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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 03rd September 2018

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  • September 3, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains

Focus)- 03rd September 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


India and the US: 2+2 dialogue

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations;

Fast recap:

In previous DNA (India and the U.S. — it’s complicated), we read about –

  • Significance of 2+2 dialogue
  • Emerging strategic convergence between India and the US
  • Growing defence cooperation
  • Obligations and challenges
  • Crux – Overview of India – US defence and strategic relations.

In news:

  • 2+2 dialogue to be held on September 6, in New Delhi
  • An announcement could be made about an in-principle agreement between the two sides on the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), but its signing is doubtful

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/09/03/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_01/77018382_2365011_101_mr.jpg

About COMCASA and other foundational agreements

  • COMCASA is one of the four foundational agreements that helps the U.S. to intensify its defence cooperation with a partner nation.
  • The four foundational agreements are – Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), COMCASA, General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).
  • Apart from the foundational agreements, the U.S. is also keen on a broad based intelligence-sharing agreement with India as the two countries have vastly expanded their counter-terror cooperation. (needs signing of BECA)

Do you know?

  • COMCASA and BECA are the two foundational agreements that India is yet to sign.
  • It has already signed the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
  • The most significant of them is LEMOA, which gives both nations access to each other’s military facilities. But it does not make it automatic or obligatory.
  • The U.S. has been engaging India since 2002 on the foundational agreements, but successive governments have been wary of giving in to the U.S. demands.

Role of NGT in conserving Western Ghats

Part of: GS Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Conservation of Biodiversity

In news:

  • Green Tribunal steps in to conserve Ghats
  • Curbs States from activities that may have adverse impact

Do you know?

  • The six Western Ghats States?
  • Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), also known as the Gadgil Commission after its chairman Madhav Gadgil.

Western Ghats and reports:

  • Seven years ago, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel issued recommendations for the preservation of the fragile western peninsular region.
  • Madhav Gadgil, who chaired the Union Environment Ministry’s WGEEP, has said the recent havoc in Kerala is a consequence of short-sighted policymaking, and warned that Goa may also be in the line of nature’s fury.
  • The State governments that are mainly responsible for the Western Ghats — Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra — must pay heed to the reports of both the Gadgil Committee and the Kasturirangan Committee, which was set up to examine the WGEEP report.
  • The entire system is globally acknowledged as a biodiversity hotspot. But population estimates for the sensitive zones vary greatly, based on interpretations of the ESZs.
  • In Kerala, for instance, one expert assessment says 39 lakh households are in the ESZs outlined by the WGEEP, but the figure drops sharply to four lakh households for a smaller area of zones identified by the Kasturirangan panel.
  • The WGEEP had earlier proposed “much larger areas for being included in the eco-sensitive zone” though the Kasturirangan-led High Level Working Group, also appointed by the MoEF and CC to look into the WGEEP report, had reduced it.


Smartgram Yojna by Pranab Mukherjee Foundation

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Rural development; Role of CSOs/NGOs

In news:

  • Former President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurates Smartgram Yojna Projects in Haryana
  • The Smartgram Project in Haryana started in July 2016, when Shri Pranab Mukherjee adopted some villages as the serving President.
  • Under the scheme, Pranab Mukherjee had adopted five villages in 2016, when he was still the President. He had adopted the villages as he wanted the standard of living of the people staying there to be on a par with that in the cities.
  • Now its numbers had swollen to 100.
  • Pranab Mukherjee said more and more villagers must be connected with the “Smartgram” project to ensure peaceful, happy and prosperous villages.

UN to regulate High Seas soon

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Role of International Organization; Environment and Ecology; Conservation of Biodiversity

In news:

  • United Nations kicks-off talks on a 2020 treaty that would regulate the high seas.
  • Four sessions of talks are planned to take place over two years, with the goal of protecting marine biodiversity and avoiding further pillaging of the oceans.
  • Talk will focus on the high seas and the international zone of marine waters – spaces beyond national jurisdictions, or areas that belong to no country in particular.

Important Value addition:

About High Seas

  • High Seas: the open ocean, especially that not within any country’s jurisdiction.
  • High seas cover half the planet yet lack adequate environmental protection.

Do you know?

