deep canyons, NASA said
- The branching channels appear dark in radar images, much like Titan’s methane-rich seas.This suggested that the channels might also be filled with liquid, but a direct detection had not been made until now
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) categorises certain parasitic and bacterial diseases as Neglected Tropical Diseases, or NTDs, that cause substantial illness but affect only the world’s poorest populations, affecting over a billion people, primarily poor populations living in tropical and subtropical climates
- “Diseases affecting poor get proportionately less funding. Except for communicable diseases like HIV or Ebola that are scary to people because they cross boundaries,” says Dr.SoumyaSwaminathan, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).patients
- Kala-azar belongs to the Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) family of diseases which affect the poorest populations, persist under conditions of poverty and are concentrated almost exclusively in the developing world. The hallmark of an NTD is the lack of reliable statistics
- Kala-azar, also known as Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), is a parasitic disease transmitted by the sand fly and characterised by irregular bouts of high fever, substantial weight loss, and enlargement of the spleen and liver
- Families living in close proximity to livestock and the humid conditions along the southern banks of the Ganga make Bihar a perfect hunting ground for the sand fly, and indeed the state is the global epicentre of kala-azar
- Humanitarian aid organisationMédecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which is known for its work in conflict zones, has been on a war footing collecting data, standardising treatment protocol and, most significantly, diagnosing patients with kala-azar and HIV coinfection
- The situation is so dire that the government pays Rs. 7,100 for every kala-azar patient who completes treatment
- MSF is initiating a study on HIV and kala-azar coinfection along with the Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS)
- The government of India has a kala-azar elimination target of 2017
- According to MSF, there are between 2,00,000 and 4,00,000 new cases a year, about 50 per cent of which are in India. And 70 per cent of the cases in India come from Bihar alone. Of the 38 districts of Bihar, 33 are affected. The population at risk is 34.65 million, in approximately 12,000 villages spread over 426 blocks
Topic: Federal Relations
- Right now the Kashmir situation is less about Pakistan and more about Kashmiris; more than 3,000 people injured and still counting after more than a month
- More people have immersed themselves in the ferment as opposed to merely being caught up in it. Not only individuals who can be called militants or misguided youth or some similar convenient label name. Entire villages are participating wholeheartedly in it. Worse, it does not seem to have leaders. From all assessments, the uprising looks frighteningly spontaneous
- Whenever there is an encounter underway, Kashmiris rush towards the occurrence instead of away from it. Where Ms. Mufti sees a situation “improving fast”, many see a sort of do-or-die slideback to the early ’90s
- The truth is the status quo as it obtains in Jammu and Kashmir suits Pakistan more than it suits India. It always has. And will continue to remain so as long as New Delhi doesn’t move to alter the status quo the way Vajpayee had begun to in 2003-04
- He opened a window that both India and Pakistan could see Kashmir through, one through which one day in the future they wouldn’t see the multitude of stereotypes that block the twisting, narrow mountainous path forward
- Former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram was only holding up a mirror when he repeated that Kashmir is a unique problem that requires a unique solution. We will have to see if he or Karan Singh, who said in Parliament on Wednesday that “to say that Kashmir is an internal issue is an oversimplication”, are finally able to bring heft to bear at least now
- The Home Minister has made partial amends for threatening to talk to Kashmiris only when “things return to normal”. If it is going to take two months to merely come up with a finding on the use of pellet guns, it is going to take a lot longer for things to come to any kind of normal. The bigger problem is New Delhi still isn’t seeing the new normal in Kashmir
- You can probably bet that once the intensity of the stone throwing comes down, it will be time for New Delhi, the real somnambulist, to go back to sleep all over again
- As China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, arrives in Delhi this week to renew high-level political engagement, the two sides should try and limit the negative fall out from Beijing’s decision to block India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in June
- China’s GDP is nearly five times bigger than that of India and its defence spending is four times larger. This power differential, according to the realists, means Beijing has no reason to be sensitive to India’s vital interests
- The proposition that big powers get their way, however, has an important corollary to it. While the weak endure what they must in deep resentment, they don’t necessarily accept their condition as irredeemable. The weak look for alliances against the strong. They also develop asymmetric security strategies to counter the hostility of the powerful. We don’t have to look far to understand that rider to the realist theorem. Just look at Pakistan’s India strategy
- The great Partition of the subcontinent put Pakistan at multiple disadvantages vis a vis India. That imbalance got worse after the separation of Bangladesh in 1971. It has increased a lot faster in the era of economic reform. The Indian economy today is eight times larger than that of Pakistan; Delhi outspends Rawalpindi by six times on defence. Yet, India can’t bend Pakistan to its will. Nor can it stop Islamabad from mobilising other great powers like China to balance India. Delhi has also found it quite hard to cope with Pakistan’s asymmetric strategy of using terrorism to destabilise India
- If Delhi convinces itself that Beijing is unlikely to accommodate India’s core concerns it will have no option but to find ways to balance Chinese power. It will also be compelled adopt asymmetric strategies towards Beijing. Any such decision would mark a major discontinuity in India’s approach towards China
