22 Jun 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India, Maldives hold discussions to sort out issues
2. India notifies higher tariffs on U.S. imports
C. GS3 Related
POVERTY AND HUNGER
1. World’s hungry population on the rise again, says UN report
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY
1. A Bill that is causing worry
F. Tidbits
1. Venkaiah says loan waiver not a permanent solution
2. Villages go ‘missing’ in Telangana
3. ‘Stonehenge builders used Pythagoras theorem’
4. CIL notifies coal e-auction for sectors such as cement, steel
5. SEBI eases norms for share buy-backs, IPOs
6. Upgrade software at ATMs by June 2019 or face penalty, RBI tells banks
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India, Maldives hold discussions to sort out issues

  • India and the Maldives are engaged in a series of high-level meetings to end the logjam in the relations over strategic issues.

Possible solution

  • One possible solution to the problem caused by the Yameen government’s insistence on returning two helicopters India had stationed in the Maldives for the past few years, would be if the Maldives accepts a long pending Indian offer of a Dornier patrol aircraft instead.
  • The Maldives, itself, had requested the Dornier some time ago but has not approved the LoE for the past two years.

New terms

  • The LoE would be slightly modified and will include terms for about 30 Indian personnel, including pilots and engineers, as well as a construction team required to build a hangar for the plane at the Kadhdhoo National Defence facility.
  • Expenses for the effort would be shared by both governments, according to the terms being discussed presently.
  • As in the case of the helicopters, the LoE is expected to be valid for two years with the standard provision that it can be terminated at any point.
  • Maldives hopes to replace the Indian pilots over time with their pilots.
  • One Maldivian pilot has already been trained in India for the Dornier and one more is to be trained soon.

Background

  • The bilateral relationship has been on a downward trajectory since the Maldives started moving closer to China and further when President Abdulla Yameen declared emergency in the country in February.
  • The Maldives had set India a deadline to remove its helicopters by the month-end and refused to extend the visa of the Navy personnel there, forcing the External Affairs Ministry to step in to resolve the issue.
  • The main reasons for the unhappiness over the helicopters, that India has been keen to have stationed in the strategically located atolls, were statements made during the period of the emergency.
  • The Maldives government is not willing to reconsider the leases of the two Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) stationed in Addu and Laamu atolls and won’t extend the visas for Indian military personnel stationed there to operate them.
  • There are about 26 Navy personnel, including pilots, currently posted there.
  • India had gifted the two helicopters in 2013. One of them was operated by the Indian Coast Guard, the LoE of which expired early this year, and the other by the Indian Navy. Its LoE is due to expire soon.

Decision awaited

  • While discussions are on, the Indian military establishment said it is yet to be informed of these developments.

2. India notifies higher tariffs on U.S. imports

  • India notified higher tariffs on several items imported from the U.S., including agricultural products such as apples, almonds, chickpeas, lentils, and walnuts, and industrial inputs such as some grades of iron and steel products.
  • This is the latest salvo in the ongoing tariff tiff between the U.S. and several of its trading partners.

Background

  • India’s move comes close on the heels of escalating trade tensions, with the U.S. and China both imposing hefty tariffs on each other, and even the European Union joining the fray.
  • The row began in March, when U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order imposing a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium imports, causing concern among its trading partners and members of the WTO.

Consequences

  • Recently, International Monetary Fund also highlighted the detrimental effects of such a trade environment and that the prospect of trade restrictions and counter-restrictions threatens to undermine confidence and derail growth prematurely.
  • It means that the costs at both the ends would go up, for Indian consumers as well as for U.S. consumers.
  • Imposing tariffs basically means either you look for other sources, or you import at higher prices.

Room for talks

  • The notification, however, says these higher tariffs would come into effect from August 4, leaving room for further discussions between the U.S. and India before the new rates are implemented.
  • It follows the government’s notification to the World Trade Organization last week that it was imposing tariffs, amounting to $240 million, in retaliation for the U.S. duty on steel and aluminium.
  • The notification does not mention a tariff hike on 800 cc (or more) motorcycles, which would affect Harley Davidson imports, already a sore point.

