Comprehensive News Analysis – 21 May 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. BT Cotton: Modi govt caps royalty, nullifies existing license agreements; cos like Monsanto disadvantaged

2. Total house holds 248.8 million; 202 mn Hindus, 31 mn Muslims: Census

3. India steps in to assist Sri Lanka in cyclone relief

4. Bangladesh doctor hacked to death, teacher wounded

5. Centre bargaining hard to lower Rafale price

C. GS3 Related:

1. Three Indians in Islamic State recruitment video

2. 40 million Indians at risk from rising sea levels: UN report

3. Largest gene database of Indians soon

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

The Hindu

1. Days and nights in Kathmandu

The Indian Express

Others:

1.PIB

a) President’s Greetings on the Eve of Buddha Purnima

b) Health Minister launches ‘Kayakalp Fortnight’ to be observed across the country in Central Government hospitals

c) Three rail connectivity projects awarded under Sagarmala

d) NDMA calls for pro-active participation of telecom service providers in mitigating losses during disasters

2. The Financial Express: From generics to R&D; Indian pharma must move up value chain

3. The Business Line: Finally, there’s a thaw in relations

4. The Economic Times: For global effort on beneficial owners

5. Quick Bits:

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

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today folks!

 

B. GS2 Related

1. BT Cotton: Modi govt caps royalty, nullifies existing license agreements; cos like Monsanto disadvantaged

Topic: Governance

Category: Agriculture

Location: The Financial Express

Key points:

  • After imposing intrusive price controls on genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds late last year, the government has now nullified, in a single stroke, all the existing licence agreements between trait providers and seed producers and laid down new mandatory norms for licensing, completely depriving technology companies like US-based Monsanto(trait provider) of the freedom to choose the licensees or negotiate commercial terms

cotton

 

2. Total house holds 248.8 million; 202 mn Hindus, 31 mn Muslims: Census

Topic: Statistics for governance

Category: census

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • As many as 202.4 million households in the country belong to Hindus, 31.2 million are of Muslims and 6.3 million belong to Christians, according to the 2011 census data released on May 20,2016
  • The census data said that the total number of households in the country are 248.8 million of which 202.4 million are of Hindus, 31.2 million belong to Muslims, 6.3 million belong to Christians, 4.1 million of Sikhs and 1.9 million belong to Jains.
  • An average 5.6 persons live in a Muslim household, 5.1 persons in a Sikh household, 4.9 persons in a Hindu household, 4.8 persons in a Jain household, 4.6 persons in a Buddhist household and 4.5 persons in a Christian household.
  • The highest percentage of female headed households is noticed in Christian community (17.4 per cent), followed by Buddhist (15.9 per cent). The lowest percentage of female headed households is in Jain community (11.5 per cent), according to a release issued by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India
  • Sex wise variation is highest among Hindu community (Male headed household size 4.9, female headed household size 3.8) and the least variation is seen among Sikh community (Male headed household size 5.1, female headed household size 4.6).

 

3. India steps in to assist Sri Lanka in cyclone relief

Topic: India’s Neighbourhood

Category: Sri Lanka

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • India has dispatched military ships and an aircraft with rescue and relief material to Sri Lanka, where torrential rains and landslides have resulted in several deaths and massive devastation over the last few days
  • A tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, Roanu, hit across the Sri Lankan coast causing massive flooding and mudslides which left scores dead and displaced over 1,00,0000 families

 

4. Bangladesh doctor hacked to death, teacher wounded

Topic: India’s Neighbourhood

Category: Bangladesh

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • Unidentified assailants hacked a homeopathy doctor to death and badly injured a university professor in western Kushtia town in Bangladesh
  • The latest attack bears similarities to the recent murders of bloggers and secular activists in the country, but the police did not confirm whether radical Islamists were behind the incident
  • According to some reports, the middle-aged doctor used to arrange Baul musical concerts. The mystical musical tradition is popular in Kusthia

 

5. Centre bargaining hard to lower Rafale price

Topic: Governance

Category: Defence

Location: The Hindu

Keypoints:

  • “One Rafale fighter is worth approximately Rs.700 crore to Rs.750 crore while a Su-30 costs about Rs.475 crore. Compared to these planes, India’s Tejas is in the range of Rs.200-250 crore only. We can get two Tejas at the price of one Rafale,” said the defence minister
  • “Our Tejas is having the same qualities as Rafale does. Although Tejas is in light weight category, its range also half compared to Rafale, in terms of avionics, electronics and fire power it is no less than the Rafale,” he said
  • On the current price negotiations for 36 jets under a government-to-government deal, he said it will take a “few more weeks” to finalise it

 