- The last time India restructured its China policy was in 1988, when Rajiv Gandhi travelled on a historic mission to end India’s Cold War with China that followed a hot border conflict in 1962
- In the three decades that followed Rajiv’s visit, Delhi delinked the normalisation of bilateral relations from a resolution of the boundary dispute. It learnt to limit military tensions on the long and contested border, expanded bilateral economic engagement, supported China’s entry into the world trading system, enhanced political cooperation on international issues, and developed joint forums like the BRICS in the name of multipolarity
- But a number of recent developments, including China’s reluctance to support India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council, active opposition to India’s entry into the NSG, undermining India’s efforts to get the UN target anti-India terror groups based in Pakistan have left Indian policymakers wonder if their policy assumptions about China are right any more
- Conversations with the Chinese leadership over the next few weeks should help resolve at least three questions that animate Delhi’s internal debate on relations with Beijing
- First, is the logic behind Beijing’s hard line against India on two issues of primary interest to Delhi — membership of the NSG and putting Pak terror groups in the dock — but quite peripheral to China? Beijing seems to have had no interest in negotiating and splitting whatever differences there might have been. The question here is whether Beijing has decided to put the strategic partnership with Rawalpindi above its relations with India
- Second, is the argument in Beijing that India’s warming relationship with America is the real source of the problem? This is rather strange since Delhi never hears Beijing complain about Washington’s relationship with Pakistan, which is a major non-NATO military ally of the US
- Equally intriguing is the fact that China, which has deep commercial ties with the US, “demands a new type of great power relationship” with Washington and cuts bilateral deals on climate change, cyber security and Afghanistan, wants to exercise a veto over India’s US policy. Can India live with the proposition that Beijing is free to develop its ties with Washington and Delhi is not?
- The third question is about China’s treatment of the Indian prime minister. Unlike most of his recent predecessors, Narendra Modi came into office very well disposed towards China. His travels to China as the chief minister of Gujarat had made him a strong votary of pragmatic economic engagement with Beijing. When Xi Jinping was in Delhi in September 2014 in the middle of border crisis, Modi insisted on finalising the award of two special economic zones to China. The PM pushed hard at a very reluctant security bureaucracy in Delhi to liberalise the visa regime for the Chinese. That China was not willing to take into account Modi’s direct appeal to Xi to resolve the differences on the NSG issue reinforces all questions about the growing power asymmetry between the two Asian giants
- As India debates its China choices, the visit of foreign minister Wang offers a moment to pause and reflect. The talks with Wang, to be followed by Modi’s visit to China next month and Xi’s trip to India in October, could help arrest the downward slide in bilateral ties and restore some positive energy
- But if Delhi is compelled to conclude that China is determined to block India’s rise, we might well be at the cusp of a new and troubling phase in India’s relations China
The Government has given ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in India. The LIGO-India project will establish a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory on the Indian soil in collaboration with the LIGO Laboratory in the U.S. run by Caltech and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The project will bring unprecedented opportunities for our scientists and engineers to dig deeper into the realm of gravitational wave and take global leadership in this new astronomical frontier. LIGO-India will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of eight kilometre long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain. The LIGO-India project will be jointly coordinated and executed by three premier Indian lead institutions viz., the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar and the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore. Some of the Universities in the country will also participate in the project.
Under the Mega Science Projects, an amount of Rupees105 crore has been made in XII Plan outlay by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)-Department of Science & Technology (DST) towards LIGO-India. Out of which, the share of contribution of DST will be Rupees 55 crore including 50% of seed-funding amount of Rupees 9.70 crore and DAE’s share would be Rupees 50 crore. No financial sanction has been issued so far for the project.
The Government of India has recently released National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2016 which envisages Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). The Scheme will inter-alia be implemented by way of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for operators under RCS. VGF will be shared between Ministry of Civil Aviation and the State Government in the ratio of 80:20 and for the North-Eastern States the ratio will be 90:10. The payment of the full amount of the VGF will be made to the airline operator from the Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) and the State Governments will be subsequently asked reimbursement.
Many areas of the country viz., north, northwest, central and northeast Peninsula have experienced 8 or more Heat Wave (HW) days on an average per season. Compared to previous four decades, there was noticeable increase in the Severe Heat Wave (SHW) days over the country during the past fifteen years. The past decade is the warmest decade for the country as well as for the globe.
The increase is due to a number of citizen friendly measures taken by the Government particularly integration of Prime Minister Office Public Grievances Redress Mechanism with CPGRAMS, periodic review of grievances through Pro-active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) platform by the Prime Minister, regular review meetings for monitoring pendency of grievances by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) and also higher expectations of the citizens from the Government.
