Comprehensive News Analysis – 24 March 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. State may be the first to have a good samaritan act

2. Multidrug-resistant TB, a major health concern

3. PM sets 60-day deadline for officials

4. Govt. aid to build rural houses

5. India-Bangladesh to go for bandwidth-electricity swap

6. India-UAE agreement for $75 billion investment in NIIF gets clearance

7. In era of cheap oil, Saudi Arabia loses sheen for foreign workers

8. INDIA TO START RANDOM TESTING FOR ZIKA VIRUS

C. GS3 Related:

1. India, France sign MoU for 6 nuclear reactors in Jaitapur

2. Centre to enforce tough rules on e-waste

3. Ancient virus DNA lies dormant in humans

D.Important Editorials : A Quick Glance
The Hindu:

1. Reading the vote in the Valley

2. Building new alliances with BRICS

3. WHY BELGIUM?

4. The message in the Brussels attack

The NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

1. THE MOLENBLEEK MYTH

2. BRAZIL IN DEEP CRISIS:

3. When nature strikes

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

.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

NO RELATED NEWS TODAY!!

 

B. GS2 Related

1. State may be the first to have a good samaritan act

Topic: Governance

Category: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Location: The hindu, page 1 and 2(Bengaluru edition)

Key Points:

  • karnataka State may be the first state to bring about Good Samaritan Act
  • Although Supreme court had made guidelines regarding this to be binding on all states, an act is expected to strengthen its implementation.
  • This move is expected to make it easier for the citizens to reach out to fellow citizens in need, for example-accident victims, pregnant women etc.
  • Draft of the bill includes punishment for the officials violating the guidelines
  • A law is intended to enforce accountability of the officials and the administration

Tags: Good governance, Accountability.

2. Multidrug-resistant TB, a major health concern

Topic: Governance/Science and Tech

Category: Issues relating to Health

Location: The hindu, page 10

Key Points:

  • The increasing resistance to tuberculosis (TB) drugs among patients has become a major public health concern
  • Every year March 24 is observed as World TB Day and the theme this year is “Unite to End TB.”
  • The best first-line anti-TB drugs (rifampicin and isoniazid) are not effective against MDR-TB cases.
  • Nearly three per cent of the newly diagnosed sputum positive cases in the country are found to develop MDRTB.
  • One patient can directly spread the disease to at least 10 others if it is not checked at the initial stage.

Tags: TB, causes, symptoms and steps taken at national and international levels (including U.N conventions)

3. PM sets 60-day deadline for officials

Topic: Governance

Category: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Location: The hindu, page 14

Key Points:

  • Government sets a 60-day deadline for government departments to resolve public grievances,
  • Redressing such complaints is the “biggest aspect of democracy.”-Prime minister
  • There will be focussed action plan over the next one month to ensure that only exceptional cases take more than two months to address
  • To build on the government’s progress in improving ease of doing business, Mr. Modi said it was necessary to create a ‘positive perception’ and noted the healthy progress among States competing for investment.
  • Prime Minister called for a comprehensive district-wise review of electronically delivered citizen-centric services across the country, of how many services are actually being delivered online.
  • In the social sector, the Prime Minister assessed the status of the Widow Pension Programme, and the progress towards eradication of leprosy.
  • The progress on vital infrastructure projects in the road, railway, power, and oil sectors, spread over several States was also reviewed

Tags: PRAGATI(Pro-active Governance and Timely Implementation), Citizen-centric services

4. Govt. aid to build rural houses

Topic: Governance

Category: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions

Location: The hindu, page 17

Key Points:

  • The Union Cabinet approved the construction of 2.95 crore houses in rural areas under ‘Housing for All’ scheme
  • financial assistance of up to Rs.1.30 lakh will be provided for construction of pucca houses to homeless families.
  • As per the last census, 2.95 crore houses are needed to be constructed. The target will be achieved by 2022 —the 75th year of India’s Independence.
  • The programme will be im plemented in two phases. The government proposes to provide assistance for one crore households in the next three years (by 2018-19) at an estimated cost of Rs. 81,975 crore. Rs. 60,000 crore will come from Budgetary provisions
  • The additional financial requirement of Rs. 21,975 crore will be met by borrowing through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to be amortised through budgetary allocations after 2022.
  • An eligible family living in plains will get Rs. 1.20 lakh and those living in “hilly and difficult” areas will receive an assistance of Rs. 1.30 lakh under the scheme.
  • The identification and prioritisation of beneficiaries will be done using information from Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC).
  • The beneficiary will be entitled to 90 days of unskilled labour from MGNREGA.
  • The cost of unit assistance to be shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.
  • The scheme would be implemented in rural areas throughout India except Delhi and Chandigarh. Under the existing rural housing scheme (Indira Awaas Yojana), financial assistance of Rs. 70,000 in plains areas and Rs. 75,000 in hilly/difficult areas is provided

Tags: Housing For All Scheme, Indira Awaas Yojana.

