Table of Contents:
A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:
C. GS3 Related:
D. GS4 Related
Useful News Articles
A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
- Police sources said that fidayeen militants stormed an Army camp in Uri area of Baramulla district near the Line of Control (LoC) and seventeen soldiers were killed in a militant attack. Four militants were killed in the encounter.
Diplomats say India driven to the wall, must mount response –
- Veteran diplomats and experts said India has a wide range of options for a measured and effective response to the attack in Uri. They said India was left with no option but to retaliate, heightening the possibility of an imminent escalation of violence.
- Parthasarathy, former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan said Pakistan is isolated within SAARC, as three members of the regional group have accused it of sponsoring terrorism. Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India have accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism that ISI continues to generate, irrespective of the condition of the bilateral ties with India. Such attacks take place irrespective of the ties being temporarily good or continuously bad. A response therefore has to be forcefully enunciated
The attack in Uri, close to the Line of Control (LoC), revived memories of the Kaluchak attack of 2002 which claimed at least 31 lives. Mr. Parthasarathy said the government could consider a mix of diplomatic and multilateral response. Diplomats said a major challenge in crafting a suitable response to Pakistan was its ability to use its nuclear umbrella as a shield for unconventional warfare with India. However, India could engage the Pakistan military in response for Uri without triggering a war.
- Fitting response – The attack in Uri has come as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left for the annual meeting of the heads of governments at the N. General Assembly, where India and Pakistan are likely to counter each other on the terror issue. During the 33rd session of the UNHRC, India had accused Pakistan of being the global epicentre of terrorism. India has already made a beginning, with Vice President Hamid Ansari asking for concrete action against terrorism at the ongoing NAM summit in Venezuela.
Category: International issues
Topic: Elections in Russia
- Despite sanctions and a deep economic slowdown, the ruling United Russia party is expected to win even greater dominance over Russia’s lower house in a parliamentary election, showing that support for President Vladimir Putin is holding up. The election for the Duma, or lower house, is being seen as a dry run for Putin’s expected presidential campaign in 2018.
- The current Duma election is also a test of how well the Kremlin can oversee trouble-free elections. It will be the first parliamentary vote since 2011, when allegations of ballot-rigging sparked big protests against Mr. Putin in the capital. Currently, the United Russia, led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin loyalist, has 238 of 450 Duma seats, dominates the more than 80 regional Parliaments, and is routinely depicted in a favourable light by state media.
- First vote in Crimea – The election is the first time that voters in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, are helping decide the makeup of the Duma. That has angered the Ukrainian government and there were scuffles between Ukrainian nationalists and police outside the Russian embassy in Kiev after a few nationalists tried to stop Russian citizens from voting there.
C. GS3 Related
Category: Science and Technology
Topic: Technological developments – Fuel cells
- Researchers from Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) have come one step closer to making fuel cells that are cheaper and more efficient.
- Two novel porous and crystalline hydrogen-bonded organic frameworks (HOFs) that they synthesised could potentially be used as a proton exchange membrane in fuel cells. Nafion, the proton exchange membrane in use currently, has major drawbacks in terms of applicability at a high temperature range or low humidity, high production costs and gas leakage issues. The proton-conducting materials synthesised by the researchers address one critical issue achieving a high proton conduction value even at ambient conditions (low humidity of around 60 per cent and moderate temperature). The proton conduction value is greater at higher humidity.
- Among all known porous materials, this is the highest proton conduction value that has been reported at ambient condition. The research says these materials have the potential to be used as a proton exchange membrane to improve the efficiency of fuel cells. The cost of fuel cells will become cheaper as it is easy to make the membrane.
- The HOFs are promising materials for gas separation and storage applications. However, they have not been used for fuel cell applications. The team synthesised two organic compounds, and each compound has a proton donor site and a proton acceptor site. The donor-acceptor complementarity is distributed throughout the hydrogen-bonded framework. The hydrogen bonding serves as a pathway for proton transfer from the donor site to the acceptor site. Water acts as a carrier and plays important role. When humidity is more the proton transfer becomes easy.
- Additionally, the HOF compounds have the potential to remove greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
Category: Science and Technology
Topic: Commercial surrogacy
- With India’s tough stand on surrogacy, evident in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 which the Cabinet cleared recently, surrogacy service seekers, and even doctors have started moving to destinations that still allow this service. While Cambodia has become popular among people, both Indians and from other parts of the world countries such as Ukraine and Kenya are attracting doctors from India.
