08 Nov 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Proposed Ganga bill bans ports, jetties
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. ASEAN member countries of RCEP offer India concession
C. GS3 Related
INTERNAL SECURITY
1. Greater Nagaland idea worries Manipur
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. China unveils space station as ISS days are numbered
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India and the U.S., oceans apart (India- US Bilateral Relations) 
2. Shape of sanctions(Waiver of US Sanctions on India)
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY  
1. Advancing BS-VI emission norms
F. Tidbits
1. No ‘less cash’ two years post note ban
G. Prelims Fact
1. West Bengal to observe ‘Rosogolla Day’ on Nov. 14
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Proposed Ganga bill bans ports, jetties

 

Context

  • The government has banned the construction of jetties, ports or “permanent hydraulic structures” in the Ganga, unless permitted by the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority, according to a proposed Ganga Act.

Details of the issue

  • The legislation, formally called the National River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Conservation and Management) Bill, 2018, proposes to create a management structure that will supervise the health of the 2,500-kilometre long Ganga which, the draft Bill defines, as ‘India’s national river.’
  • The Bill is now being circulated for comments among several Ministries, and proposed to be tabled in Parliament during the winter session, according to sources.
  • The Bill lays down a host of restrictions to ensure the “uninterrupted, ecological flow” of the river. Currently, a host of dams in the upper stretches of the river lead to the river’s flow being obstructed, say several activists and researchers, and persistent campaigns — notably led by the late G.D. Agrawal — led to the government finally recognising the need for proposed and existing hydropower projects to change their design plans to ensure minimum flows all through the year.
  • The legislation looms even as the government is developing a National Waterways Project-1 (River Ganga) from Haldia to Varanasi (1,390 km), with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank, at an estimated cost of Rs. 5,369 crore.
  • The waterways project involves creating permanent and movable terminals that require dredging and frequent de-silting to ensure that minimum river depths — for the smooth movement of the vessels — are maintained.
  • However, the proposed legislation specifies that “unauthorised” activities that cause “…obstruction or discontinuity of water in the River Ganga…due to engineered diversion of water or stoppage of water…could be liable to a prison term of 3 years or fines upto Rs. 50 crore, or both.”

Analysis of water ways

Advantages of waterways

  • Water highways are cheaper than road and rail to develop and maintain. The cargo conveyance cost, too, is lower because of minimal energy requirements, fuel efficient which makes them more environment friendly
  • Problem of land-acquisition as observed in road-rail is prevented
  • Easier to obtain funding from international financial institutions like ADB, IBRD etc. which are inclined towards environment-friendly projects
  • Potential to use 14,500 navigable water ways, currently India is using less than 5000 that too with not full capacity
  • Many countries in Europe and elsewhere carry over 40 per cent of their passenger and freight traffic through water. But in India this proportion is only 3.5 per cent.
  • It can also give a boost to tourism.
  • Linkages between the port to waterways will help in trade facilitation and industrial growth
  • Large and wide rivers available in India especially in Northern India and potential to ease pressure on roads and railways

Challenges

  • Indian water channels do not have adequate width, depth and air clearance to be operational year round and carry heavy loads. Silting is a problem.
  • Many rivers are seasonal especially water flow declines after Monsoon.
  • Heavy investment will be needed also to procure equipment, including dredgers, shipping vessels and barges of different sizes.
  • Even though under Union List, States may file complaints under environmental factors, inter-State sharing of benefits etc.
  • Riverine ecosystems may be affected due to oil-spills, noise pollution etc.
  • Water highways will require more river ports with their support infrastructure – road and rail connections, warehouses and other services. Slow movement and high initial infrastructural costs may question the economic viability of the project

