Comprehensive News Analysis – 18 May 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

1. India suffers from huge gender pay gap, says report

B. GS2 Related:

1. ‘Pathankot handler is no. 3 in JeM’

2. Geospatial Bill: India upset as Pak. moves UN

3. Chabahar tops agenda of Modi’s visit to Iran

4. India, Myanmar to hold talks to boost ties

5. Obama objects to blocking of Pakistan aid

C. GS3 Related:

1. ‘Indian consumers, the most confident in 2016 first quarter’

2. CBM to contribute 5% of India’s gas production by 2017: Pradhan

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

The Hindu

1. Speaking up in numbers

2. The ghosts of Sykes-Picot

3. Losing the neighbourhood

4. Decisions of the people, by the people, for the people

Indian Express:

1. To Read:On poverty and prosperity, lot done, lot to do

2. Useful Data

Others:

1. PIB

a). Joint issue between Department of Posts and United Nations Postal Administration on UN Women HeForShe postage stamp

b). Global Crude oil price of Indian Basket was US$ 46.62 per bbl on 17.05.2016

2. The Business Line: Saving India’s children

3. To Read: Digital revolution must be localised

4. Business Standard: Security risks from delay

5. To Read:Another caged parrot?

6. Quick Bits

a) Five associate banks to merge with SBI

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

1. India suffers from huge gender pay gap, says report

Topic: Society

Category: Gender Issues

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • As per the latest Monster Salary Index by online career and recruitment solutions provider Monster India, gender pay parity in India stands as high as 27 per cent, where men earned a median gross hourly salary of Rs. 288.68, while women earned Rs. 207.85 per hour
  • In the IT services sector, the median gross hourly salary was the highest at Rs. 337.3
  • But the IT services sector has a huge gender pay gap of 34 per cent. Men in IT services earn Rs 360.9 per hour, while women earn only Rs 239.6 per hour
  • A sector-wise analysis shows the gender pay gap was highest in manufacturing sector (34.9 per cent) and lowest in the BFSI and Transport, logistics, communication, equally standing at 17.7 per cent

 

B. GS2 Related

1. ‘Pathankot handler is no. 3 in JeM’

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indo-Pak Relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • A special team has been created within the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to work on the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and the Jammu and Kashmir police have been asked to pitch in
  • The terror outfit, which carried out the attack on the Pathankot airbase on January 2, has undergone a change in its hierarchy and Shahid Latif (46), who had spent 16 years in an Indian prison, is said to be one of the top three leaders now
  • Officials said it was Latif who had dropped the Pathankot terrorists in an SUV near the Bamiyal border in Punjab and guided them on phone to reach the airbase more than 100 km away

 

2. Geospatial Bill: India upset as Pak. moves UN

Topic: International Relations

 Category: Indo-Pak Relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

Untitled (2)

India “firmly” rejected Pakistan’s objections to the draft Bill, saying Islamabad does not have any right to object to an internal “legislative matter” of India

 

3. Chabahar tops agenda of Modi’s visit to Iran

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indo- Iran Relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

Modi1_2857369a

 

4. India, Myanmar to hold talks to boost ties

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indo-Myanmar Relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • India and Myanmar will hold discussions to boost ties in various fields including agriculture, manufacturing, information technology, health and education
  • Bilateral talks will also focus on skill development, power, renewable energy, connectivity via air, sea and land, tourism, hospitality, special economic zones, industrial corridors and financial services
  • Commerce and Industry Minister of the Government of India will be leading a high-level delegation comprising leading Indian industrialists to Myanmar from May 18-20, according to an official statement. She will be the first Minister from India to visit Myanmar after the recent change of regime in the neighbouring country

 

5. Obama objects to blocking of Pakistan aid

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indo-Pak Relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • The Obama administration has opposed the Republican-controlled Congress’s move to block $450 million in aid to Pakistan for failing to “demonstrate its commitment” and taking action against the Haqqani network
  • A White House statement in this regard came as the bill made its way to the House of Representatives from House Armed Services Committee
  • The White House asserted that it shares the view of the lawmakers with regard to the Haqqani network, but such a move would “unnecessarily complicate progress” in bilateral ties

 

C. GS3 Related

1. ‘Indian consumers, the most confident in 2016 first quarter’

