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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 20th June 2018

  • IASbaba
  • June 20, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 20th June 2018

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Air India privatisation plan shelved

Part of: GS prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy; Disinvestment of Air India

In news:

  • After it failed to get any buyers for the debt-ridden national carrier, the government has decided not to proceed with the privatization plan.
  • Last year, Union Cabinet had given its nod for the disinvestment process.

Do you know?

  • Air India came into existence in 1932 as starter airline. It was nationalised in 1953.
  • For many years the government had been considering the option that whether Air India should be helped in coming out of its current situation or disinvested. This is not first instance. In 2000 also it was tried for disinvestment but it was not materialised due to lack of political will. At that time, the Tatas, the actual promoters of airlines, wanted to buy it back along with Singapore Airlines.

In brief, the journey

  • 1932: Founded by J.R.D. Tata as Tata Airlines – country’s first scheduled airline
  • 1946: Tata Airlines became a public limited company under the name of Air India
  • 1948: Government of India acquires 49% stake in the company; starts international operation under brand of Air India International
  • 1953: Air Corporation Act enacted to nationalise all existing airline assets and Indian Airline Corporation (domestic operations) and Air India International were established
  • 1962: Air India International named as Air India
  • 1994: Air Corporation Act repealed to allow private airlines to operate on domestic routes; Air India, Indian Airlines converted into Limited Companies under Companies Act, 1956
  • 2000: Previous NDA govt drops privatisation plan after deciding to sell 51% of equity of Indian Airlines and 60% of Air India
  • 2007: Erstwhile Air India and Indian Airline were merged into single entity named as National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL)
  • 2010: NACIL renamed as Air India Limited
  • 2012: UPA govt rule out AI privatisation; Turnaround plan to infuse over Rs 30,000 crore till 2021 approved
  • 2017: NDA govt approves in-principle approval of Air India’s disinvestment
  • 2018 (Current): Present NDA government drops privatisation plan after it failed to get any buyers for the debt-ridden national carrier

Article link: Air India privatisation plan shelved – NATIONAL


‘India for rules-based world order’; Concept of Strategic Autonomy

Part of: GS Mains II – International Relations; India and the World

In news:

Highlights of President Kovind’s speech in Greece –

  • Articulating the principles of Indian foreign policy, President Ram Nath Kovind said India wants to be a rule framer in a multi-polar world.
  • President said – India is committed to an international order marked by robust, rules-based multi-lateral institutions; by multi-polarity in international governance; and by investment and connectivity projects that are viable, sustainable.
  • President indicated that India to maintain a non-aligned attitude towards major power blocks in the world and also maintain multilateral commitments.
  • He also expressed the aspiration to be “strategic autonomous” – the concept which was also presented by PM Modi during the recent Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore.
  • President urged Europe to join hands with India which is a “responsible power”, to preserve globalisation.

What is ‘strategic autonomy’?

  • Strategic autonomy denotes the ‘ability of a state to pursue its national interests and adopt its preferred foreign policy without being constrained in any manner by other states’ (possessing overwhelmingly superior power).

Does India possess strategic autonomy?

  • Theoretically, only a lone superpower in a unipolar international order truly possess strategic autonomy since it is the only country that would wield overwhelming economic, industrial, military and technological capabilities and thus the power to resist pressure from all other states.
  • Even superpowers become susceptible to the pressures exerted by their superpower peers in bipolar or multipolar orders, which means that their ability to be strategically autonomous is not absolute but only relative.
  • It follows from this that regional powers like India are destined to be even less strategically autonomous. While they may express the aspiration to be strategically autonomous, their ability and willingness to practice it are likely to be inconsistent and variable.
  • They will resist external pressure to change their policy or moderate their interest on core issues of national security irrespective of the costs involved. In the case of India, prominent examples of core national interests are Jammu & Kashmir and nuclear weapons.
  • But under external pressure, regional powers like India are likely to alter their policy or moderate their interest on non-core security issues if the associated costs are calculated to be disproportionate to the benefits that may accrue from persisting with the preferred policy or interest. A good recent example in this regard was India’s decision to vote against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency. This decision was driven by the calculation that antagonising the United States, which was pressing India to vote against Iran, would compromise the benefits flowing from improved bilateral relations with America including in the nuclear arena.

Is strategic autonomy good?

  • While strategic autonomy is the ideal that every state aspires to, most are unlikely to either possess the necessary power capabilities or enjoy a favourable international environment to practice it.
  • A bipolar or a multipolar order is likely to provide greater diplomatic room for manoeuvre and thus help avoid the high costs of pursuing a policy or interest.
  • Given this reality, making strategic autonomy concrete thing could prove more harmful than beneficial.

Crux:

  • India aspires to be a rule framer and calls for rules-based world order.
  • India wants to maintain a non-aligned attitude and also meet multilateral commitments.
  • India also aspires to be “strategic autonomous” – pursue its national interests and adopt its preferred foreign policy without being constrained in any manner by other states.