Hanle in Ladakh has been identified as one of the potential alternate sites for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The original site for TMT was Mauna Kea in Hawaii in the United States of America. The construction work for TMT at Mauna Kea was started but had to be stalled due to revocation of Permit by orders of the Supreme Court of Hawaii.
For the cotton season 2015-16, Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) has revised the cotton production estimate at 338 lakh bales as against its earlier estimates of 352 lakh bales. The reasons for the downwards cotton production estimates are:
(i) The acreage under cotton has decreased by around 7% as against previous year due to switching over to other crops in Northern & Central Regions.
(ii) White fly attack in Northern zone and pink boll-worm attack in Gujarat region.
(iii) Delayed rains in Central & Southern region and deficit rains across all cotton growing areas.
Gujarat and Chandigarh exceeds Mission target in construction of household toilets
Under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), 115 cities have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) till date. 22.60 lakh individual household toilets and 93,985 seats of Community/ Public toilets have been constructed against the Mission period target of 1.04 crore and 5.07 lakh respectively. Out of total 82,609 no. of wards, 39,376 no. of wards have been covered with 100% door-to-door collection of municipal solid waste.
The proposal of Ministry of Railway namely Integrated Emergency Response Management System has been appraised by the Ministry of Women and Child Development under Nirbhaya Fund which includes installation of video surveillance at 1000 railway stations.
Topic: TPP-Impact on India
- Textile and clothing sector accounts for roughly 5 per cent of India’s GDP, 15 per cent of its industrial output and export earnings and provides livelihood support to 55-60 million people directly or indirectly
- India is not a party to the Transpacific Partnership Pact (TPP) comprising Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US
- However, it has serious implications for India’s textile and clothing sector as the US is a key export destination. Post-Brexit turmoil in Europe will further increase India’s dependency on US markets
- When it comes to export of readymade garments and made-ups, the US alone accounts for over 30 per cent of India’s total exports
TPP will affect textile and clothing sector of India (and of all non-TPP member countries such as Brazil or China) in two ways:
- First, exporters from TPP member countries will get preferential access in the US market vis-à-vis the exporters from non-TPP member countries like India
- Secondly, a key feature of the TPP, ‘yarn forward rule’, makes it mandatory to source yarn and fabrics used in making clothes from any or a combination of TPP countries to avail duty preference. This is likely to disrupt regional and global supply chain in textile and clothing
- Thus, YFR will induce garment manufacturers in the TPP countries to source their inputs from TPP countries at the cost of non-TPP countries such as India or China even if the suppliers in TPP regions are not the least cost. This will be a clear case of trade diversion i.e. moving trade away from more efficient producers to less efficient producers
- Already India’s textile and clothing sector is under severe pressure from slowing demand in key export markets, and backdoor entry of Chinese goods via Bangladesh under SAFTA and from other LDCs under DFQF (Duty Free Quota Free )schemes that allow duty free import of garments from Bangladesh and other least developed countries such as Myanmar into India
- Exclusion of India’s clothing products from US GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) benefits is yet another source of comparative disadvantage for the sector
- If this was not enough, to comply with its commitments to WTO, India will soon have to phase out its export incentives — latest by 2018. India has already achieved a per capita GNP of $1000 at 1990 prices. India’s global export share in textile and clothing has already crossed 3.25 per cent threshold required by WTO to be termed as export competitive with obligation to phase out export subsidies
- Only 17 per cent of textile and clothing exports under NAFTA and Central American Free Trade (CAFTA) have gone through yarn forward rule even then the US trade negotiators have incorporated it in the TPP. Clearly, the move seems to be protectionist aimed at reviving American indigenous textile industry at the cost of foreigners
- However, insistence on YFR will limit the freedom of clothing retailers to choose their suppliers and minimise their sourcing cost
- That explains the strong opposition of clothing retailers (e.g. JC Penny, Levis or Gap) and their associations (e.g. TPP Apparel Coalition) to the yarn forward rule. To deal with this, the US trade negotiators have come up with the idea of ‘short supply list’ — that will give some flexibility to clothing retailers in sourcing their inputs (which are not available in TPP region) from non-TPP countries either temporarily or on a long term basis. However, that relaxation is not sufficient enough
- India can’t ignore the most lucrative US market that accounts for roughly one-fourth of its apparel exports i.e. $3.5-4 billion, especially when India’s merchandise exports have been declining for the last 18 months in a row though exports picked up but only 1.27 per cent
- Given the prevalence of textile exports in India’s total merchandise exports, reviving exports will require reviving textile and clothing exports. That calls for devising suitable trade strategy to deal with adverse impact of TPP
- India’s best bet can be multilateral trade liberalisation of heavily protected textile and clothing sector. Unfortunately, that’s not moving given the American disinterest in WTO and current sentiments in most developed countries are against further trade liberalisation
- Joining TPP can help India’s textile & clothing sector, but accepting WTO plus proposals on intellectual property, investment protection, services and state owned enterprises (SOE) as envisaged under TPP will not find favours among either policy makers or India Inc.
