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
- the Supreme Court on Friday asked whether the Centre intends to bring the entire judiciary to a “grinding halt” by sitting on recommendations of the Collegium for appointment and transfer of judges to High Courts across the country
- The total pendency is 2.24 crore cases in various courts as of August 12, 2016. There are 478 judicial posts to be filled up in various High Courts. The Supreme Court itself has three vacancies
- “most High Courts are working with only 40 percent of their sanctioned judicial strength and people are languishing in jails for 13 years without a hearing.” “Will you wait till they complete a life sentence?” the Chief Justice of India asked the government
- He said the government might be working on the draft Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges, but the task did not give them the excuse to paralyse the judiciary by simply sitting on appointments and transfers
Topic: Federal Relations
- Almost a year after the framework agreement on Naga peace talks was finalised, the Centre and the NSCN-IM on Friday issued a joint statement saying they were “closer than ever before to the final settlement and hope to conclude it sooner than later.”
- The signing of the framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations that spanned 18 years with first breakthrough in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed
Category: India’s Neighbourhood
- Pakistan is ready for an agreement with India on a bilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, the country’s top diplomat said on Friday
- “We have declared a unilateral moratorium on further testing. Pakistan is prepared to consider translating its unilateral moratorium into a bilateral arrangement on non-testing with India,” the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs said
Category: India’s Neighbourhood
- Pakistan’s top counter-terrorism agency has issued two alerts, warning about possible terror attacks by two Taliban suicide bombers at the Wagah and Ganda Singh borders with India around the Independence Day
- The National Counter-Terrorism Authority has asked the Punjab Director-General of Pakistan Rangers, the Home Department and the Punjab police chief to take preventive measures for the safety of the public
Topic: Sri Lanka
Category: India’s Neighbourhood
- Western countries have welcomed the adoption by Sri Lanka’s Parliament of the bill on the Office on Missing Persons
- This fulfilled one of the important commitments made by the Sri Lanka government to the UN Human Rights Council through a resolution adopted in October last year
C. GS3 Related
- Scientists calculated that a female Greenland shark that lived in the Arctic Ocean was the Earth’s oldest living animal with a backbone
- They estimated that the gray shark, part of the species named after Greenland, was born in the icy waters roughly 400 years ago, and died only recently. That conclusion puts the entire species at the top of the longevity list
- Until now, that record holder was a bowhead whale that hit 211 years old
- Some animals without backbones live longer. An ocean quahog, a clam, lived 507 years and two different types of sponges are said to survive for 15,000 and 1,500 years
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
- Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) linked to lifestyles have surpassed communicable diseases as the leading cause of lost productivity and premature deaths
- According to a report in the Lancet journal, NCDs contribute to 52 per cent of all disease burden and more than 60 per cent of deaths in the country
- Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, tuberculosis and other causes linked to tobacco consumption result in over a million deaths every year
- Tobacco-related deaths are expected to double by 2030, nearly 65 million Indians have been diagnosed with diabetes, and research suggests the “average age of a person having their first heart attack is 50 years, at least ten years earlier than in developed countries.”
- Responding to this escalating situation the Central Government has come up with a National Action Plan and Monitoring Framework for Prevention and Control of NCD Given the rising toll of “lifestyle” diseases, the Ministry of Health has issued “operational guidelines” this year for population-level screening to detect diabetes, hypertension and common cancers
- The guidelines focus on triggers for these diseases found in the choices that people make, but it is not clear how such an ambitious scheme would actually work at the level of the entire population, since the lead would have to be taken by State governments
- Lifestyle risk factors are everyday choices in some cases, but they are also the outcome of poorly conceived official policies
- Smoking or chewing tobacco, excessive consumption of alcohol, and a preference for highly processed foods are voluntary choices with a direct, harmful impact on health
- But what choice do citizens have, if cities expand at the cost of walking, exercising and cycling? If city governments are more sensitive to petrol and diesel prices, and road building than to pedestrian facilities and public transport?
- Such cities end up curbing healthy physical activity and promoting car use, adding to the burden of air pollution caused by burning of biomass and unchecked construction dust
- Bad urban planning thus produces a cocktail of risk factors for NCDs, affecting millions
- Cities have not read the warning yet. Public spaces lack green cover, and low-cost access to roads and parking for a large number vehicles is given priority.Policymakers must alter course through progressive steps.The cost of inaction will certainly be high
Topic: Federal Relations
- The Lodha Committee is to be adhered to by the BCCI. BCCI is not a private society as such. Cricket is a public good, the access to which is critical to the fulfilment of a good life
- When the SC appointed the Lodha Committee, its intention, therefore, was to create a structure through which the sport can be made more accessible and more equal
- The committee’s report, which was released on January 4, 2016, seeks to do just this
- It recommends, among other things, that each Indian State would only be entitled to a single vote within the BCCI, a mandate that is likely to damage a coterie of power held by Maharashtra and Gujarat that have three associations each
- What’s more, it directs the establishment of an apex council of nine members, overseen by a reputable chief executive officer, comprising three independent persons, with two from a newly constituted “players’ association”, and at least one woman, to conduct the day-to-day administration of the sport in the country; the institution of lucid norms within the BCCI’s constitution to regulate conflicts of interest, including the reduction in involvement from politicians; and, most critically, a more reasonable division, if not a complete separation, between the BCCI and the IPL.