5. ndia-Bangladesh to go for bandwidth-electricity swap

Topic: International Relations

Category: India and its neighborhood- relations.

Location: The indian express, page23
Key Points:

  • India will supply electricity to Bangladesh,in return for internet bandwidth, that will help connect its North eastern states.
  • India will supply 100MW of electricity in return for 10gigabit/sec internet bandwidth
  • India is connected to Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal by road. Now it is connected by digital networks and electricity. This will further the Act East Policy of India
  • The Prime minister also wished that India and Bangladesh would be connected via cooperation in space too, in the near future

6. India-UAE agreement for $75 billion investment in NIIF gets clearance

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Category: Investment and economic diplomacy

Location: The hindu, page 17
Key Points:

  • The Union Cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ,which was earlier signed in february 2015,to mobilise up to $75 billion long-term investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
  • MoU will help establish a transparent and highlevel framework and collaboration platform under which both countries intend to explore ways to facilitate and expand the participation of UAE’s investment institutions in appropriate infrastructure projects and institutions in India including NIIF,
  • The joint statement during the visit of Prime Minister to the UAE in August 2015, mentioned the establishment of UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of USD 75 billion to support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.
  • A joint working group comprising of the concerned representatives of both parties would take forward cooperation under this MoU .

Tags: India-UAE relations

7. In era of cheap oil, Saudi Arabia loses sheen for foreign workers

Topic: International Relations

Category: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

Location: The hindu, page 17
Key Points:

  • In early March, the Ministry of Labour of Saudi Arabia, announced that within six months foreigners would be banned from selling and maintaining mobile phones and accessories for them, in an effort to keep open more jobs for Saudi citizens.
  • Millions of foreigners from south Asia, South East Asia and elsewhere flocked to work in Saudi Arabia during the economic boom of the past decade, filling relatively low-paid posts in the oil industry, construction and services as well as many middlemanagement and professional positions.
  • Foreigners accounted for 10.1 million of the total population of 30.8 million in 2014, according to the latest official data.
  • The money they sent home was important for their home countries; they remitted $9.1 billion out of Saudi Arabia in the third quarter of 2015, central bank data shows.
  • The inflow of people may now go into reverse.
  • Saudi economic growth is slowing as low oil prices produce a state budget deficit that totalled nearly $100 billion last year, forcing the government into spending cuts.
  • Many analysts expect gross domestic product growth, which averaged over five per cent annually between 2006 and 2015, to fall well below two per cent this year
  • Partly because labor rules make it hard and costly to fire Saudi citizens, layoffs in the early stages of a downturn tend to hit foreigners almost exclusively.
  • Meanwhile the government, lacking the cash to create public sector jobs for Saudis as freely as before, and worried that the official unemployment rate of 11.5 per cent among them could rise, is intervening more heavily in the labour market to push Saudis into jobs previously held by foreigners.
  • The economic changes have started to pressure the labour market, and this has triggered the start of the migration of a large segment of foreign workers.
  • Declining corporate profitability has made the foreign workforce a target for managements seeking to cut fixed financial obligations.
  • So far, in construction sector layoffs have been concentrated in the construction sector, which analysts estimate employs around 45 percent of foreigners.
  • Hit by shrinking state contracts and delays in payments owed to them by the government, construction firms have been laying off tens of thousands of people since last year
  • Job losses among foreigners look likely to spread to other sectors, partly because of government policy. Ban on mobile phone sellers would affect about 20,000 workers, and that similar action would eventually be taken in other industries.
  • The labor ministry targets aim to create jobs for around 1.3 million Saudis.There are plans for gradual nationalization of other sectors such as taxis, travel and tourism, real estate, jewelry and vegetable markets.
  • Displaced foreign workers could try to find jobs in other sectors. But it will be hard for many do so in a slowing economy, and many lack training for skilled jobs.
  • If they cannot find a company to sponsor a work visa for them, they will have to leave the country within about 90 days.
  • Even some highly paid foreign professionals are considering leaving the kingdom because they see fewer opportunities as the flow of oil money shrinks.

