Comprehensive News Analysis – 31 December 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. China to build $1.5 billion power line across

C. GS3 Related:
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Hindu

1. Managing risk in banks

2. A new dawn for Syria?

Business Line

1. We shall see a rejuvenated India in 2017

Indian Express

1. Losing Battle

PIB

1. Insertion of LEAP SECOND in the Indian Standard Time

2. Year End review: Ministry of Tourism

3. Year End Review: Ministry of Culture

4. Indian Railways Measures to Promote Digital Payments

5. India and Singapore Sign a Third Protocol for Amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)

6. Major Developments/Achievements of Ministry of Earth Sciences during 2016

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
B. GS2 Related
  1. China to build $1.5 billion power line across Pakistan

Category: International Relations

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points:

  • It is reported that China’s State Grid Corporation is set to build a $1.5-billion power line across Pakistan to enable the transmission of 4,000 megawatts of electricity from the country’s north to south.
  • The power transmission line would link the national grid between the southern Pakistani town of Matiari and easternmost city of Lahore, some 1,000 km apart.

 

C. GS3 Related
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
  1. Managing risk in banks

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Money and Banking

Key Points:

  • It is important to note that in its biannual Financial Stability Report, the Reserve Bank of India has once again flagged the fact that risks to the banking sector remain worryingly “high”.
  • Any systemic risk to the banking industry has the potential to ripple across the entire economy. 
  • Unfortunately, there has been no perceptible improvement in the health of domestic banks, even six months after the RBI’s previous report, wherein, it had highlighted the sector’s high vulnerability on account of the increase in capital requirement and worsening asset quality.
  • These observations had put the spotlight on the need for urgent policy interventions.

Measures Taken and Way Forward

  • In order to address bankruptcy situations in banks and other financial entities, some measures have been initiated and others are in the pipeline, including a draft Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill.  
  • In conclusion, with the RBI pointing out that banks saddled with bad loans were likely to remain “risk-averse” and find themselves lacking the capital needed to lend more to meet credit demand in the economy, the regulator and the government will need to work in close concert to expeditiously resolve this vital legacy issue.

 

  1. A new dawn for Syria?

Category: International Relations

Topic:Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points:

  • Russia President Vladimir Putin on 29th Dec, 2016 announced a nationwide ceasefire deal to come into effect across Syria from midnight.
  • This deal that has been brokered by Russia and Turkey may represent a major breakthrough in nearly six years of war in Syria.
  • The ceasefire reached could be a turning point in the country’s civil war. 
  • It is important to note that although Turkey and Russia are on opposing sides in the conflict, they have been working intensively to find a ceasefire after the fall of Aleppo.
  • Further, unlike the two previous failed ceasefires this year — the latest one is sponsored by countries directly involved in the conflict. 
  • For the Syrian government, this is an opportunity to announce it is ready for a peaceful settlement. 
  • It is important to note that there is a convergence of interests for Turkey and Russia in finding a peaceful solution.
  • Further, having seen the U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia doesn’t want to get stuck in Syria. In fact, by promoting a negotiated deal, Russia could retain its core interests in Syria while at the same time projecting itself as a power broker in West Asia. 

 

Business Line

1. We shall see a rejuvenated India in 2017

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

 The year 2016 turned out to be fast paced and eventful- and often had significant and unpredictable political and economic changes. There were two key global shifts that managed to define how 2016 shaped up.

They were:

a) the rise of populism in the globalised world economy. This was highlighted by events such as Brexit, the US Presidential election, and the recent referendum on reforms in Italy.

b) With the global economic recovery still remaining subdued, the popular discourse over relentless use of unconventional monetary policy support has now started to pave way for a prudent fiscal policy role in countries like US, UK, and Japan.

It is important to note that these global undercurrents will continue to dominate economic and financial outcomes in 2017.

Indian Context

  • It is important to note that India’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index for 2016-17, released by the World Economic Forum, improved 16 places to 39, the fastest improvement up the ranks among 138 countries surveyed.
  • Also, the year 2016 saw the foundation for three structural institutional pillars.
  • These included a) GST b) MPC c) Bankruptcy Code

It is believed that the advent of the JAM Trinity is a silent revolution that will transform India. As gateways like the recently launched UPI platform gathers mass in 2017, it will generate basic digital intelligence, with the market for e-finance providing one of the biggest opportunity for the banking and financial system.

