Comprehensive News Analysis – 17 August 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. India, Maldives discuss peace in Indian Ocean

2. It’s 1971 redux: Akbar finds an echo of East Pakistan

3. China reaching out to Bhutan as part of new South Asia policy

C. GS3 Related:

1. Food lifts WPI inflation to 23-month high

2. Melting glaciers pose a threat beyond water scarcity

3. BBB should appoint top executives at state-owned banks, says Rajan

4. S&T News

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

The Hindu

1. The history of trouble in Balochistan

2. Read :Answering Pakistan’s provocations

3. The Beijing balancing act

4. Must Read:An avoidable war of attrition

The Indian Express

1. Must Read: Tackling poverty in India: Key lessons on road to sharing prosperity

PIB

1. President’s greetings on the eve of Parsi New Year

2. Ancient camping site dating 8500 BC discovered by ASI at 14000 feet above sea level on the way to Saser La to Ladakh

3. NHAI collaborates with PFC under Adopt a Green Highway Program

4. Uma Bharti Hails Wapcos Work in Afghanistan

The Business Line:

1. Unfinished business

Quick Bits and News from States

1. Russia conducts Syria air raids using Iran base

2. Tata Power Solar commissions 100 MW project for NTPC

3. J&K resettlement law: SC hints referring it to larger Bench

4. Draft Ganga Act to draw from Highways Act

5. Move to bring all airports under CISF cover

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!

 

B. GS2 Related


  1. India, Maldives discuss peace in Indian Ocean

Topic: India and Pakistan

Category: International Relations

Key points:

  • India and the Maldives on Tuesday discussed strategic perspectives for maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean region amid China’s efforts to increase its footprint
  • On his first official visit, the Maldivian Foreign Minister, during his meeting with the external affairs minister, also communicated details of his country’s engagement with the U.N. and the Special Envoy of the Commonwealth ahead of the crucial meet of Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in New York next month
  • Maldives Investment Forum is to be held in New Delhi later this year
  • The Ministers also exchanged views on the consonance in the strategic perspectives of the two countries to maintain peace and security in the Indian Ocean region

 

2.  It’s 1971 redux: Akbar finds an echo of East Pakistan

Topic: India and Pakistan

Category: International Relations

Key points:

  • A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Balochistan during his Independence Day speech, the Minister of State for External Affairs indicated that India would take up the issue internationally, equating the 1971 War of Liberation for Bangladesh with “simmering Balochistan”
  • Meanwhile, exiled separatist Baloch leaders from different parts of the world expressed their appreciation of India’s stand

 

3. China reaching out to Bhutan as part of new South Asia policy

Topic: China ,Bhutan, Nepal ,Myanmar

Category: India’ Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • China has signalled its intent to establish diplomatic ties with Bhutan, adding another dimension to its evolving South Asia policy, which has already included a deeper engagement with Nepal, as part of Beijing’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative
  • In March, President Xi Jinping had proposed a harmonisation of Nepal’s reconstruction and development plan with China’s 13th five-year plan within the framework of the OBOR. The Chinese President said he visualised Nepal as “a bridge between China and India”
  • In tune with China’s high-octane Asian diplomacy, the Chinese leadership is set to receive Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi in Beijing on Wednesday. The state-run Global Times has noted that ahead of the visit, Myanmar has appointed a special committee on the stalled China-backed Myitsone dam project

 

C. GS3 Related

 

1. Food lifts WPI inflation to 23-month high

Topic: WPI

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • Wholesale price inflation accelerated to a 23-month high of 3.6 per cent in July, driven mainly by higher food prices, according to official data. Food inflation itself has been driven by inflation in the foodgrain and vegetable categories

Food lifts WPI inflation to 23-month high


2. Melting glaciers pose a threat beyond water scarcity

Topic: Climate Change

Category: Environment

Key points:

  • The tropical glaciers of South America are dying from soot and rising temperatures, threatening water supplies to communities that have depended on them for centuries. But experts say that the slow process measured in inches of glacial retreat per year also can lead to a sudden, dramatic tragedy

Possible dangers

  • Affect downstream drainage, thus the watersupply (As glaciers disappear around the world, there is less water available for use for hydroelectric power, as a renewable resource for agriculture, for human consumption)
  • Glof:A glof occurs when the weak walls of a mountain valley collapse under the weight of meltwater from a glacier(The problem is that glacial lakes are often fragile structures, created when rocks and rubble carried by a glacier form a moraine that dams up its water outflow. The dam can also be created by chunks of a glacier’s own ice. These inherently unstable structures can collapse quickly)

 