Tags: India- Saudi Arabia relations, probable impact of this on India’s remittances.

8. INDIA TO START RANDOM TESTING FOR ZIKA VIRUS

Topic: health

Category: issues related to health

Location: The indian express, page 1 and 2
Key Points:

  • The union government will start testing for zika viral-fever like on those patients who show virus like symptoms
  • Zika virus-symptoms-fever,rashes,body aches-similar to chikungunya and dengue and spread by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito
  • It is also associated with rise in microcephaly( new borns with small head)
  • The authorities have decided to start the random sampling at an early date as the dengue season begins from april and the virus is spreading to other regions

Tags: Zika virus-causes, symptoms, vaccines and other international initiatives.

 

C. GS3 Related

1. India, France sign MoU for 6 nuclear reactors in Jaitapur

Topic: Science and Technology

Category: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Location: The hindu, page 14

Key Points:

  • India and France have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for construction of six nuclear reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra
  • MoU signed between Electricite de France (EDF) — French public utility — and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL)
  • This reiterates France’s commitment to work seamlessly with India through a collaborative approach to enable both sides to contribute collectively to the development of nuclear energy in India in the most economical manner.
  • The EDF visit was a followup to the state visit of French President Francois Hollande to India in January, during which France and India drew up a cooperation road map for concluding techno-commercial negotiations for the Jaitapur project by the end of 2016.
  • Both industrial parties were working on the “Make in India” aspect of the Jaitapur project
  • This would be carried out through industrial partnerships, and joint ventures between Indo-French manufacturers for cost-effective and time-bound localisation in India

Tags: Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Earth quake Zones of India and Location of Nuclear Plants

2 .Centre to enforce tough rules on e-waste

Topic: Environment

Category: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Location: The hindu, page 17
Key Points:

  • The rules have been tightened
  • The onus now lies on- Manufacturers, dealers, retailers, and refurbishers of electronic goods to ensure that electronic or e-waste goods are collected and “scientifically” recycled
  • The new norms include fines, a greater involvement of states in policing and collection as well as bringing exhausted compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and other mercury-containing lamps in to the purview of electronic waste.
  • main aim is to ensure that those involved in collecting e-waste do it more safely and scientifically.
  • The actual date of the rules and quantum of fines would be announced later this year after discussions with states.
  • Nearly 1.4 million tonnes of e-waste was produced in India in 2014, and it is increasing annually at the rate of 4 to 5pc
  • This poses grave health consequences
  • This is because defunct laptops, phone and other electronic goods are usually broken down by hand for precious metals and hacked down manually or crudely burnt.
  • The residue is frequently thrown in rivers, drains and/or disposed in solid waste dumps that over time can contribute to degraded land and water quality as well neurological and skin diseases, genetic defects and cancer in the workers who deal with them.
  • The new rules say that producers will have to ensure 30 per cent e-waste collection, based on their projected sales, by 2018 and 70 per cent by 2023.
  • They can do this through a variety of ways such as a deposit refund scheme, an e-waste exchange and they also have to pay for publicity and awareness programmes.
  • Later this year, when the rules come into effect, state will have to:
    1. set up e-waste dismantling and recycling units in industrial park
    2. register the workers involved with the e-waste business and
    3. take up industrial skill development activities and ensure health and safety of workers.
  • Though states are involved, equipment manufacturers will only need to take a single-point clearance from the Central Pollution Control Board to get their collection centres approved
  • Independent experts said this was a significant move.
  • It’s a paradigm shift in the way India views e-waste though it’s extremely ambitious and we’ll have to wait and see how effectively it’s implemented.
  • Industry sources, however, feel, that some of the provisions were too stringent.
  • We don’t yet have a clear definition of when is a product considered end of life in India.
  • The targets are stiff and would also add to substantial paper work.

