21 Feb 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
GOVERNANCE
1. Tribunal to settle Mahanadi river dispute
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Bangladesh's ties with China: Hasina explains why India shouldn't worry
2. China deploys warships in Indian Ocean
3. Maldives on a collision course with India
4. Indian H-4 entrepreneurs in limbo as the U.S. rethinks visa rules
5. China outbids India for stake in DSE
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Coal mining open for private sector
2. Lack of policy won’t hit EV development: automakers
3. Malegam to head RBI panel to avert frauds
4. Green signal for ₹60,000-cr National Urban Housing Fund
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Asteroids will help understand how life began on Earth: Study
2. Scientists grow sheep embryos containing human cells
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Canadian bathos: Justin Trudeau’s vote-banks
ENVIRONMENT
1. The renewable purchase obligation is hurting
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. Tribunal to settle Mahanadi river dispute

  • The Cabinet has approved setting up of a Tribunal to settle the dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the Mahanadi River.
  • The Tribunal will determine water sharing among these States on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, contribution of each State, utilisation of water resources in each State and the potential for future development, an official statement said.
  • The Tribunal will consist of a Chairman and two other members nominated by the Chief Justice of India and will be either judges of Supreme Court or High Court.
  • Further, services of two Assessors who are water resources experts having experience in handling sensitive water-related issues will be provided to advise the Tribunal in its proceedings.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Bangladesh’s ties with China: Hasina explains why India shouldn’t worry

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday asked India not to worry about Dhaka’s growing ties with China, asserting that the cooperation with Beijing was meant only for the country’s development.
  • Hasina said her government was only concerned about the development and is ready to cooperate with any country that helps Bangladesh’s growth.
  • She said India, China, Japan and even the Middle Eastern countries were coming to Bangladesh for cooperation.
  • Bangladesh and India shared “excellent” ties and the two countries have set an example of solving problems like maritime and boundary disputes.
  • China has vowed to boost military-to-military relations with Bangladesh by stepping up defence ties, including broadening of personnel training and cooperation in equipment technology.
  • Earlier, Beijing said it planned to provide Bangladesh with a whopping $9 billion low-interest loan to build six rail projects including one close to the Indian border.
  • Hasina also sought India’s support in repatriation of over a million Rohingyas to Myanmar, fearing that their prolonged stay in Bangladesh could create security risks.
  • Hasina directed the foreign office to hold a dialogue with five countries, including India, which have borders with Myanmar, hoping that the initiative will help in solving the Rohingya crisis.

2. China deploys warships in Indian Ocean

  • Report says the ‘Blue 2018A’ fleet of the Chinese Navy has been training in the East Indian Ocean for a ‘week or so’
  • A Chinese naval contingent has been deployed in the East Indian Ocean for more than a week at a time when the Maldives is undergoing a political crisis, a Chinese website has reported.
  • The website has linked the deployment of the warships, including an amphibious vessel that can transfer troops from sea to land, to the evolving situation in the Maldives.
  • At present, the Indian Ocean region is not peaceful and the political situation in the Maldives continues to be turbulent.
  • The article pointed out that the Chinese Navy’s ‘Blue 2018A’ fleet has been training in the East Indian Ocean for a “week or so”. However, Indian defence sources denied any movement of Chinese ships near the Indian Ocean island nation.
  • China had earlier warned against external intervention in the Maldives after the country’s exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed called for New Delhi’s intervention to release political prisoners.

More ships

  • The post highlighted that two additional naval groups, already deployed for anti-piracy escort missions of commercial ships, beef up the Navy’s overall deployment in the Indian Ocean at this time.
  • These include the 27th escort convoy comprising a destroyer, frigate and a replenishment ship that may have entered the southern Indian Ocean, having crossed the southern tip of Africa, after completing its mission in the Atlantic more than 10 days ago.
  • It partners with the Navy’s third ship contingent in the Indian Ocean — the 28th convoy escort formation in the western Indian Ocean.
  • Meanwhile, Indian defence sources said no movement of Chinese ships was detected near the Maldivian waters.
  • A couple of weeks back, a Chinese naval task force has entered the Indian Ocean from the Sunda Strait for exercises in international waters closer to Australia and has since left via the Lombok Strait, the source explained.

3. Maldives on a collision course with India

  • The Maldives looked set for a collision course with India, as the Majlis (Parliament) cleared an extension of the current state of emergency by 30 days, defying India’s expectation conveyed hours earlier.
  • According to an official statement from President Abdulla Yameen’s office, the Parliament’s National Security Committee approved the extension with additional amendments, including one stating that the emergency rule would apply only to those alleged to have carried out illegal activities, and not to law abiding residents of, or visitors.
  • On February 5, Mr. Yameen declared a state of emergency for 15 days, citing threats to national security.
  • The move came after his government refused to implement a dramatic Supreme Court ruling delivered on February 1, which ordered the release of nine jailed Opposition leaders, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed, and the reinstatement of 12 expelled legislators.