3. BBB should appoint top executives at state-owned banks, says Rajan

Topic: Banking Regulation

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • Outgoing Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor has stressed the need to improve governance at public sector banks and said the task of appointing top executives and non-official directors in these entities should be left to the Bank Board Bureau (BBB).
  • At present, the Centre appoints the chief executive, executive directors and other board members
  • His suggestion is in line with the proposals of the P.J. Nayak committee set up by the RBI to look into the issue of governance in Indian banks

 

4. S&T News

a) Read: Biofortification: Micronutrient-built-in grains

Talks about DRR Dhan 45(IET 23832): Biofortified rice variety fortified with zinc

b) Read: IceCube sees no evidence of sterile neutrinos

Talks about sterile neutrinos used to explain theories in particle physics but not yet detected

c) IIT Madras develops optical system to detect and monitor algal bloom

Talks about an optical detection method developed by Indian scientists to spatially locate algal blooms in the Arabian sea and thereby provide valuable info to fisherfolk.


D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu


  1. The history of trouble in Balochistan

Topic: India and Pakistan

Category: International Relations

Key points:

  • Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest, but least developed province, which is home to over 13 million people, mostly Balochis
  • The roots of the conflict, like India’s Kashmir issue, go back to the country’s independence. When Pakistan was born in 1947, the rulers of the Khanate of Kalat, which was a princely state under the British and part of today’s Balochistan, refused to join the new nation
  • Pakistan sent troops in March 1948 to annex the territory. Though Yar Khan, the then ruler of Kalat, later signed a treaty of accession, his brothers and followers continued to fight, triggering the first conflict between Balochis and the Pakistani Army. So far, there were five waves of insurgencies
  • After the 1948 rebellion was put down, crisis erupted in 1958. In 1962-63 and 1973-77, there were violent campaigns by the Baloch nationalists for independence from Pakistan. The two decades after that was the calmest period in the history of Balochistan
  • But tensions started building up after General Pervez Musharraf seized power in 1999. When the military started building new cantonments in Balochistan, it was seen by radical nationalist factions as a bid by the Army to tighten control over the region. The fifth wave of insurgency that broke out in this context is still on. There are several separatist groups in the province. The strongest among them is the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), designated as a terrorist group by Pakistan and the U.K. Islamabad has claimed that India is backing the BLA
  • The Balochi nationalists accuse Islamabad of deliberately keeping the mineral-rich province poor, while Pakistan’s rulers say the pace of development is slow due to insurgency. But a bigger allegation that the Pakistan is facing, and something which Prime Minister Modi tried to highlight in his Independence Day speech, is the large-scale human rights violations in the region, both by the Army and the militants. Every time there’s unrest in the region, the Pakistani Army used brute force to retain order

 

 

3. The Beijing balancing act

Topic: India and China

Category: International Relations

Key points:

