Comprehensive News Analysis – 27 September 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Isolate Pakistan, India tells the world at U.N.

2. India suspends talks on Indus water pact

C. GS3 Related:

1. PSLV C-35 puts 8 satellites in 2 orbits

2. An estimate on Pulses production

3. Cabinet’s formal nod to be sought for Budget on Feb. 1

4. CAG picks holes in security preparedness

5. BBB recommends 9 for ED posts in PSU banks

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

The Hindu

1. Joining the climate high table

2. Positive signals from the GST Council

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. Isolate Pakistan, India tells the world at U.N.

Category: International summits

Topic:  71st UN General Assembly meeting

Key Points: 

  • India took its campaign to diplomatically isolate Pakistan at the United Nations, with External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj asking the world community to hold countries that nurture, peddle and export terrorism to account. She said, “A unified global strategy can defeat terrorism, and if any nation refuses to join this global strategy, then we must isolate it”.

Countering Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who accused India of human rights violations while speaking at the UN, Ms. Swaraj said “The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of State oppression,” referring to the ethnic minority in Pakistan.

  • She elaborated on how India’s positions converged with the global concerns on three issues – terrorism, climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Her narrative also explains at least partly India’s decision to ratify the Paris climate pact, in an abrupt turnaround from its recent position that the national process for ratification was still in progress. The External affairs ministry has earlier linked India’s ability to ratify the Paris accord to the Nuclear Suppliers Group admitting India as a member, a position India appears to have abandoned.

 

2. India suspends talks on Indus water pact

Category: Indo-Pak bilateral

Topic: Indus water treaty

Key Points:

  • Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi held a meeting with senior officials of the Water Resources and External Affairs Ministries and the PMO to discuss the government’s options on the India-Pakistan Indus Waters Treaty in the wake of the Uri attack.

 

The meeting decided to suspend further water talks and increase the utilisation of rivers flowing through Jammu and Kashmir to maximise India’s share. However, no decision was made on either reviewing or abrogating the 1960 treaty.

  • India decided to suspend talks on the Permanent Indus Commission, the dispute redressal mechanism that has met 112 times, until terror comes to an end. According to the Indus Waters Treaty, the Commission must meet once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan. The last meeting was held in July 2016.

 

River Sutra –

  • The centre decided to set up can inter-ministerial committee to study India’s further options on the Indus Waters Treaty during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-level meeting to review the treaty following the attack on Uri.

 

The committee’s tasks would be to look at storage possibilities that would help irrigate fields in Jammu and Kashmir, where the State Assembly has often complained about the treaty being unfair.

  • Hydel projects – The Government also decided to build more run-of-the-river hydropower projects on western rivers, to exploit the full potential of 18,600 MW (current projects come to 11,406 MW) and to expedite construction of the Pakal Dul, Sawalkot, Bursar dams in J&K

 

A decision was taken to review restarting the Tulbul navigation project that India had suspended after Pakistan’s objections in 1987.

 

Overview:

Indus Water Treaty – It was signed in 1960 by the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s President Ayub Khan.

  • Brokered by the World Bank, the treaty administers how river Indus and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilized.
  • According to the treaty, Beas, Ravi and Sutlej are to be governed by India, while, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum are to be taken care by However, since Indus flows from India, the country is allowed to use 20 per cent of its water for irrigation, power generation and transport purposes.
  • A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the treaty; it solves disputes arising over water sharing. The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.

Note – Though Indus originates from Tibet, China has been kept out of the Treaty. If China decides to stop or change the flow of the river, it will affect both India and Pakistan. Climate change is causing melting of ice in Tibetan plateau, which scientists believe will affect the river in future.

It may be noted that both India and Pakistan are still at loggerheads over various issues since Partition, but there has been no fight over water after the Treaty was ratified.

At a time when States within India are unable to find an amicable solution to sharing water from rivers that flow between them, India and Pakistan are living examples of how water resources can be shared through legal frame work.

C. GS3 Related
  1. PSLV C-35 puts 8 satellites in 2 orbits

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Space – ISRO

Key Points: 

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a total of eight satellites in two different orbits in an attempt to push forward the scope of its workhorse rocket PSLV. This is the longest PSLV mission.

 

Earlier, ISRO was using separate rockets to launch satellites in different orbits. This is the first time ISRO launched satellites in two different orbits in a single mission.

 

The 8 satellites are:

  • Weather satellite SCATSAT-1, it provides weather forecasting services, cyclone detection and tracking.
  • Two satellites PRATAM and PISAT from Indian academic institutions.

PISAT is a remote sensing Nanosatellite developed by students of PES University, Bangalore. The main mission of the satellite was to develop the capability of designing satellites on campus with collaboration from students and professors.

PRATAM is a micro-satellite developed by IIT-Bombay students. It will measure the electron count in the ionosphere. This can be used to detect tsunamis, reduce communication errors, and improve the accuracy of the Indian alternative to the GPS system.

  • 3 from Algeria (ALSAT1N, 1B and 2B) –

 

ALSAT-1N: nanosatellite for distance education students.

ALSAT-1B: It is an earth observation satellite to monitor agricultural activities, the state of the environment and natural disasters.

AlSat-2B: Its images will be used for multiple purposes including cartography, agriculture, forestry, water management, land planning and management of natural disasters. The satellite will be used to monitor natural resources, including mineral and oil.

  • 1 each from Canada (NLS-19) and the United States (Pathfinder-1)

 

The BlackSky Pathfinder-1 is a commercial earth observation micro-satellite from the United States.

The NLS-9/Can X-7 is an experimental technology demonstration satellite. The unique feature about the satellite is a drag sail, which will allow the satellite to de-orbit. If successfully used, the drag sail would demonstrate a low cost, modular method to de-orbit microsatellites and nanosatellites to reduce the amount of junk in Earth orbit.

  1. An estimate on Pulses production

Category: Economy

Topic: Agriculture

Key Points:

  • Union Agriculture Minister said India’s pulses production is likely to be 21 million tonnes in 2016-17, thanks to good rain and more acreage. The area under major kharif crops, including rice, pulses and maize, increased to 1,060 lakh hectares in 2016-17 from 1,023 lakh ha in 2015-16. Given the increase in area and good monsoon rain, pulses production is likely to be 21 million tonnes, against 17 million tonnes last year.
  • In the last two years, a drought-like situation prevailed in the country, yet grain production stood at over 250 million tonnes during 2015-16. Even milk production hit a record high of 160 million tonnes.

Grain production is expected to be more than 270 million tonnes this year. Fruit and vegetable production increased over the years, crossing the 280-million tonne mark in 2015-16.

  1. Cabinet’s formal nod to be sought for Budget on Feb. 1

Category: Economy

Topic: Financial administration – Budgeting

Key Points: 

  • The Union finance ministry has settled on February 1 as the new date for the presentation of the Union Budget, with the decision expected to be placed before the Cabinet for formal approval soon. The Cabinet had recently approved the merger of the railway budget with the general budget and had given an in-principle nod for presenting the Budget earlier than February 28. The Cabinet had also approved the removal of the Plan and Non-Plan distinction in government accounts that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed in his Budget speech this year.

Need – By changing the Budget date to 1st Feb, the Union ministries and state governments can begin disbursing funds from the beginning of the financial year. At the moment, with the Budget being presented at the end of February, several processes, including the vote on account, result in states being able to disburse funds only by late May.

Note – The decision to change the Budget date is a Cabinet decision and does not require parliamentary approval. The Cabinet advises the President and the President summons Parliament. The Parliament has no say on when it meets, the government decides that. This is very clear in the Constitution.

 

  1. CAG picks holes in security preparedness

Category: CAGI

Topic:  Audit

Key Points:

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Report tabled in Odisha Assembly picked glaring loopholes in coastal security preparedness in Odisha despite coastal security being a major priority for the government ever since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks when terrorists had used the sea route to access Indian Territory.

The report said marine police are responsible for patrolling in sea up to five nautical miles. As per norm (specified in 2010), each boat should be tasked with patrolling for a minimum 150 hours in a month and 1,800 hours per annum.

 

  1. BBB recommends 9 for ED posts in PSU banks

Category: Economy

Topic: Public-sector banks

Key Points:

  • The Bank Board Bureau (BBB) has recommended to the government the names of nine general managers for appointment as executive directors in different public sector banks. These recommendations were based on the interaction that the BBB had with eligible candidates for appointments against existing and future vacancies of Executive Directors in the PSBs for the period 2016-17.

BBB started functioning from the beginning of the 2016-17.

  • Bank Board Bureau (BBB) – Centre started an autonomous Banks Board Bureau to improve the Governance of Public Sector Banks (PSBs). It will recommend for selection of heads – Public Sector Banks and Financial Institutions and help Banks in developing strategies and capital raising plans. It is a part of mission Indradhanush to revamp functioning of public sector banks.

Vinod Rai, former CAGI is the first chairman of the Banks Board Bureau.

  • Union Finance minister in 2015 launched a seven pronged plan Indradhanush to revamp functioning of public sector banks. The seven elements include appointments, board of bureau, capitalisation, de-stressing, empowerment, framework of accountability and governance reforms.  
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
  1. Joining the climate high table

The Centre’s decision to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change on October 2 is a welcome affirmation of India’s commitment to join the global community in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As an emerging nation with a large number of people living without access to electricity, India’s predicament of having to generate more energy for poverty eradication while simultaneously curbing GHGs is universally acknowledged. But there is no denying that the country has adopted an approach that is predicated on a much-too-high use of fossil fuel-based technologies. This needs to be addressed as all nations look towards the next phase, when the climate agreement comes into force. There is near certainty that the decision made in Paris will become operational before the deadline for signatures set for April 2017: 61 country-parties responsible for 47.79 per cent of emissions have ratified it so far. What remains is for individual countries in Europe, and the European Union, to review their commitments after Brexit, and sign up to reach the target of 55 per cent of total GHG emissions. India’s decision to join, overcoming a reticence that was apparently linked to the failure to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group, is commendable. It would, in any case, have come under pressure to do so since the Paris process is sure to move ahead with Europe’s entry.

With climate commitments becoming almost inevitable, a national consultative process on low carbon strategies cannot be delayed. In order to comply with the Paris process, every aspect of energy use would need precise measurement in the years ahead, which several sectors of the economy are ill-equipped to do at present. Upgrading the electricity grid to take in higher volumes of renewable power is an urgent necessity if India is to realise the national goal submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to install 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2022. A bold new policy on urban design to curb emissions from buildings and transport has to be written into all relevant legislation. Such far-reaching steps can be taken only with the active participation of State governments, many of which remain on the periphery of the discussion. That needs to change, and a blueprint for action has to be drawn up, if a convincing case is to be made for assistance from the $100 billion a year that the rich countries are to put together by 2020. Fundamentally, national policy should mandate even higher levels of taxes on fossil fuels and transfer the benefits to eco-friendly options, be it solar panels, efficient light bulbs, bicycles, green buses/trains, and greening initiatives.

 

  1. Positive signals from the GST Council

Within a fortnight of President Pranab Mukherjee signing off on the 122nd Constitution Amendment Bill to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, work on the next steps has begun. The GST Council, led by the Union Finance Minister and with representatives from all States, had its first meeting on September 22-23, flagging off the process of determining the nitty-gritty of the new indirect tax system and resolving differences on crucial first-principle issues. Time is of the essence, as just six months remain for the April 1, 2017 deadline that the Centre has set for ringing in the GST. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has admitted that the deadline is ‘challenging’, but going by the outcomes of the first meeting of the Council, it is clearly doable. Apart from agreeing on the rules and timetable for its meetings, the Council reached a consensus on the threshold turnover for a business to be covered by the GST, Rs.20 lakh, which ensures that the new tax will not be a compliance burden for small retailers and traders. It has also agreed on the draft compensation formula for States’ revenue losses and accepted industry’s rationale to subsume myriad cess levies in the GST.

An important signal at this juncture is the Centre’s decision to let go of the Central Board of Excise and Customs’s proposal to create dual control over the assessment of businesses with an annual turnover of up to Rs.1.5 crore and give States that power. Experts reckon that a large number of assessees fall below this threshold. By conceding ground on this contentious issue, the Finance Minister has sent a welcome message of give-and-take. This is important given the need to resolve more tangled Centre-State tax issues on the Council’s agenda quickly, if the model laws for Central, State and integrated GST are to be ready for Parliament’s winter session. It is evident that all States participated with an open mind, including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, irrespective of their ratification strategies for the Constitution amendments in their respective Assemblies. All decisions were arrived at by consensus. The Centre and the States appear to be informed by the roll-out experience of the Value-Added Tax regime, and the States want to be on the same page through discussions and support one another rather than get divided along regional or party lines. This bodes well for the GST, where every decision has to be taken by the Council based on a majority view: the States have two-thirds voting power and the Centre has one-third. It is to be hoped that this accommodative spirit of cooperative federalism prevails.

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • UN General assembly meeting
  • Sustainable development goals (SDG)
  • Paris pact
  • Indus water treaty
  • PSLV
  • Mission Indradhanush
  • Gokul gram yojana
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Dual budgeting – Railway budget and General budget was introduced in India in 1921 on the recommendation of  
a) Acworth committee b) Macauley committee c) Simon commission d) Fraser committee
Question 2: Which of the following statements are correct regarding PSLV rocket used by ISRO?
  1. Till date it has failed only once
  2. Till date it has placed satellites in multiple orbits in a single launch only once.

a) (1) only b) (2) only c) Both (1) and (2) d) Neither (1) nor (2)

Question 3: Which of the following statements are correct regarding the Indus water treaty?
    i) It was signed in 1960 between India and Pakistan for the sharing of Indus waters. ii) Recently, China became a party to it iii) The treaty was brokered by World Bank.

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 bodies/organizations have both constitutional and statutory status?
  1. Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAGI)
  2. Attorney General of India
  3. Solicitor General of India
  4. National Backward class commission

a) 1 only b) 1 and 2 only c) 1 and 3 only d) All 4

Question 5: The Breakthrough Energy Coalition appears in news. It is  
a) An alliance of tropical countries to produce solar energy. b) A program to promote conservation of energy by promoting renewables. c) A program to promote sustainable programs in developing countries d) None of these

Check Your Answers

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