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Current Affairs | June, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

June 1, 2015
1. India is gaining much from Israel in defence and other technologies. Will it help in diversifying
the Indian government's expectations? Analyse.
2. Cancer is the second largest killer disease in world. India constitutes half of the cancer
population.How to prevent it? Give measures.
3. No frill income tax return forms are effective in anticipated collection of taxes. Explain.
4. Elaborate on the importance of Jharia coal mine and critically analyse the trade off between
development and internal displacement of people.
5. Though land boundary agreement successfully passed real difficulty lies in implementation.
Discuss how to overcome the hurdles?
6. Elaborate on the provisions, objectives and importance of Digital India.
7. What is Stapled VISA? Why it is a contentious issue between India and China? Discuss.
8. Analyse on the aftermath of bifurcation of Telugu states. What should be done? Is splitting
states for Socio-economic reasons is viable?
9. Corruption in public service will immoralise people's view on Government. Suggest your
measures to contain corruption.

1. Modi to be first Indian PM in Israel

Topics: IR India and the World
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Israel, making him the first Indian Premier to visit the
country, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Sunday. Addressing a press conference
to recount the achievements of the External Affairs Ministry in the past year, Ms. Swaraj said the
PMs dates were not confirmed, but that they were being worked out.
Sources told The Hindu the visit could happen this year itself, with a high-level Indian team travelling
to Tel Aviv in July for discussions on several bilateral issues.
Ms. Swaraj also said she would visit Israel, Palestine and Jordan later this year, and will travel to
Tehran in June for the Non-Aligned Ministerial meet.
However, officials said there is no decision yet on whether Mr. Modi will attend the NAM summit in
Caracas, Venezuela in September this year.
Ms. Swaraj insisted did not indicate any shift in the Indian position. But it will in fact be a break with
the past.
No Indian Prime Minister has visited Israel, despite India setting up full relations with the country
more than two decades ago.

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It was during the previous NDA tenure in 2000 that Mr. Jaswant Singh became the first Indian foreign
minister to visit Israel, and PM Ariel Sharon the first Israeli PM to visit India (2003).
Mr. Modi had also made a marked break from precedent when he met Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.
At the time, despite the fact that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in New York on the same
dates, the government had not sought any meeting between him and Mr. Modi.
Israel welcomes visit plan
Meanwhile Israel ambassador Daniel Carmon has welcomed the announcement that Mr. Modi was
planning a visit. High level visits between both countries, as we have witnessed in the past months,
are a natural ingredient of the tightening relationship between Israel and India. In this context, Israel
will of course welcome any visits by PM Narendra Modi and FM Sushma Swaraj.

2. Plan to curb tobacco use coming: Nadda

Topics: Health
The Health Ministry is set to roll out a comprehensive plan to tackle tobacco use, which will
incorporate preventive measures, Health Minister J.P. Nadda said here on Sunday. May 31 was
observed as World No Tobacco Day.
The government is committed to reducing the consumption of tobacco. Very soon the Ministry will
launch a comprehensive programme using a three-pronged strategy of information, education and
communication. This holistic approach will target new tobacco consumers as well as tobacco
addicts, Mr. Nadda told journalists on the sidelines of a function celebrating 25 years of laparoscopic
cholecystectomy in India.
However, the Minister avoided comment on the controversial statements of BJP MPs who said there
was no link between tobacco and cancer.
Recently, BJP MP Dilip Gandhi, Shyama Charan Gupta and Ram Prasad Sharma stirred up
controversies over their remarks delinking tobacco and cancer.
Laparoscopic surgery
Mr. Nadda underscored the need to make laparoscopic surgery available to the common people and
widen its reach.
We need to popularise the method, and see that a maximum number of doctors are trained in
laparoscopy. We will survey medical institutions to find out how many are using laparoscopic
procedures and encourage teaching institutions to impart training, he said.
Mr. Nadda said the patient-to-bed ratio in India was a problem and laparoscopy was a meaningful
intervention as it helped reduce stay in the hospital, post-operative case and was less painful.
The procedures should be made accessible and affordable without compromising on quality, he said.
Dr. Tempton Udwadia, Gastroenterologist and General Surgeon at Mumbais Breach Candy hospital,
was felicitated for his pioneering efforts in the field of laparoscopy in India.

2|Current Affairs | June, 2015

3. Centre notifies simpler income tax forms

Topics: Economy
The Union Finance Ministry on Sunday came out with a simplified income-tax return (ITR) form,
replacing the controversial 14-page form that had sought information on foreign trips and dormant
bank accounts. The last date for filing returns has been extended till August 31 against the normal
practice of July 31, as the software for these forms is under preparation.
In forms ITR-2 and ITR-2A, the main form will not contain more than three pages, and other
information will be captured in the schedules that are required to be filled only if applicable.
Form ITR-2 is needed to be filled by individuals and Hindu Undivided Families (HUF) having income
from more than one house property and capital gains.
Observing that majority of individuals/HUFs who file Form ITR-2 do not have capital gains, the
government has introduced new form ITR-2A for individuals who have income from more than one
residential property but no capital gains from them.
Bank accounts
The government has also partially relaxed the requirement to list all bank accounts and balances.
While taxpayers will have to give details of IFS code and account number of all the current/savings
accounts held during the previous year, they will not be required to provide balance in their bank
accounts and details of dormant accounts not operational during the last three years.
Individuals having exempt income without any ceiling (other than agricultural income exceeding Rs.
5,000) can now file Form ITR-1 (Sahaj). Similar simplification is also proposed for individuals/HUF in
respect of Form ITR-4S (Sugam), the statement said.
Further, an individual who is not an Indian citizen and is in India on a business, employment or
student visa (expatriate), will not mandatorily be required to report the foreign assets acquired by
him during the previous years in which he was non-resident if no income is derived from such assets
during the relevant previous year. As the software for these forms is under preparation, the time
limit for filing the returns has been extended up to August 31, the statement added.

4. Fresh move to douse Jharias coal fires

Topics: Economy, Indian Society
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is determined to move more than 1,00,000 people living near
coalfields in eastern India to new homes, making it easier to douse underground fires that have
burned for a century, and mine huge reserves of premium coal.
Reviving output from India's nationalised coal sector has been one of Mr. Modi's most tangible
achievements during his first year in office, one that he hopes will secure continuous power to all
and eat into an annual coal import bill of $15 billion.
The burning deposits of Jharia, in Jharkhand, are particularly prized because they are the only source
of top quality steelmaking coal in the country. India spends $4 billion a year on importing that grade
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Mr. Modi travelled to Jharkhand in February and urged the Chief Minister to speed up work on
putting out the fires and shifting the people living there.
The fact that the Prime Minister is directly involved shows that the government is very serious about
it, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said in New Delhi.
Huge task
Its a huge task but the good news is that we have started moving in the right direction. Bharat
Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), the Coal India unit which controls the Jharia field, estimates fires have already
devoured about 37 million tonnes of coal and blocked access to 2 billion tonnes more, theoretically
worth $220 billion.
Previous attempts to control the fires by sealing the surface, trenching and pumping in inert gases
had limited success and were blamed for driving BCCL close to bankruptcy.

5. Fears remain about post-LBA process

Topics: Internal Security, IR India and the World
Diptiman Sengupta, 44, the chief coordinator of the Bharat-Bangladesh Enclave Exchange
Coordination Committee (BBEECC), is the undisputed leader of the stateless enclave dwellers on the
Indo-Bangla border. Sitting in the sprawling verandah of his old-fashioned house in Cooch Behar, Mr.
Sengupta told Suvojit Bagchiof The Hindu about his apprehensions following the Presidents assent
to the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) Bill recently passed by the Indian Parliament.
How did you get involved with this 67-year-old issue, as you are only 44?
It was my father,0 Dipak Sengupta, a Forward Bloc MLA, who founded the BBEECC in 1994. Ours is a
political family and related to Dinesh Gupta, the freedom fighter and father was involved with
Liberation Movement in Goa and anti-monarchy campaign in Cooch Behar. So when the Committee
was formed I naturally got involved and when my father asked me to work full time, I left the job and
eventually got massive support from our BBEECC counterpart in Bangladesh.
The LBA Bill was passed by Parliament and perhaps it is a matter of time before the President gives
his assent. But you still are apprehensivewhy?
We are no more worried about the LBA but (about) the process to be followed after the presidential
assent. Like, we have a list of enclave dwellers on both Indian and Bangladeshi enclaves on either
side of the border and we have to make sure that new names are not encouraged in that list. Of
course those born after July 17, 2011, will have to be accommodated but then they cannot be more
than five years old and we have to ensure that outsiders are not entertained.
Why July 17, 2011?
Between 14-17 July, 2011, an Indian and a Bangladeshi team jointly surveyed the Indian enclaves in
Bangladesh and Bangladeshi enclaves in India.
What was population in the enclaves at that point?
In 51 Bangladeshi enclaves on Indian soil the population was 14,215 and in 111 Indian enclaves in
Bangladesh it would be 37,369 and altogether it was little over 51,000.
But then are a series of other apprehensions related to developmental fund?
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Yes. Huge money will be flowing in and the usual money-related problems will follow. Rs. 30 lakh has
already been announced as compensation for each acre of acquired land within enclaves for
developmental projects.
The prices of land will go up and urban promoters will acquire enclave land.
That may not be an immediate possibility as farmers are not too keen on selling land. But there are
apprehensions about the ideal nature of the developments for the poorest of the poor people.
What should be the ideal way to move forward with developmental plans in enclaves?
Ideally, it should be a people-centric policy, to develop roads, electricity and clean water followed by
regularisation of citizenship and access to food, health care and education. It is not an easy process
but in the past the district administration has cooperated in many ways, otherwise we could not have
admitted Jihads mother Asma Bibi in the government hospital. (See the story.)
There is another apprehension that many living in Indian enclaves in Bangladesh may arrive from
Cooch Behar, especially the ones who are poor?
I do not think so. I think less than 1,0000people will come or may be 2,000 but it cannot be in
thousands as some people are saying.
Some of your critics have said that BBEECC has an interest in the developmental projects.
It is gossip, not criticism. The liberation of enclave would have taken place many moons ago if these
intellectuals, who have hardly visited the enclaves, had not blocked it for personal interests. As far as
developmental fund is concerned we can say that BBEECC will cease to exist the day the enclaves are
properly functional and thus we will not intervene in governments developmental projects and funds
in the enclave.
Will you contest in the next Assembly poll in 2016?

6. Week-long events to push Digital India

Topics: Governance, Science and Technology
As the government readies to formally launch the Digital India Program, Prime Minister Narendra
Modi has called a meeting on Monday of Ministers, including Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad,
Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, entrusted with creating
a roadmap for the weeklong campaign.
The launch of Digital India, one of the pet projects of the government is expected to be a big-ticket
The idea is total digitisation of society. During the week-long event that will be held across the
country, a number of new applications/portals will be launched to bring government services to
citizens digitally, a source said, adding the aim is that can people see a visible change in governance
by the end of the year.
The campaign will involve multiple partners and stakeholders, including government ministries and
depart ments, industry, school and academic institutions, gram panchayats and civic bodies.

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7. No flip-flop in engagement with Pakistan, says Sushma

Topics: Internal Security
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Sunday that there was no flip-flop by the Modi
government on relations with Pakistan, stressing that New Delhi had underlined that talks will only
be held in an environment of peace.
The Minister said talks between the two neighbours were called off earlier this year because a few
days ahead of the scheduled dialogue, Pakistan sent out an invitation to the Hurriyat. Unlike in the
past, it was not the Hurriyat that had sought an audience with the Pakistani leadership, but Islamabad
which sought out the Hurriyats view, she specified.
From the first day, we have adhered to three principles for [dialogue with] Pakistan. All issues will
be discussed in a peaceful manner, discussions will only be between India and Pakistan, with no
involvement of a third party, and talks will be held only in an environment free of terror, she said.
India has been vehemently following these principles and will not take the talks forward unless
Pakistan takes action against perpetrators of terror like Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed, she
Cricket on hold
The Minister also said there was no decision yet on whether the cricket teams of the two countries
should play against each other.
Ms. Swaraj said the process of taking the State government on board for the Teesta deal was on and
the issue of sharing the waters of 54 rivers was still being discussed.
In September 2011, the Teesta water-sharing deal could not be inked after Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee pulled out of the Dhaka visit with the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Following the recent ratification of the India-Bangladesh land boundary agreement, there was
speculation that the long-pending Teesta agreement could be inked during Mr. Modis two-day visit
to Dhaka beginning June 6.
Speaking on the first year of the Modi governments foreign engagements, Ms. Swaraj said the
governments foreign policy could be best judged by three factors visits, dialogues and outcomes;
and that contacts have been made with 101 countries.
While she flagged the significant takeaways from these engagements, she also stressed that India
had set the rules for engagement with its neighbours, particularly Pakistan.
On the issue of fishermen being arrested by Sri Lanka, she said both countries face the problem, and
since it was an issue of livelihood, both sides hope to resolve it on humanitarian grounds. She did
send a stern message to Sri Lank to avoid provocative statements as they vitiate the atmosphere.
Asked why she has opted to maintain a low profile vis--vis the PM, Ms. Swaraj said: A proactive
PM is a support, not a challenge. She also denied that Mr. Modi had told the Cabinet to maintain a
low profile.
Ms. Swaraj also said her only regret in the year gone by was the inability to secure the release of 39
Indians held hostage in Iraq.