Tags: E-waste- definition, rules 2011, U.N Conventions on E-waste and Pollution

3 .Ancient virus DNA lies dormant in humans

Topic: Science and technology

Category: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Location: The hindu, page 22
Key Points:

  • A significant portion of what we think of as our “human” DNA actually came from viruses, and a new discovery suggests that our DNA is even less human than scientists previously thought.
  • Nineteen new pieces of non-human DNA — left by viruses that first infected our ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago — have just been found lurking between our own genes.
  • one stretch of newfound DNA, found in about 50 of the 2,500 people studied, contains an intact, full genetic recipe for an entire virus, said the scientists
  • Whether or not it can replicate, or reproduce, is not yet known. But other studies of ancient virus DNA have shown it can affect the humans who carry it. About eight per cent of what we think of as “human” DNA actually came from viruses.

Tags: DNA, Genetic Profiling

D. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Hindu:

1 .Reading the vote in the Valley

Topic: Polity

Category: Elections and political culture, general awareness

Location: The hindu, page 22

Key points:

  • Electoral practice in Jammu and Kashmir, despite its stymied recognition, has played an intrinsic role in shaping the nature and course of politics in the State
  • Whether as a means of defining identity and its role in the body politic of the region or shaping the broader conflict dynamics of the issue, elections have been an inherent means of articulating Kashmir’s evolving narratives
  • Its agency can be traced back to as early as the 1930s when as a result of the Glancy Commission report, an otherwise constricted political space was thrown open, providing the means for representative governance through the introduction of the Praja Sabha — the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly (1934).
  • As a means of arresting simmering political discontent, the Dogra regime had allowed restricted space for popular mobilisation along social and religious lines.

The evolution of Kashmiriyat

  • The subsequent political space granted by the Glancy report was immediately capitalised upon, leading to the rise of organised structures of political engagement. The emergence of the Muslim Conference under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah was one such development, espousing the cause of the majority Muslim population.
  • As the political landscape evolved, animated by the increase of elected seats to the Praja Sabha, so did the political contestations. Officials and nominated members of the Maharaja continued to form a majority, dominating the Assembly.

(PLS NOTE THAT THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ARTICLE TO UNDERSTAND THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM OF KASHMIR AND ITS EVOLUTION. THEREFORE, EVEN IF NOT DIRECTLY RELEVANT, IT IS A MUST READ FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF UNDERSTANDING THE POLITCAL CULTURE IN THE VALLEY. THE ARTICLE DEALS WITH DETAILED EVOLTUION OF POLITICS IN KASHMIR,ALL OF WHICH CANNOT BE SUMMARISED IN POINTS HERE. THEREFORE, PLS READ THE FULL ARTICLE.)

2 .Building new alliances with BRICS

Topic: International Relations

Category: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Location: The hindu, page 13

Key points:

  • The grouping creates space for India to move the contemporary international order towards alternative models of development and governance
  • India’s assumption of the presidency of BRICS (the Brazil-RussiaIndia-ChinaSouth Africa grouping) last month comes at a time when many are questioning the group’s raison d’être.
  • The economic health of the group is patchy and the contemporary political trajectories of its members are incongruent.
  • There is a need for New Delhi to take a long view on the purpose of BRICS and the space it creates for India within the contemporary international order.

Three expansive experiments

One was Pax Americana-built around the Washington Consensus, the simultaneous expansion of U.S. military might and of military alliances like NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation); the creation of institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, serving an Atlantic economic order.

The second experiment was the creation of the European Union (EU). With a collective desire to avoid the war and destruction witnessed in the first half of the 20th century, Europe’s leaders quickly realised that deeper economic integration and mutual interdependence was the best guarantor of regional stability.

The third and most recent experiment is the emergence of the Chinese global play and the efforts to put together a new world order defined by state control and underwritten by state capitalism. China is also expanding its military might as it seeks to be a Pacific and Asian power.

Through initiatives like the “One Belt, One Road”, it is vastly expanding its market access, and selectively drawing in countries that would simultaneously serve China’s strategic as well as economic interests. China is also creating new institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB), where India has significant stakes. However, the Chinese creation of new institutions is offset by its seemingly unyielding belief that the current rules-based global order is neither fair nor sacrosanct, and a new rule-framing moment is upon the world.

