You are on page 1of 125

1.

INTERNATIONAL ISSUES

1. Iran- Saudi Arabia Conflict


The struggle between Riyadh and Tehran for political and religious influence is
decades old and has geopolitical implications that extend far beyond the placid
waters of the Gulf and encompass nearly every major conflict zone in the Middle
East.
Reasons For Conflict
I. Sectarianism: Saudi Arabia is a Sunni majority country while Iran is a Shia
majority country. After the death of Prophet Mohammad his followers split over
who is his rightful heir. This dispute led to the animosity between Iran and Saudi
Arabia.

The Split
o A schism emerged after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. He died
without appointing a successor to lead the Muslim community, and disputes
arose over who should shepherd the new and rapidly growing faith.
o Some believed that a new leader should be chosen by consensus; others thought
that only the Prophets descendants should become caliph. The title passed to a
trusted aide, Abu Bakr, though some thought it should have gone to Ali, the
Prophets cousin and son-in-law. Ali eventually did become caliph after Abu
Bakrs two successors were assassinated.
o After Ali also was assassinated, his martyrdom became a central tenet to those
who believed that Ali should have succeeded the Prophet. (It is mourned every
year during the month of Muharram). The followers became known as Shias, a
contraction of the phrase Shiat Ali, or followers of Ali.
o The Sunnis, however, regard the first three caliphs before Ali as rightly guided
and themselves as the true adherents to the Sunnah, or the Prophets tradition.
Sunni rulers embarked on sweeping conquests that extended the caliphate into
North Africa and Europe. The last caliphate ended with the fall of the Ottoman
Empire after World War-I.

II. Power struggle in the Middle East region and beyond: The countries have
been competing to promote their own version of Islam. Iran is allied with the
Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syrias Alawite Shia President Bashar al Assad and Shia
militants in Iraq. Saudi supports Wahabism worldwide.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 1


III. 1980s tensions: The 1979 Islamic Revolution aggravated the competition for
the leadership of the Muslim world. During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Saudi
Arabia and its allies backed Saddam Hussein against revolutionary Iran.
Current Scenario
Iran and Saudi are the two sides of the wars in Syria and Yemen. Saudi is
insecure about Irans nuclear deal with the Western countries and its economic
expansion. Worlds dependence on Saudi oil and shale gas production boom in
U.S. A. enhances the Saudis insecurity.
Saudi regimes adherence to orthodox Wahabism fuelling global Islamic
terrorism. Irans decision not to send its pilgrims to this years Haj marks further
straining of relations.
Indias Interests
India is dependent on both the countries for its economic, energy and strategic
interests. India has successfully maintained an active Middle East presence.
India has also been careful to hedge its bets. A trip by Indian Foreign Minister
Sushma Swaraj to Iran in April could be interpreted as an effort to both
strengthen ties with Iran and balance Modis trip to Riyadh.
There are 7.3 million non-resident Indians in the Middle East, 2.8 million of
them working in Saudi Arabia and remitting over $36 billion to India in 2015.
Saudi Arabia is Indias principal oil supplier. Saudi-Iran tension and its impact in
Yemen have forced India to evacuate thousands of its citizens from Yemen.
Indias relations with Iran were on a pause. Since upliftment of economic
sanctions on Iran, India has renewed its engagements vigorously. Therefore, it is
in Indias interest to maintain an effective balance between the two countries.
India- Iran engagements
The cabinet of Prime Minister Modi gave its approval for India to accept to the
Ashgabat Agreement, which facilitates the transportation of goods between
Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
India is working to participate in the International North South Transport Corridor
(INSTC) which is the route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran,
Europe, and Central Asia.
Indias investment at the Chabahar port in Iran is another expanding arena for
cooperation. A new deal, which includes a liquefied natural gas plant and a gas
cracker, along with the construction of a direct 1400-kilometer undersea gas
pipeline from Chabahar to the Gujarat coast, will increase Indias investment to
$20 billion.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 2
2. Refugee Crisis In Europe
The rise in number immigrants entering Europe in search of safety and in search of a
better life has captured the worlds attention because of severe tragedies which led
to humanitarian crisis.

Statistics on Migrants
Migrants are coming from unstable and conflict inflicted region of Syria,
Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and other Middle East countries and Eritrea and other
African countries too.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that in 2015 more
than 1,011,700 migrants arrived by sea and almost 34,900 by land to Europe.

International Organization for Migration (IOM)


Established in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the
field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and
non-governmental partners.
IOM has no legal protection mandate. India is a member.

Humanitarian Crisis
Children: Amid this crisis, children are the most vulnerable of all. Many are
travelling with their families, while many others are on their own. Every one of
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 3
them is in need of protection and entitled to the rights guaranteed under
the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Trafficking: Migrant children and women, especially those migrating without
documentation, are vulnerable to trafficking, abuse and exploitation.
Xenophobia: In countries of transit and destination, migrants and their families
often find themselves victims of discrimination, poverty and social
marginalization.
Schengen Crisis
The EU is experiencing the world's worst refugee crisis since World War II. The
terrorist threat is also very serious, particularly when it comes to radicalized EU
citizens travelling to, or from, conflict zones.
In response, member-states are re-instating national borders, and the EU is
reconsidering the Schengen agreement. If left unsolved, both the refugee and the
terrorist crisis could eventually become a Schengen crisis, which, in turn, will be
a blow to the European project itself.
The Schengen Area is the area including 26 European countries (22 of the 28 EU
member states and 4 European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states
Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) that have abolished passport
and any other type of border control at their mutual borders. It mostly functions
as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.
The free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed by the EU to its
citizens. It entitles every EU citizen to travel, work and live in any EU country
without special formalities. Schengen cooperation enhances this freedom by
enabling citizens to cross internal borders without being subjected to border
checks.
How Europe Should Manage Refugee Crisis
After some efforts to increase the focus on migrants and asylum seekers inside
the EU, the focus of many EU governments now appears to have shifted
decisively back to a default positionnamely efforts aimed at preventing or
discouraging people from attempting to reach EU territory, tackling smuggling
networks, and rapidly deporting individuals who do not have a right to remain in
the EU.
EU should create a well-regulated system which requires three steps:
o The first is to curb the push factors that encourage people to risk the
crossing, by beefing up aid to refugees, particularly to the victims of the civil

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 4


wars in Syria and Iraq, including the huge number who has fled to
neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
o The second is to review asylum claims while refugees are still in centres in
the Middle East or in the hotspots (mainly in Greece and Italy), where they
go when they first arrive in the EU.
o The third element is to insist that asylum-seekers stay put until their
applications are processed, rather than jumping on a train to Germany.
The crisis needs a bigger resettlement programme than the one run by the
UNs refugee agency, which has only 160,000 spaces. Countries outside the EU,
including the Gulf States, can play their part.
Ineligible migrants will have to be refused entry or deported. EU governments
should sign and implement readmission agreements allowing rejected migrants
to be sent home quickly to, say, Morocco or Algeria.
Countries have a moral and legal duty to provide sanctuary to those who flee
grave danger. That approach is disruptive in the short term, but in the medium
term, so long as they are allowed to work, refugees assimilate and more than pay
for themselves
Countries should sensitize their people. It should adopt a welcoming attitude
and accepting nature for refugees to handle the crisis in a more humane way.
Ensure compliance with all the EU laws and directives on asylum among
Member States.
Make available more safe, legal ways for refugees to travel to Europe under
managed programmes - for example humanitarian admission programmes,
private sponsorships, family reunion, student scholarships and labour mobility
schemes so that refugees do not resort to smugglers and traffickers to find
safety.
Develop Europe-wide systems of responsibility for asylum-seekers, including the
creation of registration centres in main countries of arrival, and setting up a
system for asylum requests to be distributed in an equitable way across EU
Member States.
Migration and UN
UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Refugees) is official UN Refugee
Agency. It was created in 1950, in the aftermath of the Second World War, to
help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 5


The 1951 UN Refugee on Convention is the key legal document that forms the
basis of UNHCR work.
Migration has been included in 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by
UN
Addis Ababa Action Agenda includes various means to implement the
migration related SDG.

Migration and India


India has traditionally treated refugees well even though it is not a party to the
1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.
As of 2005, UNHCR reported that India had 139,283 refugees and 303 asylum
seekers.
India has refugees/migrants from
o Open Border with Nepal - According to a bilateral friendship treaty signed
between India and Nepal in 1950, citizens of both countries can travel and
work freely across the border and are to be treated the same as native
citizens. Nepali migration to India dates back to the 19th century, when many
Nepalis migrated to Punjab and joined the British army in India. They also
came to work on tea plantations in Assam and Darjeeling.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 6


o India granted refuge to the Dalai Lama when he fled Tibet in 1959 and
permitted him to set up a government-in-exile in Dharamsala. Today more
than 1 lakh Tibetans live in India.
o Illegal Immigration from Bangladesh: For decades, India has received a
constant inflow of unauthorized migrants from Bangladesh. Data on them is
scarce yet few estimates number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh at 15 to
20 million. Recent, Land Boundary Agreement and Increase vigilance on
borders can help in improving the situation.
o In 2007, 9,200 Afghanistan refugees (92% of them Hindu or Sikh) were
living in India.
o While the Indian Government and UNHCR repatriated almost 100,000 Tamil
Sri Lankans to Sri Lanka until 1995, 22,000 Sri Lankans fled to India in 2006
due to renewed fighting between the government and Tamil Tigers.
o In recent years, India has received Iraqi and Palestinian refugees from
Baghdad, some of whom have been resettled to third countries.
Laws on Refugee (In India)
o India has not enacted any laws or regulations relating to the status of asylum
seekers and refugees. Instead, those persons are governed by the general
Foreigners Act of 1946 which requires all foreigners to register with the local
police if they are in the country for longer than 180 days.
o India has not signed UN Convention on refugees (1951) nor its Protocol (1967).
o Only specific refugee groups such as the Tibetans and Sri Lankan Tamils are
recognized and supported directly by the Indian government.
o The Supreme Court and various High Courts extend constitutional rights to
refugees and migrants.

3. German Lawmakers Adopt Resolution On Armenian Massacre


Germany passed a resolution on the First World War massacre of Armenian by
Ottomans in 1915 and recognized the event as genocide.
Turkey recalled the ambassador from Germany and warned that the incident
could hurt the ties between both the countries.
Including Germany, 23 of the EU members have recognized the Armenian
killings as genocide. Canada, Russia also recognize it as Genocide. However,
US uses different terminology. India has yet not recognized it as Genocide.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 7


Why is Turkey Angry?
It is a sensitive issue for Turkey. They interpret the killings as a consequence of
war.
Mr. Erdogan in 2014 visited the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey and, in a
carefully worded statement, extended condolences to the families of those who
had died, but the Turkish government has long rejected the term genocide.
The issue is also fraught for Germany. At the time of the killings, Germany, led by
Kaiser Wilhelm II, was allied with the Ottomans, fighting alongside the Austro-
Hungarian Empire against Britain, France and Russia in World War I, which
makes Germany's position special in this respect.
Why Recognition Matters?
Recognition would be a moral redress and the first step towards the
administration of justice. It confirms the tremendous injustice suffered by the
victims of the genocide and opens up for reconciliation, which is the foundation
for being able to move forward.
A second step would be to compensate the victims' descendants for the lost
property, capital, houses and land, just as Germany did and continues to do vis-
a-vis Israel and the Jews. This is done despite the fact that today's Germany is
not guilty of the Holocaust.
Reparation, with respect to capital, property and land belonging to over 1.5
million people (bearing in mind the increased value over the past century) may
therefore account to billions of dollars.
Genocide And UN
As per Article 2 of the U.N. Convention on Genocide of 1948, Genocide is a
crime of intentional destruction of a national, ethnic, racial and religious group, in
whole or in part. Article II lists five punishable acts of genocide.
The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide acts as a catalyst to raise
awareness of the causes and dynamics of genocide, to alert relevant actors
where there is a risk of genocide, and to advocate and mobilize for appropriate
action.
The Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect leads the conceptual,
political, institutional and operational development of the Responsibility to
Protect.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 8


4. War Of Fallujah
Fallujah is a province in northern Iraq. It was a critical hub for al-Qaeda in Iraq for
a decade before ISIL's takeover in January 2014.
On May 22, 2014 the Iraqi government announced the opening of the long-
awaited battle of Fallujah, the city only 30 miles west of Baghdad that has been
fully under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group for the
past 29 months.
UNICEF estimates that at least 20,000 children remain trapped in the city.
Children face the risk of forced recruitment into the fighting, strict procedures for
security screening and separation from their families.
Strategic Significance Of Fallujah
(a) The path to Mosul: Fallujah is a crucial for ISIL as well as Iraqi government.
Controlling the main highway from Baghdad to both Jordan and Syria, the city
has always been a hotbed of Sunni defiance. It became a symbol of resistance to
the Americans in violent battles in 2004 which left massive destruction and
thousands dead. If it falls back to the government quickly and relatively easily,
Baghdad will be encouraged to divert more troops and resources northwards to
the biggest challenge of all, the battle for Mosul.
(b) Sectarian consequences: Fallujah will also be important as a template for
which forces take part in such operations and who holds the ground afterwards.
Iranian-backed Shia militias and ISIL backed Sunni sectarian battle was the
major reason for such a clash in Fallujah.

5. Refugees/IDPs in Sri Lanka


Even after one and a half years after Maithripala Sirisena became Sri Lankan
President, thousands continue to live in camps of internally-displaced persons
(IDPs) or with relatives, waiting to return home.
Sirisena promised to provide total necessary lands required to adequately
resettle all the current IDPs, but concerns are raised over the ways they have
handled the issue of resettlement.
Definition Of Stateless People, Returnees, Refugees, Asylum Seeker As Per
UNHCR
Stateless People: Nationality is a legal bond between a state and an individual,
and statelessness refers to the condition of an individual who is not considered
as a national by any state. Although stateless people may sometimes also be

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 9


refugees, the two categories are distinct and both groups are of concern to
UNHCR.
Refugees: The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is someone
who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race,
religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is
outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is
unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country. Therefore, their
protection and assistance then becomes a matter of the responsibility of the
international community
Asylum-Seeker: The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: an
asylum-seeker is someone who identifies himself/herself as a refugee, but whose
claim for protection has not yet been assessed. An asylum-seeker claim for
protection is assessed in an individual Refugee Status Determination (RSD)
procedure, which effectively starts with the registration of the asylum seeker.
Following the registration, UNHCR makes use of a qualified interpreter to
conduct an interview of the asylum seeker. The interview process leads to a
reasoned decision on whether refugee status is to be granted or not.
Returnees: For many people forced from their homes, a voluntary return home
in safety and dignity marks the successful end to the trauma. This is the best
possible solution for those who have been uprooted from their homes. Over the
years, UNHCR has been assisting voluntary repatriation programmes that have
brought many refugees home. UNHCR India is currently facilitating the voluntary
return of Sri Lankan and Afghan refugees.

6. BREXIT
The people of Britain voted for a British exit, or Brexit, from the EU in a historic
referendum on Thursday June 23. Almost 52% of Britons voted in favour of leaving.
Britain And EU- History
1957 The Treaty of Rome was signed by 6 European states
1967 The European Community was established
1973 Britain joined the European Community. Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath took
Britain in.
1975 Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson had a referendum on Britains membership
the last national referendum this country has had. 66% voted yes to stay in
the European Community

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 10


1987 The Single European Act was signed. This was to create an internal market; an
area without frontiers in which the free movement of goods and persons,
services and capital is ensured.
1991 The Maastricht Treaty was signed. The heart of this was to create a single
European currency so that Europe as an entity had a currency to challenge the
international supremacy of the dollar. Britain, lead by Tory Prime Minister John
Major, pushed for and got an opt out clause for Britain. This meant that we
were part of the European Community and wanted to be a part of it, but not to
participate in a single currency, therefore, maintaining the pound should we
decide to do so.
1993 The Single European Act was signed. This was to create an internal market; an
area without frontiers in which the free movement of goods and persons,
services and capital is ensured.
Arguments Given By Supporters of Leave Campaign
a) The EU threatens British sovereignty: Over the past few decades, a series of
EU treaties have shifted a growing amount of power from individual member
states to the central EU bureaucracy in Brussels. On subjects where the EU has
been granted authority like competition policy, agriculture, and copyright and
patent law EU rules override national laws.
b) Britains large contributions to EU
o The EU doesnt have the power to directly collect taxes, but it requires
member states to make an annual contribution to the central EU budget.
Currently, the UKs contribution is worth about 13 billion ($19 billion) per
year, which is about $300 per person in the UK.
o While much of this money is spent on services in the UK, Brexit supporters
still argue that it would be better for the UK to simply keep the money and
have Parliament decide how to spend it.
c) Consumers could also benefit from the UK no longer having to follow policies like
the Common Agricultural Policy, which costs Britain 1 billion a year in subsidies
to foreign farmers and is believed to waste a lot of money on bureaucratic
spending.
d) The Common Fisheries Policy also places regulations on the British Fishing
Industry that prevents it from reaching its potential. The cost of clothing could
also go down without barriers from the Common Customs Tariff that prevents
cheap clothing producers from entering the EU market.
e) The EU was a good idea, but the euro is a disaster.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 11


o The global recession that began in 2008 was bad around the world, but it was
much worse in countries that had adopted Europes common currency, the
euro. The unemployment rate shot up in countries like Greece and Spain,
triggering a massive debt crisis and many economists believe the euro was
the primary culprit.
o The UK chose not to join the common currency, so theres little danger of the
euro directly cratering the British economy. But the euros dismal
performance still provides extra ammunition to Brexit supporters.
f) Brexit campaigners suggest that, free from EU rules and regulations, Britain
could reinvent itself as a Singapore-style supercharged economy.
g) Follow Norway Model: The main attraction of the Norwegian model for the U.K.
is that it offers a way to access the EUs single internal market, called European
Economic Area (EEA), of 500 million consumers without becoming a full bloc
member, and thus not bound by EU laws on areas such as agriculture, justice
and home affairs.
h) The EU entrenches corporate interests and prevents radical reforms:
Whereas many British conservatives see the EU as imposing left-wing, big-
government policies on Britain, some on the British left see things the other way
around: that the EUs anti-democratic structure gives too much power to
corporate elites and prevents the British left from making significant gains.
i) The UK "would regain control over fishing rights around its coast.
j) The EU allows too many immigrants.
k) Brexit proponents say that we are leaving the "door open" to terrorist attacks
by remaining in the EU.
Arguments Given By Supporters of Remain Campaign
a) The Membership Fee/contributions by Britain to EU provide various financial
advantages to Britain such as free trade and inward investment.
o More than% of Britains exports go to EU countries. Britain risks losing some
of that negotiating power by leaving the EU.
o Moreover, the U.K. will face competition from other economic powerhouses
such as the U.S. and India in negotiating a trade agreement with the EU
o A study by the think-tank Open Europe, found that the worst-case "Brexit"
scenario is that the UK economy loses 2.2% of its total GDP by 2030.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 12


o Pro-Europeans think the UK's status as one of the world's biggest financial
centres will be diminished if it is no longer seen as a gateway to the EU for
the likes of US banks.
o Fears that car-makers could scale back or even end production in the UK
vehicles could no longer be exported tax-free to Europe
b) Norwegian club would still leave Britain bound by virtually all EU regulations,
including the working-time directive.
c) The departure of one of the EU's most powerful economies would hit its finances
and boost populist anti-EU movements in other countries. This would open a
"Pandora's box"
d) Immigration will depend more on laws decided after the BREXIT vote. Free
movement of people across the EU also opens up job opportunities for British
workers seeking to work elsewhere in Europe. EU migrants have contributed
more than 34 per cent financially to the UK than they have cost it since 2000.
Immigrants from the EU also tend to be better educated than UK nationals with
11 per cent more immigrants having a degree than natives. Immigrants also
create a more diverse culture in the UK.
e) Britain would remain a member of Nato and the UN, but it may be regarded as a
less useful partner by its key ally, the US.
f) Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said that it is through the EU that you
exchange criminal records and passenger records and work together on counter-
terrorism. "We need the collective weight of the EU when you are dealing with
Russian aggression or terrorism."
Impact on India
Britains exit from the European Union will not have any immediate impact on
Indias trade and investment with the U.K. and the EU. But the implications of
Brexit will happen only after 2018 when the terms and conditions regarding
Britains exit from the EU are likely to be finalised.
According to experts, there will be some impact on trade in the short-term due to
the currency volatility, adding that the government was closely monitoring the
situation to assess the short, medium and long-term impact on Indias trade and
investment with the U.K. and the EU.
The investments with the two are currently happening not on the basis of an FTA
but on a bilateral basis.
The India-EU FTA negotiations have been deadlocked since 2013 after 16
rounds of talks due to several differences.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 13
The immediate future, currency volatility may put pressure on Indias exports as
both British Pound and Euro will depreciate giving greater competitiveness to
their products particularly in third countries.
With currency depreciation, the domestic manufacturer in EU and Britain may get
some competitiveness as imports becoming costlier having its effect on Indias
and other countries exports, he said. This may also increase imports from Britain
and EU, if their currency remain weaker on a medium-term basis.

Mains GS Paper III:


India is well prepared to deal with short and medium term consequences of Britain
exiting the European Union. Critically evaluate.

Mains Ques:
In international trade relations, Economic Union is considered highest form of
association. With reference to turmoil in European Union, Greek Crisis, Migrant crisis
and Brexit, what type of associations should SAARC aim for?

7. UN Plans To End AIDS Threat By 2030


At UNGA meeting member states adopted a new political declaration, including
time-bound global targets to be reached over the next five years and end the
epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.
The Secretary-General called on the international community to reinforce and
expand on the unique, multi-sector, multi-actor approach of UNAIDS, and to
ensure that the annual target of $26 billion in funding, including $13 billion for the
next three years, is met.
The UNAIDS 20162021 Strategy is one of the first in the United Nations system
to be aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals
Indian Health Minister J.P. Nadda reiterated Indias commitment to fast track
progress on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. He proposed a five-point
strategy to end AIDS which includes -
(1) adoption of the fast track target,
(2) reaching 90% of all people in need with HIV treatment,
(3) committed to maintain the TRIPS flexibilities,
(4) creating an inclusive society with programmes that work towards restoring the
respect and dignity of individuals, and lastly,
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 14
(5) Global solidarity.
The world has achieved Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 which was to
halt and reverse the AIDS epidemic by 2015. However, UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-Moon stressed that an action taken now could avert an estimated 17.6
million new infections and 11 million premature deaths between 2016 and 2030.
The United Nations Security Council has dealt with AIDS as a humanitarian issue
and a threat to human and national security.
About AIDS

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If left untreated, HIV can lead to
the disease AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Unlike some other
viruses, the human body cant get rid of HIV completely. So once you have HIV,
you have it for life. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, and not everyone who
has HIV advances to this stage.

HIV attacks the bodys immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which
help the immune system fight off infections. If left untreated, HIV reduces the
number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body, making the person more likely to get
infections or infection-related cancers. Tuberculosis is leading cause of AIDS
related deaths.
Programmes For Prevention of AIDS
International
1. UNAIDS: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is an
innovative joint venture of the United Nations family which brings together the
efforts and resources of 11 UN system organisations ( WHO,UNHCR, UNICEF,
UNESCO,UNDP etc) to unite the world against AIDS. The Joint Programme is
coordinated by the UNAIDS Secretariat, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
2. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS known as 90-90-90: Launched
in 2014, 90-90-90 states that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know
their HIV status. By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will
receive sustained antiretroviral therapy. By 2020, 90% of all people receiving
antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. Thailand and Belarus have
eliminated mother-to-child transmission of both HIV and syphilis.
3. AIDS is also covered under SDG goals.
In India:

The Government of India estimates that about 2.40 million Indians are living with
HIV, Indias highly heterogeneous epidemic is largely concentrated in only a few
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 15
states in the industrialized south and west, and in the northeast. The four high
prevalence states of South India (Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra ,Karnataka and
Tamil Nadu) account for 55% of all HIV infections in the country.

