27 Oct 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. SC order a positive step, says Centre
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Sri Lanka unity govt. falls, Rajapaksa sworn in as PM
2. China, Japan pivot to new markets
C. GS3 Related
AGRICULTURE
1. Farm loan waiver not a permanent solution
HEALTH
1. 7 suspected anthrax cases in A.P.
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Defusing tensions
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Touching base (India- Japan Relations)
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
1. IAF gets first overhauled Sukhoi
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. SC order a positive step, says Centre

Context

  • The Centre has described the Supreme Court order seeking the completion of a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) inquiry into allegations against CBI Director Alok Verma under court supervision as an “extremely positive development”.
  • In the government’s first reaction to the Supreme Court order, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “The government has no interest for or against any individual. The government is interested in only maintaining the professionalism, the image and the institutional integrity of the CBI.”
  • He said the recent developments “have eroded the credibility of the Central Bureau of Investigation” and that the “CVC, in the interest of fairness, had passed an order that till an investigation or inquiry is pending against the two top officers of the CBI, they must step aside and recuse themselves from the CBI’s function.”
  • The Minister said the objective of the CVC direction and the government acting on it was that the truth be established, following the highest standards of fairness and the due process of law. “And the two additional steps that the order today by the Supreme Court has ensured, that is, early disposal and oversight judge, only add to that fairness process, the reason why the government considers it a very positive development,” the Minister said.

Background

  • The tussle between CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana started in 2017. It all started with Asthana’s appointment to CBI.
  • Verma handed over a confidential letter to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) over Asthana’s promotion to the post of CBI special director, claiming the latter was under investigation in the 2017 Sterling Biotech bribery case. However, Asthana’s promotion was cleared.
  • In June 2018, Alok Verma wrote another letter to the CVC that Asthana could not represent him in his absence since the latter faces allegations of corruption.
  • Later, Asthana shot back and filed a complaint against Verma accusing him of interfering in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) corruption case involving the family members of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav.
  • This bureaucratic infight between Verma and Asthana came to a head when the CBI named Asthana in a First Information Report (FIR) in a bribery case and the allegations escalated.
  • On October 21, the CBI charged Rakesh Asthana, a 1984-batch Indian Police Service officer of Gujarat cadre, of accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore from a Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who was under probe in the Moin Qureshi case in order to “wreck” the investigation.
  • The CBI has alleged that bribes were given at least five times between December 2017 and October 2018.
  • The charges against Asthana came to light after Dubai-based middleman Manoj Kumar gave a confessional statement before a magistrate stating that he paid Rs 2 crore to Asthana on behalf of Moin Qureshi, who is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on charges of money laundering. Qureshi was arrested by the ED in August 2017 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
  • On October 22, the CBI arrested its own DSP Devender Kumar in connection with the bribery allegations against Asthana. Kumar has been accused of fabricating the statements given by Sathish Babu Sana, a witness in the Qureshi case, showing that he had recorded a statement on September 26, 2016, in New Delhi. However, after investigation, it was found that Sana was never in New Delhi but in Hyderabad and joined the probe only on October 1, 2018.
  • Rakesh Asthana has been sent on leave, while CBI Director Alok Verma was relieved of his post and Deputy SP Devender Kumar has been suspended and sent to a seven-day CBI custody, M Nageshwar Rao appointed as the Interim CBI Director.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Sri Lanka unity govt. falls, Rajapaksa sworn in as PM

Context

  • In a sudden move, President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday pulled his faction out of Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition and within hours appointed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister.
  • The startling developments led to the collapse of the country’s first national unity government, with Mr. Sirisena joining hands once again with the leader he ousted in 2015.
  • Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), however, maintained that Mr. Rajapaksa’s appointment was “illegal and unconstitutional.”

