UPSC 2017: Comprehensive News Analysis – December 15

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
ART AND CULTURE
1. All set for the celebration of Telugu language, literature and culture
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. SC clears 12 special courts to try cases against politicians
2. Free sanitary napkins for women belonging to BPL families in Haryana
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS
1. WTO meet ends without consensus
2. Brexit: Parliamentary Sovereignty in UK
3. Russia-India-China: A Strategic Trilateral
4. Islamic State
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. If it’s Kashh Coin, it must be fake
2. ‘Lighthouse projects to spur digitisation’
3. Income share of top 1% surged: report
4. What is net neutrality and why does it matter?
INTERNAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE RELATED DEVELOPMENTS
1. Kalvari submarine a big step in defence preparedness, says PM Modi
2. Govt. looking at JVs in ordnance sector
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
1. Disaster Management in Okhi
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

 

A. GS1 Related

Category: ART AND CULTURE

1. All set for the celebration of Telugu language, literature and culture

 In news:

  • World Telugu Conference-2017 (WTC): the festival of Telugu language and culture.
  • The conference would be inaugurated by Vice President.

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. SC clears 12 special courts to try cases against politicians

 Context:

  • Criminal cases pending against Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies

In news:

  • The Supreme Court nodded for the Centre’s scheme to set up 12 fast track courts.
  • These courts to exclusively prosecute and dispose of 1,581 criminal cases pending against Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies within a year.
  • These 1,581 criminal cases were declared by politicians in their nominations during the 2014 general elections.
  • The States shall, in consultation with the High Court’s concerned, make the courts operational by March 1, 2018.
  • The Supreme Court directed the High Courts, acting through the various trial courts, to trace out from the case records the criminal cases pending against politicians and transfer them to the special courts concerned for adjudication.

Clubbing of cases:

  • The scheme proposes to club the cases of several politicians together and have one court hear them.

2. Free sanitary napkins for women belonging to BPL families in Haryana

In news:

  • The Haryana government would soon provide sanitary napkins free of cost to all women belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category in the state.
  • Noteworthy achievement:
  • With the efforts of state government and cooperation of the people, the monthly average of gender ratio has touched 937 which was around 840 before the launch of the ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ scheme.
  • Now the gender ratio in many districts was more than 900 girls over 1000 boys.

Category: INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. WTO meet ends without consensus

 Context:

  • World Trade Organisation’s highest decision-making body meeting held during December 10-13 ended without any remarkable outcomes.

In news:

  • WTO’s 164 members failed to reach a consensus on substantive issues such as the food security right of developing countries and the centrality of development in multilateral trade negotiations.
  • Consensus reached: the Ministerial Conference managed to salvage a commitment from member nations to secure a deal by 2019 on banning certain forms of fisheries’ subsidies.

2. Brexit: Parliamentary Sovereignty in UK

  • The adoption in the House of Commons of an amendment to the draft bill on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union is an important guarantee of parliamentary scrutiny over the shape of London’s future relationship with the EU.
  • The provision will ensure that legislators have a voice in finalising the terms of the exit agreement. The significance of that role cannot be exaggerated, given that the residency status of millions of U.K. and EU citizens in a post-Brexit scenario are at stake, besides London’s financial liabilities to the bloc.
  • No less vital is the future of the border separating Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic.
  • The issue of whether parliamentary sovereignty trumps executive prerogative in determining the terms of London’s exit has existed since the June 2016 referendum.
  • The government maintained all along that the matter was in the domain of executive authority once the popular will on Britain’s EU membership had been obtained in the plebiscite.
  • The predominantly pro-European MPs have deemed that the legislature should be taken into confidence on Brexit.
  • Following the referendum, a similar controversy had arisen over whether Parliament should be consulted on triggering Article 50 of the European treaty on leaving the union.
  • A judicial challenge to the government’s position was upheld in January by the country’s Supreme Court. The ruling by a majority held that since domestic laws would be altered following Brexit, a parliamentary vote on initiating that process was mandatory.
  • Another test looms in Parliament next week pertaining to differences over the March 2019 deadline for Brexit, which critics fear may not leave enough room to finalise the precise terms of the departure.
  • The government’s apparent lack of transparency on these fundamental questions sits uneasily with the emphasis of the Leave campaigners’ populist rhetoric on taking back control of their country.
  • Their current confusion owes in large measure to the complexities of deciding how far away they want to go from the EU in economic and political terms.
  • And with referendums becoming a popular tool worldwide, it nuances the larger debate on whether such votes should override the will of the legislature, or guide it.