The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), launched in 1992, is being


implemented as a comprehensive programme for prevention and control of HIV/
AIDS in India. It has launched NACP IV now from 2012-2017 with two main
objectives -
Objective 1: Reduce new infections by 50% (2007 Baseline of NACP III)
Objective 2: Provide comprehensive care and support to all persons living
with HIV/AIDS and treatment services for all those who require it.

National Aids Control Organisation(NACO) under Department of Health & Family


welfare of Ministry of Health & Family welfare is nodal agency for AIDS control
programmes

8. Bangladesh Killings

Nazimuddin Samad, a Bangladeshi resident, was hacked to death by at least


four assailants after a post on Facebook. He had been on a hit list of 84 atheist
bloggers that a group of radical Islamists drew up and sent to the Bangladesh
interior ministry.

More than 20 people - including secular writers and bloggers, professors,


members of religious minorities and two foreigners - have been killed in attacks
blamed on Islamist militants since 2013. The attacks in recent years on LGBTs,
Shia/Ahmadi mosques, Christians and Hindus are few such incidences.
Who Is Behind These Killings
Islamic State or al Qaeda-linked groups have claimed responsibility, but state
government denies their role.
Ansar-ul-Islam, or Sword of Islam, the Bangladesh chapter of Al-Qaeda in the
Indian Subcontinent, has also claimed responsibility for much of the killing
campaign against Bangladeshi secularists.
Bangladesh, officially a secular nation, had until this year been pretty much free
of militant violence.
Funds from Saudi-Arabia and Middle East have been pouring in, financially
supporting various extremist and religious fanatics, both individually and
institutionally.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 16


Why?
The killing campaign in Bangladesh is characteristic of similar programmes
carried out by terrorists elsewhere, to subjugate anti-Islamist voices. (In countries
like Algeria, thousands of progressives among them, atheists, feminists, and
religious reformers were killed in large scale. Islamist campaigns intended to
terrorize civil society.)
Bangladeshs Jamaat-e-Islami itself, with backing from the Pakistan Army, killed
thousands of intellectuals in the build-up to the 1971 Liberation War.
Few analysts, blame this on political vacuum created by the bitter war between
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas Awami League, and her opponents on the Right
former Prime Minister Khaleda Zias BNP, and its sometime ally, the Jamaat.
Group of experts also blame this on Saudi led terror financing by so called Petro
Dollars, as part of its Sunni Extremism policies
Situation in India
In recent past secularists and modernists have been attacked and murdered in India
too by extremists. Few cases are-

Murder of activist Narendra Dhabolkar who took the lead to establish


Andhshraddha NirmulanSamiti (Committee to oppose Blind faith).

A Muslim man was bashed to death with bricks by a mob over a rumour that he
had eaten beef.

The killing of Professor Kalburgi in Aug 2015 over his criticism of idol worship
and Brahmanical rituals etc

9. RIO declares Financial Calamity


Forty-nine days before the opening of the Olympics (to begin on 5th Aug 2016), the
acting governor of Rio de Janeiro has declared a state of financial emergency and
begged for federal support to avoid a total collapse in public security, health,
education, transport and environmental management.
Why
Brazils economy is expected to shrink this year as a result of weak commodity
prices, low demand from China, political paralysis and the Lava Jato (Car Wash)
corruption investigation, which forced the suspension of many construction
contracts and led to the arrest of dozens of senior executives.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 17


Rio is particularly hard hit because it is the headquarters of the state-run oil
company Petrobras, which is at the centre of the investigation.
This is also in part a political tactic. By declaring a state of financial emergency,
the government is able to borrow funds without approval from the state
legislature.
Impact
It is an embarrassment for the host of South Americas first Olympic Games.
Its adds to a long list of woes that includes the impeachment of the president, the
deepest recession in decades, the biggest corruption scandal in memory, the
Zika epidemic and a wave of strikes and occupations of government buildings.
The cut in the public security budget can adversely affect the games.
Article 360 of the Constitution of India deals with Financial Emergency.

The President of India can proclaim Financial Emergency if he is satisfied that a


situation has arisen whereby the financial stability or credit of India or part of the
territory thereof is threatened.

The financial emergency ceases to be operations in two months unless it is


approved by both the Houses of the Parliament.

The President can revoke or re implement a subsequent proclamation

If LokSabha is dissolved and the proclamation is approved by RajyaSabha, the


proclamation will be valid for 30 days from the date the new LokSabha sat in
session.

During the Financial Emergency, the Executive Authority of the Union gives
finance related directions to the States.

India has never declared Financial Emergency.


However, most of the Olympic projects are funded by private companies or Rio
City which is in a stronger financial position rather than Rio state. With the
exception of the velodrome, the main sporting venues are either complete or on
schedule.
Why Do Countries Want To Host Olympic Games?

Host countries are decided by International Olympic Committee (IOC) voting for
bidding countries. Japan would host 2020 Olympics.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 18


The main reason cities want to host the Olympics is that, perhaps against the
odds, they are wildly popular with the voters who foot the bill.

The 2008 Beijing games, the priciest ever, are reckoned to have cost about $40
billion. Tourism may help to offset the expense, but a spike in arrivals is not
guaranteed: Beijing saw a drop in hotel bookings during its Olympic summer.

10. Internal disturbance in Nigeria

Militants group Niger Delta Avengers, which announced its formation in February
2016, has launched attacks in the Niger Delta, targeting the oil pipelines, vowing
to bring Nigeria's struggling oil industry to a halt, and the president cancelled a
long-awaited visit to the region. A wave of such attacks has driven the country's
oil output to a 20-year low.

The Avengers aim is to create a sovereign state in the Niger Delta. They have
accused President Buhari, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, of ignoring the
problems of the predominantly Christian Delta.

This part of the country was once paralysed by an armed insurgency, which
began when locals protested that little of the wealth generated from the oil
extracted on their lands made its way into their communities. In the early 2000s
oil production in the Delta fell by half, as militants blew up pipelines and
kidnapped oil workers. The battle only ended in 2009 when the government
offered an amnesty and militants were paid to protect the pipes they used to blow
up. Mr President has now cancelled those contracts. A spate of attacks followed.
Issues In Nigeria

An overarching problem is that Nigeria is split between a mostly Muslim north


and a predominantly Christian south, with its 180m people belonging to 250
ethnic groups and speaking more than 500 languages. So differences often
manifest along religious or tribal lines.

Boko Harams insurgents target Muslims as well as Christians. Poverty and


population growth exacerbate these tensions. As many as 10m children are out
of school and half of all young adults are un- or under-employed. Many of Boko
Harams fighters joined because they were hungry rather than dedicated
jihadists.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 19


11. Panama Canal Expansion Project
Why In News

Recently a decade long Panama Canal expansion project has been completed
and inaugurated by passing of a Chinese charted freighter.

The Panama Canal is a


50-mile, man-made canal
cutting through the
Isthmus of Panama that
connects the Pacific and
Atlantic Oceans. It was
constructed by the United
States in order to find a
waterway route between
the two oceans.

The Panama Canal


Expansion is the largest
project at the Canal since
its original construction.
The Expansion will double
the Canals capacity, having a direct impact on economies of scale and
international maritime trade.
Historical Background

From 1819, Panama was part of the federation of Colombia. But when Colombia
rejected United States plans to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, the
U.S. supported a revolution that led to the independence of Panama in 1903.

The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty allowed the U.S. to build the Panama Canal, the
Panama Canal was successfully built from 1904 to 1914.

The division of the country of Panama into two parts by the U.S. territory of the
Canal Zone caused tension throughout the twentieth century. The self-contained
Canal Zone (the official name for the U.S. territory in Panama) contributed little to
the Panama economy.

The U.S. and Panama governments began to work together to solve the
territorial issue. In 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty which
agreed to return 60% of the Canal Zone to Panama in 1979. The canal and

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 20


remaining territory, known as the Canal Area, was returned to Panama on
December 31, 1999.

12. Ceasefire between Columbian government and FARC rebels


A half century conflict between Columbian government and FARC rebels has been
ended by signing up of a ceasefire agreement. The deal establishes a bilateral
ceasefire and end to hostilities and the definitive laying down of arms, according to
the text.
What is FARC?

FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia)is the oldest and largest


group among Colombia's left-wing rebels and is one of the world's richest
guerrilla armies.

The group's roots can be traced back to the Liberal guerrilla bands of La
Violencia - the civil war between the Liberal and Conservative parties that raged
from 1948 until 1958.

One of the guerrilla bands became disillusioned with the leadership of the Liberal
Party and turned to communism. It was led by Manuel Marulanda, who in 1966
baptised his group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Ceasefire Agreement
FARC will hand over its weapons to United Nations monitors within 6 months.
The peace accord gives the disarmament process a six-month time limit.
Demobilisation process: In addition to a framework for a ceasefire, both sides
agreed on a demobilisation plan that will see rebels concentrate in rural areas
under government protection and hand over weapons to UN monitors. The sides
are discussing designating zones where the FARC's estimated 7,000 remaining
fighters can gather for a UN-supervised demobilisation process.
Human rights groups say atrocities have been committed on all sides. Many
families are still searching for missing loved ones. Peace talks will resolve all
these issues.
The deal also includes security guarantees for the FARC during its transition to a
peaceful political party.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 21


13. Global Peace Index (GPI) 2016

It was released by Institute For Economics and Peace. This provides a


comprehensive update on the state of peace. The report shows that life has
become less peaceful in the countries.

It ranks countries according to 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators of peace.


The index is based on 3 themes:
(1) The level of safety and security in society
(2) The extent of domestic or international conflict
(3) The degree of militarisation

India ranks 141 out of 163 countries. India has moved up two positions from
143rd rank in 2015 GPI.
Institute for Economics and Peace
It is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to shifting the
worlds focus to peace as positive, achievable and tangible measures of human well
being and progress. It releases many indexes such as Terrorism index, Global peace
index, etc.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 22


2. INDIA AND THE WORLD

1. India-Qatar Relations
Why In News

Indian PM recently visited Qatar, an energy rich nation, located strategically in


the Gulf. It was a first visit of any Indian PM in last eight years, earlier PM
Manmohan Singh had visited Doha in 2008.

PM had extensive talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-thani on
a range of bilateral issues including ways to further boost economic ties,
particularly in the hydrocarbon sector.
Importance of Qatar For India
1. Diaspora: Around 6,30,000 Indian nationals form largest expatriate community in
Qatar. They are important source of remittances.
2. Energy: Qatar is energy rich and is Indias largest supplier of LNG requirement,
accounting for 65% of total imports in 2015-16. It is also one of the key sources
of crude oil.
3. Strategic: Qatar is important for stability in gulf region, especially in the backdrop
of crisis in Syria, Yemen and the threat from ISIS. Also it is important for tackling
maritime security challenges.
4. Economic:
a. India is the third largest export destination for Qatar (behind Japan and South
Korea). Besides LNG, India also imports ethylene, propylene, ammonia, urea
and polyethylene from Qatar.
b. However, the balance of trade continues to be heavily in Qatars favour
c. Qatar is hosting FIFA World-Cup in 2022. A number of Indian companies are
involved in construction work in Qatar.
5. Cultural Relations: Qataris admire India's cultural diversity. There is a regular
flow of Indian artistes performing in Qatar at events organised by community
organizations affiliated to the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC), apex body of
associations of the Indian community functioning under the aegis of Embassy of
India, Doha, and private sponsors.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 23


Seven MoUs Signed In Recent Visit
1. Qatar will invest in India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund
(NIIF). It would facilitate foreign investment from the gas-rich Gulf state in India.
2. Cooperation in skill development and recognition of qualifications.
3. Cooperation in tourism between the two countries.
4. Cooperation between India and Qatar in the field of health. This MoU
provides cooperation in areas of health, including inter alia in occupational and
environmental health, pharmaceuticals, medical education, exchange of the best
practices in the field of primary healthcare, research in the field of health care,
technology, health care system and exchange of medical experts and scientists.
5. MoU was signed to share intelligence to combat hawala transactions and
terror financing. There is a lot of money flow and investment from Qatar. A
number of black money investigations have taken Indian authorities to Qatars
shores and the MoU is seen as a move to help combat money offences.
6. Cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters: This will include
cooperation on matters pertaining to customs administration through exchange of
information and intelligence. The MoU on customs matters included resolving the
issues of under-invoicing and over-invoicing as well as money laundering issues
7. MoU in the field of youth and sports: This will involve exchanges and
cooperation in sports activities, training camps for sports teams and exchange
visits of leaders and officials etc between the two countries.
The two sides have also decided to constitute an inter-ministerial high-level joint
committee to regularly review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global
issues of mutual interest. Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin hamad Al-thani had visited
India in March, 2015. Six Agreements/MOUs were signed during the visit, in the
following areas:
(i) Transfer of sentenced Persons;
(ii) Mutual Cooperation between Foreign Service Institute, MEA and Diplomatic
Institute;
(iii) Cooperation in Information and Communication Technology;
(iv) Cooperation in Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences;
(v) Cooperation in Radio and Television; and
(vi) Mutual Cooperation and Exchange of News between Qatar News Agency and
United New Agency.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 24


Question: Qatar is key to Indias changing foreign policy towards Gulf. Elucidate.

2. India-Afghanistan Relations
Why In News

Indian PM inaugurated Salma Dam/Herat Dam (Afghanistan-India friendship


Dam), built with Indian aid, in Afghanistan. The 42 MW dam, with an investment
of over $275 million, will boost the agricultural and industrial sectors of Herat, one
of the few success stories in this war-torn country. The project underlines Indias
resolve to sharpen its profile in the region.

On June 4, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also received Afghanistans highest


civilian honour, the Amir Amanullah Khan Award, from President Ashraf Ghani.
This marks further deepening of India-Afghanistan ties.
Other Major Indian Projects in Afghanistan
Supply of 2,50,000 tonnes of wheat.
Construction of power line from Pul-i-Khumri to Kabul
Construction of Parliament building.
Rehabilitation of Delaram-Zaranj road.
Food assistance to primary school children and construction and rehabilitation of
schools.

3. Trilateral Transport and Transit Corridor Agreement Signed

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 25


India, Iran and Afghanistan signed the Trilateral Transport and Transit Corridor
Agreement during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Iran.

One part of the trilateral agreement would include the construction of Chabahar-
Zahedan railway line (a bilateral initiative between India and Iran's infrastructure
development companies). The project includes port, road and railway
infrastructure.

The trilateral agreement will turn the Iranian port city of Chabahar into a major
transit hub.

India will invest $500 million in the development of this strategic port of
Chabahar.
Importance Of Chabahar Port
New Delhi and Tehran had agreed in 2003 to develop the port, near the Iran-
Pakistan border. But the project did not take off, not mainly owing to international
sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, but also on account of inertia
in Delhi. The removal of sanctions after Irans nuclear deal has provided New
Delhi an opportunity to revitalize bilateral ties.
This pact has the potential to alter the geopolitics of South and Central Asia.
The road, rail and port development projects, once implemented, will change the
way India, Afghanistan and Iran do business. India and Afghanistan have failed
to realize the full economic potential of their friendship owing to connectivity
problems.
Chabahar is situated just 100 km from Pakistans Gwadar port, the centrepiece
of a $46 billion economic corridor that China is building. Chabahar lies outside
the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from Indias western coast, bypassing
Pakistan. The port is an economic gateway thanks to its location on the Gulf of
Oman outside the Strait of Hormuz.
The problem with Gwadar is that while the port has been built -the supporting
infrastructure of railroad link, industrial capacity, and civic structures at Gwadar is
almost non-existent and the proposed Gwadar route also goes through more
problematic areas of Afghanistan. The Chabahar route goes through relatively
stable parts of Afghanistan and Iran already has good relations with everybody
along the route leading north (including the local warlords) into Tajikistan.
Though the Indian investment in Chabahar, at $500 million, does not match the
scale of the Chinese project with Indias overland access to Central Asia blocked
by Pakistan, the Chabahar deep-sea port and the INSTC running northward

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 26


through Iran and Afghanistan will provide New Delhi vital access to Central
Asian, Russian, and ultimately European markets.
The proposed free trade zone in the Chabahar area offers Indian companies a
new investment destination at a well-connected port city. India is willing to set up
plants in sectors such as fertilizers, petrochemicals and metallurgy in the zone.
Chabahar also opens up the possibility of importing gas from Iran via Mundra
Port, enhancing oil import opportunities. Important here is the South Asia Gas
Enterprises Pvt Ltd (SAGE) undersea pipeline to bring gas from Oman and Iran
to India. So far, Indias gas imports are only from Oman.
Irans biggest weakness in seaborne trade is the absence of deep sea ports.
Irans most important port is Bandar Abbas, which s located on the southern
coast of Iran, on the Persian Gulf and strategically on the narrow and congested
Strait of Hormuz constantly patrolled by the US Navy. Iran has to first offload
cargo in the United Arab Emirates and then send them on smaller ships which
can dock in Iran. So, Chabhar is strategically and economically important for Iran.

Question: Indias stronger ties with Iran are a must to not only counter Chinas
string of Pearl strategy but also to enhance its energy security. Critically Explain.

4. India-Switzerland Relations

Recently PM Narendra Modi visited Switzerland to strengthen political, economic


and cultural ties.

India got the backing of Switzerland in its bid to become a member of the Nuclear
Suppliers Group (NSG).

The two countries have also resolved to strengthen cooperation in combating


tax evasion and black money. They also agreed to move towards an early
agreement for the implementation of AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information)
between the two countries.

5. India-Mexico

Mexico extended support to India for NSG membership in the recent visit of PM
Narendra Modis visit to Mexico.

Further, the leaders of both countries recognized the opportunities to define the
path of the India-Mexico Privileged Partnership for the 21st Century. This

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 27


partnership would allow the growth of bilateral relations in economic field, in
science and technology.
India- Mexico Bilateral Relations
India and Mexico have striking similarities in geo-climatic conditions, biodiversity,
physiognomy and people, cultural and family values, as well as European
connections of the colonial era.
Historical-
o Legend has it that an Indian princess Meera landed in Mexico in the 17th
century and is well-known here as La China Poblana.
o The Gurudev Tagore Indian Cultural Centre has been functioning in Mexico
since October 2010, teaching Yoga, classical and Bollywood dances, sitar,
tabla and Hindi and Sanskrit.
Political
o Mexico was the first country in Latin America to establish diplomatic relations
with Independent India.
o In the cold war years, Mexico and India had worked together closely as
members of the UN, G-77, G-15 and G-6 (nuclear disarmament), both
actively championing the interests of developing countries such as in the
Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations.
o Though there are differences on expansion of the permanent membership of
the UNSC, environment etc.
Economic and Commercial
o With Exports to Mexico of $2.865 bn in 2015-16, Mexico has overtaken Brazil
as the top destination of Indias exports to Latin America.
o From the year 2012, the trade balance has turned in favour of Mexico mainly
because of big increase in export of crude oil to India.
o Potential areas for bilateral trade include software and IT, pharmaceuticals,
chemicals, engineering goods, renewable energy, biotechnology, auto parts,
minerals.
o Most of the leading Indian companies in IT/software, pharmaceutical and
automotive companies have invested in facilities and plants in Mexico.
o Mexican companies have also begun to invest in India in the automotive
sector in particular.

Question: Indias bid to NSG membership has shown that there are no permanent
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 28
friends or foes in diplomatic relations. How much do you agree with this statement?
Substantiate your answer citing recent examples.

6. India-US
Indo-US Cooperation In Clean Energy
Recognizing the critical importance of increasing energy access, reducing
greenhouse gas emissions, and improving resilience in the face of climate
change, President Obama and PM Modi committed in September 2014 to a new
and enhanced strategic partnership on energy security, clean energy, and
climate change.
Since that time, United States and India have made important strides together to
advance this strategic partnership, and to our related cooperation on
environmental stewardship.
India, US announce $60 million clean energy financial support: India and the
US have announced the setting up of two financial assistance programmes worth
$60 million, to be sourced equally from U.S. foundations and the Govt of India,
for supporting Indias much-needed clean energy initiatives including in solar
power and other renewables.
U.S.-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) Initiative: The USICEF initiative
will raise and deploy up to $20 million in project preparation support. This fund
will be used for projects deploying distributed solar for grid tied communities, off-
grid communities, and those served by mini-grids to benefit poor communities to
provide clean and renewable electricity to up to 1 million households by 2020.
U.S.-India Catalytic Solar Finance Program (USICSFP): The USICSFP will
raise and deploy up to $40 million in high-impact catalytic capital in support of
investments into India's solar market. It will provide much needed liquidity to
smaller-scale renewable energy investments, particularly in poorer, rural villages
that are not connected to the grid, and could mobilise up to $1 billion of projects.
This would help in expansion of handholding support to Indian utilities that are
scaling up rooftop solar and continuation of successful cooperation with USAID
on "Greening the Grid.
Indo-US Joint Statement: Enduring Global Partners in the 21st Century
1. Over NSG, MTCR and other n-regimes: US supports Indias early application
and eventual membership in all four regimes- NSG, MTCR, Wassenaar
Arrangement, and the Australia Group.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 29


2. India and US resolve to be priority partners: Noting that Indias Act East
Policy and the US rebalance in Asia provided opportunities for working closely,
the leaders announced a Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian
Ocean Region. They resolved that the US and India should look at each other as
priority partners in the Asia Pacific and in the Indian Ocean region.
3. Defence
The US recognized India as a Major Defence Partner it will continue to
work toward facilitating technology sharing to a level commensurate with that
of its closest allies and partners.
India will receive licence-free access to a wide range of dual-use
technologies in conjunction with its commitment to advance export control
objectives.
New Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) working groups will
include items covering naval systems, air systems, and other weapons
systems.
4. Climate Change
India agreed to work towards adopting an important amendment to the 1989
Montreal Protocol that banned the use of ozone-depleting chemicals like
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The amendment will bring hydroflurocarbons
(HFCs), commonly used as refrigerants and coolants, within the ambit of the
Montreal Protocol.
HFCs came to be used as substitutes to CFCs. HFCs are not ozone-
depleting, but are very potent greenhouse gases, with global warming
potential hundreds or thousands of times more than that of carbon dioxide.
US has pledged of at least $ 30 million to support deployment of clean and
renewable energy in India.
5. Cyber security and Internet Governance
Framework for the US-India Cyber Relationship would be finalized very soon.
This would enhance cyber collaboration on critical infrastructure, cybercrime,
and malicious cyber activity by state and non-state actors, capacity building,
and cyber security research and development, and to continue discussions
on all aspects of trade in technology and related services, including market
access.
6. On Civil Nuclear cooperation

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 30


Noting that the Contact Group set up in September 2014 to advance
implementation of bilateral civil nuclear cooperation had met three times in
December 2014 and January 2015, the leaders welcomed the
understandings reached on civil nuclear liability and administrative
arrangements for civil nuclear cooperation, and looked forward to US-built
reactors contributing to Indias energy security at the earliest.
7. On travel between two countries Indias introduction of visa-on-arrival for US
citizens and convening of technical discussions to advance Indias membership
in the US Global Entry Programme are initiatives aimed at easing travel between
India and the US and strengthen people-to-people ties.
8. Yoga: The leaders reiterated the importance of holistic approaches to health and
wellness, and of promoting the potential benefits of synergising modern and
traditional systems of medicine, including yoga.
Question: India-US relationship is undergoing transformation. What according to you
is the impact of this on India.

