TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related GOVERNANCE 1. India ranks 81st in global corruption perception index C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. RBI norm may delay Jio’s bank plan 2. NPA norms to push up credit costs’ ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. Can a forest fire be beneficial in any way? 2. What’s threatening echidnas? 3. Endosulfan: Chief Minister seeks Central aid D. GS4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. The game of chicken in the Arabian Sea ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. Planning for electric mobility F. Prelims Fact G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
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B. GS2 Related
1. India ranks 81st in global corruption perception index
- India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, released by Transparency International, which named the country among the worst offenders in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.
- The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, placed India at the 81st place. In 2016, India was in the 79th place among 176 countries.
- The index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
- India’s score in the latest ranking, however, remained unchanged at 40. In 2015, the score was 38.
- Transparency International further said, in some countries across the region (Asia Pacific), journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies are threatened, and in the worst cases, even murdered.
- The Philippines, India and the Maldives are among the worst regional offenders in this respect. These countries score high for corruption and have fewer press freedoms and higher numbers of journalist deaths.
- In the last six years, 15 journalists working on corruption stories in these countries were murdered, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
- In the latest ranking, New Zealand and Denmark were placed the highest, with scores of 89 and 88, respectively. On the other hand, Syria, South Sudan and Somalia were ranked the lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9, respectively.
- Meanwhile, China with a score of 41 was ranked 77th on the list, while Brazil was placed at 96th with a score of 37 and Russia was at the 135th place with a score of 29.
- Further analysis of the results indicates that countries with the least protection for press and NGOs also tend to have the worst rates of corruption.
- The analysis, which incorporates data from CPJ, showed that in the last six years, 9 out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score 45 or less on the index.
C. GS3 Related
1. RBI norm may delay Jio’s bank plan
- Reliance Jio, which was planning to unveil a payments bank, would have to wait following a new diktat by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which said the know your customer (KYC) process would have to be done by third party entities and not by telecommunication firms.
- Telecom companies, being not included in the ‘reporting entities’ in terms of the PML (Prevention of Money Laundering) Act, are not subject to requirements of the said Act.
- According to RBI’s operating guidelines, payments banks have to complete KYC verification independently through third parties. The move would also impact Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone payments banks as well.
- Reliance Jio, which was planning to unveil a payments bank in association with India’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI), was banking on the e-kyc done using Aadhar for enrolling Jio customers for the new entity.
2. NPA norms to push up credit costs’
- Recent norms for non-performing assets announced by the Reserve Bank of India are likely to increase the cost of credit for banks and undermine earnings in the near term, according to rating agency Fitch.
- RBI had asked banks to initiate insolvency proceedings for accounts if the stress was not resolved in 180 days. Regulators appear increasingly impatient with the slow resolution of NPL stock
- Adding an increase in liquidation would raise the likelihood of banks taking larger than expected haircuts.
1. Can a forest fire be beneficial in any way?
- Ordinarily forest fires are associated with destruction. If allowed to run free, they can destroy anything that crosses their path.
- There have been innumerable cases of forest fires raging out of control and damaging not just trees but also valuable property and claiming precious lives.
- However, small amounts of it can actually prove beneficial. Small artificial fires create a natural barrier that prevents larger fires from going out of control.
- It is a little-known fact that forest fires are also responsible for renewal of the forests. For example, in the boreal forests of Canada, fires are often an essential part of the life-cycle of trees.
- Boreal forests consist mostly of coniferous trees like spruce, fir and pine that actually depend on fire for germination.
- The intense heat of the fire cracks open cones that remain closed for years and the seeds sprout and take root in land fertilized by ash.
- Thus, from destruction emerge new trees that are stronger and more suited to the scorched terrain than the older ones they replace.
- In dense forests, tall trees stop sunlight from reaching the ground, often leading to death of plants and animals that require sunlight to survive.
- When fires occur, they clear up the green canopy allowing sunlight on the forest floor, which gives life to flora and fauna dwelling there.
2. What’s threatening echidnas?
- They may be one of the world’s oldest surviving mammals — around for at least 25m years — but scientists don’t know much about echidnas.
- Now researchers believe the remaining Australian population may be threatened.
