Comprehensive News Analysis – 16 March 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

POLITY

1. Voting machines are foolproof, says expert

2. A lost opportunity

3. Bigger role for PHCs in health policy

4. MoP may have security clause

5. ‘Disallow lawmakers from practising other professions’

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Crimes of apartheid

2. India, Pak’s SCO entry will boost regional stability: Global Times

C. GS3 Related:

ECONOMY

1. Bad loans slowing, remain a challenge

2. Banks against farm loan waiver in U.P.

3. Exports climb for a sixth straight month

ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Crop burning: NGT seeks action plan from five States

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. India hosts world’s oldest algae fossil

INTERNAL SECURITY

1. All’s fair in war on terror: Israeli MP

2. Gauntlet at Sukma

D. GS4 Related:
E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn

1. VVPAT-Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail

2. Office of profit

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

Nothing here for today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Voting machines are foolproof, says expert

What’s in news?

  • Electronic Voting Machines are tamper proof says C-DAC Director-General Rajat Moona, who is part of the Technical Expert Committee on EVMs.
  • EVMs do not have any communication device, no antenna and therefore, any device from outside cannot be connected to them wirelessly.
  • Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited, manufactures EVM’s.
  • It is impossible to hack the device since the software for the main control unit is in Read-Only Memory.
Basic Information

2. A lost opportunity

  • Parliament cleared Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill on International women’s day.
  • The bill seeks to enhance the paid maternity leave for the women working in the organized sector.
  • The gender ratio in corporate India is already highly lopsided.
  • As per the report “From Intention to Impact”, published by Catalyst in 2015, women accounted for only 21% of the jobs at entry level to managerial position.

Critics

  • Burden-Enhanced extension of pay leave leads to added costs of hiring young fertile women which results in much fewer women getting employment opportunity in corporate sector.
  • Productivity: Absentee employee work is borne by other employees of organization thus the overall productivity of team reduces.
  • Proactive government: In India maternity costs are entirely borne by the companies where at least a part of it is borne by the government in progressive countries.
  • More quitters-Number of women who quit their jobs between junior and middle levels is 50% compared to the average of 29% in Asia. Indicates the fact that women fail to resume their job after receiving maternity benefits from their respective companies.
  • Lack of Gender parity-No role for fathers as a parent is included in the bill as it burdens women with all parental responsibilities.

3. Bigger role for PHCs in health policy

What’s in news?

  • The government approved the National Health Policy (which was under consideration from past two years).

Aim

  1. To provide “Assured health services to all” in the country as an entitlement (the fact of having a right to something).
  2. The Primary Health Centre (PHC) to cover more sectors under and adapt a comprehensive approach. For example, the PHCs supported only immunization, ante-natal check-ups and others. A major policy shift is that now it will also include screening for non-communicable diseases and a whole lot of other aspects
  3. Upgrade of hospitals- more focus on district hospitals.

4. MoP may have security clause

 What’s in news?

  • National security” clause – gives power to the government to reject a name recommended by the Collegium regarding appointment of judges.
  • Government wants this clause to be included in the draft Memorandum Of Procedure (MoP) for the appointment of judges.
  • The Supreme Court of India has now changed its mind, to include this in the MoP, provided that the government revert to the Collegium with specific and detailed objections against a name under the national security clause.
  • Since August 2016 no progress was made in resolving drafting the final MoP with respect to appointment of judges. But Pendency of MoP would not stand in the way of judicial appointments.

5. ‘Disallow lawmakers from practising other professions’

What’s in news?

  • Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay file a petition in Supreme court seeking to ban legislators from practising other professions, including as advocates. This practice is immoral and unethical.

Petitioner contention:

  1. There are restrictions imposed on public servants and judges against engaging in other jobs, the same thing needs to be applied to lawmakers also.
  2. Conflict of interest:- Many lawmakers who are bound by constitutional duties also hold corporate retainership and defend their lawbreaker clients in courts.
  3. In order to curb corruption the need of the hour id to have a uniform policy relating to conflict of interest and restricting legislators to practice other profession.

