Comprehensive News Analysis - 14 March 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

GEOGRAPHY

1. El Nino seen arriving too late to hurt India’s monsoon rains

B. GS2 Related:

POLITY

1. Goa: Congress knocks on SC’s door

2. Another strike against ‘restrictions’

3. End of a chapter

4. Black money: Income tax dept urges people to make use of PMGKY to come clean

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. China planning five-fold increase in marine force

2. Japan to put up biggest show of force since WWII, will send largest ever warship to South China Sea

3. US lawmaker wants Pakistan to be declared as state sponsor of terrorism

C. GS3 Related:

ECONOMY

1. Rising urban consumption revives ragi crop production

2. Bitcoin-based pyramid schemes flourishing in regulatory vacuum

3. India to host Commonwealth SME summit

4. Govt may build dedicated road corridors for electric trucks

ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Climate change and cities: Green buildings shouldn’t be treated as an option anymore

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. GM food regulator panel to draft rules on import of dried grains and solubles

INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Court quashes money laundering case against Janardhana Reddy

D. GS4 Related:
E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs


A. GS1 Related

Category: GEOGRAPHY

1. El Nino seen arriving too late to hurt India’s monsoon rains

Why in news?

  • India’s monsoon may escape the effects of a possible El Nino.
  • El Niño as the event can bring dry weather to the world’s top cotton grower and second-biggest wheat and sugar producer.
  • Forecasters globally have been increasing odds that El Nino will develop this year as temperatures in the Pacific Ocean rise.
  • Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology issued an El Nino “watch” on 28 February, indicating the likelihood of the pattern forming this year is about 50%.
  • The 2015-16 El Nino was the strongest since the record event of 1997-98.
  • A late El Nino may miss India’s monsoon season that runs from June through September, accounting for more than 70% of rain and watering more than half of all farmland.
  • Rainfall was normal in 2016 following two years of deficit that curbed output of sugar cane, wheat and pulses.
  • The good monsoon rains encouraged farmers to expand crop planting and the government predicts India’s grain harvest will reach an all-time high on record rice, wheat and pulses production.
  • India’s Meteorological Department said last week that above-normal temperatures are likely across India from March to May after 2016 was the warmest year since 1901.
  • Any temperature that is above normal will have a direct bearing on the crop, be it north or central India.
  • While weak La Nina conditions have been prevailing over the Pacific Ocean since July, forecasts indicate the pattern will weaken and reach neutral levels during the pre-monsoon season.

BASIC INFORMATION

What are El Niño and La Niña events?

  • El Niño and La Niña events are a natural part of the global climate system.
  • They occur when the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere above it change from their neutral (‘normal’) state for several seasons.
  • El Niño events are associated with a warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific, while La Niña events are the reverse, with a sustained cooling of these same areas.
  • These changes in the Pacific Ocean and its overlying atmosphere occur in a cycle known as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
  • The atmosphere and ocean interact, reinforcing each other and creating a ‘feedback loop’ which amplifies small changes in the state of the ocean into an ENSO event.
  • Even in a neutral state, temperatures in the Pacific Ocean vary from east to west – for example, the western Pacific ‘warm pool’ in the tropical Pacific has some of the warmest large-scale ocean temperatures in the world. 

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  • During an ENSO event, ocean temperatures become warmer than usual or cooler than usual at different locations, which are reflected in ocean temperature gradients.
  • The most important driver of ENSO is these temperature gradients across the Pacific, both at the surface and below the surface, particularly at the thermocline.

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Coupled

  • Because ENSO involves interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere – both of which play a role in reinforcing changes in each other – it is known as a coupled ocean–atmosphere phenomenon.

Thermocline

  • Thermocline comes from the Greek for ‘heat slope’ and is the name for the region separating warm, well-mixed surface water from cool, deep ocean water.
  • Typically water temperatures above the thermocline are more than 25°C while those below the thermocline are 15°C or less.

Why are they called El Niño and La Niña?

  • The term El Niño translates from Spanish as ‘the boy-child’.
  • Peruvian fishermen originally used the term to describe the appearance, around Christmas, of a warm ocean current off the South American coast.
  • It is now the commonly accepted term to describe the warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
  • La Niña translates as ‘girl-child’ and is the opposite ENSO phase to El Niño.
  
B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Goa: Congress knocks on SC’s door

What’s in news?

  • Recently assembly elections were held in Goa (40 seats)- BJP won 13seats, INC (Indian National Congress)– 17 seats respectively.
  • INC contention: A writ petition was filed in Supreme court to hear an urgent writ petition filed by the Congress party challenging the “blatantly unconstitutional action” of Goa State Governor Mridula Sinha to invite Goa BJP legislature party leader Manohar Parrikar as Chief Minister of the State.
  • The petition accused the Centre of using its political clout to defeat the mandate of the people and grab power by misusing the office of the Governor, who turned a Nelson’s eye on the fact that the Congress party was voted the “single largest party in the State Legislature”. The actions of the Centre and the Governor sound the “death knell for democracy”.
  • Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar agreed to set up a Special Bench and hear the petition.
  • The petition said that the Supreme Court as the “sentinel” of constitutional norms and values should intervene and strike down the decisions taken by a Governor in her discretionary capacity if they are found to be arbitrary.
  • The petition also contended that the BJP had no pre-poll alliance with any of the other parties which now tows their line. It was central BJP leadership which used its political clout to rope in the smaller parties and independents in Goa to cobble together the requisite majority in the State.