Article link: India for rules-based world order: Ram Nath Kovind


US “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration

Part of: GS Mains II – International Relations; India and the World

In news:

  • Several people from South Asia, including many from India, have been detained by U.S. immigration authorities at a federal prison in Oregon for illegally entering the country.
  • Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration has resulted in sweeping measures such as separation of children from their families.

Fast recap: India US areas of concerns

  • We have read that US not happy with India’s growing engagement with the U.S., Russia and China in equal measure.
  • India not admitting Quadrilateral grouping or less attention given by India towards Quad.
  • India’s closer engagement with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a relationship reset with China after the Wuhan meeting.
  • India’s acceptance of military exercises with countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
  • Delay in signing of outstanding India-U.S. foundational agreements. (In previous article we covered all 4 foundational agreements)
  • Several issues/disputes in World Trade Organisation (WTO); Trade protectionism; Disputes on the new American steel and aluminium tariffs
  • proposed cuts in H1B professional visas and cancellation of H4 spouse visas
  • disputes on Indian price reductions on medical devices
  • Harley-Davidson motorcycles row – US calling for India to scrap its 75-100% tariffs
  • India’s plans to acquire the Russian S-400 missile system

UWIN — Unorganised Workers Identification Number

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Welfare and social issue; Inclusive growth; Unorganised sector

In news:

  • Union Ministry of Labour has called for tenders to design, develop and run the new UWIN — Unorganised Workers Identification Number — Platform.
  • UWIN – is a portable smart ID card for unorganised workers.
  • Centre has started work to create a national database and Aadhaar-seeded identification number system to facilitate welfare delivery to 40 crore workers in the sector.

Do you know?

  • The Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 had first mandated that every worker be registered and issued a smart ID card.

Article link: Database on unorganised workers gets underway – The Hindu


Disaster Management: FLOODS

Part of: GS Mains III – Disaster Management

Just know below basic procedures


Tech edge: A.P. police show the way

Part of: GS Mains III – Science and Technology; Role of Technology

In news:

  • Andhra Pradesh – becomes the first State to complete automation of Crime Records Bureau
  • The IT-based web/mobile application (i-App) is a revolution in data collection as it saves hundreds of man hours
  • i-App cloud is now helping the police access the entire information of crimes under various IPC sections.
  • The information is available at the touch of a button on mobile phones and computers helping the police to analyse trends in crime and take necessary action.

Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir?

J&K to come under Governor’s Rule.

It is alleged that Governor’s rule would result in closer coordination among security forces.

  • If it happens, Kashmir is likely to witness a new wave of violence.  
  • Army is expected to increase target-specific operations, with better coordination with the police and a likely increased inflow of intelligence inputs.
  • Police forces will now be more open in giving intelligence inputs to Army as they normally come under the State government.
  • This will give greater impetus to target-specific operations by the Army as the force relies on the police for local intelligence and movement of terrorists.

Army has resumed full-fledged anti-terror operations after the Suspension of Operations was called off by the Home Ministry.

Pic link: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/06/20/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_11/3926a0b8_2185446_101_mr.jpg

Animals in news:

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Biodiversity; Conservation of animals

Rare species of spider found again after 150 years

  • Rare species of spider (Chrysilla volupes) –  found in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) located in the Western Ghats region of Kerala.
  • The spider belonged to the family of jumping spiders (Salticidae) and scientifically named as Chrysilla volupes.

The world’s oldest Sumatran orangutan dies

  • The world’s oldest Sumatran orangutan (Puan) died in Australian Perth zoo
  • Born in 1956, she was noted by the Guinness Book of Records as being the oldest verified Sumatran orangutan in the world. Female orangutans rarely live beyond 50 in the wild.
  • Sumatran orangutan – IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Do you know?

  • The non-human types of apes are divided into two groups: great apes — gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees and orangutans — and lesser apes — gibbons and siamangs.
  • Apes are not monkeys; they belong to different branches of the Simian infraorder, and there are several physical differences. Apes do not have tails, while most monkeys do, and apes are typically larger than monkeys.
  • Apes’ noses are short and broad, while monkeys’ noses are more snout-like. Apes also have larger brains than monkeys, and they are capable of using tools and learning language.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • India and its neighborhood relations, International relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Significance of SCO for India

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China was the first SCO summit attended by India as a full-fledged member.

Do you know?

  • SCO grew out of the Shanghai Five grouping — of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan — which was set up in 1996 to resolve boundary disputes between China and each of the four other members.
  • It admitted Uzbekistan in 2001, re-christened itself the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and broadened its agenda to include political, economic and security cooperation.
  • It admitted India and Pakistan as full members in 2017.