- The short-beaked echidna is found only in Australia and Papua New Guinea. In 2015 the Kangaroo Island echidna, a once significant subspecies, was listed as endangered.
- While the remaining population is listed as “least concern”, researchers question the listing.
- The main threats to echidnas are land clearing and habitat loss. This was demonstrated on Kangaroo Island when the population shrank as development increased. Echidnas can travel great distances — often several km a day — they have very large home ranges and so land clearing and rapid developments can cause problems in their ability to travel by removing viable habitat.
- Other major threats include traffic, feral cats and potentially the rapidly changing climate.
- What is known about the echidna is fascinating. Like their mammalian cousins the platypus, echidnas lay eggs but keep their young — puggles — in the mother’s pouch.
- Once they are the size of a cricket ball and their spines begin to develop, they are kicked out of the pouch and left in burrows.
- And while some echidna populations nurture their young, mostly the puggles are left to figure things out for themselves.
- Echidnas are robust and are found in wildly different environments, from the desert to the snow, likely to having much lower body temperature than all other mammals — around 30C — which can fluctuate by up to 10C in a single day.
- Perry has long been fascinated by the spiky creatures. Asked for a little-known fact, she points out the back feet of the echidnas point backwards to help them dig their burrows.
- This bewildered the British taxidermists of old who, thinking there must be a mistake, rotated the feet forward. Now hundreds of years later, those feet are being switched back.
- With the help of the research project, Perry hopes to discover more about the echidna’s DNA, eating habits and hormones to study breeding patterns.
3. Endosulfan: Chief Minister seeks Central aid
- Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said that the Centre should bear at least half the cost of recompensing endosulfan pesticide victims in Kerala.
- In a communique to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Vijayan said the State would incur a financial liability of Rs. 342 crore to provide compensation and monthly pension to the pesticide victims.
- He said he hoped the Centre would provide at least half of the required amount. In 2012, Kerala had submitted to the Centre a Rs. 483-crore proposal to compensate the endosulfan afflicted.
- In February and October last year, the State government had sent reminders to the Centre, but to no avail. The State government accorded top priority to mitigate the plight of the victims.
D. GS4 Related
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1. The game of chicken in the Arabian Sea
- The ongoing crisis in the Maldives has acquired a particularly serious dimension
- In that time, several reports have emerged suggesting China may be directly backing Abdulla Yameen’s decision to impose and extend the emergency in the small island state
- These reports suggest that China has implicitly promised support to Yameen in the event that India moves to forcibly change the political status quo there
Chinese Navy presence in the Indian Ocean
- Earlier this month, a Chinese naval surface action group (SAG) of three ships entered the eastern Indian Ocean through the Sunda Straits
- The question then is about the timing and intent of the SAG deployment this time around
- While there is no definitive way of answering this question, several facts suggest that this is related to the ongoing crisis in the Maldives
- In order to stall an Operation Cactus kind-of-operation, China is signalling India that it has the muscle to push Indian forces out of the Maldives if it so chooses.
- Studying Chinese naval behaviour over the past few years carefully
- China has pioneered what Western experts call “grey zone coercion”
- It is a strategy by which China seeks to meet its strategic objective without crossing its adversary’s threshold for conventional military retaliation
- By choosing to message its resolve to India from a distance, Beijing ensured that India would not be provoked militarily and yet be compelled to take into account the strategic signal emanating from the east
- India must continue to keep up a robust presence in the Arabian Sea
- The Indian Navy must also be allowed to expand its presence operations in the South China Sea, long considered a Chinese preserve
- China’s vulnerabilities in its near-seas must be taken advantage of by Indian naval planners
- India must have an alternative plan ready for the Maldives, just in case naval posturing does not beget an optimal solution
1. Planning for electric mobility
- Transitioning to an electric vehicle-based regime will be difficult, but well worth it
- Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, published that air pollution attributed to an estimated 6.5 million premature deaths globally, with 1.1 million being from India.
- World Health Organisation’s urban air quality database had found four Indian cities to be among the world’s 10 most polluted.
- The database also placed 10 Indian cities in the 20 worst list.
Reasons for India’s deteriorating air quality
- Emissions from motor vehicles being the prime reason.