C. GS3 Related

1. Three Indians in Islamic State recruitment video

Topic: Security

Category: Terrorism

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • Two former Indian Mujahideen members from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and one man from Kalyan in Maharashtra feature in a new undated propaganda video posted by the Islamic State (IS) to recruit Indians to fight in Homs in Syria
  • Mohammad Sirajuddin was arrested in January this year by the Rajasthan ATS. NIA all set to file its first chargesheet in the pan-IS module it busted
  • Mohammad Sirajuddin (30), arrested last December, for his alleged links to the Islamic State (IS) wanted to travel to Syria with his newborn son and train him to become a mujahid- a person engaged in Jihad

 

2. 40 million Indians at risk from rising sea levels: UN report

Topic: Environment

Category:Climate Change

  • The ‘Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments’ said nearly 40 million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050, with people in Mumbai and Kolkata having the maximum exposure to flooding in future due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth
  • Seven of the 10 most vulnerable countries worldwide are in the Asia Pacific region. India tops the chart with nearly 40 million people in the country projected to be at risk from rising sea levels, followed by more than 25 million in Bangladesh, over 20 million in China and nearly 15 million in the Philippines
  • Evidence suggests that climate change and climate variability and sea-level rise will exacerbate multi-dimensional poverty in most developing countries

 

3. Largest gene database of Indians soon

Topic: S&T

Topic: Medicine

Keypoints:

  • The United Kingdom announced a plan in 2014 to create a bank of 100,000 genomes in the nation and 100,000 Asia genomes project—called GenomeAsia 100K— echoes similar ambitions
  • The project will cost $120 million (approx. Rs 800 crore) though only about half of that has been firmed up.Bangalore-based Medgenome has teamed up with a southeast Asian consortium
  • It could help understand the wide genetic variety in India’s various ethnic groups and midwife customized medications for cancer and heart disease as well as identify possible new genetic aberrations that cause untreatable diseases

 

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

 

The Hindu

1. Days and nights in Kathmandu

Topic: India’s Neighbourhood

Category: Nepal

Key Points:

  • The core issue for all the groups agitating in Kathmandu is that the new Constitution took away the benefits that were granted to the Madhesis and Janajatis under the 2007 agreement that they sealed with the government of Girija Prasad Koirala after a protracted struggle dating back to the 198
  • The blockade and now the “Kathmandu-centric protest” by theSamyuktaLoktantrikMadhesiMorcha (SLMM ) have served to keep the political process in limbo as local elections under the new constitutional framework have not been held so far due to the protests
  • While the govt. has tried to project a confident leadership by being tough with India and by reaching out to China, it has not been able to stop the surge of anti-Constitution groups
  • A major scare came on May 4 when the PM’s ally, Pushp Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, joined hands with Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba for forming an alternative government. Subsequently the Prime Minister’s advisers blamed India and cancelled the visit of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to Delhi and recalled Nepal’s ambassador to India even as Mr. Oli sealed a deal with Mr. Prachanda under which the latter is to take over the reins of government after the summer budget.
  • However the tension between Mr. Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and Mr. Prachanda’s United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is far from over. A Prachanda aide joined the SLMM protest on May 17 and threatened that the UCPN(M) would leave the governing alliance if the demands of the agitators were not fulfilled. On May 19, Mr. Prachanda himself skipped the inauguration of the International Buddhist Conference by Mr. Oli to celebrate the 2,560th birth anniversary of Lord Buddha.
  • Academic UddhabPyakurel says that given the fragile health of the ruling coalition, any attempt to bring the amendments as demanded by SLMM or the budget may precipitate a meltdown in the government as both will test the government’s legislative strength: “The government has been given verbal support for budget by its coalition partners. But given the fragile ties, we will have to wait for the final passing. That apart, the amendments will need both the allies as well as the chief opposition, Nepali Congress on board. Any setback on these two fronts can precipitate a crisis.”
  • However, the aces in this daily game of power politics still lie with the SLMM leaders who have declared that they will celebrate the 29-party unity with a massive rally in Birgunj. Protesters say the all-important economic artery between India and Nepal may once again be blockaded then at least for some time
  • However, the real concern is that what will happen to the hard-earned Constitution if local elections and provincial elections are not held as per its new framework
  • SLMM leaders are demanding a rewriting of the Constitution and amendments. Mr. Oli has declared that local elections will be held by the end of the year, but the Nepali Congress has opposed the move. All signs on the road to constitutional democracy, says ShekharKoirala of the Nepali Congress, indicate that a fractured government under siege from allies and popular protests will not be allowed to go ahead with local and provincial elections, which means systemic crisis
  • However, some sections have begun to express doubts if a future under a Constitution that they perceive as discriminatory and a strong-willed Prime Minister is the best option available
  • The road ahead looks unclear for Nepal. In case the Constitution is weakened and dissolved, various traditional and constitutional bodies like the army and the anti-corruption bureau may acquire more power to keep the state running.
  • As the political slugfest and protests continue, the ultimate losers are the earthquake-hit districts in central and eastern Nepal where hundreds of thousands continue to live under plastic sheets.