Rule 49 of the Bar Council of India Rules: ‘standards of professional conduct and etiquette’: An Advocate shall not be a full-time salaried employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern, so long as he continues to practise and shall, on taking up any such employment intimate the fact to the Bar Council on whose rolls his name appears, and shall thereupon cease to practise as an Advocate so long as he continues in such employment.


Category: 
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Crimes of apartheid

  • UN report to strengthen the global consensus against Israeli policy
  • Apartheid is a powerful word, with implications of crimes against humanity.
  • Very rarely such terms enter UN reports, but now, in a report released on March 15, the UN proclaimed that Israel ‘is guilty of the crime of apartheid’.
  • In 2015, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) was charged by its eighteen Arab member states (West Asia and North Africa) – to enquire whether Israel has laid foundation for an apartheid regime.
  • The recent report that is produced makes the ‘grave charge’ that Israel is guilty of apartheid not only in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — the Occupied Territory — but also within its own boundaries and against the Palestinian refugees.

End of two state consensus?

  • Trump seemed to disapprove the international consensus towards the creation of two states.
  • The Israeli government’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and its annexation of East Jerusalem makes it herculean task to imagine the birth of Palestine in that region.
  • Israel exercises its dominion in the entire land west of the Jordan River, but with the apartheid system over the Palestinians.

Reason why the Israeli government is unwilling to consider a one-state solution?

  • Equal rights for all Israelis and Palestinians are what they call a ‘demographic threat’.
  • If the 12 million Palestinians — exiles and refugees included — would be citizens of this one-state, then they would dwarf the six million Jews in the country.
  • The UN report argues that techniques of suppression and expulsion by the Jewish nation make the Israel “racial regime”.

Gross discrimination

  • Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship lack the right to nationality, which means that they can only access inferior social services, face restrictive zoning laws, and find themselves unable freely to buy land.
  • Palestinians in East Jerusalem are to prove regularly that they live in the city and that they do not have any political ambitions. This in ways amounts to apartheid system.
  • And the exiled into Lebanon, Syria and Jordan have absolutely lost rights to their homeland.
  • For example, the latest law — the Muezzin Bill — imposes limits on the Muslim call to prayer in Israel and East Jerusalem.
  • Gist of the lines from Israeli rule book Article 7(a) prohibits any political party from considering a challenge to the State’s Jewish character.
  • Palestinians voting rights are reduced to merely an affirmation of their subordination; this seems to work as second class citizens.
  • ‘An analogy would be a system in which slaves have the right to vote but not against slavery’. This statement is from the UN report.
  • Most of the world’s states have signed the Convention against Apartheid, hence they have to act to punish instances of apartheid.
  • Two recommendations from the report:
    Report asks the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate the situation in Israel.
    The ICC’s Prosecutor’s investigation on Israel’s 2014 bombing of Gaza and on the illegal settlements in the West Bank was also considered.
    Report asks that member states to allow ‘criminal prosecutions of Israeli officials demonstrably connected with the practices of apartheid against the Palestinian people’.
    UN Security Council last year declared that Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories were illegal which led to worrisome situation in Israel.
    If the crime is acknowledged by the Israel as an apartheid state, then this is tantamount to war crime (in the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions) and to a crime against humanity (in the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC).

India’s reaction

  • India’s reaction to this UN report will define Mr. Modi’s attitude towards Israel.
  • Will India take leadership in upholding international law as it did in the fight against South African apartheid or will India back away from high principle and settle for arms deals and empty rhetoric?

2. India, Pak’s SCO entry will boost regional stability: Global Times

  • This step may boost bilateral cooperation in areas such as infrastructure and anti-terrorism efforts.
  • India and Pakistan are supposed to be admitted into the six-member SCO during its next summit to be held at Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
  • India and Pakistan will need to sign a number of documents and pledge to perform in accordance with the SCO laws, including the SCO Member States Agreement on Border Defence Cooperation that was signed in 2015 as step towards being [part of SCO.
  • Both India and Pakistan will have to adhere to the principle and basic framework under the SCO to strengthen security and anti-terrorism cooperation.
  • SCO is likely to provide a fresh platform for the two nations to gradually resolve disputes

Counter-terror issues

  • The SCO focuses mostly on security related issues like counter-terrorism cooperation in Central Asia.
  • Member states of SCO China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as full members.
  • Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status.
  • Its 2015 summit in Ufa, Russia, the SCO formally adopted a resolution which started the procedures to admit India and Pakistan into the grouping.
  • The entry of the two nations into the SCO is to bring in the stability and security of the region, thus boosting economic growth and speeding up regional economic integration through the South Asia’s highway network construction.

