19 Apr 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
GOVERNANCE
1. Make BCCI a public body: law panel
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. SAARC regional summit to address impact of climate change
2. ‘Sweden-ing’ India’s vision for the long-haul economy
EDUCATION
1. Study in India website launched
POLITY
1. Minority institutions panel gets court relief
C. GS3 Related
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
1. India and China jointly contribute to over 50% of global deaths attributed to pollution
2. Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve
3. Centre proposes relaxation of coastal regulation zone norms
4. Draft National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
ECONOMY
1. ‘Bank credit: can’t be business as usual’
INTERNAL SECURITY
1. Enhanced telecom in LWE regions
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. National portal to share research facilities soon
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
GEOGRAPHY
1. When it rains
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Make BCCI a public body: law panel

In news

  • The 90-year-old Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should be declared a public body. The board and all its member cricket associations should be brought under the Right to Information law regime, the Law Commission of India recommended to the government.

What did the report say?

  • The board’s monopolistic activities, directly and indirectly, affect the fundamental rights of citizens, players, and other functionaries.
  • A private citizen should be able to move the highest court against the BCCI for any violation of his fundamental rights, the Law Commission led by former Supreme Court judge, Justice B.S. Chauhan, said in its report handed over to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
  • The commission said the board has been flying under the radar of public scrutiny and encouraged an environment of opacity and non-accountability.

Corruption concerns

  • It has created an impression in the minds of the general public that corruption and other forms of malpractices are adversely affecting one of the most popular sports played in India.
  • “The BCCI should be held accountable, under all circumstances, for any violations of basic human rights of the stakeholders,” the commission recommended to the government.
  • The commission, which is the government’s highest law advisory body, concluded that the BCCI exercises ‘state-like’ powers in the regulation of cricket, and thus, comes under the definition of ‘state.’
  • The BCCI virtually acts as a National Sports Federation (NSF). The commission recommended that the Ministry website should explicitly mention BCCI in the list of NSFs. This would automatically bring it within the purview of the RTI Act, the commission said.
  • Listing some of the reasons why it concluded that the BCCI is a limb of the state, the commission pointed out how the cricket board, as an entity, is permitted de facto by the state to represent the country at the international stage.
  • It selects the Indian cricket team. The selected players wear the national colours and are the recipients of Arjuna Awards.

The ICC does not recognise BCCI as the ‘official’ body representing India and the government, nor BCCI has ever challenged, discussed or changed the status. The commission highlighted the political significance wielded by the BCCI.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. SAARC regional summit to address impact of climate change

 

  • Agricultural experts from SAARC nations will present a position paper on ways to address the impact of climate change on agriculture at the ongoing SAARC regional summit.
  • More than 80 senior officers and agricultural experts from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended the inaugural session of the three-day conference in Hyderabad. The experts will also discuss adaptation measures for climate resilient agrarian systems.
  • The consultation will not only strengthen partnership among SAARC countries on climate resilient agricultural systems, but also cover research, economics and innovative policy towards climate-smart agriculture in South Asia.

2. ‘Sweden-ing’ India’s vision for the long-haul economy

 

  • When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral summit here on April 17, he must have recognised that there was something unique in the Swedish approach to partnership: they do not, unlike certain other nations that trade with India, focus solely on short-term deals, but take a much longer strategic view.
  • Certainly, some deals matter greatly to the Swedish economic and strategic calculus, such as the sale of fighter aircraft, given the interest generated in New Delhi in considering the Saab Group’s Gripen as an entrant into its single-engine fighter jet tender.
  • Yet even in the defence sector, just as in space and aeronautics, clean technologies and smart cities, and bio-materials and advanced manufacturing, Sweden is hoping to bring to bear in its engagement with India its long tradition of setting up research and operation centres in the partner-nations.
  • While Mr. Modi’s visit here, which included candid dialogues with 40 CEOs of Sweden’s top companies, served as a powerful sales pitch to up the ante on investments into even more innovation-based ventures in India, it would hardly be overstating matters to say that Sweden already has a robust track-record of industrial partnerships with Indian entities.