Topic: Economy

Category: State of Indian Economy

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • Indian consumers were the most confident in the world in terms of job prospects, personal finances and concerns in the first quarter of 2016 with their confidence index touching a nine-year high during the period, according to a study by global performance management company, Nielsen
  • The Consumer Confidence Index score for India increased three index points in the first quarter to a score of 134, the highest for the country since 2007 and comes after three consecutive quarters at 131, Nielsen said in a statement

 

2. CBM to contribute 5% of India’s gas production by 2017: Pradhan

Topic: Economy

Category: Energy Sector

Location: The BusinessLine

Key points:

  • Natural gas from coal bed methane is likely to contribute to five per cent of national gas production by 2017, said Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas
  • He wrote this after a meeting with CBM producers in India who, he said, had invested Rs. 10,000 crore collectively in CBM blocks
  • Coal bed methane refers to a reserve of natural gas stored in coal seams. With India having the fourth largest proven reserves of coal globally, according to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, the country holds significant prospects for exploration and production of CBM, which is also seen as a clean energy source

(Currently, Great Eastern Energy Corporation and Essar OIl are the only two CBM-gas producing blocks in the country, both from separate reserves in Raniganj, West Bengal. Reliance Industries has reportedly begun test production from its two blocks in Madhya Pradesh)

 

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

 

The Hindu

1. Speaking up in numbers

Topic: Polity

Category: Elections

Key points

  • Polling for elections to the legislative assemblies in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry began on April 4, and concluded on May 16
  • A cluster of elections in States as far apart geographically as Kerala and Assam — and as varied in the ideological choices before the voters as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu — is bound to change the political landscape of the country
  • In the hiatus between polling and the counting on May 19, one message of the people of India already rings loud and clear: they have kept their date with the ballot at the voting booth
  • The trend of rising participation in the democratic process is in tune with the pattern seen over the last decade or so
  • Certainly, voter interest has been enhanced because of the relative ease in polling brought about and other steps taken by the EC
  • These include an increase in the number of polling stations, the use of voter identification cards and photo electoral rolls, and a computerised system that allows for easier verification of residence. The EC’s outreach through various public officials and well-known personalities as part of its voter awareness programme has given voting a do-good aura. And the Commission’s regular updates of electoral rolls have taken off the list the names of people who have moved home, resulting in an increase in voting percentages
  • Indian democracy occupies a unique position among parliamentary democracies, not only in terms of the scale of electioneering and overall participation but also the social inclusion that voting day witnesses. The enhanced participation of the poor and marginalised sections in the voting process in India is in contrast to that seen in many developed countries, such as the U.S., where gerrymandering and lack of documentation in effect disenfranchise them
  • Indeed, Indian voters speak of feeling special on polling day. Waves of electoral reform and the EC’s continued initiatives have simplified the voter registration process
  • But this special feeling draws from more than the administrative processes — at the voting booth, for that polling day, every Indian stands equal. Voters, especially those from the deprived segments, often speak of the self-affirmation they perceive on this day, when the Constitution’s promise of equality is tangible, however transiently. It is a reminder of the compact the state has with citizens, with those who have reposed faith in the system and in the leaders they elect.

 

2. The ghosts of Sykes-Picot

Topic: World History

Category: Aftermath of WW1

Key points:

