Comprehensive News Analysis 28 Sep 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. India to boycott SAARC meet in Islamabad

2. WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index

3. India to invest $2 billion in Sri Lanka over 3-4 years

C. GS3 Related:

1. Mega launchers for ISRO soon

2. Proof of water plumes on Jupiter’s moon

3. Google launches new services for India

4. Creation of BRICS bond market recommended by SEBI chief

5. WTO cuts 2016 world trade growth forecast

6. Unemployment rises to 5-year high

7. World Health Organisation’s Air quality assessment

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

The Hindu

1. Troubled waters

2. Debating America

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 boycott SAARC meet in Islamabad

Category: International summits

Topic:  SAARC

Key Points:

  • In a move to step up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan, India said, in the prevailing circumstances, the government is unable to participate in the November SAARC summit in Islamabad.

The Union ministry of External affairs said India has conveyed to current SAARC chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Member States by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November 2016.

  • The decision is unprecedented as this is the first time that India has cancelled participation in the SAARC’s summit meeting because of actions that it blames on Pakistan-based elements. The tough step had been under consideration since the Uri attack, the second such cross border strike in nine months after the January 2 Pathankot airbase strike

FormerSecretary General of SAARC, Sheel Kant Sharma said India’s cancellation might handicap economic integration in South Asia. It is not possible to run economic integration in South Asia without the two biggest economies working together. It is sad if SAARC is euthanized.

Bangladesh and Bhutan too pull out of SAARC summit

  • Bangladesh and Bhutan have also pulled out of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad. It was conveyed to the SAARC Chair Nepal by the 2 countries that the environment is not right for the successful holding of the meet.

Bangladesh and Bhutan said they are committed to the SAARC process and strengthening of regional cooperation, concerned over the recent escalation of terrorism in the region, which has seriously compromised the environment for the successful holding of the SAARC Summit.

 

  1. WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index

Category: International indices

Topic: Global competitive index

Key Points:

  • According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report for 2016-17 India has risen rapidly among all countries in the global competitive stakes by climbing 16 notches to the 39th position. This marks the biggest scale of improvement in competitiveness among all countries and is the second year in a row India has gone up 16 ranks in the WEF index.
  • The report suggests that improvements in institutions and infrastructure have increased overall competitiveness along with recent reforms such as opening the economy to foreign investors and increasing transparency in the financial system.

 

Major findings of the report w.r.t India –

Oil prices – India’s competitiveness has improved, particularly in goods market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation, while lower oil prices and improved monetary and fiscal policies have made the economy not only stable, but also the fastest growing among G20 countries

Labour market The labour market rigidities and the presence of large, public enterprises especially in the utilities and financial sector make the economy less efficient. Lack of infrastructure and ICT use (India ranked 120th in the world) remain bottlenecks.

Digital India – While India is the only South Asian economy in the top half of the rankings, Sri Lanka surprisingly ranks ahead of it in technological readiness – one of twelve pillars on which countries are rated.

Overview:

Global Competitiveness Report – It published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) annually, since 2004. The report ranks countries based on the Global Competitiveness Index.

The Index is based on 12 pillars of competitiveness –

Institutions, Innovation, appropriate infrastructure, a stable macroeconomic framework, good health and primary education, higher education and training, efficient goods markets, efficient labor markets, developed financial markets, the ability to harness the benefits of existing technologies and its market size, both domestic and international by producing new and different goods using the most sophisticated production processes.

 

  1. India to invest $2 billion in Sri Lanka over 3-4 years

Category: Bilateral

Topic: India – Sri Lanka

Key Points:

  • Union Commerce and Industry Minister said India will invest $2 billion in Sri Lanka in the next three-four years. Bilateral talks related to the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) are going on between the 2 countries at Sri Lanka.

The ETCA initiative follows unfruitful negotiations, spanning nearly a decade, on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the neighbours. India and Sri Lanka already have a Free Trade Agreement since 1998.