- In bringing about a change in the board’s structure through the Lodha Committee’s recommendations, the Supreme Court isn’t making law. It is merely making accountable a body that enjoys a virtually state-sanctioned monopoly, which allows it to alter the fundamental nature of a property that it holds in trust for the public. It is astounding that the board would object to these recommendations, for all they do is establish a basic framework for good governance
- In the final analysis, we must ask ourselves this: do we want to see cricket as constituting an end by itself, as a sport that is both ethically and morally significant? If the answer to this question is yes, we must not only cause the BCCI to embrace the Lodha Committee’s recommendations but also push towards an even more revolutionary process of reform; one through which the game can eventually be brought closer to the common Indian public, where the sport’s ownership is reclaimed from those who have tarnished it beyond recognition
- Seven of the 14 bills that were introduced were passed in this session itself. This includes Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill which was passed in less than half an hour in each House, the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill were introduced and passed by one House on the same day. Overall, 14 bills were passed in this session
- During this session, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee for detailed examination
Read: The crisis over Crimea
- Lack of infrastructure, poor intra-regional and regional connectivity and almost negligible amenities in urban spaces are some of the major challenges afflicting several countries of Asia. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has been projected as an “Asian tool” to deal with such challenges that have stunted the growth prospects of several Asian economies
- Member countries have made some progress to expedite the funding of programmes. During the first-ever annual meeting of the board of governors of AIIB, held in late June this year in Beijing, representatives from 57 prospective founding member countries, including the Indian Finance Minister attended the inaugural meeting and approved first four AIIB-funded projects
- These projects are: Bangladesh’s Power Distribution System Upgrade and Expansion Project; Indonesia’s National Slum Upgrading Project (co-financed with the World Bank); Pakistan’s National Motorway M-4 (Shorkot-Khanewal Section) Project (co-financed with the ADB) and; Tajikistan’s Dushanbe-Uzbekistan Border Road Improvement Project (co-financed with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). Together, these projects are worth US$ 509 million
- It may be noted that AIIB will solely fund and monitor the Bangladesh project. It will fund a new energy grid providing electricity to about 12.5 million Bangladeshis. By approving the Bangladesh project, AIIB leadership has demonstrated its willingness to assume a pan-Asian approach that is not driven solely by the Chinese agenda. China does not seem to indicate that AIIB is entirely linked to its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative and that China would only push for projects linking it to other countries as in the case of Pakistan and Tajik projects
- India is expected to gain directly if its investment proposals get approved. Focus on enhancing connectivity and infrastructure within the country and with countries in the neighbourhood is critical. Sub-regional projects such as Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) corridor and inter-regional projects such as India-ASEAN rail and road connectivity projects need huge funding. AIIB may prove instrumental in developing infrastructure in that context. India is seeking US$ 2-3 billion from AIIB for urban development, railways, and energy sectors
- India is striving to develop its north-eastern region, a goal which can be swiftly achieved through greater regional cooperation and the support of multilateral funding agencies. For this purpose, India may consider pushing BBIN and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral, Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) corridors under its AIIB proposals. BIMSTEC countries are way below the global connectivity and infrastructure standards and are in need of huge and speedy investments. Linking India’s eastern ports with south-east Asia has been long overdue. This can plug gaps in India’s comprehensive maritime engagement with the east and south-east Asian countries under the Act East policy
- The chances that AIIB will approve projects put forth by India are high. China wants India to be a part of the OBOR. Though India is a member of AIIB, it has not shown a willingness to be a part of the OBOR. Apprehensions vis-à-vis the transparency of the OBOR agenda, challenges related to equitable benefits for all, the proposed China-Pakistan economic corridor which would pass through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and China’s repeated incursions into Indian territory are major factors shaping India’s stand on OBOR
- It is vital for China to prove to the other members that it will not attempt to dominate the AIIB and that AIIB will not follow China’s “no strings attached” approach in funding projects. Given that China is the largest shareholder with 26.06 per cent voting shares, members’ apprehensions are not baseless. India and Russia are the second and third largest shareholders with 7.5 and 5.92 percent voting shares respectively. The gap between the first and second shareholder might tempt China to use its veto power on a particular project. Clearly, the member countries have to adhere to the rigorous project selection criteria following international best practices and show caution in approving territorially sensitive projects
- India is likely to gain by being an active member of the AIIB. Its presence is not only crucial in making the bank a success but is also vital in improving infrastructure in the Indian subcontinent and beyond. In order to make full use of the opportunities provided by the AIIB, New Delhi needs to come up with realistic and economically viable projects
The Ministry of AYUSH had established Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) in collaboration with Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). As per the information provided by the CSIR, TKDL consisting of more than 2.90 lakh medicinal formulations of Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha which are available in the public domain, in five international languages namely English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish.