3. Russia-India-China: A Strategic Trilateral

The Russia-India-China trilateral held its 15th meeting in what can be construed as New Delhi’s attempt to get a semblance of balance in its ties with Moscow and Beijing.

Need for the trilateral

The Russia-India-China trilateral meet is New Delhi’s attempt to overcome challenges in ties with Moscow and Beijing

The original conception of this framework was a response to a very different global environment.

Conception of the Trilateral

The proposal for a Moscow-Beijing-Delhi ‘strategic triangle’ had originally come from former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov during his visit to India in 1998, when he argued that such an arrangement would represent a force for greater regional and international stability.

The idea of a ‘strategic triangle’ took a tangible form when former Foreign Ministers of Russia, China, and India — Igor Ivanov, Tang Jiaxuan and Yashwant Sinha — met on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2002.

Scope of talks

  • The broader discussions took place in the backdrop of the political scenario in West Asia and North Africa, numerous challenges in putting the world economy back on the growth track, concerns relating to terrorism, transnational organised  crime, illicit drug trafficking, food security, and climate change.

  • Russia and China’s continued to frame global and regional politics through a similar lens, and the growing divergences between India and them.

  • Russia believes that India can benefit by joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

  • A month after India was part of the Quad discussion on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Manila involving Japan, Australia and the U.S., New Delhi hosted foreign ministers of Russia and China.

  • Targeting India’s participation in the Quad, Russia underlined that a sustainable security architecture cannot be achieved in the Asia-Pacific region with closed bloc arrangements.

  • China also cautioned against spheres of influence and cliques by arguing that China opposed hegemony and power politics and disagree with the sphere of influence and cliques and promote the democratization of international relations.

  • China, meanwhile, continued to take an aggressive posture on Doklam and its aftermath. The issue of cross-border incursions by the Indian border troops into Doklam area were handled through diplomatic measures.

  • China and India have far greater shared strategic interests than differences, and far greater needs for cooperation than partial friction through diplomatic means, the Indian side withdrew its equipment and personnel which reflected the value and importance of China-India relations and demonstrated sincerity and responsibility of maintaining regional peace and stability.

Tension in the air

The tensions in the trilateral framework are inevitable given the changes in the global geopolitical environment. The three nations had very different expectations from this trilateral.

Russia’s role

  • Russia’s role was key as its loss of power and influence on the world scene was a major cause of concern for its leadership. There was a growing and pervasive feeling in Russia that it surrendered its once-powerful position on the world stage for a position of little international influence and respect.

  • It is against this backdrop that Russia tried to establish itself as the hub of two bilateral security partnerships that could be used to counteract U.S. power and influence in areas of mutual concern.

China’s role

  • While Russia witnessed a downward slide in its status as a superpower since the end of the Cold War, China emerged as a rising power that saw the U.S. as the greatest obstacle, if it was to achieve a pre-eminent position in the global political hierarchy.

  • As a consequence, China recognized the importance of cooperating with Russia to check U.S. expansionism in the world, even if only for the short term.

  • In fact, American policies towards Russia and China moved the two states closer to each other, leading to the formation of a new balance of power against the U.S.

India’s stance

  • India, on the other hand, had different considerations, as it was still far from becoming a global power of any reckoning.

  • India saw in the trilateral a mechanism to bring greater balance in the global order as it believed that a unipolar U.S.-dominated world was not in the best interests of weaker states like itself, even as strategic convergence deepened between Washington and Delhi.

  • Moreover, all three countries realized the enormous potential in the economic, political, military and cultural realms if bilateral relationships among them were adequately strengthened.

  • As a consequence, the trilateral did not lead to consequences of any great import. It merely resulted in declarations which were often critical of the West, and of the U.S. in particular.

  • This was also a period which saw significant shifts in Indo-U.S. ties as bilateral relations expanded while Russian and Chinese links with the U.S. have witnessed a downward shift.

  • The joint declaration of the recent trilateral meeting held that those committing, organizing, inciting or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice under international law, including the principle of extradite or prosecute.

  • It stopped short of naming Pakistan-based terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, something that India would have liked in line with the most recent BRICS declaration.

  • An arrangement that had started with an attempt to manage American unipolarity is now being affected fundamentally by Chinese resurgence. Both Russia and India are having to deal with the externalities being generated by China’s rise.

  • While Russia is getting closer to China, India is trying to leverage its partnership with other like-minded states in the wider Indo-Pacific region. As a multipolar world order takes shape, India will have to engage with multiple partners so as to limit bilateral divergences.

  • The Russia-India-China template comes with its own set of challenges. China suggested that the leaders of the three only meet with each other on international occasions adding this indicates it does not have high status in diplomacy and cannot bear more functions.

