Comprehensive News Analysis - 30 September 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. India strikes across LoC

2. IWAI clarifies on Gangetic dolphins

3. Muzaffarnagar riot victims upset with NHRC

4. Russia vows to continue Syria strikes

5. Ghani formalises peace deal with Butcher of Kabul

6. U.S. Congress passes spending bill

C. GS3 Related:

1. Miracle TB drug hit by low enrolment

2. Budget merger may need Parliament’s nod

3. Centre to raise EPF’s equity exposure to 10%

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

The Hindu

1. Crossing the LoC

2. Heed the boundary

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 strikes across LoC

Category: Bilateral

Topic:  Indo-Pak

Key Points: 

  • The Indian Army said India has carried out surgical strikes targeting launch pads for terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC). The strike was carried out night, senior military and diplomatic sources confirmed.

Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh said “Based on very specific and credible information which the army received some terrorist teams had positioned itself along the line of control, the Army carried out surgical strikes in night at these launch pads. The operations were focused to ensure that these terrorists do not succeed in endangering lives of citizens in our country. During the counter-terrorist operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who were trying to support them. The operations have since ceased”

  • Pakistan has responded to the government statement saying there has been no such strike.

India tried to solve the situation from the Uri attack at the diplomatic level but did not receive an adequate response. Army officials briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the security situation, at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security. A meeting the Prime Minister due to hold on reviewing the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan was postpone.

 

  1. IWAI clarifies on Gangetic dolphins

Category: National programs & policies

Topic: Effect on natural bio-diversity

Key Points:

  • The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) reacted to a report released by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) – ‘National waterways project threatens Gangetic dolphins: Conservationists’ which says the development of the Ganga for shipping is seen by wildlife conservationists as the single-largest threat to the survival of the species whose numbers are declining in most part of the natural habitat.

This suggests that the development works on National Waterway-1 under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, being implemented with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank, is primarily responsible for the diminishing numbers of dolphins.

The report quotes ecologist Nachiket Kelker as saying that the “the river dolphins get highly stressed because of the dredging activity [on NW-1].” But, no dredging activity is proposed within or in the vicinity of the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS). Navigation under the Jal Marg Vikas Project is yet to start; we need to look elsewhere for the reasons for the fall in the dolphin population.

  • The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) refutes this assumption. The project is yet to take off and cannot be responsible for the diminishing numbers of dolphins. The IWAI is awaiting a loan appraisal by the World Bank, for works on the 1,620-km stretch of the NW-1.

The IWAI is undertaking various mitigation measures to ensure that when NW-1 is developed, no dolphin is harmed. For instance, vessel speeds shall be restricted to 2.7 knots in the VGDS to cut propeller noise. Restricting speed in the area can maintain noise levels lower than 140 dB, which are lower than the tolerance levels of dolphins. Vessels will have propeller guards and dolphin deflectors to minimise accidents.


  1. Muzaffarnagar riot victims upset with NHRC

Category: Communal riots

Topic: NHRC report

Key Points:

  • Demanding the immediate withdrawal of the report, the victims of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots have demanded an apology from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for its report on the alleged exodus of Hindu families from Kairana town in Uttar Pradesh. Citing 24 unnamed witnesses, the report stated: “Youths of the specific majority community [Muslims] in Kairana town pass lewd/taunting remarks against the females of the minority community…”

The victims said NHRC had never bothered to talk to us once in these three years. Now, it has produced a report in which it is painting us as criminals.


  1. Russia vows to continue Syria strikes

Category: International issues

Topic: Syrian crisis

Key Points:

  • Russia said it would continue with a bombing campaign in Syria, ignoring US threats, as the United Nations pleaded for medical evacuations from the war-ravaged city of Aleppo. The city now has descended into a merciless abyss of humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed in Syria.

Russia is backing up a ferocious assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to seize the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo, which has sparked accusations over possible war crimes.

  • The United States has threatened to pull the plug on any more talks with Russia if it does not halt the attack on Aleppo as acrimony seethes between the two powers after the collapse of a truce deal. Assad opponents Germany and Turkey said after speaking by phone that Russia has a special responsibility to calm violence and give a political process a chance in The UN envoy for Syria meanwhile said there was little prospect of an imminent restart of any negotiations to try to end the raging conflict as the violence continues.

