Comprehensive News Analysis – 21 March 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Tibetans-in-exile vote for a new political leader

2. President Obama arrives in Cuba, tours Old Havana by foot

3. India-Iran deal soon on Farzad-B project

4. Non-tariff issues in focus as US, India bet high on farm trade

C. GS3 Related:

1. Dept. of Biotechnology launches fund to tackle anti-microbial resistance

2. National Green Tribunal seeks Centre’s response on ban of microplastics

3. UNESCO updates protected biosphere reserves list

4. India’s per capita income to cross Rs 1 lakh in FY17

5. New defence policy: Emphasis on MSMEs, ‘Make in India’ focal point

6. RBI stocks up on forex reserves for the rainy day

D. GS4 Related:
E.Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Indian Express:

1. Across the Aisle-Aadhaar Bill: Ends right, means wrong

The Hindu:

1. Smart rate cut in small savings schemes

Others

1. The Economic Times

2. The Financial Express: Oil’s Well

F.Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G.Fun with Practice Questions 🙂

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today folks!

 

B. GS2 Related

1. Tibetans-in-exile vote for a new political leader

Topic: International Relations Category: India’s Neighbourhood Location: The Hindu, Page 14 Key Points:

  • Tibetans-in-exile around the world voted for a new Parliament as well as for their choice of ‘Sikyong’ (term for the so-called Prime Minister-in-exile)
  • The Sikyong post itself isn’t recognised officially by any country, but is part of the Central Tibetan Administration(CTA) that looks after the welfare of lakhs of Tibetan refugees
  • The challenges the winner of the election for the post of Sikyong would face are daunting
  • For one, some exiles feel that it may be easier if the CTA encourages the next generation to pursue Indian citizenships instead of living as refugees so they have better opportunities to study and work
  • Also there is the challenge from radicals who want Tibet to completely break away from China

2. President Obama arrives in Cuba, tours Old Havana by foot

Topic: Polity Category: World Affairs Location: The Indian Express Key Points:

  • On March 20, 2016,Obama became the first US president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years
  • The US broke diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro’s revolution created fears of communism spreading to the Western Hemisphere
  • Domestic politics in both countries contributed to the continued hostility even after the Cold War ended
  • Obama’s trip is a crowning moment in his and Castro’s (Raul,Fidel’s brother) ambitious effort to restore normal relations between their countries

3. India-Iran deal soon on Farzad-B project

Topic: International Relations Category: India-Iran Relations Location: The Financial Express Key Points:

  • OVL-Indian Oil-Oil India consortium had spent $900 million in the Farzad-B field through a 2002 preliminary pact with Iranian authorities
  • But no formal contract to exploit the resources has been signed till date, due to the US sanctions that had prevailed on Iran
  • With the lifting of the US sanctions on Iran in January, the prospect of a negotiated deal with the Indian consortium has brightened
  • New Delhi has submitted a revised proposal for the development of the gas field to Iranian side

UPSC Current Affairs March 21

3. Non-tariff issues in focus as US, India bet high on farm trade

Topic: International Relations Category: Indo-US Relations Location: The Financial Express Key Points:

  • India is working with the US on strengthening its farm trade processes.US is India’s largest market for agricultural and processed food items
  • But farm exports are poised to drop for a second straight year in 2015-16
  • India is eyeing more market access and less non-tariff barriers in the US for its farm items including mango, litchi and rice to expand its product basket for exports
  • In a recent Plant Health Technical Bilateral meeting, the two sides have discussed as to how to improve processes for phyto-sanitary tests so that no consignment is held up on the issues of posing health risks (India is facing such issues with countries, including Iran, the EU and Vietnam)
  • Discussions will be carried forward during the US and India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting later this year

UPSC Current Affairs March 21

 

C. GS3 Related

1. Dept. of Biotechnology launches fund to tackle anti-microbial resistance

Topic: S&T Category: Biotechnologynt Location: The Hindu, Page 8 Key Points:

  • India faces increasing instances of tuberculosis patients being resistant to front line drugs
  • the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) through the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has invested an initial $1,00,000 to fight drug resistance
  • The fund is to encourage biotechnology start-ups as well as tackle the threat faced by India from resistance to antimicrobial drugs
  • The money would help groups in India compete for the Longitude Prize (a £ 10 million prize offered by Nesta, a U.K. charity, to any individual group anywhere in the world that develops an affordable, effective diagnostic test to detect resistance to microbes)