Background

  • Relations between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have soured since their parties suffered humiliating losses to Rajapaksa’s party in February’s local council elections.
  • The pair have disagreed over economic policy and day-to-day administration of the government. Last week, they reportedly clashed during a cabinet session over plans to lease a container terminal to neighbouring India.
  • Earlier this year, Sirisena reneged on a pledge not to run for re-election, sparking tensions with Wickremesinghe who is believed to have his own presidential ambitions.
  • Sirisena is also thought to be behind a failed attempt to impeach Wickremesinghe in April, when 122 legislators in the 225-member parliament voted to back the now-sacked prime minister.
  • The ruling coalition has been further strained in recent days by strong criticism from Sirisena and his allies that ministers from Wickremesinghe’s party did not act properly in investigating an alleged assassination plot to kill the president and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new prime minister’s younger brother.
  • Rajapaksa, who served as president from 2005 to 2015, put down the decades-old Tamil Tiger separatist struggle in May 2009 through a military assault that killed up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians, according to rights groups. His government was also accused of corruption and murdering political opponents.
  • Sirisena had pledged accountability for war atrocities, but has faced international criticism for being slow to deliver on justice.

2. China, Japan pivot to new markets

Context

  • Faced with the threat of a trade war with the U.S., China and Japan have decided to work together to develop new overseas markets, by focusing on collaboration instead of competing with each other.
  • “Turning to cooperation from competition, the relationship between the two nations is entering a new stage,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang on Friday.
  • Analysts say the Japanese Prime Minister’s remarks showcase his “pragmatism” notwithstanding his strong nationalistic instincts. “Despite being a proud Japanese, I think Mr. Abe is also a very pragmatic politician,” Huang Jing, dean of International and Regional Studies Center at the Beijing Language and Culture University .
  • Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that by bolstering investment in other countries, Asia’s two biggest economies will aim to form a new model of economic cooperation between them.
  • The meeting between the two leaders was followed by the signing of a slew of agreements, which covered energy cooperation, military confidence building measures in the East China Sea, infrastructure development and joint development of hi-end technology.

What is trade war?

  • Trade war is an economic conflict between two or more nations regarding trade tariffs on each other.
  • This type of conflict usually arises because the nations involved are trying to improve imports or exports for its own country.
  • The last time the world saw trade war was in the 1930s when countries had tried to boost their trade surplus. The result was a massive slowdown around the world, which eventually resulted in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

What is protectionism?

  • Protectionism is the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of other government regulations.
  • Protectionist policies help immune the producers, businesses, and workers of the import-competing sector in the country from foreign competitors.

Why protectionism is gaining prevalence?

  • To protect indigenous industrial sectors especially infant and sunrise sectors.
  • High unemployment rate.
  • Slow growth recovery post global financial crisis.
  • Rising apprehensions with respect to immigrants leading to xenophobia.

C. GS3 Related

Category: AGRICULTURE

1. Farm loan waiver not a permanent solution

Context

  • Free power and farm loan waivers cannot be a permanent solution to the problems in the agriculture sector, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said on Friday, warning that populist poll promises could be damaging in the long term.
  • “We have a clamour for populism to win over people during elections. That is not going to solve the problem,” he said at an event organised to award the first World Agriculture Prize to agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan.
  • The prize, instituted by the private think tank Indian Council for Food and Agriculture (ICFA), includes a $100,000 cash award. Policy-makers should look for long-term solutions, as citizens were more interested in quality than in freebies, he said. “Free power means first, low power and afterwards, no power… People want assured and quality power 24X7.”

Farm loan waiver

  • Farm loan waiver is the practice of writing off the loans given to farmers owing to their inability to pay them back due to reasons like calamity, disaster, political policies etc. Recently many governments like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh have done it.

Arguments for Farm loan waiver

  • Agriculture in India has been facing many issues — fragmented land holding, depleting water table levels, deteriorating soil quality, rising input costs, low productivity. Add to this vagaries of the monsoon.
  • Output prices may not be remunerative. Farmers are often forced to borrow to manage expenses. Also, many small farmers not eligible for bank credit borrow at exorbitant interest rates from private sources.
  • When nature rides roughshod over debt-ridden farmers in the form of erratic monsoon and crop failures, they face grim options. Indebtedness is a key reason for the many farmer suicides in the country.

Arguments against Farm loan waiver

  • Farm loan waivers are at best a temporary solution and entail a moral hazard even those who can afford to pay may not, in the expectation of a waiver.
  • Such measures can erode credit discipline and may make banks wary of lending to farmers in the future. It also makes a sharp dent in the finances of the government that finances the write-off.
  • Also a recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute reveals that at the national level, 48% of agricultural households do not avail a loan from any source. Among the borrowing households, 36% take credit from informal sources.
  • A negative relationship between the size of farm and per capita consumption expenditure (a proxy for income) further underscores the importance of formal credit in assisting marginal and poor farm households in reducing poverty hence farm loan waivers fail to result into farmers welfare.

