Comprehensive News Analysis – 21 April 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

GEOGRAPHY

1. IMD forecast: Clouds of prosperity

B. GS2 Related:

POLITY

1. Centre promises election reforms

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. UN to issue commemorative stamps for International Yoga Day

2. Dialogue on stalled BCIM corridor set to resume in Kolkata

3. China’s Arunachal move ‘illegal’

4. Logistics pact with U.S. ‘almost done’

C. GS3 Related:

ECONOMICS

1. Anti-dumping duty likely on hydrogen peroxide

2. Railways seeks aid for unviable routes

D. GS4 Related:
E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs


A. GS1 Related

Category: GEOGRAPHY

1. IMD forecast: Clouds of prosperity

Context:

  • India Meteorological Department forecasts ‘normal’ monsoon
  • It brings promise of a year of growth and good health for India’s economy and ecology
  • India will have a second consecutive year of normal rainfall, after two years of drought

Benefits:

  • This boosts the prospects of enhanced agricultural output, healthy reservoir levels, more hydropower and reduced conflicts over water
  • A normal monsoon will relieve water stress in cities if they prepare catchments and reservoirs to make the most of the season
  • Good monsoons will test the efficacy of the expensive water management initiatives launched during 2014 and 2015 by the Centre and the State governments to harness rainfall and build resilience for future drought cycles

Why will the monsoons be good?

  • IMD’s experience shows, forecasting the all-India summer monsoon rainfall is fraught with uncertainties and has often gone off the mark
  • The dynamic model that it is using this year to make a forecast that includes an assessment of two phenomena:
  • A possible late onset El Niño in the Pacific Ocean
  • Variations in sea surface temperatures that create the Indian Ocean Dipole
  • El Niño is expected only in the later part of the year when the monsoon is in its final stages, the expectation of normal rainfall is reasonable (A confirmation could come in June)

Agricultural infrastructure:

  • More than half the population is sustained by agricultural livelihoods, therefore, highly efficient water utilisation holds the key to higher farm productivity
  • Preparing for drought remains a top priority today, in spite of a big increase in outlays for irrigation made over successive five-year plans
  • Data on five decades of grain output from 1951 show that the negative impact of drought on productivity is disproportionately higher than the positive effects of a normal or surplus monsoon
  • This underscores the need to help farmers with small holdings to look ahead

What needs to be done:

  • Agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan pointed that focus has to be on plant protection, water harvesting and access to post-harvest technologies
  • The NITI Aayog has also been calling for ways to cut water use, since India uses two to three times more water per tonne of grain produced compared to, for example, China, Brazil and the U.S
  • The way forward is to create ponds, provide solar power for more farms, mechanise operations and expand drip irrigation coverage
  • Aiding small farmers with the tools and providing them formal financing can relieve their cyclical distress
  • The area under drip irrigation, estimated to be less than 10% of net area sown, can then be expanded
  • The government should incentivize residents to install scientific rainwater harvesting systems

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Centre promises election reforms

  • SC: Asked the Centre to file an affidavit during the day on a PIL petition seeking debarring of convicts for life from contesting polls and stopping them from entering the judiciary and the executive
  • Govt: It has constituted a task force to frame a road map for implementation of the Law Commission’s recommendations on decriminalisation of politics
  • Disqualification period: The Law Ministry said that the disqualification period specified under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, was a policy decision that had been enacted by Parliament after due deliberations for curbing the entry of persons with criminal antecedents into the political arena
  • SC has held in a catena of cases that no mandamus can lie to the government for framing law or introducing amendments to existing law as framing of policy, setting standards and the making of law falls within the executive domain of the legislature
  • It is submitted that the judiciary may step in to fill gaps only where there is a statutory vacuum, but not where a valid law already occupies the field

 

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. UN to issue commemorative stamps for International Yoga Day

What’s in news?

  • The United Nations will issue special stamps commemorating the International Yoga Day on June 21 this year
  • The UN postal agency, UN Postal Administration (UNPA) will issue the new special event sheet to commemorate Yoga Day that has been marked annually since 2015
  • The special sheet consists of stamps with images of the sacred Indian sound “Om” and various yogic asanas
  • Yoga Day: The first International Yoga Day was commemorated at the UN in 2015 with aplomb
  • In December 2014, the UN General Assembly had adopted a resolution with a record number of 177 co-sponsoring member states to commemorate the International Day of Yoga every year on June 21
  • About UN Stamps: United Nations stamps are issued simultaneously at UN offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna
  • Each issue carries a related design theme, with different denominations for each office
  • Usually six new commemorative issues are released each year and remain on sale for 12 months only
  • UN stamps have illustrated the aims and achievements of the United Nations and its family of organizations

2. Dialogue on stalled BCIM corridor set to resume in Kolkata

Context:

  • Negotiations on the stalled Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor are set to resume next week in Kolkata
  • After a gap of over two year, the meeting of Joint Study Group (JSG) of academics and officials of the four countries on April 25-26 is expected to finalise the road map for the BCIM economic corridor
  • The last meeting of the BCIM was held in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh in December 2014

China:

  • India had become lukewarm to the BCIM project by linking it with its reservations on the China-Pakistan economic corridor which passed through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)

India:

  • Declined the possibility of a connection between the two
  • However, India has expressed readiness for participation in standalone connectivity projects with China, which were not necessarily connected with the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Both the BCIM and the CPEC predate the formal launch of the BRI

Back2basics

About BCIM:

  • The BCIM economic corridor is an ambitiousUntitled undertaking that hopes to connect Kolkata with Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province
  • It envisages formation of a thriving economic belt, focusing on cross-border transport, energy and telecommunication networks
  • Starting from Kunming, the route passes through nodal points, such as Mandalay and Lashio in Myanmar
  • It heads towards Kolkata after passing through Manipur and Silchar, before crossing Bangladesh via Sylhet and Dhaka, with branches extending to the ports of Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong
  • Chinese experts in Yunnan say that except for a 200-km stretch between Silchar in Assam and Manipur, and a similar length between Kalewa and Monywah in Myanmar, the central artery of the route is nearly functional

3. China’s Arunachal move ‘illegal’

What’s in news?

