Comprehensive News Analysis – 16 October 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Expert panel says river Saraswati did exist

2. India buys S-400 missiles from Russia

3. BIMSTEC a sunny prospect in BRICS summit

4. India, China discuss NSG membership issue

C. GS3 Related:

1. Nearly 200 nations reach historic deal to limit greenhouse gases

2. Centre to set up credit guarantee fund for start-ups

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

The Hindu

1. The End TB strategy

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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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!

B. GS2 Related
  1. Expert panel says river Saraswati did exist

Category: Indian Geography

Topic: Rivers

Key Points:

  • An expert committee formed by the Union ministry of Water resources, comprising of geologists, archaeologists and hydrologists have found evidence of the course of the river Saraswati, a river mentioned in the Rigveda and Hindu mythology.

The seven-member committee, headed by Professor K.S. Valdiya of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), submitted the report.

  • Findings: It was concluded that evidence from palaeochannels – remnants of defunct rivers suggested that the Sarsuti-Markanda rivulets in Haryana were the water courses of the eastern branch of a Himalayan river and the Ghaggar-Patiali channels were the western branches.

According to the findings, the 2 branches met in Shatrana, 25 kilometres south of Patiala and flowed as a large river emptying out into the sea that is now the Rann of Kutch. The mystery over the origins of the Saraswati rivers has occupied scholars over at least two centuries with some averring that the Yamuna, Sutlet and Ghagghar were all once part of the Saraswati, the shrinking of which is linked to the decline of the Harrapan civilization. Other scholars, however, hold that the Saraswati existed only in myths.

The palaeochannels of ancient mighty Saraswati from Himalaya to Rann of Kachchh have been compiled and presented in the map.

  • The report is an assertion of the assumption that River Saraswati originated from Adibadri in the Himalaya to culminate in the Arabian Sea through the Runn of Kutch. This river was once upon a time the lifeline of the north-western states of India and a vibrant series of civilizations from Mahabharat period to Harappa had flourished on the banks of this river.

 

  1. India buys S-400 missiles from Russia

Category: Bilateral

Topic: India – Russia

Key Points:

  • India and Russia put up an emphatic display of deep bilateral ties by signing 16 important deals including one on S-400 missile systems, a game-changer in countering airborne threats. Apart from the Inter Governmental Agreement on the missile system Russia, in a show of special and privileged strategic partnership, also agreed to sell Kamov 226T helicopters and 4 Krivak class stealth frigates to India

Kamov 226T helicopters – It will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Rostec State Corporation of Russia under a joint production plan.

  • Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said the agreements on manufacturing of Kamov 226T helicopters, construction of frigates and acquisition and building of other defence platforms are in synergy with India’s technology and security priorities. They also help India achieve the objectives of Make in India.

President Vladimir Putin highlighted Russia’s stable approach to ties with India and said his government will ensure steady energy cooperationwith India to support the expanding Indian economy.

  • The 2 countries are working on joint development of Sukhoi super jets and passenger aircraft and started the ground laying work for Units three and four of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant by pressing a button.

Deal on information security –

  • India and Russia sealed a deal on information security aimed at countering terrorism, drug trafficking and other illegal cross-border activities. India also appreciated Russia’s unequivocal condemnation of the cross border terror attack in Uri.

 

  1. BIMSTEC a sunny prospect in BRICS summit

Category: International summits

Topic: BRICS

Key Points:

The 2 faces of BRICS –

  • It is a display of muscle that the world is bound to watch when leaders of countries that make up half the world’s population and nearly a quarter of global GDP ($17 trillion combined) gather. Yet despite the power-packed photo opportunities at the 2016 BRICS summit at Goa, there are several reasons to believe that the BRICS forum, once comprising the world’s fastest growing economies, is running out of steam. The slumps in oil prices have negatively impacted both Russia and Brazil’s growth stories, and Russia has paid heavily for western sanctions over Ukraine.

Diplomatic divergence

  • Meanwhile bilateral ties between India and China have reached new lows: with China’s CPEC clinch with Pakistan and India’s shift to the U.S.’ strategic corner on the South China Sea.

Russia’s shift away from an exclusive relationship with India, ambivalence on defence ties with Pakistan consistent with its new dependence on China is another factor that is loosening some of the mortar between the BRICS countries.

Brazil and South Africa are also known to have reservations on India’s bid for the NSG membership, possibly prompted by China that has openly discouraged non-NPT members, which is a critical issue for India later this year when it tries to push through the bid again.

When it comes to the Goa declaration, each of them has a particular agenda.

New initiative –

  • Given all the stresses and strains on the structure of BRICS, the sunny spot for India as a host may come from the BIMSTEC outreach instead. The seven-nation grouping of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, was founded in 1997 as BIST-EC, and then refurbished as the Bay of Bengal initiative for Multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation (BIMSTEC), but has floundered since then for lack of funding.