7. India And Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG)


China stone walled Indias entry into the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at
the just-concluded Seoul plenary.
About NSG
The NSG is a group of 48nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to
the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets
of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
New Members are admitted by consensus among members.
The NSG Guidelines also contain the so-called Non-Proliferation Principle,
adopted in 1994, whereby a supplier, notwithstanding other provisions in the
NSG Guidelines, authorises a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would
not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Why Does India Want To Be In NSG
It would place India at the high table where the rules of nuclear commerce are
decided and, eventually, the ability to sell equipment.
Many countries that initially opposed its entry, like Australia, have changed
stance; Mexico and Switzerland are the latest to voice support.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 31


US Stand On Indias Entry To NSG
US wants to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, whose
centrepiece is the 1968 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The NPT defines nuclear weapons states as those that tested devices before
January 1, 1967 which means India cannot ever be one. India like Israel
and Pakistan thus refused to sign the treaty.
From 2005, though, President George W Bushs administration sought ways to
deepen strategic cooperation with India. Nuclear energy was a key means to
strengthen cooperation, but since India wasnt a member of the NPT, technology
couldnt be shared. Then, a way forward was found the US-India Civil Nuclear
Agreement.
India agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes, and put the
civilian part under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
India also changed its export laws to line up with the NSG, MTCR, Wassenaar
Arrangement, and Australia Group the four key nuclear control regimes.
The US agreed to shepherd Indian entry into these regimes, which meant India
would for all practical purposes be treated like an NPT member, even though it
wasnt one.
Opposition to Indias Entry in NSG
Pakistan argue that giving India easy access to fissile material and technology
for its civilian nuclear programme means it would have that much more material
for its military nuclear programme. Thus, Pakistan says, the move to give India
NSG membership is fuelling a nuclear arms race.
But this argument falls apart because Pakistan is resolutely opposed to a key
international agreement called the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), which
would cap the military nuclear stockpiles of all countries. The FMCT ought to put
an end to Pakistans fears, but Islamabad has refused to sign.
Chinese diplomats say Beijing wants NSG entry to be norm-based in other
words, whatever rules govern Indian entry should apply to others too. Norm-
based entry would, presumably, help Pakistan gain entry, something many in the
NSG are certain to resist because of the countrys record as a proliferator of
nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Why then did China go along with the NSG waiver in 2008? The answer is
Geopolitics. The waiver came only after President Bush rang President Hu Jintao
and called in a favour.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 32


8. India Gains Entry To Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
o In a boost to its non-proliferation credentials, India recently joined the MTCR) at a
ceremony in South Block, attended by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and
diplomats from the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg missions.
o The Ministry of External Affairs said Indias MTCR membership would help in
furtherance of international non-proliferation objectives, even as a statement
from the MTCR chair at The Hague said India would enjoy full participation in
organisational activities, including the October 2016 plenary of the regime in
South Korea.
About MTCR
MTCR is informal and voluntary association of 35 ( now including India) countries
which aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery
technology that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks. It
was established in 1987.
The regime urges its members to restrict their exports of missiles and related
technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kms or
delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.
Members must have national policies governing export of ballistic missiles, cruise
missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, space launch vehicles, drones, remotely
piloted vehicles, sounding rockets, and their components.
Why Indias Entry Into MTCR Is So Crucial?
1. It would facilitate India buy high-end missile technology and shape its
engagement with global non proliferation community.
2. This would enable defense trade and technology transfer between India and
other members of MTCR.
3. This would have an impact on Indias membership in Nuclear Supplier Group
(NSG) as India now can play against China, who is not a mender of MTCR.
4. It adds credibility to India's image as a responsible nuclear power.

9. President Mukherjee Visit To Three African Nations


During his three-nation tour to Ghana, Cote dIvoire and Namibia, President
Mukherjee witnessed India signing many important Memorandums of
Understanding (MoUs) and agreements with the African nations.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 33


He held discussions on various important issues of mutual interests with his
counterparts, including business, economy, agriculture, technology, mining, etc.
India-Ivory Coast
This is the maiden visit of the Indian President to home of hospitality
CoteDIvoirie and is seen as Indias outreach to Africa. President Mukherjee has
been accorded the highest honour of Grand Cross National Order of Cote
DIvoirie by its President Alassane Ouattara on his maiden visit to Abidjan.
Ivory Coast, also known as Cote DIvoirie, is the the worlds largest producer
and exporter of cocoa beans used in the manufacture of chocolate, supplying
33% of cocoa produced globally.
Country is also the biggest producer and exporter of cashew nuts to India
which procures nearly 80 per cent of its total exports of cashew nuts.
The trade between the two countries stood at around $ 1 billion till March 31.
Indias public and private sector are keen to join Cote DIvoirie in setting up agro-
based industries because of its fertile soil and agricultural and mineral resources.
Further Ivory Coast seeks Indian investment in Cocoa processing.
In one of the important agreements signed, Exim Bank is going to re-open its
office in Abidjan. It was shifted in 1992 to Sudan because of political turmoil in
the country.
India-Ghana
Pranab Mukherjee is the first president of India to visit Ghana, a West African
country.
Putting the agenda of deepening ties with the African countries on a fast-track,
India and Ghana signed three bilateral agreements to strengthen co-operation in
varied fields. This includes visa waivers for holders of diplomatic and official
passports and one for setting up a Joint Commission.
India is the largest foreign investor in Ghana today, with more than 700
investment projects. More than 222 of these projects are in the manufacturing
sector.
Bilateral trade between India and Ghana has increased to $1.2 billion from $538
million in 2010.
India-Namibia

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 34


Namibia is 5th largest producer of Uranium in the world after Kazakhstan,
Canada, Australia, and Niger. Country is blessed with rich natural resources and
an abundance of mineral wealth.

India and Namibia enjoy longstanding, excellent and time-tested ties that predate
Namibias independence. Over 1000 Namibians have trained in India. Several
Indian experts from government and the private sector have been involved with
policy formulation in the country since its independence.

India and Namibia had signed two MoUs on Cooperation in the field of geology
and mineral resources and Cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy in
2009. However, the Pelindaba Treaty of 1996 has prevented it from ratifying the
agreements.

The Pelindaba Treaty, also known as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone
Treaty, aims at preventing nuclear proliferation and preventing strategic minerals
of Africa from being exported freely. Namibia, a member of ANWFZT, is barred
from supplying uranium to India as the latter is not a member of Non-Proliferation
Treaty or NPT.

Reiterating its commitment to honour the 2009 pact to supply uranium to India at
the earliest, Namibia has asked India to enter into similar agreements with other
countries to convince the member-states of the African Nuclear Weapon Free
Zone Treaty (ANWFZT).

10. India-Seychelles
India-Seychelles relations have been characterised by close friendship,
understanding and cooperation. Diplomatic ties were established with Seychelles
after its independence in 1976, but the links date back to even earlier.
During first Prime Ministerial level visit from India to Seychelles in Mar 2015 ,
following four agreements were signed- MoU on Renewable Energy Cooperation;
MoU for Cooperation in the field of Hydrography; Protocol on Sale of
Navigational Charts / Electronic Navigational Charts; and Agreement on the
Development of Facilities on Assumption Island.
Economic Relations
The economic and commercial cooperation at the moment is small, there exists
significant scope for enhancing cooperation in this field.
The total imports from India in 2014 was US$ 43.80 million (approx.), while total
exports to India in 2014 was only US$ 0.023 million (approx.).
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 35
India and Seychelles have signed Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Agreement (BIPPA).
Security/Defence Related
India- Seychelles joint military exercise LAMITYE 2016 was conducted at
Seychelles Defence Academy (SDA). India and Seychelles have been
conducting this biennial joint military drill since 2001. Lamitye in Creole (local
dialect of Seychelles) means friendship.
An Indian naval ship, INS Tarasa, was gifted to Seychelles on 7 November 2014
to augment surveillance and patrolling of Seychelles waters
India and Seychelles have signed MoU on the stationing of an Indian Navys
Dornier aircraft in Seychelles, MoU for supply of a coastal surveillance radar
system in the outer islands signed, and several MoUs on police research/training.
Culture and Tourism
Cultural Exchange Programme, Agreement on Tourism, etc
Seychelles tourism minister Alain St. Ange visited India in 2016 to promote the
countrys tourism industry. The direct share of tourism in the economy 27%.
Seychelles receives about 280,000 tourists a year a year, roughly three times of
its population.
India is an important source of tourism for the island nation. Last year, about
8,000 Indians travelled to Seychelles to spend holidays.
Indian Community
India has an important link with Seychelles in the form of Indian nationals being
the earliest inhabitants of this island, mostly from Tamil Nadu and later from
Gujarat, who came as traders, labours, construction workers and more recently
as professionals.
The Indian community is visible in all walks of life in Seychelles, particularly in
trading. Virtually all the shops in this country are owned by the Tamil community.
A large portion of the real estate business and the construction industry is
controlled by the Gujarati community.

11. Shangri La Dialogue (SLD)


Recently, 15th edition of SLD was held in Singapore. This was earlier called as
Asian Security Summit and was initiated in 2002.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 36


This is an inter-governmental regional security forum which organizes annual
meetings of defence ministers and policy makers of 28 Asia-Pacific states. This
has acquired an important stature as a forum that facilitates the engagement of
key defence officials from the Asia Pacific region.
Shangri La Dialogue is sold as a track-one interaction coordinated by a track
two organisation. Mainly, a UK based think-tank (a nongovernmental
organisation) called International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) organises
this event with support from the Singaporean government.
It is important to note that the Shangri-La Dialogue is only a dialogue. It does not
make decisions, adopt policy recommendations or issue any declarations.
Issue Discussed At Dialogue
IISS came out with The Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2016.
In the summit five key issues came up for detailed examination. These were:
(1) The role of major powers of Asia China, India, Japan in regional security.
(2) Maritime security challenges, including militarization of the South China Sea,
and positions of key stakeholders, including the US, UK, France and,
Canada.
(3) Potential regional flash points: The Korean Peninsula and Taiwan.
(4) Development in regional states naval and defence-industrial capabilities.
(5) Emerging regional security issues in the form of challenges stemming from
unregulated migration and the threat posed by ISIS, as well as wider
implications of security, economic and strategic initiatives.
Other issues of significance which were also discussed are-
Evolving American Views of China
India and Asia-Pacific Security
Proactive Pacifism: the new normal in Japans foreign and security policy
Vietnams Major-Power Diplomacy
The Migration-Security Nexus in the Asia-Pacific
Economic-cooperation initiatives and security in the Asia-Pacific
Importance of Shangri la Dialogue
It provides an unofficial setting where ministers and other senior officials are
given the opportunity to address major security issues and interact with a large
audience of security specialists.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 37
Second, many officials use the summit to arrange private meetings with their
counterparts on the sidelines.
The Shangri-La Dialogue has helped to engender a sense of community
feeling among the most important policy-makers in the defence and security
establishments of regional states and of major powers with significant stakes in
Asia-Pacific security.
India and Shangri la
1. India is likely to remain as one of the biggest importers of military hardware in
the near future. Therefore, importance of events like Shangri-La as sourcing
opportunities cant be ignored.
2. At bilateral level India has Strategic Dialogues with many of the participating
states and in fact Indian PM has visited many of them in the recent past. Military
diplomacy could be viewed as a subset of Indias strategic engagement with
these states and Indian armed forces are conducting joint military exercises with
many of them. Shangri La provides an opportunity to strengthen these ties in
multimember forum.
3. The presence of top level government officials in such meetings offers an
opportunity for the projection of their political agendas and putting new ideas
on table, both formally and informally. The format of this dialogue permits break-
out group discussions on specific issues of common issues and interest.
4. This is, particularly evident in Southeast Asia, where Indian policy objectives
have remained unclear. Rising tensions there, focused on the South China Sea,
raise the question of how India should act if the regional security to its east
deteriorates as a result of Chinas policies and others reactions

Ques: One of the biggest challenges for Indian policy makers is to balance the
China scare put forth by analysts within and outside the country. Forum like
Shangri-La Dialogue give India an additional platform to secure strategic and
military ties. Explain.

12. Malabar Exercise 2016


The navies of India, U.S. and Japan have started 20th edition of annual naval
exercise Malabar 2016 at Japan near islands contested by China.
Initiated in 1992 as a bilateral naval exercise between India and U.S. and from
2014 onwards the Japanese participation was started.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 38


The primary aim of the exercise is to increase interoperability among the three
navies and develop common understanding of procedures for maritime security
operations.
The scope of Malabar-2016 includes professional interaction and harbor and a
diverse range of activities at sea, including complex surface, sub-surface and air
operation.
Significance
A. For India
Indias vast coastline of 7500 km, 66% of global oil and 50% of global container
traffic and 33% of global cargo trade passes through IOR (Indian Ocean Region)
which stretches from in the Persian Gulf in the west to the Malacca Straits in the
east.
Indian Navy is tasked with securing the sea lane of communication for global
maritime movement. India is in dire need to keep pace with developments in
regards to build up in undersea combat capabilities by Pakistan and China both
neighbours with which It has been at war in past.
Presence of Chinese submarine at Colombo and Karachi ports had concerned
India. Development of Colombo Port city, Humbantota Port in Sri-Lanka,
Kyaukphyu Port in Myanmar and Gwador Port in Pakistan by China is extension
of its framework of Maritime Silk Route.
Chinas policy of String of Pearls that entails the development of string of ports
essentially encircling India poses serious strategic challenge.
B. For U.S.A.
US is keen to marshal India as the power that can tilt strategic balance in Asia
and the exercise thus becomes part of its larger pivot (US Policy of Asia Pivot
also termed as Rebalance, calls for relocation of 60% of USAs naval assets up
from 50% today to the Asia-Pacific Region by 2020).
Chinas creation of island and their militarisation to access marine resources and
thump prominence in the Asia-Pacific is major concern for USA.
C. For Japan
Increased Chinese activities and dispute over Diaoyu/Senkaku Island in South
China Sea has irked Japanese establishment. In June, the Japanese Ministry of
Defence published a comprehensive report highlighting Chinese reclamation
activities in the Sea.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 39


13. India-UAE Air Combat Exercise, Desert Eagle-II

Desert Eagle II, the second in the series of bilateral air exercises between the
Indian Air Force (IAF) and the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAE AF),
concluded at the Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE. The ten-day air combat exercise
saw IAF Su 30 MKI participating along with Mirage 2000-9 and F-16 block 60 of
the UAE AF.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 40


3. POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Delhi MLAs And Office Of Profit Issues


What Has Happened?
Twenty-one AAP legislators were designated Parliamentary Secretaries to
Ministers by the Delhi government last year. The BJP filed a complaint with the
President of India, alleging that they were holding offices of profit and as elected
representatives - except those who were designated Ministers - could not do so,
hence they should be disqualified as MLA.
In anticipation, the Delhi Assembly passed an amendment to the Delhi Members
of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, which
exempts Parliamentary Secretaries from "office of profit". The Bill went up to the
President of India for his assent, but he refused to give his nod to it.
This has given rise to certain issues now. Will these 21 legislators have to resign
as MLAs? And what about all the other States that have appointed Parliamentary
Secretaries to keep MLAs happy and prevent them from defection, following
legislation that caps the size of the council of ministers in proportion to the size of
the Assembly? For example, Arunachal Pradesh has Parliamentary Secretaries.
The AAP says the Congress and the BJP both followed the practice of appointing
Parliamentary Secretaries. If it was legal then, it should be now, too.
Opinion is divided on the legality of appointment of the 21 MLAs as
Parliamentary Secretaries. In their defence before the Election Commission,
which was hearing the issue, the 21 MLAs said they had derived no pecuniary
benefit from their appointment. The terms of their appointment were that while
they would not be entitled to any additional salary, "they may use government
transport for official purposes and office space in the Minister's office will be
provided to them to facilitate their work".
Does This Constitute An Office Of Profit: An Analysis
The three elements for attracting disqualification under Article 102(1)(a), of the
Constitution are:
o there must be an office;
o the office must be one where the holder derives profit;
o such an office must be under the government.
Supreme Court judgements in Jaya Bachchan v. Union of India (2006) as well
as U.C. Raman v. P.T.A Rahim (2014) pointed out that unless some
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 41
remuneration is attached to the office or the office is capable of yielding some
pecuniary gains it would not be an office of profit. It has also been made clear by
the court that compensatory allowances are meant to meet the out-of-pocket
expenses and hence do not constitute any profit. It becomes thus clear that an
office to which no salary or remuneration is attached or which is not capable of
yielding a profit is not an office of profit.
Former solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, quoting the Supreme Court in the
Sivamurthy Swami Inamdar vs Agadi Sanganna case of 1971, says the issue
is clearly posed by the apex court: "what needs to be found out is whether the
amount of money receivable by the person concerned in connection with the
office he holds, gives to him some 'pecuniary gain', other than as 'compensation'
to defray his out-of-pocket expenses, which may have the possibility to bring that
person under the influence of the executive, which is conferring that benefit on
him".
Conclusion
The AAP says there is no pecuniary gain for the MLAs through their appointment.
The President of India does not agree.
The home ministry says there are other violations as well. Such appointments -
like that of parliamentary secretary - require the prior sanction of the Lieutenant
Governor, which was never sought. Moreover, several Supreme Court judgments
have clearly stated that an office of profit is deemed not by salary alone but also
by perks, which in this case would be occupying office space in the Secretariat
and availing of official cars.
According to Parasaran, that situation does not arise. He says Article 191(1)(a)
of the Constitution vests the state legislature with the power to exempt any office
from an "office of profit" disqualification.

2. Governor And Governance


The central bank is the primary arm of the government to ensure good monetary
and regulatory policies for the welfare of the people of the country. As such, the
central bank cannot be fully independent of the government. The governor as the
head of the central bank is, and has to be, appointed by the executive organ of
the government, namely the appointments committee of the cabinet.
Post the North Atlantic financial crisis, it is now well understood internationally
that the central banks role in the economy goes beyond monetary policy and
extends to growth and financial stability. Thus, the relationship between the

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 42


executive and the central bank needs to be like a well-managed joint family
with sound, though at times uncomfortable, advice coming from the latter.
In any country, there has to be healthy, collaborative and mutually respectful
relationship between the government and the central bank governor. The latter
has to take into account the priorities of the government and the former has to
recognise the dharma of the central bank.
Three Basic Questions
In the above light, lets reflect on the process of selection of RBI Governor. It involves
three questions: Who will select, what kind of a person, and for how long?
I. Taking the tenure first, lets see international experience.
o The US Banking Act of 1935 stipulates that the president appoints the 7
members of the board of governors. They must then be confirmed by the
senate and serve for 14 years. The nominees for chair and vice-chair may be
chosen by the president from among the sitting governors for four-year terms,
these appointments are subject to senate confirmation. The initial
appointment in the case of the Fed is for four years, but most have stayed on
well beyond the first term. Who can forget the 19-year term that Alan
Greenspan served as the chair of the US Federal Reserve.
o The Bank of England Governor serves for a period of eight years and the
deputy governors for five years.
o In India, the norm has been to appoint an RBI governor for three years and
then extend that appointment for another two years. While most RBI
governors have served a five-year term, they have had to seek a
reappointment after the first three years, which fuels predictable speculation
over the relationship between the governor and the government. It also puts
the governor under greater pressure. Having a period shorter than five years
does not allow the governor sufficient time to implement his/her agenda and it
also needlessly politicizes the extension of the tenure. Further, frequent
changes in central bank leadership also have the potential to create
uncertainty in the markets.
o A survey of central banks the world over finds that if the term is fixed, it is
often around five years. Thus, it is best to extend a five-year tenure to the
governor and deputy governors.
II. What should be the qualifications for appointment? The governor should have
sound background of economics, operational experience in public policy and a
proven record of performance. The person should have impeccable integrity,
reputation and stature befitting the position of the RBI governor.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 43
III. What should be the process? The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms
Commission suggests an expert panel that should be the same for all regulators.
It should have two government representatives and three outside experts with
the government representative as chair. Having an expert panel of this nature
where the members are at a level not commensurate with the stature and
reputation of the governor, is not desirable and not consistent with international
practice. An alternative could be a blue ribbon committee with a few former
governors and finance ministers making the recommendation with the
government, of course, taking the final call.
Conclusion
Most major economies across the world, whether it be US, England or Japan,
have given their central bankers far longer terms than what an RBI governor
gets.
RBI governors should also be given a five-year term. You cannot really achieve
in three years in a country like India where it takes time to get things done. An
example of this would be the liquidity stance that the Rajan-led RBI has adopted
in the past few years.
Under the new inflation targeting framework, RBI needs to give an explanation if
it fails to meet its inflation targets. The RBI Governor is also accountable to
Parliament and can be summoned by its standing committee on finance. So
along with maintaining this accountability, we should consider giving the governor
a little more time to work with.

3. Cabinet Clears 7th Pay Commission Recommendations


The Central Government announced an overall hike of 23.5% for one crore
government employees and pensioners in line with the Seventh Pay
Commissions recommendations.
The increase will come with the August paychecks and be paid with effect from
January 1, 2016. The arrears for the 6 months will be disbursed during current
financial year (2016-17).

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 44


Also the Union Cabinet has given nod for new pay matrix and dispensed with
the present system of pay bands and grade pay. Employee status grade pay
will now be determined by the level in the pay matrix.
Separate pay matrices have been drawn up for civilians, defence personnel and
for Military Nursing Service with all existing levels subsumed in the new structure;
no new levels have been introduced nor has any level been dispensed with.

The gratuity ceiling stands enhanced from Rs. 10 lakhs to 20 lakhs. The ceiling
on gratuity will increase by 25% whenever dearness allowance rises by 50%.
The Cabinet also approved the recommendation of the commission to enhance
the ceiling of house building advance from Rs. 7.5 lakhs to Rs. 25 lakhs.
The Confederation of Central Government Employees (CCGE) registered its
protest against the recommendations. Therefore, the Union Government has
decided to examine the concerns raised by employees. The Union Cabinet
decided to set up four committees:
The first will look into the implementation issues anticipated;
The second one will go into the likely anomalies;
The third one will further examine the recommendations on allowances,
which have largely been kept on hold, and
The fourth will suggest measures for streamlining the National Pension
System.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 45


4. Inadequate Budget For Pachayati Raj Ministry

The present Union government has cut down the budget provisions of the
Panchayati Raj Ministry massively and closed down two of its key programmes
viz., the Backward Regions Grants Funds and Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat
Sashaktikaran Abhiyan.
Last years budget cut, from Rs. 7,000 crores to Rs. 96 crores, left such an
impact on the Ministry that it lost confidence in empowering panchayats
nationwide. In view of the budget cuts, the Ministry recently realigned its
mandate from financing panchayats to capacity-building and training.
According to analysts, such massive cut downs in the budget will deprive the
ministry from performing its duties of empowering the last mile democracy.

5. Jews Are Now Minorities In Maharashtra


Maharashtra became the second state in India to grant minority status to the
Jewish community in the country. As per the 2001 census, there are 4,650 Jews
in the country of whom 2,466 are in Maharashtra. West Bengal, which has a
Jewish population of 43, had a decade back bestowed minority status to the
community.
The decision is based on the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission Act,
2004, which empowers the government to declare a community minority. Now,

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 46


the Jews can be counted independently as a religious minority. They can avail of
all the schemes meant for minorities.

6. Ministries Can Approve Non Plan Spending Up To Rs. 500 crores


As per the new directives, competent authority to approve scheme/project
between Rs. 75 crore and Rs. 500 crore will be minister in charge of the ministry.
Proposals up to Rs. 75 crore can be approved by the Secretary of the
administrative ministry/department. The Finance Ministrys nod will be needed for
expenditure between Rs. 500 crore and Rs. 1,000 crore, beyond which Cabinet
approval would be required.
With this enhancement of financial powers, the financial limits for appraisal and
approval of Plan and non-Plan schemes/projects of Central government
Ministries and departments have been brought almost at par. This is expected to
expedite the appraisal and approval process in the Central government
Ministries/ departments.