Related Concept –Namami Gange Project

  • Ministry/Department : Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
  • Objective: Started in 2015 aims to clean and protect the Ganga river in a comprehensive manner
  • Central government project (100% centrally funded)
  • It is also known as Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission project
  • It will cover 8 states & 12 rivers.
  • Ministries of Environment, Urban Development, Shipping, Tourism, Drinking Water and Sanitation & Rural Development are coordinating with Water Resource ministry in it
  • Local people’s participation is envisaged in it
  • Main components: Expanding waste/sewage treatment; River Front Development; River surface cleaning; Bio-diversity; Afforestation; Public awareness; Industrial affluent monitoring; Ganga Gram; Emphasises sustainable agriculture; Application of bio-remediation method /in-situ treatment to treat wastewater in drains; Setting up Ganga Eco-Task Force

Interventions taken under Namami Ganga includes,

  • Sustainable Municipal Sewage management (Coordination with Ministry of Urban Development)
  • Managing Sewage from Rural Areas.
  • Managing Industrial discharge and pollution abatement
  • Enforcing River Regulatory Zones on Ganga Banks, Restoration and conservation of wetlands, efficient irrigation methods.
  • Ensuring ecological rejuvenation by conservation of aquatic life and biodiversity
  • Promotion of Tourism and Shipping in a rational and sustainable manner
  • Knowledge Management on Ganga through Ganga Knowledge Centre

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. ASEAN member countries of RCEP offer India concession

 

Context

  • Several Asian member countries of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have offered India a significant concession on the extent to which it needs to open up its markets, in a bid to encourage it to join the partnership quickly, according to a diplomat from Singapore.
  • “The ASEAN countries are keen to have India as part of the partnership and have made India a concessional offer of opening up only about 83% of its market, as compared to the original 92% that the RCEP agreement stipulated,” the Singaporean diplomat said.
  • Opening up its market to China has been India’s main concern about joining RCEP, a sentiment echoed by the Commerce Ministry, NITI Aayog, and then Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian.
  • ndia has achieved some success regarding some of its other concerns, such as getting the other RCEP countries to liberalise their services markets and allow for a more free movement of service sector professionals.

RCEP

  • RCEP is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) comprising of ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their 6 FTA partners (India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).
  • Aim: To strengthen economic linkages and to enhance trade and investment related activities
  • Coverage Area: trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, e-commerce, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other issues.

Importance of RCEP

  • According to estimates if the RCEP is implemented it would bring large income gains to not only Asia but the world economy.
  • RCEP will also reduce the overlapping between Asian FTAs.
  • RCEP will reduce the trade barriers in Asia and the new rules will be consistent with WTO agreements.
  • RCEP will promote easier FDI flows and technology transfers by multinational corporations
  • RCEP and protectionism: With rise of protectionism, RCEP is important for promoting free trade in the region.

Significance of RCEP for India

  • Joining the RCEP is important for India since it is not a part of the other proposed large trade agreements like the trans-pacific partnership (TPP) and transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP).
  • It would enable India to strengthen its trade ties with Australia, China, Japan and South Korea and thus reduce the potential negative impacts of TPP and TTIP on the Indian economy.
  • The rise in protectionism and non- tariff barriers and regulatory measures and the deadlock in WTO negotiations are also important reasons for India to join the RCEP agreement as it can increase market access.
  • RCEP also has the potential to influence India’s strategic and economic status in the Asia-Pacific region and help in fulfilment of India’s Act East Policy
  • RCEP will facilitate Indian companies to access new markets. Further, it will give a boost to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
  • RCEP will particularly boost textiles and pharma industries. It will also facilitate India in removing technical barriers to trade like sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures of these products.

C. GS3 Related

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Greater Nagaland idea worries Manipur

 

Context

  • Manipur has been indicated that a “Greater Nagaland” may be on the anvil as part of the final Naga agreement that is under negotiation, a State government official said.
  • On February 23, Naga interlocutor R.N. Ravi said the “Naga peace agreement is yet to be finalised and it will not compromise the territorial integrity of any State.”

