Table of Contents:
A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:
C. GS3 Related:
D. GS4 Related
Useful News Articles
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here today folks!
B. GS2 Related
Topic: Rights Issues
- We have given the Gujarat CID a 60-day deadline to file charge sheet on the Una incident, said the home minister in the Rajya Sabha. And we have told the government to bring the perpatrators to justice within six months, he added
- What development are we envisaging by alienating 40 per cent of the population, comprising Dalits, minorities and tribals, said MP Ghulam Nabhi Azad
Category: India’s Neighbourhood
- India on Thursday attacked Pakistan for a series of statements on Kashmir, and its decision to mark a “Black Day” over the killing of HizbulMujahideen commander Burhan Wani and the subsequent violence in Jammu and Kashmir
- The MEA also rejected elections held on Thursday in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, calling them a “meaningless exercise” meant to mislead the international community
- What has also upset New Delhi is that street protests have been mobilised by LeT chief and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed as well as other terror group leaders, who are taking a “caravan” march from Lahore to PoK
Topic: Federal Relations
- With the turmoil entering the 13th day on Thursday, the Kashmir Valley witnessed a direct tug of war between separatists and the authorities over whose writ runs large
- The government is making desperate attempts to stop the cycle of violence and counter the separatists’ shutdown calendars, which is evoking significant support from the people for the past two weeks
- The authorities have decided to reopen schools in a few districts in the Valley under curfew.he move comes as separatists issued elaborate protest calendars wherein nocturnal protests, blackouts and daylong shutdowns are being organised
Topic: China and Pakistan
Category: India’s Neighbourhood
- Chinese and Pakistan border troops have for the first time launched joint patrolling of the border connecting PoK with Xinjiang province amid reports that over 100 Uighurs have fled the restive region to join ISIS
- S. think-tank New America Foundation on Wednesday said tough religious restrictions on Muslim minorities in China’s far west may have driven 114 Uighurs to join the ISIS but found that the recruits had no prior experience with jihad, raising questions about China’s official narrative of radicalisation in Xinjiang by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)
Topic: Sri Lanka
Category: India’s Neighbourhood
- In an ambitious move, the Sri Lanka government is contemplating closing down all 31 camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Jaffna district of the Northern Province and completing resettlement of 971 IDP families by August 15
- V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister of the Northern Province, addressing the Provincial Council on Thursday, blamed the Centre for not taking into confidence the provincial administration on matters concerning resettlement
C. GS3 Related
Topic: Riot Control
- The Home Minister said that an expert committee will be formed to recommend non-lethal alternatives of crowd control after many members of Parliament expressed concern over the loss of lives and injuries in Jammu and Kashmir due to the use of pellet guns. The Committee would be asked to submit its report within 2 months
- Referring to concerns over the use of pellet guns, he said one person had died due to injuries caused by these weapons, while 53 had suffered eye injuries
- According to him, this was not the first time that these guns, categorized as non-lethal, had been used in Kashmir. They had been used earlier in 2010, when six people were killed by these and 98 had sustained eye injuries, with five suffering complete blindness
Topic: Global economy
- Confidence in prospects for the global economy has been dented followingBritain’s vote to leave the European Union, with a growing view that monetary policy is a fading force and many governments now need to borrow and spend
- Broad worries about political risks are also on the rise everywhere and not restricted just to Brexit’s repercussions and a failed coup in Turkey. The U.S. is entering a period of heightened uncertainty too, leading up to November elections
- The overarching worry is this more dangerous phase is coming at an unwelcome time, when central bankers don’t have anywhere near the clout they had after the collapse of Lehman Brothers to deal with another major economic or financial downturn
- The Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers will meet in China this weekend, with repercussions from Brexit and dwindling policy options expected to dominate talks.Concerns about the inability of major economies to generate any amount of inflation have driven financial markets through wild gyrations over the past year.The expectations for further easing are likely to reinforce the existing trend toward higher equity and bond prices as the extra cash has to go somewhere
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
- Another session of Parliament has begun with the government expressing its determination to ensure the adoption of the Constitution amendment bill to usher in the long-delayed Goods and Services Tax. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invested significant political capital in wresting a favourable outcome. Addressing an all-party meet on the eve of the session, Mr. Modi appealed to members to give primacy to “the national interest” while urging bipartisan support for the GST bill
- The Centre has, by all indications, agreed to drop the proposed additional 1 per cent levy on inter-State sales over and above the GST rate, as sought by the Congress. The differences over the dispute-resolution mechanism have also narrowed. The remaining bone of contention involves the question of an explicit cap on the GST rate and whether it ought to be made a part of the amendment bill itself