Way Forward

  • It is more important to make agriculture sustainable by reducing inefficiencies, increasing income, reducing costs and providing protection through insurance schemes.
  • Extending reach of minimum support price which has been dedicated to few crops and in a narrow geographical area is important
  • The agro-processing industry and warehousing needs to expand so that agricultural produce can be stored when prices plunge
  • Credit products for agriculture need to be tailor-made based on cropping and rain cycle, specific to a particular region. The regional offices of commercial banks should contribute in this exercise.
  • Urjit Patel is of the opinion that farm loan waiver undermines honest credit culture and discipline. It endangers moral hazard and entails transfer from tax payers. Hence alternative to blanket waivers need to be explored and adapted.

Category: HEALTH

1. 7 suspected anthrax cases in A.P.

Context

  • Seven villagers of Kodandarama Puram in Karveti Nagaram mandal, 65 km from Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, were suspected to have symptoms of anthrax (Bacillus anthracis).
  • Personnel of the Animal Husbandry Department said that 18 cows and buffaloes and six sheep had died during the last fortnight.

Anthrax

  • Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil.
  • It affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides.
  • Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes.
  • Respiratory infection in humans initially presents with cold or flu-like symptoms for several days, followed by pneumonia and severe (and often fatal) respiratory collapse.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) infection in humans is most often caused by consuming anthrax-infected meat and is characterized by serious GI difficulty, vomiting of blood, severe diarrhea, acute inflammation of the intestinal tract, and loss of appetite.
  • Cutaneous anthrax, also known as Hide porter’s disease, is the cutaneous (on the skin) manifestation of anthrax infection in humans. It presents as a boil-like skin lesion that eventually forms an ulcer with a black center (eschar).
  • Occupational exposure to infected animals or their products (such as skin, wool, and meat) is the usual pathway of exposure for humans. Workers who are exposed to dead animals and animal products are at the highest risk, especially in countries where anthrax is more common.
  • Anthrax can be contracted in laboratory accidents or by handling infected animals or their wool or hides.
  • Anthrax has been used in biological warfare by agents and by terrorists to intentionally infect.
  • The standard treatment for anthrax is a 60-day course of an antibiotic. Treatment is most effective when started as soon as possible.
  • Although some cases of anthrax respond to antibiotics, advanced inhalation anthrax may not.
  • By the later stages of the disease, the bacteria have often produced more toxins than drugs can eliminate.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Defusing tensions

Larger Background:

The News:

    • In a recent surprise midnight move, the government divested Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana of their powers. This was done just hours after Verma directed his No. 2 to go on leave.
    • The government intervened after days of intense feuding that threatened to sully the image of India’s premier investigative agency that is probing a series of high-profile corruption cases.
    • It is important to note that there has been a long-running feud between the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) top boss Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana, the special director who is the No. 2 at CBI.
    • This long running feud has been marked by allegations and counter-allegations of corruption and interference in high-profile cases, filing of an FIR against Asthana and now the arrest of senior CBI officer associated with him. Below is a brief summary of the origin of the feud and the twists and turns it has taken.
    • In October 2017, Asthana, who is a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, was elevated to the position of No. 2 at the CBI by a selection committee headed by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
  • CBI head Verma had reportedly opposed Asthana’s elevation on the ground that he was being probed in a corruption case related to a Gujarat-based company Sterling Biotech.
  • Verma had placed before the committee a confidential report on Sterling Biotech in which names of various government officials including Asthana were mentioned for allegedly receiving money from the company.
  • However, it is important to note that Chief Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary said the decision was taken unanimously by members of the selection committee.
  • Later, Common Cause, which is an NGO of advocate Prashant Bhushan, moved the Supreme Court against Asthana’s elevation but the court refused to quash Asthana’s elevation.