 

The Indian Express:

Others:

1. PIB

a) President’s Greetings on the Eve of Buddha Purnima

“On the auspicious occasion of Buddha Purnima, I convey greetings and good wishes to all my fellow citizens.

The message of love, compassion, non-violence and equality preached by Lord Buddha has an ageless significance. Lord Buddha’s teachings serve as an eternal beacon light for humanity.

Let Buddha Purnima be an occasion for all of us to reiterate our belief in Ahimsa and Karuna. May Lord Buddha’s teachings inspire us to constantly strive for peace, harmony and unity in the world” 

 

b) Health Minister launches ‘Kayakalp Fortnight’ to be observed across the country in Central Government hospitals

“To implement the vision and philosophy behind Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan launched by the Hon. Prime Minister, the Health Ministry launched the Kayakalp initiative last year to set protocols for hygiene and sanitation at government health facilities. The initiative towards total “Swacchta” in public health facilities is aimed towards building confidence of the users in public health facilities, provide quality service and encourage team work”

stated Shri J P Nadda, Minister for Health and Family Welfare

 

c) Three rail connectivity projects awarded under Sagarmala 

Three rail connectivity projects under the Ministry of Shipping’s flagship programe ‘Sagarmala’, worth Rs 38.71 crores have been awarded by Indian Port Rail Company Limited (IPRCL). These projects will help to increase connectivity and efficiency of ports. The port trusts handling the projects are the Visakhapatanam Port Trustand the Chennai Port Trust

IPCRL is also working towards executing 18 more port connectivity projects. All these projects will help in better port connectivity and quick evacuation of cargo

 

d) NDMA calls for pro-active participation of telecom service providers in mitigating losses during disasters

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) called a meeting of Telecom Service Providers (TSP) to discuss their participation in planning preparedness, information, and relief and rescue operations.

the importance of communication networks before, during and after any disaster was underlined. All key members from telecom service providers’ fraternity are to be included in NDMA’s list of e-mails and SMSes. This would enable forecasts and pre-disaster warnings to reach them, and thus the public, at the earliest.

A detailed discussion on the role of telecom service providers in the time of a disaster and the challenges that they face was held

 

2. The Financial Express: From generics to R&D; Indian pharma must move up value chain

Topic: Economy

Category: Pharma industry

Key Points

  • A new Crisil report should make it clear how fast the Indian pharma sector needs to shift away from export-oriented manufacture of generics, towards investing in R&D to develop new molecules and biosimilars
  • Given the pool of drugs going off-patent has been shrinking since 2012, Crisil forecasts Indian generics’ export-growth to contract to 10-12% in the next five years, declining further post 2020.
  • Thus, the writing on the wall for Indian drug-makers is clear: they have to move up the value-chain, from making cheap copies of off-patent drugs to creating and owning intellectual property through new discovery and biosimilars. To be sure, they have increased R&D spending significantly over the years—at the top 30 companies, research spending was 6.5% of revenues in FY15, compared with 3.8% in FY04. However, against an average 16% of revenues spent by global majors on R&D, the Indian spending seems meager
  • Moreover, the Crisil report points out, much of the Indian companies’ expenditure is on further expansion in the generics space. Besides, the atmosphere of doubt over drug quality—in the wake of the FDA’s crackdown—further dampens Indian generic-makers’ export-prospects
  • Against this backdrop, 14 Indian drug-makers listing 39 potential drug candidates in various stages of development should be an encouraging sign for Indian pharma’s prospects
  • The key challenge will be to uphold drug-quality and pass the approval hurdles in well-regulated jurisdictions like the US

 

