Comprehensive News Analysis – 19 February 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

1. Scientists claim discovery of drowned Pacific Ocean continent Zealandia

B. GS2 Related:

1. Moscow takes the lead on Afghanistan

C. GS3 Related:

1. The lowdown on the Aero India show

2. NIO begins fingerprinting tar balls to track oil spills

 

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

The Hindu

1. Walk like a Mughal in the Qila that was

2. What the courts miss in the Constitution

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 for UPSC Current Affairs

 

A. GS1 Related
1. Scientists claim discovery of drowned Pacific Ocean continent Zealandia

Category: Geography
Topic: Plate Tectonics

Key Points:

  • A continent two-thirds the size of Australia has been found beneath the south-west Pacific Ocean, scientists reported in the journal of the Geological Society of America.
  • Known as Zealandia, the land mass of 4.5 million square kilometres (1.74 million square miles) is 94 per cent under water and only its highest points — New Zealand and New Caledonia — poke above the surface.
  • Zealandia is believed to have broken away from Australia about 80 million years ago and sank beneath the sea as part of the break up of the super-continent known as Gondwanaland.
 
B. GS2 Related
1. Moscow takes the lead on Afghanistan

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

Key Points:

  • Moscow took centre-stage for a six-nation conference on Afghanistan’s security future in the region, hosting India, Iran, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, on 15th February, 2017, and cutting out the U.S., Europe and NATO from its deliberations.

Russian Perspective

  • Russia now believes the Taliban is a “legitimate stakeholder” in the conflict, that must be engaged, and is the “lesser evil” than Islamic State/Da’esh forces in Afghanistan.
  • Russia and China have been cooperating closely at the U.N. Security Council Taliban sanctions committee to delist key Taliban figures.

A look at the Geopolitics in the region

  • After decades of shunning military ties with Pakistan, Moscow has doubled down on increasing engagement with Rawalpindi.
  • For example, in 2016, Russian forces held their first military exercises with Pakistan, Pakistan’s military signed up for Mi-35 helicopters from Russia.
  • The new ties won’t put a dent in traditional Russia-India defence ties worth billions, but they add to the strain in them, given India has pulled away closer to Washington for military procurement.
  • Further, China is already engaged deeply with Pakistan’s security establishment, and its $51-billion investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) depends on it. For the past few years, China has been investing in Afghanistan.
  • Iran is often seen to be a silent stakeholder in Afghanistan. Iran is keen on connecting the CPEC with its own initiatives on the Chabahar port and the International North-South Transport Corridor.
  • Iran and India have cooperated on these as well, but the fact that President Donald Trump appears to be preparing for a tough line on Iran- this could push New Delhi and Tehran apart.

Concluding Remarks

  • For India, each of these signals is being viewed very closely, especially given its own stakes in Afghanistan, where it has both development projects and a strategic partnership.
  • National Security Adviser Ajit Doval made a special trip to Moscow in January, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend a conference in St. Petersburg later this year, where regional security issues will be prominent.
  • After all, a shift in the centre of gravity from the West to Eurasia and Washington to Moscow on Afghanistan’s future could set off major tremors in the Indian subcontinent as well, along the bitter fault-lines between India and Pakistan.

 

C. GS3 Related
1. The lowdown on the Aero India show

Category: Science and Technology
Topic: Manufacturing, Developing new technology

Key Points:

  • Every two years, in February, most of the global manufacturers in the aerospace industry assemble in Bangalore to parade their finest products.
  • Their aim — to entice one of the world’s biggest military spenders (India), which is also home to several dozen rich who count private aircraft and helicopters among necessities of life.

Significant events at the show

  • This year’s show, at the Yelahanka Air Force Station, was significantly focussed on indigenous platforms — it was also a fait accompli because of the dull global interests compared to the previous years.
  • India’s first indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS), called Netra and mounted on a Brazilian Embraer 145 jet, was handed over to the Indian Air Force, and the Light Utility Helicopter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was on display for the first time.
  • However, the real attractions were the aerobatics teams.
  • The Indian Air Force’s ‘Surya Kiran’ aerobatic team made a comeback after six years, for the first time flying Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT).
  • Yakovlev aerobatic team, Skycats, from the UK, and the Sarang helicopter display team also put up impressive shows.

Important Statistics

  • In the past decade, India has emerged among the world’s biggest importers of arms.
  • According to data from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), between 2006-10 and 2011-15, India’s arms imports increased by 90%, and it was the world’s largest importer of weapons and military equipment in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Concluding Remarks

    • Ideally, Aero India is where India should be displaying its indigenously developed aerospace platforms.
    • It is unfortunate to note that more than a century after the first aircraft took to the skies; India is yet to design its own credible aircraft.
2. NIO begins fingerprinting tar balls to track oil spills

Category: Science and Technology
Topic: Oil Spills, Conservation

Key Points:

  • Environmental forensic analysts are chasing tar balls in sea coasts to trace the source of marine oil spills.
  • The issue of oil spills came to focus last month following the leakage of huge quantities of crude oil into the sea off Ennore coast near Chennai.
  • Samples collected from the Ennore spill will be fingerprinted at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, shortly.

How will this help?

  • Tracking the source of oil pollution through fingerprinting is significant as it could identify the polluters and thus fix responsibility.
  • It will help in evaluating the spills and devising methods for averting them.

The Process

  • Crude oil explored from each well has specific characteristics.
  • A comparison of the characteristics of oil spills or tar balls with the crude oil will reveal the location from which the oil originated.
  • After identifying the characteristics of the oil spill or tar balls, it would be easy to track them back to the source, said a communication from NIO.

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

 
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
1. Walk like a Mughal in the Qila that was

Category: History
Topic: : Medieval India

Key Points:

  • On April 17, 1648, Shah Jahan ‘illuminated’ the new Qila (fort) he had ordered to be built on the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi with his ‘blessed presence’ and celebrations began.
  • The Qila-e-Mubarak, or blessed fort as it was named, was like an octagonal flower in full bloom and had taken 10 years to build.
  • During the 1857 uprising, this Qila saw much action by the Indian sepoys who had risen up against the British East India Company rule. As a result, once the British crushed what they termed a mutiny, they exiled the Mughal emperor and demolished 80% of the Qila.
  • In 1902, the remnants of Bagh-e-Hayat Baksh was found buried deep in debris: that is, those portions which had not become part of the roads, which the British had built for their convenience inside the Mughal Qila.
  • The Qila-e-Mubarak is now the Red Fort, a symbol of India’s independence, from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation every August 15.
2. What the courts miss in the Constitution

Category: Polity and Governance
Topic: : Government Interventions, Judiciary

Key Points:

  • Indian secularism continues to be misunderstood. Its nuance, complexity and distinctiveness remain painfully elusive.

Supreme Court judgment: Abhiram Singh v. C.D. Commachen

  • The recent Supreme Court judgment, Abhiram Singh v. C.D. Commachen, pertaining to the Representation of the People Act, Section 123(3) in which one of the learned judges, Justice T.S. Thakur, correctly notes that the courts must remain sensitive to India’s constitutional ethos to which secularism is integral.
  • It is important to note that a secular state must not identify with any one religion or be controlled by it. It is neither pro-this or that god nor anti-god.
  • Such identification accords privileged recognition to one religion, which violates the principle of equality.
  • A second feature of Indian secularism is that it does not reject religion.
  • A state is secular if religion and state power are ‘kept apart’, strictly separated from each other and when this separation is required to protect inter-religious equality, non-discrimination, and the fullest possible exercises of religious freedom.

Religion in Governance

  • The recognition of a religious community is a positive act on the part of the state.
  • Granting rights to religious minorities (Article 25 and 26) is a form of state intervention.
  • Thus, religious minorities can set up and maintain their own educational institutions, something large religious communities routinely do without the need for special rights.
  • Moreover, all religious groups, small or large, have equal opportunity to avail of subsidies by the state to run their schools and colleges.
  • Similarly, the Indian state decides which special days associated with religion are to be declared national holidays.
  • All such decisions are based on religious considerations and are integral to governance.
  • Therefore, to say that religion does not play any role in the governance of the country is simply wrong.

Concluding Remarks

  • In short, a distinctive feature of Indian secularism is that it rejects the ‘wall of separation’ but demands that the state keep a ‘principled distance’ from all religions. It requires that the state has a value-based engagement with or disengagement from religion.
 
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
  • Representation of the People Act, Section 123(3)
  • Article 25 and 26
  • Zealandia
 
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
 
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements:

1] Zealandia is a continent two-thirds the size of Australia that has been recently found beneath the south-west Pacific Ocean.

2] Zealandia is believed to have broken away from Australia about 80 million years ago and sank beneath the sea as part of the break up of the super-continent known as Gondwanaland.

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

 
Question 2: Consider the following statements:

1] Bioremediation is a recovery method to control oil spill where oil-eating bacteria are used.

2] Oil-zapper is essentially a combination of five different bacterial strains that are immobilized and mixed with a carrier material (powdered corncob).

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

 
Question 3: Consider the following statements:

1] Article 14 of the Indian Constitution refers to Equality before law.

2] Article 15 in The Constitution refers to Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

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

 
Question 4: Consider the following statements:

1] Article 23 of the Indian Constitution refers to Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour.

2] Article 25 of the Constitution of India refers to Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2
 
Question 5: Which of the following organizations bring out the report known as 
‘Global Hunger Index report’?
    Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) b) The United Nations Development Programme c) The World Economic Forum d) ) The World Bank

 

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