7. Election Commission Seeks Power To Revoke, Postpone Polls


The Election Commission of India (EC) has written to the Centre seeking
amendment to the Representation of the People Act to confer specific powers on
the election watchdog to postpone or countermand polls based on evidence
that money power was used to influence voters.
Recently, in Tamil Nadu, the EC rescinded the poll notification for two Tamil
Nadu Assembly constituencies, Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, following reports of
large-scale distribution of money and gifts to voters by the candidates and
political parties. The action was taken under Article 324 of the Constitution.
Currently, there is no specific provision in the law to this effect. The Constitutional
provisions need to be invoked sparingly. Therefore, the EC has demanded a new
clause 58 B to be inserted in the Act to allow adjournment or countermanding
of election in the affected polling areas on the grounds of use of money power.
The provision would also empower the Commission to re-schedule the elections
in such areas.
The Commission said in Clause 58 A and the proposed provision 58 B, the
expression countermand the election would mean ab initio rescinding of the
entire electoral process in the constituency. Clause 58 A empowers the Election
Commission to cancel polls only if there is an evidence of booth-capturing or use
of muscle power to influence the outcome of elections.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 47
8. Film, Censorship And Right To Freedom Of Speech And Expression
After hearing the plea of Anurag Kashyaps production house Phantom
challenging the 13 deletions suggested by the review committee of the Central
Board of Film Certification (CBFC) also known as Censor Board in Udta Punjab
film, the Bombay High Court directed CBFC to issue an A Certificate to Udta
Punjab.
The judges made following statements in general with respect to film making and
limits of Censor Board:
Judges do not find anything in the script that affects the sovereignty and
integrity of the Nation.
None can dictate to the film-maker on how he should make a film and use
words; there is no need to censor films.
The power to exercise deletions and cuts should be consistent and in
consonance with provisions of the Constitution and directions of the Supreme
Court, so that creative freedom is not curtailed. Its mandate is not to interfere
with film-makers creative process and freedom of expression.
The court also advised CBFC not to act like grandmother.
Change as per the times. The CBFC need not be over-sensitive in the matter
of art. The CBFC cannot stop creative people abruptly as it may discourage
them. This will kill creativity.
Earlier, the review committee of CBFC had sought deletion of many words and
dialogues such as deletion of word Punjab, MLAs, MLCs, elections, Amritsar, etc.
against which the production house filed their plea in Bombay High Court to get
clearance from the court for the release on June 17th, 2016.
Unfortunately, the film got leaked soon after getting the clearance on the internet,
affecting the profit of the producers.
Earlier Judgments On Censors
A 1970, Constitution Bench in K.A. Abbas vs Union of India held that our
censors must make a substantial allowance in favour of freedom The
judgment said that a line is to be drawn only if an average, moral man begins to
feel embarrassed or disgusted at a naked portrayal of life
On the demand to snip rape scenes depicting Phoolan Devis nudity in the
movie Bandit Queen , the court in Bobby Art International & Ors vs. Om Pal
Singh Hoon & Ors (1996) , held that censors should recognise the message of
a film and apply it to individual scenes to see whether they advance the message
or not.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 48
4. SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Universal Basic Income: A Tool For Welfarism


Switzerland voted against a referendum that was widely watched across the world
the proposal was to guarantee every adult citizen and long-term resident 2,500
Swiss francs (Rs 1.75 lakh, give or take a few) per month as a Universal Basic
Income, irrespective of any other earnings they might have. In other words, its
money you are entitled to, whether you are rich or poor. This has brought back into
news the issue of guaranteed monthly income to citizens to achieve goals of welfare
state.
Not A New Idea

This is an old idea, going back at least to the 1960s, when, interestingly, it drew
support both from right-wing libertarians like Milton Friedman and centre-left
Keynesians like John Kenneth Galbraith.

The 1960s brought about the war on poverty, waged through federally funded
social service and healthcare programmes. Milton Friedman sought a negative
income tax, eliminating the need for a minimum wage and potentially the welfare
trap, while bureaucracy could be curtailed. Richard Nixon supported and yet
failed to push through a Family Assistance Plan while George McGoverns
1972 campaign sought a $1,000 demogrant for all citizens.

In 1974, the Canadian government conducted a randomised controlled trial in


Winnipeg, Dauphin and rural Manitoba in which lower-income households were
given income guarantee. This negative income tax experiment, termed
Mincome, helped over a thousand families below the poverty line in Dauphin
earn a liveable income. It offered financial predictability, food security, improved
health-care outcomes, better education, and social stability. With the onset of
1970s stagflation, induced by the oil crisis, such schemes were abandoned. But
briefly, there was a town with no poverty.
Arguments Supporting The Idea
Rightist view is that by just letting people have the money and decide what they
want to do with it, it gets away from the nanny state that so many libertarians
despise. It is in line with the dictum of minimal state.
On the left, the support comes from the sense that it makes a certain minimum
standard of living a right rather than a reflection of the munificence of the state.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 49


Progressives hail it as an escape route for workaholics, from oppressive jobs
and situations, giving individuals greater time to build relationships and pursue
education or artistic endeavours.
Conservatives applaud its potential to shrink bureaucracy.
Everyone in the West is also very worried about the future of the labour market,
with automatisation growing apace and robots starting to take over many manual
and non-manual occupations. They believe that we are headed to a future where
only a small elite will be employable.
Arguments Against The Idea

Some are against the principle of giving money for doing nothing. This may
disincentivise people towards work and make them lazy.

Fiscal conservatives are worried about the budgetary implications. This will
require new taxes to be levied.

There is also a right-wing paranoia these days the fear of the migrant hordes.
Recent Experiments

Switzerland may have rejected the idea of giving citizens about $2,500 a month,
but Finland, Netherlands, and the Canadian province of Ontario are planning a
trial run.

Even India has seen its share of basic income experiments. As a pilot project,
eight villages in Madhya Pradesh provided over 6,000 individuals an
unconditional monthly payment (Rs. 150 for a child, Rs. 300 for an adult). The
results were intriguing. Most villagers used the money on household
improvements (latrines, walls, roofs). There was a seeming shift towards
markets, instead of ration shops, leading to improved nutrition, particularly
among SC and ST households, and better school attendance and performance.
There was an increase in small-scale investments (better seeds, sewing
machines, equipment repairs etc). Bonded labour decreased, along with casual
wage labour, while self-employed farming and business activity increased.
Financial inclusion was rapid within 4 months of the pilot, 95.6% of the
individuals had bank accounts. Within a year, 73% of the households reported a
reduction in their debt. There was no evidence of any increase in spending on
alcohol.
The Route Ahead
A regular unconditional basic income, scaled up through pilots, and rolled out slowly
and carefully, seems ideal for India. It can help improve living conditions including
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 50
sanitation in our villages, providing them with access to better drinking water, while
improving childrens nutrition. Regular basic income payments can help institute
rational responses to illness or hunger, enabling households to fund their health
expenses instead of encountering a vicious cycle of debt. It can help reduce child
labour, while facilitating an increase in school spending. It can transform villages,
enabling the growth of productive work, leading to a sustained increase in income. It
could cut inequality; grow the economy; all while offering the pursuit of happiness.
Why not have one universal basic subsidy that covers everything (perhaps except
health and education) and let people decide how they will spend it, rather than
having a multifariously fractured system of welfare, where multiple authorities give
out different subsidies (food, housing, education, health) based on imperfect
knowledge of what people need and deserve.
SEWA claims that the number of extant government welfare schemes exceeds
350, though most of those programmes are not much more than a name. Why not
replace all of them by a single Universal Basic Income of, say, Rs 250 a week, which
entitles every adult resident to a minimum weekly income as long as they verify their
identity using Aadhaar. At the very least, this will reduce poverty and free up the
bureaucracy to do other things.

2. Censorship And Punjabs Drug Problem


Why In News

The issue of censorship on Udta Punjab has brought two issues in the limelight-
the tyranny of CBFC, and the drug menace in Punjab. In light of the free
speech versus censorship issue, the Shyam Benegal Committee has advocated
doing away with the Central Board of Film Certifications censorship role. But
Punjabs drug problem is a very real one. Lets look into it.
Extent Of Problem In Punjab

According to Punjabs social security departments 2004 report, 67% of the


households in the state had at least one drug addict at the time. Matters
have worsened since then.

Opium use has been part of Punjabs cultural landscape since before Partition
and ramped up after the Green Revolution. But the rot truly set in with the spread
of synthetic drugs via cross-border flows in the 1980s, and then the narco-
terrorism spike around the turn of the millennium. Heroin (chitta) is mostly
home-grown, while corruption and laxity in border security architecture provide
ingress points for narcotics from Pakistan.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 51


Unfortunately, the trades political links make it a particularly difficult system to
destroy. Out of the 185,000 kg of drugs seized by the Election Commission in the
2014 Lok Sabha polls, 75% belonged to the state of Punjab. Thus the problem is
a complicated one involving multiple factors from the cultural to the economic;
rural unemployment has been particularly harmful. The governments punitive
approach can only do so much in the face of this.
Solution To Drug Problem

A core problem with the governmental approach has been that it emphasizes on
criminality. Rather a holistic approach integrating demand reduction, harm
reduction and supply reduction is the need of hour. Harm reductionproviding
clean needles, sterilization equipment and the like to drug usershas proved to
be effective in Manipur as well as in other countries in minimizing secondary
damage such as the spread of AIDS and Hepatitis C.

The Demand reduction strategy, meanwhile, involves perception management


of the youth and parents, effective affordable rehabilitation centres, focus on
high-prevalence drug groups such as sex workers, transportation workers and
street children, and simultaneous development of the state and redressal of the
unemployment situation. But according to a briefing paper by the International
Drug Policy Consortium, only 122 hospitals across the country offer drug
treatment.

The Supply side reduction should involve a zero-tolerance policy towards drug
cartels, syndicates and peddlers. Checking illicit cultivation of opium and closing
porous borders should be non-negotiable clauses in Indias drug abuse
prevention policy.
Conclusion

If there is one thing Udta Punjabs critics have got right, its that the drug problem
isnt restricted to the state. Wedged between the Golden Triangle (Thailand,
Laos and Vietnam) in the east and the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Iran and
Pakistan) in the west, many regions in India, such as the north-east, are
particularly vulnerable. What the Punjab epidemic has shown is that matters can
get much worse if they arent handled effectively. Going after Bollywood films
doesnt count.
3. Smart City Mission
The government is celebrating a year of the launch of its flagship urban
programme, the Smart Cities Mission. In Jan 2016, 20 from a pool of 100 cities
were selected by the Centre under the Smart Cities Mission.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 52


Aimed at allocating Rs.10 billion to each selected city over a span of five years
(Central government funding of Rs.5 billion, matched with equal funding from
States/local bodies), the mission has been claimed by the Minister for Urban
Development as a first in the country and even in the world where investments
in urban sector are being made based on competition-based selection of cities
(Swiss Challenge).
According to Census 2011, 31% of Indias total population lives in urban areas
a marginal increase of a little over 3% from the previous Census of 2001. In
absolute numbers, however, India added about nine million people to the urban
areas, bringing the number of urban residents in India to a total of 377 million.
Issues With Mission
(a) Prioritising The Area: The 20 cities were selected on the basis of a Smart City
Proposal which was submitted by the city. The proposal was to contain two
ideas one, for the development of an area, and two, for the entire city.
Proposals from a majority of cities have financially prioritised developing a small
area rather than the entire city. Going by the analysis of proposals, it is noted that
71% of the funding from the mission will be spent on area-based development,
the beneficiaries of which are about 4% of the citys population on average.
Under area-based development, cities have proposed development of
infrastructure such as water supply, sewerage etc. The proposal for the entire
city, however, has been limited to IT-based services like CCTV-monitored central
command system, smart education portals and intelligent water and traffic
management systems.
(b) No Convergence: There are multiple policies for urban India Swachh Bharat
Mission, Housing for All, National Urban Livelihoods Mission, National Urban
Information System, and the Heritage City Development and Augmentation
Yojana (HRIDAY). Additionally, there are multiple infrastructure projects like
expansion of city roads and highways, water reservoir and storage-related
development which are mostly undertaken by development authorities or the
State governments. The Smart Cities Missions convergence with all these
schemes is not known.
(c) Neglect Of Local Governance: During the launch of mission last year, it was
said, The decision to make the city smart should be taken by the city, its citizens
and its municipalities. Ironically though, in the guidelines for the mission, the role
of the local governments was significantly cut short delegating the decision-
making powers to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a body to be set up and
which would implement the mission.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 53


4. Housing For All: A Progress Report Card
A year after the launch of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) with the stated
purpose of constructing two crore houses for the urban poor by 2022 at the

rate of 30 lakh houses per year merely 1,623 houses have been constructed so
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 54
far. The number of houses sanctioned, even on paper, stands at just seven lakh
as on June 25, 2016.
Among the larger states, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have not even started off
PMAY on ground. Most of the north-eastern states and all Union territories have
a similarly poor show.
The programme has 4 sub-components namely In-situ slum redevelopment,
Affordable housing in partnership, Beneficiary-led construction scheme, and
credit-linked subsidy sub-component.
The worst performance has been in the sub-component of in-situ redevelopment
of slums under which not a single house has been built till date. The model relies
heavily on builders taking up redevelopment of slum clusters wherein in return of
rehabilitating the slum residents on part of the land, they are allowed to use the
remaining land, private or public, for constructing houses for sale in the market.
Issues With Scheme
(a) Housing activists blame the laggardly implementation of the PMAY on its heavy
reliance on the private sector for funding. The central funding of Rs 1 to 1.5
lakh per unit is grossly inadequate for constructing houses in even many smaller
towns, while States have their own priorities and may not allocate enough funds
for this scheme. Most of the sub-schemes depend on private builders who are
not interested in constructing houses for the poor while under the beneficiary-led
construction, only those urban poor who have a claim on the land can get
funding.
(b) Even considering the minimal funding of Rs 1 to 1.5 lakh per unit and a set target
of 30 lakh houses a year, the annual budgetary provision required for the
programme is Rs. 40,000 crore. As against this the allocation for PMAY for 2016-
17 is a mere Rs. 5,000 crore.
(c) Unlike RAY (Rajiv Awas Yojana), PMAY lacks a rental component and
stresses little on small upgradation and heavily on builder-led redevelopment.
It was initially proposed that PMAY would have a rental housing component with
an outlay of Rs. 6,000 crore mainly aimed at migrant populations and homeless
who cant ever afford to buy a house. However, due to the PMs emphasis on
providing ownership-based houses for all, the Ministry of Housing and Urban
Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA) decided to drop the rental component.
(d) 90% of the estimated shortage of 18.7 million dwelling units is in category of
EWS and LIG. The cost of constructing EWS-LIG houses is up to 8 lakh in
metros. Even after an interest subsidy under the credit link subsidy scheme, the
EMI works out to Rs. 3,000 per month. This is not affordable for the poor.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 55


5. Threat To The Execution Of Unified National Market
Why In News
The licensed traders and commission agents called off a proposed strike in
Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets across Maharashtra,
following the satisfactory outcome of their talks with the state government.
The outcome relates to postponing reforms that would have allowed farmers the
freedom to market their fruits and vegetables (F&V) produce to any buyer outside
APMC-regulated mandis. The previous govt had also decided not to take F&V
out of the purview of APMC mandis in the face of stiff resistance from traders and
elected officials in these regulated markets.
Maharashtra is a leading producer of a range of F&V, from grapes,
pomegranates, oranges and mangoes to onions. Given this enviable and hard-
earned status, the inability of successive governments to give the states farmers
a wider choice to sell their produce is, indeed, mystifying.
NAM Facing Resistance From The Beginning
It is to address this very issue, of giving farmers greater choice that the Centre
conceptualised the National Agricultural Market (NAM), an electronic trading
portal linking AMPC mandis across India. Such a platform would essentially
create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
NAMs primary objective was to loosen the monopoly of APMCs over the
farmers produce and increase his selling options. But when the states were
invited for consultation, they almost uniformly opposed giving total freedom to
farmers to sell their produce on the proposed online platform. They feared it
would diminish the business of APMC mandis, which rake in thousands of crores
in cess and other charges annually.
As a compromise to get the states on board, it was agreed that the NAM portal
would operate only from centres authorised by the APMCs of the concerned
districts. These centres being mostly located within the existing mandis, both the
local traders and those buying online could, then, bid for the farmers product.
Also, it was decided that the APMC-controlled mandis could continue charging
cess, thereby protecting their revenues. As a result, 12 states initially agreed to
join the NAM network.
However, the disappointments followed within a few weeks. Major agricultural
states, including Punjab and Maharashtra, have scorned the Centres overtures
to join NAM. They are unwilling to adhere to even certain basic conditions such
as allowing traders outside the state to bid online. Gujarat rejected the use of the

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 56


NAM software and floated its own tender to develop a local version, creating
major problems for integration. Madhya Pradesh allowed NAM in just one out of
its total 546 mandis. Haryana said it would experiment with a single crop that
too, safflower, a minor rabi oilseed. Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu continues to ignore
requests to submit its proposal for implementing NAM.
The net result is that we are nowhere near linking the 220 mandis to NAM as was
envisaged in the first year itself.
Way Forward
How can the situation be salvaged and the goal of creating a unified national market
achieved within a reasonable time frame?
First, NAM should be driven by a commercial entity, with 50% ownership of the
Centre and the remaining held by a private sector entity chosen through
competitive bidding. Currently, the mandate of running NAM is with the Small
Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), a registered society which is not the
most appropriate form for a commercial venture.
Second, there is enough past experience with agriculture marketing reform which
shows that vested interests in the states will continue to resist any attempt to give
up the stranglehold of APMCs. The Centre should, hence, consider enacting a
Right to Trade legislation, as a legal enabler for ushering in NAM.

6. University Reform Again On Agenda


Why In News
A long-standing stand-off between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and
a section of university teachers ended on June 16. On that day the Government
of India announced that it was acceding to all but one of their demands on the
rules governing their functioning.
There are three components to the UGCs package governing the faculty. Of
these, mostly two have proved to be bones of contention between the two parties
- mandated workload for teachers and student evaluation of courses,
including of the lecturer herself.
But it is the third component that needs to be scrutinised for its suitability. This is
the assessment of teacher performance on a range of activities, ideally
centred on research. As a measure of faculty performance, the UGC has devised
the Academic Performance Indicator (API), which is the score the teacher has
attained in all activities combined.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 57


Mandated Workload For Teachers
On the workload, having attempted to increase it by 25% via a notification issued
on May 10, the UGC has now climbed down and restored status quo, whereby a
teacher has to undertake 16 Direct Teaching Hours a week.
This may not appear particularly strenuous to the public, who are used to a 40
hour week! However, they may not be taking into account that every hour of
lecturing, or even discussion, requires several hours of reading and preparation.
We would notice that Indias college teachers teach more hours per week and for
more weeks in the year than their counterparts, at least in the anglophone world.
With so much of teaching to do, they are left with little time to read for their
classes, which directly impinges upon the quality of the lectures students receive.
So while the UGCs decision to not increase the workload may appear
conciliatory a constructive suggestion is made here.
Instead of approaching the problem from the perspective of a mandatory number
of teaching hours, it could be viewed within a framework that starts out by
setting the number of courses a teacher must teach in a year. The global
benchmark is four courses, two being taught in each of the two semesters, and
with each courses not more than 40 hours.
In some universities in India it is as much as 60 hours per course, no doubt
determined by the number of hours lecturers must teach per year. As with
teachers, so to for the students, too many lecture hours can be a disaster.
Passive participation kills all creativity as there is no responsibility imposed on
the student to engage. The students misery is compounded when the quality of
lecturing is poor. The answer to both overworked teachers and deadened
students is to drastically reduce the lecture hours.
On Constant Evaluation
The second of the bones of contention between the UGC and the teachers
concerns student evaluation of courses. Surely students must be given the
opportunity to assess the instruction they receive, in particular the quality of
lectures.
The university needs to know how the courses that it offers are perceived so that
course correction is possible.
Teachers must learn to treat this as part of give and take. There is no
professional or ethical ground on which they can refuse to stand up and be
evaluated by their students. The UGC is right to recommend student evaluation
of courses.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 58


Academic Performance Indicator (API)
Represented by the API, this prescribes minimum scores to be attained before a
teacher can be considered for promotion. Mainly two elements are involved. One
is the specification of a mandatory number of years to be spent in each
category, between Assistant and full Professor, and the other is the assessment
of research. Both are problematic.
There is absolutely no reason why the number of years of experience in a post
should be a consideration in assessing a teachers intellectual progress. C.V.
Raman came into the University from government and Amartya Sen had been
made a full professor when he was all of 23 years. They went on to win Nobel
Prizes.
The least credible part of the API is the scoring of research. Scores are to be
given to publications according to the journal in which they have been published.
Evaluating articles by the journals in which they are published prejudges their
intrinsic worth by privileging the prestige of the journal over the quality of the
article.
Even though it is a reasonable conjecture that prestigious journals use high
standards when publishing articles, it is not always the case that less prestigious
journals do not contain very good work. The same goes for the UGCs privileging
of international over the merely national journals.
Conclusion
All in all, the UGCs rule by numbers has turned the university into a space in
which teachers chase numerical targets to survive. The resulting neurosis cannot
but spill over to the students.
For a full half-century, Indias hapless public had faced a continuing deterioration
of our higher education system. The blame must be laid squarely at the door of
the UGC, which has all along enjoyed unbridled power in the regulation of the
universities with scant accountability.
The irony is that while the Commission pressurises the universities to maintain
standards by submitting themselves to rating, should its own record as regulator
be assessed, it is unlikely to cover itself in glory. A public audit of the functioning
of the UGC is required before it can do further damage.

7. Draft Education Policy


The draft policy was prepared following the recommendations of the TSR
Subramanian committee.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 59
Highlights Of Policy
It has proposed that compulsory board exams should be held at two levels for
Class X. High failure rate in Class X examination is attributed to a large extent to
poor performance in three subjects: Mathematics, Science and English. In order
to reduce the failure rate, Class X examination in Mathematics, Science and
English will be at two levels: Part-A at a higher level and Part-B at a lower level.
Students who intend to join courses/ programmes for which Science,
Mathematics or English is not a prerequisite or wish to shift to vocational stream
after Class X will be able to opt for Part-B level.
Changes In RTE Act
o It proposes extension of Right to Education to secondary education.
o It also seeks review of Clause 12(1) that exempts minority schools from
implementing the 25% quota for EWS kids in private schools.
o It advocates amendment to the RTE Act to reinstate detention after Class V.
It proposes to discontinue the practice of grace marks in evaluation of
Class X board exams.
As one of the major reforms of the education sector, it advocates setting up of an
Indian Education Service cadre like the IAS.
Stressing the importance of learning English, it says: If the medium of
instruction up to primary level is the mother tongue or local or regional language,
the second language will be English and the choice of the third language (at
upper primary and secondary levels) will be with the individual states and local
authorities.
Promoting Sanskrit, the draft policy says: Keeping in view the special
importance of Sanskrit to the growth and development of Indian languages and
its unique contribution to the cultural unity of the country, facilities for teaching
Sanskrit at the school and university stages will be offered on a more liberal
scale.

8. IISc Bangalore Among Top 30 Asian Universities Times Higher Education


Ranking
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru found a place in the top 30
Asian universitiesthe best yet for an Indian institutionin the Asian University
Ranking 2016 by the UKs Times Higher Education (THE). IISc jumped 10 places
to be ranked 27th among the top 200 universities in Asia.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 60


In Asia, the National University in Singapore was ranked the best, followed
by Nanyang Technological University (also in Singapore) and Peking University
in China. Among the top 10 Asian universities, Singapore, China and Hong Kong
have two universities each, Japan has one and South Korea three.
Universities from 22 Asian countries participated in the ranking, which counts
parameters such as learning environment, research, research citations,
international outlook and industry income.

