Comprehensive News Analysis - 23 September 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. India claims diplomatic win over Pakistan at UN

2. Centre moves NSG teams to Mumbai after terror alert

3. Navtej Sarna appointed India’s new envoy to US

4. Chemical weapons used in Iraq

5. Hamas, LTTE to be removed from EU terror list

C. GS3 Related:

1. Nod likely for Bhagirathi hydel projects

2. Centre names economists to monetary policy committee

3. Centre to boost goods exports

4. Jaitley tells BRICS nations to share insights on infrastructure

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

The Hindu

1. Getting Railways on track

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
I. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!


B. GS2 Related


  1. India claims diplomatic win over Pakistan at UN

Category: International summits

Topic:  71st UN General Assembly meet

Key Points: 

  • At the 71st UN General Assembly in Newyork, India said Pakistan’s campaign to highlight Kashmir at the United Nations had failed even as the Union Ministry of External Affairs stopped short of giving a definitive answer on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to attend the November SAARC summit in Islamabad.

Uncertainty continued over PM Modi’s presence at SAARC as India held consultations with Afghanistan and the U.S., and pushed Pakistan to shut down the infrastructure of terrorism affecting South Asia and the world.

The Union Ministry of External affairs said SAARC stands for regional cooperation which is underpinned by peace and stability. The biggest threat to peace and stability we all know is terrorism. Squarely addressing this will benefit the entire region and also strengthen regional cooperation. We are sure all member-countries of SAARC need to reflect on this. Coordination with Bangladesh, with Afghanistan – it cannot go into that but certainly all victims of terrorism stand in solidarity.

  • India’s stand on solidarity among terror victims came after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif described slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani as a young leader in his UNGA speech. India had rebutted it by saying that the Pakistani leader had used the highest podium of the U.N. to glorify terrorism.

Pakistan hosts Ivy League of terrorism

  • Consequences of Pakistan’s policy of sponsoring terrorism have spread beyond the region, India told the U.N. General Assembly, responding to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s broadside against India on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. India mounted a counter-attack hours after Mr. Sharif’s speech at the General Assembly, connecting Pakistan’s record of nuclear proliferation to its support of terrorism and the dangers it posed to global security.

U.N. said “The land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism. It attracts aspirants and apprentices from all over the world.” Pakistan responded immediately, reiterating Mr. Sharif’s position that the slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was the leader of an indigenous freedom movement.


  1. Centre moves NSG teams to Mumbai after terror alert

Category: National

Topic:  Terror attacks

Key Points:

  • The Uran village in Raigad districtof Maharashtra as well as surrounding areas was seized by panic after students of a local school reported to the authorities that they had seen a group of men walking under suspicious circumstances towards the Navy base in Uran.

 

The Navy, the Coast Guard as well as the local police and paramilitary forces mounted a massive search in the village, while the Centre deployed three NSG teams in Mumbai and put a counter-terror team on standby in New Delhi.


  1. Navtej Sarna appointed India’s new envoy to US

Category: International

Topic: Appointments

Key Points:

  • India’s High Commissioner to the UK, Navtej Singh Sarna, has been appointed the newAmbassador to the US. He will succeed the current envoy Arun Singh. A veteran Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1980 batch, Sarna was Secretary (West) in the Foreign Ministry prior to becoming High Commissioner to the UK.


4. Chemical weapons used in Iraq

Category: International issues

Topic: Terror attacks

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Key Points:

  • S. has recently confirmed that Islamic State (IS) forceshave fired crude chemical weapons at U.S. troops in Iraq. The attack came from a powdered mustard agent delivered in a mortar or rocket shell and fired on U.S. forces at the Qayyarah West air base near Mosul. The air base, recaptured from the IS in July, is a pivotal staging ground for a highly anticipated attack on Mosul.
  • Mustard, a banned chemical weapon, is most dangerous when concocted in a gas form. The use of chemical weapons on U.S. forces, however ineffectual, raised ominous echoes of the ultimately false rationale cited by the George W. Bush administration in U.S. for invading and occupying Iraq from 2003 to 2011. While Saddam Hussein turned out to have destroyed his chemical stockpiles before the invasion, some older unconventional weaponry had survived and was used on a handful of U.S. soldiers and marines.