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8. Firm, first steps after formation

Topics: Governance
Telangana, the 29th State of the Indian Union came into being on June 2, 2014 after a long drawnout struggle of more than six and half decades. Its birth of ushered in new hope, desire and the wishes
of people along with anxieties over its growth and development.
The text of Telanganas Statehood should be read within the context of the historical project of State
formation of Andhra Pradesh. Now, following a year of its existence, Telangana offers some useful
insights and perspectives over the future of the federal structure of the Indian state particularly in
terms of the internal restructuring of its constituents (States). The lessons learnt should guide the
substantive issues of State formation as a political and cultural project, and its multiple forms of
power. State formation is not simply a bureaucratically designed, technical-rational affair but one
that is densely located within the social imaginaries and their durable forms. It is instructive to see
how these forms acquire ideological legitimacy over time and begin to affect the political processes
of State formation. However, what is noteworthy in this is the collaboration ideological and
political between various classes and stakeholders whose interests begin to be affected soon after
the creation of the State.
Social inequalities

The demand for Telangana raised issues of

inter/intra-State regional inequalities and their associated forms of domination and subordination
over people belonging to different regional and subregional locations. The feudal forms of
domination and atrocities perpetrated over the marginalised sections, especially tribals and
peasants, continue to obstruct equitable resources and funds distribution. Unless the government of
the day is serious about ameliorating these inequalities, its various schemes and programmes of
social welfare and empowerment of the disadvantaged sections will remain incomplete in realising
the Telangana Sentiment. Telanganas historic struggle has informed how the matrix of socioeconomic inequalities can produce new sites of public sphere and of their potential to transform
democratic spaces. It is in this context that the Telangana State must show the way not simply for
change but for transformation; not just for the power of politics but for social justice and equality
moving beyond mere identity politics. The battle over the appropriation of symbols and icons of the
Telangana struggle must not be reduced to a sheer war of words and images among competing
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groups and political parties. The symbolic politics must not be divorced from the everydayness of the
life struggles of peasants, tribals and other deprived sections. The political iconographies of the
Telangana struggle must provide newer vocabularies to write new scripts and registers of
development. They must ensure the legible language of basic human rights and entitlements for the
disadvantaged sections. This requires that the State must ensure the fair distribution of resources
and opportunities of work among people regardless of their native origins or places of residence.
Within two months after its formation, a Statewide household survey, Samagra Kutumba Survey, was
held on August 19, 2014 to count and number people of native origins as being historically justified
residents of Telangana in order to separate them off from non-natives or outsiders. It was feared
that the data collected would be politically used to strengthen the strongholds of the Telangana
Rashtra Samiti (TRS) across the State, and to determine the potential beneficiaries of government
schemes. Any kind of enumerative logic, as Ian Hacking us reminded long ago, can have serious
implications for producing identity politics. A move for nativity or indigeneity cant provide legitimate
grounds for democratic politics. The territorial rights and the identities of people cant be arbitrarily
ascribed. The process of a democratisation of rights is instantly halted once the enumerative logic
begins to count, classify and categorise people and their identities to suit the particular interests of
the State. Surveys and statistical classifications can help only if the State wants to reach out to the
people to provide non-discriminatory benefits of its various developmental policies, programmes and
initiatives. However, the reason of the state in both substantive and procedural affairs must not
contradict itself with the affinity of people based on their history, language, culture and region. These
affinities alert us about the formation of newer hierarchies and their forms of inequalities penetrating
into the discourses of development and democracy. Mr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Chief Minister of
Telangana, should learn from what Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of an undivided Andhra
Pradesh, did in 1995 in terms of a household survey to determine the agenda of economic reform.
Let the enumeration not become a conduit for the market or corporate rationality.
As model State
The special package status under Article 371-D, that the Telangana Chief Minister demanded from
the Centre within a week of its formation, must not be to simply fulfil populistic schemes. The
bifurcation has significant implications for resource generation and a flow of funds for both the
States. At the time of the oath-taking ceremony, KCRs pledge of making Telangana a role model for
other States in India can be redeemed only if the funds and resource allocation for developmental
projects are based on principles of equitable and fair distribution among the most marginalised and
disadvantaged sections. His dream of making a State from power-deficit to [a] power-surplus state
in the next five years can only come true only if there is a neutrality, transparency and accountability
of governance at all levels. This entails that issues related to land alienation and acquisition,
disenfranchisement and disempowerment of tribals and peasants from their land and labour must
be addressed on a priority. Land rights and resources, the latter in terms of rich mineral and natural
resources must be re-examined keeping in mind the questions of tribal rights over the habitation
and the use of the land they have historically been part of. Farmer suicides, agrarian distress,
irrigation, and the sharing of river water should be analysed to provide answers beyond mere
government announcements of various kinds. The new industrial, semi-urban and smart city projects
can only bring in a real estate boom and further increase economic inequalities. The issue of
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landlessness of tribals, peasants and marginalised sections must not be forgotten in this dream of
making Telangana a model State for others.
State reorganisation
Much like the States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand formed in 2000, Telangana too has
moved away from language affinity as the sole basis of State formation to a more complex network
of socio-economic, political-ideological and regional bases of identities favouring the creation of
States in contemporary times. Ever since the initial voices of protest after its merger into Andhra
Pradesh in 1956, it has continued to be in the forefront of political visions based on the equitable
distribution of resources, inclusive political participation, recognition of cultural identities and their
social diversity. The significant changes ushered in from earlier decades of the processes of States
reorganisation to the contemporary calls for the creation of smaller States show critical shifts in
Indian politics over questions of state authority and its territorial claims.
The resolution of the Congress Working Committee in 2001 for the setting up the Second State
Reorganization Commission (SSRC) was meant to evaluate the rationale of demands for smaller
States such as Telangana, Vidarbha, Marathwada, a division of Uttar Pradesh and various others. It is
now time that the SSRC is constituted by the Central government to take stock of these demands in
a more comprehensive manner. The period 1953-56 tells us an epic story about the creation of
Andhra State and its subsequent reorganisation as Andhra Pradesh in 1956. Not only was the
territorial map of the country reconfigured with the recommendations of State Reorganization
Commission but also the federal design and the democratic potential of the Indian state was put into
place giving specific powers to the Centre over its units. Telangana State and its democratic road map
will certainly enable the federal architecture of the Indian State to bring in newer promises and
wishes of an egalitarian and just social-political order.

9. TDP MLA arrested on bribery charge

Topics: Corruption, Law & Order
The election to the Telangana Legislative Council from Assembly constituency, on Monday, took an
ugly turn on Sunday evening with sleuths of the Anti-Corruption Bureau arresting Telugu Desam MLA
A. Revanth Reddy on the charge of trying to bribe a nominated member of the Assembly representing
the Anglo-Indian community, Elvis Stephenson.
High drama prevailed when the arrest took place after a concealed video recording of the
conversation between Mr. Reddy and Mr. Stephenson at the house of the latters son at Lallaguda
and later at the ACB headquarters at Banjara Hills, where the former was shifted for recording a
statement before being taken to a Magistrate. The TDP leaders and workers rushed to the ACB office
and staged a sit-in till late night. The ACB Director General A.K. Khan told journalists later that a trap
was laid for Mr. Reddy on the basis of a written complaint by Mr. Stephenson after two days of
negotiations between them. The MLA was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian
Penal Code.

9|Current Affairs | June, 2015

Current Affairs | June 2, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

1 Explain the process and conditions of various jurisdictions of Supreme Court.

2 Junk food became a part and parcel of life ignoring the consequences. Analyse how it affects
the society.
3 Amaravathi to be the new capital of Andhra. Evaluate.
4 Give a brief note on the establishment, climax and end of three south Indian kingdoms of
Medieval India.
5 Srilankan tamils are the victims of brutal war. Still face the repression by militarisation.
Comment on it.
6 What China's dragon undergone is a revolution rather than evolution. What India undergoing
is a gradual evolution.which is sustainable? Analyse.
7 Exemplify the reasons for regional differences in tourism development in India.
8 Discuss on the SC/ST prevention of atrocities(amendment) bill.
9 What are the basic drawbacks faced by private banks compared to it public counterparts?
10 Explain the role and functions of CIC and CVC.

1. Karnataka to move SC in jaya Case

Topics: Governance, Justice, Policies
Finally, the Karnataka Cabinet on Monday decided to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the

Karnataka High Courts verdict acquitting AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa and three others in
the disproportionate assets case. The Cabinet also decided that senior advocate B.V. Acharya would
be special counsel to argue the case before the apex court, while Mr. Sandesh J Chouta will assist
It is inevitable for us to file an appeal before the Supreme Court as Karnataka has been declared as
the sole prosecuting agency by the Supreme Court with respect to the disproportionate assets case.
We have to execute our responsibility properly by filing the appeal, Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra
told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
However, the Cabinets decision was taken only after strong and repeated advice from the
Advocate-General of the State who had said that it would be a travesty of justice if Karnataka did
not file an appeal. Legal experts had accused the State government of delaying a decision.
The Law Department, Mr. Acharya and the Advocate-General had all advised the State to file an
appeal, Mr. Jayachandra said.

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2. Bollywood actors land in a soup over Maggi row

Topics: Health, Indian Society, Society
Amid the controversy over the alleged violation of food safety standards by instant noodles brand,
Maggi, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday said all players, including Bollywood actors
who have endorsed the product, are liable for action under the Food Safety and Standards Authority
of India (FSSAI) norms.
Three Bollywood actors Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta have endorsed the
product in the past few years.
More samples
The FSSAI has decided to test more samples of Maggi, collected from different States, in the wake of
the Uttar Pradesh Food and Drug Administration finding excess levels of lead and mono-sodium
glutamate, normally used as a flavour enhancer, in the product. Mr. Paswan said action can be
initiated by the government against the manufacturer (Nestle-India), advertising agency,
promoters/endorsers if an unfair trade practice complaint is lodged with the National Consumer

3. Telangana celebrates, but gloom in AP

Topics: Governance
The newly carved out State of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh present a contrasting picture a year
after the momentous split. While the Telangana government has lined up a series of programmes to
commemorate the first anniversary of the State formed after a decades-long struggle, the mood is
certainly not celebratory in Andhra Pradesh. Its Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has said more
than once that the bifurcation was carried out against the wishes of the people of the Andhra and
Rayalaseema regions, indicating that the formation of the new State was not a cause for celebration.
The crux of the division being Hyderabad and the maximum revenue generator going to Telangana,
Andhra Pradesh is left to fend for itself.
A bleak financial scenario is what Andhra Pradesh is facing at a time when Telangana State has
registered a revenue surplus for the second consecutive year.
In the 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets presented by the new governments, Telangana had recorded
revenue surplus of Rs. 301 crore and Rs. 531 crore, while Andhra Pradesh reported revenue deficits
of Rs. 6,064 crore and Rs. 7,300 crore respectively.
This apart, Telanagana has a ready-made metropolis as its capital. AP, which has scarce resources at
present, has to build the new capital from scratch. The much-awaited Centres help in this regard
remains a distant dream.
AP has been repeatedly pressing the Centre to honour the commitment for a liberal financial
assistance to help the new State to cope with its needs. Mr. Naidu has been maintaining that the
11 | C u r r e n t A f f a i r s | J u n e , 2 0 1 5

then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, had declared on the floor of Parliament that the entire
budgetary deficit of the State in the first year of its formation would be borne by the Centre.