  • On the vexed issue of China’s opposition to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), it was agreed that a focussed dialogue take place between the Indian Joint Secretary dealing with disarmament and international security and China’s Director-General of Arms Control and Disarmament
  • On other issues having a bearing on bilateral relations, another mechanism has been established between the Indian Foreign Secretary and his Chinese counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui. This appears to be in addition to the existing annual Strategic Dialogue at the Foreign Secretary level and the regular Special Representatives dialogue which, in the past, has gone beyond the mandate of border negotiations. One presumes that the issue of China’s “technical hold” on the listing of Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad leader, as a terrorist at the United Nations, and Chinese activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) under its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative will be on its agenda
  • China is faced with a complex and deteriorating political and security situation in its Asia-Pacific periphery. The categorical and entirely negative arbitration award against China over its claim to the South China Sea — handed in July by a tribunal constituted under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) — is a major setback for Beijing. Its relations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are now under unprecedented strain. To add to its woes, the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defence system by the U.S. in South Korea has led to a worsening of relations with a neighbour with which China has, over the years, assiduously nurtured close political, economic, commercial and even cultural relations. (Korean pop music is extremely popular in China.)
  • These are new and adverse developments even while the S. and Japan continue to be perceived as major security threats to China in the region
  • Against this background, China would want to keep its western periphery with India relatively stable and benign. It is for this reason that Chinese official media has persisted with the message that there is no fundamental clash of interests between the two countries and that their convergences outnumber their differences
  • There is anxiety that India may move closer to the U.S. and participate in security arrangements more directly challenging China in the South China Sea. Beijing has cautioned that India should avoid getting “entangled” in the South China Sea issue, but there is also an expectation that it will continue to adhere to its stated policy of strategic autonomy. In fact, India’s reaction to the tribunal award has been measured, calling for utmost respect for the UNCLOS but also stressing the need for resolving differences through peaceful dialogue. It is reported that Mr. Wang did not raise the South China Sea issue in Delhi. This appears to confirm the view that China’s current preoccupation is to prevent India from escalating its stand on this issue
  • China expects that at the forthcoming G-20 summit at Hangzhou, the U.S. and its western allies and Japan may raise the South China Sea issue and embarrass the host country. India’s role could prove to be significant in this regard. That gives India a tactical advantage and this may well have been the reason for Mr. Wang to appear forthcoming on issues India is concerned about. I doubt whether China will change its substantive stance on these issues any time soon
  • In dealing with China, India has to be conscious of the fact that in terms of both economic and military capabilities, the asymmetry between the two countries continues to expand. China’s economy is five times as large as India’s and even with slower rates of growth China will be adding more muscle from a larger base while India will have to grow much faster over a longer period of time to begin to narrow the gap
  • There are only two ways to deal with this power asymmetry; one is to acquire and deploy capabilities which will make any aggressive military move by China a risky proposition. The other is to enmesh oneself more tightly in the U.S.-led countervailing coalition targeting China. The latter does run counter to India’s view of itself as an independent power but there is a steady creep in that direction
  • India’s vulnerability increases if there is a coordinated move by China and Pakistan. In previous India-Pakistan wars, post-1962, China supported Pakistan politically and with supplies but refrained from attacking India across the border. This reassuring pattern of behaviour needs to be under our constant review and assessment. China’s willingness to stand alone in blocking India’s membership of the NSG on behalf of Pakistan, and in shielding it from international pressures consequent upon its use of cross-border terrorism as an instrument of state policy against India, point to an enhanced strategic role for Pakistan in Chinese regional and global calculations. Pakistan has so far been important to China as a low-cost and effective proxy against India. It is now becoming important for China’s ambitious OBOR project, which is long term in nature. It is also assuming importance in China’s Central Asian strategy. No surprise therefore that China is reported to be encouraging the Pakistan Army to take charge of implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) since the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif is said to be too slow on delivery
  • With Mr. Modi now explicitly committed to the return of PoK including Gilgit and Baltistan to India, how would the Chinese react? Without Pakistani control over this disputed territory there would be no CPEC. If India additionally encourages anti-Pakistan militants in Balochistan, this would adversely affect the utility of Gwadar port, another key link in the OBOR. China would at least be under pressure to assuage heightened anxieties in Islamabad, and this may have a negative fallout on India-China relations
  • The setting for managing India-China relations has become more complex and risky. Over the past several years, leaders of both countries have seen it in their mutual interest to keep relations on an even keel despite their essentially adversarial nature. A careful balance has been maintained between the competitive and cooperative components of the relationship



The Indian Express


 

PIB


1. President’s greetings on the eve of Parsi New Year 

The Parsi Community of India has played a major role in the building of our nation and contributed immensely to development of our country in various spheres, including industry, commerce, trade and education.

The Navroz festival signifies the coming of the new and passing of the old.

 

2. Ancient camping site dating 8500 BC discovered by ASI at 14000 feet above sea level on the way to Saser La to Ladakh 

An ancient camping site dating ninth millennium BC has been discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under Ministry of Culture, on the way to Saser La which leads to the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh. While exploring in Nubra valley during 2015-16, Dr. S.B. Ota, Joint Director General in ASI observed both sides of hill and valley as the serpentine road, gradually climbed along the Saser Stream. After covering a distance of about 22 km, he noticed a section, exposed due to road construction, showing successive layers comprising burning residue and immediately stopped to explore the area. It was a small flat area with snow-covered peaks on one extreme, dry barren land with loose rocks all around and gushing stream within the deep western gorges, an ideal place for camping in a picturesque setting.

A charcoal sample collected from the Site, was subsequently sent to BETA LAB, Florida, USA, for radiocarbon date determination in order to understand the antiquity of the above stated camp-site. The outcome i.e. 8500 BC (10500 years before present) was beyond even ASI’s expectation. Such an early antiquity on the basis of a scientific date was the very first for that region.

 

3. NHAI collaborates with PFC under Adopt a Green Highway Program 

National Green Highways Mission (NGHM) under NHAI has collaborated with Power Finance Corporation Ltd. (PFC) for plantations work on NH 7 in Nagpur region (Borkhedi – Wadner, &Khatara – Kelapur) covering 87 km stretch. Power Finance Corporation Ltd. has provided financial assistance of Rs. 13 crore for plantation and five year maintenance under their CSR funds.

This event is historic as this marks the first collaboration with the National Green Highways Mission – NHAI under their ‘Adopt a Green Highway’ Program. Adopt a Green Highway Program is an initiative by NGHM to engage Corporates, Public Sector Units, Governmental organizations, institutions and individuals under CSR and Public Private Partnership for developing green corridor along NHs.