CPEC

  • Improving Pakistan’s transportation infrastructure is a major aspect of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • The entry of Pakistan and India into the SCO will lead to the development of the CPEC.
 
C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Bad loans slowing, remain a challenge

Why in news?

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the resolution of banks’ non-performing assets (NPAs) remained a challenge even though the rate of increase of such bad loans had slowed in the last quarter of the current financial year.

What is Bad Bank?

  • A bank set up to buy the bad loans of a bank with significant nonperforming assets at market price.
  • By transferring the bad assets of an institution to the bad bank, the banks clear their balance sheet of toxic assets but would be forced to take write downs.
  • Shareholders and bondholders stand to lose money from this solution (but not depositors).
  • Banks that become insolvent as a result of the process can be recapitalized, nationalized or liquidated.

Key Points

  • The core problem of NPAs is with large corporates in steel, power, infra and textile sectors
  • Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian had floated the idea of a ‘bad bank’ to take over stressed assets in the Economic Survey for 2016-17.

Way Out

  • It should be multi-dimensional.
  • Apart from the regular guidelines released by the RBI, to strengthen further the recovery of dues by banks and financial institutions, Government of India promulgated: The Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993, The Securitization Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002, Debt Recovery Tribunals and various other things.

2. Banks against farm loan waiver in U.P.

Why in news?

  • Bankers are planning to write to the finance ministry against a proposal for waiving farm loans in Uttar Pradesh as promised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the polls. 

Key Points

  • P. ranks third in India in terms of agricultural credit exposure, so the magnitude of the problem is large.
  • The state has a 9.3% market share in agricultural credit and about 45% of its total exposure is in the rural areas.
  • Such schemes disturb credit discipline and raises hope for more waiver by other states.

3. Exports climb for a sixth straight month

Why in news?

India’s goods exports rose for a sixth consecutive month in February even as the trade deficit widened due to a jump in the value of imports of gold and oil.

What is trade deficit?

A trade deficit, which is also referred to as net exports, is an economic condition that occurs when a country is importing more goods than it is exporting. The deficit equals the value of goods being imported minus the value of goods being exported, and it is given in the currency of the country in question.

Effects of a Trade Deficit

Initially, a trade deficit is not a bad thing. It raises a country’s standard of living. Its residents have access to a wider variety of goods and services for a more competitive price. It reduces the threat of inflation, since it creates lower prices. A trade deficit indicates that the country’s residents are feeling confident and wealthy enough to buy more than the country produces.

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. India hosts world’s oldest algae fossil

What’s in news?

  • 6 billion-year-old fossils that appear to contain red algae in an old phosphorite, a kind of rock, found in Chitrakoot region in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh discovered by Scientist. This may be the oldest plant-like life discovered on Earth.
  • The oldest known red algae till now discovered was 2 billion years old.
  • Scientists used x-rays to observe regularly recurring platelets in each cell, which they believe are parts of chloroplasts, the organelles within plant cells where photosynthesis takes place.
Basic Information

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Crop burning: NGT seeks action plan from five States

 Background Information:
  1. The National Green Tribunal, has fixed environment compensation amounts per incident of crop burning to be paid by small land owners having less than two acres of land at 2,500, medium land owners holding over two acres and less than five acres at 5,000 and those owning over five acres at 15,000.
  2. NGT has strictly directed the state governments to take coercive and punitive action against persistent defaulters of crop residue burning and asked them to withdraw the assistance provided to such farmers.
  • Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan governments had issued notifications prohibiting crop residue burning.
  • Directions issued by Green Panel to these five state involves-

Proper Crop residue burning practice should be strictly prohibited and properly monitored.
To inform about the action plan to prevent pollution from crop burning after the harvesting season-state how the field staff of the departments concerned and the state pollution control boards are going to control pollution caused by crop residue burning. 


