02 Mar 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India, Jordan firm up security cooperation
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Cabinet approves the introduction of Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018
2. SBI, ICICI Bank hike lending rates
3. State-run banks start to rationalise overseas units
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
1. Antarctica: a lab for climate change
2. NBA calls for plan to manage import of exotic fish
3. Only 13% of tiger conservation areas meet global standards
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Taking stock two years after AIIB’s opening
F. Prelims Fact
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, Jordan firm up security cooperation

 

  • India and Jordan signed a framework agreement in defence cooperation paving the way for a joint strategy to counter common threats.
  • The defence agreement, the first such understanding between the two sides, is the biggest takeaway of the visit by the Jordanian king Abdullah II.
  • The purpose of the MoU is to promote cooperation between India and Jordan in the field of defence by defining the scope of such cooperation and making provisions for implementation of the cooperation in some of the recognised areas like training; defence industry; counter-terrorism; military studies; cyber security; military medical services, peace-keeping, etc.
  • The defence agreement is the result of broadening security and defence-related dialogue between the two sides since the king’s last visit in 2006.
  • India and Jordan held the first bilateral security dialogue in July 2016 and this exchange, especially in the field of cyber security, is likely to deepen in the coming years.
  • The security cooperation is based on the tremendous experience that Jordan has in the region of West Asia and North Afric. Amman has provided critical support to India during the 1991 evacuation of citizens from Iraq and also during the latest crises in Iraq and Syria.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Cabinet approves the introduction of Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018

 

  • In a bid to deter loan defaulters from fleeing the country, the Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the introduction of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018, in Parliament which would allow the government to seize all domestic assets of a person deemed to be a fugitive economic offender.
  • The Cabinet also approved the creation of a National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), the posts of a Chairperson, three full-time members, and one Secretary for the proposed authority.
  • In Budget 2017-18, it was announced that fugitive economic offenders would have their assets seized.

List of offences

  • The Cabinet has approved the draft Bill and it will be introduced in Parliament in the remaining portion of the Budget session. There will be a list of scheduled offences along with the Bill.
  • If the person commits an offence on the list, and a competent court has issued an arrest warrant, and the person leaves the country to avoid this, the court can deem him a fugitive economic offender.
  • According to the Finance Minister, the government would be able to seize all their domestic assets, not just those that were the proceeds of the crime.
  • The Bill also has a provision for the seizure of their foreign assets, but this would require the cooperation of the relevant country.
  • The government in a release said that if at any point of time in the course of the proceedings prior to the declaration of the person as a fugitive economic offender, he returns to India and submits to the appropriate court, proceedings under the proposed Act would cease by law.
  • The proposed NFRA is to act as an independent regulator for the auditing profession, in line with one of the key changes that has been made in the Companies Act, 2013.

2. SBI, ICICI Bank hike lending rates

 

  • With State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, and ICICI Bank, the largest private sector bank, increasing lending rates by up to 20 basis points (bps), home and car loans will become costlier.

Benchmark rate

  • While the SBI has increased the one-year marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR) by 20 bps to 8.15%, the ICICI Bank hiked it by 10 bps to 8.3%.
  • MCLR is the benchmark rate to which all the loan rates are linked. Rates in all other tenures of MCLR have also been increased.
  • Most loans are linked to one-year MCLR. This is the first time banks have increased MCLR since it was introduced in April 2016 as the benchmark rate.
  • The new rates are effective from Thursday and will be applicable for new customers.For existing customers, the new rate will take effect when the interest rates are reset.

3. State-run banks start to rationalise overseas units

 

  • State-owned lenders have started rationalising the overseas operations by consolidating 35 operations and closing down non-viable branches as part of the clean and responsible banking initiative.
  • As per the banking sector agenda approved at the PSB Manthan in November last year, public sector banks (PSBs) have to examine all 216 overseas operations.

PNB fallout

  • The rationalisation of overseas operations of banks is significant as jewellery designer Nirav Modi allegedly cheated Punjab National Bank (PNB) of Rs. 12,700 crore in connivance with PNB staff and officials of overseas branches of other State-owned banks.
  • Presently, public sector banks have about 165 overseas branches, besides subsidiaries, joint ventures and representative offices.
  • State Bank of India has the largest number of overseas branches (52), followed by Bank of Baroda (50) and Bank of India (29).
  • The State-owned banks have largest number of branches in United Kingdom (32), followed by Hong Kong and UAE (13 each) and Singapore (12).