Basic Information

Constitutional position of the Governor:

Article 163. Council of Ministers to aid and advise Governor

(1) There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.

(2) If any question arises whether any matter is or is not a matter as respects which the Governor is by or under this Constitution required to act in his discretion, the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.

(3) The question whether any, and if so what, advice was tendered by Ministers to the Governor shall not be inquired into in any court. 

Aricle164. Other provisions as to Ministers

(1) The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minster, and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor:

Provided that in the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, there shall be a Minister in charge of tribal welfare who may in addition be in charge of the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and backward classes or any other work.

(2) The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.

(3) Before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule

(4) A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.

(5) The salaries and allowances of Ministers shall be such as the Legislature of the State may from time to time by law determine and, until the Legislature of the State so determines, shall be as specified in the Second Schedule.

Some discretionary powers are as follows

  • Governor can dissolve the legislative assembly if the chief minister advices him to do following a vote of no confidence. Now, it is up to the Governor what he/ she would like to do.
  • Governor, on his/ her discretion can recommend the president about the failure of the constitutional machinery in the state.
  • On his/ her discretion, the Governor can reserve a bill passed by the state legislature for president’s assent.
  • If there is NO political party with a clear cut majority in the assembly, Governor on his/ her discretion can appoint anybody as chief minister.
  • Governor determines the amount payable by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to an autonomous Tribal District Council as royalty accruing from licenses for mineral exploration.
  • Governor can seek information from the chief minister with regard to the administrative and legislative matters of the state.
  • Governor has discretion to refuse to sign to an ordinary bill passed by the state legislature
2. Another strike against ‘restrictions’

What’s in news?

  • Students of the autonomous Fatima Mata National College here launched an agitation demanding the scrapping of ‘unbearable restrictions that infringe on their liberties.’
  • A good number of women students from the college joined the agitation which was led by the college union

Allegations against management: ‘undemocratic restrictions’ are being imposed under the autonomous status of the college

  • Whole campus is dotted with CCTV cameras in a manner that invades their privacy.
  • There is a ban of sorts on talking to male students on the campus.
  • They are asked to strictly remain inside the women’s quadrangle during breaks and before the classes.
  • Walking on the campus invites the wrath of the management.
  • Fined even on flimsy grounds.

Management’s version

  • The quadrangle system at the college was very old and was meant to safeguard the privacy of women students. The system was welcomed by parents and students at large.
  • The students want to leave the campus during class hours. The college allows this only with the permission of the teachers concerned. The CCTV cameras are placed in the larger interests of security and not for infringement of privacy.

Basic information:

This particular issue invokes upon the Fundamental Rights granted under constitution of India.

Article 19:  all citizens shall have  

  • Right to freedom of speech and expression;
  • Right to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • Right to form associations or unions;
  • Right to move freely throughout the territory of India;
  • Right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; Right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

However, Freedom of speech and expression is not absolute. As of now, there are 8 restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression

These 8 restrictions were:

  1. Security of the state
  2. Friendly relations with foreign states
  3. Public Order
  4. Decency or morality
  5. Contempt of Court
  6. Defamation
  7. Incitement to offence
  8. Sovereignty and integrity of India

Freedom of Speech and Expression Article 19 of the constitution provides freedom of speech which is the right to express one’s opinion freely without any fear through oral/written/electronic/broadcasting /press.

3. End of a chapter

What’s in news?

  • South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached from the office.
  • South Korea’s highest court, upholded Parliament’s vote to impeach Park Geun-hye
  • Earlier it was unthinkable to get the powerful to face justice even for serious crimes, this particular move has brought in faith among its nationals with reference to accountability among the high and mighty.
  • Park could now face criminal proceedings on allegations that she was involved in nefarious activities along with her close confidante. The chief accusation is that they solicited contributions to promote dodgy non-profit organisations in return for clearing questionable corporate deals
  • The most provocative foreign policy move was the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, an American missile defence system, escalating regional tensions. China retaliated with calls for the boycott of South Korean imports.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defence(THAAD)

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system which is designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.