  • In 1982, the UN adopted the Convention on the Law of the Sea, but left the high seas free from restrictions.
  • All States enjoy the traditional freedoms of navigation, overflight, scientific research and fishing on the high seas.
  • The convention took effect in 1994, without the participation of the U.S.
  • Since then, shipping routes have expanded considerably, and the resources of the ocean deep have aroused significant interest, whether by fishing or mineral extraction.
  • Talks will focus on creating protected areas on the high seas, more sharing of maritime resources and technology, and research on environmental impacts.
  • U.S. did not ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Conditions in Rohingya camps are disastrous

Part of: GS Mains II – Role of UN or international organization; Refugee/Social issue

In news:

  • It’s been a year since nearly a million Rohingya refugees poured into Bangladesh and the situation is yet to stabilize.
  • UN official warns about the disastrous conditions in Rohingya camps. UN warns of a humanitarian crisis ahead of cyclone season.

Do you know?

  • This year’s UN joint response plan (JRP) has received only 34% of the funds needed, in contrast to about 85% last year.
  • We recently read about Human Rights Council report which spoke about the Myanmar military leadership should be investigated for “genocide” in the violence in August 2017.

National Park in news: Orang National Park

Part of: GS Prelims III – Environment and Conservation of Biodiversity

About:

  • Orang National Park also known as Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park is located in Assam.
  • The park has a rich flora and fauna, including great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, pygmy hog, elephants, wild buffalo and tigers. It is the only stronghold of rhinoceros on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river.

Public Credit Registry

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian economy (basics)

In news:

Recently, RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya made a case for setting up a Public Credit Registry (PCR), incorporating unique identifiers: Aadhaar for individual borrowers and Corporate Identification Number for firms.

What is PCR?

A public credit registry is an information repository that collates all loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers. A credit repository helps banks distinguish between a bad and a good borrower and accordingly offer attractive interest rates to good borrowers.

PCR will address issues such as information asymmetry, improve access to credit and strengthen the credit culture among consumers. A PCR may also help raise India’s rank in the global ease of doing business index.

Panel’s proposals

The committee has suggested the registry should capture all loan information and borrowers be able to access their own history. Data is to be made available to stakeholders such as banks, on a need-to-know basis. Data privacy will be protected.

Why PCR is necessary?

Credit information is now available across multiple systems in bits and pieces and not in one window. Data on borrowings from banks, non-banking financial companies, corporate bonds or debentures and external commercial borrowings, among others, are not available in one data repository. PCR will help capture all relevant information about a borrower, across different borrowing products.

It can flag early warnings on asset quality by tracking performance on other credits.


Miscellaneous:

  1. S. to cancel $300 mn aid to Pak. Pentagon says Islamabad has not taken ‘decisive action’ in support of America’s new South Asia strategy.
  2. Mauritius remained the top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India in 2017-18 followed by Singapore, whereas total FDI stood at $37.36 billion in the financial year, a marginal rise over the $36.31 billion recorded in the previous fiscal, according to RBI data.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighborhood- 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.

India policy towards Naya Pakistan

Introduction:

With Imran Khan, as Pakistan Prime Minister, many committed democrats in South Asia (especially India) hope that – Pakistan is about to emerge into a new dawn and it would also bring to an end many of the issues that afflict India-Pakistan relations today.

However, India must remain cautious as  –

  • It is not sure, how far can it be said that real democracy exists in Pakistan today, even though an election process was gone through?
  • Also it is not clear, can merely a political newcomer turn around the situation in a country whose attempts at democracy have never been fulfilled all these years?
  • The new Pakistan Foreign Minister and many of the other key Ministers in Mr. Khan’s Cabinet are holdovers from previous administrations – who hardly endeared themselves to audiences in India.

Role of Pakistani ‘deep state’

  • Democratic leaders in Pakistan, especially more recent ones like Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, have paid a heavy price whenever they sought to enlarge their democratic constituencies.
  • They have been unable to withstand the machinations of the Pakistani ‘deep state’, which controls almost every single aspect of political activity in Pakistan.
  • For the Pakistani ‘deep state’, the main enemy is India. No democratically elected leader can afford to ignore this fact.

Over the years, the ‘deep state’ has co-opted some of the key levers of power, including the judiciary, to maintain its stranglehold on Pakistan.