The ranking agency acknowledged the improved performance of Indian


universities. India is the leading South Asian country in the ranking, with 16
universities featuring in the top 200.
India has made great gains in this list in recent yearsjust three institutions
appeared in the top 100 in 2013but the nation still has a long way to go to
compete with Asias leading university nations, such as China, Japan and South
Korea, and scores particularly weakly on internationalization. International
faculties, international students and exchange programmes have been poor.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 61


Of late, institutions and the government are trying to bring heterogeneity to
campuses. IITs, IIMs, and some other leading universities have now started
making formal efforts to recruit both students and faculty staff from abroad to
improve the international outlook. The human resource development ministry has
started new schemes through which it is inviting hundreds of top academics to
teach and carry out research for short durationsa move that authorities believe
will give the institutions more exposure to global standards, improve rankings and
help improve the brand of Indian schools.

9. Learning From Thailands Experience On Universal Healthcare


Thailand is a good example of how a middle-income country can provide
healthcare cover to its entire population (almost!) in a relatively short period of
time. Thailand achieved this in 2002, when its per-capita national income was
almost the same as that of India today.
It could extend healthcare coverage to its entire population because of certain
critical reforms that preceded this achievement. Two measures that Thailand
initiated were:
I. the establishment in 2001 of the National Health Security Act, which
entitled Thai population to health services of certain standard and efficiency
as given in the Act.
II. the creation of the National Health Security Office (NHSO), an autonomous
state agency that administered healthcare fund received from the government
and was responsible for registration of beneficiaries and healthcare providers
and making payments as per the regulations. This second reform led to a
separation of the role of purchaser of care from provider of care, which was
earlier vested with the same agency, that is, the Ministry of Public Health
(MOPH) that allocated budget to healthcare providers based on facility size,
staff numbers, and historical performance. Further, the method adopted by
the NHSO to pay healthcare providers age adjusted per-capita payments
(called capitation based method) for every registered person for out-patient
care and case-based payment with a global budget ceiling for in-patient care
incentivised healthcare providers and hospitals to be efficient and cost
conscious.
At the time of these reforms, Thailand already had a strong healthcare
infrastructure even in rural areas, where two-third of its 70 million population live.
The rural infrastructure was the result of a conscious decision taken in mid-1980s
to shift public health investments away from secondary and tertiary care in urban
areas to primary care infrastructure in rural areas. So, the public health delivery
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 62
system was already available. As a result, high immunisation coverage and
availability of essential drugs were already being observed, with a strong culture
of public service among the health workforce.
Indian Context
One could argue that the two country contexts are very different. Thailand being
much smaller in terms of geographical spread (equal to the size of Rajasthan and
Orissa combined!), it is relatively easier to manage administratively. Being a
unitary government, Thailand doesnt face the Centre-state challenges observed
in India. Besides, Bangkok spends substantially more on healthcare than New
Delhi.
Today, if Thailands health indicators are far better than Indias average life
expectancy at birth is 75 years in Thailand compared to 66 years in India and
infant mortality rate is 11.3 compared to 41.4 in India it is because Thailand
has prioritised healthcare unlike most Indian states. Despite Thailands political
instability, successive country leadership did not de-prioritise healthcare.
Surely, Indian states could try out the twin reforms of purchaser-provider split
and performance-based payment system in districts that have decent health
infrastructure and manpower. It will enable states to understand the possible
impact of such reforms as well as what it would take to scale up.

10. Medical Treatment of Terminally-Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical


Practitioners) Bill, 2016
After years of debate and legal battles, India will soon decide whether or not to
pass a law to legalize passive euthanasia. The Union government has released
a draft Bill on it and has invited public suggestions before the formation of the
law.
While passive euthanasia entails withholding of common treatments in terminally
ill patients, active euthanasia involves the use of lethal substances or forces,
such as injections to kill.
On March 7, 2011, while hearing the Aruna Shabaug versus Union of India
case, the Supreme Court laid down guidelines to process pleas for passive
euthanasia. It said that till the Parliament works out a legislation, the procedures
laid down by the guidelines should be followed. It also spelt out differences
between active and passive euthanasia.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 63


Highlights Of The Draft Bill
Active euthanasia has not been recommended in The Medical Treatment of
Terminally Ill patients (protection of patients and medical practitioners) Bill. The
draft Bill, proposed in 241st report of Law Commission deals with passive
euthanasia and living will, a document in which a person states his or her
desire to have or not to have extraordinary life prolonging measures used when
recovery is not possible from a terminal condition.
The Bill provides protection to patients and doctors from any liability for
withholding or withdrawing medical treatment and states that palliative care (pain
management) can continue.
According to the Bill, every competent patient, including minors aged above 16
years, has a right to take a decision and express the desire to the medical
practitioner attending on her or him.
"When a patient communicates her or his decision to the medical practitioner,
such decision is binding on the medical practitioner," the draft Bill says. However,
it also notes that the medical practitioner must be satisfied that the patient is
competent and that the decision has been taken on free will.
The medical practitioner has to maintain all details of the patient and ensure
he/she takes an informed decision. He is also required to inform the patient
whether it would be best to withdraw or continue treatment. If the patient is not in
a conscious state, he/she needs to inform family members. In the absence of
family members, the medical practitioner needs to inform a person who is a
regular visitor.
The draft also lays down the process for seeking euthanasia, right from the
composition of the medical team to moving the High Courts for permission.
Criticism Of The Bill
Its refusal to give legal effect to advance medical directives (living wills) is an
abdication of legislative responsibility and a violation of Article 21 (protection of
life and personal liberty).
The choice of the High Court as a forum to obtain permission for the withdrawal
of treatment from incompetent patients imposes an unrealistic burden on medical
practitioners as well as relatives and does not take into account the fact that High
Courts are unlikely to be able to deliver swift judgment in such cases.
Child rights activists are not too happy about it. "We cannot sign a contract or
marry before the age of 18, but you can decide to die? How can we allow a child
to decide something as important as life and death?

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 64


11. Report On Living Conditions Of The Aged- By Agewell Foundation
India has a population of 100 million old people and that the number will touch
324 million by 2050.
The study on elderly in India was recently conducted by Agewell foundation. It
had a sample size of 3,400 spread across 323 districts across the country.
Agewell Foundation is a not-for-profit NGO which has been working for the
welfare and empowerment of older persons since 1999. It has been granted
Special Consultative Status by ECOSOC at United Nations since 2011. It is
associated with Department of Public Information, United Nations (UN-DPI).
Key Findings of Report
65% of old people are poor with no source of known income.
Most old people face abuse in one form or the other
Due to lack of awareness about their rights in old age, many people are
compelled to live in inhuman conditions.
Older women are more prone to suffer abuse due to factors like gender
discrimination, longer life span than older men, longer span of widowhood and
no source of income as traditionally most of them are housewives.
ECOSOC
The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of
the United Nations.
The Economic and Social Council is at the heart of the UN system to advance
the three dimensions of sustainable development economic, social and
environmental. It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative
thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve
internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN
conferences and summits.
Welfare Schemes for Aged Persons in India
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment runs a Central Sector Scheme of
Integrated programme for Older Persons (IPOP) since 1992 with the objective
of improving the quality of life of senior citizens by providing basic amenities like
shelter, food, medical care and entertainment opportunities and by encouraging
productive and active ageing. Under this Scheme, financial assistance (up to
95% in the case of J&K, Sikkim and North-eastern states and 90% for rest of the
country) is provided to Non-Governmental/Voluntary Organisations, Panchayati
Raj Institutions etc. for maintenance of Old Age Homes, Respite Care Homes

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 65


and Continuous Care Homes, Multi-service centres, mobile medicare units, Day
care centres for Alzheimers disease /Dementia patients, physiotherapy clinics for
older persons etc.
Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), which is a component of
National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), is being implemented by
Ministry of Rural Development. Under IGNOAPS, central assistance of Rs. 200/-
per month is provided to persons in the age group of 60-79 years and Rs. 500/-
per month to persons of 80 years and above and belonging to BPL household as
per the criteria by Government of India.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare runs National Programme for Health
Care of the Elderly (NPHCE) - Keeping in view the recommendations made in
the National Policy on Older Persons, 1999 as well as the States obligations
under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens, 2007, the
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had launched NPHCE during the 11th Plan
period. The basic aim of NPHCE is to provide dedicated health care facilities to
the elderly people through State Public health delivery system at primary,
secondary and tertiary levels, including outreach services. A senior citizen is
India is provided with tax concession benefits, railway ticket concession, and
many other benefits.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007
It makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to
senior citizens. It also permits state governments to establish old age homes in
every district. Senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves shall have
the right to apply to a maintenance tribunal seeking a monthly allowance from
their children or heirs.
Punishment for not paying the required monthly allowance shall be Rs 5,000 or
up to three months imprisonment or both. The definition of senior citizen includes
both Indian citizens aged over 60 years, and all parents irrespective of age.
However, the Bill does not address the needs of senior citizens who do not have
children or property.

Mains Ques: Critically examine the effects of globalization on the aged population in
India. (GS 1- Mains, 2013)

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 66


Prelims Ques: India is home to lakhs of persons with disabilities. What are the
benefits available to them under the law?
1. Free schooling till the age of 18 years in government-run schools.
2. Preferential allotment of land for setting up business.
3. Ramps in public buildings.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 67


5. ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. Saiga Antelopes- Kazakhstan


The Republic of Kazakhstan has published the results of an aerial survey of Saiga,
conducted in April 2016, which aimed to provide insight into the status of these
beleaguered populations following last year's mass die-off.
Saiga Facts

Saiga is a type of antelope. There are two subspecies of Saiga that can be found
in Asia and south-eastern parts of Europe (Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia,
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).

Saiga inhabits grasslands, savannas, scrublands, deserts and arid areas.


Number of saigas dropped drastically in the last couple of years because of
uncontrolled hunt, habitat loss and due to increased competition for grazing with
other species.

Local people kill Saiga because of its meat and horns. Horns are used in
traditional Chinese medicine. Saiga is listed as critically endangered species
with less than 50 000 animals left in the wild.

Only males have horns. Unfortunately, hunters kill Saiga because of the horns
and there is great disproportion in the number of males and females in the wild.

Saigas are very famous for their long and exhausting migrations that take place
each year. Migrations start at November and they are directed toward the winter
grounds in the south.

2. Man Animal Conflict


Why in News

Three Asiatic lions, from near Gir National Sanctuary, found to have turned man-
eaters, have been sentenced to life within a cage.

Of the 17 big cats, three were identified as 'man-eaters' after a thorough


investigation. The forest officials took paw prints of the suspected lions and
ordered a laboratory test of their excreta to pinpoint the real culprits.
Reasons For Conflict

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 68


Main reason for the lions turning man eaters is their increasing dispersal beyond
the traditional habitats with the increase in their population. According to the
14th lion census, the population of lions increased from 411 in 2010 to 523 in
2015. Earlier the Gir Lions were restricted to the 5000-6000 square km area but
with increasing pressure on scarce resources including prey and habitat loss they
are being forced to cross their traditional limits.

They come into conflict with human beings in regions, replete with social and
commercial activities, where there is little or no prey base for the carnivore.

Man-animal conflict is a major factor affecting the big cats (Lions, Tigers,
Leopards etc) and Elephants. As humans move deeper into the territory of tigers,
chances of conflict between both sides increase many fold. Men and livestock
often become the victim of attacks from big cats. This infuriates villagers who
resort to revenge killing.

Villagers living on periphery of national parks put huge biotic pressure on


forest by grazing cattle, extracting minor forest produce, bamboo, fuel wood and
timber degrading forests. They are also responsible for forest fires.

Big cats need secure and disturbance-free habitat to maintain a viable


population. But haphazard development activities in the landscape of the
protected areas (PAs) pose big threat to tigers.
What Can Be Done

It is high time that all the stake-holders viz. local people, Forest department,
Revenue department and the State government come together to the drawing
board, understand the problem and arrive at a permanent solution to this
perennial problem. Community based approach of forest and wildlife
management is the best way with forest department playing the role of facilitator.

It is important that to reduce the pressure of humans and domesticated animals


on biotic resources, optimum and judicious utilization of fallow and
degraded lands for pastures will be key. This will help in preventing the
depletion of forests.

In case of humans to reduce the dependence on fuel and firewood provision of


subsidised cooking gas cylinders under DBT and Pradhanmantri Ujjwala
Yojna is important.

Mapping: Using GPS tracking collars and GIS mapping software, researchers
can identify hot spots where human-wildlife conflict is likely to occur. These
hotspots often coincide with developed regions at the edge of national parks, but
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 69
the data from tracked animals can reveal individual movement patterns that may
be unexpected. Identifying conflict hot spots helps to pinpoint ranger manpower
and funding to proactively address the issue of human-wildlife conflict.

Texting: In the Western Ghats of India, a new conservation initiative has


utilized texting as an early warning system to prevent human-elephant
encounters. Elephant tracking collars embedded with SMS chips automatically
text nearby residents, warning them of recent elephant movements. Before the
project was implemented, a lack of awareness of elephant whereabouts played a
role in 75% of elephant-attributed human deaths in the region. Since the
implementation of the early warning system, human deaths have dropped by
50%, with none being reported in 2010 and 2013.

Corridors: One way to reduce man-animal conflicts is by guiding their


movements in developed areas. Wildlife corridors, areas of preserved native
habitat in human dominated regions, provide wildlife with a safe pathway as they
travel between larger areas of intact habitat. By placing corridors away from
potential conflict hotspots such as farms or ranches, animals can be steered out
of harms way and instances of human-wildlife conflict can be proactively
avoided.

3. Being Vermin: Is Wildlife Under Threat Due To Executive Fiat?


Context Of The Issue

Recently the Centre approved the culling of wild animals such as nilgai and wild
boar in Bihar and rhesus monkey in Himachal Pradesh by declaring them
'vermin', under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in December 2015, following
requests from the respective States as they cause harm to the resident
population.

The move has invited widespread criticism from various quarters. States such as
Maharashtra and Goa had also submitted complaints regarding peacocks, Indias
national bird, and West Bengal apparently requested that the elephant be
declared 'vermin'.

As per Section 62 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, States can send a list
of wild animals to the Centre requesting it to declare them vermin for selective
slaughter. The Central Government may declare any wild animal other than
those specified in Schedule I and part 11 of Schedule H of the law to be vermin
for any area for a given period of time. As long as the notification is in force such

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 70


wild animal shall be included in Schedule V of the law, depriving them of any
protection under that law.

According to Ministry of Environment and Forest no permission has been granted


for culling of endangered species like elephants while the nilgai, wild boar and
rhesus monkeys are abundant in population and figure in the IUCN Conservation
list's least concern category.
Is An Animal A Real Cause?
It is not the animal but other factors mentioned below are responsible for the
scenario:
Habitat loss: Deforestation and lowered green cover in cities along with
fragmentation of habitat (by mining or infrastructure projects) is driving them
towards human settlements leading to conflict.
Fall in predator population: Fall in population of predators such as tigers and
leopards leads to a consequential rise in population of herbivores such as nilgai
and deer.
Drought: If natural calamities such as drought affect human beings, so is the
case with animals in the forest. Drought dries up availability of food for foraging,
driving wild animals into nearby crop fields and human dwellings in search of
food.
Does Culling Provide A Viable Solution

If animals are not the real cause as stated above, then does culling seem to be a
viable option. Perhaps not.

Even though it is agreed that population of some of the animals is increasing,


culling may seem to be an irrational measure as the focus of the government lies
in increasing the number of some of the endangered and critically endangered
species.

The need of the hour is for a nation-wide policy framework to manage human-
wildlife conflict.

Scientific management of wild animals should necessarily involve population


control. But a lot more research has to be done before reproductively controlling
the population of wild animals. Understanding the population dynamics of the
wild animals is critical before arriving at any solution.

Opinion among experts is unanimous that scientific monitoring of wild


animals must be extended outside the reserved forest area and if necessary,

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 71


animal census be conducted outside protected areas to understand why certain
species are entering into greater conflict with humans.

Site-specific scientific information helps design targeted mitigation with


participation of affected people. This includes supporting local communities to
install and, more important, maintain on a sustained basis bio-fencing and
power fencing around vulnerable areas. Effective measures for this include
deploying animal early warning systems, providing timely public information on
presence and movements of species such as elephants to local people to
facilitate precautionary measures, and attending to health and safety needs that
reduce the risk of wildlife encounters.

Housing improvements and provision of amenities such as lighting, indoor


toilets, and rural public bus services help reduce accidental human deaths.

Improving livestock corrals can reduce livestock losses and carnivore


incursion into villages, while better garbage disposal and avoiding deliberate or
accidental feeding of animals reduces risks associated with wild animals like
monkeys.

Crop insurance for wildlife damage, which the Environment Ministry recently
recommended to be included in the National Crop/Agricultural Insurance
Programme, also deserves trial. Conservationists today also use modern
technology such as mobile phones for SMS alerts, customised apps, automated
wildlife detection and warning systems, and participatory measures for wildlife
tracking and rapid response to monitor and reduce conflicts, save crops,
property, and human lives.
Thus this complex issue has to be looked from multifarious angles to arrive at a
practical yet sustainable and humane solution.

4. Turning Co2 Into A Rock: New Way To Combat Global Warming

The pioneering experiment in Iceland mixed CO2 emissions with water and
pumped it hundreds of meters (feet) underground into volcanic basalt rock --
where it rapidly turned into a solid. This is a revolutionary way of storing the
greenhouse gas to tackle climate change.

Carbon dioxide is a key factor in global warming, requiring innovative carbon


capture and storage solutions.
Attempt in Aquifers

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 72


Previous attempts to inject CO into sandstone soils or deep saline aquifers have
not been successful as they relied on capping rocks to hold the gas down
triggering fears that it could eventually leak.

In contrast, the Carbfix project at Icelands Hellisheidi plant the worlds


largest geothermal facility, which powers Reykjavik sought to solidify the CO2.

Scientists had feared it could take long time for the mildly acidic liquid to solidify.
But 95 per cent of the injected mixture which they had tagged with tracer
chemicals in order to check it didnt leak out had became chalky white stone
within two years.

In the future it could be of use for power plants in places where theres a lot of
basalt.

A 2014 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that


without carbon sequestration technology, negating the disastrous effects of
global warming would not possible.
On Seafloors

Basalt makes up most of the worlds seafloors and approximately 10 per cent of
continental rocks, according to the study by the researchers.

A porous, blackish rock, basalt is rich in calcium, iron and magnesium; these
minerals are needed to solidify carbon for storage.

5. Eurasian Otter Found In Kanha-Pench Corridor


Why in News

Eurasian otter, one of the rarest Indian mammals, has been discovered from
Satpura.

The Eurasian otter has a wide distribution covering Europe, Africa and Asia. The
species is listed as Near Threatened as per the IUCN Red List (2004, 2008).

Based on indirect evidences and ancient records, Eurasian otter is believed to be


found in the Himalayas and in some parts of the Western Ghats.

The Eurasian Otter lives in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, including highland
and lowland lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, swamp forests and coastal areas.
Threats In South And Southeast Asia

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 73


The aquatic habitats of otters are extremely vulnerable to man-made changes
like- Canalization of rivers, removal of bank side vegetation, dam construction,
draining of wetlands, aquaculture activities etc.

The decrease in prey species from wetlands and water ways had reduced the
population to an unsustainable threshold leading to local extinctions.

Poaching is one of the main causes of its decline in south and Southeast Asia,
and possibly also in north Asia.
Conservation

The Eurasian Otter is strictly protected under international legislation and


conventions. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES, Appendix II of the Bonn
Convention, Annexes II and IV of the EU Habitats and Species Directives.

It is also listed as an endangered species in many of its range countries in Asia


such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand.

A European Breeding Programme (EEP) for self-sustaining captive populations


was started in 1985.

6. New Forest Policy by the Environment Ministry


The environment ministry has come out with a draft National Forest Policy (NFP),
which will replace the existing one that has been key to manage forests since 1988.
Why New Policy Or What Is The Purpose

Forests and trees constitute nearly one fourth of the geographic area of the
country.

Protection of this vast and valuable resource, improving and increasing the forest
and tree cover requires adequate investment keeping in view the pressures on
these forests, and the ecosystem services that they provide to the nation.

Large tracts of forest area in the country have degraded due to immense biotic
pressure and lack of adequate investment.
How Different From Old Approach
Following are some of the key features missing in earlier policy which new policy
focuses on covering:

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 74


Earlier polices had failed to scientifically define what constitutes a forest which
was criticized by a recent report of the high-level committee headed by former
cabinet secretary T.S.R. Subramanian.

It had asked the environment ministry to not only define forests but also identify
inviolate areas, regions that would be out-of-bounds for non-forestry activities like
mining and industrial projects.

Issues of pristine forests and the so-called violate-inviolate forest areas have
been addressed for the first time.

The new policy also takes into account related developments in the past couple
of decades, including the ambitious Green India Mission and the Forest Rights
Act of 2006.

It also takes a note of large-scale diversion of forest land for non-forestry


purposes such as mining and setting up of industries.

The issue of go and no-go forest areas has pitted industry against the
environment ministry amid serious objections from NGOs and tribal groups over
allowing pristine forests to be cleared which the new policy looks into.

The new policy also addresses the important issue of climate change completely
missing in earlier policies.
Highlights Of The Policy

Policy aims to bring a minimum one-third of India's total geographical area


under forest or tree cover through scientific interventions and enforcing strict
rules to protect the dense cover.

Proposing levy of a green tax while calling for safeguarding forest land by
exercising strict restraint on diversion for non-forestry purposes like mining and
industrial projects.

Practising responsible eco-tourism in forest areas to ensure safety of wildlife.


The policy is aimed at facilitating ecologically responsible behaviour among
stakeholders.

According to proposed policy Environmental cess, green tax, carbon tax etc.
may be levied on certain products and services.

Community Forest Management Mission (CFMM)

National Forest Ecosystems Management Information System (NFEMIS)

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 75


National Board for Forestry and State Board for Forestry to be established for
inter-sectoral convergence and conflict resolution.

Contract Farming of tress for wood based industry by farmers.

Investment on infrastructure and livelihood support for the forest dependent


communities.

It has taken note of Man-animal conflict. It emphasises on managing and


mitigating human-wildlife conflict by taking up habitat enrichment, maintaining
wildlife corridors etc.

Establishment of regional forensic lab to support wildlife crime detection and


prosecution.

Prohibited introduction of exotic species, except for scientific research by


specialist.

7. Indias Major Natural World Heritage Sites Under Threat


According to WWF survey, activities like mining, illegal logging, oil and gas
exploration threaten 114 out of 229 natural World Heritage sites, including
Sundarbans known for its majestic Royal Bengal tiger, Western Ghats, one of
the top biodiversity hotspots in the world, and the Manas Sanctuary in Assam,
home to many endangered species including Indian rhinoceros.
While ecology of Western Ghats covering six states - Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa,
Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala - is threatened by mining and oil and gas
exploration, Manas Wild Life Sanctuary faces threat from dams and
unsustainable water use. Sundarbans in West Bengal and neighbouring
Bangladesh have been hit by various activities including unsustainable water
use, dams, wood harvesting, over-fishing and shipping lanes.
The Western Ghats supports the single largest population of endangered Asian
elephants and vulnerable Indian bison, which makes it critical to protect these
site. Two-thirds of natural sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List are crucial
sources of water and about half help in preventing the natural disasters such as
floods or landslides, according to IUCN's 2014 report 'The Benefits of Natural
World Heritage'.
Reiterating these findings, WWF survey estimates that "11 million people depend
directly on World Heritage sites for food, water, shelter and medicine. Harmful
industrial development poses a threat to these ecosystem services and
communities that depend on them."
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 76
Natural World Heritage Site
Natural heritage refers to the sum total of the elements of biodiversity,
including flora and fauna and ecosystem types, together with associated
geological structures and formations (geodiversity).
An important site of natural heritage or cultural heritage can be listed as a World
Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. The 1972
UNESCO World Heritage Convention established that biological resources,
such as plants, were the common heritage of mankind.
There are 32 World Heritage Sites in India that are recognised by the UNESCO
as on 2014. These are places of importance of cultural or natural heritage as
described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.
UNESCO Man And Biosphere Programme
Launched in 1971, UNESCOs Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an
Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis
for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.
MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to
improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to
safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative
approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate,
and environmentally sustainable.
Its World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 669 sites in 120
countries all over the world, including 16 transboundary sites.