Basic information:

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Impeachment procedure to remove President from his office under Indian Constitution:

Article 61: Procedure for impeachment of the President

(1) When a President is to be impeached for violation of the Constitution, the charge shall be preferred by either House of Parliament

(2) No such charge shall be preferred unless

(a) the proposal to prefer such charge is contained in a resolution which has been moved after at least fourteen days notice in writing signed by not less than one fourth of the total number of members of the House has been given of their intention to move the resolution, and

(b) Such resolution has been passed by a majority of not less than two thirds of the total membership of the House

(3) When a charge has been so preferred by either House of Parliament, the other House shall investigate the charge or cause the charge to be investigated and the President shall have the right to appear and to be represented as such investigation

(4) If as a result of the investigation a resolution is passed by a majority of not less than two thirds of the total membership of the House by which the charge was investigated or cause to be investigated, declaring that the charge preferred against the President has been sustained, such resolution shall have the effect of removing the President from his office as from the date on which the resolution is so passed.

4. Black money: Income tax dept urges people to make use of PMGKY to come clean

What’s in news?

  • Income Tax Department asked people to come clean and pay 49.90 percent tax on undisclosed income under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana by 31 March.

Basic Information:

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana:

  • It is an amnesty scheme launched in December 2016 on the lines of the Income declaration scheme, 2016 (IDS) launched earlier in the year.
  • A part of the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016, the scheme provides an opportunity to declare unaccounted wealth and black money in a confidential manner and avoid prosecution after paying a fine of 50% on the undisclosed income.
  • An additional 25% of the undisclosed income is invested in the scheme which can be refunded after four years

Salient features of Scheme

  1. Declaration under it can be made by any person in respect of undisclosed income in the form of cash or deposits in an account with bank or post office or specified entity.
  2. Declarant of undisclosed income needs to pay 30% tax, 10% penalty and 33% Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Cess on the tax, all of which add up to around 50%.
  3. Besides, declarant must make mandatory deposit of 25% of undisclosed incomeca in the zero-interest Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016 with lock-in period of 4 years. The income declared under it will not be included in the total income of the declarant under the Income-tax (IT) Act for any assessment year.
  4. Besides, declarations made under it will be kept confidential and shall not be admissible as evidence under any Act (ex. Wealth-tax Act, Central Excise Act, Companies Act etc.). However, declarant will have no immunity under Criminal Acts under prevention of Money laundering act, Narcotics Act or for holding benami property and smuggling offences of the Scheme.
  5. Non declaration of undisclosed cash or deposit in accounts under this Scheme will render tax, surcharge and cess totalling to 77.25% of such income, if declared in the return of income. In case the same is not shown in the return of income a further penalty @10% of tax shall also be levied followed by prosecution.


Category: 
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. China planning five-fold increase in marine force

What’s in news?

  • China is set to rapidly expand its marine corps and the Navy in anticipation of the development of its Maritime Silk Road (MSR) [which is a part of China’sOne Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative. The OBOR plan is a mega-connectivity initiative spanning Eurasia], which covers the Pakistani port of Gwadar (the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
  • It is a strategy to enhance maritime defence in the East and South China seas (hot pursuit area- claiming territorial sovereignty), protection of China’s national security in the Korean peninsula, the country’s maritime lifelines, as well as offshore supply deports like in Djibouti and Gwadar port in Pakistan.
  • Meanwhile, Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa promised that the country’s security forces were “fully prepared” to meet all security challenges to projects of the CPEC and Chinese nationals living in the country. He made these remarks during a visit to the headquarters of the 15,000 strong Special Security Division (SSD), charged with the security of Chinese on CPEC and non-CPEC projects. 

One Belt, One Road initiative:

  • The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, alsoca known as The Belt and Road (abbreviated B&R), One Belt, One Road (abbreviated OBOR) or the Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy and framework, proposed by Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia.

The strategy underlines China’s push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and its need for priority capacity cooperation in areas such as steel manufacturing.


China–Pakistan Economic Corridor:

  • Under-construction $54 billion economic corridor in Pakistan, that aims to connect Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan with Xinjiang in far-western China.
  • The project is a collection of various infrastructure and energy projects, and includes the establishment of special economic zones

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  • The corridor comprises a vast network of highways and railways to be built, spanning the length and breadth of Pakistan in order to link seaports in Gwadar and Karachi with the Chinese region of Xinjiang.

2. Japan to put up biggest show of force since WWII, will send largest ever warship to South China Sea

 What’s in news?

  • Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship (Izumo)on a three-month tour through the South China Sea ,calling it its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.
  • Background: China claims almost all the disputed waters and its growing military presence has fuelled concerns in Japan and the West, with the US holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.
  • Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits and through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes.
  • Japan does not have any claim to the waters, but has a separate maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea.
  • The 249 metre-long (816.93 ft) Izumo is as large as Japan’s World War Two-era carriers and can operate up to nine helicopters. The vessel allows Japan to project military power well beyond its territory.

