Comprehensive News Analysis – 20 October 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Indo-Russia agreement on Nuclear Submarine

2. Supreme Court reserves order on Cauvery appeals

3. Smarter railway stations coming soon

4. Indo-Myanmar bilateral update

5. India, China conduct first military exercise in J&K

6. India offers solar plant in Trincomalee

7. India, Algeria mull joint venture on fertilizers

C. GS3 Related:

1. GST council meeting ends without a decision on rates

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

The Hindu

1. A decisive battle for Mosul

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. Indo-Russia agreement on Nuclear Submarine

Category: Bilateral

Topic: Indo-Russia

Key Points:

  • India and Russia have signed an agreement on the lease of a second nuclear submarine from Russia. The long-discussed lease to transfer a multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian Navy was signed in Goa. Submarines of Project 97 (NATO name Akula-II) weighing 8,140 tonnes are considered one of the most silent SSNs in service.

India had earlier leased an Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine (SSN) for a period of 10 years. The vessel was inducted into service as INS Chakra in April 2012. Since then, the government had expressed interest in leasing at least one more submarine to train Navy crew in the complex submarine operations as the nation prepares to have a large fleet of nuclear submarines.

Note – India inducted its first indigenously built nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), Arihant, into service in August, 2016 completing its nuclear triad.

 

  1. Supreme Court reserves order on Cauvery appeals

Category: Inter-State River water disputes

Topic:  Cauvery

Key Points:

  • The Tamil Nadu government said Parliament cannot put shackles on the Supreme Court’s constitutional powers to hear the appeals of States against the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s final award in 2007. Tamil Nadu joined counterparts Karnataka and Kerala to oppose the Centre’s stand that the Supreme Court is barred from entertaining the appeals as the tribunal’s award is final and binding on the three neighbour States as per the parliamentary law of Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956.

The Apex court reserved the case for judgment on whether the States’ appeals are maintainable and if the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to adjudicate on them. The Supreme Court bench further reiterated its order to Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till further orders.

  • On focus during the hearing were several provisions of the 1956 Act, most prominently Section 6 (2), which mandates the Centre to frame a scheme for implementation of the tribunal award. The scheme, once prepared, would be placed before both Houses of the Parliament for approval. Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the provisions of the 1956 Act coupled with Article 262 (2) of the Indian Constitution excluded the Supreme Court from hearing or deciding any appeals against the Cauvery Tribunal’s decision.

 

  1. Smarter railway stations coming soon

Category: National programs and policies

Topic: Urban development

Key Points:

  • In a move to develop the Smart cities, the centre is planning to start 500 railway stations in the country with better passenger amenities, easy access and integrated public transport hubs. An agreement was signed between the Urban Development Ministry and the Railways to redevelop railway stations and surrounding areas under the Smart City plan.

In the beginning, 100 railway stations and an adjoining area of 300-800 acres would be redeveloped in the Smart Cities and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Cities plans.

At present, railway stations in 10 cities could be taken up for the redevelopment with the involvement of the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC). They are Varanasi, Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Bhubaneswwar, Lucknow, Varnasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao (Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry.

  • Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said that railway stations, which are at the core of city development, have become congested over time. Their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for the changing city landscape.

The scope of the MoU will be extended to over 500 cities in time. The cost of redeveloping about 500 acres in the Smart City Plans of 60 approved cities is approximately Rs. 1,500 crore.


  1. Indo-Myanmar bilateral update

Category: Bilateral

Topic: India – Myanmar

Key Points:

  • India extended support to Myanmar for a better connected future. The 2 countries agreed to cooperate in security and strategic issues and signed 3 agreements related to insurance, power and banking sectors.
  • The power agreement would help create a framework for advancing linkages between India and Myanmar. India offered to scale up power supply from Moreh in Manipur to Tamu in Myanmar. The 2 nations will also partner in the pilot LED electrification project in a site designated by Myanmar.