2 lakh jobs created

  • Despite having a population of just around ten million, which is half the size of New Delhi’s, nearly 200,000 direct jobs are created by Swedish companies in India, and 16,00,000 jobs are indirectly created.
  • In 2017, Swedish exports to India increased 28%, and 12 out of Sweden’s 15 largest companies, which together have a turnover of $280 billion and employ close to a million people globally, are present in India.
  • While the first Swedish firms entered India as far back as 1900, during 2005-2017 more than 110 Swedish companies have set up shop in the country, bringing the total to 180.The ten largest among these employ 6,800 people in research and development activities.
  • With Mr. Modi’s visit, what has been proceeding apace quietly for many decades in the background has now emerged firmly front and centre: the Swedish government has promised to contribute 50 million kroner towards helping India along with its project on smart cities and other ventures in sustainable development.
  • While the shared vision of the two countries, rooted in democratic, nonaligned values and built on an ambitious economic dream, has got a boost from Mr. Modi’s discussions here with his counterpart Stefan Löfven, there could be some bumps in the road ahead that will require sustained attention from policymakers on both sides.

IPR protection

  • As Mr. Damberg said regarding the need for Intellectual Property Rights protections, “I think there is room for improvement here, and it’s important because if you want to build your own economy and your own smart manufacturing or new economy, especially in the digital field, the IP issues will be very important.

Category: EDUCATION

1. Study in India website launched

 

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj launched the Study in India website, marking the setting in motion of an ambitious scheme to attract foreign students to study in good Indian higher educational institutions.
  • The scheme will entail the admission of foreign students from 30 countries — with a focus on South Asia, South East Asia, West Asia and Africa — to study in 160 quality higher educational institutions of India as per NIRF ranks and NAAC grades.
  • With a large number of the available seats involving fee waivers, the attempt is to make quality education affordable to foreign students, said Higher Education Secretary R. Subrahmanyam.
  • The central education portal put in place for Study in India was comprehensive, he said. Once students register on it, they can apply for 160 institutions and get seats as per merit. It also has a provision for online counselling and a helpline number.
  • The goal of the ambitious scheme is to increase the number of foreign students in India to 2 lakh by 2023.

Category: POLITY

1. Minority institutions panel gets court relief

 

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) has original jurisdiction to determine which institution should be granted minority status.
  • A Bench of Justice A.K. Goel said the Constitution granted a fundamental right to all minorities, whether based on religion or language, to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The wide power given to an independent forum like the NCMEI to declare an institution as a minority educational institution furthered the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 30.
  • Justice Nariman, who authored the judgment, said the NCMEI Act empowered the Commission to decide all questions relating to the status of an institution as a minority educational institution and to declare its status as such.
  • Section 11(f) would include the declaration of the status of an institution as a minority educational institution at all stages.
  • The court held that the NCMEI had the power to decide any question that might arise, which relate directly or indirectly, with respect to the status of an institution as a minority educational institution.

At all stages

  • The Supreme Court held that the NCMEI could declare an establishment as a minority educational institution at all stages.
  • Justice Nariman said the 2006 amendments to the NCMEI Act introduced a “sea change” to the Commission’s powers. The 2006 amendments even conferred powers of appeal against orders of the competent authority to the NCMEI. A power of cancellation was also vested in the NCMEI to cancel a certificate granted either by an authority or the NCMEI.

The apex court overruled a Calcutta High Court judgment which set aside the NCMEI decision to grant minority status to Cluny Women’s College.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. India and China jointly contribute to over 50% of global deaths attributed to pollution

In news

  • More than 95% of the world’s population is breathing unhealthy air, with India and China jointly contributing to over 50% of global deaths attributed to pollution, a new report has found.

Highlights of the Report

  • According to the annual State of Global Air Report, published by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute, long-term exposure to air pollution contributed to an estimated 6.1 million deaths across the globe in 2016. The report found that India topped China for early deaths from outdoor air pollution with 1.1 mn in 2016.
  • While China had made some progress in declining air pollution, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have experienced the steepest increases in air pollution levels since 2010, it added.
  • Air pollution was the fourth-highest cause of death among all health risks globally, coming in below high blood pressure, diet and smoking, it said.
  • Air pollution takes a huge personal toll worldwide, making it difficult to breathe for those with respiratory disease, sending the young and old to hospital, missing school and work, and contributing to early death.

2. Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve

Background

  • Established in 2001, the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is spread across the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Located in the southernmost end of the Western Ghats, the Reserve covers an impressive area of over 3,500 sq.km. Hosting one of the most diverse ecosystems in peninsular India, it constitutes an important biogeographical hotspot within the Western Ghats.
  • As a biosphere reserve, it protects larger areas of natural habitats and includes three wildlife sanctuaries – Shendurney, Peppara and Nayar, as well as the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. In addition, there are buffer zones that are open to economic uses. Not just flora and fauna, even human communities who inhabit these regions are protected.
  • The Reserve contains moist forests, tropical wet evergreen and deciduous rainforests, plains and grasslands, nourished generously by several rivers. It hosts over 2,000 species of plants, including about 405 that are endemic to the region. It is also home to more than 75 species of mammals (20 endemic), 88 species of reptiles (45 endemic), 45 species of amphibians (30 endemic), and more than 46 species of fishes (10 endemic). In addition, the region supports a staggering 337 species of birds, including 20 that are endemic.

More on Agasthyamala

  • A few years ago, the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve was brought under the Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project, a programme assisted by World Bank. It aims at conserving biodiversity in selected landscapes, including protected areas / critical conservation areas, while improving rural livelihoods through participatory approaches.
  • And as recently as 2016, the sustained campaign to include the Reserve in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves paid off. It was included at the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere programme of UNESCO that concluded in Peru that March. With the inclusion, it was one of the several Reserves in the country that made it to the list.

3. Centre proposes relaxation of coastal regulation zone norms

 

  • The Centre has allowed India’s coasts to be made more accessible to tourism and industrial infrastructure and given individual States considerable leeway to decide how they should plan such development, according to a draft version of the proposed modification to India’s coastal regulation zone plan made public on the Environment Ministry website.
  • The coastal regulation zone, or CRZ, 2011, refers to regions in the proximity of India’s 7000-km-long shoreline where buildings, tourism facilities, industrial projects, residential facilities etc are highly regulated. In most cases it begins from the high tide line (HTL) to about 500 metres towards the landward side. The zone is subdivided into regions, with varying leeway for infrastructure development, depending on population and ecological sensitivity.
  • The CRZ-1, for instance, includes the most ecologically sensitive areas and according to current laws is off-limits for tourism activities and infrastructure development except for defence, strategic and rare public utilities projects.
  • According to the new CRZ, 2018 notification “..nature trails and eco-tourism activities..” may be permitted in CRZ-1 regions provided they conform to state-approved coastal zone management plans.

Present Law

  • The current law, called the CRZ, 2011 also defines as ‘coastal zone,’ the region from the HTL to 100 m of the creek along ‘tidal-influenced bodies’ such as bays, estuaries, rivers, backwaters, lagoons and ponds etc. that are connected to the sea. The proposed laws relax this to 50 metres.
  • Earlier, rural habitations or relatively undisturbed areas close to the shore, called CRZ-II, possessed a 200 metre ‘no development zone’. This has now been reduced to 50 metres, provided the area has a population density exceeding 2161 per square kilometre as per the 2011 Census.
  • Environmentalists say that the new regulations have been framed without a transparent public consultation process.A committee headed by Shailesh Nayak, former secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, had framed a report to reconsider the limits of the existing coastal zone regulations.

The report, however, wasn’t made public by the Environment Ministry.

4. Draft National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

In news

  • The government has refrained from specifying pollution-reduction targets in its draft National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
  • This is despite the fact that Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier said the programme would aim to reduce pollution in specific cities by 50% in five years. The NCAP was conceived as a detailed strategy to ensure that cities across the country meet specified air quality norms.

Draft NCAP

  • The draft NCAP will be open to public comments until May 17. It envisions setting up 1,000 manual air-quality-monitoring stations (a 45% increase from the present number) and 268 automatic stations (triple the current 84).
  • It also, for the first time, plans to set up pollution-monitoring stations in rural areas.The NCAP follows from the Environment Ministry’s submissions to the Supreme Court on March 8, 2018.

Category: ECONOMY

1. ‘Bank credit: can’t be business as usual’

 

  • RBI’s Vishwanathan says stressed asset norms aimed at changing behaviour of lenders and borrowers

RBI’s New norms

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s latest norms for the resolution of stressed assets are aimed at warding off further risks to the banking sector from lending operations.
  • The new norms mandate banks to start the resolution process even if there is a payment default for one day. In many cases, banks have to increase provisioning if the resolution is implemented.
  • In the wake of this, banks have represented to the central bank to ease the norms. They are also lobbying with the finance ministry to convince RBI to relax the norms.

 ‘Early warning’

  • Commenting that one had to note that ‘default’ in payment was a lagging, not leading, indicator of financial stress of a borrower , lenders needed to be proactive in monitoring their borrowers and being able to identify financial stress using a combination of leading indicators and renegotiation points in the form of loan covenants rather than waiting for a borrower to default.
  • The new resolution framework seeks a fundamental change for the better in the behaviour of lenders and borrowers, for it can’t be business as usual.’