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What’s in news?
  • S. Congressman Mr. Ted Poe has introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives seeking a review of U.S. ties with Pakistan, given its support for terrorism.
  • Poe quotes-“Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the U.S. for years. From harbouring Osama bin Laden to its cosy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the war on terror. And it’s not America’s. It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a State Sponsor of Terrorism,”
  • Pakistan is taking money from the U.S. and at least part of that money is going to terrorists who seek to attack America.
  • According to a U.S. State Department document, there are four main categories of sanctions that will follow a state sponsor of terrorism designation — “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defence exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
  • Recent years has seen a sharp decline in U.S military and aid grants — from $3.5 billion in 2011 to less than $1 billion in 2016.
 
C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Rising urban consumption revives ragi crop production

Key Points

  • Major consumer goods players have caught on to the emergence of ragi as an alternative food, triggering production of the millet crop in India.
  • Ragi or finger millet was once a subsistence crop—a poor man’s staple.
  • The return to ragi is part of a growing health-food movement around the world. For the Indian farmer, this is good news.

Pros and Roadblocks of Ragi cultivation

  • Ragi and other plants of the vast millet family are easy to grow because of their low water requirement. This can be one of the best solutions for the increasing drought scenario as this can act as a security of livelihood for the farmers in semi-arid region.
  • These are hardy crops, and so most farmers don’t add fertilizers or pesticides to them, as is traditional.
  • The biggest roadblock to increasing ragi cultivation is the lack of millet mills to process the crops.
  • Moreover, the area under ragi cultivation has shrunk over the decades. Ragi was historically an important crop but with Green Revolution and government policies, farmers moved to cultivating rice and wheat.

Geography and Economy of the crop

  • Karnataka, India’s largest ragi growing state, has seen a steady rise in production.
  • Between 2011 and 2014, ragi production in the state grew 12.7% while the total area under ragi cultivation grew 4.1%.
  • Apart from Karnataka, the major ragi-cultivating states are Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The supply side is so lopsided that the prices of ragi are rising.In the decade to December 2016, ragi prices increased 270% compared with a 113% rise in the wholesale price index for all cereals, according to data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.
  • The domestic and international export market for ragi can be worth approximately $4.5 billion. If the policies of the government are right, given this demand, the area under ragi cultivation can grow 30% in the next few years.

BASIC INFORMATION

Nutritional Significance

  • Along with oats this is one of the most nutritious food and one of the easy one to digest.
  • It is rich in calcium and protein and also has good amount of iron and other minerals.
  • It is low in fat most of which are unsaturated fats.
  • Promote Healthy Eating
  • Promote Natural Weight Loss
  • A good Vegan Gluten free source of Protein
  • Acts as a good baby food due to its rich nutrient content. This can reduce malnutrition rate.

Importance with respect to India

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The seed coat, embryo (germ), and the endosperm are the main botanical components of the millet kernel.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

2. Bitcoin-based pyramid schemes flourishing in regulatory vacuum

Why in news?


  • Some small-time traders are taking advantage of the absence of rules governing crypto-currencies in India by creating multi-level marketing (MLM) or pyramid-like schemes with bitcoin as the base product.
  • The issue of multi-level marketing schemes is a global problem.
  • These MLM schemes are now gaining traction in India owing to a lack of governing guidelines and the rapid rise in value of the crypto-currency.

What are MLM’s?

  • People form companies that promise lucrative returns and indeed give them for the first few months. This is in exchange for bringing in more members under them who will buy bitcoins and bring in newer members. This goes on till it explodes and the people lose all their money.
  • Typically, a small group of people come together to develop a code that will automatically transfer a certain percentage to users if someone in their network purchases bitcoin and brings in new members.
  • Once the code is established, it becomes difficult to find out the source of this whole operation as each user plays the victim when it collapses.

Where does Indian crypto-currency market standing presently?

  • There are about 20 bitcoin firms in India now from just four in 2013.
  • A crypto-currency is a digital currency created through encryption techniques. Bitcoin is the most famous. Some others are: litecoin, peercoin, namecoin, ether and primecoin.
  • In India, most companies are associated with bitcoin. No monetary authority in the world backs crypto-currency and most are trying to find ways to regulate the market.
  • DABFI—formed by the representatives of four bitcoin firms: Zebpay, SearchTrade, Unocoin and Coin secure—is currently working on creating awareness among investors and firms against such programs that lead to problematic transactions and mistrust around crypto-currencies.
  • The idea behind a self-regulatory organization is to draft a firm policy to curb the misuse of blockchain technology and crypto-currencies.
  • The fact is that the Indian crypto-currency market is not big enough for the government or regulators to get involved right now.
  • RBI does not recognize bitcoin or any crypto-currency as a legitimate form of currency.
  • In February, the central bank put out a cautionary note warning the public of the same and said anyone indulging in purchase or trade of crypto-currencies shall be doing so at their own risk.

BASIC INFORMATION

What are Bitcoins?

A type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.

