Comprehensive News Analysis - 13 September 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Union cabinet clears extradition treaty with Afghanistan

2. GST Council gets Cabinet nod

3. 12th edition of the Indo-U.S. joint military exercise

4. Russia, China’s rejects Hague ruling, begin SCS exercises

5. Advantage to Assad as Syria ceasefire takes effect

C. GS3 Related:

1. New single-dose treatment for Malaria

2. Indo-France Rafale deal

3. Slower inflation and contraction in IIP spur rate cut hopes

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

The Hindu

1. They are the world

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!


B. GS2 Related


  1. Union cabinet clears extradition treaty with Afghanistan

Category: International Relations    

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

Key Points:

  • In a bid to boost security and legal cooperation with Afghanistan, the Union Cabinet cleared the Extradition Treaty with Afghanistan for signing and ratification. The treaty would provide a legal framework for seeking extradition of terrorists, economic offenders and other criminals from and to Afghanistan.
  • During the recent visit of CEO of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah in Feb, 2016 both sides sealed the MoU on visa-free entry for holders of diplomatic passports. However, the failure to conclude the motor vehicles agreement has drawn the attention of the Afghan government, especially Mr. Ghani who has threatened to stop land-based trade between Pakistan and Central Asia if Islamabad continues to prevent Afghanistan from accessing the Indian market. Pakistan’s cooperation is vital because it is the shortest overland route between India and Afghanistan.
  • General Union of Oil and Gas Companies of Afghanistan said no infrastructure project that connects Afghanistan with India was being allowed to pass through Pakistan.
  • Afghanistan further said India clearing the extradition treaty is a positive development, as this will help us deal with terrorism. But the people on the ground, and especially Afghan farmers, would have benefited more if the motor vehicles agreement could be carried forward. Sadly, Pakistan is not coming round to support such agreements that are good for Afghan people


  1. GST Council gets Cabinet nod

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic:  Tax reforms

Key Points:

  • The Union Cabinet approved the setting up of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council and its Secretariat. The Centre swung into action upon receiving the approvals from States, by writing to chief secretaries of States seeking nominations to the Council. Each State is to nominate as a voting member a minister, who may or may not be holding the finance or the taxation portfolios. The Centre will have two representatives on the Council: the Union Finance Minister will chair it and Union Minister of State in-charge of Revenue, will be a member.
  • GST council’s functions: It will decide the rates at which the GST will be levied and collected and have to be paid across the country by consumers. The council will also have to finalise the number of slabs the GST will be pegged at for different categories of goods and services. Besides the standard rate, there could be a lower rate for wage goods consumed by the poor and another one for demerit or luxury goods, also called sin goods.
  • The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on the GST could cease to be the forum at which the discussions between the Centre and States would take place, the Centre said after announcing the creation of the Council. The Empowered Committee is headed by Amit Mitra, Finance Minister of West Bengal, a State that is yet to ratify the constitutional amendment enabling the roll-out of the GST. The Amendment was notified.


  1. 12th edition of the Indo-U.S. joint military exercise

Category: International Relations    

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

Key Points: 

  • The 12th edition of the annual bilateral exercise, Yudh Abhyas, one of the longest running joint military training exercises, will take place from September 14 to 27 at Chaubattia in Uttarakhand, close to the China border. Both countries host the exercise alternately. The combined exercise Yudh Abhyas 2016 will simulate a scenario where both nations are working together in a counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism (CICT) environment in mountainous terrain under a United Nations charter.
  • S. and India said they would soon discuss ways to enhance the scope and scale of exercises in tune with the deepening military cooperation after joint counter-terrorism exercises in the hills of Uttarakhand. Currently the exercise is at the company level, comprising 225 soldiers from each side, with Brigade headquarter elements incorporated. Plans are on to enhance the scope and scale to the brigade level with division-level elements added on. At present, bilateral exercises with China, Russia and the U.S. are all at the company level.
  • While this is not the first time it is happening in Uttarakhand, this is the first military exercise after the two countries signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA). This means that accounting and book-keeping for the exercise will be done under the arrangement which does away with the need for settling bills and payments every time. They will be recorded and cleared every three months.
  • The bilateral exercise comes against the backdrop of Pakistani media reports that Pakistan and Russia will hold their first joint military exercise later this year. Possible sale of Russian military hardware to Islamabad is on the cards. Separately, China and Russia began naval war games in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where India had joined the chorus for enforcing freedom of navigation and open sea lanes of communication.