India is at the cusp of transformational shifts with the banking and finance sector being an important change agent.

 

Indian Express

  1. Losing Battle

Category: Environment and Ecology

Topic:Pollution

Key Points:

  • As 2016 draws to a close, the Delhi police madean announcement by saying that Pollution masks will now be a mandatory accessory for the city’s traffic cops.
  • This decision was taken after several complaints from traffic personnel of ill-health and respiratory problems due to long exposure to Delhi’s unhealthy air.
  • It is important to note that earlier, Health minister Satyendar Jain of the Delhi government ruled out the resumption of the odd-even plan in the immediate future.

Important Observations and Statistics

  • In November, the US Environmental Protection Agency described Delhi as the world’s most polluted city.
  • A study by the Central Pollution Control Board shows that 41 Indian cities with a population of more than one million faced bad air quality on 60 per cent of the days monitored by the agency.
  • Allahabad, Varanasi and Gwalior did not have a single day with good quality air.

 

PIB

  1. Insertion of LEAP SECOND in the Indian Standard Time

Category: Geography, Science and Technology 

Topic: Concepts, Movements of the Earth

Key Points:

Note to students: This is a very important article and should be read in its entirety from the PIB website. Kindly refer to the URL above to read the complete article.

  • Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) -National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) is the custodian of Indian Standard Time (IST) and has the responsibility for realization, establishment, maintenance and dissemination of IST through an act of Parliament.
  • A “Leap Second” is added every now and then to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to synchronize clocks worldwide with the Earth’s ever slowing rotation. UTC consists of a time scale that combines the output of more than 300 highly precise Atomic clocks worldwide, including the one at CSIR-NPL. Atomic clocks are very accurate and are stable within 1 second over a period of millions of years. On the other hand, the Astronomical Time known as Universal Time (UT1) refers to the Earth’s rotation around its own axis and determines the length of a day. However, the Earth’s rotation around its own axis is not regular, as sometimes it speeds up and sometimes it slows down, due to various factors including the moon’s gravitational Earth-braking forces that often results in ocean tides. As a result, Astronomical Time (UT1) gradually falls out of synch with Atomic time (UTC), and as and when the difference between UTC and UT1 approaches 0.9 seconds, a “Leap Second” is added to UTC through Atomic clocks worldwide.
  • Since 1972, 36 “Leap Seconds” have been added at intervals varying from six months to seven years. 37th “Leap Second” will be added to UTC at the midnight of December 31, 2016 in the countries within this time zone. The “Leap Second” adjustment is not so relevant for normal everyday life; however this shift is critical for applications requiring of time accuracies in the nanosecond e.g. astronomy, satellite navigation, communication networks etc.

 

  1. Year End review: Ministry of Tourism

Category: Indian Economy

Topic:Government Policy, Tourism

Key Points:

Note to students: This is a very important article and should be read in its entirety from the PIB website. Kindly refer to the URL above to read the complete article.

LAUNCH OF INCREDIBLE INDIA HELPLINE: The Ministry of Tourism has launched the 24×7 Toll Free Multi-Lingual Tourist Helpline in 12 International Languages including Hindi & English on 8.2.2016. This service is available on the toll free number 1800111363 or on a short code 1363 and operational 24×7 (all days) in a year offering a “multi-lingual helpdesk” in the designated languages to provide support service in terms of providing information relating to Travel & Tourism in India to the domestic and International tourists and to assist the callers with advice on action to be taken during times of distress while travelling in India and if need be alert the concerned authorities. The languages handled by the Tourist Helpline include ten International languages besides English and Hindi, namely, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The calls made by tourists (both international and domestic) while in India will be free of charge.

SWACHH PARYATAN APP: The Ministry of Tourism has launched a Mobile App ‘SwachhParyatan’. To start with, 25 AdarshSmarak Monuments protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have been identified for inclusion in the app. The application would be scaled up to include more monuments as the campaign expands.  The general public can lodge their complaints about any unclean area/garbage piles, if any, in and around identified ASI monuments by uploading the same along with remarks.