3. India to host Commonwealth SME summit

Key Points

  • Current Commonwealth trade turnover is around $700 bn, and target is to increase up to $1 tn by 2020
  • New Delhi will most probably host a Commonwealth SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) summit in May as the next stage in a bid by the 52-nation association to evolve an ease of trading accord, which is aimed to be formally announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London next year.
  • The current Commonwealth trade turnover is in the region of $700 billion, and the target is to increase this to $1 trillion by 2020.
  • The Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom estimates India’s share of this to be roughly $120 billion or a noteworthy 17 per cent.
  • The conference will be co-hosted by the London-headquartered Commonwealth Secretariat and the Indian commerce ministry.
  • The pact envisaged will be far from being a free-trade agreement (FTA). It will be an attempt to deepen and harmonise economic ties by lowering tariffs, port charges, among other steps, to facilitate growth in the turnover. 
  • It also re-confirmed India’s preference for a lifting of barriers, as opposed to the protectionism advocated by US President Donald Trump. This is unsurprising, since India’s trade deficit for April-December 2016 was still a significant $76.5 billion
  • More than 700 Indian companies, including Tata group firms, are based in the UK and utilise it as a staging post to sell goods and services to the 500-million-strong EU market

Commonwealth Advantage

  • Because we share common law, common language, common institutions and common parliamentary structures, that has given us a de facto advantage.
4. Govt may build dedicated road corridors for electric trucks

Key Points:

  • The development comes against the backdrop of ambitious government plans for a mass scale shift to electric vehicles by 2030
  • The government is exploring a plan to reserve one lane in each national highway for the exclusive use of electric trucks.
  • In what may be a game changer for India’s transportation, environment and energy security needs, these trucks won’t be battery operated but powered by electricity from overhead cables on a dedicated lane.
  • To start with, the ministry of road transport and highways is planning a pilot project for running 50-tonne electric trucks between Delhi and Mumbai, aimed at halving the cost of transportation between the nation’s capital and the business hub. If the pilot is successful, the government will introduce it across the country.

Why it is important for India?

  • Any such plan will help reduce both pollution and import dependency for fuels, given India’s energy import bill of around $150 billion—expected to reach $300 billion by 2030.
  • India imports around 80% of its oil and 18% of its natural gas requirements. India imported 202 million tonnes of oil in 2015-16.
  • This comes against the backdrop of ambitious government plans for a mass scale shift to electric vehicles by 2030 so that all vehicles on Indian roads by then—both personal and commercial—are powered by electricity.


Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Climate change and cities: Green buildings shouldn’t be treated as an option anymore

Why in news?

  • Firstly, climate change and cities delved into the migration, erratic urban flooding, and near-absolute neglect of environmental-friendly measures in policy making process of urban planning.
  • The following second part explains the need and persuasive solutions on erecting green buildings in urban landscapes.
  • Cities, by their very nature, are energy intensivee. they need more supply of electricity, water, and land.
  • Besides, the changing lifestyles that allow people to splurge – shopping in malls, living in high-rises with spas, swimming pools, gyms, etc. – definitely shoots up the requirements of essential resources like water and electricity.
  • For instance, the seven lakes, which have been providing water to Mumbai for over decades, have become redundant today because the city with a total land area of 603 sq.km and a population density of 30,900 per sq.km is no longer capable of carrying the growing population and meet even the basic requirements.
  • Energy-efficient green buildings, at present, account for only five percent of the total stock in India.
  • Surprisingly, of all the cities, which have been selected under the smart city development program, only Bhubaneswar – leading the Smart City list – has shown actual commitment to make its housing infrastructure green.
  • Moreover, there seem to be no binding on inculcating green building aspects in the construction sector which are presumably most resource-intensive ones.
  • Another important aspect is that of wastage of available resources. ca.png
  • A recent example says that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region has 1.71 lakh unsold apartments which are worth a humungous Rs 1.80 lakh crore.
  • Furthermore, the total water demand as Usual scenario in India will increase by 22 percent by 2025 and 32 percent by 2050.
  • But as per United Nations statistics, only 0.3 percent of fresh water is available in the world.
  • With cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai already ferrying water from as far away as 200 km, they will soon have to look for their own fresh water source.
  • So if environmental-friendly factors are considered right from the initial building stage, we may be able to sustain these resources.

How will green buildings help?