Importance for India:

For India, the success of the NDB and the AIIB may also ironically allow it a greater role in the institutions established in the middle of the last century. BRICS should be an integral part of India’s grand strategy, and a vehicle in India’s journey from being a norm taker to a norm shaper. The bloc offers New Delhi greater bargaining space as India seeks to gain more prominence in institutions of global governance, and shape them in the liberal international tradition with a southern ethos. For instance, India trades more with the global South than the global North. It is the only member of BRICS that is likely to foster an open and rule-based economic architecture with the global South geopolitics.

MUST READ ARTICLE: PLS READ THE FULL ARTICLE. THIS IS ONLY A SUMMARY.

3 .WHY BELGIUM?

Topic: Security

Category: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention

Location: The hindu, page 13

Key points:

  • Terrorist violence is a global problem. Cities across the world all have to be on their guard.
  • Yet while the problem may be global, the ingredients are almost always specific and local too.
  • WhyBelgium? The making of Belgium It surely matters to some degree that Belgium is a “weak” nation state embodying a precarious national idea. Julius Caesar may have fought the tribes he called the Belgae, but in historical terms Belgium is also a recently invented country, with shallower roots and more conditionally constructed institutions than many other European states.
  • In Belgium’s case, the most important of these powerful others was Britain. In the aftermath of the Brussels uprising of 1830 — probably the only political revolution in European history to begin in a riot in an opera house — Britain moved decisively to oversee the creation of Belgium as a buffer state between France and the Netherlands, country may be Belgium — but it was Made in Britain.
  • Belgium’s weak state reflects the fundamental fact that roughly three-fifths of Belgium’s modern population lives in Flanders, is Flemish speaking, and has deep cultural connections with the modern Netherlands to the north; meanwhile the other two-fifths are French-speaking Walloons, once prosperous but now increasingly economically marginalised and linked culturally with France to the south.
  • The result from day one of Belgium’s history has been a compromised federal state, loosely held together by a constitutional monarchy originally installed by the British. Almost every aspect of lived experience in Belgium — politics, work, media, universities and civil society — is divided on linguistic grounds.
  • The looseness of these ties means that Belgium may lack some of the tools and resiliences that other more unified states possess — even if they do not always use them very well — to deal with terrorism.
  • This has created three consequences that surely have some bearing on the emergence of Brussels as such an important incubator of the terrorist problems of the last few months.
    1. relative weakness and mutual suspicion between Belgian security institutions, which are notoriously reluctant to share information with another
    2. The second is Belgium’s long-standing relaxation of borders with its neighbours, reflected first in the Benelux customs agreement dating from 1944 and now in the EU’s Schengen visa-free travel area. The result of this is that Belgium has always been one of the easiest European countries to enter and leave,
    3. The third is that Belgium, as the prototypical post-national state within an EU that is itself conceived almost as a Greater Belgium, is now established as the home to most of the institutions of the EU. This makes Brussels a target for jihadi terrorists who want to ferment a conflict in Europe between the states and institutions of Europe on the one hand, and Muslims on the other.
  • None of this is to say that terrorists are incapable of mounting attacks which take much stronger states than Belgium by surprise.

Three expansive experiments

One was Pax Americana-built around the Washington Consensus, the simultaneous expansion of U.S. military might and of military alliances like NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation); the creation of institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, serving an Atlantic economic order.

The second experiment was the creation of the European Union (EU). With a collective desire to avoid the war and destruction witnessed in the first half of the 20th century, Europe’s leaders quickly realised that deeper economic integration and mutual interdependence was the best guarantor of regional stability.

The third and most recent experiment is the emergence of the Chinese global play and the efforts to put together a new world order defined by state control and underwritten by state capitalism. China is also expanding its military might as it seeks to be a Pacific and Asian power.

Through initiatives like the “One Belt, One Road”, it is vastly expanding its market access, and selectively drawing in countries that would simultaneously serve China’s strategic as well as economic interests. China is also creating new institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB), where India has significant stakes. However, the Chinese creation of new institutions is offset by its seemingly unyielding belief that the current rules-based global order is neither fair nor sacrosanct, and a new rule-framing moment is upon the world.

Importance for India:

For India, the success of the NDB and the AIIB may also ironically allow it a greater role in the institutions established in the middle of the last century. BRICS should be an integral part of India’s grand strategy, and a vehicle in India’s journey from being a norm taker to a norm shaper. The bloc offers New Delhi greater bargaining space as India seeks to gain more prominence in institutions of global governance, and shape them in the liberal international tradition with a southern ethos. For instance, India trades more with the global South than the global North. It is the only member of BRICS that is likely to foster an open and rule-based economic architecture with the global South geopolitics.