 

4.Uma Bharti Hails Wapcos Work in Afghanistan

Company Pays Record Dividend to the Government 

The Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has hailed the performance of WAPCOS Ltd, a PSU of her Ministry. Referring to the successful construction of Salma dam in Afghanistan by the company the Minister said such activities not only bring name and fame to the company but also create tremendous goodwill for the country.

 

The Business Line:

  1. Unfinished business

Topic: GST

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • When the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha last week, it paved the way for the law relating to Goods and Service Tax ( GST) to be introduced in the country
  • The rate of tax under GST is still anyone’s guess, and the grey areas in input tax credit are yet to be fixed.
  • While the removal of the 1 per cent “Help GST” tax to assist manufacturing States is good news; the very fact that such a levy, that goes against all qualities that an ideal GST should possess, was even thought of is a cause for concern. It leaves one with the impression that the Government could resort to such levies whenever the going gets tough in terms of tax collections
  • The focus now would be on the administrative issues
  • Numerous provisions in the Model GST law need to be completely rewritten. The benefits of GST will trickle down only if there is a seamless and across-the-board availability of input tax credit
  • The Model GST law has conveniently replicated most of the present restrictions on availing input tax credit, and rubbed salt into the wounds of the tax payer by adding a few more such as paying taxes and filing returns
  • A “GST Implementation Team” needs to be formed quickly which will comprise representatives from industry and commerce and should not have any political representation
  • The team needs to look at the Model GST Law with a fresh set of eyes and suggest necessary changes. It is this law that should be discussed later by those who matter
  • Pushing through the present law just for the purpose of introducing GST would only make GST a cosmetic makeover of the present laws than the game changer it is supposed to be



Must Read: How India banked on reforms

 

Note: It can be advised not to skip an article by C. Rangarajan

 

Quick Bits and News from States


  1. Russia conducts Syria air raids using Iran base

Russia on Tuesday announced for the first time it had flown bombing raids against jihadist groups in Syria from an airbase in Iran after deploying its warplanes to the country.

The raids mark a shift in Moscow’s military strategy in war-torn Syria, where its bombing campaign in support of long-time ally Bashar Al-Assad had until now been flown out from bases in Russia and the Russian airbase in Syria.

 

2. Tata Power Solar commissions 100 MW project for NTPC 

Tata Power Solar, one of the country’s largest integrated solar companies, on Tuesday announced that it had successfully commissioned a 100 MW solar project for NTPC in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. This is the biggest solar project commissioned using domestically manufactured solar cells and modules, the company said in a release. The plant is expected to generate nearly 160 million kWh of energy per year and help offset approximately 110,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in its first year of operation.

 

3. J&K resettlement law: SC hints referring it to larger Bench

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it may refer to a Constitution Bench a plea challenging the validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act if it finds that some issues needed interpretation of the Constitution.

The Act envisages grant of permit for resettlement of Pakistani nationals who had migrated to Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir between 1947 and 1954 after India’s partition.


4. Draft Ganga Act to draw from Highways Act

A first-of-its-kind bill to regulate a river — the Ganga Act, as it is now called and being drafted by experts — will draw from the National Highways Act and allow the Centre final say over States during disputes over management of its water, said a top official in the water ministry.

The National Highways Authority of India Act empowers the Central government to have complete power over roads designated as “national highways.” It also gives them authority over bridges, culverts and associated land stretches near highways. There was lack of consensus between the Ganga States on how money allotted should be spent though, according to officials associated with the project.

 

5. Move to bring all airports under CISF cover

The Home Ministry has turned down the Civil Aviation Ministry’s proposal to raise a separate force for aviation security. Instead, the government wants to bring all airports under the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), a senior Home Ministry official said.The decision comes in the wake of the attacks on Brussels’ Zaventem airport and Metro. A plan is also under way to de-link the cost of security personnel, now borne by the airport developer, as security is a “sovereign function.”


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Biofortification
  • National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)
  • G-20
  • Reforms in the external sector

 

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following is/are correct?
  1. DRR Dhan 45 is a biofortified variety of rice fortified with zinc
  2. Biofortification can fight hidden hunger

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 2: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights
  2. Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of non-governmental organizations that monitor censorship worldwide

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are correct about National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)?
  1. It is a financing, planning, implementing, monitoring and coordinating authority for the Ganga river
  2. The Chief Ministers of all the 11 states through which Ganges flow are its members

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct about G20?
  1. Financial Stability is the main concern of the group
  2. It is a forum of both developed and developing countries

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 5: Which of the following was/were external sector reforms introduced in the 1990s?
  1. Introduction of managed floating exchange rate system
  2. Easing of quantitative import barriers
  3. Reduction of tariffs

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) 1 and 2 only

d) All the above

 

Check Your Answers

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