2 .National Green Tribunal seeks Centre’s response on ban of microplastics

Topic: Environment Category: Conservation Location: The Hindu, Page 5 UPSC Current Affairs March 21

3 .UNESCO updates protected biosphere reserves list

Topic: Environment Category: Conservation Location: The Hindu, Page 5 Key Points:

  • The United Nation’s cultural body UNESCO has added 20 new sites to its network of protected biosphere nature reserves
  • Now the total number of biosphere reserves is 669 across 120 countries
  • Spain is the country with the largest number of registered reserves

4 .India’s per capita income to cross Rs 1 lakh in FY17

Topic: Economy Category: state of Indian Economy Location: The Economic Times Key Points:

  • Per capita income at current prices was Rs 93,231 in FY16, up 7.3% from Rs 86,879 in the year before. It stood at Rs 71,050 and 79,412 in FY13 and FY14, respectively
  • The Budget for next year assumed a nominal GDP growth of 11%. That would mean a similar rise in net national income and, adjusted for an increase of 1.2% in population, should yield an expansion of more than 8% in per capita income.
  • However, large regional variations and an urban-rural divide in income levels persist
  • expenditure surveys have to be checked to see the distribution of the rise across income classes

5 .New defence policy: Emphasis on MSMEs, ‘Make in India’ focal point

Topic: Economy Category: defence sector Location: The Economic Times Key Points:

  • The defence ministry is finalising the defence procurement policy that is likely to be released at the end of this month

UPSC Current Affairs March 21

5 .RBI stocks up on forex reserves for the rainy day

Topic: Economy Category: Forex Location: The Business Line UPSC Current Affairs March 21 Key Points:

    • India’s FOREX (excluding gold) rose close to 6 per cent in the last 12 months.
    • In the same period many other emerging economies have recorded a decline in reserves
    • The increase in reserves is partly due to the fall in crude prices
    • The addition in reserves has taken place under two tough conditions.

1. The rupee lost more than 6 per cent in 2015-16, and 2. Foreign portfolio flows turned negative in this period. Note: The RBI tries to increase the reserves when the rupee appears to be over-valued in REER (Real Effective Exchange Rate) terms

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today folks!

E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Indian Express:

1 .Across the Aisle-Aadhaar Bill: Ends right, means wrong

Topic: Polity Category: governance Key Points:

  • The government introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill in March 2016
  • In the ordinary course, the Bill should have gone to the Standing Committee; the report of the Committee discussed; amendments, if any, made; and the Bill passed by both Houses of Parliament
  • But this course was not followed
  • What is the price the govt. would have to pay for it:
  • 1. The Bill was not a money Bill under Article 110 of the Constitution because it did not “contain ONLY provisions” dealing with the matters enumerated in that Article. The Speaker’s decision certifying it as a money Bill was plainly wrong.
  • 2. The RS’suggestions were not heard. It seems that the government depends on the strength of its numbers rather than on the strength of its arguments
  • 3. The government faces the risk of an adverse verdict by the SC. The law could be struck down on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights and invasion of privacy.( In 2013, the SC, by an interim order, ruled that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory to receive benefits. In 2015, the case was referred to a larger bench to decide the question whether Aadhaar infringed the right to privacy)
  • 4. The government has not taken the views of social activists into consideration. They will carry the debate to the people and doubts and concerns would continue in people’s minds
  • The ends were good, the means were bad, and the price was too high.