A Closer Look:

  • Experts believe that at one level, what is going on in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a ‘turf war’, a battle of egos between two individuals at the helm.
  • However, the unsavoury developments involving the CBI Director and its Special Director are reflective of a much deeper malaise. This is visible in the big rot at the very heart of the premier investigating agency.
  • The fact that the CBI registered a First Information Report against its own Special Director is extraordinary.
  • If the Director is justified in embarking on a high-profile probe into bribery charges against Mr. Asthana, it can only mean that corruption is pervasive, and that that even the second-in-command in the agency is not beyond it.
  • While, on the other hand, if Mr. Asthana is shown to be wrongly implicated, and his own charges, which are set out in a complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission, that other CBI officers are interfering in ongoing probes are proved right, the situation will be no better.
  • Further, experts also believe that the recent abrupt replacement of Alok Verma as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, even though this was as an interim measure, can be interpreted as a  culmination of a series of murky events that would deeply embarrass the Centre.
  • Unfortunately, what was perceived as an unseemly internal tussle among top officers of the premier investigating agency has morphed into a full-blown conflict between the Centre and Mr. Verma.
  • Further, it is important to note that it is one thing if Mr. Verma had merely challenged the legality of his dismissal. But he more than hinted at interference in his functioning.
  • The suggestion that the Centre’s action was meant to protect certain people has led to charges that he was removed because he was politically inconvenient.
  • Critics have called out the specific action by the Centre appointing the new acting director, M. Nageswara Rao, who has transferred many officers investigating cases against Mr. Asthana. This has raised the question whether the government is adopting strong-arm tactics against Mr. Verma, despite his tenure and independence being protected by the law.
  • As a matter of fact, the Central Vigilance Commission, in its order divesting Mr. Verma of his office, has said that since the atmosphere within the agency had become vitiated due to a factional feud, it had to intervene. It also charged Mr. Verma with not making available the records and files sought by the CVC in connection with a corruption complaint against him — an approach which it held was wilfully obstructionist.
  • The unfortunate controversy has raised the important question of whether the statutory changes aimed at insulating the CBI Director’s office from political and administrative interference are adequate.

Prior Precedents where the CBI was brought under a negative light:

  • The Supreme Court held that the charges that Ranjit Sinha, when heading the agency, sought to help the accused in several cases and interfered in ongoing probes were ‘prima facie credible’; as a result, he was asked to keep away from the 2G telecom cases.
  • Similarly, A.P. Singh, another director, was booked last year for alleged links with meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
  • Thus, clearly, the existing procedure for the appointment of CBI Directors, which is made by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition, has not stripped the office of controversy.

A Look at the Vineet Narain & Others vs. Union of India Case:

    • This particular case concerns the historic Hawala scandal in India, which uncovered possible bribery payments to several high-ranking Indian politicians and bureaucrats from a funding source linked to suspected terrorists.
    • Following news coverage of the scandal, members of the public were dismayed by the failure of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to initiate investigations of the officials with the apparent intent to protect certain implicated individuals who were extremely influential in government and politics.  
    • This litigation was the result of public interest petitions filed on these matters with the Court pursuant to Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.
    • It is important to note that Article 32 of the Indian Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to issue directions for the enforcement of fundamental rights contained in the Constitution.
    • The Court agreed that the CBI had failed in its responsibility to investigate allegations of public corruption.  
    • Further, the Court laid down guidelines to ensure independence and autonomy of the CBI and ordered that the CBI be placed under the supervision of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), an independent governmental agency intended to be free from executive control or interference.  
    • This directive removed the CBI from the supervision of the Central Government thought to be partly responsible for the inertia that contributed to the CBI’s previous lack of urgency with respect to the investigation of high-ranking officials.
  • The CVC was now responsible for ensuring that allegations of corruption against public officials were thoroughly investigated regardless of the identity of the accused and without interference from the Government.
  • It is important to note that the CVC is a statutory body and derives its powers from the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.

Security of Tenure:

  • It is important to note that Section 4B of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act assures the CBI Director of a two-year tenure and makes it clear that he cannot be transferred except by the high-power committee. Further, this high-power committee comprises of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India — that appointed the CBI Director.
  • The Honourable Supreme Court will address the question whether the ‘interim measure’ amounts to unlawfully curtailing the Director’s tenure.
  • The Honourable Supreme Court will also examine whether the CVC’s power of superintendence has been rightly invoked in the present case.

