Comprehensive News Analysis – 26 September 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. India to ratify Paris pact on Oct 2

2. PM of India to review Indus Waters Treaty

3. Growing disparity between States

4. China sees Kashmir dispute as an obstacle to Silk Road

C. GS3 Related:

1. World’s largest radio telescope – FAST

2. At Tourism meet pacts worth Rs.15,000 cr were signed

3. Mars orbiter remains a data trove

4. New findings of Pluto

5. Stephen Hawking warns against ‘contacting aliens’

6. Indian ROV monitors the health of coral reefs

7. African jumbos suffer worst decline in 25 years: IUCN

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

The Hindu

1. Falling behind schedule

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 to ratify Paris pact on Oct 2

Category: International

Topic:  Paris pact

Key Points:

  • Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi announced that India would ratify the Paris climate pact on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Talking about the need to ratify the UNFCCC’s CoP-21 decision, PM said there is a looming threat due to global warming to many coastal countries and cities.

The pact will come into force after it is ratified by at least 55 countries that account for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. India accounts for around 4.5 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The pact asks both rich and poor countries to take action to curb global warminge. the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans i.e. INDC’s (Intended Nationally determined contributions) to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of 21st Century.

U.S. on India’s ratification of Paris pact –

  • S. welcomed India’s announcement that the country would ratify the Paris Climate Change agreement on October 2. However, U.S. denied that India’s ratification to the COP 21 protocol (Paris pact) implied movement on India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Bargaining chip – The ratification of Paris pact was also seen as a possible bargaining chip in exchange for India’s membership to the Nuclear Supplier Group. At NSG’s Seoul session in 2016, the Union ministry of external affairs had said that an early positive decision by the NSG would have allowed us to move forward on the Paris Agreement.

  • India’s announcement comes just after the government had said it could not commit to the ratification by year end due to domestic procedures, and is believed to be the result of several rounds of Indo-U.S. negotiations including between Prime Minister Modi and U.S. President Obama in Laos and earlier in June in Washington.

 

2. PM of India to review Indus Waters Treaty

Category: Indo-Pak bilateral

Topic: Indus water treaty

Key Points:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to chair a meeting on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) amidst an indication that the government was weighing extreme diplomatic actions against Pakistan in the wake of the terror attack on an Army camp in Uri, Kashmir

The meeting that the Prime Minister will chair would have representatives from the Water Resources and External Affairs Ministries.

Overview:

The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was sealed between India and Pakistan in 1960.

Brokered by the World Bank, the IWT was signed between the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his Pakistani counterpart General Ayub Khan.

  1. Growing disparity between States

Category: National issues

Topic: Governance

Key Points:

  • According to the research, conducted by Sudipto Mundle, Samik Chaudhury and Satadru Sikdar – Regional disparity has been growing over the years. The new study evaluates the governance performance of 19 major States.

states and status

  • This research concludes that development clusterscombinations of quality service delivery and high per capita income are emerging among the more developed States in the south and west of the country, leaving behind the less-developed States, especially in the eastern region. The researchers have used output/performancee. the quality of service delivery as a measure of governance quality.
  • Research – 5 indicators were used to rank the States: infrastructure, social services, fiscal performance, justice, law and order, and quality of the legislature.

19 States which account for 96 per cent of the population were covered, for which requisite data was available from 2001-02 to 2011-12.

  • Findings – Some of the less developed States moved up significantly in the modified ranking. Governments in these States are attempting to offset their negative legacy of relative backwardness, delivering a much better quality of services than would be expected at the relatively low level of development of these States.


4. China sees Kashmir dispute as an obstacle to Silk Road

Category: International affairs

Topic: Indo-china-Pak Trilateral

Key Points:

  • Growing tensions between India and Pakistan is persuading the Chinese establishment to look at the Kashmir issue as an impediment to Beijing’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at its core.

The Uri incident and Islamabad’s re-energised drive to internationalise Kashmir has fuelled considerable anxiety in Beijing. China has on two occasions since the Uri incident, called upon India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and resume their stalled dialogue.

  • The CPEC links the Pakistani port of Gwadar with Kashgar in Xinjiang. It is part of China’s high-stake OBOR connectivity initiative in Eurasia, which would allow China to gate-crash as an indispensable rule-maker of international trade and commerce. Coupled with its aspiration to develop a string of ports and coastal economic hubs along its maritime trading routes, China’s Maritime Silk Road (MSR) would also be central to Beijing’s rise as a mature global power.

 

China-Pak talks at UN:

  • China hopes to replicate its dramatic success in developing coastal hubs such as Shanghai and Shenzhen along the Indian Ocean coastline. Unsurprisingly, CPEC, which passes through a section of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), was the primary focus of talks between Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at their meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

A large part of the CPEC passes through Balochistan. India has raised Pakistan’s alleged human rights violations in the Province at the international level, a policy shift that was underscored by New Delhi’s assertions on the Baloch issue recently at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. These assertions have not gone unnoticed in China.


C. GS3 Related


  1. World’s largest radio telescope – FAST

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Telescope

Key Points:

  • Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), the world’s largest radio telescope began searching for signals from stars and galaxies and, perhaps, extraterrestrial life in a project demonstrating China’s raising ambitions in space and its pursuit of international scientific prestige.

The radio telescope measures 500-meters in diameter and is nestled in a natural basin within a stunning landscape of lush green karst formations in southern Guizhou Province.

  • Objectives of FAST – It would search for gravitational waves, detect radio emissions from stars and galaxies and listen for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life – based on the reception of radio signals (In theory, if there is civilization in outer space, the radio signal it sends will be similar to the signal we can receive when a pulsar (spinning neutron star) is approaching us). The ultimate goal of FAST is to discover the laws of the development of the universe.

 

Note – It took five years and $180 million to complete and surpasses that of the 300-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, a dish used in research on stars that led to a Nobel Prize.


2. At Tourism meet pacts worth Rs.15,000 cr were signed

Category: Economy

Topic: Tourism

Key Points:

  • At the Incredible India Investors Summit, five states – Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Chattisgarh signed 86 MoUs worth close to Rs.15,000 crore. Gujarat leads the tally followed by Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Chattisgarh.

The tourism summit – 2016 was organised by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with industry body CII and the Tourism Finance Corporation of India. It fulfilled the desired objectives and highlighted tourism investment potential in the country

  • The Union ministry of Tourism announced setting up a task force, with representations from the states and other stakeholders, to take forward certain policy measures and attract more investment. The ministry will also be setting up an investor facilitation desk to handhold investors and facilitate projects.
  • Foreign tourist arrivals to India in June 2016 grew 7.3 per cent to 5.50 lakh as compared with 5.12 lakh during June, 2015. The U.S. accounted for 22.2 per cent of arrivals followed by Bangladesh (20.69%), the U.K. (6.84%) and Malaysia (3.90%) in June.


3. Mars orbiter remains a data trove

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Space – ISRO

Key Points:

  • The Mars Orbiter that catapulted India to space history has quietly had its second birthday – in its orbit around Mars. On September 24, 2014 India became the only nation to date to put a spacecraft around the red planet in its very first attempt.

 

The debut achievement of making the spacecraft go round the planet was the most challenging manouevre of the mission. It eluded old planetary warhorses Russia, the U.S. and Europe, who started out into space 50 years back with superior rockets.

  • Originally designed to last just six months on its onboard fuel, the orbiter continues to scan the red planet elliptically from a distance of around 400 km x 70,000 km. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it still sends interesting photos and information to Indian data keepers across millions of kilometres.

It has sent colourful images of the Martian terrain, valleys and hills from different distances.

  • MOM’s major Findings –
    • Presence of aqueous activity in the planet’s ancient climate.
    • Dust layers and patterns of around 1.5 km were estimated at the hills and valleys on Mars.
    • Identification of sulphates and iron compounds on the surface of Mars
    • New details from imaging of Mars’s two natural satellites – Phobos and Deimos.
    • ISRO has also published an atlas of the images from MOM.

It survived eclipses of Sun and loss of contact with Earth for several days last year. It underwent a whiteout in May on the sunny side. It even ducked and clicked when Comet Siding Spring visited Mars early on. The rare comet’s dust was feared to damage the sensitive instruments on the spacecraft.

Note – An ISRO-MOM team won the U.S. National Space Society’s Space Pioneer Award for 2015. ISRO also won the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for promoting international cooperation in peaceful use of outer space.

 

  1. New findings of Pluto

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Space – NASA

Key Points:

  • Pluto may contain an ocean spanning over 100 km in thickness beneath its icy surface, with a salt content similar to that of the Dead Sea on Earth, a new study suggests. Ever since NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto in 2015 and 2016, evidence has been mounting that the dwarf planet may have a liquid ocean beneath its icy shell.

The story of how the basin relates to Pluto’s putative ocean starts with its position on the planet relative to Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. As Charon’s gravity pulls on Pluto, it would pull proportionally more on areas of higher mass, which would tilt the planet until Sputnik Planum became aligned with the tidal axis.

 

  1. Stephen Hawking warns against ‘contacting aliens’

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Space

Key Points:

  • British physicist Stephen Hawking has warned against announcing our presence to any alien civilisations, especially to those more technologically advanced than humans.

The film, Stephen Hawking’s Favourite Places, takes viewers to five significant locations across the cosmos, on his spacecraft – the SS Hawking. In the film, Hawking performs a hypothetical flyby of Gliese 832c, a potentially habitable exoplanet located 16 light years away.

  • It is not the first time Hawking has warned about the prospect of hostile aliens. Launching the Breakthrough Listen project, which will scan the nearest million stars for signs of life (Extra-Terrestrial life) in 2015, Hawking had suggested that any civilisation reading our messages could be billions of years ahead of humans.

 

6. Indian ROV monitors the health of coral reefs

Category: Environment

Topic: Corals

Key Points:

  • An indigenously developed remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is taking up their role with more efficiency and accuracy and it’s expected to contribute significantly to the conservation and management of corals. This provides a break to the Scuba divers who dived into ocean floors to study coral reefs. While it would take weeks together for a scuba diver to diagnose the health of corals, the ROV could map a larger area in a day.

Chennai based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) had recently deployed the ROV for studying the coral reefs of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which are facing survival threats due to global warming.

  • Findings of the research – The images of corals recorded by the ROV are useful for studying the biodiversity of coral reefs and their evolution. The underwater visuals had shown the coral debris and boulders caused by the 2004 tsunami and the rejuvenation of the colonies of branching corals, stony coral and brain corals at some locations.

The coral reef biodiversity at Andaman region, which spreads across an area of 11,000 sq km, was seriously affected during the 2004 tsunami. The increasing sea surface temperature added to the stress. Currently, there is no mechanism other than scuba diving to examine the corals and assess the extent of damage or rejuvenation.

  • Development of ROV – NIOT had earlier developed a deep water work class Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) ROSUB 6000 which was suitable for exploration in deep waters. It was successfully operated at a maximum depth at 5,289 metres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin. It also contributed to the exploration of deep ocean minerals such as gas hydrates, polymetallic nodules and hydrothermal sulphides, which occur at water depths ranging between 1,000 and 6,000 metres.

 

A new miniaturised version of ROV, which could be effectively used for exploration and inspection up to 500-metre water depths, caters to the need of the research community and industry. It was also deployed for scientific research in Antarctica as a part of the 34th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica during Jan-Apr 2015. It was deployed in the Lake Priyadarshini near the Indian permanent station Maitri and in the New Indian barrier ice shelf regions.

 

7. African jumbos suffer worst decline in 25 years: IUCN

Category: Environment

Topic: Conservation of Bio-diversity

Key Points:

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said Africa’s elephant population has suffered its worst drop in 25 years, blaming the plummeting numbers on poaching for Ivory. IUCN further said Habitat loss is also increasingly threatening the species.

The IUCN report was released at the world’s biggest conference on the international wildlife trade, Johannesburg. Thousands of conservationists and government officials are seeking to thrash out international trade regulations aimed at protecting different species.

  • Note – A booming illegal wildlife trade has put huge pressure on an existing treaty signed by over 180 countries – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).


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


The Hindu


  1. Falling behind schedule

Current educational attainments remain far from adequate for the enhancement of personal well-being and social progress, according to a report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Immigrant populations are especially disadvantaged, an area that deserves particular attention given the recent scramble for shelter and succour among millions of refugees. The findings in the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2016 report make for sober reading all round, viewed against data on the many rewards individuals and societies are able to reap when endowed with higher qualifications. For instance, people with a master’s degree stand a close to 90 per cent wage advantage in the 35 countries of the OECD. Correspondingly, their governments receive over a lifetime about €100,000 in taxes and social contributions more than they invest on a graduate. There has been a 4 percentage point increase in the rate of enrolment in tertiary education in the decade ended 2014. These are encouraging facts; the logical case therefore should be for greater public investment in this sector. But across the spectrum the trend is clearly in the opposite direction. While the report shows an 8 per cent rise in real-term spending per child in the five years up to 2013, it also notes a 14 per cent increase in private expenditure in the region in the same period. Private spending by students and households is estimated at some 30 per cent in the tertiary education sector alone. This has to be viewed against the backdrop of the relentless regime of economic austerity in the years following the financial crisis, with serious implications for equity and the knowledge economies of the future.

A broader issue mentioned in the report, which covers besides OECD members, partner-countries including India, is the likelihood that states may not be able to realise the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal pertaining to the provision of quality education. This concern is echoed in the Unesco 2016 report. The need to achieve the targets relating to SDG 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, cannot be overstated, given that it is the pivot on which the realisation of several other fundamentally important developmental objectives remains. Indeed, almost the entire success of the 2030 agenda rests squarely on the education target. The objectives of reduction of poverty, alleviation of hunger, expansion of employment, empowerment of women and gender equality are all influenced by the qualifications and skills that men and women possess. And of course at another level, without an educated and empowered populace, the dream of an enlightened, more tolerant and peaceful world would forever remain elusive.

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • UNFCCC – Paris pact
  • Indus water treaty
  • One belt – One road initiative
  • China Pak Economic corridor and Maritime silk road route
  • IUCN
  • CITES
  • Coral reefs and bleaching of corals
  • NASA’s new horizons spacecraft
  • ISRO’s MOM



H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: At the international level, there are 4 multilateral export control regimes. India is a full-time member of - 
a) Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

b) Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

c) Australia group

d) Wassenar Arrangement


Question 2: Recently, China started a project called FAST. It is 
a) World’s largest radio telescope

b) World’s largest amphibious aircraft

c) World’s fastest Light Combat aircraft

d) None of these


Question 3: Which of the following statements are correct regarding International Union for the Convention of Nature (IUCN)
    i) It is an observer and a consultative partner at UN
    ii) It is the first governmental and non-governmental organisation
    iii) Birdlife International is the official Red List authority of birds for IUCN

a) i) and ii) only

b) ii) and iii) only

c) i) and iii) only

d) All 3 are correct


Question 4: Which of the following have coral reefs?
  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Gulf of Kachchh
  3. Gulf of Mannar
  4. Sunderbans

a) 1, 2 and 3 only

b) 2 and 4 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) 1, 2, 3 and 4


Question 5: The Breakthrough Listen project appears in news. It is
a) The Biggest search for Extra-terrestrial life in space

b) A program to promote conservation of energy

c) A Gravitational wave observatory

d) None of these


Check Your Answers

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