The Hindu:

1 .Smart rate cut in small savings schemes

Topic: Economy Category: state of Indian economy Key points:

  • The govt. has slashed interest rates on several Centrally sponsored savings schemes
  • The decision will upset senior citizens, and the salaried middle class
  • The government has also decided to reset these rates every quarter. The objective is to align them with market rates
  • the rate cut covers a broad spectrum of schemes, including the Public Provident Fund (PPF), the Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) and the National Savings Certificates (NSC)
  • the U.S. Federal Reserve decision last week to keep its interest rate policy unchanged and the rate cut would clear the way for the Reserve Bank of India to lower its policy rates
  • Small savings schemes offer artificially fixed, high interest rates
  • So banks face unequal competition and find it hard to attract depositors
  • That makes it difficult for banks to transmit fully the benefits of rate cuts made by the RBI
  • The rate cuts on savings schemes represent a necessary course correction
  • It would create a competitive cost structure in the economy for the greater public good
  • The cuts make good economic sense, and the government should stand firm on it

Others:

1 .The Economic Times:

Banking reforms: Correct spirit must be adhered to Topic: Economy Category: banking sector Key points:

  • 2014 P J Nayak committee recommended banks to be reformed in a phased manner-How far has the govt. implemented them and how far not?
  • It recommended that a BIC be constituted to which the government transfers its bank holdings. The government’s powers in relation to the governance of banks should also be transferred to the BIC-not done
  • In the first phase until the BIC becomes operational, the BBB comprising former senior bankers should advise on all board appointments, including those of chairmen and executive directors-done
  • In the second phase, the function would be undertaken by the BIC that would also actively strive to professionalize bank boards-not done
  • In the third phase, the BIC would move several of its powers to the bank boards. The BIC would then only discharge its powers as a holding company for the PSBs-not done
  • It recommended that the Bank Nationalisation Acts of 1970 and 1980, together with the SBI Act and the SBI (Subsidiary Banks) Act, be repealed, and all banks be incorporated under the Companies Act-not done

2 .The Financial Express: Oil’s Well

Topic: Economy Category: Energy sector Key points:

  • OIL, IOC and BPRL will jointly acquire a 29.9% stake in Rosneft’s East Siberian field, Taas-Yuryakh for $1.28 billion
  • The Indian consortium also signed a heads of agreement (HoA) for evaluation of acquisition of 23.9% stake in Vankorneft that runs the Vankor field in East Siberia
  • In addition, ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) which acquired a 15% stake in Vankorneft in September 2015 for $1.25 billion, signed a new MoU to acquire another 11%. If the last two deals fall in place, Indian companies would have a 49.9% stake in Vankor.
  • Tass-Yuryakh’s and Vankor’s appeal lies in their production potential and location (close to key pipeline infrastructure that ships Russian crude to global markets).
  • For Russia, the deal brings in new financing for production in the region at a time when oil prices are low and sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine are restricting access to Western capital

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

i. National Green Tribunal ii. Sino-Tibet issues iii. UNESCO Protected Biosphere Reserves List iv. Cold War v. Cuba-US Relations vi. IPI Pipeline vii. BBB & BIC

G .Fun with Practice Questions 🙂

Question 1: Which one of the following is/are correct with regard to Money bill in India?
  1. Cold war refers to the military aggression that took place between the USA and the USSR during the 1960s
  2. Cold war had the capitalist countries and communist countries as adversaries
  3. The war ended with the disintegration of the USSR

a) 1 and 2 b) 1,2,and 3 c) 2 only d) 2 and 3 Question 2:What is the role of the proposed Bank Investment Company?

1) BIC would hold the shares of the central govt. in PSBs 2) BIC would have controlling power over the boards of PSBs a) 1only b) 2 only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 or 2

 
Question 3:Choose the correct answer w.r.t following 
1)Agasthyamalay Biosphere Reserve(ABR) was recently added to the UNESCO protected Biosphere Reserve list 2)ABR includes the Indian eco regions of South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests, South Western Ghats montane rain forests and Shola 3) Rare animals found here include tiger, Asian Elephant and Nilgiri Tahr a) 1 and 2 b) 1 and 3 c) 2 and 3 d) 1, 2 and 3
Question 4:Which of the statements below are true:
1.The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures concerns with the application of food safety and animal and plant health regulations2.These measures ensure that food is safe for consumers and prevent the spread of pests or diseases among animals and plants. Which of the above is/are correct with regard to global crude oil bench marks. a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) 1 and 2 d) None of these

 
 
Question 5:Which of the statements below are true:
1 .Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project is also called Peace Pipeline2. It is aimed at constructing a pipeline from Iran’s South Pars fields in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan’s major cities of Karachi and Multan and then further to Delhi a) 1only b) 2only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

 
 
 
 
 

 

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