- Whatever the rate, capped or uncapped, it is obvious that the GST regime will boost economic activity. It will subsume multiple indirect taxes, including State-level sales tax, octroi and other levies, that make doing business in India a compliance as well as logistical nightmare. Seamless movement across States is critical for a truly national common market, and for incentivising producers of goods and services to scale up investment and create jobs
- A more efficient system for collecting indirect taxes, a far larger contributor to the exchequer than direct taxes, could also create room for higher public investment in areas such as education and health
- Certainly, the challenge of warding off incipient inflationary pressures in the early stages of the tax’s implementation will require enlightened policies. For the BJP and the Congress, the next couple of weeks will be a real test of political sagacity in pulling together and delivering on a reform they have both advocated. No party may, for now, get the GST regime entirely of its liking — but it is better to initiate change on the basis of a reasonable consensus rather than wait for that elusive perfect agreement
- Two terrorist attacks in Bangladesh during July confirm what has long been suspected, viz. the deep inroads radical Islamist and Salafist elements have made into South Asia. There is reluctance to mention the word IS (Islamic State) — the government of Bangladesh remains in denial even now, despite the many attacks that have occurred
- Neighbouring India cannot, however, afford to adopt this ‘ostrich-like’ stance, and must acknowledge that India, along with Bangladesh, is a vital target for the IS. In the expanded state of Khorasan, Kashmir, Gujarat, north-west India and Greater Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh) figure prominently
- The situation today is very different from the 1980s and 1990s, when India could claim that the Afghan jihad had little appeal for Indian Muslims. Today, Salafist ideas have deeply penetrated the psyche of many younger Muslims otherwise well-integrated into Indian society. It is well-known that Islam has five pillars, but it is said that the IS has a sixth pillar — a virulent form of nihilistic fanaticism which it projects as ‘jihadism’. The truth is that the IS today has the largest appeal for, and is perhaps the fastest-growing militant force among Muslim youth
- The discovery in June this year of an IS module in the heart of Hyderabad city, engaged in experimenting with preparation of TATP (triacetonetriperoxide) explosives, is clearly a dangerous portent
- Western propaganda about a decline and possible demise of the IS can be highly misleading. Concerns regarding ‘lone wolf’ attacks by IS ‘returnees’ are genuine. However, the IS has also graduated to a higher level, and now boasts of possessing a mature ‘clandestine network’ to carry out its agenda. These networks can work independently or under ‘advice’, and accelerate attacks globally. Intelligence agencies believe that IS ‘sleeper cells’ now exist in several countries of Europe, including France, Belgium, Germany, the U.K. and Italy, and in many Asian countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India
- The real threat posed by the IS is not so much its capacity to engage in violence, but in its pervasive appeal to Muslim youth. As ‘true fighters’ committed to the ‘supremacy of the faith’, they are succeeding in their effort to penetrate the minds of Muslim youth. The IS is able to attract an ever-increasing number of recruits, and several come from highly educated and even elite backgrounds
- Social dynamics and manipulation of social media have also brought about certain sociological consequences. This, together with online propaganda and media projection, is producing an entirely different type of radicalised youth. The holy grail remains the Caliphate, which has ignited the imagination of Muslim youth. Many more nuances can, however, be seen in the big picture that the IS projects today
- The IS has its own version of the Islamic State of Khorasan. It, however, tends to see the battle not in geopolitical terms but one of winning and securing the minds and hearts of Islamic youth, specially the more educated ones. Countries with large educated Muslim populations like Bangladesh and India are, hence, at risk
- Inadequate understanding of the true nature of the IS does pose a major challenge, including to security authorities. The IS is a distinctly different type of terrorist organisation. Existing methods to counter radicalisation are unlikely to succeed. The attraction of IS notions of ‘spiritual purity’ can prove irresistible. For a country like India, with a large pool of educated Muslim youth, the threat is thus real
- If IS activities proliferate, an increase in both bigotry and sectarian violence can be expected. If such attitudes gain ground, both majority and minority populations would be at risk. Increased sectarian tensions, and violence due to misplaced IS propaganda, will almost certainly disturb the equilibrium that currently exists among Muslim communities here, as also the peace and equanimity that exists among all sections of the population. India has thus every reason to feel concerned at the rise of the IS.If Bangladesh and India do not see the writing on the wall, then woe befall the two nations whose combined Muslim population could be far larger than that in any other nation on earth
Topic: Tackling climate change
- In 2007, the Indian government established the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, out of which emerged the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). Each of the States then developed State-level climate action plans, which are currently being implemented. The NAPCC also rolled out a fair number of programmes and strategies under its eight missions. The State-level studies and plans have also in effect alerted the States to begin the task of incorporating climate change into their planning
- The NAPCC essentially announced to the world that India was willing to act on its global responsibility to limit GHG emissions. This was despite the fact that the country has low per capita emissions (less than 2 tonnes per capita, which is lower than the world average) and has historically often taken the lead in calling for equity in international climate policy and the allocation of a fair carbon budget.