 

  1. India, China conduct first military exercise in J&K

Category: Bilateral 

Topic: India – China Joint military exercise

Key Points:

  • For the 1st time, India and China conducted military exercises in Jammu and Kashmir in Eastern Ladakhexercise on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) amidst the growing uneasiness in the bilateral relationship.

The exercise comes in the backdrop of stalemate over India’s multilateral disagreements with China over blacklisting of terrorists at the United Nations and membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). In 2010, China had refused to issue a visa to the Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal as part of a high-level exchange saying he controlled a disputed area

Indian Army said that this is part of the ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China, under the provisions of Border Defence Cooperation Agreement 2013.

  • This is the second joint tactical exercise under the China-India Cooperation 2016 and was held in the Chushul Garrison of Eastern Ladakh, where the two countries fought a brief but intense war in 1962.

 

  1. India offers solar plant in Trincomalee

Category: Bilateral

Topic: India – Sri Lanka

Key Points:

  • After Sri Lanka decided to scrap a coal power project involving the NTPC, in Trincomalee, India has offered to build a solar power plant in the same port town. India, notified the same to Sri Lanka at the 2016 BRICS Summit at Goa.

Sri Lankan government had told the country’s Supreme Court that it had decided to drop the plan to build a coal power plant at Sampur in Trincomalee, due to serious environmental concerns. It said it was instead considering options such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), solar and wind power. President of Srilanka, Sirisena unveiled Soorya Bala Sangramaya (Battle for Solar Energy), an initiative aimed at adding 220 MW of solar power to the island’s energy grid by 2020. The President said he hoped that the project would add 1,000 MW by 2025.

Following Sri Lanka’s shift towards renewable sources, India has offered to build a solar power plant in Trincomalee.

 

  1. India, Algeria mull joint venture on fertilizers

Category: Bilateral

Topic: India – Algeria

Key Points:

  • India’s keen desire to initiate a joint venture arrangement with Algeria for a multi-billion dollar fertilizer plant located in the North African country seemed to have moved to the front burner following a meeting between the 2 countries.

India, which has up to 96 per cent phosphate dependency, with the volumes running to some six million tonnes a year, is seeking a 49 per cent share in an Algerian block that has a capacity of six billion tonnes with 26 per cent to 50 per cent phosphate content. For India, such a project will have major favourable food security implications and could ease the fertilizer subsidy burden as well. India currently imports raw phosphate resources from a number of African countries including Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Syria, as also from Russia, Canada and Israel among others.

Note – India’s aspirations in Algeria also span the information technology, pharma and space sectors. India believes there are good prospects for diversified expansion across sectors. India’s bilateral trade with Algeria currently stands at $1.5 billion a year with the trade balance in Algeria’s favour given India’s import of oil and gas. The major item of exports from India has been automobiles.

 

C. GS3 Related
  1. GST council meeting ends without a decision on rates

Category: Economy

Topic: GST

Key Points:

  • 3rd round of deliberations of the GST Council ended without making a decision on the rates structure after most States objected to a proposal to levy an additional cess on demerit goods.

The proposal from the Centre that triggered objections was for the imposition of a cess over and above the Goods and Services Tax on ultra luxury and demerit goods such as big cars, aerated beverages and tobacco products.

The GST Council could not discuss the proposed GST rate of 4 per cent for gold

  • The cess was proposed by the centre as a means to finance the compensation it will have to pay States. While the modalities for calculating the losses were agreed, by consensus, in the Council, there was no agreement on the funding mechanism the Centre proposed. Separately, the Centre’s proposal on the GST rate structure retains only the Clean Environment Cess, with the GST to subsume the rest (a move backed by the States).

A number of States objected to the use of GST collections (cess on GST) to finance GST compensations. The dissenting States demanded that the Centre fund the compensations out of the Consolidated Fund of India instead of tax revenue mopped up from the GST system. Just like compensation to States were paid for losses arising out of the shift to the VAT (Value Added Tax).