 

  1. Year End Review: Ministry of Culture

Category: Art and Culture

Topic:Art forms, Government Initiatives

Key Points:

Note to students: This is a very important article and should be read in its entirety from the PIB website. Kindly refer to the URL above to read the complete article.

  • Ministry of Culture’s mandate revolves around the functions like preservation and conservation of Ancient Cultural Heritage and promotion of Art and Culture both Tangible and Intangible in the country.
  • The Ministry through its organizations is engaged in recognizing excellence in the field of art and culture by way of awards given by institutions like SahityaAkademi and SangeetNatakAkademi.
  1. E-ticketing- A cashless tool for tourists at all ticketed monuments:

There are 116 ticketed monuments and 32 museums under the protection of ASI(Archaeological Survey of India). E-ticketing facility has been launched in coordination with Canara Bank with the aim of providing online booking facility for visitors.Process is underway to procure hardware to have computerized facility for the sale of e-tickets at the Point of Sale. Also process has been initiated to set up card swipe/PoS machines at the ticketed monument sites.  

  1. Nearly 100 Monuments Identified for Portal on “Must-See Monuments and  Archaeological Sites of India” 
  • Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has created a Portal for the “Must-See Monuments and Archaeological Sites of India”, under its protection. The purpose of the portal is to highlight outstanding monuments and sites in India, comprising world heritage properties, sites under UNESCO’s Tentative List, ASI’s ticketed and other non-ticketed prominent monuments.
  • The portal carries brief history of each monument and information such as connectivity and access, weather conditions, timings of opening and closing, facilities available at site, 360 Degree/panoramic views (in collaboration with Google) and other Must-See monuments in the vicinity. 

 Portal :- http://asimustsee.nic.in/

  1. National Virtual Library of India: Under the aegis of the National Mission on Libraries, the National Virtual Library of India (NVLI) has been envisaged as the platform which would bring together all information generated in India and about India and make such information accessible to the citizens through user friendly search interfaces.
  1. Excavation at the site near Saser La Pass in Ladakh at an altitude of about 13500-14000 feet:

 An ancient camping site dating 9245 BC (11195 BP) has been discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), on the way to Saser La which leads to the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh. 

Proper archaeological excavation is in progress which has so far revealed microlithic and bone artefacts. The discovery is the earliest known evidence of highest known camping site in India, at about 13500 -14000 feet above mean sea level.

 

  1. Indian Railways Measures to Promote Digital Payments

Category: Indian Economy

Topic:Infrastructure- Railways

Key Points:

  1. Ministry of Railways has decided to instruct Yatri Ticket SuvidhaKendras (YTSKs) to install POS machines and accept payments through all banks debit/credit cards for issuing both reserved and unreserved tickets. They are encouraged to accept payments through other modes also like UPI, USSD, e-wallet, Aadhar enabled payments system.
  2. Ministry of Railways has decided to instruct Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Seva (JTBs) are also instructed to accept payments through other modes like UPI, USSD, e-wallets, Aadhar enabled payments system to issue unreserved tickets.
  3. Ministry Of Railways have decided to allow 5% Discount for booking of Retiring Room through digital means like using debit/credit cards.
  4. Ministry of Railways have decided that 0.5% discount in the base fare of season tickets (Monthly, quarterly, Half yearly, yearly) over suburban section shall be granted in case  the payment is made through digital means through debit card, credit card etc.. Other charges like MUTP surcharge, Mela surcharge, service tax etc., if applicable shall be levied separately on the base fare arrived at after giving the 0.5% concession.