Background of the issue

  • A “Greater Nagalim” comprising “all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas”, along with Nagaland. That included several districts of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur, as also a large tract of Myanmar. The map of “Greater Nagalim” has about 1,20,000 sq km, while the state of Nagaland consists of 16,527 sq km.
  • The claims have always kept Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh wary of a peace settlement that might affect their territories.
  • The Nagaland Assembly has endorsed the ‘Greater Nagalim’ demand — “Integration of all Naga-inhabited contiguous areas under one administrative umbrella” — as many as five times: in December 1964, August 1970, September 1994, December 2003 and as recently as on July 27, 2015.
  • In 2015, the Centre signed a framework agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) to end the long- drawn Naga insurgency after it agreed to give up the demand for sovereignty. Six Naga political groups joined the discussions later.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. China unveils space station as ISS days are numbered

  • China unveiled a replica of its first permanently crewed space station, which would replace the international community’s orbiting laboratory and symbolises the country’s major ambitions beyond the earth.
  • The 17-metre core module was a star attraction at the biennial Airshow China in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai.
  • Crowds gathered around the cylindrical module representing the living and working quarters of the Tiangong — or “Heavenly Palace” — which will also have two other modules for experiments and will be equipped with solar panels.
  • Three astronauts will be permanently stationed in the 60-tonne orbiting lab, which will enable the crew to conduct biological and microgravity research.
  • Assembly is expected to be completed around 2022 and the station would have a lifespan of around 10 years.
  • China will then have the only space station in orbit, though it will be much smaller than the ISS which weighs 400 tonnes.
  • The country had announced that the lab would be open to “all countries” to conduct science experiments.

International Space Station

  • The International Space Station — a collaboration between the U.S., Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan — has been in operation since 1998, but is due to be retired in 2024.
  • The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit.
  • Its first component launched into orbit in 1998, and the ISS is now the largest human-made body in low Earth orbit.
  • The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields.

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India and the U.S., oceans apart (India- US Bilateral Relations)

Larger Background:

A Look at the 2+2 Dialogue:

  • The 2+2 Dialogue is a format the U.S. employs with some of its closest allies. These allies include that of Japan and Australia.
  • The commencement of these 2+2 Dialogues have given the impression that India has come within the U.S. orbit of influence, detaching itself further from Russia.
  • This impression is further compounded by India signing on to the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) recently.
  • However, in the midst of all this, what appears to be lost in translation, is that India still fancies a close relationship with Russia, one of its and most dependable allies.
  • In comparison, when we look at the Putin-Modi summit, the mega missile defence deal clearly took the shine off any promises made at the 2+2 Dialogue regarding future defence acquisitions from the U.S. Russia’s S-400 Triumf.
  • It is believed that Russia’s S-400 Triumf is possibly the best missile defence system in the world. Further, this deal comes with no strings attached. For example, there is no Russian equivalent of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in place.
  • The S-400 Triumf can be deployed against all enemies, irrespective of any other defence choices that India might have.

The Role of the 2+2 Dialogue:

  • It is important to note that the 2+2 Dialogue between India and the US, for its part, marks a paradigmatic change in the nature of India-U.S. relations.
  • It hence needs to be viewed, more appropriately, as the culmination of a long-standing attempt by the U.S. to woo India. This is something that has been in the works for some time.

A few developments in this regard are noteworthy:

  • As a precursor to this, the U.S. had renamed the Asia-Pacific as the Indo-Pacific.
  • The US had blocked more than $1.5 billion in U.S. security aid to Pakistan. Further, U.S.-India economic cooperation was stated to have grown exponentially within two decades, with the total goods and services trade between India and U.S. increasing from $11.2 billion in 1995 to $126.2 billion in 2017.
  • Finally, U.S. foreign direct investment into India substantially increased during this period. The most important bait was India being accorded the status of a ‘major defence partner’.