  • Both India and Sri Lanka are keen on signing the ETCA, though there is considerable opposition coming both from a section of medical and IT professionals and from trade unions in Sri Lanka. Few businessmen from Lanka too have raised concerns over the trade agreement. India further said the negotiations over non-tariff barriers, are being viewed with standards, sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

 

C. GS3 Related
  1. Mega launchers for ISRO soon

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Space – ISRO

Key Points: 

  • An advanced Indian mega space launcher that can deliver ten-tonne and heavier communication satellites to space and using a semi-cryogenic engine is likely to to power ISRO’s launchers by around 2018 (GSLV Mk-3). That is the space agency’s next big space vehicle, having just achieved the GSLV for lifting 2,000-kg payloads. The agency is gearing up for first test flight of the GSLV Mark-III vehicle in December with a 4,000-kg payload.
  • Currently, the government has approved the development of the semi-cryogenic stage alone. When fitted suitably into a launch vehicle, it will see India putting satellites of the class of 6,000 to 10,000 kilos or with some variations. The engine is expected to triple or quadruple ISRO’s transportation ability.

Around 2020, this will be enhanced to 15,000 kg by putting strap-ons in clusters – the stage where major European and U.S. launch providers already are.

  • The engine will use space-grade kerosene as fuel and liquid oxygen as oxidiser. The development is going on at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre and the ISRO Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu.

 

  1. Proof of water plumes on Jupiter’s moon

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Space – NASA

Key Points:

  • NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows more evidence of possible water plumes erupting from the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

Europa, one of more than 50 moons circling the gas giant, is considered by NASA as a top candidate for life elsewhere in the solar system because it is believed to possess a massive, salty, subsurface ocean that is twice the size of Earth’s.

 

  1. Google launches new services for India

Category: MNC’s

Topic: Google

Key Points:

  • Google, the internet search giant is an 18 year old company It announced slew of new products and platforms for India that can be accessed offline and with less data consumption. Looking at the slow network and lower bandwidth or poor internet connectivity in India, the search engine Google has been experimenting a lot of things over the last few years and has been successful too.
  • As part of the Google for India initiative, the company announced five new launches including Google Station, YouTube Go, Google Assistant in Hindi, Google Play in low bandwidth (2G) and new Chrome browser that can used to save web pages of contents to view them later.

The company’s goal is to help millions of Indians online without much trouble and without banking on being online or with limited data services. In 2015-16, Google launched – RailTel, the free Wi-Fi service at Mumbai Central station, the company announced that the service is live in 52 stations now and has 3.5 million users every month. It also has 15,000 users coming for the first time everyday.

           

Note – Google said its service ‘Internet Saathi’, which is helping women in villages to learn how to use the internet has trained one-million women over this last one year in 25,000 villages of 10 states.


  1. Creation of BRICS bond market recommended by SEBI chief

Category: Economy

Topic: SEBI

Key Points:

  • K. Sinha, the chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has said that the BRICS countries should come together and form a common bond market for the benefit of all participating nations.

Challenges for the creation of common bond market:

  • Since long term borrowers typically rely on banks that offer better options such as cash credit and overdraft facilities.
  • The segment does not offer adequate tax incentives with financial institutions, like insurance companies and pension funds, having low exposure to the bond market. Even foreign portfolio investors have not shown much interest in the corporate bond market thereby hindering the growth of the segment.

 

  1. WTO cuts 2016 world trade growth forecast

Category: Economy

Topic:  WTO

Key Points:

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) said Global trade volumes are set to grow by just 1.7 per cent in 2016, the first time in 15 years that international commerce has grown more slowly than the world economy.
  • The forecast, much lower than the WTO’s previous estimate of 2.8 per cent in April, 2016 reflects a slowdown in China and Brazil and also decelerating imports in the United States.

 

  1. Unemployment rises to 5-year high

Category: Economy

Topic: Unemployment

Key Points:

  • According to the annual household survey on employment conducted by Labour Bureau, Jobless economic growth continues to haunt India’s youth, with the country’s unemployment rate rising to a 5 year high of five per cent in 2015-16.