India-US 2+2 Dialogue

  • The inaugural U.S.-India 2+2 Dialogue will take place on July 6, both countries announced.
  • It will focus on strengthening strategic, security, and defense cooperation as the United States and India jointly confront global challenges.
  • The new dialogue format was agreed to between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington D.C. in June, 2017.
  • The two sides are expected to share perspectives on strengthening their strategic and security ties and exchange views on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Hurdles

  • The meeting takes place amid considerable divergence between the two countries on several strategic and trade issues.
  • The U.S is pressing India to scale down its defence cooperation with Russia.
  • The Donald Trump administration has been reassuring Indian interlocutors that it will shield India from anti-Russia third party sanctions required by a U.S. law.
  • How this will be achieved remains unclear, and this issue will be top of the agenda in the dialogue.
  • Negotiations on India’s proposed purchase of Guardian Avenger armed drones from the U.S. is dependent on the progress of talks on the Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA) between the two countries.
  • Both countries are exchanging notes on an India-specific agreement.
  • India has found the text of the standard agreement that the U.S. signs with many countries too intrusive.

C. GS3 Related

Category: POVERTY AND HUNGER

1. World’s hungry population on the rise again, says UN report

  • The number of hungry people in the world has risen for the first time in more than a decade, according to a United Nations report.
  • There are now approximately 38 million more undernourished people in the world, rising from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, the year for which the latest statistics are available.

Causes

  • According to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2018 report, conflict is now one of the main drivers of food insecurity in 18 countries.
  • After a prolonged decline, world hunger appears to be on the rise again.
  • Conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change are among the key factors causing this reversal in progress.
  • Violent conflicts also led to the forced displacement of a record high 68.5 million in 2017.

Economic losses

  • Noting the increasing impact of extreme events related to a changing climate, the report said economic losses attributed to disasters were estimated at over $300 billion in 2017.
  • This is among the highest losses in recent years, owing to three major hurricanes affecting the United States of America and several countries across the Caribbean.

South Asia

  • South Asia, which includes India, has seen child marriage rates plunge, with a girl’s risk of getting married in childhood dropping by 40% from 2000 to 2017.
  • On the other hand, water stress levels for many countries in the region are above 70%, indicating fast-approaching water scarcity.
  • More than nine out of 10 people living in urban areas around the world are breathing polluted air, with southern Asia scoring the worst in this area.
  • While electricity and sanitation deficits in south Asia are still poor, the report noted efforts are being made to close the gap.

Sense of urgency

  • While there is little country-specific data in the report, it does examine the performance of various regions in meeting the 17 SDGs, which were adopted by UN member nations in 2015. The deadline to meet them is 2030.
  • Achieving the 2030 Agenda requires immediate and accelerated actions by countries along with collaborative partnerships among governments and stakeholders at all levels.

Read about Global Hunger Index

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY

1. A Bill that is causing worry

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Why in news?

  • It has been made clear that the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, will not be tabled in Parliament in the monsoon session, and that the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining it will be holding wider consultations. A Bill that is causing worry.
  • The Bill was introduced in July 2016, and referred to a parliamentary committee.

Objectives

  • The Bill’s objective is to remove the tag of ‘illegal migrants’ from members of minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Parsis — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have entered the country without legal documentation or whose documents have expired. ‘
  • The idea is to make them eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.

Features of the Proposed Bill

  • If the Bill is passed, these individuals will be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation.
  • Under the present law, citizenship by naturalisation requires applicants to have stayed in the country for 11 years of the previous 14 years, and throughout the last 12 months.
  • The proposed amendment reduces the residency requirement to six years, besides the last 12 months. The amendment will not cover Muslims, who form the majority in these three countries.
  • The Bill’s statement of objects and reasons argues that the aim is to help persons of Indian origin, including those from these minority communities in the three countries, who are unable to produce proof of their Indian origin while applying for citizenship by registration.
  • As naturalisation is their only means of acquiring citizenship, the government wants to reduce the residency requirement from 12 to seven years. The long waiting period in the present law would deny them “opportunities and advantages” that accrue to citizens, even though they are likely to stay in India permanently.
  • Another feature of the proposed amendment is that it enables cancellation of the registration of any Overseas Citizen of India cardholder for violation of Indian law.

 

Issues about the Proposed Bill

  • Opposition to the Bill is strong in Assam, where there is fear that non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh will become Indian citizens. There is also an apprehension that this would be in conflict with the ongoing exercise to update the National Register of Citizens in Assam, for which the cut-off date is March 24, 1971.
  • The Bill is also seen as discriminatory in some quarters as it does not cover Muslim sects fleeing persecution from dominant sections in these countries.

F. Tidbits

1. Venkaiah says loan waiver not a permanent solution

  • Cautioning against complacency over the food security situation, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu said there was a need to evolve a multipronged strategy to make agriculture viable, profitable and sustainable.
  • He said loan waiver was not a permanent solution and in the long term, it would affect the agriculture sector and hurt cultivators.