  • Green buildings efficiently use basic resources like energy, water, and electricity reducing water wastage and pollution.
  • These buildings are developed considering the building layout for adequate solar orientation and proper ventilation which in turn reduces the heat intake and maximizes the glare-free daylight. They are also efficient in treating waste water.
  • However, any given building or a standalone structure is not an independent unit but is tremendously dependent on the resources around.
  • The urban spaces should be crafted considering the present as well as theca1 future state of resources.
  • Mitigating the building sector’s greenhouse gas emissions requires integrated innovative solutions and sustainable technologies.
  • For instance, Building Integrated Photovoltaic can reduce the electricity consumption while using the already available building surfaces.
  • Solar passive design techniques, which can help cut down the need for artificial ventilation, heating, and cooling systems, can significantly contribute to mitigating the urban heat island effect.
  • In the wake of recent Montreal Protocol Amendments, this simple approach can help us leapfrog in the direction we have committed to. If these measures are incorporated at the unit level (considering individual structures), it would make them more responsive to the surroundings.
  • The city corporations should make these climate responsive techniques invariably a part of its bye-laws, to tame the impact of changing climate to a pronounced extent.
  • Green building components should be monitored and regulated irrespective of any rating systems in cities, especially for new construction.
  • The city corporations should retain the ecologically sensitive zones, like salt pans, mangroves, wetlands, lakes especially in the cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi, where development is rampant.
  • Needless to say, the youth, citizens and policy makers should be positively made aware of the urgent need of environmental issues on the sustainable development and relevant measures.
  • The city and local governments can play a significant role in mainstreaming the mitigation actions into the developmental process.
  • If we need our cities to be sustainable, sustainability would require mainstreaming at every level.
  • It requires stringent and systematic inclusive planning. Green approaches for making cities environment-friendly should not be treated as an option anymore.

How unplanned urban spaces and migration affect cities?

  • According to World Bank, nearly 2 billion people – 70 percent of the world’s total population – would be living in cities by 2050.
  • A staggering 377 million Indians are currently living in towns and cities and within 20-25 years, another 300 million people will follow suit.
  • The economic census of Maharashtra says that the agricultural establishment in Mumbai has seen a decline by 58 percent whereas the non-agricultural establishment has increased by 33 percent.
  • In a city like Delhi, the average decadal population growth since 1951 has been 45.8 percent, where migration accounted for more than 23 percent of the total increase in population. It’s the same story with other metros like Bengaluru, Chennai, and Gurugram.
  • An uncontrolled built environment, acts as a parasite surviving on the already threatened resources.
  • Case study: Take the example of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Mumbai. According to the state government’s action plan 2014-2023, over three million people are staying on the outskirts of SGNP. The encroachment, which began in the 1970s in the protected areas, has only been increasing with no definite control mechanisms in place. The report states that 200 hectares of reserved forest lands of SGNP have been encroached by about 61,000 families. This has destroyed the park’s biodiversity to an extent that it has caused some critical environmental damages.
  • While the global literature is showing increasing evidence of global warming, losing out on such eco-sensitive areas, like national parks, wetlands and so on, may only aggravate the damage caused to the city’s microclimate.

Climate change and urban disasters

  • According to IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) AR5 (Assessment Report 5) Synthesis Report, climate change will increase risks like heat stress, storms and extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, air pollution, drought, water scarcity, the rise in the sea-level and storm surges in the cities.
  • According to the Twelfth Five Year Plan, India loses up to 2 percent of its GDP due to natural disasters of which floods and high winds account for 60 percent.
  • The nature of our built environments or urban spaces shaping our future cities also determines our vulnerability to disasters.
  • Over the past two-three years, Indian cities have also experienced erratic heavy flooding followed by urban mobility disruptions like slowing down of the railways and traffic congestion.
  • In 2013, cities in the state of Uttarakhand, and Mumbai and Kolkata witnessed extreme floods; in 2014, it was Chennai and Srinagar.
  • This will, in turn, affect the groundwater table recharging by throwing liters of fresh rain water down the drains.
  • So utilization of resources and their management are equally important issue.

Urban Heat Island Effect

  • Concrete surfaces, which form more than 60 percent of the surface materials in urban areas today, tend to retain heat more than their surrounding rural areas due to higher reflective surfaces.ca2.png
  • The increase in temperatures further triggers the overall temperatures making urban areas as the island of heat, where the temperatures are 2-3 degrees higher than the peripheral areas. This is called as Urban Heat Island Effect.
  • This further increases the demand for cooling systems like air conditioners eventually escalating the energy consumption and use of greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons adding to the climate change.
  • Thus, protection of natural resources like water bodies, wetlands, salt pans, and mangroves play a significant role as they have the capacity to absorb such climatic shocks; failing which the cities would be washed away in no time.
  • Here’s where green buildings come into the picture as they are more sustainable and can help in retaining vital resources.


Category: 
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. GM food regulator panel to draft rules on import of dried grains and solubles

Why in news?

  • Concerned over any definitive guidelines around import of distiller’s dried grains with soluble (DDGS) made from genetically modified (GM) corn in the US,
  • The issue was discussed by the genetic engineering appraisal committee (GEAC) that comes under the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC).
  • However, the GEAC noted that there are no defined guidelines in India on the subject and recommended to constitute a sub-committee to “prepare a draft guideline with a prescribed application format for seeking requisite information from the applicant”, while they seek permission from GEAC for import.

Importance of DDGS in US?

  • Most ethanol plants in the US are dry-grind facilities that use starch from corn to produce ethanol.
  • The remainder of the corn kernel is used to produce a variety of wet and dry distillers grains co-products including DDGS, which is considered an excellent ingredient for use in animal feeds.
  • DDGS attracts to have high energy, mid-protein and high digestible phosphorus content which makes it an attractive proposition against traditional and expensive options like corn or soybean meal.


Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Court quashes money laundering case against Janardhana Reddy

What’s in news?

  • The High Court of Karnataka on Monday set aside proceedings initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Reddy, his wife Lakshmi Aruna, and two mining companies with which the duo were associated, and also against attachment of their assets worth around ₹900 crore.
  • The court declared that the ED had no jurisdiction to initiate proceedings and provisionally attaching their assets under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PML) Act, 2002 as the offences, booked against them for illegal mining and transportation of ore under the provisions of the other laws, were not declared as “scheduled offences” under the PML Act during the period in which Mr. Reddy and others allegedly committed those offences (retrospective application is not permitted under PML).

Basic Information:

What is Money Laundering?

Money laundering is the process by which large amounts of illegally obtained is given the appearance of having originated from a legitimate source. So basically, it involves all the ways and means to convert the black money into white money are Money laundering.

But in Money laundering, the black money must involve a predicate crime such as the violation of Indian Penal Code, IPC, Narcotics, Prevention of Corruption Act and Human Trafficking. This is because in India, stashing black money is simply a civil crime involving tax evasion; money laundering has criminal dimensions related to black money. That is why, we use the term Dirty Money in this context. 

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Steps in Money Laundering

There are three different steps in money laundering described by three terms as follows:

  1. Placement of Dirty Money, generally in the form of Cash is inserted into a legitimate financial institution.
  2. Layering : Layering involves sending the money through various financial transactions to change its form and make it difficult to follow. Layering may consist of several bank-to-bank transfers, wire transfers between different accounts in different names in different countries, changing the money’s currency, and purchasing high-value items to change the form of the money.
  3. Integration: At the integration stage, the money re-enters the mainstream economy in legitimate-looking form. This may involve a final bank transfer into the account of a local business in which the launderer is “investing” in exchange for a cut of the profits. At this point, the criminal can use the money without getting caught.

Prevention of money laundering: The first major initiative in prevention of money laundering was United Nations convention against illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances in 1988. But major change came with the introduction of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 1989. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by G-7 Summit in Paris, initially to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.

India became member of FATF in 2010.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) forms the core of the legal framework put in place by India to combat money laundering. It came into force in 2005.

Objectives

The PMLA seeks to combat money laundering in India and has three main objectives:

  1. To prevent and control money laundering
  2. To confiscate and seize the property obtained from the laundered money; and
  3. To deal with any other issue connected with money laundering in India

PMLA defines money laundering offence and provides for the freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime.

Salient Features:

  • RBI, SEBI and IRDA have been brought under the PMLA, and therefore the provisions of this act are applicable to all financial institutions, banks, mutual funds, insurance companies, and their financial intermediaries.
  • The agency monitoring the anti-Money laundering activities in India is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND). This unit is responsible for receiving, processing, analysing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions. FIU-IND is also responsible for coordinating and strengthening efforts of national and international intelligence, investigation and enforcement agencies in pursuing the global efforts against money laundering and related crimes.
  • FIU-IND is an independent body reporting directly to the Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) headed by the Finance Minister.
  • Punishment for offence of money laundering: There can be punishment of imprisonment upto 3-7 years with fine upto 5 lakh rupees. But in case of offences done under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act 1985, maximum punishment is extent to 10 years rather than 7 years.
  • Obligation of banking companies, financial Institutions and Intermediaries: Banking companies have to follow the procedure of KYC Norms (Know your customer) .Maintain records for Nature and value of the transaction to be transacted. Whether such transaction was singly transacted or series of transaction taken place in a month. Maintain record for a period of 10 years from the date of cessation of transaction between the clients and the banking company or financial institution or intermediary as the case may be. Furnish information of above transaction to director within the prescribed time. Verify and maintain the records of identity of all clients in respect of such transactions to Director within the prescribed time.
  • Special Court: Section 43 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) says that the Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, shall, for trial of offence punishable under PML, by notification, designate one or more Courts of Session as Special Court or Special Courts for such area or areas or for such case or class or group of cases as may be specified in the notification.

The Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Act 2012 PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2012 has enlarged the definition of money laundering by including activities such as concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities.

  • The amendment has introduced the concept of Corresponding law to link the provisions of Indian law with the laws of foreign countries and to provide for transfer of the proceeds of foreign predicate offence committed in any manner in India.
  • It also adds the concept of ‘reporting entity’ which would include a banking company, financial institution, intermediary or a person carrying on a designated business or profession.
  • The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 levied a fine up to Rs 5 lakh. The amendment act has removed this upper limit.
  • The act has provided for provisional attachment and confiscation of property of any person (for a period not exceeding 180 days). This power may be exercised by the authority if it has reason to believe that the offence of money laundering has taken place.
  • The act has conferred the powers upon the Director to call for records of transactions or any additional information that may be required for the purposes of investigation. The Director may also make inquiries for non-compliance of the obligations of the reporting entities.
  • The amended act has brought all the offences under Part A of the Schedule to ensure that the monetary thresholds do not apply to the offence of money laundering.