  1. Russia, China’s rejects Hague ruling, begin SCS exercises

Key Points:

  • China and Russia have begun their first naval exercises in the South China Sea (SCS), setting the stage for a deeper military and political engagement, reinforced by the meeting at Hangzhou between the two heads of state. China is signaling that exercises are not being held in a disputed area in the SCS, but within China’s coastal waters. The eight-day Joint Sea-2016 exercise is the largest naval drill that the two countries have decided to conduct since their annual naval manoeuvres began in 2012. Analysts say the exercises signal the possibility of joint military assertion by the China and Russia in the Western Pacific Ocean, which would seriously challenge the U.S.-led Pivot to Asia doctrine of force accumulation in these waters.
  • Russia’s dual stand – The Russians have been sending a dual signal. While they are conveying to the United States that they stand by the Chinese, they are at the same time preserving their strategic relationship with Vietnam, which hotly contests Chinese claims in the Spratly islands in the SCS.
  • Russia at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou supported China’s rejection of the ruling by an international arbitration tribunal that had rejected Beijing’s territorial claims in the SCS. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said “as far as The Hague Arbitration Court and its rulings are concerned, we agree with and support China’s position to not recognise the court’s ruling.” He added: “And I’ll tell you why. It is not a political but a purely legal position. It is that any arbitration proceedings should be initiated by parties to a dispute while a court of arbitration should hear the arguments and positions of the parties to the dispute. As is known, China did not go the Hague Court of Arbitration and no one there listened to its position. So, how can these rulings are deemed fair? We support China’s position on the issue.”


  1. Advantage to Assad as Syria ceasefire takes effect

Category: International Relations    

Topic:  Arab Spring and aftermath

Key Points:

  • A nationwide ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia came into effect in Syria, the second attempt this year by the 2 countries to halt the five-year-old civil war. The ceasefire deal is backed by foreign countries ranging from Mr. Assad’s ally Iran to Turkey, one of the main supporters of groups fighting to overthrow him. The Syrian army announced the truce, the moment it took effect, saying the seven-day regime of calm would be applied across Syria. It reserved the right to respond with all forms of fire-power to any violation by armed groups. Rebel groups fighting to topple President Bashar Al-Assad did not immediately declare publicly whether they would respect the ceasefire, but rebel sources said they would do so, despite reservations about a deal they see as skewed in Mr. Assad’s favour.
  • The agreement comes at a time when Assad’s position on the battlefield is stronger than it has been since the earliest months of the war, thanks to Russian and Iranian military support. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed in the conflict and 11 million made homeless in the world’s worst refugee crisis.
  • The capture of Daraya, a few kilometres from Damascus, has helped the government secure important areas to the southwest of the capital near an air base. The army has also completely encircled the rebel-held half of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the war, which has been divided into government and opposition-held zones for years.


C. GS3 Related


  1. New single-dose treatment for Malaria

Category: Science and Technology

Topic:  Developments

Key Points:

  • Scientists have discovered a series of a novel compound (bicyclic azetidine series) that shows great promise in the battle against malaria. Out of the 4 candidate agents characterized, one compound was found to act on all three life stages of the malaria parasite. The compound was found to cure the disease with just a single, low-dose treatment, provide prophylaxis and prevent disease transmission both in the lab and in animals. The prophylactic effect lasted for as long as 30 days in mice.
  • Researchers from Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, New Delhi’s International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and other institutions published the results of their study. The compound targets an essential cellular function in the malaria parasite; it has low metabolism, long half-life and good oral bioavailability.
  • How the medicine works: One of the issues with malaria is the reappearance of the Plasmodium parasite (recrudescence). The parasite can persist for a few months in blood without causing apparent symptoms. It was for this reason that we carried out 30-day studies with both berghei (a mouse strain) and P. falciparum (the parasite responsible for most malaria deaths worldwide). A dose of 25 mg/kg showed no recrudescence for 30 days that we monitored.


  1. Indo-France Rafale deal

Category: Science and Technology    

Topic: Defence

Key Points:

  • More than a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s intent to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in flyaway condition, a final agreement seems to be a week or two away from being concluded. The high-power committee set up to negotiate the terms and conditions of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) has already submitted its report and the file is with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Final clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is awaited.
  • The deal, expected to cost just under $8 billion, was announced by Mr. Modi in Paris in 2015, setting aside the original medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal under which Rafale was initially selected, in view of the critical operational requirements of the India Air Force (IAF). All issues have now been resolved, and the deal now includes a 50 per cent offset clause as per India’s procurement procedure under which French companies would have to invest that value in India for goods and services. The direct purchase is meant to ensure quick deliveries to the IAF, which is facing a drop in its fighter aircraft strength.