3. The Business Line: Finally, there’s a thaw in relations

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indo-Iran Relations

Key Points

  • As Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Tehran with the clear intent of raising India’s relations with Iran to a new level, he is likely to find that the Islamic Republic has lots to offer in terms of economic engagement.
  • Among Iran’s attractions are a young, well-educated and largely urban population of 80 million and the world’s 17th most-populous market, reports the November 2015 edition of The Economist. The country has competent farmers, car-makers, drug firms and a fairly sophisticated service sector
  • There are positive vibes to complement this opportunity, flowing from an agreement between Iran and India to settle their outstanding crude oil dues in rupees in preparation for future trade in their national currencies and active work on increased connectivity in the banking sector
  • A key deliverable would be finalisation of the deal for co-development of the strategically important Chabahar Port riding on an Indian commitment to invest $20 billion. A multiplier effect rests on the possibility that other international investors may also see the rationale of this important investment, facilitating a greater flow of people and goods in the region and contributing to the economic growth of Afghanistan
  • The development of the port will facilitate access for Indian goods to Afghanistan and Afghan goods access to Indian Ocean sea lanes, and give an edge to India’s trade with Iran. In the long run, Chabahar will rationalise transport costs and freight time from India to Central Asia and West Asia, and also serve as the point of origin for the proposed Iran-Oman-India pipeline
  • Industry is hoping for movement on big-ticket opportunities in infrastructure. Iran is planning to invest about $25 billion in modernising and expanding its rail network and there are great possibilities of cooperation in railways, including supply of rails, rolling stock, signalling and other works and India’s participation in Chabahar-Zahedan-Mashhad railway line
  • Indian companies should look at participating in a proposed undersea pipeline connecting Chabahar to India’s western coast which will give Indian companies an opportunity to develop their own trans-national and inter-continental pipeline expertise.
  • That apart, there are some lucrative possibilities of collaboration in the development of the Chabahar Free Trade Zone (FTZ), setting up industrial units in the FTZ and establishing a gas-based urea plant at Chabahar which would cut India’s domestic urea prices by half Indian oil companies have shown interest in investments for a petrochemicals plant in Iran to access cheap natural gas as feedstock and a gas-based 500,000-tonnes-per-year smelter complex and an associated power plant
  • The critical area of hydrocarbons has tremendous scope. There is need to bring to fruition the long-pending deal for the development of Iran’s Farzad-B gas field containing 12.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered by the ONGC Videsh Ltd-led consortium of Oil India Ltd and Indian Oil Corporation. Left unexplored due to western sanctions, the development of Farzad-B gas field serves both India’s foreseeable growth dynamics and Iran’s need for $200-billion worth investments for its energy sector
  • There is an understated imperative to restore the vitality of the trade ties which have seen a sharp downswing in recent times. It is important that government and industry look at sectors such as food, pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery, auto components, textiles, apparels, rubber goods, plastics and medical equipments where India’s export capability coupled with the huge demand in Iran could restore the balance in trade
  • Indian companies should take advantage of their presence on the ground to be ahead of other international players making a beeline for Iranian shores. In that respect, Modi’s visit to Iran sends out a clear message — India wants to strengthen economic ties with Tehran and leverage the changing geo-political situation. There is a lot of fuel to fire up the intent

 

4.The Economic Times: For global effort on beneficial owners

Topic: Governance

Category: Energy sector

Key Points

  • Sebi’s decision to tighten rules for participatory notes is acceptable in the larger objective of maintaining transparency on the identity of those investing in the markets. Sure, increased disclosure requirements, bringing P-Note holders under the ambit of Indian know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering rules and restricting the transfer of P-Notes among foreign investors will raise transaction costs, and complicate compliance for issuers. Investors, whose only interest is to avoid the hassle of registering themselves as foreign portfolio investors, rather than to hide their identity, should not find the new norms too onerous. The rest can, well, lump it.
  • The funds routed via P-Notes have fallen significantly in recent years. However, there also are credible entities such as university endowments investing via P-Notes. The strategy should be a gradual and automatic phase-out, not abrupt changes that would spook the market. Lowering the transaction cost of registering as an investor in the country will also encourage more investors to come in directly
  • Some complementary action is required, while asking investors for identity disclosure. India should create a Unique Legal Entity Identifier, to bring out ultimate beneficial ownership. Britain has done well to launch a pilot initiative for automatic exchange of information on beneficial ownership with a few countries
  • The intent is to ask the Financial Action Task Force to develop the new standard. India is already a signatory to the automatic exchange of tax information among countries. It makes sense to join a similar initiative on beneficial ownership, with safeguards for confidentiality and data protection. The world needs standardised, interlinked registries of full beneficial ownership information

 

5. Quick Bits: India is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffer Khan

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following is/are correct?
  1. Buddhism affirms the concept of soul and God
  2. The Dharmachakra of our national symbols depicts the Buddhist concept of ‘conditioned co-production’

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 2: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. Khan Abdul Ghaffer Khan founded the Red Shirt Movement
  2. Khan Abdul Ghaffer Khan received the Bharat Ratna in 1987 and is one among the two foreign nationals to ever receive the highest civilian award of the Republic of India

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 3: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. A generic drug is identical or bioequivalent to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration and intended use but differs in quality, performance characteristics
  2. In India the Patent act of 1970 removed composition patents from drugs but kept process patents validup to a period of five to seven years

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 4: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
    1. Participatory Notes are instruments issued by registered foreign institutional investors (FII) to overseas investors, who wish to invest in the Indian stock markets
    2. SEBI proposes to make KYC norms applicable to overseas investors holding Participatory Notes

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a series of reports on the environment issued periodically by the UNDP
  2. GEO project was initiated in response to the environmental reporting requirements of UN Agenda 21

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

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