4. Tubular jars excavated at Pattanam puzzle researchers

Topics: History
Surprises dont seem to end at the excavation at Pattanam, 25 km from Kochi, conducted by the
Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR). During the ninth season of excavation this year, a row
of eight tubular jars without bottom portions was found. The potter had deliberately left them open
at both ends.
Altogether, 12 such tubular jars were found, eight in a vertical position, three that have fallen down
and one with the portion broken. The jars are 40-cm tall, and the diameter of their rim is about 13
cm. They were found in the 61st trench, the latest to be excavated.
Nothing can be stored
These tubular jars are a puzzle. Nothing can be stored in them, said P.J. Cherian, Director of the
KCHR and the Pattanam excavation. The row of eight vertical jars was cut into a clay platform made
of bricks, pottery and tile fragments. The bottom of all these jars is open. They were hand-made,
he said.
The neck and rim of these jars resembled the torpedo jars found in the Mesopotamian and south
Arabian regions with which Pattanam, or the ancient Muciri Pattinam, had trade links.
Yielded no clue
But when we dug further, we found that, unlike the torpedo jars, the bottom of all these jars was
open. The mystery deepened when we scooped the soil sediment in the jars. It did not yield any
clue, Dr. Cherian said.
Researchers estimated that these jars, stratigraphically, belonged to the Early Historic period (fourth
century CE) when the Indian Ocean transformed into a trade lake with links to the Red Sea and the
Mediterranean littoral.
Pattanam is identified as the legendary port Muziris mentioned in the Greco-Roman classical sources.
Many poems in the Tamil Sangam literature (third century BCE to third century CE) celebrate it as

5. The blight of militarisation

Topics: International
Maithripala Sirisenas victory over Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Sri Lankan presidential elections in
January 2015 was enabled by massive support from minorities in the country the Tamils and
Muslims. Clearly, the mandate was not just for a more accountable and democratic government that
would reverse the creeping authoritarianism and family rule heralded by Mr. Rajapaksa, but also for
addressing systemic issues that had gripped, and continues to nettle, Sri Lankan society. Chief among
them is the issue of militarisation. Following the triumph against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
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(LTTE), the military has taken a preponderant role in Sri Lankan society, particularly in the north. In
the Tamil-majority provinces, the large-scale presence of the military has been sought to be justified
as a security response to the possible rise of post-LTTE insurgent forces. But as the participation of
the Tamil community in election after election since the war suggests, that reasoning is flawed and
unacceptable. The Rajapaksa regime sought to utilise its triumphalist phase by allowing the military
to diversify into commercial activity, development, education, tourism and even policing, among
others. The expectation from the new regime especially among the minorities was of a quick
reversal of this dangerous trend.
Recent findings from the U.S.-based think tank, Oakland Institute, based on research and surveys
done during the period December 2014-January 2015, have pointed to hardly any
reconciliation between the government and the Tamils. And the occupation by the military of the
land of those displaced in the civil war is a prime cause of resentment, not to mention the longpending but ignored task of devolution of powers to the provincial councils. The promise of a process
of reconciliation and investigation of alleged war crimes has remained unmet, adding to the
resentment. Recent reportage by this newspaper from the Northern Province has pointed to steady
progress in the release of army-held land to some of the displaced Tamils. This, and the setting up of
a new Presidential Task Force on Reconciliation headed by former President Chandrika
Kumaratunga, are steps in the right direction. But these are not enough. The extant militarisation
holds dangerous portends; the example of Pakistan is there for all to see. International pressure and
electoral results have thus far pushed the envelope for the Sirisena presidency to take minimal steps
to reverse the authoritarianism of the Rajapaksa regime. But the need is for a comprehensive
demilitarisation plan that includes ways to demobilise recruits to the bloated military, so that Sri
Lanka would soon be back to its normal self.

6. Xis China, the greatest political Experiment

Topics: International, IR other countries
Can Mr. Xi do it? This is the biggest political question in the world today. Yes, Xi can, some tell me
in Beijing. No, he cant, say others. The wise know that nobody knows. There is a great debate going
on in Washington about whether the U.S. should change its China policy in response to Beijings more
assertive stance under President Xi Jinping. This includes the reported stationing of artillery on the
artificial islands it is building on underwater reefs in the South China Sea. It also matters to everyone
everywhere whether China can sustain its economic growth as it exhausts its ready supplies of cheap
labour. Yet even more than in other countries, the future of Chinas foreign policy and its economy
depend on the quality of decision-making produced by the political system.
By now it is relatively clear that Mr. Xi is trying to steer a complex economy and society through
difficult times by top-down changes, controlled by a disciplined Leninist party. He is consciously trying
to combine the invisible hand of the market with the visible hand of the party-state. The great
helmsman Mao Zedong is clearly one inspiration, but the pragmatic reformer Deng Xiaoping is

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Much of the reignition has so far been about establishing control over the party, state, military and
what there is of civil society, after the Bo Xilai affair made apparent the internal crisis of party rule.
Yet, as a hereditary communist, the president may genuinely believe enlightened, skilful
authoritarian rulers can handle things best. The sinologist Ryan Mitchell notes that in a 1948 article,
a veteran Chinese communist called Xi Zhongxun was quoted as saying the most lovable qualities of
us Communist party folks are devotion and sincerity. Speaking to party members in 2013, his son,
Mr. Xi said that leading cadres must treat the masses with devotion and sincerity.
This experiment is life-changing for the thousands of purged officials, who have disappeared into the
tender embrace of the relevant party and state organs.
It is also extremely uncomfortable for those Chinese who believe in free and critical debate,
independent civic initiatives and non-governmental organisations. Its not just the inconvenience of
finding it difficult to access Gmail and so much else on the Internet. More seriously, I noticed in Beijing
today a real nervousness among intellectuals who a few years ago were so outspoken; a sense that
the boundaries of what can be said publicly are narrowing all the time. Leading civil rights lawyers,
activists and bloggers have been arrested, charged and imprisoned. A new draft law proposes almost
Putinesque restrictions on NGOs. Another extends the definition of national security to include
ideology and culture, with formulations such as carrying forward the exceptional culture of the
Chinese nationality and defending against and resisting the infiltration of harmful culture.
Yes, thats all true, say analysts of the yes, Xi can persuasion and, if they are outside the system,
they usually add that it is most regrettable. But, they say, look at the reform programme that is being
pressed through with similar determination. Its key features are not easily summarised in familiar
political and economic terms, because the Chinese mix is unique. For example, complex measures to
address a dangerous overhang of local government debt, the introduction of property rights for
agricultural land and changes to the household registration (hukou) system may be as consequential
as anything that can be captured in a western headline.
If all this were to succeed as intended, western liberal democratic capitalism would have a formidable
ideological competitor with worldwide appeal. For the West, there would be a silver lining:
competition keeps you on your toes. I suspect the hubris of the early 2000s both abroad, plotting
regime change in Iraq, and at home, in the excesses of financial capitalism had something to do
with the lack of serious ideological competition.
The short, medium and long term
This outcome is obviously not what I, as a liberal and a democrat, would wish for Chinese friends. But
I do wish for them, and for ourselves, a China that experiences evolutionary and not revolutionary
change. But the most important concerns nothing less than war and peace.
A communist regime in crisis would probably find it impossible to resist the temptation of playing the
nationalist card more aggressively somewhere in its neighbourhood, building on indoctrination, a
selective interpretation of the recent past and a narrative of 150 years of national humiliation. If
China is already warning off U.S. surveillance planes from flying over its artificial islands, imagine what
it might do if it faced a systemic crisis.
Therefore, while this is not the evolutionary path that many of us welcomed in China around the time
of the Beijing Olympics, we must still hope that Mr. Xis leadership will manage to cross the river by
feeling the stones. My greatest concern flows not from the moral dictates of liberal democracy as
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personal preference, although it would be dishonourable to pretend that those dont matter, but
from the insights of political analysis that lead us to liberal democracy. In the short to medium term,
its likely that Mr. Xis brand of smart authoritarianism will keep not just his party in power but the
whole show on the road. That medium term could certainly span the two five-year periods allowed
for President Xis formal tenure of power. There are so many significant power resources still at his
disposal, including some genuine personal popularity and widespread national pride. I would
therefore take a bet that, in this narrow sense, yes, Xi can will prove correct. But in the longer term?
Watch out for a rocky 2020s.

7. Rape cases do not deter women tourists

Topics: Internal Society
Despite the increasing number of rape cases being reported in India and the corresponding bad press
the country has been receiving around the world, Indias attractiveness as a tourist destination for
women has barely wavered. In fact, the number of women tourists arriving in India as a proportion
of total tourists has been increasing overall.
According to the latest data compiled by the Ministry of Tourism, women have been making up an
increasing proportion of foreign tourist arrivals in India the proportion of female tourists arriving
in India has increased from 34.7 per cent in 1996 to 41.2 per cent in 2013. However, the data also
shows that there was barely a change from 2012 when the globally infamous Nirbhaya rape case
took place to 2013.
In absolute terms, this increasing proportion of women tourists, coupled with a huge increase in the
number of tourists arriving in India overall, means the number of female foreign tourists visiting India
increased from around 7.9 lakh in 1996 to 28.7 lakh in 2013.
To be sure, the data on which parts of India female tourists are going to has not been provided it
could very well be that they are shunning Delhi and flocking to relatively safer cities like Mumbai,
Chennai and Bengaluru. The data does show that the growth in Delhis share of foreign tourist arrivals
(both male and female) from 2012 to 2013 has slowed compared to the previous year.
The 2013 data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau shows that, on average, around 92
women were raped in the country each day. So far, the numbers show that India is still an attractive
destination for women despite this statistic, but that image could be seeing the beginning of its end.

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8. Sonia Move fast on Atrocities Bill

Topics: Policies
Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday evening, urging
him to bring the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (Amendment) Bill to Parliament in the monsoon
session, a Bill that was promulgated as an Ordinance by the UPA government shortly before it
demitted office. The amendments seek to strengthen the implementation of the original Act.
It is a matter of disappointment, Ms. Gandhi writes, that the NDA government allowed the
Ordinance to lapse by sending it to the Standing Committee. Even though the Standing Committee

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submitted its report in December 2014, Government did not bring it to Parliament for passage in the
budget session.
The reason for Ms. Gandhis letter is, as she says in her letter, the distressing rise in the incidence of
atrocities against Dalits across the country. She specifically mentions the mowing down on May 14
of 17 Dalits by a tractor by a largely Jat mob over a long-standing land dispute in Rajasthans Nagaur
district. She points out that three months before this, three Dalits were burnt alive in the same
district. No arrests were made in this case, she continues, thus creating a sense of impunity and
context for this mass lynching based on caste dominance.
Not an isolated case
Stressing that Rajasthans is not an isolated case, Ms. Gandhi points out that other States too have
witnessed brutal assaults on Dalits such as the shocking instance of a Dalit youth being murdered in
Shirdi in Maharashtra a stones throw away from the local police station for having an Ambedkar
ring tone on his mobile phone.
The Congress president then writes that just as it is important that a fair and impartial inquiry is
conducted in all these cases and the guilty are punished as per law, it is equally important to ensure
that the institutional machinery charged with the welfare and protection of Dalits is strengthened
and made accountable so that all Dalits are able to access justice as a matter of right.
It is for this reason that the UPA government had brought the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities
Amendment Ordinance 2014, she writes, urging him to convert into law in the monsoon session of
Parliament. Ms. Gandhis letter also comes in the wake of her sending a four-member fact-finding
team to Nagaur on May 26.

9. Non-Executive directors: RBI issues compensation norms for private banks

Topics: Economy
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with guidelines on compensation to non-executive
directors of private sector banks. Under the guidelines, issued on Monday, the board of directors of
such banks must, in consultation with its remuneration committee, formulate and adopt a
comprehensive compensation policy for non-executive directors (other than the part-time nonexecutive chairman). While doing so, the board should ensure compliance with the provisions of the
Companies Act, 2013.
The guidelines also allow the board the discretion to provide for in the policy payment of compensation
in the form of profit-related commission to the non-executive directors (other than the part-time
Chairman). This is, however, subject to the bank making profits. The upper ceiling for such
compensation is fixed at Rs.1 million a year for a director.
In addition to the directors compensation, the banks are allowed to pay sitting fees to the nonexecutive directors and reimburse their expenses for participation in the board and other meetings,
subject, of course, to compliance with the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013.
As has been the practice, banks in private sector would have to obtain prior approval of RBI for
granting remuneration to the part-time non-executive Chairman.
The compensation policies of banks would be subject to supervisory oversight, including review under
the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP) under Pillar 2 of Basel II framework.
Deficiencies would have the effect of increasing the risk profile of banks with attendant consequences,
including a requirement of additional capital, if the deficiencies are very significant.
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Also, the guidelines have made it mandatory for banks to make disclosure on remuneration paid to
the directors on an annual basis at the minimum in their annual financial statement.
The need to bring in professionalism to the boards of banks cannot be overemphasized. In order to
enable banks to attract and retain professional directors, it is essential that such directors are
appropriately compensated, the RBI said.
At present, banks in private sector pay only sitting fees to non-executive directors, and no other
remuneration is paid to them. The part-time Chairman, however, is being paid a fixed remuneration
with the approval of RBI.
ED assumes office
Meena Hemchandra on Monday assumed charge as the Reserve Bank of Indias Executive Director.
She will look after Department of Banking Supervision, Department of Co-operative Banking
Supervision and Department of Non-Banking Supervision.