Generals like Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf openly declared their intention to seek power and take charge of the state.

Today, the ‘deep state’ adopts more insidious/stealthy means to maintain control over the levers of power.

Hence, India needs to assess the situation in Pakistan in somewhat greater depth, and not jump to any conclusion of better prospects in India-Pakistan relations in the immediate, or even medium, term.

Being optimistic

  • History contains well stocked instances or examples of how transformational leaders, who embody particular ideas and ideologies, are able to turn around the fortunes of their countries.
  • Can Imran Khan, who has the capability of inspiring people through well-considered and carefully thought out ideas and suggestions, become such transformational leader who can articulate a new vision for Pakistan?
  • With regard to India-Pakistan relations, Mr. Khan has expressed desire to initiate talks with India, resolve differences between the two countries, improve trade relations, resolve the Kashmir conflict, and alleviate poverty in both countries.
  • Whatever may be the initial excitement, an individual functioning in complex setup where ‘deep state’ use all kind of tactics, he is unlikely to be able to navigate an independent path that could lead, at least a part of the way, to eventual success.

The way ahead:

India should cautiously design its policy. India will need to create a framework that leads to realistic outcomes, given that it genuinely believes in peace with Pakistan.

There needs to be clarity regarding short- and medium-term goals, before embarking on the ultimate objective of bettering India-Pakistan relations.

The first step should be an acknowledgement that the new government in Pakistan faces threats, from elements both within and outside the government. Furthermore, the threat to better India-Pakistan relations comes from the ‘deep state’ embedded within the Pakistani establishment.

Indian state should step back and provide greater scope for people’s initiatives, strengthen the existing democratic order initiatives driven by people’s groups, and enhance the constituency for peace in the subcontinent.

Towards this end, it should coordinate strategies among different agencies within the government on how to enlarge the constituency for peace and liberal tendencies in both countries. The effort should also be on increasing the share of people in Pakistan who recognise the need to act responsibly, and rally the ‘likeminded’ who seek peaceful co-existence with India. (In simple, India should encourage people’s initiatives to forge a ‘coalition of the willing’)

It should involve appealing to people in Pakistan, much beyond those involved in the administration.

The short message is for people’s groups in India to engage, and engage with whomsoever it is possible to in Pakistan with a view to creating a suitable climate for peace and better relations.

India should also take steps to encourage the rest of the democratic world to advance, and defend, democracy in Pakistan, and implicitly improve relations with India.

Connecting the dots:

  • What challenges does India face in cultivating gainful ties with Pakistan? Examine.

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Disaster management
  • Environmental degradation and conservation

For a shift in gear

Introduction:

  • Kerala’s unique topography — of coastal plains and rolling hills between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats — is vulnerable to several natural hazards, landslides, flooding and coastal erosion being the most common.
  • Incidents of flooding have become frequent, aided by human intervention. In thee recent floods, millions were displaced along with an estimate losses of 21000 crore.
  • While the Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel had recommended the gradation of the Western Ghats into three eco-sensitive zones, with significant restrictions, this was not acceptable to the State government.

Vulnerable country

  • About 70% of its coastal areas are prone to tsunamis and cyclones, about 60% of its landmass vulnerable to earthquakes, and 12% of its land to floods.
  • Multi-storied housing is booming in urban India, built on a framework of beams, pillars and brick walls. With parking spaces prioritised at the ground level over structural stability.
  • Most Indian houses are made of brick masonry walls, with fire/unfired bricks and stones, and yet few if any undergraduate civil engineering courses consider these materials, focussing instead on reinforced cement and concrete.
  • Earthquake engineering is taught as a specialisation at just a few universities, leading to a serious shortage of retrofitting-trained civil engineering manpower

The gaps: Risk management in India is still in its infancy.