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. Antarctica: a lab for climate change

 

  • Observers can now see rocks that we weren’t seeing five or 10 years ago, and that is direct evidence of the shrinking of these glaciers and loss of mass.
  • But even as these melting glaciers worry the scientific world, the presence in Antarctica of plants proving resistant to extreme conditions has also sparked hope for a warming planet.
  • Chile is one of some 20 countries with scientific bases on the cold continent.

Blooming algae

  • The warming waters have attracted species previously unseen in the Antarctic, such as a spider crab normally found south of Chile.
  • There is also a blooming of green algae which is vital for the local ecosystem, especially for crustaceans.
  • Even though they’re really small, the algae and the micro-algae are really important for balance in the food chain.
  • But over a longer term, this flourishing of algae could unsettle the ecological balance. The worry is losing species that we don’t even yet know exist.
  • Antarctica holds 62 % of the planet’s freshwater reserves
  • The melting there could have far-reaching consequences, not least by diminishing the salinity of the seas, which could prove fatal for many marine species.
  • However, the white continent also may hold the key to plant and animal life adapting to changing temperatures.
  • Already, Antarctic plants – which are resistant to ultraviolet radiation and extreme conditions – are being used in biotechnology to give us products such as sun protection lotion, antioxidants and natural sugars.

Survival techniques

  • To survive the rigorous conditions, vegetation here hoards sugar to survive the harsh winter months buried under the snow.
  • In some mini-greenhouses, Antarctic plants react to temperatures artificially raised by one or two degrees Celsius.
  • Mosses survive the change quite well – an advantage that could serve other vegetation in the future.
  • As a result, it would be less affected by the adverse, unfavorable conditions due to diminished water in its environment.

2. NBA calls for plan to manage import of exotic fish

 

  • Expressing concern over the increase in the import of ornamental fishes to the country, which is posing a threat to India’s native fish populations, the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) has urged the government to come up with quarantine facilities at major seaports and airports.

Huge market

  • The huge market for Invasive Alien Species (IAS) is turning out to be major threat to India’s aquatic biodiversity.
  • The need for educating and creating awareness among Customs officials at airports and seaports. Most of the fish are imported from southeast Asian countries, , sometimes, the cost of only a pair of fish can go up to lakhs of rupees.
  • Kolkata and Chennai have emerged as major hubs for the trade of ornamental fish in the country, and that an assessment of the online market for ornamental fish and aquariums will establish the presence of over 1,000 exotic fish species being traded in India.
  • The paper states that several studies have disclosed the occurrence of exotic ornamental fish in many inland aquatic systems, including biodiversity-sensitive areas such as the Western Ghats.
  • Take the example of suckermouth catfish, an ornamental species known as a ‘tank cleaner’ of aquariums, has spread to almost all freshwater ecosystems and outnumbers other native fish by feeding on their larvae and competing with them for food resources.
  • Under the Centre for Biodiversity and Policy and Law (CEBPOL), the NBA is trying to bring out a national list of IAS. So far, no attempt has been made by any scientific organisation to have a national IAS list across different categories, like terrestrial plants, aquatic plants, inland fisheries, marine organisms, insects and microbes.
  • The list will be made available on a public platform and will be communicated to different Ministries and stakeholders.
  • The announcement by NBA assumes significance as scientists and experts in the country are still divided over the number of IAS and their economic and ecological impact.

Biodiversity policy

  • CEBPOL is a bilateral collaboration between the Indian and Norwegian governments, and focuses on biodiversity policies and laws.
  • While the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have come up with some tentative lists for animal and plant IAS, there remains a debate on how to standardise the invasiveness of specific species.