 

  1. India and Singapore Sign a Third Protocol for Amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)

Category: Indian Economy  

Topic:Taxation

Key Points:

  • India and Singapore have amended the DTAA for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, by signing a Third Protocol on 30th Dec, 2016.
  • This is in line with India’s treaty policy to prevent double non-taxation, curb revenue loss and check the menace of black money through automatic exchange of information, as reflected in India’s recently revised treaties with Mauritius and Cyprus and the joint declaration signed with Switzerland.
  • The India-Singapore DTAA at present provides for residence based taxation of capital gains of shares in a company.
  • The Third Protocol amends the DTAA with effect from 1st April, 2017 to provide for source based taxation of capital gains arising on transfer of shares in a company. This will curb revenue loss, prevent double non-taxation and streamline the flow of investments.
  • In order to provide certainty to investors, investments in shares made before 1st April, 2017 have been grandfathered subject to fulfillment of conditions in Limitation of Benefits clause as per 2005 Protocol.
  • Further, a two year transition period from 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2019 has been provided during which capital gains on shares will be taxed in source country at half of normal tax rate, subject to fulfillment of conditions in Limitation of Benefits clause.
  • The Third Protocol also inserts provisions to facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases. This is a taxpayer friendly measure and is in line with India’s commitments under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to meet the minimum standard of providing Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) access in transfer pricing cases. The Third Protocol also enables application of domestic law and measures concerning prevention of tax avoidance or tax evasion.

 

  1. Major Developments/Achievements of Ministry of Earth Sciences during 2016

Category: Indian Economy  

Topic:Industry, Government Policy

Key Points:

  • On 27th July 2016, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences dedicated the Search and Rescue Aid Tool (SARAT) to the Nation during the XV National Maritime Search and Rescue (NMSAR) Board.  In addition, an experimental version of SARAT was used to provide Search And Rescue support to all the concerned in connection with the missing AN 32 aircraft, which was reportedly missing off Chennai on 22 July 2016.
  • National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences established a high altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSH (literally meaning, a slice of ice), situated above 13,500 ft (> 4000 m) at a remote region in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. This station is equipped with instruments such as Automatic Weather Station, Water Level Recorder, Steam Drill, Snow/Ice Corer, Ground Penetrating Radar, Differential Global positioning System, Snow Fork, Flow Tracker, Thermister string, Radiometer etc. Water Level Recorders were installed at five locations along with a stretch of 130 km of Chandra River in Western Himalaya for hydrological balance/modeling. Glaciers were monitored for mass balance, dynamics, energy balance and hydrology.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR)
  • Search and Rescue Aid Tool (SARAT)
  • National Maritime Search and Rescue (NMSAR) Board
  • Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Seva (JTBs)
  • Yatri Ticket SuvidhaKendras (YTSKs)


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

The Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements,
  1. Recently, an ancient camping site dating 9245 BC (11195 BP) has been discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), on the way to Saser La which leads to the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh.
  2. The discovery is the earliest known evidence of highest known camping site in India, at about 13500 -14000 feet above mean sea level.

Which of the following is/are incorrect?

A) 1 Only

B) 2 Only

C) Both 1 and 2

D) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 2: Consider the following statements
  1. The Ministry of Tourism has launched a Mobile App ‘SwachhParyatan’.
  2. This App will facilitate the general public to communicate their complaints about any unclean area/garbage piles in and around tourist destinations.

Which of the following is/are incorrect?
a) 1 Only

b) 2 Only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 3: Consider the following statements,
  1. National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences established a high altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSH (literally meaning, a slice of ice), situated above 13,500 ft (> 4000 m) at a remote region in Jammu and Kashmir.
  2. This station is equipped with instruments such as Automatic Weather Station, Water Level Recorder, Steam Drill, Snow/Ice Corer, Ground Penetrating Radar, Differential Global positioning System, Snow Fork, Flow Tracker, Thermister string, Radiometer etc.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?
a) 1 Only

b) 2 Only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 4: Consider the following statements,
  1. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has created a Portal for the “Must-See Monuments and Archaeological Sites of India”. The purpose of the portal is to highlight outstanding monuments and sites in India, comprising world heritage properties, sites under UNESCO’s Tentative List, ASI’s ticketed and other non-ticketed prominent monuments.
  2. The portal carries brief history of each monument and information such as connectivity and access, weather conditions, timings of opening and closing, facilities available at site, 360 Degree/panoramic views (in collaboration with Google) and other Must-See monuments in the vicinity.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Consider the following statements,
  1. Wheat, Rice and Pulses are examples of Rabi crops.
  2. Coarse Cereals and Oilseeds are examples of Kharif crops.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

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