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Enhanced telecom in LWE regions

In news

  • To enhance mobile communication in regions affected by left wing extremism (LWE), the government plans to install more than 4,000 mobile towers across 10 States at an estimated cost of over Rs. 7,300 crore, to be funded through the Universal Obligation Fund.

More about the Project

  • The proposal, which will soon be taken up for approval by the Union Cabinet, aims to provide calling as well as internet facility to security forces and citizens in 96 districts.
  • This will be the second phase of the project. The first phase, under which setting up of about 2,200 towers with a project cost of Rs. 3,568 crore, was approved by Cabinet in August 2014 and completed in about 18 months. However, while only 2G connectivity was provided in the first phase, the second phase will have 3G and 4G connectivity.
  • The completion of Phase 1 of the project has enabled better communication and coordination between security forces, leading to a reduction in the number of Naxal attacks. There is a need to fast track Phase 2, set up basic infrastructure.
  • A draft note on the proposal has been circulated and will be brought up for approval from the Cabinet soon.However, it is likely that the government may not be able to complete the project before the 2019 general elections.
  • Phase 1 of the project was implemented by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), a public sector enterprise, due to security reasons. However, BSNL currently does not have 4G spectrum. It has requested the Department of Telecom (DoT) for it and is hopeful of rolling out pan India 4G services (except in Delhi and Mumbai) next year.
  • The official added that it has been decided to upgrade the technology after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) raised no objection to 2G and 4G technology for voice and data services as it does not have any security implication.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. National portal to share research facilities soon

In news

  • Soon researchers in any college or institution and research organisations can check, reserve and have easy access to even expensive research equipment and facilities anywhere in India, thanks to the efforts by the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.
  • The centre is in the process of collating information about scientific and research equipment and facilities available at academic institutions and research organisations across the country.

Online reservation

  • The portal — Indian Science, Technology and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM) — will soon become operational. The government green signalled the project last month.
  • The institutions and organisations that have the equipment and facilities will provide access to researchers for both academic and non-academic work through an online reservation system.

Many benefits

  • This initiative will have many benefits. It will provide access to researchers to any equipment or facility that has been procured using public funds, the equipment will be better utilised and it will avoid duplication of expensive equipment as much as possible. Sharing expensive equipment can bring down the cost of doing research in India.
  • Putting to rest the fear that this initiative may come in the way of premier institutions which are just coming up from procuring essential equipment. Each institute will need certain equipment that is absolutely necessary and essential for regular use. It is not at all the intent of this initiative to stop such institutes from procuring equipment but to ensure that each instrument is better used.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: GEOGRAPHY

1. When it rains

Importance of the article:

  • A ‘normal’ monsoon prediction is welcome. But the real challenge farmers face today is not production, but prices.

Facts and analysis about the monsoon:

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting overall rainfall during the south-west monsoon season from June to September to be 97 per cent of the country’s historical long period average (LPA) for these four months.
  • Thanks to the very low probability of an El Nino event — the abnormal warming of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean waters, which is known to adversely impact rainfall in India during the season from June to September.
  • That technically translates into a “normal” monsoon, with only 14 per cent forecast probability of the rains being “deficient” (less than 90 per cent of LPA) and 30 per cent “below normal” (90-96 per cent of LPA).
  • It correctly predicted below-normal rainfall in 2014 and 2015 (both turned out to be drought years) and normal monsoons in 2016 and 2017 (both bumper harvest years), even if the spatial and temporal distribution (particularly in the second half of the season) may have been somewhat off the mark.

Impact of monsoon on the political arena:

  • For a ruling party, facing the electorate in a drought year is the worst possible nightmare.
  • High food prices and farm distress from drought can be a intoxicating combination in an election year.
  • A normal monsoon forecast should be welcome news for the Narendra Modi government and good for market sentiment as well.

Are bumper harvests sufficient to guarantee farm prosperity?

  • The real challenge that farmers are facing today is not production, but prices.
  • The IMD, has done a decent job of forecasting rainfall or even adverse weather events.
  • The farmer, however, is equally in need of price forecasting and market intelligence to enable informed planting decisions. That, unfortunately, is still missing.