  • While this may be true, New Delhi’s continued engagement with the duo suggests that India is today confident of setting its own agenda in various platforms.

  • Just as China engages with the U.S. on the one hand and with Russia on the other, a rising India is quite capable of managing its ties with Washington, Beijing and Moscow simultaneously.

  • It will not always be easy, but in an age when the certitudes of the past are fast vanishing, diplomacy will have to tread a complex path.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. If it’s Kashh Coin, it must be fake

 In news:

  • The Delhi Police Crime Branch busted an inter-State gang that duped investors by selling fake digital currency (cryptocurrency).
  • The gang lured potential investors by offering 10% interest on their principal every month, and had netted nearly Rs. 50 crore.

About Kashh Coin:

  • Kashh Coin is a new Cryptocurrency created by VKS International.
  • Kashh Coin iѕ a nеw Digital Crypto-Currency that is promoted thrоugh a marketing strategy called Multi-level Marketing.

2. ‘Lighthouse projects to spur digitisation’

In news:

  • The government and the industry have decided to carry out a number of ‘lighthouse projects’ to spur digitisation.

How does it work?

  • For eg., Google will work with publishers and advertisers to bring more regional language content online, while Bharti Airtel will be working towards bringing high speed Internet to rural India as well as building data centres in the country.

3. Income share of top 1% surged: report

In news:

Highlights of a report –World Inequality Report,’ by economists, including Thomas Pickety and Lucas Chancel:

  • Income inequality in India rose rapidly since the 1980s to a situation where the top 10% of the earners accounted for 56% of the income earned in 2014.
  • Inequality rose substantially since the 1980s following the implementation of the deregulation reforms by the government.
  • In 2014, the share of national income captured by India’s top 1% of earners was 22%, while the share of the top 10% of earners was around 56%.
  • The top 0.1% of earners has continued to capture more growth than all those in the bottom 50% combined.
  • Indian inequality was driven by the rise in very top incomes.
  • The income share of India’s top 1% rose from approximately 6% in 1982-1983 to above 10% a decade after, then to 15% by 2000, and further still to around 23% by 2014.
  • The latest data thus shows that during the first decade after the millennium, the share of national income attributable to the top 1% grew to be larger than that pertaining to the bottom 50%.
  • By 2014, the national income share of the bottom 50% — approximately 390 million adults — was just two-thirds of the share of the top 1%, consisting of just 7.8 million people.

‘Rising inequality’

  • An even stronger increase in the share of national income was experienced by the top 0.1% and top 0.01%, whose shares grew fivefold and tenfold, respectively, from 2% and 0.5% to almost 10% and 5%, between 1983 and 2014.

Measures implemented by the government that led to significant reduction of income inequality:

  • After independence, [the then Prime Minister] Jawaharlal Nehru implemented a set of socialist policies, with strict government control over the economy, with an explicit goal to limit the power of the elite.
  • The policies implemented by himself and his followers, including his daughter Indira Gandhi, up to the late 1970s, included nationalisations, strong market regulation and high tax progressivity.
  • These measures had a significant impact on reducing income inequality.

4. What is net neutrality and why does it matter?

In news:

  • The Federal Communications Commission voted in favor undoing the Obama-era “Net neutrality” rules that have been in place since 2015
  • It will also forbid states to put anything similar in place
  • “Net neutrality” regulations, designed to prevent internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter from favoring some sites and apps over others

What is net neutrality?

  • Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers treat all web traffic equally
  • Internet service providers should restrict themselves from blocking or slowing down specific websites on purpose or allowing companies to pay for preferential treatment

What are the demands of telecom companies?

  • Big telecom companies hate the stricter regulation that comes with the net neutrality rules and have fought them fiercely in court
  • They say the regulations can undermine investment in broadband and introduced uncertainty about what were acceptable business practices
  • There were also concerns about potential price regulation

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE RELATED DEVELOPMENTS

1. Kalvari submarine a big step in defence preparedness, says PM Modi

 In news:
 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally commissioned the first of six Scorpene diesel-electric submarines into the Navy.
  • Kalvari submarine is the Navy’s first modern conventional submarine in almost two decades since the INS Sindhushastra was procured from Russia in July 2000.

Submarines capability:

  • The Scorpene submarines can undertake different missions including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance.

2. Govt. looking at JVs in ordnance sector

 In news:
 
  • The union government is examining the ordnance factories to explore ways to boost their productivity, including through possible joint ventures (JV) through possible Transfer of Technology.
  • The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has about 41 factories under its ambit and there have been several demands to undertake reforms to improve their productivity and efficiency.