Editorial Analysis:

The Judgement by the Honourable Supreme Court of India:

    • The Honourable Supreme Court, while entertaining a writ petition from Mr. Verma questioning the legality of the order divesting him of his powers, has asked the CVC for a quick probe within two weeks into allegations against him contained in a letter sent by the Cabinet Secretary on August 24, 2018.
    • Former Supreme Court judge A.K. Patnaik is to supervise the CVC probe.
    • Responding to the government’s reservations about such external supervision of the work of a statutory authority (the CVC), whose primary responsibility is superintendence over the CBI in anti-corruption investigations, the court clarified that it is a one-time exception given the peculiar facts of this case.
    • The court has addressed the possibility that the crisis could be compounded if the interim Director makes any far-reaching decisions on his own.
    • Thus, the Court has asked him to confine himself to routine tasks to keep the agency’s work going.
  • A review of Mr. Rao’s early decisions transferring key officers is possible: the court has sought the details in a sealed cover.

Concluding Remarks:

    • It is important to note that the court’s interim order goes beyond calming the air.
  • The order works as a safeguard against any further damage to the institution’s reputation and credibility during the pendency of the case, and is a means to a quick resolution.
  • It also preserves the legal questions arising from the government’s action based on the CVC’s order against him.
  • Further, notice has been issued to the government in both Mr. Verma’s petition and another by the NGO ‘Common Cause’ challenging the order against Mr. Verma.
  • It is important to note that questions such as whether the CVC’s power of superintendence extends to recommending stripping a Director of his powers and functions and whether such a step requires the approval of the committee that appoints the Director are still open for adjudication.
  • Finally, judicial intervention often serves to quieten the mood in a surcharged atmosphere. This is of particular importance here.
  • It is important to note that there are immediate and arguably more serious dimensions to this crisis. And it revolves around how to repair the image of a CBI that has been covered by a nasty feud.
  • Experts believe that the CBI labours under a dual image. This dual image is characterized by that of an independent agency in the perception of those disillusioned with the conduct of the jurisdiction police, and a ‘caged parrot’ or a handmaiden of the ruling party at the Centre in the eyes of the national Opposition.
  • Further, the recent developments, in which Central agencies are seen as targeting those in Opposition parties, add to the latter perception and do not augur well for its credibility.
  • To a large extent, the political leadership must bear the primary responsibility for such controversies.
  • In conclusion, it is difficult to ignore the fact that Mr. Asthana’s appointment as Special Director was made despite Mr. Verma’s vehement objections about his suitability, something the CVC chose to overrule.
  • Thus, in such circumstances, it is up to the CVC and the Centre to address the present crisis. A good place to start will be to take Mr. Asthana, whose name already figures in a case, temporarily out of the agency to ensure an impartial probe.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Touching base (India- Japan Relations)

Larger Background:

  • The friendship between India and Japan has a long history rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilizational ties. India’s earliest documented direct contact with Japan was with the Todaiji Temple in Nara, where the consecration or eye-opening of the towering statue of Lord Buddha was performed by an Indian monk, Bodhisena, in 752 AD. In contemporary times, among prominent Indians associated with Japan were Swami Vivekananda, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, JRD Tata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Judge Radha Binod Pal.
  • The Japan-India Association was set up in 1903, and is today the oldest international friendship body in Japan.
  • Throughout the various phases of history since contacts between India and Japan began some 1400 years ago, the two countries have never been adversaries. Bilateral ties have been singularly free of any kind of dispute – ideological, cultural or territorial.
  • Post the Second World War, India did not attend the San Francisco Conference, but decided to conclude a separate peace treaty with Japan in 1952 after its sovereignty was fully restored.
  • The sole dissenting voice of Judge Radha Binod Pal at the War Crimes Tribunal struck a deep chord among the Japanese public that continues to reverberate to this day. The modern nation States have carried on the positive legacy of the old association which has been strengthened by shared values of belief in democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law. Over the years, the two countries have built upon these values and created a partnership based on both principle and pragmatism. Today, India is the largest democracy in Asia and Japan the most prosperous.
  • On a more recent note, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited India (Ahmedabad) for the 12th Annual Summit from 13-14 September 2017.
  • During the visit, the two Prime Ministers oversaw the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mumbai Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project. India and Japan concluded 15 MoUs or agreements in panoply of areas 3 ranging from connectivity, investments, civil aviation, Japanese language training, disaster risk management, science and technology, and sports.
  • The two countries have several institutional dialogue mechanisms, which are held regularly, at senior official and functional levels to exchange views on bilateral issues as well as regional and international cooperation. There is Foreign Office Consultation at the level of Foreign Secretary / Vice Foreign Minister as well as a 2+2 Dialogue at the level of Foreign and Defense Secretaries. Similarly, there are dialogue mechanisms in diverse fields such as economy, commercial, financial services, health, road transport, shipping, education etc. to name a few sectors.