  1. Slower inflation and contraction in IIP spur rate cut hopes

Category: Economy      

Topic:  Growth and Inflation

Key Points:

  • India’s industrial output slowed drastically led by a decline in manufacturing and an almost 30 per cent contraction in capital goods production, signalling a slump in investments. Retail inflation on the other hand slowed significantly, spurring expectations that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would likely reduce interest rates later this year to support economic growth. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) contracted 2.4 per cent in July, 2016 compared with a growth of two per cent in June, 2016 mainly on account of weakness in manufacturing, which contracted 3.4 per cent. Inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 5.05 per cent in August, slower than 6.07 per cent in July, 2016
  • The slowdown in industrial activity comes at a time when the April-June GDP growth rate eased to a 15-month low. Economists expect that the decelerating inflation and weak industrial growth, if sustained, increase the likelihood of an interest rate cut by the central bank this year.
  • Problems with IIP – According to the experts, there are problems with relying on the IIP as an economic metric owing to its dated base year and its variance from the present methodology for calculating economic growth. The IIP is a very old based index. It is based on 2004-05 while everything else is at 2011-12. It is high time we got a more up to date industrial production index. One can’t conclude where industry is heading based on these numbers. Economists say there is a growing disconnect between IIP and Gross Value Added (GVA) data.

 

Overview:

Index of Industrial Production (IIP) Index to measure the industrial production, it is released by the Central statistical organization (CSO) 6 weeks once, recently its base year was revised from 1993-94 to 2004-05, the composition of the index was also changed. IIP measures industrial production based on the performance in the Manufacturing (75% weight), Mining (15% weight) and Electricity (10%) sectors.

The eight industries include crude oil, petroleum refinery products, natural-gas, coal, electricity, cement, fertilizers and finished steel and have a weight of 37.9 per cent in the overall Index of Industrial Production.


D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu


  1. They are the world

Category: International organizations

Topic:  International reports

The findings of the UNICEF report, Uprooted: The Growing Crisis for Refugee and Migrant Children, could not be grimmer. Over 50 per cent of the 50 million children who have migrated or been forcibly displaced across borders are said to have fled violence. About one in three children who live outside their country of birth is a refugee. The much smaller ratio of displacement for adults less than one in 20 according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reveals the starkness of the situation. The UNHCR says that in the decade ending 2015, the number of child refugees almost doubled. Last year, Syria and Afghanistan alone accounted for nearly half the world’s child refugees, highlighting the brutal impact of the war on a segment of society that had little to do with the conflict directly or otherwise and is the most vulnerable. The last decade saw two landmark rulings on the conscription of child soldiers. The first was the 2007 judgment of the UN-backed tribunal for Sierra Leone against three men from a rebel armed group. The other was the conviction of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga by the International Criminal Court in 2012.

Against this backdrop, the dramatic rise in school enrolment under a global universal primary education drive, or the halving of infant mortality rates under the Millennium Development Goals, seem like postcards from another universe. The shocking reality of trafficking in boys and girls, conscription by armed groups in conflict zones and exploitation in the sex trade has overshadowed these advances, portending both immediate and long-term danger to whole generations. Paradoxically, the recommendations of the Unicef report are so comprehensive that short of swift and sweeping changes in global policy and practice, they are unlikely to yield tangible results. A case in point is the suggestion that governments should address the root causes of conflict, violence and extreme poverty, and instead divert scarce resources to fulfil more fundamental necessities of life. The spirit underlying this idea is as compelling as the complexities of realpolitik that impede its translation into action. This is evident in respect of the challenge of combating international terrorism by a delineation of its political antecedents. Conversely, the idea to dispense with the detention of children seeking refugee status and to do away with reporting requirements, potentially benefiting 11 million, is a more pragmatic proposal. Prima facie, there is merit in this approach, as governments may be expected to take a more sympathetic view on humanitarian imperatives.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Extradition treaty
  • Goods and Service tax (GST)
  • South China Sea
  • Arab Spring
  • UNICEF and UNHCR
  • Industrial production and growth


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

Links to Refer

GST – 122nd constitutional amendment bill

http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/the-constitution-122nd-amendment-gst-bill-2014-3505/


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following multilateral groups aim to form an International North-South Transportation corridor to connect Central Asia to Persian Gulf?
a) Ashgabat agreement

b) Gulf cooperation council

c) Shanghai cooperation organization

d) Regional comprehensive economic partnership


Question 2: Which of the following sector has the highest weight in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) –
a) Manufacturing

b) Mining

c) Electricity

d) Coal


Question 3: The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers appears in news in the context of -

a) Railway budget

b) General anti-avoidance rules

c) Goods & Services tax

d) Direct tax code


Question 4: Which of the following species of Plasmodium causes the dangerous life-threatening Malaria?
a) Plasmodium Vivax

b) Plasmodium Falciparum

c) Plasmodium Malaria

d) None of these


Question 5: Which of the following statements are correct –
  1. The Permanent court of arbitration works under the aegis of UN
  2. It is not a court in the traditional sense, but provides services of arbitral tribunal to resolve multilateral disputes

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

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