Stats – India’s economy grew 7.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2015-16, slowing from 7.9 per cent a year earlier. The country’s unemployment rate, as measured by the Bureau, stood at 4.9 per cent in 2013-14, 4.7 per cent in 2012-13 and 3.8 per cent in 2011-12.

  • Data from the Fifth Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey showed Female job seekers were the worst hit as the pace of unemployment rose sharply to 8.7 per cent in 2015-16 compared to 7.7 per cent in 2013-14.

Rural: Urban comparison – While unemployment rate in rural areas rose to 5.1 per cent in 2015-16 from 4.7 per cent in 2013-14, it declined to 4.9 per cent from 5.5 per cent in urban areas during the same period.

  • Worker Population ratio (WPR) – The annual survey also showed that 47.8 per cent of the surveyed population was reported to be employed in 2015-16 compared with 49.9 per cent (worker population ratio) two years earlier when the previous survey was conducted by the Labour Bureau, under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

 

  1. World Health Organisation’s Air quality assessment

Category: Environment

Topic: Air pollution

Key Points:

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) study highlights the impact of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) resulting in acute and chronic illnesses that cause premature death. These include lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular diseases. Worldwide, it is estimated to cause about 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths, 11 per cent of COPD deaths, and more than 20 per cent of ischaemic heart disease and stroke. Particulate matter pollution is an environmental health problem that affects people worldwide, but low and middle-income countries disproportionately experience the burden.

 

WHO said Air pollution is the world’s biggest environmental risk to health and must be addressed on a priority basis as it continues to rise, causing long lasting disease and illness

  • The study findings are based on data from satellite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors for more than 3000 locations, both rural and urban, were developed by WHO in collaboration with the University of Bath in UK.

World Health Organisation’s

  • According to a study, Air pollution could have killed at least 600,000 Indians in 2012, about a fifth of the 3 million who died worldwide because they were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM-2.5) that may have aggravated or been directly responsible for cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.

 

According to the study, India comes just behind China which witnessed an estimated 800,000 deaths. The study relying on publicly available national data on pollutant levels showed – about 2.5 Lakh Indians died of Ischemic heart disease; 1,95,001 of stroke; 1,10,500 of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and 26,334 of lung cancer.

  • The report says actual impact of air pollution is a conservative figure, as it does not include the separate impacts on health from other air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) or ozone (O3), and excludes health impacts where evidence is still limited (such as pre-term birth or low-birth weight), the authors note. Industries, households, cars and trucks emit complex air pollutants, including invisible PM2.5 particulates.


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


The Hindu


  1. Troubled waters

By holding a meeting on the Indus Waters Treaty and scheduling another later this week on MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signalled his intent to examine all the non-military options before the government for a strong response to the Uri attack. “Blood and Water cannot flow together,” he is reported to have said. However, after the meeting, officials made it clear that the IWT will hold, at least for the moment. Instead, the Centre drew up a list of measures to optimise use of the Indus waters that India has so far failed to do. The fact is that abrogating the IWT is a non-starter as an option, and the holding of the meeting at this juncture ill-considered. For one, it confused the message in Mr. Modi’s Kozhikode speech, appealing to Pakistani citizens’ better instincts to “wage a war on poverty”. More important, the 1960 treaty for the Indus and five tributaries flowing from India to Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank (then, the IBRD), and has held through wars and conflicts along the Line of Control. Revoking it would threaten regional stability and India’s credibility globally. It remains unclear what India intends to do with the “western” rivers in question beyond the short-term plan to irrigate Jammu and Kashmir’s fields better. Dams required to hold the course of the tributaries of the Indus to alter water levels to Pakistan dramatically would take more than a decade to build. Given the environmental and geopolitical consequences of such actions, they are unlikely to elicit any international funding.