The larger aim of the 2+2 Dialogue:

  • The underlying theme of the 2+2 Dialogue, aimed at forging a possible containment of China strategy, with India partnering the U.S. in this effort.
  • The U.S., at present, perceives China as posing a major challenge to its supremacy, and ‘the most significant threat to U.S. interest from a counter-intelligence perspective’.
  • Further, irrespective of whether or not China was specifically discussed or not in the course of the 2+2 Dialogue, it would certainly have weighed on the minds of the delegates.

A Brief Note on COMCASA:

  • India and the U.S. on September 6th, 2018, signed the foundational or enabling agreement COMCASA on the side-lines of the inaugural 2+2 dialogue.
  • COMCASA stands for Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement and is one of the four foundational agreements that the U.S. signs with allies and close partners to facilitate interoperability between militaries and sale of high end technology.
  • COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). It comes into force immediately, and is valid for a period 10 years.

How does COMCASA help India?

  • COMCASA allows India to procure transfer specialised equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is. Currently, these platforms use commercially available communication systems.
  • The joint statement issued after the 2+2 dialogue said that it would facilitate access to advanced defence systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing U.S.-origin platforms.
  • Further, specific additional provisions have been incorporated in the text to safeguard our security and national interests.
  • This will also enable greater communications interoperability between the militaries of India and the US. Data acquired through such systems cannot be disclosed or transferred to any person or entity without India’s consent.
  • Both countries will implement this agreement in a manner that is consistent with the national security interests of the other.
  • It is important to note that India had signed the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016. The last one remaining is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).

Editorial Analysis:

  • The U.S. has sold nearly $15 billion worth of arms to India over the last 10 years.
    Taking this fact into consideration, experts believe that the Donald Trump administration’s displeasure at India’s recent decision to buy the S-400 missile system from Russia puts a question mark about the future of India-U.S. cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Experts cite three reasons. They are as follows:
  1. Washington perceives Russia as a security threat.
  2. It stresses interoperability with U.S. armed forces.
  3. Thirdly, believing that the U.S. makes ‘the best military product in the world’, Mr. Trump aims to help American defence firms compete successfully against Russian and Chinese arms manufacturers.

Usage of certain labels:

  • Some experts in India have interpreted the US’s use of the label “Indo-Pacific” to mean that the U.S. has made India the central point of the Indo-Pacific.
  • However, it is important to note that neither Mr. Trump nor the National Security Strategy (NSS) document of 2017, (which outlined America’s top security concerns, have corroborated the Indian interpretation.
  • Further, when Mr. Trump first spoke about the Indo-Pacific at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, in November 2017, he hailed Vietnam as being at “the very heart of the Indo-Pacific”. The NSS 2017 views the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and APEC as “centerpieces of the Indo-Pacific’s regional architecture”.
  • The Indo-Pacific, as described in the NSS, represents the most populous and economically dynamic part of the world and “stretches from the west coast of India to the western shores of the United States”.
  • That strategic vision does not cater to India’s interests.
  • What lends testimony to this is the fact that the NSS 2017 has omitted some of India’s most vital interests, including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Also left out is the Strait of Malacca, which links the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is India’s gateway to trade with Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea.

Perspective on Countering China:

  • It is important to note that US President, Mr. Donald Trump’s concept of the Indo-Pacific seeks to counter China’s assertiveness in Asia.
  • China is the main security threat to U.S. primacy in Asia. Further, China also has a long-standing border dispute with India. This gives India and the U.S. a shared interest in countering China’s growing military power and territorial revisionist tendencies.
  • An important question that arises is whether or not the US and India can agree on how it could be done?

Trump’s Perspective:

  • For Mr. Trump, economic security is national security. The NSS 2017 recognises that China’s military power rests on its economic progress and its focus is on blunting China’s competitive edge.
  • Further, Mr. Trump’s ideal of “America first” is about protecting American jobs, ensuring reciprocal bilateral trade practices, and the key role of the private sector — not the state — in directing investment. However, do these priorities align with India’s economic and trade policies? This is an important question that needs to be answered.
  • Further, business engagement is at the centre of the Trump administration’s strategy for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. However, for India, defence cooperation is the most significant dimension of the India-U.S. strategic partnership.
  • It is important also to note that India itself is unclear about what it means by the Indo-Pacific. New Delhi has tended to present the term “Indo-Pacific” as raising India’s strategic stature. However, at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed ASEAN as the foundation of the Indo-Pacific and asserted that a geographical definition could not be a strategy to contain any country.