Enforcement Directorate:

  • The Directorate General of Economic Enforcement is a law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India.
  • It is part of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.
  • It comprises officers of the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Administrative Service.

Objectives:

  • The prime objective of the Enforcement Directorate is the enforcement of two key Acts of the Government of India namely, the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA)

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!


E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn


F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGANISATIONS IN NEWS About the Article

Article 163. Council of Ministers to aid and advise Governor

(1) There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.

(2) If any question arises whether any matter is or is not a matter as respects which the Governor is by or under this Constitution required to act in his discretion, the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.

(3) The question whether any, and if so what, advice was tendered by Ministers to the Governor shall not be inquired into in any court.

Aricle164. Other provisions as to Ministers

(1) The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minster, and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor:

Provided that in the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, there shall be a Minister in charge of tribal welfare who may in addition be in charge of the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and backward classes or any other work.

(2) The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.

(3) Before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule

(4) A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.

(5) The salaries and allowances of Ministers shall be such as the Legislature of the State may from time to time by law determine and, until the Legislature of the State so determines, shall be as specified in the Second Schedule.

Article 61:- Procedure for impeachment of the President

(1) When a President is to be impeached for violation of the Constitution, the charge shall be preferred by either House of Parliament

(2) No such charge shall be preferred unless

(a) the proposal to prefer such charge is contained in a resolution which has been moved after at least fourteen days’ notice in writing signed by not less than one fourth of the total number of members of the House has been given of their intention to move the resolution, and

(b) such resolution has been passed by a majority of not less than two thirds of the total membership of the House

(3) When a charge has been so preferred by either House of Parliament, the other House shall investigate the charge or cause the charge to be investigated and the President shall have the right to appear and to be represented as such investigation

(4) If as a result of the investigation a resolution is passed by a majority of not less than two thirds of the total membership of the House by which the charge was investigated or cause to be investigated, declaring that the charge preferred against the President has been sustained, such resolution shall have the effect of removing the President from his office as from the date on which the resolution is so passed.


G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂

Question 1: Which among the following agency monitors the anti –money laundering 
activities?
  1. Financial Intelligence unit
  2. Enforcement Directorate
  3. Central Bureau of Intelligence
  4. Reserve Bank of India.
See
Answer
Question 2: Consider the following statements with respect to Green Building 
concept:
  1. Green Building as a concept relies on vertical gardening for both aesthetic and environmental purpose.
  2. Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) is the set of energy efficiency standards for design and construction of any building. These standards are laid down by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).
  3. Green buildings are designed to reduce water wastage and pollution.
  4. Green buildings are the need of the hour to fight the phenomenon of urban heat Island.

Identify the incorrect statements.

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 2 and 4
  4. 3 and 4
See
Answer
Question 3: Identify the correct statements with respect to the dedicated
electric truck corridor as seen in news recently
  1. These trucks won’t be battery operated but powered by electricity from overhead cables on a dedicated lane..
  2. These corridors will help reduce both pollution and import dependency for fuels.

Select the correct option/s

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above
See
Answer
  • Trucks won’t be battery operated but powered by electricity from overhead cables on a dedicated lane.
  • Project for running electric trucks are aimed at halving the cost of transportation.
  • This will help reduce both pollution and import dependency for fuels, given India’s energy import bill of around $150 billion—expected to reach $300 billion by 2030.
  • This step would also reduce the logistic costs as electricity all kind are available for the need now.
  • Finally this project would also help in competing Chinese products.
Question 4: Consider the following statements:
  1. President of India can be impeached for violation of Constitution.
  2. Violation of Constitution is defined in the constitution.
  3. When a charge has been so preferred by either House of Parliament, the other House shall investigate the charge or cause the charge to be investigated and the President doesn’t right to appear and to be represented as such investigation

Choose the correct answer

  1. Only 1
  2. 1 and 3
  3. All are correct
  4. Only 2
See
Answer
Question 5: Identify the correct statement with reference to Pradhan Mantri Garib 
Kalyan Yojana
  1. It is a financial Inclusion scheme.
  2. It is a scheme related to poverty alleviation among rural household.
  3. It is an income declaration scheme, where in black money is converted to white by paying upto 50% as penalty.
  4. None of the above.
See
Answer
Question 6: Consider the following statements:
  1. In India, bitcoins are regulated by the RBI.
  2. In the world, the IMF is the authority which regulates the bitcoins.

Which of the above statements is /are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None
See
Answer
Question 7: Consider the following statements:
  1. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India.
  2. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is responsible for the development, maintenance and management of National Highways as well as State Highways.

Which of the above statements is /are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None
See
Answer


For previous practice questions solution, click here

 

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