25 Apr 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
GOVERNANCE
1. PM launches Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan
2. SC says no to quota for government doctors in PG courses
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Annual summit of the SCO
C. GS3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. New system to measure air quality
2. The last straw in the battle against plastic
3. The Villanueva plant in Mexico
ECONOMY
1. Centre seeks suggestions on long term capital gains clause
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY
1. The impeachment controversy
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Narendra Modi’s visit to China and the global flux of Geopolitics
ECONOMY
1. Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018
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. PM launches Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan

 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a scheme that seeks to strengthen the country’s Panchayati Raj system and address critical gaps that hinder its success.
  • He launched the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan at Ramnagar in this tribal-dominated district of Madhya Pradesh on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day.

Why a new scheme?

  • The Central government scheme aims at making rural local bodies self-sustainable, financially stable and more efficient.
  • It seeks to address critical gaps that hinder the success of Panchayats by enhancing their capacities and effectiveness, and promote devolution of powers and responsibilities.
  • On the occasion, Modi unveiled a roadmap for development of tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh over the next five years.

The Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan will strengthen the Panchayati Raj system across the country and address critical gaps that constrain its success. RGSA seeks to:

  • Enhance capacities and effectiveness of Panchayats and the Gram Sabhas;
  • Enable democratic decision-making and accountability in Panchayats and promote people’s participation;
  • Strengthen the institutional structure for knowledge creation and capacity building of Panchayats;
  • Promote devolution of powers and responsibilities to Panchayats according to the spirit of the Constitution and PESA Act;
  • Strengthen Gram Sabhas to function effectively as the basic forum of peoples participation, transparency and accountability within the Panchayat system;
  • Create and strengthen democratic local self-government in areas where Panchayats do not exist;
  • Strengthen the constitutionally mandated framework on which Panchayats are founded.

2. SC says no to quota for government doctors in PG courses

 

  • In a severe blow to government doctors in Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court rejected a petition seeking exclusive quota for ‘in service doctors’ in admission to postgraduate medical degree courses.
  • A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra dismissed an application for interim relief to stay Regulation 9(4) and (8) of the Medical Council of India’s Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations of 2000.
  • The provisions provide reservation to ‘in-service doctors’ in postgraduate diploma courses and not for degree courses.
  • The application also sought a direction to allow the Tamil Nadu government have 50 percent quota for ‘in-service doctors’.
  • The Regulation provided up to 10% of the marks obtained for each year of service spent in remote and/or difficult areas.
  • Writing the judgment for the Bench, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud rejected the contention that Tamil Nadu had been following the pattern of reservation in respect of 50% of State quota for the ‘in-service’ candidates from 2007 and it should not be disturbed.

Can’t lower standards’

  • The court said the MCI had, as an expert body, proceeded on a principled basis. Any interim relief now would amount to a mandatory final order, which could not be countenanced.
  • The proviso to Rule 9(IV) did not contemplate a reservation for ‘in-service’ candidates in postgraduate courses, but only the grant of incentive marks.
  • The Bench, therefore, said prescribing a separate source of entry for ‘in-service’ degree candidates would directly result in lowering of standards in medical education. A separate reservation for in-service candidates in degree courses would impinge upon the regulatory powers of the MCI.
  • To the State’s arguments that it should not be denuded of its power to frame a policy for admission, the Bench observed that the term ‘reservations’ referred to in the opening sentence of the Regulations were obviously constitutional reservations for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and not for ‘in-service’ government doctors.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Annual summit of the SCO

WHAT’S IN THE NEWS?

  • Differences should not lead to disputes in relations between India and China, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday as she met her Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe in the backdrop of the strain in ties between the two countries after the Dokalam standoff.
  • During her meeting with Fenghe, she said that differences should not lead to disputes in relations between India and China, officials said.
  • In August last year, India and China ended their 73-day stand-off between their troops in Dokalam. The stand-off had strained ties considerably between the two countries.
  • The annual summit of the SCO, in which India is the latest entrant along with Pakistan, will take place in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend it.

What is the SCO?

  • The SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), headquartered in Beijing, was founded in 2001.
  • Comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan, the SCO aims at military cooperation between the member states and involves intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia and joint work against cyber terrorism.
  • India and Pakistan joined the SCO on June 9, 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. New system to measure air quality

 

  • India is tying up with the United States and Finland to develop a pollution-forecast system that will help anticipate particulate matter (PM) levels at least two days in advance and at a greater resolution than what is possible now.
  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will be coordinating this exercise and the plan is to have a system in place by winter.

Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology

  • Currently, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), run out of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, serves as the apex forecaster of pollution trends in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad. It generates a likely air quality profile, a day in advance, for these cities. IITM is an organisation under the MoES.
  • The new system, to be jointly developed with expertise from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the U.S.’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will use a different modelling approach as well as computational techniques from that employed in the SAFAR model.

Better resolution

  • SAFAR will continue to be the backbone [for pollution forecast] but this system, which will require our scientists to get special training, will use a different method of analysis. This could mean better resolution and more accurate forecasts.
  • A key focus would be to develop forecasts around the stubble-burning season that adds to Delhi’s pollution woes in the winter. This refers to the partially-burnt straw and chaff from fields in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, when farmers are preparing their fields for the sowing season.
  • Recently, the Union Environment Ministry released a draft of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) that aims to improve air quality monitoring in India by increasing the number of pollution monitoring stations and, incorporating it into a pollution forecast system.

2. The last straw in the battle against plastic

 

  • Cities and nations are looking at banning plastic straws and stirrers in hopes of addressing the world’s plastic pollution problem. The problem is so large, though, that scientists say that’s not nearly enough.
  • Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox estimate, using trash collected on U.S. coastlines during clean ups over five years, that there are nearly 7.5 million plastic straws lying around America’s shorelines. They figure that means 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws are on the entire world’s coastlines.
  • But that huge number suddenly seems small when you look at all the plastic trash bobbing around oceans. University of Georgia environmental engineering professor Jenna Jambeck calculates that nearly 9 million tons end up in the world’s oceans and coastlines each year, as of 2010, according to her 2015 study in the journal Science .
  • That’s just in and near oceans. Each year more than 35 million tons of plastic pollution are produced around Earth and about a quarter of that ends up around the water.For every pound of tuna we’re taking out of the ocean, we’re putting two pounds of plastic in the ocean.
  • Seabirds can ingest as much as 8 percent of their body weight in plastic, which for humans is equivalent to the average woman having the weight of two babies in her stomach.
  • Scientists say that these items that people use for a few minutes but are sticking round for our lifetime and longer.Marcus Eriksen, an environmental scientist, calls plastic bags, cups and straws that break down in smaller but still harmful pieces the ‘smog of microplastics.’
  • The key to solving marine litter, Russell says, is ‘in investing in systems to capture land-based waste and investing in infrastructure to convert used plastics into valuable products.’

3. The Villanueva plant in Mexico

 

  • With 2.3 million solar panels – covering the equivalent of 2,200 football fields in the arid northern state of Coahuila – the Villanueva power plant, built by Italian energy company Enel, is part of Mexico’s push to generate 43% of its electricity from clean sources by 2024.
  • Arrayed across the sand in seemingly endless rows that stretch to the horizon, the solar panels are made to turn in tandem with the sun, like a giant field of shimmering metallic sunflowers.
  • The $650-million project came online in December and is due to produce 1,700 gigawatt hours when fully operational later this year – enough to power 1.3 million homes.
  • Mexico won plaudits from environmentalists in 2015 when it became the first emerging country to announce its emissions reduction targets for the United Nations climate accord, ambitiously vowing to halve them by 2050.
  • To get there, it is tendering clean energy projects in which private companies produce, sell and purchase electricity on an open market. The three projects tendered so far have generated an estimated $8.6 billion in investment. The resulting electricity will power some 6.5 million homes, according to government figures.
  • The Villanueva plant is the largest solar project in the world outside China and India.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Centre seeks suggestions on long term capital gains clause

 

  • The Centre opened for public discussion its proposed clause in the Income Tax Act that would give the government the power to specify the applicability of the long-term capital gains tax and the security transaction tax.
  • The Finance Act 2018 had introduced Section 112A in the Income Tax Act, to provide that long-term capital gains arising from the transfer of a long-term capital asset, if it is an equity share in a company, be taxed at 10% of the value of the gains exceeding Rs. 1 lakh.
  • The said section, inter alia, provides that the provisions of the section shall apply to the capital gains arising from a transfer of long-term capital asset being an equity share in a company, only if securities transaction tax (STT) has been paid on the acquisition and transfer of such capital asset.

‘Genuine cases’

  • However, to provide the applicability of the tax regime under Section 112A of the Act to genuine cases where the STT could not have been paid, it has also been provided in sub-section (4) of Section 112A of the Act that the Central Government may specify, by notification, the nature of acquisitions in respect of which the requirement of payment of STT shall not apply in the case of acquisition of equity share in a company.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY

1. The impeachment controversy

 

  • With the Rajya Sabha Chairman rejecting the notice given by 64 Opposition members for the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India, the focus has shifted to the presiding officer’s power to admit or reject a motion.

Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968

  • Section 3 of the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968, says the presiding officer may admit or refuse to admit the motion after holding consultations with such persons as he thinks fit, and considering the material before him.
  • The law is open to interpretation on whether he can reject the motion on merits without sending the charges to a committee for investigation.
    • A common sense view suggests the Chairman has to apply his mind to the nature of the charge.
    • To argue that he should merely satisfy himself on the number of signatures appended to the motion and straightaway constitute a probe committee is unlikely to find judicial favour.
    • However, it needs a court to delineate the contours of such an interpretation. Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu held there is little merit in any of the five charges.
    • He has considered the implications for judicial independence if an investigation were ordered into charges that he says are based on mere suspicion and conjecture.
    • He has picked holes in the motion’s wording, saying the signatories themselves are unsure of the veracity of the charges.
  1. Krishna Swami v. Union of India (1992)
  • As for the legal foundation of his order, Mr. Naidu has cited the Supreme Court ruling in M. Krishna Swami v. Union of India (1992), which directed the Speaker (or Chairman) to act with utmost care, circumspection and responsibility and to keep equally in mind the seriousness of the imputations, nature and quality of the record before him, and the indelible chilling effect on the public administration of justice and the independence of the judiciary in the estimate of the general public.
    • He has also gone by Mehar Singh Saini (2010) to elaborate on the phrase proved misbehaviour or incapacity, used in Article 124(4) of the Constitution, the ground for impeachment of a Supreme Court judge.
    • What is possibly the main charge — that Justice Misra misused his control over the roster to assign cases selectively with a view to influencing their outcome — is indeed a serious one.
    • But the question is whether impeachment is an option in the absence of concrete material to establish this charge.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Narendra Modi’s visit to China and the global flux of Geopolitics

Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes to China on April 27, against the background of turbulence in global geopolitics and some domestic disquiet about “softening” of India’s China policy.

The international backdrop is worrying in many respects.

  • The face-off between the U.S. (and its allies) and Russia is arguably worse than during the Cold War.
  • They confront each other, through proxy forces, in three active conflict zones — Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan.
  • The recent U.S.-French-British missile strikes in Syria were a stark reminder. It now emerges that prior communication to the Russians had ensured that equipment, personnel and civilians had been evacuated in advance.
  • However, such deconfliction arrangements seem to be episodic, and there is a lurking danger that miscalculation or brinkmanship might spark off a direct conflict at a local level.

CAATSA : Edgy confrontation

  • Sanctions — particularly the new U.S. legislation, CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), under which it can impose sanctions on any company which engages with Russia in the defence or energy sector — impart a sharper edge to the confrontation.
  • This weapon was not wielded in anything like this form in the Cold War; its impact could be far more devastating in today’s globalised world.
  • Recent American sanctions on major Russian multinationals, whose stocks are internationally traded, widened the target beyond Russian oligarchs to a larger body of shareholders within and outside Russia.

Trade issues

  • America’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade grouping excluding China, effectively benefited China.
  • India has a trade surplus of about $25 billion with the U.S.India itself, running a trade deficit of over $50 billion with China, is in difficult negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade grouping that includes China, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Role of Japan: Unpredictable U.S.

  • The unpredictability of U.S. foreign policy is driving even its closest allies to hedge their options.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Mr. Xi are to exchange visits in the near future — a significant breakthrough in relations between two strategic rivals, who were on the verge of a military confrontation about five years ago.
  • Japan (like India) is concerned about China’s assertiveness in its neighbourhood and the geopolitical implications of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

India-Russia-U.S

  • The sharpening of U.S.-Russia acrimony has complicated India’s relations with both countries. Besides pressure to address the India-U.S. trade imbalance, India has been warned that its defence and energy links with Russia could attract U.S. sanctions under CAATSA — a development which could have a major impact on our defence preparedness.
  • Russia’s intensifying defence cooperation with China and its actions in Afghanistan and with Pakistan are areas on which serious and delicate high-level India-Russia dialogue is being pursued.