National Green Tribunal

Statutory body established by Government under the aegis of the NGT Act 2010.

It draws inspiration from the India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.

It replaced the National Environment Appellate Authority. 

Objectives

To provide effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment.

Giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property Other Related Matters. 

Composition

The tribunal shall consist of a full time chairperson, judicial members and expert members.

Judge of the Supreme Court of India or Chief Justice of High Court are eligible to be Chairperson or judicial member of the Tribunal. Even existing or retired judge of High Court is qualified to be appointed as a Judicial Member

Appointment

Chairperson of NGT is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

Judicial Members and Expert Members ofthe Tribunal are appointed on the recommendations of such Selection Committee.

Chairperson, Judicial Member and Expert Member hold office for 5 years. Maximum age of the chairman 70 years if he has been a Supreme Court Judge and 67 years, if he has been a high court judge.

Jurisdiction

The National Green Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases where a substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment), is involved and such question arises out of the implementation of the enactments specified in Schedule I of the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.

The acts listed in Schedule 1 are:

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
The Water Cess Act, 1977; The Forest (Conservation) Act
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

It would deal with all environmental laws on air and water pollution, the Environment Protection Act, the Forest Conservation Act and the Biodiversity Act.


Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

1. All’s fair in war on terror: Israeli MP

“No fair play with terrorists”.

To avoid casualties among security forces a country has to use all tools to crack down on terrorists.

The quantum of force in fighting terrorists has been an issue of much debate in India. The Indian Army has a high Churn rate in its counter-terror operations which has increased steadily in recent past.

Mostly the security forces tend to lose personnel in the initial firing by terrorists.

Referring to such instances and suggested use of heavy force as long as civilians were not around. However, with a caution to stick to rules.

Countries need to be connected as they cooperated and generously shared information and at the same time obeyed the law as it is written and this would be the success step to win over the terrorists.

With both India and Israel being victims of terrorism, counter-terror cooperation has been among the top priority for the larger security cooperation.

The threat of the Islamic State (IS) spreading sharply in India, emphasizes on both sides to expand the cooperation.

India stands against the differentiation of good and bad terrorists.

India called upon the world community to support India’s proposal at the United Nations for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).

India had first proposed the CCIT at the UN in 1996.

India made a strong pitch for a common definition as well as a global convention on terrorism.

The nature of terrorism is constantly changing in the backdrop of technology and social media.

Despite dearth in cooperation among the international community and there was no common definition of terrorism.

What is Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism?

Definition

The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is a proposed treaty which intends to criminalize all forms of international terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms, and safe havens.

Currently, the negotiations of the Comprehensive Terrorism Convention are deadlocked because of differences over the definition of terrorism.

The definition of the crime of terrorism which has been on the negotiating table of the Comprehensive Convention since 2002 reads as follows:

  • Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this Convention if that person, by any means, unlawfully and intentionally, causes:
  • Death or serious bodily injury to any person; or
  • Serious damage to public or private property, including a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system, an infrastructure facility or the environment; or
  • Damage to property, places, facilities, or systems resulting or likely to result in major economic loss, when the purpose of the conduct, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.

The coordinator of the negotiations, supported by most western delegations, proposed the following exceptions to address those issues:

  1. Nothing in this Convention shall affect other rights, obligations and responsibilities of States, peoples and individuals under international law, in particular the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and international humanitarian law.
  2. The activities of armed forces during an armed conflict, as those terms are understood under international humanitarian law, which are governed by that law, are not governed by this Convention.
  3. The activities undertaken by the military forces of a State in the exercise of their official duties, inasmuch as they are governed by other rules of international law, are not governed by this Convention.
  4. Nothing in this article condones or makes lawful otherwise unlawful acts, nor precludes prosecution under other laws.”