 

Precursor materialsSome chemical agents and precursor materials for their manufacture had been stored on Iraqi territory formerly controlled by IS. The U.S. military has insisted since 2014 that there is no evidence IS obtained access to them. Alternatively, some of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s substantial chemical stocks have been known to survive a 2013 agreement brokered by Russia and backed by the U.S. for their destruction.

 

5. Hamas, LTTE to be removed from EU terror list

Category: International issues

Topic: Terrorism

Key Points:

  • The European Union (EU)’s top court took a step toward confirming the removal of Hamas, as well as the Tamil Tigers, from an EU terrorism blacklist despite protestations from Israel and the Sri Lankan governments.

 

C. GS3 Related


  1. Nod likely for Bhagirathi hydel projects

Category: Environment

Topic: Hydro-electric power projects

Key Points: 

  • The Union ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change after constant persuasion from the Uttarakhand government, has given its green signal to 10 hydro electric projects (HEPs) of less than 25MW capacity of a total combined capacity of 82.3 MW in the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) in the hill State’s Uttarkashi region.

 

However, the Ministry has said that cumulative impact assessment study of the Bhagirathi Basin must be carried out for it to decide whether the 10 projects were viable. 

  • According to the Central government notification of December 18, 2012, a 100-kilometre stretch of the river Bhagirathi from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi, feeding an area of 4,179.59 sqkm, was to be declared eco-sensitive. The notification mentions that HEPs of only upto 2 MW can be built in the notified area.


  1. Centre names economists to monetary policy committee

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: RBI – Monetary policy

Key Points:

  • The Centre named three academics trained in economics as the external appointees on the monetary policy committee (MPC) that will work with the Reserve Bank of India’s three members to decide interest rates. The RBI is represented on the MPC by Governor Urjit Patel, Deputy Governor in-charge of monetary policy Gandhi, and M.D. Patra, the executive director who was nominated by the RBI board. The three external members – Pami Dua, Chetan Ghate and Ravindra Dholakia will have a fixed four year term, which is non-renewable.

 

The RBI will set interest rates according to the majority view of the six-member MPC, with the Governor having the casting vote in case of a tie.

  • The MPC will be responsible for ensuring inflation based on the Consumer Price Index is contained within a range of 2 per cent to 6 per cent, a target announced as part of the new monetary policy framework agreed to by the Centre and the RBI. Previously, decisions were taken by the RBI Governor. The move to inflation targeting and committee based rate-setting were part of changes recommended by former Governor Raghuram Rajan and then Deputy Governor Dr. Patel.

The three new external members of the MPC are low-key academics, who are expected to help provide independent external economic inputs for policy formulation.

 

3. Centre to boost goods exports

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Trade – Exports

Key Points:

  • In the backdrop of the continued decline in growth of Indian goods exports, the Union commerce ministry extended support to certain new products and enhanced the rate of incentives for some other under the reward programme called Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS). With this the total number of items covered under the scheme has been increased from 5,012 to 7,103, an official statement said. The total government support extended under the scheme has been enhanced from the present Rs 22,000 crore to Rs 23,500 crore per annum, it added.

 

The major highlights of the support include addition of 2901 products in the scheme – These include several items of traditional medicines, marine products, dried onion, processed cereal products and value added items of plastics, leather articles and suitcases. The products that will get incentives also include engineering goods, fabrics, garments, chemicals, ceramics, glass products, leather goods, newspapers, periodicals, silk items, made ups, wool products, tubes and pipes.

  • Incentives –The rate of incentives of 575 product items falling under 11 products categories has been increased.

These include products of iron and steel, handicrafts, moulded and extruded goods, rubber, ceramic, glass, auto tyres and tubes, industrial machinery engineering items, IC Engines, machine tools / parts, items of wood, paper, stationary, footwear, auto seats, steel furniture, prefabs, items under the category of butter, ghee and cheese, dried egg albumin and rubber products. Under the MEIS, the rates of the duty credits range from 2-5 per cent.

 

  1. Jaitley tells BRICS nations to share insights on infrastructure

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Infrastructure 

Key Points:

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called for a formal mechanism within BRICS nations to share and exchange experiences on infrastructure development. Mr Jaitley said “Infrastructure is the key to the growth of the economy. An institutionalised forum amongst BRICS countries could serve as a regional knowledge hub with exchange of information facilitated through cloud sharing, and other electronic methods” 
  • The finance minister also said that investment, both from the public and private sectors, will be required for infrastructure financing – in areas of health, education, sanitation, renewable energy, highways, ports and railways. The government gives high priority to infrastructure and has taken a number of policy decisions like the setting up of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), and innovative new financial instruments. The government has already set up the Rs.40, 000-crore NIIF in December 2015 for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects.


D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu


  1. Getting Railways on track

That it took 69 years after Independence for India to merge the Railway Budget with the Union Budget is an indication of how difficult it can be to junk colonial-era traditions that may have outlived their utility. In 1924, when the first Railway Budget was presented, the Railways entailed more funds than India’s expenditure on all other aspects of administration combined. So it made sense to present a separate Budget. That equation changed long ago, and now the Railways’ outlay is just 6 per cent of the total expenditure proposed in the Union Budget for this year. In fact, revenues from the domestic aviation business are more than the Railways’ traffic earnings. Nearly Rs.2.5 lakh crore has been planned this year as defence expenditure, but it found little mention in the Finance Minister’s Budget speech. Yet, the ritual of the Rail Budget has continued even as the economy opened up over the past 25 years. A key reason that it lingered so long is India’s fractured polity and the tendency of coalition partners to demand Railways as a juicy portfolio with its possibilities for populist posturing and patronage. With the luxury of a majority in the Lok Sabha and a Railway Minister like Suresh Prabhu who has refused to use the Rail Budget as a launchpad for new trains and railway lines, the NDA has thrown its weight behind a plan that takes away the annual temptation to make the Railways a vote-magnet.

India’s annual economic jamboree will now be over in two days the tabling of the Economic Survey followed by the Union Budget instead of three. Railway Ministers will no longer need to conjure up fancy and often regurgitated promises about new, improved services for passengers without charging them the operational costs of reaching their destination. The pressure to hold commuter fares has skewed the Railways’ freight rates, year after year. Indeed, the change is already being felt; tweaking of tariffs outside the Budget has begun. Consider the changes in coal freight and the introduction of flexible pricing on premium passenger trains. However, the Centre needs to now seriously consider setting up an independent tariff regulator to depoliticise fares. New lines and trains should be determined by economic viability rather than the constituencies covered. Initiatives such as demand-driven clone trains must be deployed to boost earnings, and the Rs.37,000-crore tab on social obligations, including concessional ticketing, must be borne by the exchequer. The Railways’ accounts need to be cleaned up and made bankable. Scrapping the Rail Budget is a good starting point to fix the fading utility. Bringing it back safely on track will take a lot more doing, and undoing.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • U.N. General Assembly annual meeting
  • Chemical warfare
  • Recent terror attaks
  • National security guard
  • Eco-Sensitive zones
  • Monetary Policy
  • National Infrastructure and investment fund
  • Railway budget



H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statements are correct regarding the ‘National Infrastructure & investment Fund’ of India?
  1. It funds Infrastructure development in Clean Energy, Agriculture & NBFC’s
  • It Works under the Union Ministry of Trade & Commerce
  • a) 1 only

    b) 2 only

    c) Both 1&2;

    d) Neither 1 nor 2.


    Question 2: The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s ) were adopted at
    a) 70th UNGA Meet, 2015

    b) Rio + 20 Conference 2012

    c) 69th UNGA Meet, 2014

    d) Rio + 10 Summit, 2002


    Question 3: With reference to 'Eco-Sensitive Zones', which of the following statements is/are correct?
    1. Eco-Sensitive Zones are the areas that are declared under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
    2. The purpose of the declaration of Eco-Sensitive Zones is to prohibit all kinds of human activities in those zones except agriculture.

    a) 1 only

    b) 2 only

    c) Both 1 and 2

    d) Neither 1 nor 2


    Question 4: Which Para-military force is responsible for Counter-Terror operations in India -
    a) Border Security Force (BSF)

    b) National Security Guard (NSG)

    c) National Investigative Agency (NIA)

    d) Both b & c


    Question 5: The 2016 BRICS Environment ministers meet was held at
    a) Karnataka

    b) Goa

    c) Maharashtra

    d) New Delhi


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