- At COP-21, India proposed that it would reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP (GHG emissions per unit of GDP) by about a third compared with its 2005 levels, and has committed itself to depending on non-fossil fuel sources for 40 per cent of its generation capacity by 2030. Adaptation was also mentioned in India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) along with several details in different sectors. The Paris Agreement calls for comprehensive reviews, regular “global stocktaking” and ratcheting up of targets periodically
- Given these pressures and commitments that have been made, India now needs to reimagine and develop a new approach, or national strategy — a set of policies that lay out its action plans for reaching its targets, and not just for reducing emissions. With the close monitoring that is expected of the announced NDC targets, there is a lot that India needs to be prepared with. The country’s overall strategies would have to include a number of different aspects such as an integration of mitigation, adaptation and inclusive low-carbon development, and considerations and clarity on implementation, along with an understanding of which programmes would be undertaken by the Central government, which ones by the States, and how these would all add up to fulfilling our commitments
- Each State faces a distinctive set of challenges regarding the impact of warming, but also offers its own set of opportunities for reducing emissions depending on its natural resources. For example, coastal States need to take action to protect their shores from sea level rise, districts that are drier need to prepare for variable monsoon precipitation, Himalayan regions have their own unique challenges, and selected parts of peninsular India and offshore areas offer great opportunities for harnessing wind power. These various aspects need to be considered in fulfilling the Paris Agreement now, but also for developing clear and sustainable goals for the future
- Although ratification of the Paris Agreement is already being considered, the deliverables on adaptation are far from clear. In fact, there are no agreed-upon adaptation goals at the global level. It would therefore be interesting and useful for India to formulate adaptation strategies at State levels and demonstrate if and how these could be meaningful for the country as a whole
- We know that India will experience severe effects of global warming. The recent floods in Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu, and severe drought in many districts, are probably just an indication of the harsh implications for the future
- Decisions on development, for example large-scale infrastructure investments, have implications for GHG emissions now and in the future. Infrastructure and institutional mechanisms that have implications for the long term are referred to as “lock-ins”. This implies that countries need to think in terms of targets well beyond 2030 for emissions and adaptation
- Thus, fundamental decisions on growth and development need to go well beyond the goals for a high GDP and consider surviving extreme events, living in a warmer world, and inclusivity, especially with hundreds of millions who are poor, which is fundamental to countries like India. The linkages among development trajectories, GHG emissions reduction targets and adaptation strategies perhaps need to be made more explicit by researchers and scientists, so that decision makers can understand the medium- and long-term implications of virtually all their choices
- With the challenges that India faces and the need to provide human services in a sustainable manner to its vast underserved population, the country requires social and economic transformation at a scale that has not been attempted before. An acknowledgement that these kinds of changes need to happen would be a good beginning followed by perhaps a wide and open national conversation on what such transformational processes would look like and what the policies and associated social changes would be
- Recently the Prime Minister floated a very pertinent idea of having simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. If the elections to the local bodies are included there is no year without some elections taking place. This vicious circle of continuous elections needs to be broken. It affects stability and without it, there can neither be economic development nor a satisfactory law and order situation.