  • The members of the GST council had sought time for discussing with their State governments the four-slab rate structure, ranging from zero to 26 per cent, the Centre has proposed. The Council will be able to finalise the GST rates structure after consensus is reached on the funding mechanism for compensations.

Union Revenue secretary said ‘If instead of the proposed cess on GST, simply the rate of the GST on demerit goods is raised, as suggested by some States, then, the GST rate structure would end up with a multitude of tax slabs’.

 

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
  1. A decisive battle for Mosul
  • After losing Tikrit in April 2015 and Fallujah in June 2016, the Islamic State has been left with little territory under its control in Iraq. Mosul, the country’s second largest city, is its last significant bastion. It was where its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” in June 2014. And it was the ability of the IS to establish territorial control and run an administration that qualitatively separated it from other radical jihadi groups such as al-Qaeda.
  • The capture of Mosul symbolised its effectiveness in combat against a weakly organised Iraqi army and a sectarian Iraqi state, then under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. When a coalition of Iraqi armed forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia militia groups supported by U.S.-led air strikes and other special forces marched on Mosul, the long-planned offensive to defeat the IS decisively was finally put into action.
  • The plan is for the Peshmerga and the militias to barricade the city from the east and south, respectively, while counter-terrorism forces and police enter the city, engage in street battles and secure it, leading to final capture. It will not be easy, even if the IS is a much weakened force compared to what it was in 2014.
  • The offensive to dislodge the estimated 5,000 IS fighters is expected to last many weeks. Visuals and reports filtering out from the battle zone already point to the large-scale use of suicide bombers in armoured trucks and cars taking on the coalition’s tanks and advance forces.
  • The million or so residents of Mosul the Sunni Arabs among them in particular who bore the excesses of the sectarian attacks led by Mr. al-Maliki’s government are ready to rebel against the IS, but are wary of the Shia militias. This suggests that a military victory over the IS will not suffice, and the Mosul operation would be a test of the Iraqi government’s capacity to mend the sectarian conflict that enabled the rise of the IS in the first place. Other complications too threaten the operation.
  • The participation of Turkish forces in the attacks has not been welcomed by Baghdad, as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called this a “transgression of Iraqi sovereignty”. The international efforts in this operation are focused towards providing air support to the Iraqi forces beyond the planning but this must not be limited to the military battle alone. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expects a million people to be displaced during the conflict and requires international funding to help organise shelter for them. It is necessary for the UN to look ahead to ease the humanitarian crisis that could follow after the Mosul battle and help Iraq in its reconstruction.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Nuclear attack submarine (SSN) and nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN)
  • Interstate river water disputes – Art 262
  • AMRUT and SMART programs – Urban development
  • GST Council
  • Renewable Energy
  • ISIS


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

Urban development

Smart Cities

GST council


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following programs of the centre is not related to urban development?
a) Smart city plan

b) Housing for all by 2022

c) AMRUT

d) RURBAN Mission


Question 2: India’s 1st indigenously built nuclear ballistic missile submarine is

a) INS Arihant

b) INS Chakra

c) INS Vikrant

d) INS Vikramaditya


Question 3: The coastal state of ‘Trincomalee’ appears in news in the context of Renewable energy. It is in -

a) Sri Lanka

b) India

c) Pakistan

d) Myanmar


Question 4: The formation of ozone hole in the Antarctic region has been a cause of concern. Which of the following initiatives are related to protecting the layer?
a) Montreal protocol, Vienna convention, Kigali pact, Paris pact

b) Montreal protocol, Vienna convention, London Convention, Paris pact

c) Montreal protocol, Vienna convention, Kigali pact

d) Montreal protocol, Vienna convention, Paris pact


Question 5: Which multilateral group recently held its meeting on the sidelines of BRICS summit in Goa?
a) IBSA

b) BIMSTEC

c) SAARC

d) BRICS


Check Your Answers

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