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and SreeChitraTirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram (an institute of national importance under DST) have agreed to join hands to develop ‘Deep Brain Stimulator’ (DBS). DBS involves implanting electrodes within certain areas of brain and the regular electrical pulses generated by a pacemaker-like device placed under the skin in upper chest regulates the abnormal impulses of the brain. DBS is used in typical neurological conditions of Essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease and Dystonia. The DBS consists of implanted pulse generator, electrodes and extension cables which interface with external Programmer module and wireless battery charger.
These devices are currently being imported, limiting its wider usage due to the high cost. The planned joint development is targeted to provide an affordable alternative.
DADF to Focus More towards Entrepreneurial Activity in Poultry Sector
The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has asked to the State Governments especially Andhra Pradesh and Bihar to come up with proposals wherein they may like to upscale the Rural Backyard Poultry Development program under NLM with 150 birds distribution to be done in a focussed manner in 5-6 contiguous villages/ cluster in one block of one district of the State The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries will focus more towards entrepreneurial activity in poultry sector.
Section 149 of the Companies Act, 2013 read with Rule 3 of the Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) Rules, 2014 prescribesfor every listed company and every public company having paid-up share capital of not less than Rupees one hundred crore or turnover of Rupees three hundred crore or more to appoint at least one woman director. There is no prohibition for appointment of a female relative of a director on the board of a company. Further, there is no proposal to prescribe any such restriction.
The first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) – Tejas squadron has been formed on 1st July, 2016 with two LCA Initial Operational Configuration (IOC) Series Production Aircraft. Further, 18 more aircraft in IOC standard are planned for induction by 2018-19. This would be followed by 20 more aircraft in Final Operation Configuration (FOC) standard, which are planned for induction from year 2019.
Consequent to India’s ratification of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation(TFA) in April 2016, the National Committee on Trade Facilitation(NCTF) has been constituted The establishment of the Committee is part of the mandatory, institutional arrangement of the TFA. This prime, inter – ministerial body on trade facilitation will be chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. Its Secretariat will be housed within the Central Board of Excise and Customs(CBEC), in the Directorate General of Export Promotion, New Delhi.
Six corridors on Diamond Quadrilateral connecting metropolitan cities and growth centers of the country (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Kolkata) have been identified for feasibility studies for high speed rail connectivity viz: (i) Delhi-Mumbai, (ii) Mumbai-Chennai, (iii) Chennai-Kolkata, (iv) Kolkata-Delhi and both diagonals i.e. (v) Delhi-Chennai and (vi) Mumbai-Kolkata routes.
Feasibility studies for Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata and Mumbai-Chennai have been awarded in September, 2015.
- In 2012, as per an OECD study, India witnessed 253 deaths per 100,000 persons due to communicable diseases alone, much higher than the global average of 178
- The country still faces a higher disease burden than other emerging economies such as China, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and Sri Lanka; even poorer neighbours such as Nepal and Bangladesh are better off. Life expectancy in India, currently at 68, is lower than China (76), Bangladesh (72), Nepal (70) and Sri Lanka (75)
- The poor health of an average Indian has been attributed to low public investments in preventive health facilities such as sanitation and waste management. The same holds true for PHCs (primary health clinics) and health professionals
- Apart from financial neglect, the quality of public health services is another serious problem. The average middle income Indian has shifted to private centres, thereby, increasing the average out-of-pocket health expenditures
- Owing to unreliable public health services and an unviable health insurance model, the poor are compelled to spend heavily on private medical care when faced with health shocks; this drives many people into the fold of poverty. Studies show that out of pocket expenditure on health in India accounts for a sixth of India’s poverty burden
- The New National Health Policy (2015) was conceived in addressing some of the above challenges. It is yet to be debated in Parliament. The Policy in its vision aims to: a) ensure that public health spending touches 2.5 per cent of the gross domestic product by 2020, of which 70 per cent would be on primary healthcare alone; b) increase per capita public spending on healthcare to ₹3,800 at 2015 prices; c) Centre government shall contribute around 40 per cent of the resources instead of its present 20 per cent share and d) States would allocate at least 8 per cent of their total budget on health
- It seems that India’s new planning think tank, the NITI Aayog has been against increasing public investments on health, suggesting an increase in private sector financing and insurance as a substitute to public health expenditure
- NITI Aayog in its own recommendations, suggests that States must step up their allocation in the public health sector vis- a-vis the Centre’s outlay on health, but advocates that the primary source of funding must come from private financial sources
- Further, it suggests that measures like corporate social responsibility (CSR) and public private partnership (PPP) models can be used in addressing financial and operational challenges related to the health system. But can increasing outlays and creating scope for more private financing resolve the public health sector woes across States?