8. Rare White Tailed Rat Found In Gujarat


Why in News
A rare white-tailed wood rat which is not a native of Gujarat was found dead in
Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary in Narmada district. Listed as Least Concern in view
of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to
be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
In India it is listed in the Schedule V (considered as vermin) of the Indian Wildlife
(Protection) Act, 1972.
Geographical Range
The white-tailed wood rat is endemic to South Asia. The species is distributed in
Bangladesh (Sathira), India and Sri Lanka. The rat is found mainly in Andhra

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 77


Pradesh, Goa, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa,
Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal.
Habitat and Ecology
It is a nocturnal, terrestrial, sometimes fossorial species occurring in tropical and
subtropical dry deciduous and scrub forests, moist deciduous and evergreen
forests, where it is seen in rocky areas, caves, crevices, tree hollows and
subterranean habitats.

9. Rediscovery Of Smooth Coated Otter


The smooth coated otter which became extinct at the Keoladeo National Park,
Bharatpur few decades back has been sighted in the river Ramganga, which
flows through the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand.
In Kota, Rajasthan where the Chambal flows, a healthy breeding population of
these otters has been spotted in a 25-km stretch of the river between Jawahar
Sagar Dam and Kota Barrage. The otters live in family groups of a male, a
female and the current set of cubs.
In 2014, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reviewed
its status, listing it in the 'Red List', as vulnerable due to rapid decline in its
population.
The otter population was under threat because of the impact of human
populations and the flow of harmful chemicals into the river. The fish species in
the river have been affected because of the pollution, impacting the otters that
depend on fish for their meals. The construction of dams across the Chambal in
the 1950s and 60s had dealt a big blow to the otters.
Besides India, the otters are found in Java, Sumatra and Borneo. It also
inhabits rivers in north and south-western China, Nepal, Bhutan and
Pakistan.

10. International Coral Reef Symposium: Honolulu


13th International Coral Reef Symposium took place at Honolulu, Hawaii islands
with plans for action to save the world's imperilled reefs.
Three Pacific island nations, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands have
their reefs being threatened by the largest and longest-lasting coral bleaching
event in recorded history.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 78


Bleaching is a process where corals are stressed by hot ocean waters and
other environmental changes, losing their colour as the symbiotic algae
living within them is released. Severe or concurrent years of bleaching can kill
coral reefs.
In case of these coral reefs suffering further degradation, reef-dependent
communities of these island nations will suffer and be displaced.
At the Symposium, there was also a focus on more integration of "traditional
knowledge, customary practices and scientific research'' in building a
comprehensive coral reef policy.
They provided a plan to help save their ailing coral reefs, which are major
contributors to their local economies and the daily sustenance of their people.
Their plan asked for better collaboration between the scientific community
and local governments with emphasis on more funding and a strengthened
commitment to protecting the reefs.
The Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, which aimed to protect coral reefs
and create programs to manage their conservation, has been plagued by political
resistance and a severe lack of funding.
International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI)
It is an informal partnership among nations, international organisations and non-
government organisations to help protect coral reefs globally.
It aims to implement Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, Aichi Target 10 of
the Convention on Biological Diversity's 10 year Strategic Plan, and other
relevant internationally agreed objectives and targets by:
Raising global awareness on the plight of coral reefs around the world
Promoting the sharing of best practices in coral reef management and
building capacity of coral reef managers around the world.
Ensuring that coral reefs are included in relevant international deliberations.

11. Save Aravalis: Impact Of Urbanization And Need Of Conservation


Context of Issue
Recent visit of Environment minister and meeting of the NCR planning Board to
decide the No Construction Zone (NCZ) in Aravalis.
Aravalis forest, mostly consisting of arid and semi arid vegetation has its own
importance for the National Capital Region. Aravalis have protected Delhi-NCR
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 79
region from desertification and desert storms for ages. Also Aravalis have the
ecosystem unique to semi arid areas making it critical to protect them in its
natural form.
Last year around 1700 acres of area in Mangar Bani in Haryana has been
declared as no construction zone. Aravalis has been under severe ecological
stress over the last two decades due to effect of rapid and uncontrolled
urbanisation requiring further protection and conservation.
Not only forests but mountains itself which is one of the oldest folded mountain
range in the world has been threatened due to quarrying and mining again side
effect of urbanisation. This has not only led to the soil erosion but also altered
the natural water flows.
Fast denudation of forests along with increasing impact of climate change
has depleted the ground water resources which were already under stress due
to increased demand for water from newly settled areas.
Large part of Aravalis have been privatised over the years and real estate
companies, who have hundreds of acre of land holding are lobbying hard to
dilute the protection of Aravalis by excluding areas from demarcation of NCZ as
the area covered under NCZ cannot have construction beyond 0.5% They also
want to dilute definition of forest, which will open large areas for realtors.
Consequences OF Degradation
Destruction of Aravalis could advance the pace of desertification already gulfing
the large tracts of fertile lands in Punjab and Haryana. Urbanised and densely
populated area may have to bear the brunt of desert storms.
Also Agriculture and agro based activities will be ruined having disastrous
consequences not only on livelihood and employment but economy as a whole.
It may also fuel social unrest and internal migration towards the cities leading to
further stress and emergence of urban sprawls and slums.
Conservation
In this context it is critical to protect the Aravalis by declaring it as a no
construction zone by suitably amending the Environmental protection Act 1986.
Proper Environmental Impact Assessment needs to be carried out and
sustainable urban practices should be promoted to protect Aravalis and its green
cover. Centre-state coordination in terms of Environmental Federalism will help
the case.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 80


Sample Questions for Pre and Mains
1. Consider the following statements and select the correct statements -
1. The Ganges River dolphin, or Susu, inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna
and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
2. The species is found both in freshwater and saline water habitat.
3. This dolphin is among the four "obligate" freshwater dolphins.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 2 only
(d) 2 and 3 only

Answer: (b)

2. Uncontrolled Urbanization is a recipe for ecological disaster. Substantiate by taking


example of Aravalis as a case study.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 81


6. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Kovvada Nuclear Power Plant: Westinghouse To Relocate Planned Nuclear


Plant To Andhra Pradesh
Toshiba Corps Westinghouse Electric will relocate a planned project to build six
nuclear reactors to Andhra Pradesh.
Indian central and state officials confirmed that NPCIL, which would operate the
plants, had made a down payment on 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of land in the
eastern coastal district of Srikakulam.
Background

These reactors were originally planned to be set up in Gujarats Mithi Virdi


district.

Westinghouse will build six AP-1000 pressurised water reactors with a design
capacity of 1,100 megawatts.

It is the first deal stemming from the US- India Nuclear accord signed in 2008.

India wants to dramatically increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032


to meet growing demand and restrict its reliance on fossil fuels, and has struck a
series of accords with a number of countries to help meet that goal.

Russias Rosatom operates two reactors at Kudankulam, in Tamil Nadu, while


Frances EDF signed a preliminary deal with the State-owned Nuclear Power
Corporation of India (NPCIL) in January to build six reactors at Jaitapur,
Maharashtra.
India-US Nuclear Deal

The deal was signed by the then Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab
Mukherjee and his counterpart then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008
which is now called now called the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation
Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act.

One obstacle was bringing Indias liability rules into line with international norms,
which require the costs of an accident to be channelled to the operator rather
than the maker of a nuclear power station. But, following the announcement of a
breakthrough understanding on nuclear cooperation during Mr. Obamas visit to
India in January 2015, this issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of the U.S.
government and it is down to commercial partners to agree a deal.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 82


Analysts say resolving the land issue is a crucial step, but complex issues
remain, including project financing and reaching a civil nuclear pact with Japan,
where Westinghouse parent Toshiba is based.
Concerns
The residents in and around Kovvada village, especially the fishing community in
Srikakulam district, feel considerably apprehensive at the bleak prospect of losing
their fertile agricultural lands and losing their access to the sea for fishing, in addition
to being exposed to the potential dangers of a nuclear power project ( 6x1000Mwe
capacity) being set up by General Electric company.

2. Pak To Soon Begin Work At Chinese Reactor-Backed K-3 Unit Of Karachi


Nuclear Power Plant

Pakistan is all set to begin construction work on the third unit of the Karachi
Nuclear Power Plant. The unit will be developed using a reactor by the China
National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and this move is expected ease power
shortages in Pakistans port city.

Known as K1, this is one of the 30 nuclear plants that China plans to establish by
2030 along its planned Silk Road.

This will be the second nuclear power project in Pakistan to use Chinas Hualong
One technology.

CNNC is also promoting this technology in other countries such as Algeria and
Sudan.

3. Einstein Ring

An international team of astrophysicists has stumbled upon an unusual


astronomical object an Einstein ring which is a distorted image of a very
distant galaxy termed as the source.

An important example of the gravitational lens effect is the Einstein ring


phenomenon illustrated at right.

According to general relativity, gravity causes a deflection of light by the


gravitational field of a massive body.

In this case a galaxy bends the light emanating from a galaxy that is directly
behind it, focusing the otherwise divergent light into a visible ring.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 83
The interest is sufficiently strong that this object has been given its own name:
the The Canarias Einstein ring.

An Einstein ring is a distorted image of a very distant galaxy, which is termed the
source.

The distortion is produced by the bending of the light rays from the source due to
a massive galaxy, termed the lens, lying between it and the observer.

The strong gravitational field produced by the lens galaxy distorts the structure of
space-time in its neighbourhood, and this does not only attract objects which
have a mass, but also bends the paths of light.

When the two galaxies are exactly aligned, the image of the more distant galaxy
is converted into an almost perfect circle which surrounds the lens galaxy.

The irregularities in the circle are due to asymmetries in the source galaxy.

4. Second Breakthrough For LIGO Detectors

For the second time, scientists have directly detected gravitational waves
ripples through the fabric of space-time, created by extreme, cataclysmic events
in the distant universe.

Scientists at LIGO have determined that the incredibly faint ripple that eventually
reached Earth was produced by two black holes colliding at half the speed of
light, 1.4 billion light years away.

The scientists detected the gravitational waves using the twin Laser
Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) interferometers, located in
Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington.

While LIGOs first detection, reported on Feb. 11, produced a clear peak, or
chirp, in the data, this second signal was far subtler, generating a shallower
waveform that was almost buried in the data. (For details on Gravitational wave
and LIGO, refer Feb Magazine).

Using advanced data analysis techniques, the team determined that indeed, the
waveform signalled a gravitational wave. A special technique called matched
filtering invented in 1949 by Wiener had to be adapted for gravitational wave
data analysis.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 84


The researchers calculated that the gravitational wave arose from the collision of
two black holes, 14.2 and 7.5 times the mass of the sun.

The signal picked up by LIGOs detectors encompasses the final moments


before the black holes merged. This cataclysm produced a more massive
spinning black hole that is 20.8 times the mass of the sun.

This second detection of gravitational waves, which once again confirms


Einsteins theory of general relativity, successfully tested LIGOs ability to detect
incredibly subtle gravitational signals.

5. LISA Pathfinder Results Boost Plans For Future Detectors

LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by the European Space Agency (ESA) with
contributions from NASA, has successfully tested a key technology needed to
build a space-based observatory for detecting gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves - tiny ripples in the fabric of space, predicted by Albert


Einstein a century ago- were first seen last year by the ground-based Laser
Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

LISA Pathfinder, formerly Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology-


2 (SMART-2), is an ESA spacecraft that was launched on December 3, 2015.

It began orbiting a point called Earth-sun L1, roughly 930,000 miles (1.5 million
kilometers) from Earth in the suns direction.

LISA stands for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, a space-based


gravitational wave observatory concept that has been studied in great detail by
both NASA and ESA.

6. Space Technology To Safeguard Thatched Roofs

The scientists of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) are planning to use
the technology that protects rocket launch vehicles from high-temperature fire to
protect the thatched roofs and even prevent water seepage in concrete buildings.

The technology uses the ceramic-polymer hybrid (CASPOL). CASPOL is water-


based ready-to-coat product.

It was originally developed to protect the rockets from high temperature and fire
to which they are exposed during the initial moments of launch. Caspol can

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 85


withstand up to 8000 C. The centre has described the product as one which
is eco-friendly as it is free of toxic materials.

This could protect public transport systems and poor men residing in thatched
homes from fire accidents. Seats in automobiles, public transport system and
seat cushions of railway coaches can be made fireproof when Caspol is applied.

Besides its ability to protect against fire and high temperature, Caspol can also
make surfaces waterproof. When applied over the concrete surface of buildings,
fill up the micro cracks and holes on concrete to prevent water from seeping in.

Also, when applied over concrete surface of buildings, the high emissivity of the
product reduces the temperature inside the building by at least 5 to 6 degree
Celsius.

7. PSLV-C34 Successfully Launches 20 Satellites in a Single Flight

ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the Cartosat-2


Series Satellite along with 19 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space
Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.

This is the 35th consecutively successful mission of PSLV and the 14th in its 'XL'
configuration. The total weight of all 20 satellites carried on-board PSLV-C34
was 1288 kg.

The Cartosat-2 spacecraft is an Earth observation spacecraft, which is said to


offer the best resolution of less than a metre on an Indian satellite, going as
sharp as 60 cm. That is a measure of the smallest size of objects it can pick up
on Earth.

Sathyabamasat from Sathyabama University, Chennai with the objective of


collecting data on green house gases; Swayam from College of Engineering,
Pune with the objective of providing point to point messaging services to the
HAM Community are the two co-passenger satellites from Indian Universities.

LAPAN-A3 (Indonesia), BIROS (Germany), M3MSat (Canada), SkySat Gen2-1


(USA), GHGSat-D (Canada) and 12 Dove Satellites of USA were the other eco-
passenger satellites.

In 2014, Russian Dnepr rocket launched a record 37 satellites in a single


mission.
Cartosat-2

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 86


Cartosat-2 is a 725.5-kg remote sensing service using Panchromatic and Multi-
spectral cameras, similar to the earlier Cartosat-2, 2A and 2B.

The imagery of Cartosat-2 series satellite will be useful cartographic applications,


urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management
like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps,
precision study, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade
features and various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical
Information System (GIS) applications.

8. ISRO Gears Up To Test Scramjet Engine

With the success of the technology demonstration flight of its Reusable Launch
Vehicle (RLV), ISRO is gearing up to test a scramjet engine based on air-
breathing propulsion.

The test platform named Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), will comprise a
scramjet engine hitched to a two-stage sounding rocket (RH- 560).

Scramjets are 'air breathing' aircraft because rather than carrying both fuel and
the oxygen needed to provide acceleration, they carry only hydrogen fuel and
'pull' the oxygen needed to burn it from the atmosphere.

Air is forced into the front of the engine and as hydrogen is injected into the
airstream, the gases are compressed causing the temperature to rise and ignition
to occur.

This generates huge amounts of thrust and enables the jet to travel at speeds far
in excess of the 1,350mph top speed of Concorde.

Maintaining combustion in hypersonic conditions poses technical challenges.

9. Indias NIIT To Train 50,000 China Students on Big Data


The National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) located in new industrial park
in southwest China is gearing up to train 50,000 Chinese students over the next five
years on Big Data.
Big Data

Big Data refers to a massive accumulation of information, siphoned from


multiple sources and domains, which can then be analysed to make informed
decisions.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 87
It is an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and
complex that it becomes difficult to process using traditional data processing
applications. Big data size is a constantly moving target.

It requires exceptional technologies to efficiently process large quantities of data


within tolerable elapsed times.

The use and adoption of Big Data within governmental processes is beneficial
and allows efficiencies in terms of cost, productivity, and innovation.

10. Pakistan Tops The Malware Index List, India 8th: Microsoft

Pakistan tops the list of countries figuring in the Malware Infection Index 2016
prepared by Microsoft.

The index identifies the key malware threats in the region and ranks markets in
Asia-Pacific according to how much they are affected.

The index has also identified the top three most encountered malware as
Gamarue (a malicious computer worm that is commonly distributed via exploit
kits and social engineering), Skeeyah and Peals which are trojans that try to look
innocent to convince you to install them, the index reveals.

India is placed at the 8th position.

Out of the top five locations across the globe most at risk of infection, a total of
four are from the Asia Pacific Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal,
topping the rankings at first, second, fourth and fifth places respectively.

11. INSV Mhadei

The Navy sail boat INSV Mhadei steered by an all-woman, six-member crew
that will attempt to circumnavigate the world next year recently entered Port
Louis, Mauritius.

This historic open ocean voyage by the all-women crew, the first such in Indian
maritime history, is designed to help them get used to the conditions they will
face during their mission.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 88


12. Varunastra Inducted To Navy

DRDO's Varunastra, the first indigenous heavy weight ship launched anti-
submarine electric torpedo, has been handed over to Indian Navy.

It is capable of targeting quiet and stealthy submarines, both in deep and littoral
waters in intense counter measure environment.

This torpedo has more than 95% indigenous content. Bharat Dynamics has been
associated with NSTL in the development of Varunastra as a production agency.

The torpedo has advanced autonomous guidance algorithms with low drift
navigational aids, insensitive warhead which can operate in various combat
scenarios. It has GPS based locating aid, a unique feature in contemporary
torpedoes in the world.

13. Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile Test Successful

Boosting Indias efforts to fill gaps in its air defence capabilities new generation
Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM), developed by India and Israel,
was successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range off Odisha Coast.

The missile is similar to the Barak-8 missile used by the Navy's new destroyers.

This supersonic missile system is designed to defend any type of airborne


threat including aircraft and helicopters. It can intercept supersonic aircraft and
even missiles.

The project director for MR-SAM told that there is no comparable system in the
world. Earlier, a naval version of the same missile was tested in Israel.

The system also includes a multi-functional surveillance and threat alert radar for
tracking, detection and guidance of the missile.

14. IIT Madras Researchers Dissolve Silver Using Glucose Water

IIT Madras researchers have found that silver can slowly dissolve in water if
heated to about 70 degree C in the presence of glucose.

As much as 0.5 weight per cent of a silver plate can get dissolved in glucose
water within a week. Like gold, silver is a noble metal and is therefore supposed
to be inert (resistant to chemical corrosion, especially to chemical reagents used
in daily life).
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 89
Significance of Study

This is helpful in studying the effect of metals in food and how toxic metals get
into our food chain from soil, water and fertilizers. Silver foils are used to
decorate sweets and often such foils are eaten along with the sweets. Silver
vessels are also used for cooking.

An offshoot of the study is that the method can be used for developing novel and
green extraction processes for noble metals. In general, toxic chemicals such as
cyanide are used for extracting silver. The newly developed method can extract
silver effectively by a simple and green method. It does not require any harmful
chemicals or high temperature or expensive set-up.
Key Facts

The studies found that silver atoms gets released from a plate in a simple, two-
step mechanism silver ions are first formed at the metal surface, which later
form specific metal complexes with sugar.

The researchers observed that as much as 0.5 weight per cent of a silver plate
can get dissolved in glucose water within a week.

Atoms are highly reactive on the surface of the metal as they less connected and
less bound and this allows the atoms to be released.

Metal dissolution leads to corrosion of the plate and nanoscale pits get formed on
the plate. Further dissolution occurs at the pits and as a result the pits get bigger,
making a polished silvery metal appear black. Under favourable conditions, up to
10% of the metal can get dissolved in 90 days.

Dissolution of silver by glucose directly from the metallic state gets enhanced in
the presence of ions such as carbonate and phosphates.

15. A Sweet Option To Fix Broken Bones

A team of scientists from Bengalurus Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has come
up with a new bone reconstruction method similar to sutures.

For this, they are using is an unlikely ingredient: maltitol, derived from maltose, a
sweetening agent found in most sugar-free foods such as ice-creams.

So far, there were only two options for injuries to bones: a cast for minor
fractures, and implants like metal rods for more serious injuries.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 90


Maltitol is combined with other components to make long chain-like structures
that become plastic. This is then used to fill in the bone gap caused by fracture,
instead of the traditional rod.

Also, since the maltitol reacts to water and as the body is primarily made of
water, the bonds start breaking slowly, over a course of time.

The molecules are soluble in water, and they eventually come out. Once the
bone grows back, the structure simply disintegrates.

This material would be a huge advantage over existing ones, such as metal rods,
which do not allow growth of the bone.

The advantage of using maltitol to make the scaffold is that drugs can then be
injected into it to hasten healing. The other benefit of using maltitol is fewer side-
effects.

16. 'Bionic' Leaf That Turns Sunlight Into Liquid Fuel

A team of scientists from Harvard University has created a unique bionic leaf
that uses solar energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, and
hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels from CO2.

Dubbed bionic leaf 2.0, the new system can convert solar energy to biomass
with 10% efficiency a number far higher than the 1% seen in the fastest
growing plants.

While the study shows the system can be used to generate usable fuels, its
potential doesnt end there.

In many ways, the new system fulfills the promise of his artificial leaf which
used solar power to split water and make hydrogen fuel.

Scientists used a new cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst for this experiment.

17. India Sets Sights On Gold In Ocean

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a 15-year contract by the
Ministry of Earth Sciences with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for
undertaking exploration and other developmental activities related to
polymetallic sulphides in the allotted area of 10,000 sqkm.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 91


By signing the contract, Indias exclusive rights for exploration of polymetallic
sulphides in the allotted area in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian
Ridge in Indian Ocean will be formalized.

It will also enhance Indias presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like
China, Korea and Germany are active.

The program will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences with the
participation of various national institutes and research laboratories and
organisations.

Previously, in 2002, the government was granted permission only to explore


ocean regions and prospect for precious metals.
PMS

Deep seabed polymetallic sulphides (PMS) containing iron, copper, zinc, silver,
gold, platinum in variable constitutions are precipitates of hot fluids from
upwelling hot magma from deep interior of the oceanic crust discharged
through mineralized chimneys.

PMS in the Ocean Ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long term
commercial as well as strategic value.

Initial estimated resource of polymetallic nodules on the site retained by India on


the central Indian Ocean basin is 380 million tonnes with 0.55 tonnes of cobalt,
4.7 tonnes of nickel, 4.29 tonnes of copper and 92.59 tonnes of manganese.
International Seabed Authority (ISA)

The ISA is an intergovernmental body based in Kingston, Jamaica, that was


established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the
international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area
underlying most of the worlds oceans.

It is an organization established by the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea


Convention. It was established in 1994.

ISA governs non-living resources of seabed lying in international waters.

18. Cabinet Approves Indias Membership of the International Continental


Scientific Drilling Program

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 92


The Union Cabinet recently gave its approval for Indian membership of the
International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) consortium by signing
an MoU with the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. This is a
government-funded, Public Law Foundation of the State of Brandenburg,
Germany.