Implement SC ruling

  • While India is yet to indicate its strategy in responding to the ongoing political and constitutional crisis in its neighbourhood, New Delhi on Tuesday reiterated its earlier position and urged the Maldives to implement the SC ruling.
  • The UN, the U.S., the U.K., the European Union, Australia and Canada, among others, earlier asked Mr. Yameen to comply with the ruling and ensure that rule of law prevails. Many nations have issued travel advisories directing citizens to avoid travelling to the Maldives.

4. Indian H-4 entrepreneurs in limbo as the U.S. rethinks visa rules

  • H-1B visa regulations require its holders to earn a salary.
  • Hundreds of people are facing a serious risk now, as the Trump administration may end work authorisation for spouses of H-1B holders.
  • It was a 2015 executive action by the administration of President Barack Obama that allowed these people to leave jobs and become job creators in America.

More jobs

  • The Trump administration said in December 2017 that it was considering the discontinuation of work authorisation for H-4 visa holders, to open up more jobs for Americans.

Job authorisation

  • By providing the possibility of employment authorisation to certain H-4 dependent spouses, the rule will ameliorate certain disincentives for talented H-1B non-immigrants to permanently remain in the U.S. and continue contributing to the U.S. economy.
  • This is an important goal considering the contributions such individuals make to entrepreneurship and research and development, which are highly correlated with overall economic growth and job creation.
  • The rule also will bring U.S. immigration policies concerning this class of highly skilled workers more in line with those of other countries that are also competing to attract and retain similar highly skilled workers.
  • Since then more than 1,00,000 spouses of those who are waiting for permanent residency in the U.S. received Employment Authorisation Documents (EAD).
  • The new rule allowed a pool of highly skilled workers to participate in the U.S. economy as employees, but not for entrepreneurs.

5. China outbids India for stake in DSE

  • Bangladesh has agreed to sell a large stake in its stock exchange to a Chinese consortium rebuffing a rival bid from India that raised political sensitivities.
  • The Dhaka Stock Exchange had approved the Chinese offer to buy a quarter of the bourse’s 1.8 billion shares, but Bangladesh’s financial regulator asked it to further scrutinise the decision.
  • The board has reconfirmed its decision about approving the Chinese consortium’s bid as it is higher than its nearest competitor’s.
  • India’s NSE had offered 15 taka ($0.18) per share during the tender process this month. China’s Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges made a joint higher bid of 22 taka per share, or $122 million, and offered additional technical support worth nearly $37 million.

Allegations of meddling

  • The intervention by the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission in the sale sparked allegations in local media that it was trying to favour India.
  • The Bangladesh office of Transparency International, the Berlin-based corruption watchdog, issued a statement “strongly condemning” what it called unethical and illegal meddling.
  • The regulator — which, at the time, defended its final authority to override decisions made by the stock exchange — was not immediately available for comment.
  • The competing bids have exposed tensions in Bangladesh as it juggles growing interest from China against long-standing ties with its huge neighbour India.
  • New Delhi threw its weight behind the 2014 elections that returned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to power, despite boycotts by the opposition who feared the vote would be rigged.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has made big investments in Bangladesh and Indian companies have won multi-billion contracts in key sectors in recent years.
  • But increasingly it must counter China, which has also courted India’s arch-rival Pakistan and strategic Indian Ocean nations including Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Coal mining open for private sector

Why in news?

  • Opening up commercial coal mining for Indian and foreign companies in the private sector, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the methodology for auction of coal mines/blocks for sale of the commodity.
  • The government described the move as the most ambitious reform of the sector since its nationalisation in 1973.

Significance of the move

  • Coal accounts for around 70% of the country’s power generation, and the move for energy security through assured coal supply is expected to garner attention from majors including Rio Tinto, BHP, Vedanta, Anglo American, Glencore and Adani Group. The private sector was permitted to mine the fossil fuel only for captive use.

2. Lack of policy won’t hit EV development: automakers

  • Automobile manufacturers Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra Electric and Mercedes-Benz have said that the absence of an electric vehicle (EV) policy will not come in the way of their developing the eco-friendly vehicles.
  • NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant had said last week that there was no need for a policy for EVs, as an action plan had been prepared and technology should not be trapped by rules and regulations.