Agriculture and the monsoon:

  • The farm sector per se accounts for hardly 16 per cent of India’s GDP today, but it still employs almost half of the country’s workforce and has a bearing on inflation.
  • Food and beverages have a 45.86 per cent weight in the official consumer price index.
  • A normal monsoon would keep a lid on food inflation.
  • In the current context, it will also neutralise the impact of rising oil prices and a weakening of the rupee.
  • For farmers, rains are a necessary condition for their survival, despite the possibility of achieving significant drought-proofing with irrigation (through large canals, tube-wells and use of water harvesting, drip and sprinkler technologies) and proper crop planning.

Why farm deflation is essentially a problem of liquidity

  • The main problem for farmers today is to do with prices that they are getting for their produce.
  • In majority of crops, inflation has been negative this year.
  • The accompanying table shows the annual price increase in key agricultural commodities for the latest month of March and also the corresponding average figure for the 2017-18 financial year as a whole.
  • Since the inflation rates here are based on the official wholesale price index, they are a reasonable proxy for the extent of raise or decline in farmer realisations at the mandis.

Inflationary trends on Food

  • It can be seen that in a majority of crops, inflation has been negative, with prices actually falling year-on-year.
  • The incidence of deflation has been particularly pronounced in pulses and oilseeds, but also recorded for wheat, condiments and spices, and natural rubber. In most other crops — be it paddy, milk, egg and meat, cotton or sugar — the price increases are at very low single-digits.
  • The only exception has been fruits and vegetables, though even in their case, the inflation is mainly on account of a low base.
  • Potato, for instance, is selling in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra mandi at around Rs 10 per kg, which is just about remunerative for the farmer. Last year, at this time, the tuber was fetching a mere Rs 3.7-3.8/kg.
  • On the other hand, the average modal price of onion at Lasalgaon (Maharashtra) has crashed from Rs 15.50 to Rs 6.25 per kg in the last two months, while tomato is currently trading at Rs 4.50/kg in Kolar (Karnataka). This, in peak summer, when vegetable prices are expected to generally firm up!

Reasons behind the trends in prices

  • The above across-the-board price declines in agri-commodities defies ordinary explanation.
  • Many ground reports, including from this newspaper, suggest that a major cause could be the demonetisation-induced liquidity crunch in rural areas.
  • Much of produce trading takes place in cash, simply because that is the farmers’ preferred medium of payment.

Ground realities

  • Farmers normally bring their crop to commission agents in mandis.
  • These middlemen not only help farmers connect to traders/buyers, but also ensure payment in hard cash for the produce that is sold by them.
  • The commission agents themselves may be paid through cheque or electronic transfer by the traders taking delivery, but the payment to farmers is mostly in cash.
  • There is anecdotal evidence to show that the supply of currency to rural areas has not fully normalised even almost one-and-a-half years since the scrapping of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes.
  • While the shortage has been obvious in recent weeks, whether the availability of currency was adequate even prior to that – more so, given the bumper crops harvested and brought to the mandis by farmers in recent seasons – is something which needs probing.
  • It is a simple rule of economics that when there’s too much money chasing too few goods, the result is inflation. That rule is now, perhaps, working in the reverse.
  • When the mandis are devoid of liquidity and farmers want to be paid in cash for their higher output from normal monsoons, they are bound to receive lower prices. The current crisis in farms may be a more a crisis of liquidity.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. State of Global Air Report is published by UNEP.

  2. Air pollution was the fourth-highest cause of death among all health risks globally.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements about Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve:
  1. Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is spread across the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

  2. It includes the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.

Which of the above statements are incorrect?

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

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements about Study India Initiative:
  1. The scheme will entail the admission of foreign students from 30 countries — with a focus on South Asia, South East Asia, West Asia and Africa — to study in 160 quality higher educational institutions of India as per NIRF ranks and NAAC grades.

  2. The goal of the ambitious scheme is to increase the number of foreign students in India to 2 lakh by 2023.

Which of the above statements are incorrect?

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

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. The portal — Indian Science, Technology and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM) is a National portal to share research facilities.

  2. The institutions and organisations that have the equipment and facilities will provide access to researchers for both academic and non-academic work through an online reservation system.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 5. Consider the following statements about National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):
  1. The draft NCAP envisions setting up 1,000 manual air-quality-monitoring stations.

  2. It also plans to set up pollution-monitoring stations in rural areas.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

 
 General Studies II
  1. Discuss the need for making BCCI a public organisation that will be more accountable to the Government.

  2. India and Sweden have a huge potential for mutual cooperation. Discuss the scope of the relationship between these two nations.

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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