By signing the MoU on the membership for a period of five years with ICDP, India
would enable engaging internationally renowned experts with profound expertise
in different aspects of scientific drilling in order to accomplish deep drilling and
associated investigations in Koyna Scientific Deep Drilling Project undertaken
by Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Also, ICDP will provide technical / operational support, facilitate capacity building
in terms of manpower training in key scientific areas, sample and data
management and support workshops for the Koyna project.

As a member of ICDP, scientists/engineers from India would have right to submit


proposals, to participate in all ICDP co-funded workshops and drilling projects
and have access to all data results from ICDP projects. This will shed new light
on the genesis of seismicity and better understanding of earthquake
processes.
International Continental Scientific Drilling Program

It is a multinational program to further and fund geosciences in the field of


Continental Scientific Drilling.

It was founded in February 1996 in the German Embassy in Tokyo as a result of


the German Continental Deep Drilling Program.

The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences serves as the headquarters
for the ICDP.

Members of ICDP: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic,


Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand,
Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the
UK, the USA and UNESCO.

19. Human Trial Of Zika Vaccine To Start Soon

The food and drug administration of USA for the first time approved a clinical trial
for an experimental vaccine for Zika virus, an early but significant step in the
effort to combat a disease that has quickly emerged as a global health threat.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 93
The Inovio Zika product which goes by the working name GLS-5700, is a so-
called DNA vaccine. In that kind of vaccine, DNA coded to produce the protein
that surrounds the Zika virus is injected into the skin.

The site of the injection is zapped with a device that delivers a short electrical
pulse that helps the DNA find its way into cells a process called
electroporation.

The cells then start the process of training the immune system to see the Zika
virus as a foreign invader that needs to be attacked, generating antibodies to
fight it.
Zika Virus

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in


1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. It was later
identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania.

Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected


mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is
the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible.

Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia
and the Pacific.

In October 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and
microcephaly -- a birth defect where a baby's head is smaller. The new study
claims Zika may not be the real cause of microcephaly after all so further
research is still needed to verify this.

20. New Method Can Kill Cancer Cells In Two Hours

Researchers have developed a new, non-invasive method that can kill cancer
cells in two hours, an advance that may significantly help people with inoperable
or hard-to-reach tumours as well as young children stricken with the deadly
disease.

The method involves injecting a chemical compound, nitro benzaldehyde, into


the tumour and allowing it to diffuse into the tissue.

A beam of light is then aimed at the tissue, causing the cells to become very
acidic inside and, essentially, commit suicide
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 94
This was tested against triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive
types of cancer and one of the hardest to treat.

21. Not All Is Bright And Shining With LED Light

According to a report released by the American Medical Association (AMA)


Council on Science and Public Health, excessive blue light emitted by light
emitting diodes (LED) can adversely impact human health.

The human eye perceives the large amount of blue light emitted by some LEDs
as white. This excessive blue wavelength contributes to glare effects as a result
of larger scattering in the human eye.

Blue light directly affects sleep by suppressing the production of the hormone
melatonin, which mediates the sleep-wake cycle in humans.

The unshielded LED lighting causes papillary constriction, leading to worse night-
time vision between lighting fixtures. Intense blue spectrum can even damage
the retina.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 95


7. ECONOMY

1. Indian-EU Free Trade Agreement


India and EU to discuss revival of the India-EU Free Trade Agreement
negotiations.
Background
The European Union and India launched negotiations on a bilateral free trade
and investment agreement in June 2007.
The India-EU FTA talks, officially called the broad-based Bilateral Trade and
Investment Agreement, have been stalled since 2013 as the negotiators failed to
arrive at a compromise solution to address the demands of both the sides, even
after 16 rounds of negotiations.
EUs Demands
India should drastically cut or eliminate duties on automobiles and wines and
spirits.
Indias Demands
India's main demands pertain to data security status (crucial for India's
information technology sector to do more business with the EU firms) and easier
temporary movement of skilled professionals.
Delhi also wants Brussels to relax its stringent food safety criteria which penalise
Indian farm and fishery exports
Indian social movements, including fisherfolk and labour unions, people living
with HIV/AIDS and other health activists have been mobilizing against the FTA.
Indias Bilateral Investment Treaties
India has inked 83 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT), including with several EU
member countries.
India had put on hold new BITs as investors have dragged the South Asian
nation to international courts with an aim to seek huge compensation for losses
suffered due to reasons such as changes in government policies.
The revised model BIT which was approved by the Cabinet in December 2015
will be used for re-negotiation of existing BITs and negotiation of future BITs and
investment chapters in Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements/

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 96


Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements/FTAs, including the one with
EU.

2. India To Submit Services Trade Plan To WTO


India will soon submit a formal proposal before the World Trade Organisation
(WTO) on a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in services.
India and several other countries have already ratified a TFA in Goods for easier
movement (including release and custom clearance) of goods across borders.
The objective of the proposed TFA in Services is to ease the flow of global
services trade, including temporary movement of software, accounting, medical
and consulting professionals as well as similar skilled workers.
Importance In Indian Context
This is important because India is strong in terms of skilled white-collared
workers and professionals from streams like IT, medical and para-medical
services, and architecture. Therefore, their easier movement to other countries
for short-term projects has been high on its agenda.
A global pact on services trade facilitation will also help in providing greater
clarity in case of disputes arising out of visa-related restrictions. India and the
US are currently engaged in a dispute at the WTO level after Washington
increased visa fees for H-1B and L-1 categories which are extensively used by
Indian IT companies.
Once we have TFA in services at the WTO-level, it will even pave the way for
better negotiations on services at the bilateral and regional Free Trade
Agreement negotiations.
Other Key Issues In WTO
Countries including China are pushing for a TFA in Investment at the WTO
level, but that proposal has not received much support.
Several developed countries also wanted discussions at the WTO level on e-
commerce and global value chains.

3. Indias First National Civil Aviation Policy


Indias first-ever National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) was unveiled. The major
proposals under the policy are:
5/20 Rule Abolished
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 97
Open Skies for European and SAARC Nations
Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)
Self Ground Handling Permitted
Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)
As per the new Civil Aviation Policy, the Centre will subsidize the losses incurred
by airlines by flying on the regional routes in a bid to allow them to charge Rs.
2,500 to passenger for an hours flight.
The Centre will create a regional connectivity fund through a small levy on
departure of each flight, as per the policy. While Centre will contribute 80% for
the viability gap funding, the rest 20% will come from the states.
The subsidy provided to airlines under the RCS may be tapered if the passenger
load factor increases to a decent level (if airlines are able to fill 70-80% of their
seats).
The RCS will give airlines an easy exit option in case they find the unconnected
routes unviable. Airlines will be free to withdraw or change flights to and within
north-eastern states, island territories and Ladakh as per their business
requirements, by informing the Civil Aviation Ministry and the DGCA three
months in advance.
Hybrid-till Model
The hybrid-till model, under which 30% of airport operators non-aeronautical
revenues would be used to subsidise airport costs, is in contrast with stance
taken by the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA), a statutory tariff
regulator set up in 2009.
AERA has adopted the single-till model for determining aeronautical tariffs that
can be set by airports, wherein passengers and airlines are charged less. Under
the single-till model, both aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues are taken
into account to calculate passenger fee. Apart from its core operations, airports
earn income from the non-aeronautical side which includes food and beverages,
duty-free shops, advertising, car parking and hotels.
This move may marginally increase costs at 13 other major airports (with
capacity of more than 15 lakh passengers) such as Ahmedabad, Calicut,
Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, among others.
This move also may revive private developer interest in running airports as the
model increases their revenue.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 98


In Support Of Policy
The most significant impact that the New Policy has, is that it is in line with the
Governments raison d'tre of ease of doing business in India. It is aimed at
achieving overall growth of the sector in a structured manner and to promote
balanced regional growth, tourism, and infrastructure.
Moving to 0/20 rule from the 5/20 rule in international flying means that new
airlines such as Vistara and Air Asia will no longer have to wait for 5 years to
start operations on international routes. But still they should have a stock of 20
flights.
Under the current arrangement, India has an open sky policy with the US, but
only a near open sky policy with the UK, with restrictions on the frequency of
flights operating between UK and Delhi and Mumbai. Open Skies for European
and SAARC Nations will imply that airlines from Europe and/or the SAARC
countries will have unlimited access in terms of the number of flights and seats,
to Indian airports, leading to increased flight frequencies with these countries.
The new policy, domestic airlines will be permitted self ground-handling at all
airports to ensure competition and efficiency, as well as lead to cost savings for
the airlines.
The development of Greenfield and Brownfield airports by the state
governments, private sector and/or in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode will
be encouraged.
The fiscal incentives granted for the Manufacture, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)
sector is a big positive.
Hybrid-till model may revive private developer interest in running airports as the
model increases their revenue.
Against The Policy
Even under 0/20 rules, the airlines would take about three to four years before
building a capacity of 20 aircraft, while they need to have enough capital to run
the operations in the meanwhile.
The NCAP gives no direction on removing the negative fiscal regime on Indian
airlines which includes sales tax on ATF and other taxation measures. The policy
has not given any direction for improvement in regulatory and policy-making
competence.
The civil aviation policy's adoption of a hybrid-till model for calculating airport fees
could push up airfares, by raising airport charges for airlines instead of bringing
them down as per the policy's stated objective.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 99
Conclusion
The UPA government too had announced a regional airline policy with sops like four
per cent sales tax on ATF and no landing/ parking charges, but progress has not
matched expectation. The policy, accept few provisions, seems to bring investment
in airline sector and connect far off areas. But again the execution amd follow up
remains the key.

4. Centre To Evolve Norms To Enhance Product Quality


The Commerce Ministry will soon bring out a five-year National Standards
Strategy Paper to weed out substandard products from the domestic market
and boost Indias exports of high quality goods.
The move comes in the backdrop of the ministry preparing to organise a
Standards Conclave on June 23 and 24 in collaboration with industry body CII,
Bureau of Indian Standards and National Accreditation Board for Certification
Bodies in the national capital.
An inter-ministerial panel is already working on identifying goods that do not
conform to safety, security, environment and health standards.
Benefits
Improved regulations are necessary to ensure that India moves gradually
towards adoption of more mandatory standards, also called technical regulations
that are harmonized with international standards.
This is also necessary for India to develop a coordinated national response to
meet the challenges of the WTO regime in standards and conformity
assessment.
A strong standards and regulatory framework would help domestic industry in
becoming competitive in the world as well as domestic market, thereby
increasing exports.
This will also fulfil the vision of zero defect, zero effect (meaning, high quality
and environment-friendly) and Make in India campaigns. It would also
help prevent flooding of domestic market with unsafe/sub-standard imports
which adversely affect consumers and domestic industry.
Trade Agreements And Standards
The strategy of having different standards for domestic market and export market
has not worked anywhere. It cannot compartmentalize quality consciousness. It
has to be right from the bottom.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 100
To grow Indias export, Indian manufacturers should comply with international
best practices and standards and create an ecosystem of conformity.
Therefore it is important to anticipate the future scenario on standards and
technical regulations in the context of TPP and TTIP.

5. 100% FDI In Most Sectors, Including Defence


The government has
announced a radical
liberalisation of the
Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI)
regime by easing
norms for a host of
important sectors
including defence,
civil aviation and
pharmaceuticals,
opening them up for
complete foreign
ownership.
Changes introduced
in the policy include
increase in sectoral
caps, bringing more
activities under
automatic route and
easing of
conditionalities for
foreign investment.
These measures will
help in creating
headroom for foreign
capital to come in, especially in sectors such as defence and civil aviation that
are capital intensive and will remove unnecessary process bottlenecks, thereby
making it easy for investors to invest in India.
The World Investment Report 2016 released by the United Nations Conference
on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) found that India has retained its ranking

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 101
as the tenth-highest recipient of FDI in 2015, receiving $44 billion of investment
that year compared to $35 billion in 2014.
It also jumped a place in terms of attractiveness as a business destination in
2015, to sixth place, with 14 per cent of the respondents naming it as their
destination of choice.

6. Indias overall GDP Growth Rate for 2015-16: 7.6%


Real GDP or GDP at constant (2011-12) prices for the year 2015-16 is now
estimated at Rs.113.50 lakh crore showing a growth rate of 7.6 per cent over the
First Revised Estimates of GDP for the year 2014-15 of Rs.105.52 lakh crore.
This will help maintain its position as the fastest-growing major economy,
according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Key Values
Indias gross value added (GVA) for the year grew by 7.2 per cent. The
agriculture sector grew 1.2 per cent compared to the advance estimate of 1.1 per
cent. The sector contracted 0.2 per cent in the previous year.
Manufacturing grew 9.3 per cent, slower than the 9.5 per cent forecast in the
advance estimates. But this is much higher than the 5.5 per cent seen in 2014-
15. The consolidated services sector grew 8.8 per cent in 2015-16 compared to
9.05 per cent mentioned in the advance estimates.
Private final consumption expenditure, a proxy for private demand, grew at 7.4
per cent in 2015-16 compared to 6.4 per cent in the previous year. Growth in
gross fixed capital formation, a measure of private sector investment, slowed
down to 3.9 per cent from 4.9 per cent in 2014-15. Construction sector grew 3.9
per cent in 2015-16 compared to 4.4 per cent in the year-earlier period.
Concerns
The points of concern would be the low growth in construction, the lower-than-
expected growth in agriculture and the state of private investments and exports.
Targets
The government, in its Economic Survey in Feb 2015, had projected a growth
rate of 8.1-8.5% for 2015-16, but has lowered it to 7-7.5% in its Mid-Year
Economic Analysis in Dec 2015, mainly on account of deficit rainfall and
slowdown in exports because of global factors.
The Economic Survey 2015-16 (the latest), tabled in Parliament, has projected
real GDP growth for 2016-17 to be in the 7-7.75 per cent range. The Central
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 102
Statistics Office has estimated growth to be 7.6 per cent for the current fiscal
year.

7. India Post Payment Bank (IPPB)


The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of India Post's payments bank at
a total project cost of Rs 800 crore.
The new entity would be known as India Post Payments Bank (IPPB), a public
limited company under the Department of Posts, with 100% Government of India
equity. The Secretary, Department of Posts will be the Part time, Non-Executive
Chairman of the Bank.
IPPB will start operations in March 2017 in about 50 districts and will cover the
entire country by the end of FY 2018-19.
It will generate employment opportunities for about 3,500 skilled banking
professionals, will set up 650 branches and 5,000 ATMs across the country.
This is in line with the governments objective of achieving 100 per cent financial
inclusion as India Post would be the single largest bank in terms of accessibility.
But, the lack of technological upgradation and training of its personnel are likely
to slow down the ambitious plans of the government in the move towards a cash
less economy
Payment Bank
A Payments Bank can hold a maximum balance of Rs 1 lakh per customer. It
offers payments and remittance services. They cannot undertake lending service.
So, it can issue ATM/debit cards but not credit cards.
It can deal in simple financial products like mutual fund units and insurance
products. The IPPB announcement comes close on the heels of three of the 11
entities given in-principle approval for payments banks by the RBI, dropping out
of the race.

8. Centre Notifies Amended RBI Act To Usher In MPC


The government has decided to give statutory backing for Monetary Policy
Committee (MPC) and notified the changes made to the Reserve Bank of India
(RBI) Act.
The rules governing the procedure for selection of members of MPC and terms
and conditions of their appointment and factors constituting failure to meet
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 103
inflation target under the MPC framework have also been notified on June 27,
2016.
Composition
The MPC will have six members 3 from RBI and 3 government appointed
members. Members from the BRI are: the Governor who is the chairman of the
MPC, a Deputy Governor and one officer of the RBI.
The government members will be appointed by the Centre on the
recommendations of a search-cum-selection committee which is to be headed by
the Cabinet Secretary.
Under MPC, the governor has a casting vote and doesnt enjoy veto power.
Decisions will be taken on the basis of majority vote.
Function
The main responsibility of the MPC will be to keep the inflation targets set by the
RBI. The MPC decides the changes to be made to the policy rate (repo rate) to
contain inflation within the target level set under Indias inflation targeting regime.
Members of the MPC can suggest reasons for their support or opposition for a
policy rate change. This will be published in the minutes of the MPC.
In 2015, the Government and the RBI got an MoU regarding the implementation
of the inflation monetary policy framework with an inflation target of 4 with a 2%
band.
Prelims Ques:
Consider the following statements about Monetary Policy Committee. Choose the
correct ones.
1. MPC will be responsible for setting the inflation targets.
2. It will be chaired by the Finance Minister.
3. Under MPC, the governor has a casting vote and doesnt enjoy veto power.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a. 1 and 2
b. 2 and 3
c. Only 3
d. All of the above

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 104
9. RBI Search Panel For Deputy Governor To Be Headed By Cabinet Secretary
The government set up the Financial Sector Search and Recruitment Committee
headed by the Cabinet Secretary to choose the members and heads of the
RBI, the SEBI, and the IRDA.
The committee will also have a permanent member from the Prime Ministers
Office (PMO), representatives from the Finance Ministry, an economist, and the
head of the regulatory body, whose members are to be selected, will be special
invitees. The search committee can only recommend names, while the
government makes the appointment.
Background
A central bank Deputy Governor can be appointed for a term with a maximum of
five years or till the age of 62, whichever is earlier. Out of the four Deputy
Governors, two are appointed from outside of which one is an economist and
the other a commercial banker. The remaining two Deputy Governors are
appointed from within the RBI ranks.
As per the established practice, the interview panel for the appointment of deputy
governors had always been headed by the RBI Governor. The RBI has opposed
the governments move to have Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha as the head of the
search-cum-selection panel for the appointment of its Deputy Governor.
Under the compromise, the RBI Governor will have a greater say in the short-
listing of the names. However, technically, the Cabinet Secretary remains the
head of the panel.

10. RBI Revises Debt Recast Norms


In order to further strengthen the lenders ability to deal with stressed assets by
providing an avenue for reworking the financial structure of entities facing
genuine difficulties, RBI has issued guidelines on a Scheme for Sustainable
Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A).
The scheme is applicable to projects that have commenced commercial
operation and where the banks exposure is over Rs. 500 crore. Under the
scheme S4A, at least 50% of the debt should be serviced in the same period as
that of the existing loan. The balance can be converted into equity or quasi-equity
instruments.
Once the unsustainable debt is converted to equity, banks can sell this stake to a
new owner who will have the advantage of getting to run the business with a
more manageable debt.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 105
Where malfeasance on the part of the promoter has been established, through a
forensic audit or otherwise, this scheme shall not be applicable if there is no
change in promoter or the management is vested in the delinquent promoter.
According to the norms, an advisory body called Overseeing Committee
(OC) will be constituted by the Indian Banks Association (IBA) in consultation
with the RBI.
Banks have to submit the resolution plan to the OC. The OC will review the
processes involved in preparation of the plan, etc. for reasonableness and
adherence to the guidelines and give an opinion.
Expectations
This move is expected to give an impetus, especially for projects that are viable
in the long term but strapped for cash and/or good management. The new
restructuring scheme will help public sector banks in cleaning up large chunks of
their bad loans, which amount to Rs 4.76 lakh crore.

11. Asian Development Bank Approves Loan For Irrigation System In Tamil Nadu
Asian Development Bank, the multilateral lending agency has approved a USD 100
million loan to strengthen a key irrigation system and improve water management in
the Vennar sub-basin of Cauvery Delta in Tamil Nadu. The work is expected to be
completed in December 2020.
Key Points
The Vennar irrigation project will support both physical improvements and
stronger water management, giving a significant boost to the lives of coastal
communities who often go without sufficient irrigation water.
It will strengthen the embankments of six major irrigation water channels in
Vennar system to make them more resilient to floods and upgrade water
regulators.
The Cauvery delta, on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, is known as the rice bowl
of the state, with over 70 per cent of the delta population engaged in farming and
fishing, but access to water is unreliable and flooding common during the
monsoon season.
This is expected to worsen as climate change intensifies with projections that
storm rainfall could increase by 19 per cent, the sea level could rise by up to 0.87
meters by 2100, and maximum temperatures could increase by as much as 1.5
degrees Celsius by 2050.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 106
Asian Development Bank
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific
through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and
regional integration.
Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development
partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members48 from the region. In
2015, ADB assistance totalled $27.2 billion, including co-financing of $10.7
billion.

12. Govt To Come Out With Updated IIP, WPI Indices By Year-End
Government is all set to come out with revised IIP and WPI indices by the end of
this year with a new base year of 2011-12. A base year is the year used for
comparison for the level of a particular economic index. The arbitrary level of 100
is selected so that percentage changes (either rising or falling) can be easily
depicted.
Changing the base year will make the indices more representative of the
changing economic scenario.
Background
Government had last revised the base year of both these indices in 2011 to
2004-05.
The National Statistical Commission has recommended revising the base year of
all economic indices every five years.
As part of the revision, the basket of items and weightage assigned to different
entries on the basis of which indices is computed will be updated.
At present there is no such index for the services sector. The Ministry of
Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) which releases the data of
national income (GDP) as well as WPI and Consumer Price Index (CPI) is
working on bringing out an index for the services sector.

13. India Ranks Second In Retail Potential


According to Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) released by AT Kearney, a
Chicago-based consultancy, India jumped 13 positions and placed second in retail
potential in the 2016, second only to China. The country was ranked 15 in the
previous year.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 107
Key Findings of Report
India's retail sector has expanded at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8%
between 2013 and 2015. Online retail will account for 25% of the total
organised retail sales in India by 2020 and non-metros will drive 60% of the
overall growth of e-commerce. There will be an increase of 175 million in the total
number of online shoppers by 2020.
The report also revealed that 90% of the online buyers will continue to pay for
premium value added services, 46% of them will pay extra charges for faster
delivery, 37% for hassle free return, and 35% for extended warranty.
Online women shoppers will grow five times by 2020 driven by their spending
behaviour in lifestyle categories such as apparel and accessories.
Lifestyle will overtake consumer electronics and become the largest online
category by 2020 at 35% of the total online spends.
Consumer electronics will be at 20%. While niche categories like home (furniture
and furnishing) and personal care will witness high adoption rate in Tier II cities
owing to assortment and convenience of purchase.
One out of four women expressed concern over e-tailors having offline presence.
Background
The Global Retail Development Index is an annual study that ranks the top 30
developing countries for retail expansion worldwide.
The retail demand in India is being fuelled by urbanisation, an expanding middle
class, and more women entering the workforce.
India's high ranking is driven by GDP (gross domestic product) growth, improved
ease of doing business, and better clarity regarding FDI (foreign direct
investment) regulations.

Ques- How do you think the retail sector has transformed in India in past decade.
Analyse keeping in view the emergence of ecommerce.

14. Rajswa Gyansangam - Annual Conference Of Tax Administrators 2016


This is the first time that the two revenue boards the Central Board of Direct
Taxes (CBDT), and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), have hold
a simultaneous conference.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 108
Senior tax officials were asked to aim for widening the tax net from the present
5.4 crore households to 10 crore households all non-agricultural income
households mainly, by changing their attitudes towards taxpayers.
Conference has given a five-point charter to tax administrators embodied in the
word RAPID. These are: Revenue, Accountability, Probity, Information,
Digitization.
Key takeaways
Publicizing the two schemesthe Income Declaration Scheme and the Direct
Tax Dispute Resolution Schemethrough outreach by tax department officials in
all towns to ensure a good response.
Launching a pilot in Delhi of the comprehensive grievance redressal schemeE-
Nivaranwherein all the various grievance redressal systems will be integrated.
Steps to augment revenues and meet enhanced revenue targets for this fiscal
and plug revenue leakages in some sectors.
Improving the facilitation levels through the single window launched on 1 April by
adding more details about other departments requirements like Food Safety and
Standards Authority of India.