A real example: Bhoomi Shah says she lives a good life in Ahmedabad. She has a well-paying job, has a car that she likes to drive around and lives in a bungalow with her parents, who have always supported her decisions and life choices. So last week, she packed her bags and made a quick three-day trip to Cambodia not drawn to the east Aisa nation by the iconic Angkor Wat, but to rent a womb.
- As in the early days of surrogacy in India, the lack of proper laws or guidelines in Cambodia has proved a big attraction. Medical tourism consultants say doctors from Thailand have set up infertility clinics. But the focus on Cambodia has its set of concerns. There is growth in surrogacy in Cambodia since 2015. There is a huge pressure building and Cambodia is ill-prepared to handle it. Besides, there are no laws in place (in Cambodia).
- Doctors who offered surrogacy service in India are aware of the new hubs. Cambodia may have emerged as a hub, but it has only one or two players currently. It doesn’t have well-defined laws so a better place is Ukraine that has laws in place. Ukraine’s presence is not lost on Indian doctors who once had a good surrogacy business going.
After the ban on commercial surrogacy in India in November 2015, many Infertility centers collaborated with an infertility clinic in Ukraine.
Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 – Recently, the Union cabinet cleared the bill.
Reasons for the introduction of the bill –
- India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries and there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.
- Widespread condemnation of commercial surrogacy prevalent in India has also been regularly published in different print-and electronic media since last few years highlighting the need to prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical altruistic surrogacy.
- The 228th report of the Law Commission of India recommended for prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian citizens by enacting a suitable legislation.
It has the following provisions –
- The Bill shall apply to whole of India, except Jammu and Kashmir.
- It will regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board and State Surrogacy Boards at the central and state levels respectively and Appropriate Authorities Union Territories.
- It will ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples. All infertile Indian married couple who want to avail ethical surrogacy will be benefited. Further the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy will be protected.
Note: The major benefits of the Act –
- It will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions and for specific purposes.
- It will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.
Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Balance of Payments: Current account
- The Union ministry of Finance said India’s current account moved in to surplus in the April-June quarter of the current fiscal year, 2016-17 after a gap of 9 years. Slow growth in imports, reflecting the persisting weakness in the investment sentiment, tipped the account. The current account was in surplus last in the January-March quarter in the year 2007. A surplus is expected to bolster the rupee, which could render India’s already subdued exports less competitive.
- The official data for the current account position during the April-June quarter is scheduled for release by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The Finance ministry said that if a surplus were reported, the RBI could be expected to intervene in the foreign exchange markets to prevent the rupee from strengthening too much.
- The Federation of Indian Export Organizations has called for addressing the overvalued rupee in discussions with the Union Commerce Ministry, saying Indian exporters were out-priced in the global market. Exports to the U.S., India’s largest export destination, fell 1.1 per cent in April-July 2016 against the corresponding quarter in the previous year. In the same period, imports from China, the largest exporter to India, fell 7.4 per cent.
- Following a moderate current account deficit of $.4 billion, or (-) 0.1 per cent of GDP, in the January-March quarter, current account is expected to come in at a surplus of $2 billion or 0.4 per cent of GDP in April-June quarter.
- India’s trade deficit reached $7.7 billion in August, 2016 significantly lower than the average monthly trade deficit of $9.9 billion seen in the 2015. A current account in deficit reflects that the imports of goods, services and investment incomes into the economy outstripped the value of its exports.
Balance of Payments –
It is a statement of record of all economic transactions of a country with the rest of the world done over specific period of time (1 year).
It is defines as a classified record of all receipts on account of goods exported, services rendered and capital received by the residents and payments made by them on account of goods imported and services received, BoP also includes the capital transferred to the Non-Residents and Foreigners.
BoP has 2 parts –
- Current account (Transaction related to the goods and services), it shows the visible balance of trade (it is the difference between the value of exports of goods and services and the value of imports of goods and services) and the invisible balance of trade (shown under 8 heads, travel, transport, insurance, investment, investment income, Receipts or payments for patents and loyalties, Transfer payments – official and private).
- Capital account comprises of the inward and the outward investments, loans and grants. Government of India classifies the Capital account into private capital (consists of short-term loans, loans of maturity period of 1year or less; long term loans, Private capital also involves FDI and FPI, External Commercial Borrowings and the foreign currency deposits), banking capital (External financial assets and the liabilities of the banks, both commercial and the cooperative) and the official capital (includes the RBI’s holding of foreign currency reserves and gold).
It is not possible to exactly estimate or balance the BoP, the credit side and the debit side does not always match accurately due to the illegal movement of the capital and other discrepencies.