Way forward

  • Naidu further said that farmers who take up allied activities like poultry and dairy along with traditional farming do not commit suicide, cultivators must be able to export their produce for better returns.
  • The growing needs of our country’s increasing population require our own home-grown food security strategy as suggested by the eminent scientist and Father of the Green Revolution, Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, said the Vice-President.
  • Naidu emphasised on the need to make government policies more pro-farmer.
  • A concerted and coordinated action is required on a number of issues that impact the growth of the agriculture sector and the quality of life of people who depend primarily on this sector.
  • We should streamline implementation processes keeping the end consumer — the farmer — always in view.
  • The deliberations are expected to translate into practical recommendations to fine-tune existing policies with the aim of enhancing farmers’ incomes.
  • The Vice-President further said that irrigation, infrastructure, investment and insurance sectors needed to be strengthened for the farm sector to be developed.
  • Increased productivity is possible only if farmers have greater access to knowledge, technology and credit.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Swaminathan said the time has come for people to move from Green Revolution to evergreen revolution.

2. Villages go ‘missing’ in Telangana

  • Things go missing. People go missing. But entire villages going missing? It’s happened. Not literally, though. Just that some villages no longer exist in some government records.
  • Telangana, which came into being in 2014, went for a major reorganisation of its districts in October 2016 — from the original 10, they went up to 31. This exercise had an interesting fallout. Around 450 villages went “missing.”
  • These included those that were located on the borders of two districts, or those that were removed from one mandal and appended to another.
  • And then there were those villages whose names were changed after the formation of the State and the new districts.
  • The issue came to the fore when census officials went through the records during reconciliation of data pertaining to the 2011 census as part of the preparations for the next census.
  • While gazette notifications were issued in January last confirming the changes, the same did not figure in the records of the Census Department.
  • A majority of such cases were reported from districts that were bifurcated, trifurcated or carved into four districts.
  • Officials, however, clarified that there was no impact on the reach of government programmes to these villages as a majority of them continued to be in clusters earmarked for the respective mandals.

3. ‘Stonehenge builders used Pythagoras theorem’

  • The principle of the Pythagoras theorem was used to build ancient stone structures like the Stonehenge (a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England) 2,000 years before the Greek philosopher was born, researchers say.

Megalith

  • A new book, Megalith, has re-examined the ancient geometry of Neolithic monuments and concluded that they were constructed by people who understood lengthy lunar, solar and eclipse cycles and built huge stone calendars using complex geometry.
  • Megalithic expert Robin Heath proposed that a great Pythagorean triangle in the British landscape links Stonehenge, the site from which the Preseli bluestones were cut in Wales and Lundy Island, an important prehistoric site.
  • Pythagoras’ discovery that the sum of the areas of two squares on the sides of two triangle will add up to the area of a square on hypotenuse has been used been used for millennia to help builders attain perfect right-angles.
  • The book shows how within one of Stonehenge’s earliest incarnations, dating from 2750 B.C., there lies a rectangle of four Sarsen stones which when split in half diagonally forms a perfect Pythagorean 5:12:13 triangle.
  • The eight lines which radiate from the rectangle and triangles also perfectly align to important dates in the Neolithic calendar, such as the summer and winter solstices and spring and autumn equinoxes.

4. CIL notifies coal e-auction for sectors such as cement, steel

  • Coal India Ltd. announced the commencement of the fourth tranche of auction of coal linkages for non-regulated sectors such as cement, steel/sponge iron, aluminium and others.
  • This includes captive power plants too.

Background

  • About 57 million tonnes of coal were earlier put on offer through the three tranches of e-auction since June 2016.
  • These went to the various non-regulated user sectors, including cement, sponge iron and captive power plants. The grades were that of thermal coal.
  • The auction is conducted by MSTC Limited (formerly known as Metal Scrap Trade Corporation).
  • The move to allot coal through this route follows the decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in this regard two years ago.
  • The Cabinet Committee aimed at putting in place a transparent mechanism to enable the user sectors to secure coal linkages irrespective of the size of the industry or their geographic location, through a market mechanism.
  • The policy initiative followed the logic of the e-auction of coal mines after the cancellation of allocation of the 204 coal blocks in 2014.
  • The government sought to extend the same philosophy of non-discretionary allocation to coal linkages.