MUST READ ARTICLE: PLS READ THE FULL ARTICLE. THIS IS ONLY A SUMMARY.

4 .The message in the Brussels attack

Topic: Security

Category: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.

Location: The hindu, page 12

Key points:

  • The bomb attacks that have killed at least 31 people at the airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital demonstrate that jihadists remain a serious security threat to European societies despite a massive security crackdown since the November 2015 Paris attacks
  • The Brussels attacks also come in a broader context of global jihadists stepping up attacks on civilians around the world. The Islamic State in particular, which has claimed responsibility for the Brussels strike, has carried out a number of attacks across the world, from Paris to Ankara, in recent months. One of the reasons for these attacks in faraway locations is that the group is facing military setbacks in and around the so-called ‘caliphate’, the seat of its influence.
  • Attacking public places and killing innocent people may appear to be sheer madness. But for groups such as the IS, there is a rationale.
  • First, not being able to expand the territories of the ‘caliphate’, the IS wants to export terrorism to other countries so as to stay ‘relevant’ and find more recruits.
  • Second, and more important, the IS is fighting a war against the civilisational values of the modern world. By attacking the public, it wants to create panic in free and open societies, break their social cohesion and then reap the dividends.
  • And it is certain by now that Europe is high on the hit list of the IS because it knows that when it hits Western societies, which are generally known for democratic, secular and pluralistic values, it sets off the real panic button.
  • For the same reasons, the challenges before Europe are also greater. To be sure, it has to raise security operations to a higher standard and strengthen cooperation among other countries in fighting terrorist groups such as the IS and al-Qaeda. But Europe should do it cautiously, without compromising on its moral values and imperilling civil liberties. But refusing to give in to the jihadists’ designs is as important as security measures in this fight — one that is not going to get over any time soon.

Tags: Again a must read editorial, which analyses the changing contours of terrorism.

The NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

1 .THE MOLENBLEEK MYTH

Topic: security
Category: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention
Location: The indian express, page 14
Key points:

  • For the most part, this week’s carnage in Brussels has been read as part of a crisis of Islam in Europe: Jihadism, it is claimed, is being incubated in the decaying urban ghettos home to many of the continent’s Muslims.
  • The idea is widespread: It serves both Europe’s right, seeking to eject immigrants from the polity, and the left, focused on Muslim disenfranchisement as a cause of rage.
  • The narrative ,although initially seems true, lacks empirical validity.
  • Belgians make up, in population-adjusted terms, the highest number of foreign fighters in the Islamic State, even though just 6 per cent of its population is Muslim. Molenbeek is a leading contributor to this cohort.
  • Figures released by Belgium’s government in January make clear that the notion of the ghetto as a medium in which jihadists breed doesn’t rest on robust empirical grounds. Molenbeek contributed 47 of the 451 identified Belgian jihadists in Syria and Iraq — a number identical to Brussels municipality, and followed in close order by relatively affluent, mixed Schaerbeek, with 31.
  • Indeed, the data shows Brussels municipality produces more jihadists, in population-adjusted terms, than Molenbeek. Antwerp municipality, by no reckoning a Muslim ghetto, produ-ced 93 jihadists — almost twice as many as its notorious counterpart.
  • The second reason to question the narrative is that many European jihadists appear to have been exceptionally well-integrated.(For example- Salah Abdeslam and his brother, Brahim Abdeslam, who shot up the Bataclan theatre in Paris, were known for spending their time not at the mosque but at the notorious Les Beguines bar).
  • Indeed, the indoctrination for higher causes has allowed jihadist networks to draw in converts seeking refuge from varied cultural discontents. (For example Muriel Degauque, a Belgian convert to Islam, committed a suicide car-bomb attack against a US military convoy south of Baghdad, becoming the first Western-origin woman suicide bomber).
  • Estimates suggest about a third of French jihadists fighting with the IS and al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front are converts.
  • To cast the problem of jihadism as one emerging from the wider Muslim community has three damaging consequences:
    1. First, it compels many ordinary Muslims, fearful of consequences for the community, to defend jihadists.
    2. It also allows Islamists to cast themselves as defenders of a vulnerable, besieged community. And
    3. It compromises anti-Islamist secularists, since critiques of a politics are read as attacks on a people.
  • Europe’s jihad crisis is not a problem of its Muslim communities. It is, instead, the outcome of wider cultural dislocations that are being preyed on by jihadist networks — networks that draw their inspiration from Islam, but from a version of it on the fringes of Muslim communities.
  • Public policy responses must make these distinctions or risk deepening the social fractures on which the European jihadist movement thrives.