India’s Usefulness to the U.S.

  • Another important question that arises is: How useful is India to the U.S.?
  • The NSS says: “Prosperous states are stronger security partners who are able to share the burden of confronting common threats.”
  • Thus, is the current talk of India’s economic prowess more about potential than reality?
  • It is important to note that China’s economy ($14 trillion) is nearly five times bigger than India’s, and its defence spending ($228 billion) is far more than India’s $63 billion.

Concluding Remarks:

  • In conclusion, we note that Mr. Trump wants India to offer more investment to Asian countries.
  • However, India needs Chinese investment to upgrade its own infrastructure and is nowhere near competing successfully against China as an investor in Southeast Asia.
  • Further, in 2016, two-way trade between India and ASEAN moved up to $71.6 billion. In contrast, two-way trade between China and ASEAN stood at more than $452 billion.
  • Moreover, experts believe that Mr. Trump’s contemptuous labelling of India as the “tariff king” points to strong differences over trade practices.

2. Shape of sanctions(Waiver of US Sanctions on India)

The News:

  • The US, which has allowed India to continue importing oil from Iran, has granted a waiver from sanctions for New Delhi’s role in the Chabahar port and the construction of a railway line from the Iranian port city to the Afghan border.
  • A US state department spokesperson has been quoted by saying, “President Trump’s South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan’s economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India. We seek to build on our close relationships with both countries as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime’s destabilising policies in the region and beyond,”.
  • The spokesperson went on to add that, “”After extensive consideration, the secretary (of state Mark Pompeo) has provided for an exception from the imposition of certain sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA) with respect to the development of Chabahar port and the construction of an associated railway and for the shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the port for Afghanistan’s use, as well as Afghanistan’s continued imports of Iranian petroleum products. This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan. These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief,”.
  • Experts have pointed out that while the port does not entail any revenue for Iran from sale of oil, India’s shipping authorities, a special purpose vehicle comprising two Indian ports and banking channels will be involved in expanding the port complex.
  • It is important to note that these bodies and mechanisms will not find it easy to function if the Iran port is also brought under sanctions.

 

 

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts point out that the U.S. administration’s decision to grant India and seven other countries waivers on the sanctions it re-imposed on Iran provides some temporary relief to India.
  • Further, while the details of the waivers are yet to be released, the Trump administration has agreed to waive sanctions on the purchase of oil from Iran for about six months, which would help the Modi government tide over until the general elections, without any major oil price shocks.
  • The waivers announced by the US cover Indian investment in Iran’s Chabahar port and the plan to build a railway line from Chabahar to Afghanistan to facilitate trade.
  • The waivers are welcome also as they indicate that despite all the harsh rhetoric on “choking Iran”, the U.S. may have had a rethink on its sanctions, and the costs incurred in pushing around allies and partners such as India, Japan and South Korea to “zero out” oil purchases.
  • It is important to note that this conclusion stems from the fact that both India and China, Iran’s two biggest oil importers, have been extended waivers. This flexibility could be a sign that the U.S. is leaving space for leeway in resuming talks with Iran in the long term.

Nature of the Waivers:

  • It is important to note the fact that the waivers are temporary.
  • Further, the waivers are contingent on further reductions in oil trade with Iran.
  • This means that for now India will need to continue to find alternatives to its offtake from Iran.