The meetings were held at the Thai foreign ministry in Bangkok until it was given headquarters in Dhaka in 2011 and a secretary general, Sri Lankan diplomat Sumith Nakandala, in 2014.

Growing connectivity –

  • BRICS has shown a coherence and focus that is leading to new projects on connectivity, building infrastructure and sharing resources, both inter-regionally as well as bilaterally. India’s Act East policy is spurring the government to extend the Trilateral highway project all the way to Cambodia, to help with port infrastructure in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, while recently rescued ties with Nepal will see the government step up its hydel and road projects there.

In addition, the ‘SASEC’ grouping that also includes the Maldives, met recently to clear infrastructure projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, and the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) and BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) groupings are seeing their projects on seamless connectivity moving at a quicker pace.

  • India will have concrete plans and projects to recommend for BRICS’s New Development Bank to fund and the contingency reserve arrangement to propose. As the lynchpin between BRICS and BIMSTEC, India can also carve out a new leadership role that will help the region, while tiding over the current tensions within its BRICS partnerships.

 

  1. India, China discuss NSG membership issue

Category: Bilateral

Topic: Indo-China relations

Key Points:

  • India and China at the 8th BRICS Summit at Goa discussed India’s hopes for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at a bilateral summit.

The 2 nations described as hopeful the process set into motion of meetings between the two nuclear negotiators of the countries.

 

C. GS3 Related
  1. Nearly 200 nations reach historic deal to limit greenhouse gases

Category: Environment

Topic: Multilateral agreement to combat climate change

Key Points:

  • About 200 nations, including India after intense negotiations took a landmark step to combat climate change by signing a legally-binding deal to phase down climate-damaging HFCs that have global warming potential thousand times more than carbon dioxide.

Negotiators and policymakers had intense deliberations to iron out differences concerning the amendment to the Montreal Protocol to reach the Kigali Amendment to phase down the use of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The agreement reached by 197 parties on the amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is expected to prevent a global temperature rise of up to 0.5 degrees C by the end of the century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.

  • According to the amendment adopted by nations, developed countries will reduce the use of HFCs first, followed by China, along with a large number of countries. India and nine other countries of South and West Asia will follow suit. Overall, the agreement is expected to reduce HFCs use by 85 per cent by 2045.

Note – The amendment will enter into force on January 1, 2019 provided that at least 20 instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Amendment have been deposited by states or regional economic integration organizations that are parties to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer.

  • Under the amendment, 3 different schedules have been set for countries to freeze and then reduce their production and use of HFCs. The developed countries, led by the US and Europe, will reduce HFC use by 85 per cent by 2036 over a 2011-13 baseline. India will reduce the use of HFCs by 85 per cent over the 2024-26 baseline.

Developed countries have also agreed to provide enhanced funding support to developing countries. Unlike the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Montreal Protocol amendment is legally binding.

From the Indian perspective –

  • Hailing the role played by India in reaching the deal, Indian climate experts said India went with a clear strategy and a proactive agenda to enhance the overall environmental ambition of the deal and to protect the nation’s economic interests. The amendment finally agreed to not only protects India’s economic interests, but also doubles the climate benefit compared to the previous Indian proposal. It will avoid HFC emissions equivalent to 70 billion tonnes of CO2

Kigali makes history with HFC freeze –

  • Countries came to an agreement at Kigali in Rwanda to phase out a family of potent greenhouse gases by the late 2040s and move to prevent a potential 0.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature by the end of the century.

The agreement is significant in that it amends the 1987 Montreal Protocol, initially conceived only to plug gases that were destroying the ozone layer, to now include gases responsible for global warming. This has been the turf of agreements such as the recently ratified Paris agreement that pushes countries to cap global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.

  • Unlike the more glamorous Paris agreement that will come into force by 2020 and doesn’t legally bind countries to their promises to cut emissions, the amended Montreal Protocol will bind countries to their HFC reduction schedules from 2019.

There are also penalties for non-compliance as well as clear directives that developed countries provide enhanced funding support estimated at billions of dollars globally. The exact amount of additional funding will be agreed at the next Meeting of the Parties in Montreal, in 2017. Grants for research and development of affordable alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons will be the most immediate priority.

Note – Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a family of greenhouse gases that are largely used in refrigerants in home and car air-conditioners. They are currently the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases, with emissions increasing by up to 10 per cent each year. They are one of the most powerful, trapping thousands of times more heat in the Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).

 

  1. Centre to set up credit guarantee fund for start-ups

Category: Economy

Topic: Credit Guarantee Fund

Key Points:

  • Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) said the Centre will set up a 2,000 crore credit guarantee fund to support start-ups.

This corpus of Rs.2,000 crore will provide up to 80 per cent risk cover for collateral free credit being given by banks and financial institutions to start-ups

 

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
  1. The End TB strategy
  • The Global TB Report 2016, recently released, has revised the estimates for the tuberculosis (TB) burden in India The country has 27 per cent of the global burden of incident tuberculosis and 34 per cent of global TB deaths. For the year 2015, the updated estimate of incidence (new and relapse TB cases per year) is 2.8 million cases.
  • India diagnosed and notified 1.7 million incident TB patients in 2015, leaving approximately 1.1 million presumptive patients whose fate was unknown. The actual burden of TB will be known only after the completion of a national TB prevalence survey scheduled for 2017-2018; the numbers could be even higher. Worryingly, the 2015 estimate of the number of TB deaths is 4,78,000 making TB one of the leading causes of death in India. Further, of the estimated 79,000 cases of multidrug resistant (MDR) TB, about 31,000 were diagnosed and the majority put on treatment.
  • There is strong political commitment at the moment to tackle TB head-on and achieve the 90-90-90 targets by 2035 (90 per cent reductions in incidence, mortality and catastrophic health expenditures due to TB). In order to do this, our policies must be driven by data and evidence, as well as be responsive to patient needs and expectations. Unlike polio, we do not have an effective vaccine to prevent TB, so our strategy must be based on finding all cases, treating them appropriately, reducing risk factors and preventing further transmission. For this, we need better and more efficient diagnostics, shorter treatment courses, a better vaccine (BCG protects only young children from severe forms of TB) and better preventive strategies.
  • Hope with research – There is hope on all these fronts. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have a joint programme to evaluate indigenous TB diagnostics and have evaluated a couple of very promising products which could potentially replace imported tests. Two new drugs for TB (Bedaquiline and Delamanid) were introduced globally in 2013 and can now be tested in combination trials to see if shorter and more effective treatment regimens can be created.

Indian scientists working in laboratories of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), the DBT and the Indian Institute of Science as well as some new start-up companies have identified several targets and compounds, which need further work (pre-clinical, toxicology and clinical trials), to see if a new drug for TB can be developed. A modified, recombinant BCG vaccine developed by German scientists and to be manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, will soon be tested at many centres in India to try and reduce recurrences of TB in treated patients.

  • Focus on nutritionOf the many risk factors for TB, the one that we need to pay most attention to is undernutrition. Malnutrition (low body weight) is responsible for 50 per cent of TB in India and also leads to higher death rate, because of the low capacity of the body to mount an immune response. Reports from tribal areas of our country show that the average body weight of men and women with TB is 30-35 kg! Prevalence rates of TB are directly correlated with socio-economic status, with people in the lowest economic quintile having 3-4 times the rate of TB than those in the highest.

We have decades of experience dealing with TB and the knowledge, capacity and resources to tackle the problem. We cannot let the TB bacteria get the better of us. With analysis of the available data, we can plan appropriate strategies to prevent, diagnose and treat it. Researchers, academics, government and private sector doctors, corporate sector and industry, non-governmental organisations, TB programme staff, treated TB patients, students and all citizens can contribute to this effort. We have a window of opportunity now TB can be history by 2050 if we try.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • River Saraswati
  • Nuclear Suppliers Group
  • BRICS
  • BIMSTEC
  • Kamov 226T helicopters
  • Krivak class stealth frigates
  • S-400 missile system
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Montreal protocol


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: India is not a member of 
    i) APEC

    ii) BIMSTEC

    iii) BRICS

    iv) East Asian summit

a) Only i

b) i & iv Only

c) ii, iii & iv

d) None of these


Question 2: Which of the following diseases are caused by bacteria?

a) Tuberculosis, Cholera, Swine flu, Zika fever

b) Tuberculosis, Cholera, Malaria, Leprosy

c) Tuberculosis, Cholera, Bird flu, Typhoid

d) Tuberculosis, Cholera, Typhoid, Leprosy


Question 3: DIPP recently proposed to start a Credit Guarantee Fund. The main objective is -

a) To fund start-ups

b) To promote skill development

c) Rural development

d) Sustainable development


Question 4: Sometimes ‘Kigali amendment’ appears in news in the context of

a) Stockholm convention on POP’s

b) Montreal Protocol on Ozone

c) Rotterdam convention

d) Ramsar convention


Question 5: Which of the following statements are correct regarding HFC’s (Hydro-Flouro-carbons)?
  1. They belong to a family of greenhouse gases that are largely used in refrigerants in home and car air-conditioners.
  2. They are one of the most powerful – trapping thousands of times more heat in the Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 & 2

d) neither 1 nor 2


Check Your Answers

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