2 .BRAZIL IN DEEP CRISIS:

Topic: General awareness
Category: International developments
Location: The indian express, page 14
Key points:

  • Brazil is experiencing an upheaval unlike any in its 193-year history. Its systemic corruption has been laid bare, and is shaking the fabric of the country.
  • The anti-corruption movement has brought down many politicians and businesspersons, creating an atmosphere of fear. This offensive against the highest rungs of society is unprecedented in Brazil.
  • However, it would be naïve to assume that the people spearheading the crusade, including Judge Sérgio Moro, are driven purely by virtuous motives.
  • While the judiciary has led from the front, Brazilian citizens have played an important role. The protests began in mid-2013 in response to rising public transport costs, soon swelled into millions dissenting against the poor public health and education systems and high cost of living, and finally coalesced into a gigantic, multi-faceted movement.
  • The protests were apolitical when they began. Now, everyone is showing their colours — by wearing red to support the PT and its allies, or green and yellow to oppose them.
  • Most observers are asking whether President Dilma Rousseff will survive the calls for her impeachment. This is important, especially since the speaker of the Lower House, Eduardo Cunha, has installed a congressional impeachment committee. Whether Rousseff survives till her term’s end is anyone’s guess.
  • The cases are against her government’s alleged fiscal irregularities as well as campaign finance irregularities from the 2014 election — the latter also implicate Vice President Michel Temer.
  • Temer, the first in line, is tied to a corruption case relating to illegal purchases of ethanol. Cunha is being investigated for receiving $40 million in bribes and maintaining numerous secret Swiss bank accounts. The Senate president, too, has allegedly received bribes, and Neves’ family maintains secret accounts in offshore tax havens. Even the impeachment committee is murky — more than half of its 65 members face serious corruption charges.
  • Thus, the impeachment motion isn’t a question of corruption but politics. If the allegations against Cunha reach a denouement, the case for impeachment would likely stall. Even if Cunha endures until both Houses pass an impeachment motion with a two-thirds majority, it’s unclear which party or individual would lead Brazil thereafter.
  • The old cleavages between right and left, liberal and conservative, are back in Brazil. This is unfortunate because Brazil took a middle path at the turn of the century, employing a mix of pro-poor and pro-business policies that lifted 40 million Brazilians out of poverty. The economy is also at stake.

What next?

  • Most observers would keep their eyes on Lula da Silva, the former president and Rousseff’s mentor, who left office with a 90 per cent approval rating, but is currently under investigation for alleged corruption in the Lava Jato case, involving majority state-owned oil giant Petrobras.
  • Lula’s return and his recent speech has changed the dynamic of this game of chess.
  • It’s difficult to tell what will transpire, and whether yet another elected leftwing regime will be ousted by questionable means.

Yet, this may provide the opportunity Brazilians need to clean up their corrupt system, change the culture of impunity, enact political reform, and move on.

3 .When nature strikes

Topic: disaster management
Category: Location: The indian express, page 16
Key points:

  • In our rapidly urbanising world, making towns and cities safer is emerging as one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century — be it for a natural disaster, a health epidemic, or any other largescale calamity.
  • Therefore, today, as India massively ramps up infrastructure and promotes smart cities, it’s time to build resilience into the blueprint for the future, strengthen cities’ ability to respond to a disaster, as well as to recover rapidly if it does occur.
  • From the time a super-cyclone hit Odisha in 1999, and a devastating earthquake shook Gujarat in 2001, India has sought to build a safer, disaster-resilient nation. Not surprisingly, Odisha and Gujarat were among the first states to set up institutions to deal specifically with disasters. Then, in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, and following legislation in 2005, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was established in 2006.
  • At the global level too, efforts to boost urban resilience are gaining momentum. In 2014, nine institutions, including the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) — the world’s largest fund for disaster prevention and recovery — announced the Resilient Cities Initiative, a worldwide collaboration to make cities safer.

What can be done to reduce risk?

