Comprehensive News Analysis – 15 February 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

1. Weather officials to study possible emergence of El Nino

B. GS2 Related:

2. India to join Moscow meet on Afghanistan

3. Following sanctions, Venezuelan Vice-President hits out at the U.S.

C. GS3 Related:
D. GS4 Related:
E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Hindu

1. Sharpening the fight against tobacco

Economic Times

1. Getting the solar power goal on track

PIB

1. Domestic threats to security can be conventional or non-conventional: Vice President

2. PM congratulates ISRO on successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites

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

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A. GS1 Related
1. Weather officials to study possible emergence of El Nino

Category: Geography
Topic: World Climatology

Key Points:

  • Scientists from the India Meteorological Department, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the Ministry of Earth Sciences are expected to meet in Pune to analyse a range of forecasts from international climate models – and their own –that suggest waters are likely to warm and change wind patterns enough to El Nino-like conditions.

What is El Nino?

  • El Nino refers to an anomalous heating up of the waters in the central-eastern regions of the equatorial Pacific and implies a consistent, average rise in temperature of 0.5 degree Celsius above normal.
  • El Nino is an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the globe.
  • Historically that translates to the monsoon drying up over India six out of 10 years.

 

 
B. GS2 Related
1. India to join Moscow meet on Afghanistan

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

Key Points:

  • In a recent development, India is among six nations participating in a conference on Afghanistan’s future in Moscow on 15th February, 2017.
  • Incidentally, this is roughly two months after Russia hosted a similar conference with only China and Pakistan.
  • It is important to note that after India and particularly Afghanistan objected to being cut out of the discussion, Moscow agreed to expand its ambit, announcing a six-nation conference of Russia, India, Iran, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.
  • It is reported that the issue of exclusion was raised by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar during his talks with the Russian delegation at the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar in early December last year.
  •  MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “India has always believed in close and constructive cooperation for peace, stability, security and development in Afghanistan. To this end we actively participate in several bilateral and multilateral consultations.”

The Geopolitical Situation

  • India is increasingly uncomfortable with Russia’s overtures to Pakistan on defence issues.
  • Significantly, Russia did not join the U.S., U.K. and France in sponsoring a resolution against Jaish chief Masood Azhar at the U.N. sanctions committee last month, a resolution which China then put a hold on.
  • Russia has been seen as favouring a softer line on the Taliban as a counter to the spread of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan.
  • Russia and China have also been coordinating closely to demand the delisting of senior Taliban leaders designated as terrorists by the U.N. sanctions committee.
2. Following sanctions, Venezuelan Vice-President hits out at the U.S.

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

Key Points:

  • U.S. authorities recently said that the vice president of Venezuela was an international drug trafficker and slapped severe sanctions on him.
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury labeled El Aissami a drug “kingpin,” accusing him of facilitating shipments by air and sea, and having links to drug gangs in Mexico and Colombia.
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned Mr. El Aissami and Samark Lopez, whom it identified as his associate, on accusations of masterminding an international network shipping drugs to Mexico and the United States.
  • Venezuela’s Vice-President later called his blacklisting by the United States on drug charges an “imperialist aggression”
  • The Venezuelan government has frequently cast U.S. and opposition accusations of drug-trafficking, corruption and human rights abuses as a false pretext to justify meddling in Venezuela and a push to topple him.
  • In fact, Venezuelan opposition groups have long accused Mr. El Aissami of repressing dissent, participating in drug trafficking rings, and supporting militant groups such as Hezbollah.

 

C. GS3 Related

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

 
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
1. Sharpening the fight against tobacco

Category: Polity and Governance
Topic: : Government Interventions

Key Points:

  • Towards the end of 2016, the Commerce Ministry sent a note to the Cabinet proposing a blanket ban on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the tobacco sector.
  • It is important to note that although India banned FDI in tobacco manufacturing in 2010, foreign tobacco companies are allowed to invest through technology collaboration, licensing agreements and by forming a trading company.
  • The Commerce Ministry’s proposal, which NITI Aayog has opposed, would put an end to all kinds of participation of foreign companies in the tobacco sector.

Government’s Position

  • The government cites the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as the reason for this step.
  • As per this convention, India is under an obligation to reduce high consumption of tobacco products which pose a grave public health danger.

Impact

  • This proposal has not gone down well with American tobacco giant, Philip Morris International (PMI).
  • This company has invested in the Indian tobacco market through a licensing agreement with Godfrey Phillips India.

Challenges

  • It is quite possible that PMI might challenge any such blanket ban under India’s bilateral investment treaties (BITs).
  • From an international context, Philip Morris Asia (PMA) challenged Australia’s plain packaging regulations under the Hong Kong-Australia BIT.
  • Further, PMI challenged Uruguay’s regulation requiring tobacco companies to put pictorial warnings on 85% of the area on cigarette packets, under the U.S.-Uruguay BIT.