5. SEBI eases norms for share buy-backs, IPOs

  • As part of its attempts to rationalise stock market regulations, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has amended the rules related to public issues, takeovers and buy-backs based on feedback received from various market participants.
  • The board of the capital markets regulator decided to give companies more time for the upward revision of open offer price and announcing the price band for an initial public offer (IPO).
  • The aim was to remove redundancies, simplify language and factor in the changes in the Companies Act and also the circulars/FAQs issued by SEBI.
  • While raising funds through an IPO, a company can now announce the price band just two days before the opening day of the issue instead of the earlier requirement of five days.
  • Further, financial disclosures now need to be mentioned only for three years instead of five.
  • Also, companies making a rights issue have to submit a draft document only if the issue size is more than ₹10 crore.
  • Currently, the threshold limit in such cases is ₹50 lakh.
  • Meanwhile, disclosure requirements related to group companies have been made more specific in the SEBI (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations.

IPOs by SMEs

  • In what would be welcome news for the SME IPO segment, the minimum anchor investor size has been reduced to ₹2 crore from the existing ₹10 crore.
  • Further, insurance companies and foreign portfolio investors have been allowed to participate as anchor investors in main board IPOs.
  • The regulator has also brought parity in terms of shareholding limits for domestic and foreign entities in stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depositories.
  • This would allow eligible foreign and domestic entities to hold up to 15% stake in such market institutions.
  • Until now, only a select set of investors were allowed to hold 15% stake in exchanges and depositories.
  • SEBI has also decided to amend the norms related to the tenure and directorships of managing directors and public interest directors (PID) of such market institutions.
  • A person can serve as the MD for two terms of five years each or up to 65 years of age. For a PID moving from one market institution to another a one-year cooling period would be mandatory.
  • The regulator will also soon set out new norms for enhanced monitoring and supervision of market intermediaries, especially registrar and transfer agents (RTAs).
  • Incidentally, SEBI had earlier constituted a committee chaired by R. Gandhi, a former Reserve Bank of India deputy governor, to examine this specific issue regarding RTAs but decided against accepting the committee’s proposals.

6. Upgrade software at ATMs by June 2019 or face penalty, RBI tells banks

  • With banks failing to upgrade software in automated teller machines (ATM) despite repeated reminders, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has now directed the banks to complete the process in a phased manner latest by June 2019.
  • The banking regulator pointed out that many ATMs were still running on Windows XP and other unsupported software.
  • According to banking industry sources, there could be 30% of the present 2.2 lakh ATMs that still use old software.
  • RBI said the vulnerability arising from the ATMs operating on unsupported version of operating system and non-implementation of other security measures, could potentially affect the interests of customers and the banks’ image.
  • RBI warned banks of penalty if they failed to adhere to the deadline.

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Which of the following statements regarding Global Hunger Index is incorrect?
  1. It is calculated by the International Food Policy Research Institute.
  2. It highlights successes and failures in hunger reduction.
  3. It is published once in two years.
  4. The theme for 2017 report was Inequality and Hunger.

 

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements with respect to the Great Indian Desert.
  1. It lies to the North-east of Aravalli Hills.
  2. It has arid climate with low vegetation cover.
  3. There are evidences to show that this region was under sea during the Mesozoic era.
  4. Mushroom rocks and shifting dunes are some of the desert land features present here.

Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?

  1. Only 1
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 3 and 4 only
  4. None of the above

 

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Answer
Question 3. Identify the type of soil in India based on the following features.
  1. It covers most of the Deccan Plateau.
  2. It is generally clayey, deep and impermeable.
  3. It retains moisture for a long time.
  4. It is rich in lime, iron, magnesia and alumina.

Options:

  1. Red soil
  2. Yellow soil
  3. Black soil
  4. Alluvial soil

 

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Answer
Question 4. Which of the following were the factors leading to the Decline of Mughals?
  1. Jagirdari crisis
  2. Intense factionalism within Mughal court
  3. Socio-religious issues leading to alienation of the masses
  4. Weakening might of the Mughal Army
  5. Recurrent peasant revolts

Options:

  1. i), ii) and iii) only
  2. i), ii), and v) only
  3. i), ii), iii) and iv) Only
  4. All of the above

 

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. India has been since long facing the problem of undernourishment and hunger. Despite direct and indirect policy interventions by the Government, the situation is worrisome. Critically analyze.
  2. Outline the reasons for an insurgency in North-East India. Discuss how a political solution to the problem has not been able to contain the insurgency.

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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