- What is more, efficient governance is the first casualty when winning elections is the first priority of all politicians and understandably so. As a result, running an administration and attending to people’s grievances take a back-seat and the bureaucracy rules the roost. In addition, because of the enforcement of the moral code of conduct during elections, the pace of economic development is hampered. If all elections are held in one particular year, it will give a clear four years to the political parties to focus on good governance
- We have a parliamentary democracy with a federal set up. This system worked fairly well with the Congress dominating the political scenario for the first two decades since Independence. But with the collapse of the Congress’ dominance, there emerged strong national and regional parties, each ruling some states with substantial strength in Parliament. How can stable and efficient governance be brought about in a multi-party parliamentary system like the one that exists in India?
- Fortunately, the normal duration of elected bodies is five years. Article 83 (2), which speaks about the duration, states that the Lok Sabha “unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years…” Same phraseology is applied for state assemblies vide Article 172. The rider “unless sooner dissolved “ is an exception
- However, earlier dissolution, which breaches the principle of simultaneous elections, is brought about by several methods. First, the PM or CM advises the president or the governor, as the case may be, to prematurely dissolve the Lok Sabha or state assembly and force snap elections to gain electoral advantage. In such a case, the president or the governor should decline such advice as it denies a level-playing field to the opposition, and such a refusal is also in tune with the principle of simultaneous elections. Secondly, by passing the no-confidence motion against a government or defeating the government’s confidence motion. In either case, the president/governor invites the opposition leader to form the government. If no government is formed, the president/governor dissolves the house and orders midterm elections as the last resort.
- Before dealing with how such a situation can be avoided, it may be noted that often the central government has misused its powers under Article 356 by imposing the president’s rule in states ruled by opposition parties and dissolving assemblies resulting in premature elections
- The Supreme Court in S.R. Bommai held that there should be floor test before the assembly is dissolved. Similarly, after the landslide victory of the Janta Party in 1977, president’s rule was imposed in Congress-ruled states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Similarly, state governments have often taken over the administration of the local bodies and dissolved them prematurely for political reasons. The combined effect has resulted in staggered elections
- To avoid frequent elections it is necessary to have stable elected bodies. It is pertinent to note that a no-confidence motion is not mentioned in the Constitution or any law, for that matter. It finds place in Rule 198 of the Rules and Conduct of Business of the Lok Sabha, which states that 50 or more members can move a no-confidence motion. If it succeeds, the government has to resign and if no other party or parties can form the government, premature elections follow
- The Law Commission of India in its report of 1999 has dealt with the problem of premature and frequent elections. It had recommended an amendment of this rule on the lines of the German Constitution, which provides that the leader of the party who wants to replace the chancellor has to move the no-confidence motion along with the confidence motion. If the motions succeed, the president appoints him as the chancellor. If such an amendment to Rule 198 is made, the Lok Sabha would avoid premature dissolution without diluting the cardinal principle of democracy, that is a government with the consent of the peoples’ representatives with periodical elections. It will also be consistent with the notion of collective responsibility of the government to the House as mentioned in Article 75 (3) of the Constitution.
- This proposal has several advantages. The country will always have a government which enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha. People will know in advance who is going to be the next PM and avoid the uncertainty as to who will lead the government. It will help ensure Lok Sabha complete its normal term of five years, as contemplated in the Constitution. If this proposal is applied to the states and local bodies, we can have simultaneous elections.
- After all, the ultimate sovereign, the people of India, having elected their representatives, have no choice but to keep quiet for five years. Why should their representative be given a choice to inflict premature and expensive elections on the country?