3. Only 13% of tiger conservation areas meet global standards

 

  • Only 13% of the tiger conservation areas met the global standards of an accreditation system, the Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS), a new survey of current management methodologies at 112 global sites, including India.
  • The survey is the first and largest rapid assessment of site-based tiger conservation across Asia and has been driven by 11 conservation organisations and tiger-range governments that are part of the CA|TS coalition.
  • Under the accreditation system of CA|TS, tiger conservation areas provide evidence that they meet a range of criteria for effective conservation management.
  • To date, three sites – Lansdowne Forest Division in Uttarakhand, India, Chitwan National Park in Nepal and Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve in Russia – have been awarded CA|TS Approved status.
  • Of the 112 global sites surveyed, only 12.5% was currently able to meet the full CA|TS criteria. Half of the assessed sites (52.5%) report fairly strong management. The remaining 35% (majority of which are in Southeast Asia) have relatively weak management.
  • Basic needs such as enforcement of laws against poaching, engaging local communities and managing conflicts between people and wildlife, remain weak for all areas surveyed.
  • Ineffective management of tiger conservation areas led to the extinction of tigers from certain areas.
  • To halt and reverse the decline of wild tigers, effective management is thus very important. To achieve this, long-term investment in tiger conservation areas is absolutely essential and this must be led by the tiger-range governments.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Taking stock two years after AIIB’s opening

  • Third annual meeting of the board of governors of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is scheduled to be held in Mumbai in June
  • India is the AIIB’s second-largest shareholder(with 8% voting share in AIIB) and is also a major recipient of loans from the bank
  • At the launch of the AIIB, there were 57 prospective founding members (including India) and 20 from outside the region (including France Germany, Italy and the UK)
  • The membership stands at 84 as of end 2017 (the US and Japan being notably absent)
  • It was reasonable to expect that the creation of the AIIB would be a welcome initiative to plug Asia’s monumental infrastructural deficit
  • A study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2017 estimated the Asia-Pacific region’s infrastructural needs at around $22.5 trillion over 15 years (to 2030) or about $1.5 trillion annually
  • There were suspicions in some quarters about the long-term aims and intentions of the AIIB
  • This was partly to do with the fact that the AIIB project was first announced in October 2013 simultaneously with the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road initiatives
  • The initial scepticism was therefore that the AIIB was primarily a vehicle to fund BRI-related projects to promote connectivity in Asia as well as to further China’s strategic goals
  • The AIIB was thus initially considered China’s World Bank, i.e. a so-called “Beijing Woods” moment
  • It should be noted that China is the AIIB’s single largest contributor and holds around 28% voting share, giving it veto power over major decisions at the AIIB
  • However, the AIIB is evolving towards being a truly collective institution
  • Several other AIIB-funded projects that have been approved have no obvious connection to the BRI
  • Also, the BRI is largely funded separately via bilateral lending from the Silk Road Fund and two Chinese policy banks (China Development Bank and EXIM Bank of China)
  • There is therefore a clear difference between the AIIB and other China-specific financial entities.
  • India was the single-largest borrower from the AIIB in 2017, with part of the Bengaluru Metro line and Gujarat rural roads each being granted around $330 million loans
  • As of end 2017, AIIB had granted just over $1 billion worth of loans for various infrastructure projects in India
  • Besides these, financing for another $1.2 billion worth of projects from India has been proposed
  • Therefore, there is very less suspicion: The fact that India has become an important recipient of AIIB loans is noteworthy and indicates the degree of independence of the AIIB from the BRI
  • The current working of the AIIB is looking as though it will complement rather than compete with the work of existing MDBs such as the ADB and World Bank
  • In fact, more than half of the AIIB loans to date have been co-financed with other Multilateral Development banks.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. La Nina — a weather condition that generally brings heavy rains to India.
  2. According to IMD, a monsoon is normal when the total amount of rainfall in the country between June and September is within 10 per cent (plus or minus) of the average rain over a long period.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements about Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS):
  1. An ETS is a market-based mechanism.
  2. Under this mechanism a cap is set on the amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases that can be emitted by covered entities.

     

  3. The emitters can only buy additional allowances from other entities to compensate for their deficiency.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. National Science Day is celebrated on February 28.
  2. It is celebrated to mark Dr. C.V. Raman’s discovery of the scattering of light, also known as the Raman Effect.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) is a regional satellite navigation system.
  2. IRNSS was renamed Navigation Indian Constellation (NAVIC).
  3. IRNSS will be an independent and autonomous regional navigation system aiming a service area of about 1500 kilometers around India.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

 

General Studies III

  1. Is AI a danger to humanity? Critically Comment.

General Studies II

  1. The study in India Initiative will help in increasing India’s Soft Power. Discuss the importance of the initiative and problems that need to be addressed to make it a success. 
     
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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