  • India rejected China’s move to rename six towns in Arunachal Pradesh, giving them new Chinese names in its official record.
  • Beijing’s move is being seen as an escalation of tensions by China that has been angered by the government’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama to visit the Tawang monastery this month.

4. Logistics pact with U.S. ‘almost done’ 

What’s in news?

  • In the month of August -2016, India and the U.S. concluded the logistics agreement, the first of the three foundational agreements between the two nations.
  • India is expected to notify the operationalising of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S.
  • The other foundational agreements are the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Information and Services Cooperation (BECA).
  • Meanwhile, discussions are under way on the next one — the COMSCA — as the BECA is considered the trickiest of the three with India expressing serious reservations about the clauses as well as the need for it. 

What is LEMOA?

  • LEMOA gives access to both countries to designated military facilities on either side for refueling and replenishment in primarily four areas — port calls, joint exercises, training and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

 

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMICS

1. Anti-dumping duty likely on hydrogen peroxide

What’s in news?

  • India may impose anti-dumping duty of up to $118 per tonne on import of a chemical used by industries in applications such as corrosion control and paper bleaching from six countries.
  • The move is aimed at guarding domestic players from cheap imports of ‘hydrogen peroxide’ from Bangladesh, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand

Basic information:

Hydrogen peroxide

  • It is a chemical compound with the formula H2O2
  • In its pure form, it is a colourless liquid, slightly more viscous than water
  • It is the simplest peroxide (a compound with an oxygen–oxygen single bond)
  • It is used as an oxidizer, bleaching agent and disinfectant
  • Concentrated hydrogen peroxide, or “high-test peroxide”, is a reactive oxygen species and has been used as a propellant in rocketry
  • Its chemistry is dominated by the nature of its unstable peroxide bond
  • Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and slowly decomposes in the presence of base or a catalyst
  • Because of its instability, hydrogen peroxide is typically stored with a stabilizer in a weakly acidic solution
  • Hydrogen peroxide is found in biological systems including the human body
  • Enzymes that use or decompose hydrogen peroxide are classified as peroxidases

2. Railways seeks aid for unviable routes

  • The Railway Ministry has sought compensation for operating railway lines of strategic and national importance — a practice discontinued following the merger of Railway and Union Budget
  • Such projects include: National projects, projects of national importance, uneconomic branch lines, border area projects and all strategic lines
  • Background: Every year, the Indian Railways used to get subsidy from the Finance Ministry for losses incurred on railway operations on strategic lines
  • After the Budget merger, the Finance Ministry had discontinued the practice of providing annual subsidy to the Railways for operating loss-making strategic routes as the Railways was no longer required to pay an annual dividend
  • Recently, two Parliamentary bodies — Standing Committee on Railways and Estimates Committee — recommended that the Finance Ministry should continue compensating the Railways for losses in operating strategic lines
  • Standing Committee on Railways: Considering the role of Railways in nation building, reimbursement to Railways on their operating losses on strategic lines is justifiable
  • As these lines mainly cater to defence movements on border areas and development of social and backward region, the Committee recommends that reimbursement of operational losses on strategic lines and railway lines in hilly, coastal and backward areas should be continued
  • The panel felt that compensation helped the Railways in providing relief towards “socially desirable projects” which are usually loss-making projects

D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for Today

 

PIB Articles    Editorials Roundup

 

E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn 

 

F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGANISATIONS IN NEWS About the Article

 

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1: Pakistan has raised objections in the past to India’s hydroelectric 
project on the Kishanganga. The Kishanganga is a tributary of river ____.
  1. Indus
  2. Jhelum
  3. Chenab
  4. Ravi
See
Answer
Question 2: The ‘Soil Health Card’ (SHC), under the SHC scheme, is _____.
  1. A card akin to a voter’s ID given to each farmer for each of his holdings, containing information regarding soil nutrient status only; recommendations regarding soil amendments need to be sought by farmers from Krishi Vigyan Kendras of their district.
  2. A card akin to a voter’s ID for each of a farmer’s holdings, giving him advice only on the dosage of fertilisers and needed soil amendments to maintain soil health in the long run.
  3. A printed report – that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings – containing the status of his soil with respect to soil nutrients and recommendations required for soil amendments.
  4. A report card of the Indian Government’s fertiliser-subsidy policy since the Green Revolution, to understand the associated impacts and help formulate a coherent strategy to rectify the fertiliser-subsidy regime.
See
Answer
Question 3: Atlas Mountains are a series of mountain ranges which act as a 
divide between which of the following regions?
  1. The Mozambique Channel and the Kalahandi desert
  2. The Red Sea and the Libyan desert
  3. The Mediterranean basin and the Sahara desert
  4. The Gulf of Sudra and the Katanga plateau
See
Answer

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