Category: India’s Neighbourhood
- Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia experienced a series of devastating terrorist operations that have been attributed to the ISIS
- The author of the last blast was a 35-year old Pakistani who had migrated from the “land of the pure” with his family 12 years ago. Twelve of the 19 people arrested after the attacks were Pakistanis, echoing a common view that South Asian migrants get imbued with a fundamentalist form of Islam in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf nations, one likely to translate into affinities with jihadism — and they may bring this back home
- This suspicion is reinforced by the way Saudi notables fund madrassas in South Asia in order to propagate Salafi creeds. Pakistan is a case in point. In 2009, a secret memo, signed by then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, noted: “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”
- After the 2014 Peshawar tragedy, Pakistan’s minister for inter-provincial coordination, Riaz Hussain Pirzada accused the Saudi government of creating instability across the Muslim world by the distribution of money to promote its ideology. Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) spelt out soon after the Peshawar mass killings noted the commitment to control such foreign influence
- The state’s control over the madrassas will partly be a function of the degree of independence Islamabad can, or wants to, regain vis-à-vis the Saudis. In 2015, Pakistan refused to support Saudia Arabia militarily against the Iran-supported Houthis. Lately, Islamabad has probably provided some unofficial support to Riyadh in Yemen — like in Bahrain before
- Pakistan has also joined a Saudi-led coalition against terror set up to not only fight the ISIS but also to contain the Iranian influence. Islamabad has also agreed to take part in the Saudi-led “most important military manœuvres” ever staged in the region. Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are evident from the aborted attempt at mediating between the kingdom and Iran. Riyadh denied that any such endeavour had been undertaken, and that was the end of the story
- Pakistan’s lack of political independence vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia largely reflects economic considerations. Riyadh has repeatedly supported Islamabad financially — it gave $ 1.5 billion in 2014, for instance — and almost five million Pakistanis work in the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and some of its closest allies. They send home a large proportion of the remittances. Last but not the least, the Saudis can rely on deeply entrenched actors of the Pakistani political system. Nawaz Sharif established a close relation with the House of Saud, during his exile in the kingdom — where he also developed business interests — and Riyadh can get the support of parties like the JUI and movements like Jamaat-ud- Dawa (and its main branch, Lashkar-e-Taiba) which have orchestrated several demonstrations in favour of the Pakistani military in Yemen
- Lately, these movements have been selectively targeted by the army, but in early July, Sartaj Aziz, Nawaz Sharif’s foreign affairs adviser, told a US congressional delegation that terrorists would hit back if the repression intensified — and this is definitely true of some of the groups close to the Gulf countries, including the Haqqani network. Last year, Wikileaks revealed that in February 2012, NasiruddinHaqqani, then chief financier of the network, met the Saudi ambassador in Islamabad to convey his father’s request for treatment at a Saudi hospital. Jalaluddin, the founder of the network, carries a Saudi passport
- The ball is in the court of Riyadh if Pakistan, as a true client state, is not prepared to fight Saudi-related militant groups. The growing influence of Iran in the region has led Saudi Arabia to diversify its security partnerships by relating to countries like India. In February 2014, both countries signed an agreement on defence cooperation in New Delhi and Narendra Modi’s visit to Riyadh in April was dominated by security issues
- Will the rise of the ISIS persuade Riyadh and Islamabad to fight Islamism? The fact that the ISIS elements claimed responsibility for the Karachi bus shooting in May 2015, in which 45 Ismailis were killed, has reinforced Pakistan’s will to eradicate an organisation that had already become a target after it attracted TTP commanders from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas -FATA. But it doesn’t mean the attitude of Islamabad (and Rawalpindi) will change regarding groups that are still considered potentially “useful” vis-à-vis Afghanistan and India
- Riyadh will certainly take new security measures after the recent attacks. But much more needs to be done, from the point of view of Muslims in general (after all Islamists kill more Muslims than non-Muslims) and South Asians in particular. What the Saudis may never acknowledge is the link that exists between the promotion of Wahhabism and militant Islamism. This relation is far from direct . But this brand of Salafism fosters anti-Shia feelings and hostility to popular forms of Islam in South Asia — a hostility that may result in terrorist attacks against dargahs and other shrines. Such violence is undermining a civilisation known for its openness, directly as well as indirectly by fostering the fear of Islam, even Islamophobia
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina today jointly inaugurated the Petrapole Integrated Check Post through video-conferencing. Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee also participated from Kolkata in the video-conference.
Petrapole-Benapole is an important land border crossing for India-Bangladesh trade. More than 50 per cent of the India-Bangladesh trade passes through Petrapole. Trade worth more than Rs. 15000 Crore takes place through the Petrapole ICP, which is more than all the other Indian Land Ports and Land Customs Stations put together. Approximately 15 lakh people and 150,000 trucks cross Petrapole-Benapole every year.
The Petrapole ICP will provide better facilities for effective and efficient discharge of functions such as security, immigration, customs, quarantine, etc. while also providing support facilities for smooth cross-border movement of persons, goods and transport.
An Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy was signed on 13 November 2015, during the visit of the Prime Minister to U.K. The scope of cooperation inter alia covers the supply of nuclear material, non-nuclear material, equipment, components or technology, training of personnel and transfer of technology, for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
ISRO and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)/NASA are jointly working on the development of Dual Frequency (L&S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar Imaging Satellite named as NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR).
The L & S band microwave data obtained from this satellite will be useful for variety of applications, which include natural resources mapping & monitoring; estimating agricultural biomass over full duration of crop cycle; assessing soil moisture; monitoring of floods and oil slicks; coastal erosion, coastline changes and variation of winds in coastal waters; assessment of mangroves; surface deformation studies etc.
As per The National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NWs) including the five existing NWs. Out of the 111 NWs, NW-1, 2, & 3 are already operational. Cargo as well as passenger / cruise vessels are plying on these waterways. Detailed Project Report- DPR for development of NW-4 & 5 were completed in 2010. The DPR of NW 5 was updated in 2014. For the newly declared 106 NWs, techno-economic feasibility studies have been initiated.
Online Registration System (ORS) is being implemented in various hospitals in States/UTs to provide online registration, online appointment services to citizens along with online viewing of medical test report on ORS portal by citizens. So far, it has been implemented in 43 hospitals. However, the module for online viewing of reports has been started only in four hospitals (viz. AIIMS, New Delhi; RML, New Delhi; NIMHANS, Bengaluru; and PGIMER, Chandigarh) through this Portal
Topic: Global Economy
- Given the IMF’s record in lowering its growth projections each time it makes a new forecast—the 2016 global GDP growth forecast of 3.8% in April 2015 was lowered to 3.2% in April—it was hardly surprising it has done this again, lowering the 2016 projection to 3.1%. More so since, though global markets have recovered from their manic phase immediately after the Brexit vote, as the World Economic Outlook says, there is no way of knowing how markets will react once Brexit actually happens and whether the damage will be contained
- In the perfect scenario where the fallout if restricted to the UK losing large parts of its financial sector to Europe, all that happens is that the UK’s growth forecast for next year gets cut by around one percentage point, or maybe more with successive IMF forecasts
- But were Europe’s unresolved banking crisis to unravel with more countries wanting to exit—especially the ones with the weaker banks whose bonds are largely held by Germany—the resultant stress would be much larger as well as widespread
- IMF’s severe stress situation sees global growth in 2017 slowing from around 3.4% to 3.1%—while the IMF says it looks less likely right now, the fact is no one knows just where the stresses will show up
- More worrying is the fact that in even the IMF’s benign scenario, global trade volumes are seen as slowing 40bps from the projected 3.1%—in the case of emerging and developing markets, the growth estimates are cut by 50bps. The resultant growth is still higher than that in 2015, and may be some relief for India’s exports which has been declining for over a year, but it was unlikely India could sustain even an 8% growth without a very significant exports performance
- The IMF’s 2017 trade forecast of a 3.9% growth for emerging economies looks encouraging, but this is well below the 9-10% levels of the glory days of 2003-07 as a result of which India’s exports could grow at 24%+ levels. Couple this with the fact that gross fixed capital formation has contracted 1.5% in the three months to March this year, for the first time in seven years, and the picture starts looking that much less reassuring—though the government is trying to spend more in capital formation, there is just that much it can do
- Whether or not the record temperatures are directly linked with greenhouse gas emissions, most scientists agree that climate change will make extreme weather more likely. Climate change was a crucial topic at the recent World Cities Summit in Singapore. It is one of the world’s biggest challenges. On one hand, population growth and rising standards of living are generating a bigger demand for energy, on the other there is a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And cities are at the heart of the solution
- The global population is growing—from over 7 billion today, it will reach an estimated 10 billion by the end of the century. With this, the growth of cities will accelerate. Over half of the global population already lives in cities. By 2050, the proportion will be around three-quarters, with half of this growth happening in Asia alone.
- Also, cities consume two-thirds of the energy the world produces; by 2040, they would use almost 80%. Even with heroic efficiency efforts, the amount of energy the world is consuming by the end of the century is likely to double compared to today
- One of the major challenges we face is how to halt the accumulation of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
- A world where emissions of carbon dioxide are at net zero levels would be possible if the emissions that remain are offset, or captured and stored below ground
- Cities, and how we plan them, will be central to achieving this. They have a huge opportunity to become more energy-efficient: through building standards; by using waste heat from power generation to warm homes; by encouraging high-density living to reduce travel and encourage smaller electric or hydrogen-powered cars; by building high-capacity public transport systems
- The evolving energy mix will be vital too. Natural gas, for example, produces half the carbon dioxide and one-tenth of the air pollution as compared to coal when burnt for power. Gas power stations also partner well with renewables, providing reliable electricity when there is no sun or wind. Here, adding carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to power stations and industrial complexes will be critical to reduce emissions enough to reach net zero
- Renewables will, of course, continue to grow rapidly as part of the mix, but mainly produce electricity
- Today, electricity accounts for less than one-fifth of the total energy used in the world. For renewables to have a major impact, our scenario shows the share of electricity in the energy mix will need to grow to at least 50%
- This means people must meet the costs of, for example, electric or hydrogen-electric cars. Households and businesses not supplied with waste heat must be warmed with electricity. Food processing and light manufacturing must also go electric
- However, even with all these changes, the greenhouse gas emissions will continue to enter the atmosphere for the foreseeable future
- The production of chemicals used in so many of the things we take for granted will continue to rely on oil and gas. Where very high temperatures or dense energy storage are required—such as in the manufacturing of iron, steel and cement, or in heavy freight and air transport—we will almost certainly see continued use of hydrocarbon fuels
- There will also be regions that switch to low-carbon energy at different speeds, for political, economic or demographic reasons
- Continuing emissions will have to be offset. We can plant forests and use agricultural practices that raise the carbon content of the soil, such as ploughing partly burned biomass into fields. We can also burn biomass for power, coupled with CCS. Plants can suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Using CCS will make sure it never goes back to the atmosphere
- Whether in cities or beyond, none of this will be easy. However, all of it is possible. Only if the world starts working towards it right now
- With bank credit growth slumping below 10 per cent early this year and not rising since, concerns are mounting about how economic revival can be sustained without adequate credit flow to industry. This seems to be a key reason for the Centre’s decision on Tuesday to set aside ₹22,915 crore, 92 per cent of its targeted allocation for FY17, towards capital infusion into public sector banks. It is welcome that the recapitalisation package has come at the beginning of this fiscal year instead of the fag end, and that 75 per cent is to be released immediately
- With accelerated bad loan clean-ups forcing banks to report sharply higher non-performing assets (NPAs) in recent quarters, this pre-emptive infusion may help reinforce both depositor and investor confidence in state-owned banks. With deposit growth at multi-year lows and stock prices of most PSBs languishing below book value, a confidence booster is quite badly needed
- But what is puzzling is the manner in which the Centre has selected the banks that qualify for this recapitalisation exercise. Whilst announcing its Indradhanush revamp package for PSBs in August 2015, it had clearly specified a game-plan of allocating 40 per cent of the funds to the top six banks which ‘play a vital role in the economy’ and the rest based on performance parameters. But recent recapitalisation packages seem to have strayed from this. This year’s plan for instance, leaves out Bank of Baroda and IDBI Bank from the top six, while sweeping in the smaller Central Bank, UCO Bank, Syndicate Bank and United Bank. Sizeable capital has been allocated both to strong banks such as State Bank of India (better placed on NPAs and tier 1 ratio), and beleaguered ones such as Punjab National Bank and Central Bank, whose GNPA ratios top 10 per cent. Some distressed banks find no mention. It would be unfortunate if the Centre has diluted its performance accountability norms in its urgency to shore up public confidence. Having deployed much of its recapitalisation kitty for the year, the Centre should now tighten the screws on performance
- This is critical because, even according to the Government’s own estimates, this recapitalisation package will take care of just ₹70,000 crore of the estimated ₹1.8 lakh crore needed until FY19, to meet Basel III norms. Private researchers peg the sum at over ₹2.5 lakh crore. This suggests that most PSBs will need to aggressively tap the markets for capital over the next three years
- While stronger banks may face no problems, investors may not readily sink capital into deeply distressed banks. This means the Centre needs a plan B on recapitalisation. Here, a variety of alternatives have been suggested, ranging from recapitalisation bonds to preference shares and shares with differential voting rights, which must be seriously examined. Governance reforms at PSBs, spearheaded by the new Bank Boards Bureau, also brooks no delay
- Better late than never. The home minister has said that the government will set up an expert committee to come up with non-lethal methods of crowd control. There are two parts to the challenge. One is in the realm of tools and technology. Tasers that provide electric shock but do no permanent damage and stink bombs that make it impossible for people to continue to stay on the vicinity are obvious examples of the instrumentalist part of the solution. But the more important part is political. It is about democracy, primarily
- After the British transferred power to Indians in 1947 —Indians did not quite knock down the colonial power structure and build something new on their own — many things changed. But the manner in which the police views the citizenry has not. A pre-modern sensibility mediates the citizen-state relationship. Those favoured by patronage can bend the arms of the state at will while ordinary people are treated as subjects, whose rights can be enforced only with great difficulty, if ever, after a legal or political battle following oppressive engagement
- This is the sad reality across India. Sad becomes tragic in a place like Kashmir, where security forces are, to a large extent, derived from outside the state and enjoy statutory immunity from being subjected to the norms of justice and civil conduct democracy enjoins on security personnel. If crowd control in Kashmir has to be just that and not a forcible display of the Indian state’s might meant to clobber dissent, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act must be scrapped
- Security forces must confront crowds with at least the restraint and accountability they have elsewhere.
- This, in turn, is contingent on political engagement with the people of Kashmir. PM Modi has offered to engage within a framework of kashmiriyat, democracy and humanity. The framework is spot on. The trouble is, killing and maiming scores of Kashmiris fails every one of those three principles. The political process in the state is stuck. The Centre must intervene, with democracy as its central guide
Worried about the shrinking space for civil society organisations in India, HIV activists from around the world protested outside the Indian embassy in Durban, South Africa. Humanitarian aid organisations have expressed concern over the Indian government’s crackdown on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), particularly Lawyers Collective, stating that it will have a direct impact on India’s HIV response.In June, the government suspended the legal aid organisation’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for 6 months, meaning it could no longer receive any donations from abroad. The Lawyer’s Collective has been instrumental in drafting the HIV/AIDS Bill, 2014 — a landmark anti-discrimination legislation.
India has ranked a low 110 out of 149 nations assessed on where they stand with regard to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to a new index which is topped by Sweden and shows all countries face major challenges in achieving these ambitious goals.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung launched a new Sustainable Development Goal Index and Dashboard to provide a report card for tracking Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) progress and ensuring accountability.
India added up the second largest pile of external debt between 2010 and 2015, says a Moody’s report. “The country had $474 billion in external debt as of 2015, representing 16 per cent of the Asia Pacific region’s total debt,” it said.Additionally, the country’s external debt to GDP ratio has risen from 17 per cent in 2005 to 23 per cent in 2015, Moody’s said, adding that it is still one of the lowest globally.
India has topped the chart denoting the progress made by countries on the financial inclusion front as around 20 crore people have “gained access” to financial services, according to a report by global consultancy firm BCG.
However, the report said India and several other countries are not effectively converting their economic growth into well-being improvements for their citizens.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
- Pellet guns
- UNFCCC COP-21
- Petrapole Integrated Check Post
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Salafism is an ultra-conservativereform movement within Sunni Islam which advocates return to the puritanical Islamic traditions
- Sufism is a mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 2: Which of the following can be categorised as disadvantages of introducing a single regional currency across nations?
- The introduction of a single world currency may affect national sovereignty to a large extent
- A common monetary policy may be inappropriate for regions which are growing much faster or much slower
- It would impede the movement of goods and services
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) 1 and 2 only
d) All the Above
Question 3: Which of the following taxes will be subsumed under the GST according to the proposed bill?
- Sales Tax
- Service Tax
- Toll Tax
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1,2 and 3 only
d) All the Above
Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct about The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, or NISAR satellite?
- It is designed to observe and take measurements of some of the planet’s most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards such asearthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides
- NASA will provide the mission’s L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and ISRO will provide the S band synthetic aperture radar
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 5: Which of the following is/are part of the 8 core missions of the National Action Plan on Climate Change?
- National Solar Mission
- National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
- National Water Mission
- National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 3 only
c) Both 1,2 and 3
d) All the Above
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