The state members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference proposed instead the following exceptions:

  1. The activities of the parties during an armed conflict, including in situations of foreign occupation, as those terms are understood under international humanitarian law, which are governed by that law, are not governed by this Convention.
  2. The activities undertaken by the military forces of a State in the exercise of their official duties, inasmuch as they are in conformity with international law, are not governed by this Convention.

2. Gauntlet at Sukma

Why in news?

The Maoist ambush puts more responsibility on the state to establish its writ

Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district attacked ambush as just a intentional act of a waning insurgent group.

It must serve as a red alert to the security forces to pull up their standard operating procedures, especially intelligence-gathering capabilities, in the Maoist heartland in central India.

The insurgents used improvised explosive devices, country-made mortars and arrows mounted with explosive heads, and some weapons and radio sets of the force.

Reason behind the ambush?

The “unprecedented success of the forces against the extremists” in 2016, especially in Chhattisgarh which noticed a 15% drop in left-wing extremist incidents created restlessness.

History of major attacks

In 2013 they ambushed a convoy of Congress leaders in Sukma district, killing more than 25 persons, including former Union Minister V.C. Shukla.

As per estimated data, over the last two decades at least 15,000 people have been killed in Maoist-related violence. (3,000+ being security personnel).

Governmental actions and their flaws in implementation

The government has taken the so-called “red corridor” under its writ. But the only presence of the state visible across the region has been of the security forces and not of the civil administration.

Counter-insurgency operations have often been undermined by poor intelligence, flagging alertness of the security forces and the absence of a multi-layered political strategy.

 
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!


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

1. VVPAT-Voter
VVPAT-Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail: Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) or verified paper record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot less voting system. A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results. It contains name of the candidate (for whom vote has been casted) and symbol of the party/ individual candidate.
2. Office of profit

The idea behind the concept of office of profit – which evolved in England – is to preserve the independence of the legislature by keeping the members away from any temptations from the executive that can come in the way of independent discharge of their duties. It also seeks to enforce the principle of separation of power between the legislative, the judiciary and the executive – a basic feature of the Constitution.


F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

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

Article 102. Disqualification s for membership

(1) A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament

(a) if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder;

(b) if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;

(c) if he is an undischarged insolvent;

(d) if he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;

(e) if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament Explanation For the purposes of this clause a person shall not be deemed to hold an office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State by reason only that he is a Minister either for the Union or for such State

(2) A person shall be disqualified for being a member of either House of Parliament if he is so disqualified under the Tenth Schedule

124. Establishment and constitution of Supreme Court

(1) There shall be a Supreme Court of India constituting of a Chief Justice of India and, until Parliament by law prescribes a larger number, of not more than seven other Judges

(2) Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty five years: Provided that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the chief Justice, the chief Justice of India shall always be consulted:

(a) a Judge may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office;

(b) a Judge may be removed from his office in the manner provided in clause (4)


G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂

Question 1: Shanghai cooperation organization (SCO) is headquartered in which 
city?
  1. Shanghai
  2. Beijing
  3. Xinxiang
  4. Kabul
See
Answer
Question 2: Identify the non-member of Shanghai cooperation organization(SCO).
  1. China
  2. Kazakhstan
  3. Kyrgyzstan
  4. Afghanistan
See
Answer
Question 3: Who is the author of the book The Undocumented Wonder: The 
Great Indian Election?
  1. Mr. Quraishi
  2. Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidii
  3. Shashi Tharoor
  4. None of the above
See
Answer
Question 4: Consider the following statement with reference to National 
Green Tribunal:
  1. It is a Statutory Body
  2. It is a Constitutional Body
  3. It draws inspiration from the India’s constitutional provision of Article 21
  4. It replaced the National Environment Appellate Authority

Choose the correct statement

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 3
  3. Both 1 and 4
  4. 1, 3, and 4
See
Answer
Question 5: A loan or advance for which the principal or interest payment 
remained overdue for a period of 90 days is called _______.
  1. Substandard asset
  2. Doubtful asset
  3. Loss Asset
  4. Non performing asset
See
Answer


For previous practice questions solution, click here

 

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Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY