Comprehensive News Analysis - 23 December 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Blue ice, a rare occurrence: Airline

2. India-U.S. interests are aligned in Bangladesh, says Ambassador

C. GS3 Related:

1. Moon race: TeamIndus to carry Japanese rival’s rover

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

The Hindu

1. A little gain after more pain

The Economic Times

1. Digital India calls for greater focus on digital infrastructure

Business Line

1. Another knee-jerk move

Indian Express

1. Another Digital hurdles


1. Swachh Bharat Mission moves to a new level; Enabling easy access to public toilets in urban areas

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

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
  1. Blue ice, a rare occurrence: Airline

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • The NGT had recently asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue a circular to all airlines using the Delhi airport to ensure that they do not release any waste while landing or taking off at the airport or near it.
  • In response, airlines have said it is not possible to empty toilet tanks in mid-air.
  • The NGT had also asked the aviation regulator to impose an environmental compensation of Rs. 50,000 per violation of the circular and submit a quarterly report to the tribunal.
  • Jet Airways said ‘blue ice’, which is a term used for frozen sewage material leaked mid-air, as a “rare occurrence” which signifies “a leaking toilet system, leading to the formation of accumulation of ice in high altitude.”


2.  India-U.S. interests are aligned in Bangladesh, says Ambassador

Category: International Relations

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points:

  • S. Ambassador in Dhaka, Ms. Bernicat, has recently remarked that the U.S. is not concerned about China’s growing economic role in Bangladesh as infrastructure development is a “good thing”.
  • Bernicat also believes that Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has acted on her policy of zero tolerance towards terrorists from the time she came to office and that she has worked very closely with the government of India.


C. GS3 Related
  1. Moon race: TeamIndus to carry Japanese rival’s rover

Category: Science and Technology

Topic: Space, Developments

Key Points:

  • TeamIndus of Bengaluru has said its spacecraft will also carry a Japanese contestant’s rover along with its own. This development is seen as an unprecedented tie-up between two private space novices which are both competing to land on the moon.
  • This is a first of a kind collaboration of two private space enterprises competing in the [totally $30-million] Google Lunar XPRIZE.
  • TeamIndus is the only Indian team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is a global competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth.


D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
  1. A little gain after more pain

Category: Polity and Governance   

Topic: Center-State Relations  

Key Points:

  • In the wake of the demonetization initiative of the government, investigations into the hoarding of new currency notes in the denomination of Rs. 2,000 have implicated not only mining barons and contractors, but also government officials and politicians. 
  • Recently, there were searches in the residence and office premises of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary  Rama Mohana Rao (who has since been replaced).  
  • These searches led to the seizure of loads of cash and gold.
  • In fact, expectations are that more high-profile personalities will come under the scanner of the enforcement agencies.
  • Many of these cases would not have come to light but for the illegal exchange of old notes that the black money hoarders were forced to undertake following the demonetisation.


The Economic Times

1. Digital India calls for greater focus on digital infrastructure

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy, Infrastructure   

Key Points:

  • The government’s push towards moving to a cashless economy calls for greater focus on digital infrastructure. Growth of the digital economy depends on building network capacity. The current push towards digital transactions leverages the high penetration of mobile phones: over a billion subscribers — netting out multiple subscriptions, the number of phone users would be smaller — of whom about 35% use smartphones.
  • In India, the mobile phone will be the predominant mode of transitioning to the digital economy. Inability to meet the rising demand for network capacity will place severe constraints on the move to and growth of the digital economy.

Constraining Factors:

  • One of the constraining factors is the lack of sufficient spectrum available to mobile use.
  • According to the Cellular Operators Association of India reports that compared to international standards, operators in India possess significantly smaller amounts of spectrum, approximately 13 MHz on average.
  • It is low compared to other Asian countries such as Bangladesh (37.4 MHz) and Malaysia (75 MHz).
  • Not only is spectrum scarce, it is also fragmented, overpriced and inflexible. The current push to digital transactions on account of demonetisation has meant increased congestion on a limited spectrum capacity.

Way Forward

  • To deploy more spectrum for actual use by telecom subscribers, more must be allocated and at a price that is affordable.
  • Thus, for a digital economy, it is suggested that the Government must design policy that will make use of scarce and valuable spectrum in a more efficient manner.

Business Line

  1. Another knee-jerk move

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy, Money and Banking   

Key Points:

  • Recently, the Cabinet has approved an ordinance to amend the Payment of Wages Act 1936.
  • The ordinance seeks to amend Section 6 of the Act.
  • This is being done in an effort to allow for payment of wages under18,000 a month not just by currency but also by cheque — against the present norm of the employer having to obtain the written consent of the employee before paying by cheque.
  • Prima facie, the amendment, which was supposed to have been passed in the winter session, seems like a no-brainer in an age of modern banking and finance.
  • It is important to note that the 80-year-old law was obviously rooted in a context when payments were made in kind, and often not at all, in an economy governed by exploitative feudal relations; cash, by defining recompense in black and white terms, was a liberating force.



  • Unfortunately, the amendment places unreasonable curbs on individual choice and, by extension, transfers a disturbing degree of power to the state.
  • It gives the Centre and States the discretion to “specify the industrial establishment” where the employer shall pay “the wages only(emphasis added) by cheque or by crediting the wages in his bank account”. This ironically opens up scope for bribery amidst the drive against black money.


Indian Express

  1. Another Digital hurdles

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy, Money and Banking  

Key Points:

  • Card transactions have fallen to a nine-month low, posing a new challenge to the government’s demonetisation drive.
  • According to a new SBI research report, the aggregate of debit and card transactions at point of source (PoS) terminals fell to a little more than Rs 35,000 crore in November, the lowest since February. The amount spent at PoS terminals was a little more than Rs 51,000 crore in October.
  • People seem to be using their debit and credit cards for purchases of relatively inexpensive items, while there has been a sharp fall in big ticket purchases. This does not augur well for the economy.
  • The SBI report also points to the necessity of bolstering the digital transaction infrastructure.
  • The are about 15 lakh PoS machines in the country. The SBI report points out that the country needs an additional 20 lakh such machines.
  • It is important to note that people prefer making their purchases in cash because they are not convinced about data safety in digital transactions.
  • In fact, a security breach a few weeks before the demonetisation drive had forced the SBI to recall more than three lakh debit cards.
  • It is suggested that the government should bring in a privacy law with strong liability clauses to allay people’s fears. All this should be accompanied by robust awareness drives.


  1. Swachh Bharat Mission moves to a new level; Enabling easy access to public toilets in urban areas

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: Government Initiatives  

Key Points:

  • With construction of individual and public and community toilets in urban areas getting on to fast track, Swachh Bharat Mission(Urban) today moved to a new level of improving ‘ease of access to public toilets’. Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu on 22nd Dec, 2016, launched ‘Google Maps Toilet Locator App’ to enable people to locate the nearest public toilet for use in five cities in National Capital Region and Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Using the key word ‘Swachh Public Toilet’, users can access 5,162 public toilets located near malls, hospitals, bus and railway stations, fuel stations, metro stations and public and community toilet complexes in the five cities in NCR and 703 in Bhopal and 411 in Indore. The App also gives information about the nature of the toilet seat available, free or pay for use, working hours etc. This facility will be extended to other cities in due course. Ministry of Urban Development has partnered with Google to enable this service.
  • Further, Shri Venkaiah Naidu also presented ‘Swachhata Certificates’ 12 cities and towns who have become ODF recently and their claims verified independently by the Quality Council of India. These are; Visakhapatnam, Guntur and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, Thanesar and Sirsa in Haryana, NDMC, Suchindram and Mailadi in Tamil Nadu and  Khopoli, Kolhapur and Nandurbar in Maharashtra.

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Swachhata Certificates
  • Swachh Public Toilet
  • Payment of Wages Act 1936


The Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 

H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements on Uniform Civil Code
  1. Article 44 of the Constitution guarantees a Uniform Civil Code.
  2. Goa is the only state in India to have a Uniform Civil Code.

Which of the above statements are true?

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both 1 and 2

d) None

Question 2: AFSPA is not operational in which of the following states?
a) Manipur

b) Jammu and Kashmir

c) Tripura

d) Nagaland

Question 3: Balochistan province of Pakistan borders which of the following countries?

a) Iran

b) Afghanistan

c) India

d) Only A and B

Question 4: Vinaya Pitaka dealt with the
a) Monastic code

b) Birth story of Buddha

c) Philosophy of Buddism

d) Jain Philosophy

Question 5: Who is the guardian of the Indian Constitution?
a) President of India

b) Supreme Court of India

c) Speaker of Lok Sabha

d) Attorney General of India

Check Your Answers

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