The Way Ahead

  • It has been suggested that India should consider alternative regulatory measures, which will better achieve the objective of reducing tobacco consumption and be less investment-restrictive as well.

For example:

    1. One such measure is adopting plain packaging regulation.
    2. We are unsure how prohibiting FDI through licensing arrangements, etc. would help reduce tobacco consumption. Domestic players could occupy the market freed up by foreign players.
    3. Another effective measure is to increase taxes on tobacco products. Though they have increased over the years, some studies argue that overall taxes on cigarettes in India are still low relative to other countries.

It is also important to note that for strange reasons, bidis have often been exempted from increase in excise taxes despite being the most commonly used tobacco in India.

Further, it is worth remembering whether banning FDI in tobacco manufacturing in 2010 result in reduced tobacco consumption? On the other hand, studies from Australia show that smoking rates plunged by 12.2% after plain packaging regulations were introduced.

  • It is worth remembering that in 2012, Baijayant Panda introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to amend the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) proposing plain packaging of cigarettes in India. However, the bill failed.
  • In 2014, the Allahabad High Court allowed a petition on plain packaging regulation and said that the Central government must implement it.

 

The Economic Times

1. Getting the solar power goal on track

Category: Indian Economy; Environment and Ecology
Topic: Infrastructure; Renewable Energy

Key Points:

  • There is widespread energy poverty and the lack of quality power in large parts of India, and concurrently our greenhouse gas emissions are large and rising fast.

The Way Ahead

  • To speedily concretise forward-looking plans for solar power at rail stations
  • To focus on meeting lighting demand in adjoining areas too, so as to reap economies of scale
  • The way forward for the Railways is to proactively access funds from the Clean Environment Cess corpus, seek accelerated depreciation, generation-based incentives, etc, and explore other innovative financing options to actualise its solar power targets in a time-bound fashion

Concluding Remarks

  • The Railways have a path-breaking opportunity to adopt solar power for lighting purposes and, in the process, handsomely boost its market capitalisation.

 

PIB

1. Domestic threats to security can be conventional or non-conventional: Vice President

Category: Internal Security
Topic: Challenges to Internal Security

Key Points:

  • The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that the domestic threats to security can be conventional or non-conventional.
  • The Vice President said that safeguarding the political and cultural identity of a state necessitates identification of threats, potential and actual, that emanate from within a state.
  • Protection of India and Indian interests also implies being an active participant in the global community of states.
  • This necessitates shaping and reinforcing the rules, norms and institutions that would be the foundation of peace, security and prosperity in the coming decades.
  • Foremost among these would be conventional and non-conventional threats to security.

Annual Report of the Ministry of Defence for 2014-15

  • The report sums up our security environment and challenges to it
  • Defining it as a complex interplay of regional and global imperatives and challenges, the thrust of strategy and policies is aimed at providing a secure, stable, peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood
  • The operative principle for this is building strength through strategic autonomy and self reliance
  • The Report depicts terrorism, insurgency and sectarian conflict from our West and North as threats to stability along with challenge posed by non-traditional threats such as WMD proliferation, drugs, human trafficking, etc.
  • New challenges have also emerged in the domains of Cyber and Space, with the demonstration of offensive and capabilities by certain countries.
2. PM congratulates ISRO on successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites

Category: Science and Technology
Topic: Developments

Key Points:

  • The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has congratulated ISRO on successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites.
  • “Congratulations to ISRO for the successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites.
  • This remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists.
  • Spoke to the Secretary, Department of Space and congratulated him & the entire team of scientists on today’s exceptional achievement”, the Prime Minister said.
 
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
  • Annual Report of the Ministry of Defence for 2014-15
  • Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act
 
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
 
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements:

1] Cartosat-2 is an Earth observation satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit and the second of the Cartosat series of satellites.

2] The imagery of Cartosat-2 series satellite will be useful cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, precision study, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 2: Consider the following statements:

1] El Nino refers to an anomalous heating up of the waters in the central-eastern regions of the equatorial Pacific and implies a consistent, average rise in temperature of 0.5 degree Celsius above normal.

2] La Niña is the positive phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation and is associated with cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 3: Consider the following statements:

1] The neighbouring countries of Venezuela are Colombia, Brazil and Guyana.

2] The world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, Angel Falls is a waterfall in Bolivia.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 4: Consider the following statements:

1] The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO.

2] The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic and is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Which of the following organizations bring out the report known as 
‘Global Corruption Report (GCR)’?
    Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) Transparency International b) The United Nations Development Programme c) The World Economic Forum d) The World Bank

 

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