- Another option would be to relocate part of India’s textile production facilities to countries like Vietnam which is a party to TPP or in a least developed African country such as Ethiopia which has duty free market access to the US. However, exercising this option would also mean relocation of jobs to Vietnam or Ethiopia in addition to other risks associated with investing abroad. However, that would be against the spirit of Make-in-India
- Moreover, likely loss in export of textile items to TPP countries will have to be compensated by gains in other markets. Here, tweaking the rules of origin to stipulate utilisation of yarns and fabrics of Indian origin as a pre-condition for allowing duty free import of garments from Bangladesh and other LDCs will help India’s fabrics export
- It will also check backdoor entry of Chinese fabrics into India via countries like Bangladesh
- Textile and clothing sector is heavily protected in Mercosur countries and maintain import duties of as high as 35per cent on many textile items. Inclusion of textiles under India-Mercosur PTA will improve access to Latin American markets and somewhat compensate for loss of existing export market because of TPP
- India also needs to push for reduction Chinese import duties on apparel under RCEP as going forward China can be a high potential export destination for India’s apparel items given the rising wages and per capita income in the country despite growth slowdown. RCEP platform can also be used to improve access to Australian apparel import markets
- Some kind of product differentiation (e.g. voluntary carbon labelling) will protect our textile and clothing exports in the US despite the impeding post TPP comparative cost disadvantage vis-à-vis TPP partner countries like Vietnam
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday filed a charge sheet against former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair and other senior officials in the Antrix-Devas deal case for allegedly facilitating a wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to Devas Multimedia Private Limited.It is alleged that the government officials abused their position to favour Devas by giving them rights for delivery of videos, multimedia content and information services to mobile phones using S-Band through GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A satellites and terrestrial systems in India. They, thus, caused a wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to the private firm and its owners.The CBI probe revealed that when a proposal for budgetary support of Rs.269 crore for approving design, manufacture and launch of GSAT-6/INSAT-4E (PS1) was placed at the 104th meeting of the Space Commission on May 26, 2005, it was allegedly not informed that an agreement for leasing out the S-Band had already been struck with Devas
The Enforcement Directorate has readied a formal request to be sent to the United Kingdom under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) for the “transfer” of Kingfisher Airlines promoter Vijay Mallya to India in the Rs. 900 crore IDBI Bank loan default case.
Starting this year, the census of MSME units in the country will be done online instead of relying on physical surveys with the intention of creating a comprehensive database with real-time information on different enterprises. This database will eventually be used for public procurement purposes and would also be used by public sector enterprises to scale up their purchases from small enterprises.
The MSME databank could become a “one-stop source of information on small enterprises, including their credit and technology requirements as well as raw material and marketing needs.” The minister added that no grant or subsidy will be given to any MSMEs unless their data is captured on the new MSME databank.
Separately, an online finance facilitation web portal was unveiled by the National Small Industries Corporation that provides credit support to MSME units for raw material purchases.
The portal will allow the MSMEs to apply for loans from the various banks.
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on Thursday gave his seal of approval to the controversial defamation Bill. On Tuesday, Parliament of Maldives had adopted the Bill on Defamation and Freedom of Speech with 47 Members voting in favour and 31 against it.
Under the law, defamation is a criminal offence. In November 2009 when Mohamed Nasheed was President, it was made a civil infraction. Dismissing criticism that it would criminalise free speech, the government said it would provide “a layer of protection” for those who may fall victim to “scurrilous and defamatory” articles.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
- The Child Labour(Amendment) Law
- Thirty Metre Telescope
- Trans-Pacific Partnership
- MSME Database
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Cassini is the first space probe to enter the orbit of Saturn
- The landing of lander Huygens on Titan, Saturn’s moon was the first landing ever accomplished in the outerSolar System.
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 2: Which of the following countries are members of the Trans Pacific Partnership?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1,2 and 3
d) All the Above
Question 3: Which of the following is/are Neglected Tropical Disease(s)?
- Kala Asar
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1,2 and 3
d) All the Above
Question 4: Which of the followingstatements is/are correct about the Thirty Metre Telescope?
- The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope(ELT)
- It is now proposed to be located in HanleLadakh
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) All the Above
Question 5: Which of the following statements is/are correct about The Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund ?
- The Universal Service Obligation (USO) is raised through a ‘Universal Access Levy (UAL)’, which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licenses
- The Fund is to be utilized to bring connectivity to rural areas
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
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