- To say that an atrophied primary healthcare system imposes huge, implicit economic costs is to emphasise the obvious
- It is, in a way, also pointless to always compute and cite the financial cost imposed at a national level by poor health. If free and compulsory education of all children in the age of six and 14 years can be constitutionally recognised as a right, under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act at a State level, surely the same can be done with respect to primary health care for dependents (those below the age of fifteen and above the age of sixty)
- This can be a first step towards enhancing primary health facilities in both rural and urban areas
- An increase in public investments (complimented with support from the Centre) through more scholarships and higher wages for health professionals, and incentivising medical practice amongst medical students in rural areas, are measures that warrant the attention of the Centre and State governments
- Countries like Rwanda and Thailand have already demonstrated that State-wide health coverage is possible for primary healthcare facilities. Rwanda, classified as a low income country and with a lower GDP than India, has a system of universal health coverage covering 7.8 million of its 11.8 million population
- In China too, its government over the last five years has pushed for significant reforms in its aim to fully cover the primary health care service cost for all its people at a provincial level by 2020
- In its Immediate Health Care reform package, the Chinese government (in 2009-10) outlined five major programmes in its implementation plan. This includes establishing a national essential drug system and providing equal access to basic public healthcare services for all dependents
- Even within India, States such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala have shown it is possible to achieve superior health outcomes with a well-funded and well-designed public health system
- The basic issue is to implement such a right to healthcare at a State level. This holds true for the population of dependents. It will bring down the out of pocket expenditure for those lacking the means to increase their real income
- Preventive health services and access to quality, primary education are public goods that offer incalculable benefits. They are instruments for achieving both development and natural liberty
At least two persons were killed and five persons were injured when militants opened fire in Assam’s Tinsukia district.ULFA (Independent) may be behind the incident. The area where the incident occurred has high presence of Army and security forces.
Stone-pelting incidents spilled over from Kashmir to the Doda district of the Jammu region.Meanwhile, the authorities extended curfew to many areas of Kashmir and snapped mobile telephony as part of a bid to foil a march called by separatists
Retail inflation accelerated to a two-year high of 6.07 per cent in July due to higher food prices, official data showed. Inflation in the food category of the Consumer Price Index accelerated to 8 per cent in July from 7.5 per cent in June.Industrial output for the first quarter of 2016-17 has grown by just 0.6 per cent. While the index of industrial production (IIP) rose 2.1 per cent in June 2016, compared to June 2015, it reflected a marginal uptick from the 1.1 per cent growth recorded this May.
The automobile industry and analysts have welcomed Supreme Court’s (SC) decision to allow the sale of high powered diesel vehicles in the NCR, the biggest market for such vehicles, and said a one per cent green cess imposed by the apex court on such vehicles will not be a dampener.
After rising for the first time in 18 months in June, exports shrank again in July, contracting 6.84 per cent due to decline in shipments of engineering goods and petroleum products.Declining exports as well as in imports narrowed the trade deficit in July to $7.76 billion as against $13.09 billion in the year-ago period. Exports have been falling since December 2014 due to weak global demand and slide in oil prices.
The country’s first Nuclear Suppliers’ insurance policy was unveiled by India Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP).
New India Assurance Co and INIP will issue the policy and administer the claims on behalf of the pool. INIP is the 27th global nuclear insurance pool which was launched by General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re), in association with non-life insurance companies. “The pool provides capacity for insurance coverage to operators and suppliers for any nuclear liability towards third party,” GIC said in a statement.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
- Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal Corridor
- Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Diamond Quadrilateral Network
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following is/are included in National Health Policy- 2015?
- Enactment of a National Health Rights Act to make health a fundamental right
- Raise public health expenditure to 2.5% of GDP
- Ensure Universal Access to free drugs and diagnostics in government hospitals
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) All the Above
Question 2: Which of the following countries are members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 4 only
c) 1,2 and 3
d) All the Above
Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are correct about the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative?
- It strives for cooperation in areas such as water resources management, connectivity of power, transport, and infrastructure
- The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement enables vehicles to enter any of the four nations without the need for trans-shipment of goods from one country’s truck to another’s at the border
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- The Diamond Quadrilateral is a project of the Indian railways to establish high speed rail network in India
- High-speed train on Mumbai-Ahmedabad section will be the first bullet train corridor to be implemented in the country
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?
- National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) is being set up to meet the mandates of the WTO – TFA ratified by India this year
- NCTF will be headed by the Cabinet Secretary
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
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