 

  1. Ghani formalises peace deal with Butcher of Kabul

Category: International issues

Topic: Afghanistan peace deal

Key Points:

  • President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani formalized a controversial accord with one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords. The government hopes the deal leads to more peace agreements. The pact opens the door to the militant faction of Hezb-i-Islami, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, playing an active role in politics.

Hekmatyar, a controversial figure from the insurgency against the Soviets in the 1980s and the civil wars of the 1990s has been designated a global terrorist by the United States, which has been leading an international military mission in Afghanistan for the past 15 years. Having served as prime minister in the 1990s, before the rise to power of the Taliban, he has long been known as close to neighbouring Pakistan. His faction of Hezb-i-Islami has played a relatively small role in the current conflict, in which the Taliban have a leading role in battling the Western-backed government in Kabul.

  • Peace talks with the Taliban, the largest insurgent group, have yet to get off the ground, but both sides have said they are open to the idea.

 

  1. U.S. Congress passes spending bill

Category: International issues

Topic: U.S.

  • The U.S. Congress passed a spending bill and staved off a government shutdown, after reaching agreement on funding for a tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan that had be-deviled earlier proposals. Lawmakers had been split on how to fund the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where the drinking water is contaminated with lead.

The bill provides $1.1 billion for efforts to fight the Zika virus, and $500 million for disaster recovery in flood-hit Louisiana and other States.

 

C. GS3 Related


1. Miracle TB drug hit by low enrolment

Category: Science & Technology

Topic: Developments

Key Points:

  • 6 months after the launch of miracle drug bedaquiline the most effective treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis the Indian government has enrolled a mere 36 patients. Bedaquiline is used exclusively to treat patients who have failed to respond to second-line anti-TB medicines. India had received a donation of 300 doses from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with another batch of 300 doses to be donated in 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India shoulders 71,000 multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients. WHO’s report says nearly 10 per cent of all multi-drug resistant TB patients have extensively drug resistant TB or XDR-TB resistant to any fluoroquinolone, and at least one of three second-line injectable drugs (capreomycin, kanamycin and amikacin), in addition to multidrug resistance.

 

  1. Budget merger may need Parliament’s nod

Category: Economy

Topic: Union budget

Key Points:

  • The Union ministry of Railways said the Centre may have to pass a resolution in Parliament in the upcoming session to finally put an end to the practice of presenting a separate Rail Budget. Although the Constitution does not provide for a separate Rail Budget, it was separated from general finances after a resolution was passed in the Legislative Assembly (now Parliament) based on the recommendations made by the Acworth Committee in 1921.
  • Presentation of a separate Budget is more of a matter of Convention than any rule. Government decided to introduce a resolution to do this. After the Union Cabinet approved merger of railway and general Budget, opposition parties attacked the government for not consulting the Parliament.

 

  1. Centre to raise EPF’s equity exposure to 10%

Category: Economy

Topic: Provident fund

Key Points:

  • Union Labour and Employment Ministry said One in every ten rupees parked in provident fund would now be invested on Dalal Street, with the government deciding to double employees’ PF savings exposure to equities from the present level of 5 per cent to 10 per cent of fresh accretions to the corpus.

This is expected to translate into an additional investment of Rs.11,500 crore in stocks over the next six months of the financial year 2016-17.

EPF Stimulus

  • The ministry further said EPFO is a social security organisation and a custodian of workers money, so it is our responsibility to keep the money safe and at the same time, give them good returns.
  • While the Finance Ministry had allowed equity investments between 5 per cent and 15 per cent of fresh accretions for non-government provident funds such as EPFO, the PF office had made a cautious start by allowing 5 per cent investments last August after years of resistance to a stock market foray. The Finance Ministry had first allowed equity investments of up to 5 per cent of corpus in 2005.

 

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


  1. Crossing the LoC

After running through a variety of non-military responses to the September 18 terrorist strike at an Army camp in Uri, the Centre announced that Indian forces had carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control. With this, India’s next steps, post-Uri, are in uncharted terrain, with New Delhi abandoning the self-proclaimed policy of strategic restraint adopted in the face of earlier provocations by terrorists believed to be backed by Pakistan. The operation, that began and concluded in the early hours of Thursday, was claimed to be a military success, with no injuries to the Indian para-commandos who went across the LoC into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to attack several locations. The decision to strike in this manner was evidently taken after specific intelligence that terrorist groups were planning attacks in India. This may not be the first time India has undertaken quick cross-LoC operations, but it has never before chosen to share information so publicly.