The alternative of the rupee-rial mechanism:

  • The alternative rupee-rial mechanism, which was operationalised in 2012 during the last round of sanctions, depends on increasing Iranian demand for Indian goods to balance India’s annual purchases of about $10 billion. This hasn’t fructified yet.
  • Further, the European Union, Russia and China have also been working on a “special payment mechanism” to circumvent sanctions.
  • Unfortunately, they have yet to launch it. This limits India’s options.
  • Moreover, despite the waivers from the U.S., India will still face the impact of the U.S. sanctions, both on oil and on its investment in Chabahar, as very few international companies may be willing to undertake contracts.

Concluding Remarks:

  • In conclusion, some experts are of the opinion that above all, by seeking the waivers, instead of sticking to its earlier line that it accepted only UN and not “unilateral” sanctions, India has lost its moral leverage. Unlike China, it chose to reduce its oil intake from Iran, and entered into negotiations for alternative fuel supplies from Iran’s rivals in the Gulf.
  • It is believed that this could, in turn, impact Delhi-Tehran ties in the long run.
  • Finally, it is believed that India will have to keep engaging the U.S. in order to secure further waivers, both in this case and for CAATSA-related U.S. sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea.
  • As a consequence, by securing the waiver the government has not exactly dodged the figurative bullet, but merely outpaced it. It will need to keep outrunning that bullet for the foreseeable future.

 

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Advancing BS-VI emission norms

Larger Background:

  • Earlier this year, The Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the Government decided to proactively advance the roll-out of BS-VI fuel in Delhi from April 2018, instead of April 2020 after taking stock of the alarming pollution situation in Delhi in winters.
  • It is believed that BS-VI fuel will bring down sulphur by 5 times from the current BS-IV levels – this is an 80 percent reduction which makes it extremely clean. Further, it will improve emissions from the existing fleet, even from the older vehicles on road.
  • BS-VI is as clean as CNG or even cleaner than CNG in some respects.
  • The Government plans to extend the availability of these fuels across the country by 1st April 2020.
  • According to a Centre for Science & Environment study, air pollution takes 10,000-30,000 lives in Delhi every year. The Government believes that early migration to BS-VI fuels in the National Capital of Delhi will help in saving thousands of precious lives by bringing down vehicular pollution significantly.
  • With the introduction of BSVI, India joins the small list of Asia – Pacific nations -Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and China. And China he said is using it only for heavy vehicles.

Brief History of Emission Standards in India:

  • In India, the first stage of mass emission norms came into force for petrol vehicles in 1991 and for diesel vehicles in 1992.
  • However, it was in 2000 that vehicles — both passenger and commercial — met the Euro-I standards.
  • The BS-II (equivalent to Euro-II standards) norms came into force in 2001 and were implemented in a phased manner. Gradually, BS-III was introduced, paving the way for implementation of BS-IV by April 2017.
  • It is important to note that according to an earlier road map by the government, BS-V emission norms were to come into effect by 2020-21, while BS-VI was to be implemented 2024 onwards.
  • However, given the drastic increase in air pollution levels, particularly in the Delhi-NCR region, the government decided to leapfrog BS-V, while also advancing the introduction of BS-VI emission norms to 2020. The implementation of BS-VI norms will bring Indian emission regulations almost on a par with EU regulations.

Editorial Analysis:

  • In an important development, on October 24, 2018, the Honourable Supreme Court of India banned the sale and registration of vehicles conforming to Bharat Stage (BS)-IV emission standards across the country, from April 1, 2020, citing “alarming and critical” pollution levels.
  • With this decision, vehicle makers will only be able to sell BS-VI compliant vehicles from April 2020. However, BS-IV vehicles already sold will continue to ply.

What are the implications?

●       The Honourable Supreme Court of India order impacts both the industry and consumers.

●       For example, for the industry, the decision brings clarity on the timelines for sale. However, the challenge will be to meet the new target date.

●       The government had earlier proposed a grace period of three months for manufacturers to sell BS-IV compliant passenger vehicles and six months for buses and trucks that may remain unsold with the dealer or manufacturer post April 1, 2020.

●       The industry had also argued in court that since they were allowed to manufacture BS-IV vehicles till March 31, 2020, they should be granted reasonable time to sell that stock.

●       Further, an industry expert pointed out that manufacturers will need to start manufacturing BS-VI compliant vehicles by February 2020, while phasing out BS-IV compliant vehicles. The industry has pointed out that this advancement will lead to shorter time for vehicle-testing and validation.

●       On the other hand, it is important to note that customers will get access to better technology and hopefully better air. However, BS-VI compliant vehicles will be more expensive.

●       According to research agency ICRA, the price of diesel cars is expected to go up by about Rs. 75,000 compared to an increase of about Rs. 20,000 for petrol cars. The BS-VI fuel is also expected to cost more.

Concluding Remarks:

●       In conclusion, experts believe that for BS-VI compliant vehicles to comply, it will be critical that the fuel of the desired specification be made available across the country before the deadline.

●       Further, while it will be possible for BS-IV compliant cars to run smoothly on BS-VI fuel, BS-VI vehicles will not be able to operate optimally on lower-grade fuels.

 

F. Tidbits

1. No ‘less cash’ two years post note ban

 

  • November 8, marks the second anniversary of the demonetisation exercise. It was on the same day in 2016 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 currency notes would no longer be legal tender. These notes constituted over 86% of the currency in circulation, then.
  • One of the objectives of demonetisation was to move to a ‘less-cash’ society. However, two years down the line, it appears the objective has not been achieved.
  • According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, currency in circulation rose to Rs. 19.6 lakh crore as on October 26, 2018, a 9.5% growth from two years ago. The currency in circulation was Rs. 17.9 lakh crore on November 4, 2016, the week before the note ban came into force.
  • With cash back in the system, ATM withdrawals have picked up. While cash withdrawals have gained pace, addition of ATMs has been slow.
  • Mobile banking transactions in August 2018 stood at Rs. 2.06 lakh crore, 82% higher than the October 2016 figure of Rs. 1.13 lakh crore.

G. Prelims Fact

1. West Bengal to observe ‘Rosogolla Day’ on Nov. 14

 

Context

  • The West Bengal government has decided to observe ‘Rosogolla Day’ on November 14 to commemorate the first anniversary of the State’s famous sweet getting Geographical Indication (GI) tag as ‘Bengal’s Rosogolla’, an official said on Wednesday.
  • The ‘Mishti hub’ is the only one of its kind in the State — where renowned sweetmeat makers, including some of the traditional ones, share a roof.
  • The rosogolla, a ball-shaped cottage cheese dumpling dipped in a light syrup of sugar.
  • On November 14 last year, West Bengal received the GI tag for ‘Bengal’s Rosogolla’.

What is GI?

  • A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
  • A total of 320 products have been conferred the GI status in India so far.
  • Karnataka comes first with 38 GI products, followed by Maharashtra which has 32 products. Tamil Nadu comes third with 25 GI products.

 Significance of a GI tag

  • Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
  • Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.
  • GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property.
  • At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
  • In India, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 governs it.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Which of the following State recently became the first State in India to implement
 the national policy on biofuels.
  1. Karnataka
  2. Rajasthan
  3. Andhra Pradesh
  4. Kerala

See

Answer

Question 2. With reference to “ 90:90:90 Strategy”, which of the following statement(s)
 is/are incorrect?
  1. It is a new HIV treatment narrative of UNAIDS programme

  2. 90 % of all people living with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (90% on HIV treatment).

  3. 90 % of all people with diagnosed HIV therapy will have viral suppression (90% suppressed)

Options:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

See

Answer
Question 3. “Police” and “Public order” are the Subject under which of following list?
  1. Union List
  2. State List
  3. Concurrent List

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

 

  1. 3 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1 and 3 only

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Appropriate local community level healthcare intervention is a prerequisite to achieve ‘Health for All’ in India. Explain. (150 words)
  2. E-governance in not only about utilization of the power of new technology, but also much about critical importance of the ‘use value’ of information. Explain. (150 words)

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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