Category: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

1. Disaster Management in Okhi

  • A disaster is an event causing extreme disruption in a society’s functioning. It results in widespread human, material, and environmental losses which are beyond the ability of the affected people to cope with on their own.
  • Most disasters — floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides — are due to nature’s fury. When a disaster causes death and destruction, it becomes a calamity beyond human endurance.

Cyclone Okhi

  • Cyclone Ockhi struck Kanniyakumari district in Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala.As per the information, over 120 fishermen are dead and about 900 are still missing.
  • Cyclone Ockhi has left a massive trail of destruction in Kanniyakumari district. It is here that the government’s rapid response by way of disaster management should have stepped in.

Administrative failures

There are three basic failings in the government’s response:

  1. the cyclone warning was delayed;
  2. the warning was ineffective because it could not be conveyed to thousands of fisher folk who were already out at sea;
  3. and once the cyclone struck, there was no war-like mobilization and action, which are the hallmarks of good disaster management.
  • Cyclone Ockhi’s devastation started within 12 hours of the first “rough seas” warning that was put out on November 29.
  • Kanniyakumari has among the highest density of fisher folk in India.
  • Given the limited quantity of fish in near shore waters, many fisher folk have diversified into deep-sea and long-distance fishing.
  • Fishing voyages sometimes last from ten days to more than a month, the Indian Meteorological Department’s timing of the cyclone forecast was futile.
  • The government’s estimates suggest that 3,677 fishermen from Kanniyakumari and Kerala were lost in sea.

Role of Indian Coast Guard

  • Indian Coast Guard, with its seaborne vessels and helicopters, should have launched emergency search and rescue operations.
  • Coast Guard ships should have taken along a few fishermen from the villages as navigation assistants and should have intensely combed the area so that fishing boats and fishermen would have been found and rescued within the shortest possible time.
  • The Coast Guard did not go beyond 60 nautical miles saying that it cannot go beyond its jurisdiction.Indian Navy with its vast array of ships, aircraft and state-of-the-art technology should have stepped in immediately.
  • Later, the government announced the rescue/recovery of several hundred mechanised/motorised fishing boats and over 3,000 fishermen who had landed on the coasts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.
  • While the Coast Guard and the Indian Navy staked claim to this “rescue” mission, the fishing community leaders say that all these boats and the fishermen drifted to the coast on their own.

India has the following mechanisms in place for disaster:

  • National Disaster Management Act (2005),
  • National Policy on Disaster Management (2009),
  • National Disaster Management Plan (2016) and
  • National Disaster Response Force.

Relief and Rehabilitation

  • The cyclone has also resulted in massive losses to the livelihoods of people living in the coasts due to the destruction of crops, banana, rubber, coconut and forest trees.
  • The State government alone cannot take the huge burden of relief and rehabilitation and providing a decent compensation to the victims of the cyclone.
  • This calls for the combined efforts of the Central and State government (departments of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and fisheries) and various departments (rubber board, coconut board, spices board, etc.)
  • To get things moving, the Central Relief Commissioner should immediately visit the district, make realistic assessments, and award reasonable compensation immediately.

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

E. PRELIMS FACT

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Miyako Strait connects
  1. East China Sea to Pacific Ocean
  2. South China sea to Pacific ocean
  3. Pacific ocean to Arctic sea
  4. Sea of Japan to Pacific Ocean

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. The objective of the National Food Security Mission is to increase production of rice, wheat and pulses only
  2. Production of horticulture crops have outpaced the production of food-grains consistently since 2012-13

Which of the statements above is/are correct?

  1. 1 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 3. Which of the following organisations assist a country with the adjustment
process under its Extended Fund Facility?
  1. Asian Development Bank
  2. World Bank Group
  3. International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  4. New Development Bank (NDB)

See

Answer
Question 4. The concept of fundamental duties of Indian constitution was borrowed 
from which among the following? 
  1. Constitution of Australia
  2. UN Charter
  3. Constitution of Socialist Countries such as Russia
  4. Constitution of UK

See

Answer
Question 5. Consider the following statement with reference to Asian Development Bank:
  1. Votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.
  2. Japan holds the largest proportion of shares in ADB.

Choose the incorrect statement:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper II
  
  1. To enhance the quality of democracy in India the Election Commission of India has proposed electoral reforms in 2016. What are the suggested reforms and how far are they significant to make democracy successful? (2017)
GS Paper III
   
  1. Mob violence is emerging as a serious law and order problem in India. By giving suitable examples, analyze the causes and consequences of such violence.(2017)

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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