Economic and Commercial Cooperation

  • Economic relations between India and Japan have vast potential for growth, given the complementarities that exist between the two Asian economies. Japan’s interest in India is increasing due to a variety of reasons including India’s large and growing market and its resources, especially the human resources.
  • The India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that came into force in August 2011 is the most comprehensive of all such agreements concluded by India and covers not only trade in goods but also Services, Movement of Natural Persons, Investments, Intellectual Property Rights, Custom Procedures and other trade related issues. The CEPA envisages abolition of tariffs over 94% of items traded between India and Japan over a period of 10 years.
  • The Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail, the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor with twelve new industrial townships, the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) are all mega projects on the anvil which will transform India in the next decade. Delhi Metro Project has also been realized with Japanese assistance.
  • India’s primary exports to Japan have been petroleum products, chemicals, elements, compounds, non-metallic mineral ware, fish & fish preparations, metalliferous ores & scrap, clothing & accessories, iron & steel products, textile yarn, fabrics and machinery etc. India’s primary imports from Japan are machinery, transport equipment, iron and steel, electronic goods, organic chemicals, machine tools, etc.

A Note on the Indian Community:

  • The arrival of Indians in Japan for business and commercial interests began in the 1870s at the two major open ports of Yokohama and Kobe.
  • More Indians entered Japan during World War I when Japanese products were sought to fill gaps in demand that war-torn Europe could not meet.
  • Following the great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, most of the Indians in Yokohama relocated to the Kansai region (Osaka-Kobe) and the city hosted the largest migrant Indian population in Japan.
  • Yokohama authorities offered special incentives to the Indian community after World War II to revive their old base in Kanto. The old Indian community in Japan focused on trading in textiles, commodities and electronics.
  • With close linkages to India as well as connections in Hong Kong and Shanghai, they became major players in trading activities across Asia. A newer segment of the community is engaged in gems and jewelry. In recent years, there has been a change in the composition of the Indian community with the arrival of a large number of professionals, including IT professionals and engineers working for Indian and Japanese firms as well as professionals in management, finance, education, and S&T research.
  • The Nishikasai area in Tokyo is emerging as a “mini-India”. Their growing numbers had prompted the opening of three Indian schools in Tokyo and Yokohama. The community is actively engaged in events organized by the Embassy.
  • The Indian community lives harmoniously with the neighbours and has developed relations with local governments to become valuable members of the Japanese community. Approximately 27,000 Indians live in Japan.

Editorial Analysis:

  • It is important to note that ever since India and Japan institutionalised annual summit-level meetings in 2006, India and Japan have held a closely aligned world-view.
  • Currently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Japan for meetings with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, and they are expected to take stock of all the challenges they face.
  • The most notable of these challenges are with regard to the U.S. and China.
  • President Donald Trump’s recent actions on trade tariffs, sanctions against Iran and Russia, as well as the U.S.’s exit from several multilateral and security regimes are impacting both countries in different ways.

Impact of American Policies on India:

  • For India, the impact is more direct, as the economy has been hurt by new American tariffs, review of its GSP (trading) status, and restrictions on visas for professionals. Moreover, possible U.S. sanctions over Indian engagement with Iran as well as defence purchases from Russia pose an impending challenge.