It is clear that the Centre didn’t think through its next steps when it declared with a grand flourish, amplified by frenzied television headlines, that the Prime Minister would review the Treaty. But it did limit the potential damage by bringing down the heated rhetoric with a rational analysis on the Treaty. It would be wise if India proceeds with a sense of pragmatic caution in making further statements on Pakistan for instance, revoking the MFN status will hardly punish Pakistan’s economy given the low levels of bilateral trade. Terrorist attacks such as the one at Uri require a combination of measured but firm responses, rather than weighing every option in full public view. India cannot also ignore the fact that the Uri attack has exposed the need to shore up its defences. As India has realised time and again, its response to provocation must carry the message that the country is dependable and not given to irrational, irresponsible actions that its neighbour is often prone to.

 

  1. Debating America

The first of three U.S. presidential debates lived up to the hype as the world was treated to the sight of an experienced politician, and first-ever woman nominee for the White House, take on a brash and surprisingly popular property tycoon. While most media analysts seemed to hand victory in the debate to Democrat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, numerous online polls, most of them based on anonymous voting and non-scientific response targeting, appeared to suggest that it was her Republican rival Donald Trump who won. To an extent, the terms of the debate, set by moderator and NBC News anchor Lester Holt, ended up favouring Ms. Clinton. Mr. Holt tipped the scales towards Ms. Clinton when he brought up Mr. Trump’s refusal to reveal his tax returns, the “birther” controversy over Barack Obama’s place of birth, Mr. Trump’s alleged support for the Iraq War, and his comment on Ms. Clinton’s “look”. Yet, what featured significantly less was Ms. Clinton’s use of a private email server, her responses to the controversy over the 2012 Benghazi attack, and broader criticism of the Clinton charitable foundation and her proximity to Wall Street, issues that would have put her on the back foot. As it turned out, she emerged from the brawl with poise and a lawyer-like command over the tempo of the debate as she held out several baits for Mr. Trump, which he took.

Ms. Clinton forensically focussed on Mr. Trump’s weaknesses, including his preference for tax cuts for big businesses over income support for the middle class, his past business and personal dealings that hinted at racist values, and the destabilisation potential of his foreign policy proposals on NATO, Iran, North Korea, China and Mexico. The deeper question that the Clinton-Trump clash continues to pose, however, is: How has a candidate such as Mr. Trump come this far? Why has his habit of offending politically significant minorities, including Mexicans, African-Americans, Muslims, the LGBT community, the differently abled and women, not dented his popularity? In part, it comes down to sheer showmanship, and Ms. Clinton, for all her measured responses and detailed elucidation of policy prescriptions, falls far behind Mr. Trump on that count. However, the more worrisome force behind the rise and rise of Mr. Trump is that his candidature hints at continuing nationwide disenchantment over political dysfunction in Washington. That Americans may be willing to risk it all and throw a metaphorical grenade at the federal government to shake things up after years of partisan bickering and policy logjams suggests that their leaders must work to heal a bitterly polarised electorate and temper this distaste for the federal governance architecture.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • SAARC
  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation
  • Jupiter – JUNO
  • Indus water treaty
  • GSLV
  • Air pollution
  • Labor Bureau
  • Particulate matter (PM)



H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: The main application of ISRO’s Geo-stationary satellites are -
a) Communication

b) Inter-planetary exploration

c) Remote sensing

d) Weather forecasting


Question 2: Consider the following:
  1. Carbon dioxide
  2. Oxides of Nitrogen
  3. Oxides of Sulphur

Which of the following gases/pollutants are released by Coal/ Thermal power plants?

a) 1 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3


Question 3: Which organization releases the Global Competitiveness index and report?

a) World trade organization

b) World economic forum

c) World Bank

d) International monetary fund


Question 4: Which organization in India conducts National Employment-Unemployment Survey annually?
a) National labor commission

b) National labor bureau

c) Central statistical office

d) National sample survey office


Question 5: Which is the biggest natural satellite/moon in the Solar system?
a) Europa (Jupiter)

b) Gannymede (Jupiter)

c) Titan (Saturn)

d) Miranda (Uranus)


Check Your Answers

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