Category: Indian Economy
Topic: Ease of doing business
- The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) said factory inspection system needs a complete overhaul to bring India among the top 50 countries in terms of World Bank’s ease of doing business in the next two years. India is currently placed at 130 out of 189 countries in the ‘ease of doing business’
- CII in a white paper titled ‘Inspections and Regulatory Enforcements for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in India’ said the excessive number of inspections in India weighs down on the competitive advantage and the ‘ease of doing business’ of Indian businesses; inspections in India have been found to be excessive, duplicate and complicated, imposing significant costs on businesses, especially MSMEs, While most inspections are selected locally, without any objective criteria, inspectors act over-zealously and make extortionist demands from factories.
- CII has also observed variations in inspections conducted on small factories across the country. While inspectors for labour compliances visit most SMEs once or twice a year, it has been observed that in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, SMEs are visited by labour inspectors once every month.
- Suggestions: CII called for an integrated inspection system and highlighted the need for inculcating a risk-based approach in the inspection system which will rationalise the number of inspections and weed out the redundancy and duplicity.
It said a portal could be created for automatically updating invoices related to excise, sales tax, customs and the like by SMEs and that this could be used by regulators and inspectors in lieu of physically visiting the factory premises. Audited accounts of SMEs could be used by inspectors while performing verification.
It also urged the central government to encourage the states to pursue a process for simplification of labour laws and compliance.
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
Nothing here today folks!
Nothing here today folks!
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were laid out in the document, ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. There are 17 SDGs with their associated 169 targets, developed as the next step in the evolution of what were previously known as the Millennium Development Goals. Countries are now formulating indicators to track their progress towards the targets. The SDGs broadly relate to human dignity, prosperity, protecting the biosphere, and promoting peace and security. While these goals have been accepted in principle, they have also been criticised from various quarters for being too large in number, and too wide or too limited in their scope. Reaching the targets will also be difficult because there are no specific funds that have been set aside to attain them. International development aid, public and private funds, a redesign of tax structures, and other international mechanisms have been discussed and may be considered by individual countries as sources of finance for these targets.
Interconnected goals – India has an enormous but also an opportune challenge ahead of it with regard to the SDGs. This is because the SDGs essentially encompass India’s overall development agenda since they include health and food, cities and infrastructure, energy access, poverty and inequality, water, sanitation, climate change, consumption and ecosystems.
The interconnected nature of the SDGs makes them complex, but also demonstrates complementary benefits from specific goals and targets. For instance, clean drinking water and sanitation would enhance health, leading to improved nutrition and well-being. Sustainable consumption and production would reduce the use of materials and energy, leading to mitigation of greenhouse gases, and should improve local ecosystems because of the relation between consumption and natural systems. It was earlier agreed that since climate change, the 13th SDG, is under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the targets for this goal would be determined by the Convention. This safeguards the protections and responsibilities that stem from the UNFCCC.
The former CEO of NITI Aayog is reported to have said regarding the difficulty of reaching the SDGs that lack of data has already made it difficult to attain the goals of the 12th Five Year Plan. In addition to paucity of funds, difficulties of data availability and poor capacity at various levels are likely to hamper India’s progress towards the SDGs.
But the SDGs are global objectives that signal what is important for human well-being, and they incorporate many of the lessons learned from decades of development (sustainable or otherwise). Besides, the specific domains that the SDGs target align almost exactly with the objectives of India’s Five Year Plans and government schemes. Thus, while attaining all the SDGs on time may be near impossible, there are several cross-cutting tasks that can be addressed. These include identifying what data we already have used or could use, finding proxies, setting up new institutions (policies, rules and regulations), improving Centre-State coordination to reach the goals, and building capacity.
SDGs and climate change – As many are aware, South Asia, especially India, is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change because of its high population, vast and diverse ecologies, and long coastline.
Actions that will reduce this vulnerability are tightly related to strategies for sustainable development. For example, the first SDG, ending poverty in all forms by 2030, is of fundamental importance for India, which had about 20 per cent of the world’s poor in 2011. Numerous studies have shown consistently that poverty increases vulnerability to climate change. If we begin to address aspects of poverty by understanding its multidimensional and dynamic nature, we may begin to improve current living conditions and increase resilience to global warming. Similarly, making our cities sustainable, setting up better sanitation facilities, reducing consumption, making drinking water and energy services accessible to all, and so on, would contribute significantly to improving resilience to global warming. Many of these would improve system-wide energy efficiency, which would of course reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable development alone is not sufficient for climate adaptation. The latter also requires information on global warming impacts expected in a region along with knowledge of specific actions that would enable us to live in a warmer world. Building climate change resilience, which improves our adaptive capacities or removes limitations to adaptive capacities, is part of sustainable development.