  • West Asia lies in tatters. Parts of the border between Iraq and Syria have been virtually erased by the Islamic State. Syria itself is divided among multiple groups. Iraq’s government has no control over at least a fourth of its territory. Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region, has demanded freedom from Baghdad. The Syrian Kurdistan region is being run by the Kurds themselves for the first time in several decades. The regional map is fractured in many more ways
  • What triggered this crisis? Part of the blame lies with a century-old agreement between Britain and France that is viewed as the source of the modern map of West Asia. When the British and French signed the Sykes-Picot pact a century ago — on May 16, 1916 — to divide the huge land mass of the Ottoman Empire between themselves, their primary concern was to retain their colonial interests. In the process, the map prepared by diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot ignored local identities, leaving several ethnic and social contradictions unaddressed
  • Even when actual boundaries were identified after the First World War, the focus was on colonial and regional interests, not on the political preferences of the people
  • Against this background, it may not be a coincidence that over the years the most powerful political ideologies that emerged from the region directly or indirectly challenged the Sykes-Picot system. Both Nasserism and Ba’athism sought to transcend the territorial nationalist boundaries. Egypt and Syria even went ahead to declare a United Arab Republic, an experiment that collapsed after the 1961 coup in Damascus. And now, even Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the IS, calls for an end to the “Sykes-Picot conspiracy”
  • The modern map of the region may not bear any great resemblance to the original lines drawn by Sykes and Picot. What matters more now than the actual Sykes-Picot map is the legacy of the agreement: foreign interventions. From the colonial carve-up to the Iraq war or the fight against the IS, foreign involvement in the region continues, and often exacerbates the crises rather than solving them
  • Equally problematic has been the failure of West Asia’s leaders to live up to the challenges of their respective states. Over the years, they resisted reform and ran largely oppressive systems rooted in social conservatism and patronage
  • They showed no interest in tackling the problems the Sykes-Picot pact failed to address, such as the Kurdish question. Their authoritarianism simply sharpened the social contradictions in their states, while intra-regional rivalries made peace elusive
  • The rise of the IS is a result of these external and internal problems. If the Iraq war unleashed sectarian and jihadist demons, they found a battlefield in Syria where President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship triggered a civil war, which was in turn worsened by his regional rivals. Both the interventionists from abroad and the warring dictators at home should rethink their approaches. Else, the ghosts of Sykes-Picot will continue to haunt West Asia.

 

3. Losing the neighbourhood

Topic: India’s Neighbourhood

Category: Nepal, SriLanka, Maldives

Key Points

  • Save for Bhutan and perhaps Bangladesh, much of South Asia has major grievances against New Delhi today. Clearly, then, there is something fundamentally wrong with the government’s neighbourhood diplomacy
  • Take the case of Nepal, for instance. New Delhi was deeply upset with the Constitution passed by the Nepalese Constituent Assembly in September last year. Its unhappiness resulted from the legitimate feeling among the people of Terai, especially the Madhesis and Tharus, living close to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, that they have been short-changed by the country’s new Constitution. But a substantive political argument was thwarted by poor diplomatic style
  • If New Delhi’s Mission Kathmandu was both a failure and distasteful, its ‘subtle interference’ in Sri Lanka in the run-up to the island nation’s elections last year has set a dangerous precedent. New Delhi had proactively promoted the coalition led by Maithripala Sirisena to defeat the then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa whose anti-Tamil record and pro-China tilt was resented by New Delhi
  • Maldives, yet another traditional ally of ours, has also been resenting the Indian reactions to its domestic political developments. New Delhi, being highly critical of how the pro-India former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was jailed by the current regime under terrorism charges, publicly stated that “we are concerned at recent developments in the Maldives, including the arrest and manhandling of former President Nasheed”
  • A recent Parliamentary Standing Committee report on External Affairs alarmingly noted: “There has been a sizeable reduction in aid and loans to countries in our immediate neighbourhood such as Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The Committee contend that the quantum of aid to a country under this head is viewed as a reflection of India’s diplomatic engagements with its immediate and extended neighbourhood
  • While it is true that India’s smaller neighbours do try, from time to time, to play the China card, the response to that is neither arrogance nor regime change, but creative, patient diplomacy. It is also important to recognise that India simply does not have the material capacity to engage in a zero-sum game with China in the region

 

4. Decisions of the people, by the people, for the people

Topic: Polity

Category: Democracy

Key Points:

  • A series of events reported in the last couple of months in the nation provides a very different meaning to democracy
  • On March 16, five Adivasi villages in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, unanimously vetoed the plans of South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL), a subsidiary of India’s public sector coal mining giant Coal India Limited (CIL), to mine their forests
  • On March 23, the Kamanda gram sabha of Kalta G.P in Koida Tehsil of Sundargarh district in Odisha unanimously decided not to give its land for the Rungta Mines proposed by the Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha Limited (IDCO)
  • On May 4, the National Green Tribunal directed that before clearance can be given the Kashang hydroelectric project (to be built by the State-owned body Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd. or HPPCL), the proposal be placed for approval before the Lippa village gram sabha in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The 1,200 residents of Lippa have been waging a seven-year struggle against the project
  • And then on May 6, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the Odisha Mining Corporation seeking the reconvening of gram sabhas in the Niyamgiri hills to consider a mining proposal that the sabhas had rejected in 2013
  • Some of these decisions have also belatedly brought out the real implications of the Forest Rights Act of 2006, so far poorly implemented in most parts of India. The Act provides for recognition of the rights of communities to govern, use, and conserve forests they have traditionally managed and used, reversing 200 years of colonial and postcolonial history in which the state had taken over control of forests
  • Logically such a right should mean that any activity in a community-governed forest should be subject to consent by the community, in recognition of which the MoEF issued a circular in 2009, requiring such consent for diversion of forests for development projects
  • In one way or the other, most of the above assertions or decisions are linked to such powers under the Forest Rights Act, coupled with constitutional guarantees and other laws such as the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA
  • The principle of ‘free and prior informed consent’ (FPIC), enshrined in international agreements for some years, was reiterated most strongly in the recent UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The events of March to May provide an occasion for peoples’ movements to press for FPIC to be incorporated as a central tenet of all development and welfare planning. Widespread mobilisation on this is necessary because the Central government is otherwise on an overdrive to dilute hard-fought rights of freedom of speech and dissent, access to information, and decentralised decision-making.
  • Deeper democratic reforms would help ordinary people get political, economic, and legal powers through grass-roots collectives that enable them to take decisions affecting their lives. Such direct or radical democracy needs to be the fulcrum on which more representative institutions at larger scales would operate, downwardly accountable through various mechanisms
  • Accompanying it would be alternative pathways of human well-being including forms of economic activity that are ecologically sustainable, directly in the control of people rather than the state or corporations, more locally self-reliant and less dependent on fragile global webs of exchange

 

The Indian Express:

 

2. Useful Data

capture16

 

Others:

1. PIB

a). Joint issue between Department of Posts and United Nations Postal Administration on UN Women HeForShe postage stamp 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Department of Posts and United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) in February, 2016 for the joint issue of UN Women HeForShe postage stamp

UN Women HeForShe campaign is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity for the benefit of all in social terms. This Joint issue is dedicated for the empowerment of women around the world

 

b) Global Crude oil price of Indian Basket was US$ 46.62 per bbl on 17.05.2016

The international crude oil price of Indian Basket as computed/published today by Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas was US$ 46.62 per barrel (bbl) on 17.05.2016. This was higher than the price of US$ 46.18 per bbl on previous publishing day of 16.05.2016

 

2.The Business Line: Saving India’s children

Topic: Governance

Category: Social Sector Schemes

Key Points

  • Anganwadis and schools are proving to be a food fortress that the drought finds difficult to breach, across scores of villages in rural India.
  • The effect of disasters on children lasts longer and is more severe compared to adults. Inadequate access and availability of nutritious food means children go to bed hungry and are susceptible to major health risks. Young mothers are deprived of giving the best start to their babies. A study in rural India has shown that when pregnant women are exposed to drought, there are detrimental effects on the nutritional status of children, especially those from lower caste groups, and children exposed in the first trimester.
  • One of the biggest success stories of the country is the midday meals scheme. A Supreme Court order dated April 20, 2004, makes it mandatory to provide midday meals during summer vacations in ‘drought-affected areas’. Many among India’s 1.3 million anganwadis and 1.16 million schools are fighting the drought, making sure that children get food and water even during the harshest months.
  • The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme have turned out to be important buffers. Further, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines on management of drought (2010), the manual of drought management brought out by the ministry of agriculture (2009) and the Drought Crisis Management plan also have set clear plans to expand the ICDS and MDM scheme to cover children not enrolled and children out of school.
  • But the functionality of ICDS centres differs vastly. For instance, in drought-hit Bundelkhand (which is divided between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh), cooked food is not provided in many of the centres, and the supply of supplementary nutrition (sattu) is irregular. There are no anganwadi workers in many locations, and the attendance levels of children are dismal.
  • This needs to be viewed against the fact that India has not been a spectacular performer when it comes to child health. According to the Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC), more than 40 per cent of rural Indian children are stunted and more than 30 per cent, underweight, which is actually an improvement on the numbers given by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)
  • In a drought context, the risk of undoing the good work done is extremely high, as the rates of under-nutrition in many of the affected States are already above the national average
  • Considering that under-nutrition directly correlates to ill-health and consequent medical costs, it is obvious that the poor will end up spending more from their already-sapped wallets. Out-of-pocket expenditure for health pushes 63 million Indians below the poverty line. In drought conditions, this can get families into a cycle of debt and leave them without even the little money they earn. ICDS and MDM double up as a barrier from the vicious cycle of poverty as well.
  • As the impact of drought on children get more severe every passing year, the government needs to ensure that the nutritional and hunger needs of children, and pregnant and lactating mothers are met. As suggested by evidence, special focus must be on their nutritional needs during the first 1,000 days
  • Anganwadi centres are the single most important point of prevention of hunger and malnutrition, and the only safeguard for children during drought, and merit an expansion of provisions in anganwadi centres, including financial and human resources, and uninterrupted food supply

 

 

4. Business Standard: Security risks from delay

Topic: Security

Category: China- India Border

Key Points

  • In its annual report for 2015-16, the defence ministry notes that there has been an “increase in assertiveness” during routine patrolling by the Chinese army
  • Given the news reports of the past few days, the ministry must give the country its assessment of the security situation on the disputed land border with China, and whether the short-term threat perception has changed for any reason
  • Short-term capabilities are born out of medium-term decisions. It is an unhappy fact that the expenditure on defence, seen in relation to GDP, remains too low. Virtually all equipment procurement programmes – whether being built domestically or negotiated with overseas suppliers – are running many years behind schedule
  • Four years after the Rafale was picked as the appropriate choice of fighter aircraft, and a year the government announced a reduced order size, no contract has been concluded
  • Meanwhile, the first of six new Scorpene submarines has ventured out for sea trials and will be inducted into the navy later this year, four years behind schedule — yet without torpedoes, its most important armoury for anti-ship warfare
  • It is already known that new destroyers are being commissioned without either key ship-to-air missiles or enough anti-submarine helicopters, and with only sub-optimal sonar systems
  • Even basic equipment like a new assault rifle for the infantry is caught in a bureaucratic logjam
  • These problems did not materialise in a day, and there are no overnight solutions. The question is whether enough is being done to make the country’s defences progressively more secure, at a fast enough pace
  • Admittedly, the government has taken a variety of initiatives — for instance, to indigenise the manufacture of defence equipment, improve fighter aircraft maintenance for improved operational availability, and speed up procedural clearances for various acquisitions
  • However, the actual signing of contracts has been relatively rare. As for warship production, a navy that talks of having more than 60 additional warships in a decade, over and above replacements, is commissioning perhaps three vessels annually, most of them as replacement
  • If manifest risks to national security do not act as a spur for quick decisions and adequate budgets, what will?

 

 

6. Quick Bits

a). Five associate banks to merge with SBI

A proposal seeking an ‘in principle’ approval to start negotiations with associate banks will be submitted to the Central government shortly

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Chabahar Port
  • Gender Pay Parity
  • Consumer Confidence Index
  • Coal Bed Methane
  • Election Commission
  • Sykes-Picot Pact
  • Forest Rights Act
  • PESA Act
  • ICDS and MDM Schemes
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. Coal bed Methane(CBM) refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal
  2. CBM is called ‘sweet gas’ because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide
  3. India has no known reserves of CBM

a) 1and 2

b) 1 only

c) 2 only

d) 1 and 3

 

Question 2: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the definition of forest dweller under the Forest Rights Act ?
  1. A Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribeis a member of a Scheduled Tribe and resides in the area where the tribe are Scheduled
  2. A Traditional Forest Dweller has been primarily residing in forests or forest lands; depending on forests and forest land for a livelihood for a period of 75 years or more

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 3: Which of the following state(s) has/have scheduled areas?
  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Maharashtra
  3. Gujarat
  4. Bihar

a) 1 and 4 only

b) 1, 3 and 4

c) 1,2 and 3

d) 2,3 and 4

 

Question 4: Which of the given below statement(s) is/are correct ?
  1. The Sykes-Picot Agreementeffectively divided the Ottoman’s Arab provinces outside the Arabian Peninsula into areas of future British and French control and influence
  2. Iraq and Palestine became French mandates and Syria and Lebanon became British mandates

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Which of the following statement(s) is /are correct?
  1. Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body
  2. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

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