3. Malegam to head RBI panel to avert frauds

  • The Rs. 11,500-crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank has prompted the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to set up a committee under former board member Y.H. Malegam to look into the reasons and suggest steps to prevent such occurrences.

NPA divergences

  • The committee will also look into the issue of huge non-performing asset divergences — between what banks classify and what is detected in RBI inspection — and recommend steps to address the issue.
  • The other members of the committee are Bharat Doshi, S. Raman and Nandkumar Saravade. A.K. Misra, Executive Director, RBI, will be the Member-Secretary.
  • The banking regulator said it had warned banks on three occasions since August 2016 and advised them to implement safeguards from risks arising from SWIFT infrastructure.
  • RBI had reiterated its confidential instructions and mandated banks to implement, within the stipulated deadlines, the prescribed measures for strengthening the SWIFT operating environment in banks.

4. Green signal for ₹60,000-cr National Urban Housing Fund

  • The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved setting up of a ₹60,000-crore National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) to facilitate the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Mission and to ensure that every poor living in the urban areas has a home by 2022.
  • The NUHF will be set up in the Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • To monitor the NUHF, a committee will be formed in the Ministry which will be chaired by the Joint Secretary/Mission Director PMAY(Urban).
  • The Cabinet having approved the NUHF provisioning for funds amounting to ₹60,000 crore over a period of four years, there will be an added momentum to the pace of implementation.
  • By March, a total of 45 lakh houses are expected to be sanctioned under the mission.
  • Under the programme, launched on June 25, 2015, a total of 39.4 lakh houses have been sanctioned till date, he added.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Asteroids will help understand how life began on Earth: Study

  • Asteroids play the role of time capsules showing what molecules originally existed in our solar system, and may help explain how life started on Earth, a study suggests.
  • Finding complex molecules in asteroids provides the strongest evidence that such compounds were present on the Earth before life formed, said Nicholas Hud from Georgia Institute of Technology in the US.
  • Knowing what molecules were present helps establish the initial conditions that led to the formation of amino acids and related compounds that, in turn, came together to form peptides, small protein-like molecules that may have kicked off life on our planet.
  • It’s important to study materials from asteroids and meteorites, the smaller versions of asteroids that fall to Earth, to test the validity of our models for how molecules in them could have helped give rise to life.
  • NASA scientists have been analysing compounds found in asteroids and meteorites for decades, and their work provides a solid understanding for what might have been present when the Earth itself was formed.
  • Detection of a molecule in an asteroid or meteorite is about the only evidence everyone will accept for that molecule being prebiotic.
  • Life could have gotten started with molecules that are less sophisticated and less efficient than what we see today.
  • Like life itself, these molecules could have evolved over time.
  • The overall structure can be very similar and would be easier to make, though it does not have the ability to fold into as complex structures as modern proteins.
  • There is a tradeoff between the simplicity of forming these molecules and how close these molecules are to those found in contemporary life.

2. Scientists grow sheep embryos containing human cells

  • The hybrid embryos were created in an early step toward growing human organs in farm animals before transplanting them into patients
  • In a breakthrough, scientists from the US and Japan have transferred human stem cells into sheep embryos, an advance that may pave the way for growing transplant organs inside animals.
  • The hybrid embryos containing both human and sheep cells were created in an early step toward growing human organs in farm animals before transplanting them into patients, The Financial Times reported.
  • The new finding paves way for genetically tailoring the organs to be compatible with the immune system of the patient receiving them, thus removing the possibility of rejection, the report said.
  • Using stem cell and genomic editing technologies, human stem cells were successfully transferred into early sheep embryos, producing embryos for which about one in every 100,000 cells were human.
  • These chimeras – a term adopted from Greek mythology – were only allowed to develop for 28 days, the researchers said while presenting the results at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Texas.
  • The experiment began with Hiro Nakauchi, from the University of Tokyo, who grew a mouse with a rat pancreas and a rat with a mouse pancreas.
  • When cells from the rat-grown mouse pancreas were transplanted into a diabetic mouse, they made enough insulin to cure the condition without being rejected.
  • Mice and rats are different types of rodents with the former having thin slightly hairy tails, while rats have thicker hairless scaly tails.
  • Nakauchi’s rodent work has demonstrated that you can grow organs in a different species and cure a disease without suppressing the immune system.
  • The novel approach helps to produce animal embryos that are genetically incapable of growing a particular organ.
  • Then the embryos are injected with human stem cells. The overall proportion of human cells in the chimeric embryo may be small but, as it develops in the womb, the human cells fill the gap and produce the missing organ that the animal’s own genes cannot create.
  • If the technology is able to grow human organs inside other species, organ transplants can become a possibility beyond critical conditions.
  • While it may take many years to develop chimeric transplant technology to the stage where it could be used safely on patient, things are moving fast.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Canadian bathos: Justin Trudeau’s vote-banks

  • Domestic politics often outplays the enlightened pursuit of national interest abroad
  • In most countries, especially democracies, the cultivation of narrowly based domestic constituencies for electoral reasons has its unfortunate consequences for the conduct of foreign policy.
  • Delhi’s perennial focus on elections of one kind or another makes its leaders quite sensitive to the domestic political considerations of India’s foreign interlocutors
  • Sikhs form a 3 percent of Canadian population and Trudeau is supporting a small section of Sikhs that is hostile to Delhi.
  • PM Modi, who is more than eager to entertain visiting leaders in his home state, Gujarat, did not travel to Ahmedabad to be with Trudeau. This underlines the new cooling that is enveloping the relationship
  • It is entirely possible that Trudeau’s visit, instead of putting aside the Khalistan issue, could end up aggravating the differences with India
  • The Canadian PM’s visit is indeed a valuable opportunity to clear the air on Trudeau’s attitude towards Sikh separatism
  • But still, it is not apparent whether he is ready to affirm a strong commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of India and dissociate himself from the Khalistanis
  • Canada has seemed reluctant to address India’s concerns related to Sikh separatism

Insights into Indo-Canadian relationship

  • In the early years of the Cold War, India and Canada sought to create political breathing room for middle powers in a fraught bipolar world
  • Delhi and Ottawa had good bonding on issue of liberal internationalism
  • At the bilateral level, civil nuclear collaboration between the two countries was a shining example of scientific internationalism during the Cold War
  • Trudeau’s predecessor, Stephen Harper, had unveiled in 2015 a vision for strategic partnership that was to build on the shared interests between the two countries
  • It is indeed tragic that India-Canada relations have become a political hostage to the Khalistan question
  • Delhi, however, has rightly decided it must stay engaged with Trudeau, who leads one of the world’s top economies and is a member of the Group of Seven advanced nations

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. The renewable purchase obligation is hurting

  • The landmark Electricity Act of 2003 removed the licensing requirement to produce power, and also led to the unbundling of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity at the state level.
  • The sweeping idea of open access, and a choice for consumers was introduced.
  • It was also the first time that the use of renewable energy (RE) was advocated as part of the national energy policy.
  • The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) that was to be implemented through eight missions has the national solar mission, whose aim was to promote the development and use of solar power.
  • The policy of renewable purchase obligations (RPOs) was also introduced at the state level where RPOs make it compulsory for all large consumers of energy to ensure that a certain percentage of that energy mix is from renewable sources such as wind and solar
  • The Narendra Modiji government revised the national RE ambition to achieve 175GW by 2022, of which 100GW would be from solar.
  • As per the studies, by December 2017, solar and wind capacity in the country was 17GW and 33GW, respectively.
  • This means that in the next four years, solar capacity needs to increase by 5.8 times, at a compound annual growth rate of 55.6% per year
  • On the other hand Economic Survey of 2017 indicated that the social cost of renewables to be three times that of coal, at around Rs11 per kilowatt-hour
  • One MW of solar plant requires 5 acres of land, whose cost is loaded on to the power cost.
  • Secondly, Indian industry is already suffering the disadvantage of higher energy cost due to levies like the coal cess, that has gone up by 800% in the last few years; from Rs 50 per tonne of coal in 2010 to Rs 400 in 2016
  • Thus, Solar and wind energy can never completely become the energy source for industries (in the near future) that need uninterrupted, reliable, steady and high wattage electricity.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Olive Ridley Turtles:
  1. The Olive ridley turtles are recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list.
  2. International Trade in these turtles and their products is banned under CITES Appendix I.

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 Mahanadi River:
  1. Mahanadi River is divided almost equally between Chhattisgarh, where it is born, and downstream Odisha.
  2. It deposits more silt than any other river in the Indian subcontinent.

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 3. Consider the following statements about the Chardham Highway Project:
  1. The Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna is an initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres in the Himalayas.
  2. The project will be built under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode.

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 Sophia:
  1. Sophia is a social humanoid robot.
  2. It is the first non-human to be given any United Nations title.

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:
  1. Brabo is touted as India’s first indigenously made industrial articulated robot for micro, small and medium enterprises.
  2. Indore has become the India’s first city where robot is being used on an experimental basis to control its ever growing and unruly traffic.

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 – International Relations

  1. Will Venezuela debt crisis impact India? Critically Comment.
  2. Justin Trudeau’s indulgence towards Sikh separatists threatens the bilateral relationship with India. Critically Analyze.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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