Other points of concern:

    • For Japan as well, U.S. trade tariffs are a concern and US’s exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership is gathering together Southeast Asian countries into a free trade regime under Chinese domination.
    • Over and above this, the U.S.’s on-again, off-again nuclear negotiations with North Korea are keeping Tokyo on tenterhooks.
  • It is important to note that India and Japan must closely cooperate on how to manage these challenges from the U.S. while maintaining their growing security ties with the U.S., as members of the trilateral and quadrilateral formations in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The other common concern is managing an increasingly influential China.
  • Mr. Abe will meet Mr. Modi a day after he returns from a visit to Beijing, the first by a Japanese Prime Minister in seven years. Mr. Modi has re-engaged Beijing through multiple meetings with President Xi Jinping this year. The two Prime Ministers are bound to compare notes on the way forward with their common neighbour, especially on building and financing alternatives to China’s Belt and Road projects for countries along the “Asia-Africa growth corridor”.

A Brief Note on the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)

Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), is a fresh initiative led by India and Japan to enhance connectivity between the two continents. This was unveiled by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi during the African Development Bank annual meeting in Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat on May 16, 2017. According to the AAGC Vision Document, the corridor will focus on four areas:

  • Development Cooperation Projects
  • Quality Infrastructure and Institutional Connectivity
  • Enhancing Skills
  • People-to-People Partnership

This venture reflects the shared philosophy and priorities of countries in Asia, particularly India and Japan on one hand and Africa on the other.

Concluding Remarks:

  • In conclusion, on the bilateral front, between India and Japan, there are several loose ends that Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe will work to tie up.
  • The Shinkansen bullet train project has gathered speed, with the Japan International Cooperation Agency releasing the first tranche of Rs. 5,500 crore recently.
  • However, it could still run into delays over land acquisition issues.
  • Recently, India and Japan have stepped up military exchanges, and will begin negotiations on a landmark acquisition and cross-servicing logistics agreement.
  • However, there has been little movement on the pending purchase of ShinMaywa US-2 amphibian aircraft.
  • Also, while Japanese investment has grown several-fold in India, trade figures are lower than levels five years ago.
  • It is important to note that none of these issues are insurmountable, and the larger concerns of how to navigate uncharted and stormy geopolitical terrain, while maintaining strong positions on the international rules-based order, are likely to dominate Mr. Modi’s visit.

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Prelims Fact

1. IAF gets first overhauled Sukhoi

 

  • In a major step towards improving the availability rate of the backbone of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter fleet, the IAF’s Base Repair Depot (BRD), Ojhar in Maharashtra has successfully overhauled a Su-30 MKI aircraft.
  • Indigenous overhauling in-house within the IAF, will significantly reduce the time and improve the availability rate of the overall fleet at a time when the service is a facing a drop in its fighter squadron strength, officials said.
  • The Su-30MKI procured from Russia and licence manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the mainstay of the IAF’s fighter squadron. India has contracted 272 aircraft of which over 240 have been inducted into service.
  • However their serviceability rate has been an issue of constant concern with availability rates dropping below 50% at one point and has improved to over 60% over the last couple of years. The target is to have fleet availability of over 75%.
  • As part of the measures, in March 2017, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of India and the United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporations of Russia had signed two long term supply agreements for the Sukhoi fighter aircraft fleet to address issues of life cycle support and maintenance. These agreements cover about 57,000 spares and components related to the Su-30 aircraft.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Which of the following statements is/are correct about the Chandrayaan-2 mission?
  1. It is a joint initiative of ISRO and NASA.
  2. It will perform the objective of remote sensing of the moon.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 2. With reference to “Project Elephant”, which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. Project Elephant was launched in 1992 by Wildlife Institute of India.
  2. The project aims supporting research of the ecology and management of elephants, creating conservation awareness among local people, providing improved veterinary care for captive elephants.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 3. With reference to ‘leprosy’, which of the following statement is/are correct?
  1. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease (HD), is a long-term infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis.
  2. This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain, which can lead to the loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries or infection due to unnoticed wounds.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Each nation from the global community of nations will have to decide whether to play politics on a global scale for one’s own interests or to collaborate to protect the world and its ecosystems as a whole – Analyse this statement in the context of recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on global warming.
  2. It is important to note that #MeToo will also have to find a way to transcend its small, elite and urban sphere of influence. Examine the statement.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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