Significance for India

  • SCO now has about half the world’s population and a quarter of its GDP. Its boundary extends southwards to the Indian Ocean.
  • The SCO’s relevance for India lies in geography, economics and geopolitics. India has important economic and security interests in these countries.
  • With India having complicated ties with neighbours, it makes sense to strengthen ties with its neighbours’ neighbours.
  • With Pakistan joining the Organisation and Afghanistan and Iran knocking on the doors for membership, the logic of India’s membership becomes stronger.
  • Expanding opportunities for India in Central Asia: India’s relations with Central Asian countries have been constrained by lack of overland access through Pakistan and Afghanistan/Iran, because of political and/or security reasons. SCO should help in this regard.
  • Russian and Chinese officials suggested that harmonious cooperation in the SCO may pave the way for an India-Pakistan rapprochement, recalling that SCO membership had facilitated resolution of China’s boundary disputes with Russia and Central Asian countries.

Challenging areas:

  • The SCO is expected to nudge both countries to cooperate in sensitive areas. One example is the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO, which coordinates cooperation for security and stability, through intelligence-sharing on criminal and terrorist activities. India and Pakistan have to find ways of cooperating in the RATS.
  • Defence cooperation is another tricky area: enhanced linkages between armed forces is an SCO objective. India has agreed to participate in the SCO’s counter-terrorism military exercises in Russia later this year, when Indian and Pakistani troops will operate together.
  • Reconciling Indian and Pakistani perspectives in the SCO’s initiatives on Afghanistan would be yet another challenge.
  • The challenge for India — besides that of security and defence cooperation with Pakistan — may come from increasing Chinese dominance of the SCO.

The essence of a functioning multilateral framework is focusing on shared objectives and underplaying divergences.

Connecting the dots:

  • What are the benefits that India accrues upon its full membership to SCO? Also discuss the challenges faced by the country upon such membership.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Why India urgently needs a national asylum policy?

Key Pointers:

  • World Refugee Day (June 20)
  • India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no domestic asylum law.
  • Country has done little beyond providing asylum. There have been some attempts to introduce a refugee law – latest being the Asylum Bill 2015, which was introduced as a private member’s bill. However, none has gone the distance and the government continues to adopt an ad hoc approach towards this group.
  • Due to their unclear legal status and lack of uniform documentation, refugees have limited access to essential services and almost no avenues for livelihood.
  • India has reiterated its commitment towards the protection of refugees at various international fora, including the UN General Assembly.
  • India became a signatory to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which was adopted by 193 countries in September 2016. In doing so, India has expressed its solidarity with those forced to flee and agreed that protecting refugees and supporting the countries that shelter them are shared international responsibilities that must be borne more equitably.

Global Compact on Refugees (GCR)

  • New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants has set the stage for a new framework for refugee protection — the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).
  • GCR is a coordinated effort to strengthen international response to protracted refugee situations and comprehensively addresses all stages of refugee protection, from reception to long-term solutions.
  • Two of its key objectives are to ease pressures on host countries and enhance refugee self-reliance.

Concern: Refugee burden borne by developing countries

  • GCR recognised that certain refugee situations can last for decades and acknowledges that the burden is borne largely by developing countries.

Do you know? Developing countries host over 80% of the refugee population in the world.

  • Therefore, the GCR calls for support from the international community in the form of resources. (to ease pressures on host countries)
  • It also seeks to establish forums to enable expertise-sharing to promote economic opportunities, decent work and job creation not just for refugees but also for the host community.
  • GCR calls for States to identify gaps and opportunities for employment and income generation for refugees in a bid to enhance their self-reliance.

Since the Declaration was adopted, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been engaging with member states, UN bodies, and non-governmental organisations to develop a plan for its practical implementation; this will be finalised by the end of 2018.

Conclusion:

India’s commitment to refugee protection under the GCR is evident in its active participation in ongoing GCR consultations, where it has emphasised the need for a clear mechanism for the refugee response regime.

Therefore this is an opportune time for India to reassess the need for a national asylum policy which is compliant with the principles laid down in the GCR.

This will not only re-establish India’s place as a democratic regional power committed to core humanitarian principles but will also provide refugees a chance to give back to the country that has adopted them.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically examine if India should have a law for refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Recent UNICEF report presents a grim picture of condition of refugee children. What according to you should be measures taken by countries, irrespective of refugee laws, to protect the refugee children for a better future?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1) Among the following, which one is not an ape?

  1. Gibbon
  2. Gorilla
  3. Langur
  4. Orangutan

Q.2) Consider the following statements

  1. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China was the first SCO summit attended by India as a full-fledged member.
  2. SCO admitted India and Pakistan as full members in 2017.

Select the correct statements

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements

  1. India is not a signatory to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants  and has no domestic asylum law.
  2. Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) is a new framework for refugee protection under 1951 Refugee Convention.

Which of the above statement[s] is/are correct?

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

Q.4) World Migration Report 2018 is released by

  1. World Economic Forum
  2. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  3. Amnesty International
  4. International Organization for Migration

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