- Piyush Goyal, then Union Minister for Power, said that from 2030, India would completely shift to using electric vehicles (EVs).
- The push for electric mobility was backed by the government think-tank, NITI Aayog, which has estimated that the nation can save up to ₹4 lakh crore by rapidly adopting EVs.
- While transitioning the long-term benefits could outweigh the hardships significantly in the wake of India’s ambitious renewable energy plans.
- NITI Aayog lays stress on the need for a robust action plan to move towards electric mobility by 2030.
India needs to address five fundamental issues immediately.
Who will take the lead.
- EVs involve several actors at the national, State and city levels, respectively. Such as Road Transport and Highways, Housing and Urban Affairs, Heavy Industries, Power, New and Renewable Energy, External Affairs as well as national institutes such as NITI Aayog.
Figuring out the best mode forward.
- China has focussed on the use of electric buses as a catalyst for EV penetration.
- It is the largest electric bus manufacturer in the world, with most in use in the country.
- The Netherlands, on the other hand, has captured the EV market using a simple yet well-crafted strategy of creating charging infrastructure and encouraging investment in charging technology by providing incentives to EV buyers.
- Today, it has the densest charging infrastructure in the world and is a major exporter of this technology.
India is today the largest manufacturer and exporter of two-wheelers and auto-rickshaws. Could these vehicles pave the way for an EV revolution?
- The assumption that anyone who controls the battery will control electric mobility rings true in the current scenario.
- India does not produce lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries currently, and companies making battery packs are dependent almost exclusively on imports from China.
- This is a cost-saving strategy as setting up a cell manufacturing unit in India would be expensive.
- Accelerating EV use in India should be linked to the “Make in India” goal and domestic battery production.
- Investment is required for research and development in battery-making and exploring alternative technologies.
- EV charging is more than just using electricity. It involves exchange of information requiring a communication protocol.
- There is no unique or single-charging technology for EVs.
- The three major EV users, China, Japan and the European Union, have their own charging technologies which are often conflicting and not interchangeable.
Jobs and the economic impact.
- India is the world’s fourth largest fifth auto market, where over 25 million motor vehicles are produced.
- The sector is estimated to provide direct and indirect employment to about three crore people and accounts for 7.1% of the nation’s GDP.
- The industry is estimated to grow to $300 billion in annual revenue by 2026, creating 65 million additional jobs, and contributing over 12% to the GDP.
Hurdles and what needs to be done?
- The absence of a standard global infrastructure is a major deterrent for EV penetration in India, as creating infrastructure can be cost-intensive.
- Government needs to select or develop appropriate charging technology that avoids multiplicity and reduces the cost of infrastructure, while making it convenient and safe for users.
- Qualitative and quantitative estimation of the new jobs the EV sector will create would go a long way in negating apprehensions and securing the pathway for EV technology and use.
- EVs have the potential to disrupt the mobility ecosystem, and, if implemented well, could have a positive impact on the economy as well as the urban environment. India, however, needs a road map, with timelines, processes, well-researched impact studies, bold initiatives and robust investments in technological research to turn its EV dream into reality.
F. Prelims Fact
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G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Aarambh is an initiative of:
- Ministry of Home Affairs
- Ministry of Women
- A network of organizations and individuals
Question 2. Consider the following statements about Kandariya Mahadeva Temple:
- The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is located in Odisha.
- It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu only.
- It was built by Vidyadhara of Chalukyan dynasty.
Which of the above statements are incorrect?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 2 only
- All of the above
Question 3. Consider the following statements about Khajuraho Temple:
- Khajuraho Temple is located in MP.
- Khajuraho Festival of Dances is organised by the Ministry of Tourism.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 4. Consider the following statements about Credit Crunch:
- An economic situation where banks and other financial institutions become extremely reluctant to provide loans to businesses.
- An economic crisis where countries are not able to get funding from World Bank.
- It also known as credit squeeze.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
- All of the above
Question 5. Which will be the first city to introduce Heli Taxi service in India?
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
General Studies II
- Newborn mortality continues to haunt India. What are the various causes for this continued Problem and what can the Govt do to address the issue?
- Is the Supreme Court verdict on Cauvery fair? Critically comment.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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