The terms surgical strike and pre-emptive strike used by the Centre were intended to convey that this was not an attack on Pakistan’s defence forces, but a targeted action against terrorists poised to wreak damage in India. Pakistan of course has played down the Indian operation, characterising it as an act of habitual cross-border shelling. It is welcome that New Delhi declared the strikes complete shortly after the operation, with the DGMO calling his Pakistani counterpart to convey that India would not escalate the conflict beyond this. This, along with the briefings held in New Delhi for envoys of various countries, indicates that the Centre wants to end hostilities with Pakistan for the moment. This strengthens the view that the operation was the result of pressure on the Modi government to manufacture a strong response to Uri. Over the past few days there has been a cascade of moves to underline that such provocations cannot be followed with business as usual. The government reviewed the working of the Indus Waters Treaty, declared it is flirting with the idea of reviewing Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nation status, and pulled out of the SAARC heads’ meet to be held in Islamabad. Having made it known that India does not want further escalation, even as people living along the International Border and the LoC are shifted to safer locations, the Centre will need to articulate what it regards as the new normal and indeed, how it hopes, or plans, to dissuade Pakistan from escalating the situation in turn.


  1. Heed the boundary

The Lodha Committee’s status report, highlighting how the Board of Control for Cricket in India has failed to adopt the recommended administrative reforms, has left the game’s officials in a quandary. In a 79-page report filed in the Supreme Court, Justice R.M. Lodha has said the BCCI’s current office-bearers would have to relinquish their posts for the proposed changes to be effected. Lending greater force to the punch, Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur said the BCCI elite would have to “fall in line, or else we will make them fall in line”. The provocation for these firm strictures was the BCCI’s Annual General Meeting in Mumbai on September 21, where a slew of decisions were taken, ranging from the nomination of Sharad Pawar as ‘alternate director for International Cricket Council meetings’ to the appointment of new selection committees. The actions were seen as a failure to heed the Supreme Court. When the Lodha Committee green-lighted the BCCI’s AGM, it was with the caveat of sticking to appraising the year 2015-16, but the board discarded the retrospective gaze and instead looked ahead. The appointment of selection committees, to cite one example, went against norms set by Justice Lodha, who had recommended a three-member panel. The board stuck to the status quo of having five.

Recent developments in court now put the BCCI in a piquant situation. The BCCI’s elbow room has shrunk, and it is expected that the chastised board will toe the line, though it has time till October 6 to file a reply in the Supreme Court. This sorry state of affairs couldn’t have come at a more inopportune moment. India has a home season bounty – 13 Tests, including the match that concluded in Kanpur this week, and an imminent Ranji Trophy schedule. Now there is the risk of disarray. The sport is perhaps India’s best-governed, but the administrators refuse accountability. The cricket schedule (domestic and international) is well- drawn, former cricketers get a generous pension, young players find financial security in the Indian Premier League, and there is much to cheer in Indian cricket. But a refusal to embrace transparency and the lack of respect for the ordinary fan has been emblematic of a feudal mindset that guides cricket’s officialdom. BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke has been quoted as saying the board did what it felt was best for the game; BCCI president Anurag Thakur has often declared he is out to clear “wrong perceptions”. Their intentions are, however, yet to be matched by their actions. They need to take care they do not precipitate what could be the most serious crisis yet for Indian cricket.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Line of Control (LoC)
  • National waterways if India
  • Most Favored Nation (MFN)
  • Surgical strikes
  • Tuberculosis
  • Financial administration – Budgeting in India



H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary is located in -
a) Bihar

b) Jharkhand

c) West Bengal

d) Uttarakhand


Question 2: Consider the following statements is a National Human Rights Commission :
  1. It is neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body
  2. NHRC works for the implementation of the UN Human rights declaration – 1948.

Which are correct?

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 Employment provident fund organization (EPFO)?
  1. It works under the administrative control of the Union ministry of Labour and Employment.
  2. Recently, the government launched universal account number for Employees covered by EPFO to enable PF number portability.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 4: Which of the following disease is caused by bacteria?
a) Ebola fever

b) Measles

c) Zika fever

d) Tuberculosis


Question 5: Which international organization recently signed an agreement with Government of India to financially support National waterways project?
a) Asia development bank

b) World bank

c) International financial corporation

d) International monetary fund


Check Your Answers

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