  • In the case of Kerala, in 2003, the Home Ministry had proposed the formation of specialist teams to manage disasters using four battalions from the Central Industrial Security Force and Indo Tibetan Border Police.
  • Kerala was required ‘to identify a State-level training institution’ for the purpose. The project has been forgotten. It has been the same response, even after the Ockhi disaster when the Centre proposed forming a special team and funding.
  • We are far behind even in forecasting disasters that occur annually. Even now, after the Kedarnath floods in 2013, Uttarakhand still has few if any Doppler radars to provide early alerts about cloudbursts and heavy rain.
  • There are few guidelines on construction in flood-prone regions, or even a map of safe zones.
  • Few States have prepared emergency action plans for the over 5,000 large dams in India, with reports of just 200 dams having been covered so far.
  • Mitigation projects for upgradation of the observatory network have barely commenced.
  • The effectiveness of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been hampered by a shortage of trained manpower, training, infrastructure and equipment.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General highlighted the National Disaster Management Authority’s performance in projects such as vulnerability assessment and mitigation projects of major cities as “abysmal”.

On the ground

  • Disaster norms are also skewed more towards rural areas, focussing on agriculture, fisheries, livestock and handicrafts from a relief perspective.
  • Current disaster norms do not differentiate between States, offering, for example, the same amount per unit for disaster relief in Bundelkhand as in Goa. Such practices are bound to lead to an inadequate recovery.
  • Typically, after a disaster, revenue officials are responsible for visiting affected areas and identifying people for relief, in turn offering scope for misuse and corruption.
  • In addition, any disaster relief will typically exclude anyone living in an unauthorised area. Such norms also exclude share-croppers and agricultural labourers, while focussing only on small and big farmers.
  • Unlisted disasters which are not neatly bucketed in the specifications under the Calamity Relief Fund are restricted to a relief of 10% of the fund’s annual allocation.

Way Forward

  • Planned urbanisation can withstand disasters, a shining example being Japan which faces earthquakes at regular intervals.
  • The India Disaster Resource Network should be institutionalised as a repository for organised information and equipment gathering.
  • India needs a strong disaster management agency. It must be built on anticipatory governance, emphasising studies that embed foresight and foster citizen awareness.
  • Disaster preparedness should be focussed on meeting the immediate contingency, implementing a conceptual, long-term rehabilitation strategy while maintaining an ethnographic understanding.
  • The NDRF must fill its vacant specialist positions while being given better control over transfers and deployment of its personnel.
  • Need to revise the norms for disaster relief in India. Each State and district has different costs for labour and construction, making the idea of a uniform amount for relief redundant.
  • It’s time to move on from being focussed only on managing natural disaster emergencies to improving resilience.

Connecting the dots:

  • There has to be a change from focussing only on managing natural disasters to improving resilience. Comment.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

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

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) is associated with

  1. European Union
  2. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  3. North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  4. None of the above

Q.2) LEMOA, GSOMIA, COMCASA and BECA are often in news. It deals with –

  1. Four foundational agreements that helps the U.S. to intensify its defence cooperation with a partner nation.
  2. Super Computers developed by NASA.
  3. Trade Agreements that help India and Italy to augment collaboration in areas of mutual benefit.
  4. 4 approaches suggested for India-China ties.

Q.3) Consider the following statements

  1. India and the US recently signed Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)
  2. U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) was recently renamed Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM)

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) Rohingya refugee issue is related to which of the following countries

  1. Myanmar and Bangladesh
  2. North Korea and South Korea
  3. Thailand and Cambodia
  4. Myanmar and Thailand

Q.5) Orang National Park is located in

  1. Odisha
  2. Arunachal Pradesh
  3. Assam
  4. West Bengal

Q.6) Consider the following statements Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)

  1. Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are declared under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972
  2. The government can prohibit industrial operations such as mining, sand quarrying and building thermal power plants in these areas

Select the correct statements

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

Q.7) International law identifies which of the following as ‘Global Commons’?

  1. High Seas
  2. Atmosphere
  3. Antarctica
  4. Outer Space

Select the correct code:

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

 Q.8) Consider the following statements about UNCLOS:

  1. In 1982, the UN adopted the Convention on the Law of the Sea, but left the high seas free from restrictions.
  2. U.S. did not ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  3. Only ratified States enjoy the traditional freedoms of navigation, overflight, scientific research and fishing on the high seas.

Which of the statements above is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 2 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.9) Which of the following is correct about Public Credit Registry (PCR)?

  1. The purpose of PCR is to manage the foreign exchange of India.
  2. The purpose of PCR is to address the twin balance sheet problem of the banking sector and the corporate sector.
  3. The purpose of PCR is to keep the records of government borrowings.
  4. None of the above

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