10. Vijai Sharma tipped to be new CIC

Topics: Governance
The senior-most Information Commissioner, Vijai Sharma, is tipped to be the new Chief Information
Commissioner, while the former Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, K.V. Chowdary, is
understood to be in the running for the post of Central Vigilance Commissioner.
The names are understood to have been cleared at the meetings Prime Minister Narendra Modi had
on Monday with the leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge.
While Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attended the meeting on the selection of Chief Information
Commissioner (CIC), Home Minister Rajnath Singh attended the one on Central Vigilance
Commissioner (CVC). Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh was present at the meetings.
Sources indicated that Mr. Sharma, 64, could be named as Chief Information Commissioner, a post
that has been lying vacant for over nine months.
Mr. Chowdary, 61, is said to be the top contender for the other post, while the acting CVC, Rajiv, is
also in the running, the sources said.
The panels have met and their recommendations have been sent to the Presidents office. All the
names against the vacant posts have been sent to the President. I cannot tell you the names. The
meeting was confidential, Mr. Kharge said after the meeting.
Asked whether there was any disagreement on the names, he said there was no question of
agreement or disagreement as of now.
A formal announcement will be made after President Pranab Mukherjee gives his assent. The
President is away on a five-day visit abroad and will return on Thursday.
Sources said there were 203 applicants for Chief Information Commissioner and 553 for Information
Commissioners. Under the RTI Act, the CIC has one chief and 10 Information Commissioners.
In the CVC, the term of Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar ended on September 28 last
year, while Vigilance Commissioner J.M. Garg completed his tenure on September 7.
The government received about 130 applications for the two vacant posts at the anti-corruption
watchdog, they said.

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Current Affairs | June 3, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams
1. Explain the process of Parthanogenesis? How it will be beneficial to human?
2. 13 out of 25 cities in India is highly polluted. Comment.
3. Critically analyse the criminal and civil justice system of India. What must be done to improve
its efficiency?
4. What are the different means of black money surviving in world. How shedding of secrecy veil
of Swiss bank will be effective? Explain
5. What museum is beyond a jewel box. It's a place of interaction where viewers experience are
important. Substantiate.
6. What came as an alternative to long delayed courtroom litigation mired themselves in delay.
Explain with reference to tribunals.
7. Give an explained note on Wadhwa vs state of Bihar case. Also give its relevance of present
day India. Discuss.
8. Migration of skilled Labour is a welcoming move around the world but not the unskilled
labours who are persecuted in every possible way. Analyse.
9. Explain the conventional instruments used by RBI in its monetary policies.

1. Scientists document virgin births of endangered sawfish in Florida

Topics: Science and Technology
Scientists have documented in Florida a series of virgin births, reproduction without mating, in a
critically endangered sawfish species pushed to the brink of extinction by over-fishing and habitat
The scientists said on Monday it marks the first time the phenomenon called parthenogenesis has
been seen in a vertebrate in the wild. Some females may be resorting to asexual reproduction
because smalltooth sawfish numbers are so low that mating opportunities may not exist, they said.
There have been a number of cases in reptiles, birds and sharks of virgin birth in captivity, Stony
Brook University marine biologist Andrew Fields said. This raises many questions about how
common this mode of reproduction is in the wild.
In parthenogenesis, a females egg cell can develop into a baby without being fertilized by a males
sperm cell. In making an egg cell, a precursor cell divides into four cells. The one that eventually
becomes the egg cell retains key cellular structures and the gel-like cytoplasm. The other three hold
extra genetic material.
In parthenogenesis, one of those cells essentially acts as a sperm cell and fuses with the egg. This
fertilized egg possesses about half the mothers genetic diversity, a trait allowing parthenogenesis
to be detected through genetic testing.
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Smalltooth sawfish are born and live for about three years in southwest Florida estuaries before
moving into ocean coastal habitats.
The researchers were investigating sawfish inbreeding when they discovered seven, all healthy, born
via parthenogenesis, about 3 percent of those examined. It really surprised us, said Kevin Feldheim,
manager of the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution at Chicagos Field
Museum. It is possible that numbers are so low that females have a hard time finding mates. In such
a situation, parthenogenesis can be used as a last-ditch effort for a female to pass on her genes.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission fish biologist Gregg Poulakis said the sawfish came
from the Peace and Caloosahatchee rivers, which feed the Charlotte Harbor estuary system.
Sawfish, a type of ray, have a flattened shark-shaped body and a long, flat snout with pairs of teeth
on the side used to find, stun and kill prey. They grow up to 18 feet long.
Their population collapse follows habitat loss and unintentional over-fishing, being caught in nets
targeting other species. They received U.S. federal endangered species protection in 2003.

2. India central to green energy plan: UK climate change envoy

Topics: IR India and the World
India will be a member of a consortium of countries that will implement the Global Apollo Programme
a plan to find ways within the next 10 years to make green energy clean cheaper to produce than
energy drawn from coal, gas or oil.
The plan is the brainchild of a group of U.K. experts drawn from academia, business and government.
The group includes Sir David King, U.K.s climate change envoy and former United Kingdom Chief
Scientific Adviser; Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Report; Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer
Royal; Lord Richard Layard, Director of Wellbeing Programme, London School of Economics Centre
for Economic Performance; and Lord John Browne, ex-BP chief. Arguing for 15 billion of public
spending on research and development by governments toward creating ways of producing and
storing green energy cheaply, the architects of the plan envisage countries joining the programme
will commit to spending in their own countries at least 0.02 per cent of GDP on this internationally
coordinated programme of research each year over a 10 year period.
13 most-polluted cities
India and China, both large economies powered primarily by coal-based energy, will be central to the
Contrasting India and China, Lord Stern said that India has 13 of the top 25 most polluted cities in the
world, while China has only one in the top 50.

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3. India scores a mixed bag

Topics: Organisation
India figures in the top 50 countries in the world for an effective criminal justice system, according to
a new study that ranks countries on how the rule of law is experienced by citizens. However, the
study finds that it is among the worst performing countries when it comes to civil justice.
The Rule of Law Index 2015, released by the U.S.-based World Justice project on Tuesday, analyses
102 countries worldwide using a survey of over a 1,000 respondents from three big cities, along with
local legal experts, in each country. The data, collected in 2013, measures how the rule of law is
experienced in practical, everyday situations using 47 indicators across eight categories constraints
on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and
security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.
According to the Index, Indias overall rule of law performance places it in the third position out of
six countries in the South Asian region, 10th out of 25 among lower middle income countries, and
59th out of 102 countries worldwide. The top overall performer in the WJP Rile of Law Index 2015
was Denmark while in the South Asia region, the top performer was Nepal.
Indias performance for criminal justice places it at 44 rank globally, Number 1 in South Asia and
number 4 among lower middle income countries. The surveys analysed whether the criminal
investigation and adjudication system is effective, whether it was impartial and free of corruption
and whether the rights of the accused were protected.
In stark contrast, the corresponding ranking in civil justice for India is 88 globally, third in South Asia
and 19th among lower middle income countries. The survey looked at accessibility to civil justice,
which inlcudes general awareness of available remedies, availability and affordability of legal advice
and representation, and absence of excessive or unreasonable fees and hurdles. It also asks if the
civil justice system is free of discrimination and corruption and whether it is subject to unreasonable
Four dimensions
India ranks high in the category of Open Government, placing it 37th globally and at three among
lower middle income countries. The open government index uses four dimensions to measure
government openness publicised laws and government data, right to information, civic
participation and complaint mechanisms.
The country performs worst however, in the category of order and security, placing at 90 worldwide,
fourth in South Asia and 20 among lower middle income countries. The measures used for this
category are absence of crime; absence of civil conflict, including terrorism and armed conflict; and
absence of violence as a socially acceptable means to redress personal grievances.
Driving down Indias score are the perceptions of corruption, of the effectiveness of the civil justice
system, the regulatory enforcement environment and the criminal justice system, all of which reflect
that less than half of the respondents showed faith in these systems ability to deliver justice. India
did comparatively better in peoples minds in terms of government freedom.

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4. Switzerland discloses more on Masoods

Topics: IR India and the World
Continuing to shed its famed banking secrecy veil, Switzerland on Tuesday made public more names
about which it has been approached from abroad for information, even as it published fresh gazette
notifications about two Indians Sayed Mohammed Masood and Chand Kauser Mohammed
Masood. Switzerland has already shared some details with India about the two .

5. Beyond a jewel box institution

Topics: Culture, Indian Society
The new Whitney, a great museum devoted to 20th and 21st century American art, opened in lower
Manhattan on May 1 with Michelle Obama as the chief guest. I couldnt wait to see the much
heralded building designed by the celebrated architect, Renzo Piano, a favourite of many museum
trustees and directors in the United States.
And what a thrill it was to see the spectacular site! It was less about the iconic building, la
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, and more about its place in the surrounding community that
made it so exciting. First, even before I reached the entrance, it was evident that this was a building
for the people: its street-side ground floor, encased in glass, had a restaurant on the one end and a
public gallery and information services on the other. The outside and inside were further connected
by a loggia with a cantilevered roof. This was meant to cater to the visitors of the adjacent High Line
Park, an urban oasis made out of old train tracks meant for the meat packing industry of the past.
An azure blue late afternoon New York sky over the gently waving waters of the Hudson River
beckoned the visitors to the western vista of a busy lower Manhattan. Art was all around from the
visitor-friendly sculptures in the lobby to the artists-designed elevators, to the exhibition galleries
and the art education studios.
A cultural centre
At every step of the way, it was evident that this was not a jewel box institution, to be protected from
the everyday hustle and bustle of the city. This was no longer a temple of learning in the Western
classical tradition, but a cultural centre for the people. Both objects and visitors were important in
equal measure.
This was a social place that invited outsiders in, as if to say: why dont you come in and join us in
exploring some parts of American art that may interest and amuse you? And while you are at it, you
may want to share a meal in one of the restaurants ran by the famous New York Chef Danny Myers
or go out on one of the several outdoor galleries, filled with some of the finest sculptures by American
Every aspect of the museum from the floor narratives to labels reinforced the idea of a museum
as a socially active place that could make the museum experience more interactive and less
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I couldnt help but compare the new Whitney to the old one. Designed in 1966 by another celebrated
museum architect of the time, Marcel Breuer, the old Madison Avenue building reflected the idea of
a museum experience that shielded the visitor from the noisy, messy realities of New York.
The galleries were protected from daylight and noise, lest they distract from your viewing experience
of precious objects. The art experience was to be serious and intense, requiring full attention of the
The new Whitney, by contrast, allows daylight to flood in. It has multiple outdoor spaces and
staircases that allow viewers to exit the galleries and bask in the Manhattan sky light. In some
galleries, you can even just take a break and sit on a couch to take in the shimmering sunlight
bouncing off the Hudson river.
This movement towards making museums of the 21st century more people-friendly, which in turn
profoundly changes the definition of the institution itself, does not include only the new Whitney.
For much of the 20th century, museums were seen as the repository of objects; their primary mission
was to acquire, preserve and present objects that could educate the public. The new Whitney shouts
out the transformation of museums, now as lively cultural centres where the experience of the
viewer and his or her interaction with the objects is accorded primacy. It is now understood that in
order to create museums as destination spaces, they must also be an integral part of a community
that sees the institution as part of its life.
Indians go to museums too
These new directions in museum-building and managing create huge opportunities for a resourcerich country like India. Indian museums are surely not short of quality objects, especially of Indian
art. But the sad truth is that they continue to be stuck in the conceptualisation of the previous
Museums collect and categorise objects, but there is little awareness or inclination to create active
pathways for visitors to engage with the rich collections. Many used to argue that the problem was
the lack of resources and expertise. When large numbers of museums continue to be run by Indian
Administrative Service officers, who are generalists by their own admission, it is difficult to see where
imaginative ideas that are deeply rooted in the indigenous traditions but are well aware of the latest
practices in museum development could come from.
While India spends far less on its cultural treasures than countries like China do, it is fair to point out
that the crisis is less one of resources and more one of imagination and commitment. It is also often
said that Indians are not a museum-going, art-appreciating lot. But this is not true: young people
throng the Kalaghoda festival in Mumbai and the December music festival in Chennai, among others,
and engage with art, music, and food. This shows that there is a thirst for more substantial cultural
spaces. The issue is not that Indians are not interested in a cultural experience; it is more about
connecting their expectations with the actual experience of a museum, not unlike what the new
Whitney has done for its audiences.
Some have argued that there is plenty of culture to go around on Indian streets and homes. Indians
dont need to worship at the altar of a colonial institution such as a museum. This flies in the face of
substantial research that shows that museums and cultural institutions can be both engines of
economic growth and sources for community stability.
They can also be powerful catalysts for understanding a countrys past, and for future creativity.
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A year ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a case for India to be the Jagadguru (teacher of the
world), as articulated by Swami Vivekananda, because of its civilisational strength. If India is serious
about being a cultural leader and a spiritual teacher in the world, it will have to figure out fast how
to activate the potential of its moribund museum sector and bring it into the 21st century.

6. The water tribunal trap

Topics: Governance
Water tribunals were set up as alternatives to long-drawn courtroom litigation. If they are today
mired in delay themselves, we have to question the procedure and not just the arrangement. At the
Joint Conference of Chief Ministers of States and Chief Justices of High Courts held in April this year,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wondered if tribunals have become barriers to delivering justice.
Mr. Modis observations were about all tribunals in general, but most media reports understood
them to be about interstate water dispute tribunals. Indeed, it was a reflection of a certain continuity
in thinking for some time. At the moment, there are multiple tribunals in place to resolve interstate
water disputes, but the National Water Policy 2012 proposed setting up a permanent tribunal to
replace them.
An important exception
The Constitution attaches a special status to interstate water disputes, whereby they neither fall
under the Supreme Courts nor any other courts jurisdiction. These disputes can only be adjudicated
by temporary and ad hoc interstate water dispute tribunals. This constitutional exception is why
water tribunals cannot be bundled with other tribunals and need careful consideration before any
reforms. Seeing tribunals as barriers may set their reform on a wrong path repeating a history of
hasty and shallow responses.
It is known that the inefficiency in interstate water dispute resolutions extends to factors beyond the
functioning of the tribunals. These are linked to legal ambiguities, an institutional vacuum for
implementing awards, noncompliant States, politicisation and so on. Yet, at the core of the
entanglement is the Gordian knot of the constitutional anomaly, or the exception to the Supreme
Courts jurisdiction. The inquest has to begin from here. But the immediate question is that of the
tribunals arrangement, which, of course, cannot be detached from the bar.
The permanent tribunal, while complying with this bar on the Supreme Courts jurisdiction, will
primarily act as a circuitous route to address the problem of disputes, as they will recur even after
the ad hoc and temporary tribunals are disbanded.
Dating to Colonial times
The arrangement of having ad hoc, exclusive, temporary tribunals for interstate water dispute
resolution has its roots in similar provisions during the colonial rule (including a bar on the Federal
Courts jurisdiction). The Interstate Water Disputes Act, 1956, is essentially a reworked arrangement
proposed in the draft Constitution, which in turn derived from Articles 130-134 of the Government
of India Act 1935. The Constituent Assembly rejected these arrangements, calling for a more
permanent arrangement for dispute resolution. B.R. Ambedkar felt there would be very many

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disputes, and the proposed arrangements were too hidebound to respond to the evolving context
of independent India.
Thus, the Constituent Assembly deferred the responsibility of an appropriate legislation to
Parliament via Article 262(1), while providing for the jurisdictional bar via Article 262(2). When
Parliament took up the task, the proponents of the Interstate Water Disputes Bill 1955, Gulzarilal
Nanda, Minister for Planning, Irrigation and Power, and his deputy, Jaisukhlal Hathi, chose to
contradict the Constituent Assemblys premises and resurrect these tribunal arrangements. They
argued that it was unlikely that there would be many disputes, relying on the seven or eight years of
experience after independence. This debatable premise, certainly ill-informed in hindsight, was the
reason why tribunals were resurrected.
However, Nanda and Hathis intentions were clear and their objectives valid: to ensure swift and
definitive decision-making in interstate water disputes. The parliamentarians debated over these
arrangements and agreed that tribunals suit water disputes best. They believed that tribunal
arrangements would help speedy resolution, with the Supreme Courts jurisdictional bar providing
finality to their decisions. They wanted to avoid States litigating amongst themselves, leading to
protracted court proceedings. They believed tribunal arrangements would also enable deliberative
and discretionary decision-making for mutually negotiated settlements.
Good intentions, bad results
This was the fairly well-intentioned rationale for favouring tribunals over courts, contingent to a
particular historical moment. It translated well in the functioning of the first generation tribunals of
Krishna, Narmada and Godavari. However, these functional arrangements unfortunately
degenerated into the present form, with all the trappings that the parliamentarians wanted to avoid.
They turned out to be litigatory and adversarial proceedings with protracted delays. Fali Nariman
pointed to this degeneration in an incisive note to the Punchhi Commission on Centre-State relations.
The degeneration was aided by rather poor records of subsequent parliamentarians in allowing
several amendments to the 1956 act. The amendments, reactionary in nature, diluted the spirit and
rationale of the tribunal arrangements. The history of the Act is filled with short-sighted and sutured
responses to the symptoms of the degeneration and have avoided a comprehensive engagement
with the problem of interstate water disputes.
Reforming interstate water dispute tribunals cannot be approached without considering their
historical exception and the associated pitfalls. The discourse on barriers and the drive for hasty
reforms can set us on a wrong path, eclipsing the actual barriers that lie beyond the tribunal
arrangement itself. After all, the present arrangement was driven by precisely the same concern for
swift and definitive outcomes as the objections are. It is imperative to have a comprehensive review
of interstate water dispute resolution, and also reconsider the Supreme Courts jurisdictional bar.

7. Repromulgation game
Topics: Internal Polity, Governance
The Narendra Modi government has repromulgated the Right to Fair Compensation and
Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 a
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second time. Originally introduced on December 31, 2014, the ordinance was repromulgated on April
3, 2015, and then again on May 30.
Article 123 of the Constitution authorises the President to promulgate ordinances if a law is
immediately necessary and at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session. But
ordinances arent permanent. They lapse unless they are converted into Acts within a specified
duration. The Land Ordinance would have lapsed on June 3. To avoid that, the Modi government
repromulgated it. But the question is, is this legal?
The Wadhwa decision
This is not a new question. The Supreme Court addressed it in D. C. Wadhwa v. State of Bihar (1986),
when it held that it is unconstitutional to repromulgate ordinances, unless in exceptional
circumstances. Ordinances themselves are an exception, the Court noted. The primary authority to
enact legislation is the legislature. It is only to tide over a temporary urgency that the executive
resorts to an ordinance. But to repromulgate it is to circumvent the legislatures primacy; it is an
underhanded way of prolonging the life of an ordinance.
In a book, authored by the petitioner about the verdict, D.C. Wadhwa documented how the Bihar
Assembly had effectively stopped functioning. The executive had taken over, and ordinances were
being systematically repromulgated to keep them in effect, at times, for as long as 15 years. Aghast
at this misuse of power, five judges hurriedly declared repromulgation unconstitutional or a fraud
on the Constitution.
This was in 1986, before which, interestingly, the Central government had never repromulgated
ordinances. The practice began only in 1992 when the Narasimha Rao Cabinet resorted to it, thus
starting a trend. During the 1990s, 196 ordinances were promulgated in all; almost 25 per cent of
them (53 ordinances) were repromulgated. How could a practice that had already been declared
unconstitutional, a fraud no less, be so common?
The Wadhwa exception
This was because, unfortunately, the general rule in the Wadhwa verdict came with an exception. It
was stated that the government may, occasionally, be unable to introduce and push through a Bill
to convert an ordinance either because the Legislature [has] too much legislative business or the
time at its disposal is short. In such a case, the verdict stated, the President may legitimately find
that it is necessary to repromulgate the Ordinance. And such repromulgation of the Ordinance,
the Court said, may not be open to attack.
This makes little sense. In our system of government, the executive has complete control over
parliamentary sessions, their durations, and the business agenda. Ministers (occasionally in
consultation with the Speaker, Chairman and others) decide which legislative matters to list and
when. If there are important matters to be dealt with, surely the proper response is to lengthen the
parliamentary session and not resort to ordinances?
Because of the Wadhwa exception, the executive today may justify repromulgating an ordinance by
simply withholding it from a parliamentary vote and then declaring that time was too short to deal
with it in Parliament. The formula is simple: dont present an ordinance before the two Houses, and
keep the sessions short. Apparently, a fraud on the Constitution may alchemise into lawful action
through sheer inaction.
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The Wadhwa verdict has encouraged, rather than prohibited repromulgations, and incentivised
shorter parliamentary sessions. The 1990s speak for themselves. After Mr. Rao, Deve Gowda, I.K.
Gujral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee ran minority coalition governments. Unable to enact legislation
properly, given their lack of numbers, these governments took to Article 123 as an alternative.
Political expediency, not legislative urgency, motivated and spiked these ordinances.
Governments, though, were always careful to claim the proper excuse: the Houses were too busy
to deal with the ordinances. In Gyanendra Kumar v .Union of India (1997), 10 repromulgations of the
Rao Cabinet were put under the scanner. Two lawyers petitioned the Delhi High Court to pierce the
Cabinet veil and see the ordinances for what they were: a fraud on the Constitution. The
government quickly took refuge in the Wadhwa exception: because of heavy and urgent workload,
the Bills could not be debated upon in Parliament. Therefore, repromulgations were necessary, it
argued. The Court bought it, without testing the veracity of those claims. Merely uttering the
exception, it seems, is sufficient to satisfy the exception.
The Wadhwa exception must be reconsidered, an opportunity for which is at hand. A petition
challenging the constitutionality of the Land Ordinance 2015 is pending before the Supreme Court.
The petitioners argue that the ordinance was repromulgated in April simply because the government
didnt have the numbers to properly enact it. Even the Modi government acknowledges this. The
Court must settle the issue. And in doing so, it would do well to remember that Parliament is a not a
constraint on the lawmaking process; rather, it is the only way by which laws may be properly made.

8. Stateless and left out at sea

Topics: International
The images of emaciated Rohingyas stranded mid-sea and reports of mass graves of trafficked people
in Thailand and Malaysia, which have shocked the world, speak of a history of ethnicity-based
marginalisation where certain groups are victims of systematic oppression
The images of thousands of emaciated migrants on boats sent back to sea by Thailand, Malaysia and
Indonesia, and reports of the discovery of the mass graves of trafficked people in Thailand and
Malaysia have together done what human rights activists have been trying to achieve for decades.
They have drawn international attention to the plight of thousands of Rohingya people who have
been deemed stateless by the Myanmar government for more than 40 years as well as the issue of
human trafficking in South and Southeast Asia. It appears that the images have managed to shock
the world but this is not a new phenomenon. Nor can it be resolved just by a one-time acceptance of
the migrants into these or other countries.While recent reports suggest that Malaysia and Indonesia
will no longer turn away migrants, these horrifying images speak of a history of ethnicity-based
marginalisation that has turned certain ethnic groups into perpetual victims of systematic
Exit as escape
The Rohingya in Myanmar are perhaps the worst off among many minority groups that have been
repressed by the military government of Myanmar as they were stripped of their citizenship and
rendered stateless between 1974 and 1982. The government sees them as Bengali Muslims from
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Bangladesh who migrated there during the colonial period (and continue to do so) whereas the
Rohingya see themselves as (Muslim) natives of Arakan (Rakhine), a state in Myanmar. In turn,
Bengali Muslims in Bangladesh and India do not see the Rohingya as their kin in any respect, making
the Rohingya the safest scapegoat. The Rohingya are thus deemed outsiders and continue to be
persecuted and denied citizenship. In fact, the Rohingya are among the most persecuted minorities
in the world according to the UNHCR.
Many had participated in Myanmar Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyis pro-democracy movement
as members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the main Opposition party, only to realise
that the NLD, like the junta, has no place for the Rohingya in its democracy. There were and
continue to be fringe armed groups mobilising to increase pressure on the government, but activists
complain that there is no solidarity among the Rohingya let alone any consensus with regards to the
future of the movement. Because many of the Rohingya are averse to armed struggle, they are
unable to defend themselves when the military sweeps through their villages to clear the areas of
illegal immigrants. Fleeing becomes the only option, no matter how dangerous that might be, the
choice being between certain death and a small chance of survival. India and Bangladeshs silence
shows that they are unlikely to intervene in any way in what they would identify as being Myanmars
internal affairs.
Plight of economic migrants
Economic migrants face a somewhat different reality. The logic of globalisation requires that labour
be freely mobile across markets for efficiency reasons, at least theoretically. Yet, despite high
economic integration, labour migration is often criminalised, creating an inherent contradiction
between the incentives to migrate and immigration laws that limit migration. What this means is that
there are profits to be made from migration that governments restrict artificially, which then
incentivises illegal migration. When the workers are desperate, unskilled, and willing to pawn off
their lives worth of assets to access job markets abroad, they become easy targets of extortion,
exploitation and trafficking. As the many interviews of rescued migrants in the past weeks indicate,
these migrants often have no idea that what they were doing was illegal; after all, many had paid
huge sums of money for migration services often by selling land/assets, taking on loans, or
mortgaging future earnings.
A small example from Bangladesh provides a microcosm of the larger issues at hand. Since the 1990s,
Bangladesh has been one of the two largest suppliers of labour to Malaysia, responsible for much of
the construction work and infrastructure development there. Beginning 2012, however, a less
number of Bangladeshis have been able to go to Malaysia through official channels because of
insufficient demand despite a government-level agreement to send 14 lakh Bangladeshi workers
to Malaysia. At a time when the government could not ensure regular labour export, traffickers, in
the guise of middlemen and government agents, lured workers into treacherous waters.
Paradoxically, the same desires for upward mobility are deemed entrepreneurial if the migrants are
among the elite class and know the laws well enough to never break them. Going back to the case of
Bangladeshis in Malaysia, in the same period too, Bangladeshis formed the second largest group to
apply for a residency programme called Malaysia My Second Home, aimed at wealthy families in
developing countries who would like to take advantage of state-sponsored facilities in Malaysia
(unavailable in their own countries) and eventually invest there.
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Thus, while there was no demand for Bangladeshi unskilled labour, wealthy Bangladeshis were
welcome to go and live there. Perhaps, this highlights Malaysias developmental path; Malaysia
needed Bangladeshi (manual) workers when its primary investments were infrastructure-based.
Now, as it tries to shift to a consumer-driven economy, it no longer requires unskilled labour as much
as it requires a strong consumer base. At the same time, the many tales of workers finding jobs in
Malaysia just as they land and rumours that Malaysian women like Bangladeshi men as husbands
because they look like Shah Rukh Khan all keep the lure of going to Malaysia strong. While wealthy
Bangladeshis found their way to their second homes, the unskilled, poor migrants ended up
stranded at sea, buried in unmarked mass-graves, or in detention centres across South and Southeast
Being Bengali Muslim
The circumstances under which the Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants found themselves at sea are
different, but the issues at hand are not only about escaping ethnic cleansing or economic
depravation. In the last several decades, Bengali Muslims have become among the most persecuted
in the region, easily targeted as being foreign by virtue of a shared ethno-religious identity with the
majority of Bangladeshis. For its part, the Bangladeshi government has turned a blind eye to such
acts for the sake of regional peace, stability and cooperation, made necessary by its weaker economic
position. Perhaps, it is for the same reasons that the Bangladeshi government allows the 3,50,000
strong refugee population along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border without demanding resolution to
the over 40 year refugee crisis. Thus, not only are Bengali Muslims easily othered, but they also
have no foreign patrons to come to their defence, despite cross-border ethnic ties.
The Muslim factor feeds into the calculation as well. The global war on terror has effectively
legitimised anti-Muslim sentiments and attacks across the world, even when links to the al-Qaeda
are at best tenuous. For example, several UNHCR officials I spoke to in 2008 about resettlement of
the Rohingya, had categorically said that their religion and ties to terrorism make them unlikely
candidates for resettlement in the developed world; they saw resettlement in Bangladesh as the only
durable solution to the Rohingya refugee crisis.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric
In India, the Hindu right traditionally used anti-Muslim sentiments as a rallying force, but in
subversive ways. With global Islamophobia on the rise, anti-Muslim rhetoric has been normalised, it
seems. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that religious minority groups (Hindus)
in Bangladesh and Pakistan would be given residency in India if they so desired. In conjunction with
his speech during his election campaign in West Bengal and Assam in 2014 on illegal
Bangladeshis needing to pack up their bags or face consequences this indicates that the Bharatiya
Janata Partys interest may lie in the consolidation of a supranational Hindu space; to which Hindus
of the region belong, but even Indian Muslims may not. Historically, anti-Bengali Muslim sentiments
in Assam had emphasised the Bengali part. Moving forward, would the Muslim factor become more
dominant? What would be the fate of Muslim populations in enclaves that India received as part of
the land-swap with Bangladesh?
Despite the various uncertainties, several things become clear: in spite of varied circumstances, the
migrants at sea are predominantly Bengali Muslim (defined broadly), unwanted in their own
homelands; Islamophobia has become a global force that has allowed countries like Myanmar (and
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the democratic voices there) to disregard the lives of (Bengali) Muslims without fear of any
repercussion; a climate of anti-Muslim sentiments in India, the de facto regional hegemon, has
excused and normalised repression against Muslims in the entire region (including in Sri Lanka);
Muslim-majority countries also prioritise state interests and will not necessarily come to the rescue
of Muslim migrants on the basis of humanity or religiosity, as can be seen in the case of Indonesia
and Malaysia; hope lies with the people Indonesian fishermen were the first to rescue migrants
defying government orders to turn away boats carrying migrants. It is among ordinary people that
we can find humanity.

9. RBI cuts repo rate, airs worries

Topics: Economy
As widely expected, the Reserve Bank of India cut the policy rate (repo) on Tuesday by 25 basis points,
the third time this year, to 7.25 per cent from 7.5 per cent. The repo rate is the rate at which the RBI
lends money to banks.
But the move comes with a message that any further cut this year is unlikely. Articulating the
concerns of the RBI over the expected poor monsoon and crude oil prices, Governor Raghuram Rajan
expressed fears that a monsoon shock could push up food prices and challenge its control over
The stock market reacted negatively to the move, shedding 660 points. And India Inc. is fuming that
the cut is too little as they expected a reduction of at least 50 basis points.
The RBI cut rates by 25 basis points each in January and March from a peak of 8 per cent. But the
benefits of these cuts did not reach consumers fully, as banks showed reluctance to pass on the
In the previous policy announcement the first bimonthly policy for 2015-16 on April 7 the RBI
had maintained status quo in the repo rate at 7.5 per cent, saying that transmission of policy rates to
lending rates had not taken place despite weak credit off-take and the frontloading of two rate cuts,
Later, several banks cut lending and deposit rates. Tuesdays cut is an incentive for banks to reduce
rates further.

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Current Affairs | June 4, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

What is Indonesian through flow, Walker circulation?

Explain on the following terms: a) EL NINO b) LA NINA c) ENSO d) IOD e) Equinoo
What are the unique features of Bay of Bengal in Indian ocean? Explain.
Discuss on the various means of FDI inflow into India and its advantages in Improving
5. What are the major contribution of India in CERN project.? What are the benefits?
6. Porous boundaries along India is a very serious threat than internal disturbances.
7. Give a note on the Bilateral relationship of India and Belarus.
8. What are the idealist measures to improve GST mechanism and impart federalistic spirit?
9. Fight against world's hunger is too slow and uneven. Elaborate.
10. India is in one of the most hostile nuclear weapon region of the world added to this defence
capabilities are inadequate. Analyse and give measures.

1. Monsoon: need for better prediction of Indian Ocean events

Topics: Science and Technology
As a deficient southwest monsoon looms large, scientists are predicting that a developing El Nino
condition in the Pacific Ocean might cause possible below normal rains this year.
During El Nino, the surface of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean gets unusually warmer as against
the normal pattern of western parts of the Pacific Ocean being warmer and the eastern surface
remaining cooler.
The occurrence of El Nino is preceded by several changes in the overlying atmosphere and underlying
ocean much before it peaks in the northern hemisphere winter season, according to Dr.Francis P.A.,
climatologist at ESSO-Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS).
He said El Nino develops as a coupled ocean-atmosphere system called ENSO ( El Nino and Southern
Oscillation) as the nature of the Pacific Ocean was generally favourable for a strong oceanatmosphere interaction. Normally ENSO has a life span of 12-18 months and the general belief was
that there was a higher propensity for drought in India during the developing phase of El Nino.
Condition reverses
However, a reverse of this condition leading to excess monsoon occurs during a La Nina event, which
was nothing but the opposite of El Nino. But a near normal monsoon during 1997 when the El Nino
phenomenon was the strongest ever recorded in the century forced meteorologists to look for other
factors that influence the year-to-year variation of the Indian summer, Dr. Francis said and observed
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that around the same time scientists discovered an El Nino-like phenomenon in the Indian Ocean
called the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD).
It was noticed that during a positive IOD, the eastern part of the equatorial Indian Ocean becomes
abnormally cool and the western part remains unusually warm, while the reverse of this pattern
occurs during a negative IOD.
However, unlike El Nino, the IOD lasts only six to nine months due to smaller size of the Indian Ocean
basin and since then attempts to link Indian monsoon with IOD were not encouraging as there
appeared to be an association between the two only during positive phase of IOD.
Dr. Francis said that subsequently it was shown that Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO)
(which was nothing but an oscillation of atmospheric cloudiness between eastern and western parts
of the Indian Ocean) together with ENSO could explain the large variation in the monsoon.
It was generally seen that positive EQUINOO with enhanced cloudiness over western part as
compared to eastern region was favourable to Indian monsoon.
During the last 65 years, the monsoon never failed when both the phases of ENSO and EQUINOO
were positive. Similarly, the monsoon was never above normal when both theses phenomenon were
Classic example
In fact 1997 was a classic example of a tug-of-war between ENSO and EQUINOO when the latter won
and a near-normal monsoon occurred. Dr. Francis, however, said the outlook on the development of
ENSO was still being used to give long-term forecasts of Indian monsoon as it has better predictability
than EQUINOO. The need of the hour was to vastly improve prediction system of the Indian Ocean
phenomena like IOD and EQUINOO for achieving more accurate outcomes, he added.

2. Indian Ocean warms as Pacific cools

Topics: Geography
Though surface heat of Earth has stabilised since 1999, studies have found that atmospheric heat
continues to rise unabated with the oceans absorbing a large amount of this heat and warming in the
past decade (2000-2012).
However, a new study by Sang-Ki Lee of the University of Miami, U.S., and others has found that the
Indian Ocean has been warming the most rapidly while the adjoining Pacific Ocean has been getting
cooled during the past decade. The study was published in a recent issue of the journalNature
In fact the Indian Ocean accounts for 70 per cent of all the global oceans heat gain up to 700 metres
depth during the past decade.
The analysis shows that the abrupt increase of the Indian Ocean Heat Content at 700 metres depth
(OHC) during 2003-2012 was not due to surface heating, but rather due almost entirely to horizontal
advective heat convergence (caused by winds and resulting currents). Further heat budget analysis
indicates that inter-ocean heat transport from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean via the
Indonesian passages was the main cause of the increased Indian OHC; it greatly increased during
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2003-2012, overcompensating for the slightly increased southward heat transport from the Indian
Ocean to the Southern Ocean.
The study found that the La Nina-like conditions in the Pacific Ocean, caused by a number of La Nina
events in the last decade have caused the cooling of the Pacific ocean by transfer of heat to the Indian
Ocean, warming the latter.
The La Nina conditions cause strong easterly winds to blow from the western Pacific Ocean and these
winds cause currents to flow westward conveying the heat of the Pacific Ocean into the Indian Ocean
through what is known as the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF).
The easterlies are formed due to a pressure gradient between the Pacific and Indian Oceans caused
by cold conditions in the east and warm wet conditions in the west during a La Nina. Also during a La
Nina, the walker circulation an ocean-atmospheric phenomenon of the Indian Ocean is
The walker circulation leads to abnormally high sea surface temperatures in the western Indian
Ocean which in turn leads to copious rainfall in the western Indian Ocean at the cost of the Indian
subcontinent and results in a weak monsoon. In contrast to this, as there were relatively much fewer
La Ninas in the previous decade (1990-99) there was much less warming in the Indian Ocean.

3. Fisherman discovers river in Bay of Bengal

Topics: Science and Technology
Fishermen have helped oceanographers discover a river in the sea that has been meandering its way
along the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal (BoB) after summer monsoon. A decade-long coastal
salinity observations, carried out at eight collection points with local fishers from Paradeep
downwards up to Colachel, allowed a detailed description of this uncommon oceanic feature.
The movement of the freshwater mass begins at the end of the summer monsoon and survives for
nearly two-and-a half months. It also travels over 1000 km from the northern BoB to the southern
most tip of India, say scientists.
A research paper on the formation of the river in the sea flowing along the eastern coast of India
was recently published in the Bulletin of American Meteorological Society.
The presence of the river was confirmed through continuous monitoring of salinity levels for nearly
a decade, said V. V. Gopala Krishna, Chief Scientist of the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa,
the Principal Investigator of the project supported by the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
Sorbonne University and LOCEAN Laboratory, Paris, and the Indo-French Cell for Water Sciences,
Goa, partnered in the research work.
The southwest monsoon roughly lasts from June to September. During this period, water vapour
collected at the ocean surface by the powerful southwesterly winds is flushed over Indian continent
and the BoB.
A large fraction of the monsoon shower reaches the ocean in the form of runoff and contributes to
the freshwater flux into the BoB in equal proportion with rainfall over the ocean.

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The large rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Irrawaddy, and three small others Mahanadi,
Godavari, and Krishna together contribute approximately 1100 km of continental freshwater into
the BoB between July and September.
This very intense freshwater flux into a relatively small and semi-enclosed basin results in an intense
dilution of the salt contained in seawater, explained the paper.
The over 100 km-wide freshwater mass that is formed from river discharges and runoffs is
transported down south by the East Indian Coastal Current, the western boundary current of the
BoB. The freshwater signal generally becomes smaller and occurs later while progressing toward the
southern tip of India, the paper said.
The salinity distribution in the BoB may impact cyclones and regional climate in the BoB. However,
the paucity of salinity data prevented a thorough description of the coastal salinity evolution.
This lacuna was addressed by including fishermen in sea water sample collection process. Fishers
collected seawater samples once in five days in knee-deep water at eight different coastal stations
along the coastline. The samples were analysed at the modern lab of the institute and compared with
open-ocean samples to obtain a picture of the salinity evolution, researchers said.
According to the research paper, the occurrence of this river in the sea along the eastern coast of
India was probably not a generic feature that could be observed in many locations in the world.
The peculiar geography of the northern Indian Ocean that resulted in both a massive inflow of
freshwater into the semi-enclosed northern BoB and the strong coastally trapped currents along the
eastern coast of India were responsible for the formation of the river, the paper suggested.

4. Cashing in on Treaty
Topics: Economy
Tax treaty benefits are prompting investors to route their investments from Mauritius into India,
WTO has said. Between 2010-11 and 2013-14, Mauritius was the largest source of Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI), followed by Singapore, except in 2013-14.
It would appear that part of these large flows may result from the advantages of the tax treaty
between Mauritius and India, which may make it attractive for investors to route their investment
through Mauritius to take advantage of the preferential provisions, which include exemption from
capital gains tax, according to a report prepared for the sixth Trade Policy Review of India, by the
As per the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), India received $9.49 billion in 201213 and $4.85 billion in 2013-14.
In 2013-14, India attracted $5.98 billion foreign direct investment from Singapore.
It said that FDI inflows had been strong in services including financial, banking, insurance, business,
outsourcing, R&D, courier, and technical services, and the automobile industry and
However, FDI flows into India through Mauritius are estimated to have gone down from the last
couple of years due to concerns of General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) and other steps taken by
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Indian government. FDI from other countries, including the U.S., the Netherlands and Germany, are
Investment from the U.S. has increased to $1.69 billion during April-February 2015 from $806 million
in 2013-14 and $557 million in 2012-13.
Similarly, FDI from the Netherlands has increased to $3.29 billion during April-February 2015 from
$2.27 billion in 2013-14 and $1.85 billion in 2012-13.
During April-February 2015, India has received $8.44 billion foreign inflows from Mauritius.
The report also said that India had bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements that
are in force with 72 countries and regions. In addition, Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITS) with 14
countries have been signed but are not yet in force.

5. Large Hardon Collider restarts

Topics: Science and Technology
Scientists on Wednesday hailed a new era in their quest to unravel more mysteries of the universe
as the worlds biggest particle smasher started experiments with nearly doubled energy levels in a
key breakthrough.
The tests at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) came after a sweeping two-year
revamp of the collider and will help scientists to study fundamental particles, the building blocks of
all matter, and the forces that control them.
New physics
During its next run, researchers will look for evidence of new physics and probe supersymmetry
a theoretical concept informally dubbed Susy; seek explanations for enigmatic dark matter and
look for signs of extra dimensions.
Wednesdays collisions of 13 teraelectonvolts (TeV) followed a muscling of the Large Hadron Collider
(LHC), used in 2012 to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson which confers mass and is also
known as the God particle.
CERN said everything went according to plan at the giant lab, a 27- km ring-shaped tunnel straddling
the French-Swiss border.
During what it dubbed as its Season Two, the LHC will in the course of the next three years strive
to fill gaps in the so-called Standard Model the mainstream theory of how the visible Universe
was created but which does not explain dark matter.
It is time for new physics! declared CERNs outgoing director general Rolf Heuer.

6. Cattle smuggling sans borders

Topics: IR India And the World
Ever since the Border Security Force (BSF) intensified its operations against cattle smuggling
syndicates along the India-Bangladesh border, there has been a spurt in attacks on security
personnel, particularly in Angrail village in 24 North Parganas.
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Situated on the banks of cross-boundary river Ichamati, Angrail is one of the major transit points in
the South Bengal frontier for cattle smuggling to Bangladesh. Over 40 of the 133 incidents of attacks
on BSF personnel in the sector were reported from Angrail last year.
The two-km Angrail stretch along Ichamati, recently visited by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh,
has 150 traditional exit points making way through the thicket to a road, furlongs away from the
In the dead of night, they swim across with the cattle. When intercepted, the smugglers attack the
security personnel with sharp weapons. In lieu of some cash, the villagers shelter them, pass on the
information about our movement and even pelt stones at us to help the couriers escape, said a BSF
According to BSF personnel, cattle smuggling is a purely economic activity across the border. A threelayer deployment involving spotters in plainclothes has now led to its sharp decline.
Elsewhere, the force has dug ditches on traditional smuggling routes and put up iron pipes along the
fence to obstruct cattle movement. All the effort has paid off. Compared to the previous year,
smuggling has gone down by 90 per cent in the past few months, said an officer.
Not far from Angrail, in Hakimpur where a 40-feet-wide river Sonai forms the border villagers
from both sides jump into the watercourse every evening on the pretext of daily bath, and
clandestinely pass on items ranging from spices and gold to bicycles. Attempts to check smuggling
are met with vehement opposition, from stone pelting to lodging of false cases of harassment, rape
and torture, an officer said.
Over 90 per cent of the total cattle smuggling takes place along the porous, thickly populated and
riverine border. While only 366 km of the 916-km border stretch is enclosed, 200 km of fencing is in
a state of disrepair.
Although most villagers along the border still live in poverty, there are signs of prosperity in several
pockets with people owning SUVs and big pucca houses. Where does all this money come from,
asked a senior police officer.
Bangladesh requirement
Bangladesh, which exports beef, also comes next to Italy in terms of quality leather goods. It has an
estimated annual requirement of three million cattle, two million of which come from India. For
them [Bangladesh], cattle smuggling becomes legal once a smuggler, claiming to have found the
cattle roaming about, pays 500 Taka per cattle as customs duty.
The supplies are met through a wide network of operators who bring in the cattle by road, stuffed in
trucks, from far-off places in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat,
Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha. Why the police agencies in different States fail to act,
asked, Shubhojit Sarkar, a resident.
While the per cattle price ranges from Rs. 500 to Rs. 3,000 in India, it fetches Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000
in Bangladesh. However, reports reveal that the recent crackdown has led to 100 per cent increase
in beef price there and a substantial decrease in customs revenue.
Even when the cattle is seized by the BSF and auctioned, influential smugglers ensure monopoly in
buying back the livestock.

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7. India, Belarus agree on road map for Stronger ties

Topics: International, IR India and the World
India and Belarus on Wednesday decided to work together on defence and security issues as
President Pranab Mukherjee met his Belarusian counterpart and agreed on a 17-point road map
aimed at strengthening mutual trust and confidence.
The President, who arrived here on Tuesday night on a two-day visit, was accorded a ceremonial
welcome at the majestic Palace of Independence by Belarusian President A.G. Lukashenko.
After the ceremony, Mr. Mukherjee had a one-to-one meeting with Mr. Lukashenko.
During the talks, the President discussed a host of issues, including increasing trade ties, besides
boosting co-operation in mining, education and heavy machinery.
Later, the two Presidents witnessed signing of several agreements and Memorandums of
Understandings, including agreements between the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
and the Ministry of Finance, the Bureau of Indian Standards as well as between the Prasar Bharati
and the National State Television.
The agreements included the road map for strengthening mutual trust and having a strong
commitment to develop multifaceted and long term co-operation.
The two countries will work for full implementation of the MoU on defence-related technical
cooperation and to develop a legal framework for security cooperation
The road map will enhance high-level and Ministerial contact, optimise the structure of trade,
increase trade turnover, create favourable conditions for enhanced direct investment and promote
practical cooperation between financial institutions.
Science & technology cooperation
Under the agreement, the two countries will enhance coordination in science and technology, energy
sector, metals and mining, potash fertilizers, give boost to raw material in textile sector, extend
cooperation by Belarus in modernisation of public electric transport system in India, agriculture and
agro procession.
Exchange of students and promotion of tourism also figured in the agreements.
This is the first presidential visit from India to Belarus, a landlocked East European country.
The Belarus President had visited India twice in 1997 and 2007.
During his visit, Mr. Mukherjee will unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Belarusian State
University where he will be awarded an honorary degree.

8. GST: Good for business, snag for federalism?

Topics: Economy
The GST is a tax reform that has been on the cards for more than a decade. In principle, it is the same
as the Value-Added Tax (VAT) already adopted by all Indian States but with a wider base. While
the VAT which replaced the sales tax was imposed only on goods, the GST will be a VAT on
goods and services.
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In the current tax regime, States tax sale of goods but not services. The Centre taxes manufacturing
and services but not wholesale/retail trade. The GST is expected to usher in a uniform tax regime
across India through an expansion of the base of each into the others territory. This is why a
constitutional amendment was necessary to give concurrent powers to both the States and the
Centre to make laws on the taxation of goods as well as services.
Not surprisingly, the economic arguments trotted out in favour of the GST are basically the same as
were given two decades ago for the introduction of VAT. These are twofold.
First, the GST, by subsuming an array of indirect taxes under one rubric, will simplify tax
administration, improve compliance, and eliminate economic distortions in production, trade, and
consumption. Second, by giving credit for taxes paid on inputs at every stage of the supply chain and
taxing only the final consumer, it avoids the cascading of taxes, thereby cutting production costs,
and making exports more competitive. According to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, thanks to these
efficiencies, the GST will add 2 per cent to the national GDP.
Only time will tell whether the GST will have a positive impact on the GDP. But there is one thing the
GST will not have a positive impact on: the States fiscal, and therefore, political autonomy.
Do States lose out?
Things dont look all that dire on paper. According to the GST Bill, actually the Constitution (122nd
Amendment) Bill, 2014, passed in the Lok Sabha last month, India will have not a single federal GST
but a dual GST, levied and managed by different administrations.
The Centre will administer the central GST (CGST) and the States the SGST. Compliance will be
monitored independently at the two levels.
However, as Kavita Rao, professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and
member of one of the Working Groups constituted on GST by the Empowered Committee of State
Finance Ministers, points out, when you move to a GST regime in a federal country, some curtailment
of States freedom is inevitable. All goods and services will be divided into certain categories. The
rates will be fixed by category, and if I am a State I cannot shift a commodity from a lower to a higher
rate, or put it in the exempt category.
This is not the only limitation. The rates for both CGST and SGST will be fixed by the GST Council,
whose members will be State finance/revenue ministers and the chairman will be the Union Finance
Minister. Once rates are set by the GST Council, individual States will lose their right to tax
commodities at the rates they want. The development needs to be viewed in the context of a steady
erosion in the States freedom to decide on taxes and tax rates.
Economist Prabhat Patnaik points out, According to the Constitution, the States have complete
autonomy over levy of sales taxes, which, on average, accounted for 80 per cent of their revenue. An
attempt was made to curtail this autonomy with the introduction of VAT. But it did not totally succeed
because the VAT still had four different rates that States could play with. But with the GST, which
mandates a uniform rate, even this limited autonomy will be gone.
Fiscal vs. political autonomy
In other words, while the loss in revenue of the States may well be compensated by the Centre (as
provided for in the GST Bill), how does one make good a States loss of the political right to fix its own
tax rates?
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Ms. Rao believes this is not necessarily a bad thing. Individual States are always catering to some
interest group or another. By placing limits on what they can do, we are effectively empowering them
to resist interest group politics, where someone or other is always lobbying for concessions or
But this is a problematic argument. The underlying assumption here, says Mr. Patnaik, is that
political representative bodies are irresponsible. So give them less power, less discretion. This is a
fundamentally anti-democratic vision of development.
Moreover, the restrictions imposed by a uniform tax regime could adversely impact States that may
be more committed to welfare expenditures. The AIADMK or the Left Front or Mamata Banerjee
may have their own development philosophies, says Mr. Patnaik. In order to express these
philosophies, you have to be able to control your tax revenue. Why should I give up this right and
be sitting in some Council where I will be out-voted by other States or the Centre?
Perhaps it is to allay this concern that the draft GST bill speaks of the GST Council fixing not just rates
but rates including floor rates with bands. A band would, at least on paper, give some room for
States to vary their rates depending on their need.
A floor-rate-with-band model is also what Ms. Rao is rooting for. To my mind, it is the procedures,
definitions, and credit rules that should be uniform for a harmonised tax regime. We should let the
States figure out what rates they want.
However, a GST regime where each State has a different tax rate for different goods and services
doesnt sit well with industrys demand for a single national market with a uniform tax regime.
Besides, if rates are different, taxes will be dual, and if dual taxes are administered independently by
the States and the Centre, why not just streamline the existing tax architecture instead of erecting a
new one?
The social dimension
The answer to this question leads us to the other aspect of the GST, about why it began to be widely
adopted (as VAT) from the 1970s, paralleling the global rise of neo-liberal economic thought.
The GST, even in the diluted version proposed in the GST Bill, will still accomplish one thing: widen
the tax base and make it identical for both Centre and States. That is because, unlike, say, an excise
duty (whose base consists of manufacturers) the GST is paid only by the final consumer. The seller of
the good or service remits the GST to the State after deducting the taxes already paid by him earlier
in the supply chain.
In other words, while the GST, like all indirect taxes, is a tax on consumption, in seeking to institute a
uniform rate on all forms of consumption, it tightens the tax net currently riddled with numerous
holes in the form of multiple rates and exemptions and classifications in addition to widening it.
Many countries that have embraced the GST have also exempted essential commodities from it, or
kept lower rates for select goods. But the very logic of GST is such that it works best when the
exemptions are zero or minimal. Once implemented in however compromised a form this is the
direction GST regimes gravitate toward: fewer exemptions, higher rates.
What is the right rate?
This brings us finally to the question that has monopolised the GST debate: what should be the
taxation rate? The 13th Finance Commissions Task Force on GST recommended 12 per cent (7 per
cent SGST and 5 per cent CGST). That was in 2010. In 2014, a panel of State government
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representatives mooted a revenue-neutral rate or RNR (rate at which tax revenues for States and
Centre will remain the same as before GST) of 27 per cent (12.77 per cent CGST and 13.91 SGST).
Both rates might be unrealistic. A 12 per cent GST will most definitely mean substantial revenue
losses for States, as the general VAT rate for many States is 13-14 per cent. Also, from this week,
service tax (levied by the Centre) has gone up from 12.36 per cent to 14 per cent; a move, ironically
enough, intended to smooth the transition to a GST regime.
A 27 per cent GST, on the other hand, would impose an enormous tax burden on the wage-earning
classes, and could prove fatal for any elected government. Understandably, Mr. Jaitley has been quick
to clarify that the GST would be much lower than 27 per cent.
In fact, the ideal way to bring down the GST without incurring revenue losses is to widen the base by
including as many goods and services under its purview as possible. But this could mean that some
essential goods currently taxed at a lower rate could end up being taxed higher under a GST. This
would hit the lower income groups hardest.
At any rate, the GST can only be implemented, believes Ms. Rao, by a leap of faith. She explains,
You cant calculate to the last penny and say only at this revenue-neutral rate will I implement GST.
It has to be acceptable to the masses, because ultimately it is the average citizen who has to cough
up the money.
Shift toward indirect taxation
Around the world, governments faced with declining tax revenues, and fearful that higher corporate
taxes will lead to capital flight, are turning to indirect taxes, which have a wider base than direct
taxes, are more difficult to evade, and not income-dependant beyond a point.
The poor and the working classes spend a greater proportion of their income on essential
consumption compared to the wealthier classes. Thats why indirect taxes are considered regressive
compared to direct taxes, which are typically proportional to the ability to pay. India is also falling
prey to this global shift in favour of indirect taxation, accompanied by lower taxes on capital and
reduced social spending.
The NDA government has already ticked two of those boxes. The 2015-16 Budget, which fixed a rollout date for GST (April 1, 2016), also abolished the wealth tax and announced a lowering of corporate
tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over a four-year period. As Mr. Patnaik points out, the Budget
also granted direct tax concessions of Rs. 8,315 crore, while planning to raise Rs. 23,383 crore through
indirect taxes.
This is despite that fact that Indias direct taxes contribute only 37.7 per cent of total tax revenue,
according to a 2013 study by the Center for Budget and Governance Accountability. This makes
Indias taxation regime already more regressive than that of other emerging markets such as South
Africa (57.5 per cent from direct taxes) or Indonesia (55.85 per cent). When the GST box is also ticked,
it will become even more so.
GST: The Arguments
The business argument
--> Simplifies tax administration
--> Makes compliance easier
--> Prevents 'cascading' effect
--> Could add to GDP
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The political argument

