Comprehensive News Analysis – 24 May 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. India to develop Iran’s Chahbahar port

2. Centre owes over Rs. 81,000 cr. to States

3. Ready to accelerate border talks: China

4. Pakistan-born singer Salma Agha seeks OCI card:

C. GS3 Related:

1. First of India’s 70 new supercomputers to be ready by August 2017:

2. ‘Improved tech can cut emissions’

3. Cybercrime, terrorism, corporate espionage threats high for India Inc, says study

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

The Hindu

1. Death of a terrorist

The Indian Express

Others:

1. PIB Update

a) Lucknow tops Fast Track competition; 13 more Smart Cities announced

b) Discovered Small Field Bidding Round to be launched on 25th May

2. The Financial Express: PM’s mission on water use as spelt out in Mann Ki Baat means retooling of farm & dam policy

3. The Financial Express: Jobless growth? Not quite. Reconcile data for accurate picture

4. Business Standard: The shuttle success

5. Business Standard: Mr Modi’s defence report card

6. The Economic Times :NSG club: New Delhi must contest China’s efforts to ensure Indo-Pak parity

Quick Bits

1. Three policemen killed in Srinagar twin attacks

2. Manipur ambush: Combing drive on

3. Govt. relaxes licence fees for India-controlled ships

4. Jobless growth? EPFO jobs 7 times what Economic Survey shows

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

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today folks!

B. GS2 Related

1. India to develop Iran’s Chahbahar port

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indo-Iran Relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • The first agreement, a bilateral, signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s May 22-23 visit, will provide India the right to develop andoperate two terminals and five berths with multipurpose cargo handling capacities in the port of Chahbahar for 10 years
  • Prime Minister Modi and Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani were joined by Dr. Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, who sealed the agreement for Trilateral Transport and Transit Corridor connecting Chahbahar with Afghan road and rail network
  • The two countries also sealed 11 other agreements, covering culture, finance and conservation, during Mr. Modi’s official meetings with the Iranian President

 

2. Centre owes over Rs. 81,000 cr. to States

Topic: Polity

Category: Federal Relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • Under Article 279 (1) of the Constitution, the CAG has to ascertain and certify the details of net proceeds of the Centre and its distribution to States
  • The 80th amendment to the Constitution in 1996 made dramatic changes to the way taxes were shared by the Centre with the States
  • Prior to the amendment, taxes on income other than agricultural income and a part of union excise duties were only required to be shared with the States. However, the 80 amendment made it mandatory to share proceeds from other taxes and duties, such as corporate tax, customs, service tax and some aspects of union excise duties

Tax-owe_JPG_2865876f

 

3. Ready to accelerate border talks: China

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indo-China Relations

Location: The Hindu

Keypoints:

  • China said it is taking positive steps to manage the border dispute and that it is ready to “accelerate” talks to resolve the issue “at an early date” on the eve of President Mukherjee’s visit to China
  • The two countries had established a series of working mechanisms, including talks at the level of Special Representatives to resolve the issue, besides reaching political guidelines and a three-step road map.
  • The two sides held 19th Special Representative talks here last month

 

4. Pakistan-born singer Salma Agha seeks OCI card:

Topic: Polity

Category: Citizenship

Keypoints:

1). Pakistan-born Bollywood singer and actress Salma Agha has applied for Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card and her request is being examined by Home Ministry

2). Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card:

A foreign national who is a child, grandchild or a great grandchild of Indian citizen is eligible for registration as OCI card holder

No person, who or either of whose parents, grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan and Bangladesh shall be eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India card holder

It entitles the cardholder for a multiple entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India and exemption from reporting to police authorities for any length of stay in the country

The OCI card gives parity to an individual with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties

 

C. GS3 Related

1. First of India’s 70 new supercomputers to be ready by August 2017:

Topic: S& T

Category: Computing

Keypoints:

1). The first of the 70 supercomputers to be built in India to aid research will be ready by August 2017

2). The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had approved the launch of the National Supercomputing Mission last year at an estimated cost of Rs.4,500 crore over a period of seven years

 

2. ‘Improved tech can cut emissions’

Topic: Environment

Category:Pollution Control

Keywords:

  • Honeywell International, Inc., an American multinational conglomerate company that provides engineering services and aerospace systems  has set up a facility in Gurugramwhich will replicate a full-scale refinery’s functioning.The facility is used to mimic a full-scale refinery’s functioning on a smaller scale, thus allowing tests and new methods to be developed at a lower cost
  • Technology is the key to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and oil imports, to be more energy efficient and to introduce BS-VI fuel
  • The plant could prove particularly useful at a time when the country is looking to transition to less polluting fuel.The governmenthas decided to leapfrog the Bharat Stage (BS)-V Emission Standards and implement the BS-VI norms by April 2020, four years ahead of the earlier schedule, making diesel vehicles costlier by Rs.70,000 to Rs.1,50,00

 

3. Cybercrime, terrorism, corporate espionage threats high for India Inc, says study

Topic: Security

Category: cybercrime

Keypoints:

  • The report by PwC highlights the fact that while awareness about security issues is on the rise, there is a need to overhaul security standards and regulatory framework and that there is also a lack of confidence to face natural disasters like earthquakes and floods
  • According to data from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), while more than 58.6 per cent of the country’s land mass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity, over 40 million hectares (12 per cent) of its land is prone to floods and river erosion
  • Further, close to 5,700 km out of its 7,516-km long coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis. Moreover, India is also vulnerable to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies and other man-made disasters.
  • Incidentally, the report also highlights the fact that India ranks 143rd on the global peace index, lagging way behind the likes of Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh

 

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

 

The Hindu

1. Death of a terrorist

Topic: India’s Neighbourhood

Category: Afghanistan

Key Points:

  • The death of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, has thrown the insurgency into its second leadership crisis within a year
  • Mansour, who took over command of the Taliban after its founder Mullah Omar’s death was announced in July 2015, had a chaotic year
  • His attempts to capture more territory from Afghan troops were thwarted, and his plans to unify the group under his leadership never succeeded
  • Whether this development weakens the insurgency will depend on three main factors. First, today’s Taliban are not a cohesive force. Mansour never enjoyed the authority that his predecessor had
  • Second, Pakistan will continue to play a major role in Afghanistan. Mansour was killed not in Pakistan’s restive north-west, where the Taliban operate from, but in Balochistan. This raises questions about how Mansour managed to travel so freely in Pakistan. The U.S. airstrike, the first in Balochistan, also indicates its willingness to widen the drone war in Pakistan, putting more pressure on the government
  • The third factor is the state-of-play of the peace process. When Omar’s death was made public, the Taliban had already begun talks with the government, though a section within the organisation, mostly field commanders, continued to oppose negotiations
  • Kabul has to keep in mind these three factors when it makes the next move. It’s in an advantageous position now — the Taliban are leaderless and divided, and Pakistan stands exposed
  • Whoever the group’s next leader is, Kabul should press ahead with the plan for talks, either directly or through Pakistan, without being complacent on security. The U.S. must continue to put pressure on Islamabad to use its influence on the militant group

 

The Indian Express

Others:

1. PIB

a) Lucknow tops Fast Track competition; 13 more Smart Cities announced 

Warangal, Bhagalpur, Raipur, New Town Kolkata, Port Blair, Imphal, Ranchi among the winners

Tie between Meerut and Rai Bareilly in UP and Jammu and Srinagar to be resolved

5 year action plans for cities, competition among urban bodies, citizen participation, outcome based planning mark the revival, asserts Minister

Water taps to all urban households, adequate water supply in urban areas by 2019

Housing sanctions based on land availability, options to beneficiaries to ensure Housing for All

Total investment potential under new schmes-Rs.18 lakh cr; approved so far-Rs.1,48,093cr

 

b) Discovered Small Field Bidding Round to be launched on 25th May 

  • Under the Discovered Small Field Policy, Government of India is offering 67 discovered small fields in 46 Contract areas spread over 9 sedimentary basins in onland, shallow water and deep water areas for bidding which have known hydrocarbon discoveries
  • These fields have been discovered by India’s National oil companies and are now being offered under exclusive policy which is designed to be investor friendly and is based on easy to administer Revenue Sharing contract model, in tune with the Government’s policy of ‘Ease of doing business’ in India This is a path-breaking initiative in the series of progressive policies being undertaken by Government of India in the Oil and Gas sector. More than 85MMT of in-place volume of reserves are there in these Contract areas
  • There will be a revised business model under Revenue Sharing Contract. It will involve International Competitive Bidding with no mandatory domestic participation. There is no mandatory prior technical experience required for the bidder nor is there any mandatory work program. There will be no cess, and minimal royalty is in line with earlier New Exploration Licensing Policy
  • Goods and services imported for petroleum operations will be exempted from custom duty. The investors will not only get an opportunity to enter in Indian upstream market but will also experience freedom for pricing and marketing of Crude and Gas. The Contract extension clause is generous and there will be no restriction on exploration during the contract period. Road shows are being planned in India and abroad to attract investors for the Bidding Round

 

2) The Financial Express:  PM’s mission on water use as spelt out in Mann Ki Baat means retooling of farm & dam policy

Topic: Economy

Category: Agriculture

Key Points

  • States like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat are planning to add 2-3 lakh hectares (ha) annually to their acreage under micro-irrigation
  • Apart from the fact that the numbers are tiny compared to either India’s gross cropped area of 195 million ha or gross irrigated area of 92 million ha, India will need to completely retool both its farm policy as well as its approach to dams if it is to save every drop of water
  • Poor agriculture policies in Maharashtra allowed 60% of its irrigated water to be used by sugarcane crop that accounts for just 3% of the total cropped area. But it’s not just Maharashtra where, for instance, sugar uses up more than double the water it does in Uttar Pradesh; rice in Punjab uses 5,389 litres of water per kg of crop as compared to 2,713 litres in West Bengal, and there are many more such examples
  • But as long as the government assures farmers that crops will be procured by FCI as in the case of wheat and rice in states like Punjab, or that mills will have to buy all the cane grown by farmers as happens in Maharashtra and other states, there is no incentive to shift cultivation to states that use less water
  • Using drip irrigation will certainly reduce the amount of water used, but until water is priced correctly—and procurement takes place in eastern states as well—the progress of drip irrigation depends on how fast the government can push it
  • It is also important to keep in mind, as a Kotak Institutional Equities report points out, India gets around 2,600 billion cubic metres (bcm) of rain and snow-melt in even a bad year while it needs around 1,100 bcm to meet all requirements
  • The problem lies in the fact that India’s capacity to store water is a mere 253 bcm. The only way to rectify this is to increase the number of dams India builds—while the number of dams built peaked in 1971-1980 (1,294 dams), this fell to 1,255 in 1981-90, 625 in 1991-2000 and a mere 330 since 2001
  • Building check dams is one way to ensure the monsoon waters don’t drain off, but it will be important to address the issues that have resulted in such a dramatic slowing in the number of big dams being built

 

3. The Financial Express: Jobless growth? Not quite. Reconcile data for accurate picture

Topic: Governance

Category: Jobs

Key Points:

  • the jobless growth that India has been witnessing for years is largely due to the capital intensive nature of production—analysis by Crisil of NSS data showed that while 52 million non-agriculture jobs got created between FY05 and FY12, less than 38 million will be created between FY12 and FY19
  • Much of this has to do with the capital-intensity of production—both in manufacturing and services—rising steadily. So, according to Crisil, even in the case of services, while 5.9 workers were required to create Rs 10 lakh of real output in hotels and restaurants in FY12, the number was a mere 1.4 for financial services
  • A similar analysis of jobless growth gets thrown up from the data put out in the Economic Survey. While employment in the government, both at the central and the state levels has fallen by around 5 lakh between FY06 and FY12, total private sector employment has risen by just 3 million during this period—since that number reflects just the organised sector, the Crisil number seems correct
  • In which case, the solution to creating more non-agriculture jobs is to have more flexible labour laws and to ensure more construction jobs since these are the easiest to add—that’s what the government’s stepping up of the roads-construction programme will do
  • The problem with the analysis, is that India does not have any firm data on jobs created in even the formal sector, leave aside jobs in the informal sector. So while the latest Economic Survey talks of private sector organised employment rising from 92.7 lakh in FY07 to 119.7 lakh in FY12—it does not have data beyond that—data from the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) depicts a very rosy picture. According to the EPFO data, the number of employees in organisations registered with it—anyone with over 20 employees has to register with EPFO and pay PF dues every month—rose from 44.4 million in FY07 to 85.5 million in FY12 and further to 158.5 million in FY15
  • While the EPFO is known to have problems with its data in the sense that people have more than one account, it is unlikely that the number will come down to the ones mentioned in the Economic Survey. For one, there has been considerable cleaning up of the EPFO’s accounts over the last few years and, two, the growth in the funds collected suggests there has been a healthy growth in the number of employees covered as well
  • While private sector employment as per the Economic Survey was just 12 million in FY12, it was nearly 86 million as per the EPFO—for the two to reflect the same reality, it would mean every person in the EPFO has to have seven accounts. For any meaningful analysis of India’s employment problem, the least we require is accurate data—the government needs to reconcile the two sets of data at the earliest

 

4. Business Standard: The shuttle success

Topic: S&T

Category: Space

Key Points

  • On Monday, the Indian Space Research Organisation, performed a test of a working-scale model of a reusable launch vehicle (RLV), or space shuttle. The model is 6.5 metres long and weighs about 1,750 kg – approximately one-sixth the size and weight of the planned vehicle. The model’s design is that of a delta-winged aircraft, like the American space shuttles; it took five years to fabricate and cost Rs 95 crore
  • The model was boosted 65 km above sea level by rocket and released, flying at Mach 5 (about 5,000 kmph)
  • Upon re-entry to the atmosphere after a total flight time of 770 seconds, it withstood temperatures of 7,000 Celsius or more caused by air friction and “landed” at a designated spot in the Bay of Bengal about 450 km from the launch-pad at Sriharikota. The test vehicle will not be recovered
  • But data it sent back will indicate if propulsion, navigational and guidance systems worked as designed, and if the heat shield held up. At least two more test flights must be made with scale models. The working RLV will be about 40 metres long and it will need a five km-long landing runway. It might be 2030 before it is fully operational
  • An RLV could drastically reduce cost of putting payloads into space. As of now, it costs about $20,000 per kg for ISRO; an RLV could cut that to $2,000 a kg
  • The US, Japan, France and the erstwhile Soviet Union had all spent huge amounts on developing shuttles. ISRO hopes to cut development costs, given 30 years of technological advances. While the other nations only made demonstration flights, America’s NASA used its shuttles for 135 flights (between 1982-2011). It spent around $450 million per flight
  • One key difference is that the RLV is unmanned and so cheaper and safer. NASA suffered two terrible disasters with all seven crew members killed on both occasions. Two private corporations are also developing shuttles. SpaceX, promoted by Elon Musk, has used its Dragon to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX has also demonstrated its Falcon-9. Blue Origin, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, has demonstrated the New Shepard spacecraft. Both SpaceX and Blue Origin intend to carry passengers and crew though these vehicles are currently unmanned.
  • Apart from the RLV project, ISROis managing the still-functional Mars Orbiter and preparing for the second moon mission, Chandrayaan II. It is in the latter stages of making the Navic system fully operational, and it continues research and development on cryogenic engines for launching heavier satellites
  • The agency also aspires to a manned space mission and it would like to build a manned space station. But it will need permission and funding for these. The payoffs from space programmes are hard to fully quantify since space research involves many technologies, and inevitably results in spin-off benefits
  • NASA for example, has released thousands of patents into the public domain. Devices like pressure pens, vacuum cleaners, smart thermometers, artificial hearts, LED lighting, solar power panels and smart sensors originated in space research. Direct benefits include satellite-based weather and navigational data and communication systems. Beyond this, there are the potential military applications and there is the “inspirational component” of attracting children to science and technology
  • ISRO has more than paid for itself so far. Rather than forcing the agency to work on a shoestring budget, it should be given the resources it needs to speed up its programmes.

 

5. Business Standard:Mr Modi’s defence report card

Topic: Governance

Category: Defence

Key Points:

  • Defence allocations has declined to 1.73 per cent(from 1.8%) in the government’s first two Budgets; and just 1.65 per cent of GDP this year.
  • The govt. changed the basis of calculation this year, adding into the defence allocations the expenditure on the “pensions” and “defence ministry” heads, which had never previously been counted as a part of the defence budget; pensions and ministry staff expenditures legitimately belong to the defence budget. But doing that diverted attention from this year’s reduced allocations and made the defence budget look fatter
  • By the previous methodology, this year’s allocations would have been Rs 2,49,099 crore ($37.18 billion). Using the new calculation, defence allocations rose to Rs 3,40,922 crore ($51 billion). Even so, at 2.26 per cent of GDP, this remains well short of the recommended allocation of three per cent of GDP that defence planners say is needed over a sustained period to modernise India’s huge inventories of old weaponry. Furthermore, even more so than preceding governments, the government is failing to spend its allocations. On March 31, billions of unspent dollars were returned to the treasury.
  • In fact, government’s money problem is less one of insufficient allocations than of poor expenditure priorities. Using the new basis of calculation, three-quarters of this year’s defence budget is for “revenue expenditure” – running expenses like salaries, pensions, housing, equipment maintenance, fuel, training, etc. A mere quarter is for “capital expenditure”, or modernising the army with new weaponry and kits
  • Despite India’s cheap manpower, 55 per cent of the budget goes towards the payroll. This ratio is being skewed further with the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme bloating the pension bill, and the Seventh Pay Commission recommending 15 per cent salary increases
  • Without higher defence allocations, there will be even less for capital expenditure. The growing numbers would adversely affect modernisation. Yet, there is no decisive move to trim the flab.
  • Meanwhile, equipment acquisition proceeds randomly. Contracts for new weaponry are pursued not on the basis of how urgently the item is needed, but in the leisurely order in which proposals clear the endless obstacle course of ministry procedure
  • The military’s most critical needs – artillery and air defence guns for the army; torpedoes, sonars and air defence missiles for the navy; and mid-air refuelling aircraft and strike aircraft for the air force, to name a few are lacking. There exists a fast-track procedure for urgent purchases. Even so, glaring operational voids remain, providing reassurance to our foes.
  • Similarly, the military’s operational capability remains hamstrung by the weakness of tri-service operational command and planning. Jointness at the top is a need that is long overdue. We also need reforms in senior defence management
  • A new defence procurement procedure (DPP-2016) has been only partly released. The ministry continues to grapple with an ill-conceived initiative to replace the public sector monopoly with a private sector one, dominated by a few “strategic partners”
  • A pragmatic “blacklisting policy” remains blocked. Despite laudable backing of indigenous development programmes, and the policy prioritisation of ‘Made in India’ (designing and developing platforms in the country) over ‘Make in India’ (manufacturing in India to foreign blueprints), few such projects have been initiated so far. The drive to reform defence policy and revitalise operational readiness is far from yielding results

 

6. The Economic Times : NSG club: New Delhi must contest China’s efforts to ensure Indo-Pak parity

Topic: Governance, International Relations

Category: Nuclear sector

Key Points:

  • Beijing has opposed India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, in the run-up to President Pranab Mukherjee’s forthcoming visit to China. The objection is that India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, Beijing’s opposition has more to do with cultivating Pakistan, whom it wants to equate with India.
  • New Delhi and its allies within the 48-member NSG can address this objection in two ways
  • One, stress that India’s objection to the NPT is that it is an unequal treaty, not non-proliferation. India’s track record on this score is impeccable. And, as part of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, India has taken several measures that allay concerns about proliferation. New Delhi must show its willingness to consider taking some additional measures, in line with other nuclear-armed states, relating to information sharing, and tracking of uranium through the fuel cycle to improve confidence in its commitment to nonproliferation
  • Two, New Delhi must aggressively contest China’s efforts to ensure parity between India and Pakistan. This effort is flawed and dangerous and ignores the real threats, amplified by the Pak establishments close to jihadi elements, relating to insider theft, onward proliferation, accident, sabotage or unauthorised use. There is, too, concern about proliferation of tactical nuclear weapons, under the control of relatively junior army officers. There are no such concerns with democratic India
  • India needs to remind the world that its membership of NSG will not unleash a nuclear proliferation race. It must stress that any attempt, no matter how tangential, to equate India and Pakistan will not aid the cause of nuclear safety and security. Instead, it could have the opposite and more dangerous effect

 

Quick Bits

 

b) Manipur ambush: Combing drive onA day after six Assam Rifles personnel were killed in an ambush by suspected militants in Chandel district of Manipur, officials said no group had so far claimed responsibility for the attack.Security forces are carrying out combing operations to nab the insurgents involved in Sunday’s attack

 

c) Govt. relaxes licence fees for India-controlled ships

The government said domestic shipping firms will have to pay only a one-time licence fee of Rs.20,000 to own foreign flag vessels, in a bid to give a boost to the maritime sector

 

d) Jobless growth? EPFO jobs 7 times what Economic Survey shows

Based on the Economic Survey, employment in the organised non-government sector rose by a low 5.2% per annum between FY06 and FY12

Also, while the Labour Bureau shows jobs contracting 13.4% per annum between FY10 and FY15, annual contributions to the EPFO grew 20.6% per annum between FY07 and FY12 and 17.3% per annum between FY12 and FY15

graph-1-2

 

e) Bt cotton: Faced with criticism from cos like Monsanto,agri ministry withdraws GM traits order

The agriculture ministry has decided to withdraw the notification issued last week capping the trait value charged by them on new genetically modified (GM) traits, besides declaring null and void all existing licence agreements between the trait providers and seed producers.

 

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. The Global Peace Index (GPI) is the product of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)
  2. One of the main findings of the index is: Peace is correlated to indicators such as income, schooling and the level of regional integration

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 2: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. The CAG of India is a constitutional authority
  2. The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings (COPUs)

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. An Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)enjoys voting rights
  2. An OCI can hold an Indian passport
  3. No person of Pakistani descent can become an OCI

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 3 only

d) All the above

 

Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
    1. Performance of a supercomputers is measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS)
    2. China’sTianhe-1 supercomputer is the fastest supercomputer in the world

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 5: Which of the following statements is/are true?
  1. Bharat stage emission standards were introducedto regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles
  2. BS VI is complaint with Euro 6 standards and is to be implemented throughout the country

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

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