  • To increase resilience, critical infrastructure and services — schools, hospitals, water, electricity, communications systems, transportation, etc — will need to be built or retrofitted to withstand multiple hazards so that they continue to function in an emergency.
  • India’s coastal areas are making a beginning with a number of projects, including the Union government’s National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP), building the resilience of power infrastructure by placing electrical cables underground, among other measures.
  • Preventing urban flooding will be equally critical. Already, floods are the most frequent of all natural calamities and, with the likely growth in high rainfall events, storm surges, and sea-level rise, urban vulnerability will only increase. Seoul has tackled frequent flooding by combining hydraulic modelling of stormwater drains with the strategic placement of sophisticated pumping stations, allowing flood waters to be pumped out into the sea in times of heavy rain. Buenos Aires, too, has controlled this hazard after two crucial tunnels were constructed in its flood-prone central area.
  • Similarly, it will be important to upgrade waste collection as carelessly handled garbage and construction debris are a major cause of clogged water outlets.
  • While modern technology can help forecast floods and cyclones, no precise methods exist to predict earthquakes. Enforcing building codes will therefore be imperative, especially in India where almost 60 per cent of the landmass is seismically vulnerable.
  • The risk is particularly high in the Himalayan states where several strong earthquakes have resulted in sizeable loss of life and property.. Today, Istanbul has emerged as one of the most proactive cities in the world in safeguarding against seismic risks. The city has retrofitted more than 700 public buildings and trained more than 4,50,000 people in disaster preparedness. In an interesting innovation, Madagascar has made both builders and approvers liable for the safety of a building.

Other measures will also be important. :

  • Towns and cities should collect information on critical infrastructure,population density etc.
  • The NCRMP, being implemented by the NDMA, is doing just this by developing a digital platform that will help determine vulnerabilities to weather-related events along India’s coastline. This will help define land-use along the 7,500-km coast — three-fourths of which is cyclone-prone — and determine how strong we need to build to save lives.
  • Involving local communities is also critically important. In Odisha, for example, local volunteers have been trained as first responders and equipped to provide first-aid and conduct search and rescue operations, with special evacuation procedures to be followed for the disabled and elderly.
  • Another oft-repeated measure, but nonetheless critical, will be to pare down the multiplicity of urban authorities and align them with disaster-conscious ways of thinking.
  • Today, with over $2.2 billion in support, the World Bank is helping India better prepare for natural disasters and recover stronger from those that occur. Over 60 per cent of this support is deployed in India’s coastal states to build resilience against cyclones and related hazards. Support is also ongoing to several states that have been hit by disasters — after the Kosi floods in Bihar in 2008, the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand, Cyclone Phailin in Odisha in 2013, Cyclone Hudhud in Andhra in 2014, and the Jhelum and Tawi floods in 2014.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  1. BRICS
  2. E-Governace and Citizen centric administration
  3. Zika Virus
  4. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana
  5. Nuclear Fuel Cycle
  6. E-waste
  7. NDMA
  8. Earthquakes
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1:  Consider the following the statements
  1. All the five member countries of BRICS group are also members of G 20 group.
  2. In the BRICS- NEW DEVELOPMENT Bank all member countries have equal voting rights

which of the above is/are correct with regard to BRICS?

a)Both 1 and 2

b) 1 only

c) 2 only

d) Neither

Question 2:With LED type TV's becoming more popular, which hazardous component of some electronics is likely to add up to the solid waste?

a) Plastics

b) Circuit Boards

c) Copper wires

d) Cathode Ray tubes

Question 3: Zika virus, which is in news,is believed to be originated from which of the following country?

a) Brazil

b) Uganda

c) Tanzania

d) Nigeria

Question 4: Who among the following heads the National Disaster  Management Authority?

a) Home Minister

b) Prime Minister

c) Environment Minister

d) Home secretary

Question 5:Which of the following statements is/are correct with  respect to Pradhan mantri krishi sinchaayee Yojana (PMKSY)?
  1. PMKSY aims at a ‘decentralized State level planning and execution’ structure,
  2. Allocation of resources under the scheme will be done by NITI Aayog

a) 1only

b) 2only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

“Proper Current Affairs preparation is the key to success in the UPSC- Civil Services Examination. We have now launched a comprehensive ‘Online Current Affairs Crash Course’.
Limited seats available. Click here to Know More.”

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *