Comprehensive News Analysis - 28 February 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

1. Muziris project offers the best of heritage tourism: President

2. ASI seeks info on provenance of idols

3. JNU and the school lessons in Indian nationalism

B. GS2 Related:

1. Congress to move privilege motion against Smriti Irani

2. Visit has improved ties with India: Oli

3. Japan non-committal on supply of strategic amphibious aircraft to India

4. New Development Bank an assertion of BRICS’ political sovereignty: Kamath

C. GS3 Related:

1. The wild ones reach Wayanad for sanctuary

2. MNC’s demand for patent irks patients

3. Reserve Bank of India firm on single subsidiary for foreign banks

D. GS4 Related:
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
G. Practice Questions
H. Archive

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

1. Muziris project offers the best of heritage tourism: President

Topic: Indian Heritage and Culture

Category: Indian culture- salient aspects

Location: The Hindu, Page 10

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Key Points:

  • President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the first phase of the Muziris Heritage Project at the International Research and Convention Centre, KKTM College, Kodungalloor.
  • The Muziris Heritage Project is the largest conservation project in the country and the first green project of the Kerala government.

Significance of the port of Muziris

  • The spice trade and ancient ports in Kerala have created many islands of heritage and history within the state, but the tourist experiences have always been discrete. This is where the Muziris project offers the best of heritage tourism to global travellers,
  • “Many churches light oil lamps and raise flags as is done in Hindu temples. Similarly, the Cheraman mosque has an oil lamp which is always lit. I am glad that the Muziris Heritage Project seeks to bring alive this wonderful mosaic of cultural influences in a holistic way.” Mr. Mukherjee
  • The Muziris project would open up to Indian and foreign tourists a new destination, bringing economic benefits to the people of the region as well as knowledge and enjoyment for the visitors.
  • The President also launched the website of the Muziris Heritage Project.

 

2. ASI seeks info on provenance of idols

Topic: Indian Heritage and Culture

Category: Indian culture- salient aspects of Art Forms

Location: The Hindu, Page 10

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Key Points:

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has sought help from the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) to verify the provenance of five idols stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu that have surfaced in different museums and art galleries all around in the world.
  • Of the five idols, four are made of bronze and one is crafted out of stone.
  • Researchers at the IFP cross-checked the samples with the photo archive containing 1.35 lakh images on south Indian iconography, temple architecture and rituals, to verify the provenance of the smuggled idols and correlate them with the temples of their origin.
  • The samples provided by the ASI included the photographs of idols of Pratyankara, Sivakami Sundari, Astradeva, Amman and Sambandar.
  • After examining the samples with the photo archives, it was confirmed that the idol of Pratyankara was stolen from Virddhagesevarar temple in Cuddalore district while the bronze idol of Sivakami Sundari was stolen from Sripuranthan temple.

Copies of digital images collected

  • The ASI team collected copies of digital images of the five idols from IFP and has initiated steps to retrieve them from the National Gallery of Australia and Asian Civilisation Museum in Singapore.
  • In the past too, a number of dilapidated temples have been restored and the stolen bronze idols have been identified using the photographic collection.
  • The photographs archived at the institute, which has been documenting temples, have helped the investigators trace a smuggled stone idol of Lord Arthanareeswarar and a bronze idol of Lord Nataraja to the National Gallery of Australia.
  • Both were later handed over by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

 

3. JNU and the school lessons in Indian nationalism

Topic: Modern Indian History

Category: The Freedom Struggle

Location: The Hindu, Page 14

Key Points:

  • The ongoing lectures on nationalism at the Jawaharlal Nehru University each evening — as it faces barbs on its commitment to nationalism — are not something new to the prestigious institution.
  • Generations of schoolchildren have learnt their lessons in Indian nationalism and on the struggle for freedom from the British rule from NCERT textbooks, penned by historians from the Centre for Historical Studies at the JNU.
  • From the 1970s, it was the late professor Bipan Chandra’sModern India, an NCERT text for Class 12, that disseminated the history and values of Indian nationalism among schoolchildren in India. It was often read even by those seeking admission to history departments in postgraduate courses.
  • It was briefly replaced midway by the Vajpayee government, when the then Human Resource Development Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi, set out to get textbooks rewritten.
  • But the UPA government again replaced the NDA textbook, with Professor of Modern History at the JNU Neeladri Bhattacharya being made the chief adviser to a new set of the NCERT history textbooks
  • A quick Internet check on arguably the most popular academic take on Indian nationalism — late professor Bipan Chandra’sIndia’s Struggle for Independence — shows that it has sold well over 1,00,000 copies since it was published in 1989.
  • All the five authors — Professors Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, K.N. Panikkar, Aditya Mukherjee and Sucheta Mahajan — have taught at the JNU.
  • The book is referred to not just by modern history students but also civil services and UGC-NET applicants.

 

B. GS2 Related

1. Congress to move privilege motion against Smriti Irani

Topic: Indian Polity

Category: Indian Constitution- features

Location: The Hindu, Page 01

Smriti Irani

Key Points:

  • The Congress party has decided to move privilege motions against Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani in both Houses.
  • They allege that her statements on the death of Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula misled Parliament.

 

2. Visit has improved ties with India: Oli

Topic: International Relations

Category: Bilateral agreements involving India

Location: The Hindu, Page 15

Key Points:

  • Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has said that his visit to India had helped in “improving” the ties that had “soured” during the anti-Constitution protests even as the agitating Madhesis called it a “complete failure” and warned of a fresh stir if their demands were not met.
  • Meanwhile, the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) on Saturday held a meeting to review its protest programmes. In a statement after the meeting, the UDMF termed Mr. Oli’s visit to India as a “complete failure” and said Prime Minister had made a mistake as he made the visit without any agenda.
  • The Madhesis, who had announced withdrawal of their protests, including the border blockade, warned that they would resort to fresh protests if the government did not address their demands promptly.

 

3. Japan non-committal on supply of strategic amphibious aircraft to India

Topic: International Relations

Category: Bilateral agreements involving India

Location: The Hindu, Page 15

Key Points:

  • India’s plans to acquire US-2 amphibious aircraft from Japan, in the first big military deal between the two countries.
  • There are indications that India would have to wait a longer period to acquire the amphibious aircraft.
  • Japan reportedly had no immediate plans for “selling or delivering” the capacity-multiplier aircraft to India.
  • The absence of diplomatic progress on India acquiring the aircraft is significant in view of the fact that during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India in December 2015, the two countries had concluded agreements on Transfer of the Defence Equipment and Technology, and, Security Measures for the Protection of Classified Military Information, aimed at deals such as the one on the US-2.

 

4. New Development Bank an assertion of BRICS’ political sovereignty: Kamath

Topic: International Relations

Category: Agreements involving India, Important International institutions

Location: The Hindu, Page 17

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Key Points:

  • The formation of the New Development Bank (NDB) of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping is an assertion of the Global South and its significance would be felt beyond the economic domain.
  • Kamath said he fully supported the “Belt and Road” connectivity initiative taken by China to establish new growth engines along the Eurasian corridor.
  • Kamath is looking at this initiative taken by China very positively, because the act of investment will create growth for all countries that are touched along the Belt and Road.
  • Thereafter the fruits of this investment will need to be seen. There are several large markets at play.
    There is China, there is India and there are all the countries that the Belt and Road will touch.

 

C. GS3 Related

1. The wild ones reach Wayanad for sanctuary

Topic: Environment and Ecology

Category: Conservation

Location: The Hindu, Page 10

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Key Points:

  • The seasonal migration of wild animals has begun from the adjacent wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) in search of fodder and water.
  • The sanctuary is a haven for elephants, gaur, antelopes, bears, and numerous birds during summer, because of the easy availability of fodder and water.
  • The annual migration usually begins by February end and will continue till the advent of monsoon. But the recent forest fire incidences reported in the adjacent tiger reserves such as Bandipur and Nagarhole and drought-like situation in those regions have resulted in an increased flow of wildlife to the WSS this year.
  • The Forest Department has made efforts to ensure fodder, water, and safety to the migrating wild guests. Apart from 42 check-dams, two temporary earthen dams have been built inside the sanctuary as a precaution against streams drying up during summer.
  • To provide fodder, the coarse grasslands in the sanctuary have been trimmed to allow growth of soft grass. Invasive plants such asSenna spectabilis and lantana have been cleared on 175 hectares of land to provide fodder.
  • The sanctuary will be closed for tourists from March 1 to April 20 so as to ensure a trouble-free migration for the animals.
  • Apart from the 23 permanent anti-poaching camps and two watchtowers, 11 newly erected treetopmachans(temporary watch towers) have started functioning this year. Fire line works have been completed on 167-km stretches on the fringes of the sanctuary. As many as 162 watchers have been deployed inside the sanctuary, including 113 newly appointed temporary watchers, to prevent forest fires.
  • The watchers were equipped with binoculars and wireless apparatus. Free rationing is also provided for the as they are working in remote areas.

 

2. MNC’s demand for patent irks patients

Topic: Indian Economy, Science and Technology

Category: Health, Bio-technology

Location: The Hindu, Page 15

Key Points:

  • Over the past week, hepatitis C patients have been protesting outside India’s patent office in Dwarka, against the American multinational pharmaceutical major Gilead Sciencesand the United States government for pressuring the Indian government “to blindly and speedily grant patents”.
  • The patent office has been hearing the company’s patent claim on the drug Sovaldi,which is priced at a staggering $84,000 (about Rs.57 lakh) in the U.S.
  • The proceedings will have major implications for millions of hepatitis C patients across the world, who will be able to access the drug if open generic production of sofosbuvir is possible in India.
  • Gilead is charging exorbitant prices in many countries and using patents to block people in other countries from buying low-cost, yet equally effective versions of this medicine.
  • It is estimated that 150 million people are infected by hepatitis C globally, and 700,000 die of the disease each year. Untreated, it can cause liver cirrhosis and cancer.

 

3. Reserve Bank of India firm on single subsidiary for foreign banks

Topic: Indian Economy

Category: Indian Economy and issues, Banking Sector

Location: Indian Express, Page 18

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Key Points:

  • The Reserve Bank of India is sticking by its proposal that foreign banks run their operations in India as a single wholly owned subsidiary (WoS).
  • Large foreign banks, which have so far been operating under the branch licensing norms, had approached the banking regulator for separate licenses, one for a retail subsidiary and another for corporate banking under the branch route.
  • However, the RBI is not keen on dual licensing and wants foreign banks to operate only under the WoS route.
  • The global financial crisis of 2008 had prompted the central bank to tighten the rules that govern foreign banks in India.
  • As a result, in 2013, RBI had released norms for setting up a wholly owned subsidiary for overseas lenders.
  • While the central bank had not made it mandatory for existing foreign banks to convert their Indian operations into a subsidiary, the regulator had expected voluntary adoption.
  • This was because, the RBI had assured foreign banks that subsidiaries would be treated on par with local banks, in terms of branch licensing.
  • While branch licensing for domestic banks has been liberalised allowing them to freely open branches subject to certain conditions, foreign banks collectively are given about 15-20 branch licences in a year.
  • Also overseas lenders were promised stamp duty benefits and told they would be allowed to acquire local private banks, if they opted for the subsidiary route.
  • However, large foreign banks like Standard Chartered, Citibank and HSBC, have so far shown little interest in adopting the WoS route.
  • The overseas lenders contend that converting to subsidiaries will affect their ability to find the resources to write big ticket loans since the units, unlike branches, won’t be able to leverage their parent’s balance sheet.
  • Till now, only a few smaller lenders like DBS Bank and SBM Bank (Mauritius), have opted to convert their branches into a subsidiary.
  • As a middle-path, the large foreign lenders had proposed a dual licence arrangement – one for retail banking operations under the subsidiary format and another for branches to do wholesale banking.
  • But the central bank isn’t enthused by the idea of dual licencing because they are not convinced that foreign banks will be serious about retail operations, where margins and business volumes are low.
  • The wholly owned subsidiary route was proposed mainly for protecting local retail depositors.
  • The RBI is of the view that local incorporation provides effective control to the regulators, according to the sources.

 

D. GS4 Related

— Nothing here today, folks! —

E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:

i.   Wholly Owned Subsidiary (WoS)

ii.  Senna spectabilis

iii.  Privilege Motions

iv.  Sofosbuvir

v.  Wholesale banking)

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
To be Updated

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