15. GST Inches Closer To Reality As States Unite


The stage is all set for the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)
with states unanimously backing it and agreeing that the ceiling rate should not
be prescribed in the Constitution Amendment Bill that is awaiting a Rajya Sabha
nod. States have rejected the provision for a constitutional cap on the GST rate,
as exigencies may arise in future to revise the rates. However, Tamil Nadu has
expressed some reservations.
The states have, however, expressed the view that there were several nuts and
bolts issues which need to be tackled before implementing the ambitious tax
reform.
Some States, including, Tamil Nadu have expressed reservations about the
proposed GST Council. They believe the council, as a constitutional body, would
impinge on the legislative sovereignty of both Parliament and the State
Legislatures and jeopardize the fiscal autonomy of States.
GST Bill
GST bill, considered to be the biggest indirect tax reform in independent India,
aims to transform the country into a uniform market by replacing a slew of federal
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 109
and state levies. GST will subsume excise, service tax, state VAT, entry tax,
octroi and other state levies.
Amalgamating several Central and state taxes into a single tax would mitigate
cascading or double taxation. For consumers the biggest advantage of GST
will come in the form of a reduction in the overall tax burden on goods.
GST will have two componentsCentral GST and State GST. Both Parliament
and state legislatures will have concurrent powers to make laws on GST. Only
the Centre may levy an integrated GST (IGST) on the interstate supply of goods
and services, and imports.
The model law provides for a levy of GST on all online sales. It says the
ecommerce operator should collect the appropriate GST while making a payment
to the supplier of goods or service sold through its portal. This provides clarity for
taxation of goods sold by a supplier in one state to a consumer in another
through electronic commerce.
A GST Council will be set up to recommend rates of tax, period of levy of
additional tax, principles of supply, special provisions to certain states etc. The
GST Council will consist of the Union finance minister, Union minister of state for
revenue, and state finance ministers.
The draft model law also provides for constitution of a National Goods and
Services Tax Appellate Tribunal by Centre on the recommendation of the GST
Council. The Tribunal shall be headed by a national president, with a branch in
each state. The state GST tribunal will be headed by a state President and
consist of Members (Judicial), Members (Technical CGST) and Members
(Technical SGST). Every appeal has to be filed within three months from the
date on which the order sought to be appealed against is communicated to the
person.
A National GST Settlement Commission to be set up by the Centre has also
been proposed in the draft law for settlement of cases under the proposed GST
Act. The National Commission chairman will be a High Court judge and the
commission will have one bench for one or more states.
The authority for advance ruling in GST will be established in each state for
taxpayers seeking advance rulings.
The draft law also seeks to establish a Consumer Welfare Fund, which shall be
utilised by the Centre/state government for the welfare of the consumers in
accordance with such rules as that government may make in this behalf.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 110
A GST Compliance Rating has also been proposed for every taxable person.
The score will be based on his/her record of compliance with the provisions of
the Act.

16. NITI Aayog Submits Proposals For Disinvestment


The NITI Aayog has submitted two sets of recommendations to the Centre for
strategic disinvestment of State-owned companies. With this, the Government is
expected to kickoff reforms for the public sector this year.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had directed the Aayog to identify
PSUs that could be taken up for strategic disinvestment and also suggest norms
for doing so.
Any disinvestment of governments shareholdings, closure or mergers of PSU
will need the Union Cabinets approval.
Recommendations
It has submitted a list of recommendations on each of the sick and loss-making
government-owned companies. Of 74 such companies, it has recommended
closure of 25 companies in which revival plans were attempted but had failed.
After closure, their assets, especially land holdings, could be disposed off and
employees be offered voluntary retirement.
In the remaining 49 cases, either mergers with other public sector units or
strategic disinvestment is recommended. In some companies, the Aayog
preferred to let revival plans run their course, before taking a call on their future.
In another set of suggestions, it has recommended strategic disinvestment on
priority in 15 PSUs. This list has been submitted to the Department of Investment
and Public Asset management in the Finance Ministry.
Disinvestments in India
Disinvestment has become an important source of raising resource for the
Government.
The main objective of disinvestment is to put national resources and assets to
optimal use and in particular to unleash the productive potential inherent in our
public sector enterprises.
The current Government policy on disinvestment envisages peoples ownership
of CPSEs while ensuring that the Government equity does not fall below 51%
and Government retains management control.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 111
17. Non Resident Indians Can Now Join And Subscribe To NPS Online Through
eNPS
NRIs can now open NPS Accounts online if they have Aadhaar Card or PAN
card. It can provide a long term solution to their old age income security.
It has been available to NRIs through Bank offices but now, to further ease the
process of joining, eNPS is being extended to Non-Resident Indian subscribers.
Further, NRIs will be able to open NPS accounts both on Repatriable and on Non
Repatriable basis. On a Repatriable basis, an NRI will have to remit the amount
through his/her NRE/FCNR/NRO account.
For Non-Repatriable scheme, NRIs will be able to join NPS through their
NRE/FCNR/NRO accounts at the time of maturity or during partial withdrawal,
the NPS funds would be deposited only in their NRO accounts.
Both Repatriable and Non-Repatriable schemes will greatly appeal to NRIs who
intend to return to India after their employment abroad, in view of their attractive
returns, low cost, and flexibility.

18. SEBI To Relax REIT, Portfolio Manager Norms To Woo Investors


To deepen Indian capital markets, regulator SEBI has lined up wide-ranging
relaxations to its norms to make Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) more
attractive to investors by allowing them to invest a large portion of funds in under-
construction assets.
REITs would be allowed to have a larger number of sponsors, while regulations
regarding the minimum public offer size and related party transactions could also
be eased.
SEBI is also planning to remove curbs on the SPV to invest in other SPVs
holding the assets, which in turn would allow REITs to invest in a holding
company owning stake in SPVs.
REITs and Its Functions
REITs are similar to mutual funds. While mutual funds provide for an opportunity
to invest in equity stocks, REITs allow one to invest in income-generating real
estate assets (which could be offices, residential apartments, shopping centers,
hotels and warehouses).
The trusts are listed in stock exchanges so that investors can buy units in the
trust. REITs are structured as trusts. Thus, the assets of an REIT are held by an
independent trustee on behalf of unit holders.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 112
While interest is tax-exempt for REITs, it is taxable for unit holders. Short-term
capital gain tax is applicable for unit holders at the rate of 15%. The registration
charges for every purchase and sale of property is still applicable.

19. Textiles Get Tax Sops In Output Impetus


The Centre announced Rs. 6,000 crore special package for the textile and
apparel sector to enable domestic firms to compete globally.
The package which includes several tax and production incentives will aim at
creating one crore jobs, mostly for women, in the next three years.
A new scheme will be introduced to refund the state levies which were not
refunded so far. Of the Rs. 6,000 crore package, Rs. 5,500 crore is for an
additional 5% duty drawback for garments. Drawback at all industries rate would
be given for domestic duty paid inputs even when fabrics are imported under
Advance Authorization Scheme.
The remaining Rs.500 crore will be for additional incentives under Amended
Technology Upgradation Funds Scheme (ATUFS), where the subsidy provided
to garmenting units under the scheme is being increased from 15 per cent to 25
per cent.
To ensure increased earnings for workers, the package specifies that overtime
hours for workers shall not to exceed eight hours per week in line with
ILO norms.
It will bear the entire employers contribution of 12% under the Employees
Provident Fund Scheme, for new employees of garment industry earning less
than Rs. 15,000 per month, for the first three years.
Background
China was gradually relinquishing its leadership position in the garment sector
due to its rising wages and production shifting to high technology sectors. This
was leading to garment sector firms shifting to countries including Bangladesh
and Vietnam.
India was the leader in apparel exports between 1995 and 2000, compared with
Bangladesh and Vietnam. But Bangladeshs apparel exports exceeded that of
India in 2003, while Vietnam surpassed India in 2011.
With policy support, India aspire to regain its position in the next three years.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 113
20. Solar Power Industry: The Challenge Of High Operating Costs
Dust, high temperatures and the dearth of water are contributing to a significant
increase in the cost of operating solar power plants in the country, according to
industry leaders.
Problems Faced
High Temperature: The solar panels that are used are not designed for very
high temperatures. In remote areas with high temperatures, we find that we are
not getting the required units of power. The panels do not yield their optimal
usage.
Dust Problem: Dust is a problem, especially in Rajasthan, where the dust
conditions are really bad and require frequent cleaning around two times a
month, which then increases the operational costs. In Andhra Pradesh and
Telangana, cleaning is needed once a month, but in Rajasthan the modules
should be cleaned twice a month.
Hard Water: Hard water is not suitable for cleaning, and so we have to invest in
reverse osmosis and other technology to make it suitable. Since many large-
scale power plants are located in the interior regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat,
Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and parts of South India, getting
soft water on sites becomes difficult at times.
Lack of skilled labour: Another issue is that the skilled workforce required for
cleaning and maintenance is not available in these areas and so we have to
bring them in from other areas and train them
How Do They Affect
The resulthigher operational costscoupled with historically low tariffs for solar
power could pose a future risk for the industry. Solar tariffs in India have fallen
tremendously, 16.1 cents per unit in November 2010 to 6.7 cents per unit in
January 2016, among the lowest rates in the world.
Possible Solution
The methods adopted in the western countries can be solution. Operations and
maintenance (O&M) is highly automated in the West as compared to primarily
manual O&M services in India, where it can be estimated to be between Rs.9-12
lakh per year per megawatt.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 114
21. Govt Releases Draft National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy
The government has released the draft National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy
which aims at providing a framework to promote large grid connected wind-solar
photovoltaic (SPV) system for optimal and efficient utilization of transmission
infrastructure among others, reducing the variability in renewable power
generation, thus, achieving better grid stability.
The goal of the policy is to reach wind-solar hybrid capacity of 10 GW by 2022.
Broadly, the draft policy proposes hybridization of existing SPV and wind power
plants as well as providing a guideline towards setting up of new hybrid wind-
solar PV power plants.
The draft policy proposes to provide fiscal and financial incentives for
hybridization of existing plants as well as setting up of new hybrid wind-solar PV
plants.
Low cost financing for hybrid projects may be made available through IREDA and
other financial institutions like multilateral banks.

22. Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions


of Service) Bill, 2016
The Union Cabinet is considering the Model Shops and Establishment
(Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016.
The Model bill is aimed at
o Improving the working conditions of workers.
o Creating many more job opportunities for women.
o Providing favourable environment for doing business.
Features Of The Draft Model Bill
It will cover only establishments employing ten or more workers except
manufacturing units.
The Bill provides for freedom to operate 365 days in a year and
opening/closing time of establishment.
Women to be permitted during night shift, if the provision of shelter, rest room
ladies toilet, adequate protection of their dignity and transportation etc. exists.
No discrimination against women in the matter of recruitment, training, transfer or
promotions.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 115
Online one common Registration through a simplified procedure.
Clean and safe drinking water.
Lavatory, creche, first aid and canteen by group of establishments, in case, it is
not possible due to constraint in space or otherwise by individual establishment.
Five paid festival holidays in addition to national holidays etc.
Exemption of highly skilled workers (for example workers employed in IT,
Biotechnology and R&D division) from daily working hours of 9 hours and weekly
working hours of 48 hours subject to maximum 125 over-time hours in a quarter.

23. Vishwanathan Committee


Vishwanathan Committee has been constituted by RBI to study Fintech Business
in India.
The committee will have representatives from other regulators such as SEBI,
IRDA, banks and other stakeholders.
Purpose of Committee
1. To see what kind of FinTech business is happening in India,
2. What kind should be allowed to happen, and
3. How to create an ecosystem to ensure that right kind of FinTech is promoted.
What is Fintech
FinTech business means using technology to offer financial services to end
customers at a lower cost, with little or no regulation over their functioning.
Current Situation of Fintech Business in India
KPMG in India and a NASSCOM report have forecast that the Indian FinTech market
is set to double to $2.4 billion in the next four years. It is in a nascent stage in the
country, and many feel that start-up firms in the space would disrupt the traditional
banking and financial services model
Other Initiatives by RBI in FinTech
Promoting the Unified Payments Interface and the Bharat Bill Payments
System.
Some areas in which FinTech has emerged include payments, peer-to-peer
lending, and the use of automated algorithms to offer financial advice. RBI is also
now looking at the new age tech. It recently released a consultation paper on
peer-to-peer lending.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 116
24. Global Fraud Report 2015-16: Vulnerabilities on the rise

The annual global fraud survey, carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit,
polled 768 senior executives worldwide from a broad range of industries and
functions from January through March of 2015.

The overall observation is that fraud has continued to increase, with three
quarters (75%) of companies reporting they have fallen victim to a fraud incident
within the past year, an increase of 14% points from just three years ago. The
threat from within is also on the rise.
Overview of India in Fraud Cases
India has one of the largest fraud problems in the world. Its 80% overall
prevalence is third in this group compared to Colombias 83% and Sub-Saharan
Africas 84%.
An overwhelming 80%of companies polled in India had been victims of fraud in
2015-16, up from 69% in 2013-14.
It also has the highest national incidence of corruption (25% of companies),
regulatory breach (20%) and IP theft (15%). For eg. Satyam Scam, Adidas fraud
and ponzi schemes - Saradha scam etc. India also ties for the highest national
level of money laundering (8%).
While companies in India are willing to spend to improve their level of anti-fraud
protection, it appears that such funds are not being invested appropriately. For
respondents that had identified the perpetrator, 59% indicated that junior
employees were leading players in at least one such crime.
Despite these vulnerabilities and the high proportion of fraud perpetrated by
insiders, only 28% of companies in India invest in staff background screening
and only 55% invest in vendor due diligence.
Reasons for high number of fraud cases in India
Lack of preventive measures by the companies in India
Ineffective judicial system
Lack of due diligence in companies
Loopholes in insider trading norms
Multiplicity of investigative agencies results in ineffective investigation
Lack of expertise and professionalism in fraud investigations in India

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 117
What is a Ponzi scheme?
A Ponzi scheme is an illegal business practice in which new investors
money is used to make payments to earlier investors.
In accounting terms, money paid to Ponzi investors, described as income, is
actually a distribution of capital.
Instead of returning profits, the Ponzi schemer is spending cash reserves, all
for the purposes of raising more funds.
Where a basic investment scam raises money and disappears the Ponzi
scheme stays in business by circulating investor funds. There are usually
little or no legitimate investments taking place.
Most of the funds are used by promoters for expensive lifestyles and
transferred into property or offshore accounts. Schemes typically run for at
least a year, although some Ponzis have flourished for a decade or more.
There is regulatory vacuum over Ponzi schemes.

Ques- In the light of the Satyam Scandal (2009), discuss the changes brought
in corporate governance to ensure transparency and accountability.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 118
8. SUMMITS AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

1. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)


Why In News
In the recent visit of PM Modi to U.S, US showed support for Indias membership in
the APEC. India wants to join APEC to sustain Indias growth through trade
arrangements with more presence in Asia-Pacific region.
About APEC
The APEC is a regional inter-governmental economic forum established in
1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.
APEC's 21 members aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region
by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and
by accelerating regional economic integration.
The 21 APEC member economies collectively account for more than half of world
real GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP).
APEC's vision are what are referred to as the 'Bogor Goals' of free and open
trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies
and 2020 for developing economies. These goals were agreed by APEC
Economic Leaders in Bogor, Indonesia in 1994.
To achieve these goals APEC member economies developed a framework in
Osaka, Japan in 1995, which set out three key areas of cooperation. Sometimes
known as the 'Three Pillars' of APEC, these are the areas of Trade and
Investment Liberalisation, Business Facilitation, and Economic &Technical
Cooperation.
APEC and WTO
APEC and the WTO are complementary in that both are working towards the
same goals of free and open trade and investment across borders.
APEC operates on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue and
equal respect for the views of all participants. Unlike the WTO or other
multilateral trade bodies, APEC has no treaty obligations required of its
participants. Decisions made within APEC are reached by consensus and
commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis.
APEC and India
Why India wants to be a member?

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 119
APEC is the missing link in Indias Act East policy because we are already
heavily engaged with APEC countries.
APEC economies offer vast market , nearly 60 per cent of global GDP; secondly,
more than 50 per cent of global trade; and thirdly, on average 50 per cent of
global FDI flows, both in bound and out bound
Inclusion in the APEC might open the door for Indias membership of the Trans-
Pacific Partnership (TPP).
India, by not joining APEC soon, may progressively found itself increasingly
removed from the norms of trade policy engagement across this wider region.
Challenges to Indias membership to APEC
In 1997 a moratorium on membership was put in place for a ten-year period. At
the end of 2007 the moratorium was extended to 2010. Since 2012 moratorium
was lifted.
Indias extra-regional status is a hindrance as APEC is essentially a group of
'Pacific' countries.
The main impediment has been the opposition of some participants who have
held Indias record on economic reforms and WTO engagement to be
unsatisfactory and unworthy of meriting inclusion as a member in the grouping.
There is no financial cost to the United States for supporting India's APEC
membership request. But there will be diplomatic costs: the membership
moratorium closed the door after Russia, Vietnam, and Peru joined in 1998, so
consideration of any new member spurs talk about the need for "balance" from
all APEC regions, such as Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Reasons why India should become a member
A majority of members now believe that India must be brought into the fold for it
has shown progress in reforming and liberalising its economy.
Indias maritime strength and strong strategic relations with the regions major
powers, member states point out, could be used to bring strategic balance within
the grouping.
All but four APEC member economies already have, or are pursuing, trade
agreements with India bilaterally or multilaterally, including China

2. Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)


About OPEC

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 120
OPEC is a permanent intergovernmental organization of oil-exporting
developing nations. It was created at the Baghdad Conference in Sept 1960 by
Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Today OPEC has 13 members including Qatar (1961), Indonesia (1962), Libya
(1962), the United Arab Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), Nigeria (1971), Ecuador
(1973), Gabon (1975) and Angola (2007).
Headquarter: Vienna, Austria (Austria is not a Member of OPEC)
Its Statute stipulates that any country with a substantial net export of crude
petroleum, which has fundamentally similar interests to those of Member
Countries, may become a Full Member of the Organization, if accepted by a
majority of three-fourths of Full Members, including the concurring votes of all
Founder Members.
Mission of OPEC
o Coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its Member Countries. Ensure
the stabilization of oil markets in order to secure an efficient, economic and
regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers and
a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.
Challenges ahead for OPEC in Post Shale Gas revolution in the world
Post Arab-Israeli conflict in 1973, OPEC imposed a ban on oil export to
Western countries, including the US, which imported over 85% of its oil needs
from West Asian nations. Within a year, crude prices increased four times. The
heat was felt everywhere, including developing countries like India.
But in todays era, does the OPEC commands such control over the oil prices so
as to bring industrialised nations on its knees? It does not seem so. With recent
downfall in oil prices due to high production of oils by US and shale gas
revolution, OPEC seems to be losing its clout.
The real fear for OPECs members generally is what would happen to OPEC
once US shale fracking technologies are exported worldwide. Chinas domestic
shale gas and oil reserves may potentially far outstrip even those of the United
States.
OPECs World Oil Outlook anticipates a decline in global demand for its oil to
2016 with production falling to 29.7 mpbd. But, OPECs dozen members pump a
third of the world's crude oil. So, it still has price influence on oil prices. Also,
OPEC as a group still controls a much larger share of the market than the US.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 121
The OPEC cartel is losing some influence to the US shale oil market and to a
lesser degree Russia, but it still remains a dominant force - just not as powerful
as before
India And OPEC
Lower crude prices may prove to be a blessing in disguise for India. Being the
worlds fourth largest crude oil importer, low prices augur well for its development
agenda. The fuel price may remain subdued for another year, but this cannot
continue for long. Historically, low oil prices increases consumption and prices
bounce back later, as is evident from oil price fluctuations in 1986, 1993 to 1996
and 2008.

Ques- Does OPEC still enjoy control over oil price regime in changing global oil market,
especially after shale gas revolution in America?

3. International Maritime Organisation (IMO)


About IMO
It is a specialized agency of the United Nations, established in 1948.It currently
has 171 Member States. Only a country can become a Member of IMO.
IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and
environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a
regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective,
universally adopted and universally implemented.
IMO was established to adopt legislation. Governments are responsible
for implementing it. It does not have an authority to enforce its regulations.
IMO measures cover all aspects of international shipping including ship design,
construction, equipment, manning, operation and disposal to ensure that this
vital sector remains safe, environmentally sound, energy efficient and secure.
The IMO budget costs are shared between the 171 Member States primarily in
proportion to the size of each one's fleet of merchant ships. The biggest fleets in
the world are currently operated by Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands so
they pay the biggest share of IMO's budget.
Key IMO Conventions
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, concerning
the safety of merchant ships.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 122
International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as
modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto and by the Protocol of 1997
(MARPOL).
International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch
keeping for Seafarers (STCW ) as amended, including the 1995 and 2010 Manila
Amendments.
Polar Code IMO has adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in
Polar Waters (Polar Code) and related amendments to make it mandatory under
both the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the
International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
The Polar Code is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2017. The Polar
Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational,
training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to
ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles.

4. FATF (Financial Action Task Force)


It was in news for Cyber Heist in Bangladesh Central Bank.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the G-7
Summit in Paris.
The FATF currently comprises 35 member jurisdictions and 2 regional
organisations (GCC and European Commission). India is a member. Neither
Bangladesh nor Philippines is a member
The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective
implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating
money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity
of the international financial system.
The FATF is therefore a policy-making body which works to generate the
necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms
in these areas.
The FATF has developed a series of recommendations that are recognised as
the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of
terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The FATF has not been formed as a formal international organisation. Rather,
the FATF is a task force composed of member governments.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 123
5. European Union and Euro
The European Union is a unique economic and political union between 28 European
countries that together cover much of the continent. It is highest level of economic
integration presently seen in world.
Historical background:

The EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War.

1957Treaty of Rome: The first step was to foster economic cooperation: The
idea being that countries that trade with one another become economically
interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict. The result was the European
Economic Community (EEC), created in 1958 by Treaty of Rome, and initially
increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany,
France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Since then, a huge single
market has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential.

1992- Treaty of Maastricht: What began as a purely economic union has


evolved into an organization spanning policy areas from climate, environment
and health to external relations and security, justice and migration. European
Economic Communitys (EEC) name was changed to European Union (EU) in
1993, and this is how European Union started.
The EU is also governed by the principle of representative democracy, with
citizens directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament and Member
States represented in the European Council and the Council of the Union.
Important Institutions of EU
1. European Parliament
2. European Commission
3. European Central Bank
4. European Council
5. Council of European Union

European Parliament: It is the EU's law-making body. It is directly elected by EU


voters every 5 years. It has 3 main roles- Legislative, Supervisory, and Budgetary.

European Commission: It is the EU's politically independent executive arm. It is


alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it
implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. It
proposes and enforces laws, manages EU policies & allocates EU funding, and
represents the EU internationally.
Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 124
European Central Bank: It is the central bank of the 19 EU countries which have
adopted the euro. Its main aim is to maintain price stability, i.e. to safeguard the
value of the euro. The ECB carries out specific tasks in the areas of banking
supervision, banknotes, statistics, macro prudential policy and financial stability.

European Council: It brings together EU leaders to set the EU's political agenda. It
represents the highest level of political cooperation between EU countries. It
decides on the EU's overall direction and political priorities but does not pass laws.
It sets the EU's common foreign & security policy, taking into account EU strategic
interests and defence implications. It also nominates and appoints candidates to
certain high profile EU level roles, such as the ECB and the Commission.

Council of European Union: In the Council, government ministers from each EU


country meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws, and coordinate policies. The
ministers have the authority to commit their governments to the actions agreed on in
the meetings. Together with the European Parliament, the Council is the main
decision-making body of the EU. It should not be confused with European Council -
where EU leaders meet to set the broad direction of EU policy making.

Current Affairs for 2017 Part 2 (June 2016 events) Page 125