India: Mutual interest in serenity

  • This is the backdrop to the current “reset” in India-China relations. With a strengthening Russia-China axis and with the U.S. taking its eye off China to deal with Russia, it is prudent for India to maintain a harmonious dialogue with China, even as we deal with the wrinkles in our relations with the other two great powers.
  • China’s motivation in extending the olive branch may be similar: to maintain serenity in relations while it deals with its other challenges.This is not to say that India should not stand firm on its core interests, political, economic or strategic.
  • We cannot overlook Chinese designs in our neighbourhood — from Doklam to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives — or ignore the larger geopolitical threat posed by the land and sea corridors of the BRI.
  • It is just that circumstances may have opened up some space for furthering mutual interests, without compromising on our other interests.
  • Countries do not publicly admit adverse asymmetries in relations, but their policymakers have to factor them into their policies and actions. Of course, even countries in adverse asymmetric relationships have levers which can and should be used to further their vital interests.
  • In most cases, this is best done through quiet dialogue instead of public airing of differences, which hardens attitudes.

Importance of messaging

  • It is a valid point that the public messaging on this change in tone of the India-China relationship could have been better.
  • The course of India-China relations in the past couple of years had created a public narrative of bilateral frictions over CPEC, Doklam, our Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and other issues, on which India had to take strong public positions.
  • The transformation in the international environment, creating opportunities for non-confrontational dialogue, could perhaps have been better explained. Foreign policy can be pursued far more effectively when it is supported by public perceptions.
  • The reality is that India has to maintain a pragmatic balance in its relations with the three major powers, remaining conscious of the fact that elements of these relations will be continuously impacted by the dynamic flux of today’s global geopolitics.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018

 

  • Union Cabinet approved the promulgation of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018.
  • A fugitive is defined as someone who has left India to avoid criminal prosecution or who is already overseas and refuses to return to face the law.
  • In recent weeks, banks have been asked to mandatorily collect passport details of those borrowing above Rs. 50 crore, and the passports of some wilful defaulters are being impounded too.
  • While presenting Budget 2017-18, the Finance Minister referred to instances of offenders fleeing the country to escape its justice system, and said the government was looking at a law to confiscate the assets of such persons till they return to face the law.
  • There remains great consternation over liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s flight from the country, with his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines having run up outstanding loans of over Rs. 9,000 crore from Indian banks.
    • Both Mr. Mallya and former Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi, who faces an Enforcement Directorate probe for foreign exchange law violations, are in Britain.
    • They left Indian shores for safer climes under the NDA government’s watch, as did diamond merchants Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and their associates, whose firms defrauded the country’s second largest public sector bank of over Rs. 12,800 crore.
  • India is no closer to getting Mr. Modi or Mr. Mallya back to face the law, with extradition proceedings against the latter crawling through U.K. courts. No clear indications about whether their return could be expedited emerged during Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with his British counterpart Theresa May last week.
  • Meanwhile, though government agencies have attached the diamond merchant duo’s assets in India, an American court has disallowed the sale of their assets in other jurisdictions while allowing their U.S.-based entity to offload its assets.
  • The reason: India is yet to pass a model law mooted by the UN for cross-border insolvency cases. It is not clear whether this ordinance can tide over this major handicap.

The government needs to present a coherent vision about its plans to bring back those fugitives who have already got away and plug the remaining loopholes in the system.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. Geographical Indication Registry has awarded Geographical Indication (GI) Tag to two more craft forms from Telangana viz. Adilabad dokra and Warangal Dhurries.

  2. Adilabad Dokra is an ancient bell metal craft and Warangal Dhurries is a popular traditional cotton rug.

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 Geographical Indication (GI) Tag:
  1. GI tag is name or sign used on certain products which correspond to specific geographical location or origin.

  2. The registration of a GI is valid for 20 years after which it needs to be renewed.

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:
  1. Under Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between Inner line and Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir, some parts of Sikkim fall under protected area regime while others under restricted area regime.

  2. Under Protected areas Regime, foreign nationals are not normally allowed to visit protected or restricted area unless Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify their visit.

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 4. Consider the following statements about National Clean Air Programme:
  1. It is a medium term national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.

  2. It envisions setting up only automatic air-quality-monitoring stations.

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 Liquidity Crisis:
  1. This refers to a situation where an individual, a business or a government is unable to gather enough cash to meet its payment obligations to lenders.

  2. A liquidity crisis is similar to a solvency crisis.

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 6. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Report “Migration and Development Brief” is published by International Labour Organisation (ILO).

  2. India has retained top position as recipient of remittances in 2017.

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. With decline in trade between India and Pakistan, it has given risen to informal channels of trade. What are the possible implications and ways to address this issue?

  2. With more than 100 countries abolishing death penalty should India also consider abolishing it? How is death penalty executed in India and also discuss possible alternatives?
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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