The disaggregated impacts of future climate change in peninsular India are extremely difficult to predict because of monsoon variability. Regional climate models and approaches to downscale global predictions have been inadequate and only show the general likelihood of more intense rainfall in shorter periods in fairly vast areas, with drought elsewhere due to decrease or variability in precipitation. Overall, these changes will increase the vulnerability of local populations to flash floods, soil erosion, long-term freshwater shortages and declining agricultural yields. Beyond that, it is difficult to tell from current models whether a particular region will be drought-prone or have excess precipitation. In the absence of such detailed information, climate adaptation in India will need to first focus on sustainable development, in order to build climate resilience. Apart from a few exceptional cases, such as sea level rise, where we know the effects and need to plan for its numerous impacts, focussing on sustainable development first is a useful strategy. Sustainable development thus provides an important framework for policymakers and others to understand better how climate change can be mainstreamed into development planning in each sector.
In the recent times, India played host to Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, visits that marked a repair of relationships with both countries. Mr. Prachanda’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was cordial, and though no large announcements were made, the message that’s gone out is that both countries wish to put the bitterness of the past year and the economic blockade behind them. New Delhi is acutely conscious of Mr. Prachanda’s challenges: a potentially shaky tenure in office given his coalition’s narrow majority, the difficulty in building a two-thirds consensus for the constitutional amendments he has committed to, as well as the massive task of reconstruction after the April 2015 earthquake. As a result, it didn’t force him to commit on a timeline for amendments demanded by Madhesi and other groups that feel marginalised by the new Constitution. The joint statement referred to Mr. Modi welcoming “the ongoing efforts of the Government of Nepal to take all sections of the society on board for effective implementation of the Constitution,” but it didn’t mention the word amendment. India instead focussed on delivering on its own promises to Nepal, including hydropower and highways infrastructure projects. This shows a maturing of New Delhi’s position, since the phase of stern statements against the Koirala and Oli governments on the Madhesi issue.
With Mr. Ghani, the outreach began a year ago, after it became clear that Afghanistan had lost confidence in Pakistan’s ability to bring the Taliban to book or to the table for talks. Moreover, the U.S., Afghanistan’s biggest security provider, made a shift in its old policy of cutting India out of the security equation, and actively encouraged New Delhi to help provide military assistance to Kabul. Even so, during Mr. Ghani’s visit, India opted for a less overt approach to Afghanistan’s ‘wish list’ of helicopters, tanks and ammunition assistance, with the joint statement and agreements signed merely mentioning their resolve to counter terrorism and strengthen security and defence cooperation as envisaged in the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement. Mention of Pakistan’s support to terrorist groups was muted as well. However, Mr. Ghani did give a scathing account of Pakistan’s actions at a speech at a Delhi think tank later. The Afghan and Nepali visits had another common thread, of landlocked countries in need of road and railway trade routes. It is hoped that, going forward, India will take a leadership role in maximising their options, as it has done with Afghanistan through the Chabahar port project in Iran.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
- J&K Terror attacks in the recent times
- CIBMS (Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System)
- Ukrainian crisis – Crimea joining Russia
- Commercial Surrogacy
- Balance of payments & LERMS
- Ease of doing Business index
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
Links to Refer
Commercial Surrogacy bill, 2016
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following organizations releases the Ease of doing Business index?
b) International financial corporation
c) International financial and management committe
d None of these
Question 2: With reference to ‘fuel cells’ in which hydrogen-rich fuel and oxygen are used to generate electricity. consider the following statements :
- If pure hydrogen is used as a fuel, the fuel cell emits heat and water as byproducts.
- Fuel cells can be used for powering buildings and not for small devices like laptop computers.
- Fuel cells produce electricity in the form of Alternating Current (AC).
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
Question 3: Which part of Ukraine separated from it and joined Russia in 2014 post Ukrainian crisis?
Question 4: What is UN Rio+20 Conference, often mentioned in the news?
b) It is a Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization
c) It is a Conference of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change
d) It is a Conference of the Member Countries of the Convention on Biological Diversity
Question 5: With reference to Balance of Payments, which of the following constitutes / constitute the Current Account?
- Balance of trade
- Foreign assets
- Balance of invisibles
- Special Drawing Rights
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3
c) 1 and 3
d) 1, 2 and 4
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