-->Reduces States' fiscal and political autonomy
--> States can't exempt some goods and services
--> Lowers States' source ability to raise money for welfare
--> Indirect taxes burden lower income groups more

What's a right GST Rate?

--> In 2010, the 13th Finance Commission recommended 12 per cent GST. This will mean revenue
loss for States, as VAT is already 13-14 per cent
--> In 2014, State government representatives mooted a revenue neutral rate of 27 per cent. This
will be an enormous tax burden on wage earners

9. Fight against hunger too slow and uneven

Topics: Health
Almost 800 million people, or one in nine in the world, continue to suffer from hunger. The number
of hungry people has declined globally by more than 167 million over the last decade, and by more
than 200 million since 1991; 780 million of the chronically hungry are in developing countries, where
their share has declined from 23.4 per cent in 1991 to just under 13.0 per cent at the end of 2014.
Thus, according to the latest State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2015) report, the Millennium
Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of chronically undernourished people in
developing countries by 2015 is within reach, but only if progress accelerates sufficiently by the end
of this year.
Progress too slow
At the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS), heads of government and the international community
committed to reducing the number of hungry people in the world by half. Five years later, the MDGs
lowered the level of ambition by seeking to halve the proportion of the chronically undernourished.
By the end of 2014, 72 developing countries had reached the MDG Goal 1 target. Of these, 29 have
also achieved the more ambitious WFS goal. However, the number of hungry people in the world has
only declined by a fifth from the billion estimated for 1991.
and uneven
Overall progress has been highly uneven. Some countries and regions have seen only slow progress
in reducing hunger, while the number of hungry has even increased in several cases.
In sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in four people remains chronically hungry, while Asia, the
worlds most populous continent by far, is also home to over half a billion hungry people. Meanwhile,
Latin America, the Caribbean, East and Southeast Asia have significantly reduced both the share and
the number of undernourished. Most countries have reached the MDG target. West Asia and Central
Africa have seen a rise in the share of the hungry compared to 1991, while progress in sub-Saharan
Africa, South Asia and Oceania has not been sufficient to meet the MDG hunger target by 2015.
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Lessons from experience

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for how to improve food security, SOFI 2015 identifies
several factors that have played a critical role in achieving the hunger target.
Growth needs to be inclusive to reduce poverty and hunger. Access to food has improved rapidly and
significantly in countries that have experienced inclusive economic growth, notably in East and SouthEast Asia. Better performers in Africa met the MDG hunger target while those that made slow
progress did not.
Raising the productivity of family farmers can be an effective way out of poverty and hunger by
increasing net incomes and in town investments for further improvements. improved agricultural
productivity, especially by small holder family farmers and incomes, leads to poverty and hunger
Economic growth is usually helpful as it can expand the fiscal revenue base, including to finance social
transfers and other assistance programmes. In Latin America and South Asia, social protection has
made the difference, especially for the rural poor, who comprise 78 per cent of the poor globally.
The expansion of social protection cash transfers to vulnerable households, food vouchers, health
insurance or school meal programmes correlates strongly with progress in hunger reduction.
Besides the direct impact on relieving hunger and poverty, social protection can enable those with
fewer assets to boost their incomes, and invest more, thus enhancing their resilience.
SOFI 2015 estimates that some 150 million people worldwide have escaped extreme poverty thanks
to social protection. However, more than two-thirds of the worlds poor still do not have access to
regular social support. Transfers help households manage risk and mitigate shocks that would
otherwise trap them in poverty and hunger.
With the number of undernourished people remaining unacceptably high, the need to strengthen
the political commitment to eliminate hunger cannot be overemphasised. The pledges of the
Community of Latin America and the Caribbean at its 2013 summit and of the 2014 African Union
summit to end hunger in their respective continents by 2025 are very encouraging. In 2015, the
governments of the world are expected to strengthen financing for development, commit to the
post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and ensure the needed collective action to address global
warming. SOFA 2015 is a timely reminder of the enduring legacy of needless hunger and poverty
which we must eliminate by 2030.

10. Under-armed and underprepared

Topics: Security
Last week, the government announced the appointment of S. Christopher as the new head of the
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). His predecessor, missile scientist Avinash
Chander, was unceremoniously dumped on January 13 this year, with 16 months still left of his
It took the government over four months to find his replacement. Reportedly, most of the other
senior Director Generals of the DRDO are also on extension, unsure of when the axe may fall.

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The DRDO was set up in 1958 as the fulcrum of Indias indigenous defence production. However, its
performance, or the lack of it, must count as one of the biggest uninvestigated scandals of
independent India. Among its notable failures is the production of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA),
which was commissioned over a decade ago but ran years behind schedule with a cost overrun of
over Rs.5,000 crore. The aircrafts Kaveri engine was commissioned over two decades ago; it ran over
15 years behind schedule with similarly high cost overruns. Other projects allocated to the DRDO,
such as the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) System, the naval version of the LCA, the
Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM), and the Advanced Lightweight Torpedo (ALWT) have all
missed deadlines by several years.
Nothing to cheer about
The performance of our public sector units handling defence has been equally scandalous. Hindustan
Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) could not rectify simple design faults in the HPT-32 basic trainer aircraft,
forcing the Indian Air Force (IAF) to import propeller driven trainers. The Intermediate Jet Trainer
(IJT) prototype is nowhere close to flying, and the Light Combat Helicopter and the multi-purpose
civilian aircraft, Saras, have forever been in the pipeline. Our ordnance factories are similarly
languishing. The Nalanda ordnance factory, in collaboration with an Israeli company, is reportedly
only a fourth complete. The commitment to indigenously supply 1,000 T-90S main battle tanks to the
Indian Army could not be met because the project failed. Indian-made 125 mm smooth bore barrels
for the T-72 tanks also reportedly failed because the barrels blew up during field trials.
The DRDO had set itself the aim of producing 70 per cent of our defence needs by the year 2005.
Today, a decade later, its production is still lackadaisically hovering around 30 per cent and much
of what emerges from its factories is put together with screwdriver technology. In 2008, the Rama
Rao Committee had recommended that the DRDO should only focus on 8 to 10 critical projects of
strategic importance. Such recommendations have been thrown to the winds, and the countrys
premier defence production company continues to focus its energies on esoteric products like dental
implants and mosquito repellents!
As arms importer
To see a nation with global aspirations blundering so egregiously when it comes to meeting critical
defence requirements is nothing short of treason. As a result of our woefully inadequate defence
production, India has become the worlds largest importer of arms. In contrast, China, with a much
bigger arsenal, has dropped to fourth place because its internal defence production has been
efficiently upgraded. Apart from the exorbitant burden arms imports place on our exchequer, an
overdependence on imports has grave security implications. In his book on the Kargil war, General
V.P. Malik, who was then the Army chief, mentions that two years before the Pakistani invasion, the
Army had finalised imports of AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder radars from the United States. Prices were
negotiated and just before purchase, DRDO offered to manufacture them at half the price and within
two years. The government shot down the armys plans to buy those radars. In 1999, during the Kargil
war, the radars were desperately needed. Neither had the DRDO manufactured them nor could they
be purchased from the US (post the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests there was an arms embargo). Several
lives were lost in Pakistan shelling (as a result).
A decade and more later, nothing had changed. Another Army chief, General V.K. Singh (who is now
a Union Minister of State in the government) was compelled to write in March 2012 a letter directly
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to the then Prime Minister in which he bluntly stated that the war-waging capability of the Army had
been seriously degraded because of delays in critical procurements. According to him, reserves of
vitally needed anti-tank ammunition had fallen below critical levels because the Israeli firm supplying
them had been blacklisted because of alleged kickbacks; artillery equipments were stalled for a
similar reason, and emergency replacements sought to be obtained from the U.S. Army were still
awaiting approval from the Ministry of Defences bureaucracy. At that time, the nation was facing a
peculiar double jeopardy: we could not produce what we needed internally, and we could not import
in time and efficiently what we needed to buy from abroad because of a morality paralysis
that sought to ban every major foreign supplier on the basis of uninvestigated allegations. Obviously,
defence purchases must be corruption-free but, equally, defence ministers must have the guts not
only to be concerned about their own personal integrity but also about the crucial security interests
of the nation.
Comparison with China
Our lack of offensive and defensive weaponry becomes even more glaring when compared with that
of our potential enemies. For instance, Chinas arsenal of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM),
battle tanks, latest tactical aircraft and armoured infantry fighting vehicles far outnumber ours, as
does its border infrastructure. The importance for us to keep this gap within sustainable limits is selfevident, especially since we cannot rule out a war in the future in which China and Pakistan work in
tandem. Opponents of adequate investments in armaments argue that a country with such a huge
number of the poor should be spending more on development than on defence. It is the old guns
versus butter argument. The obvious riposte to this is that India needs to pursue both development
and defence efficiently and it cannot be one or the other. A countrys security is imperilled if its
economy is suboptimal and the deprivations of the poor are not attended to. Equally, development
cannot exclude security imperatives because we are in one of the most hostile nuclear weapon
regions of the world. We have 4,057 kilometres of a disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China;
a 778-kilometre-long disputed Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan; a total of 15,106 kilometres of
international borders with seven countries, and a 7,516-kilometre long vulnerable coastline. It would
be suicidal for any nation to ignore security concerns in such a situation.
The fact of the matter is that we neither pursue development nor security efficiently. China spends
more than twice what India does on its armed forces, yet its defence expenditure, as a percentage of
its GDP, is lower than that of India (1.3 against 1.89, as per revealed figures). The Chinese economy
has grown at a faster pace, and its defence budget, although larger, is more efficiently used. Arms
imports have come down dramatically. Russia and Ukraine are the only outside suppliers of Chinas
weaponry, most of which is now produced at lesser cost at home. If India had pursued its indigenous
arms production effectively, we could have had by now one of the worlds largest military-industrial
complexes, and could be exporting arms and using that income for development.
Not much impact
The new Bharatiya Janata Party-National Democratic Alliance (BJP-NDA) government came with a
muscular resolve to strengthen Indias defence abilities. This resolve was particularly evident in its
strident critique of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. However, for five months after the
new government assumed power last year, the country did not even have a full-time Raksha Mantri,
with Mr. Arun Jaitley inexplicably holding the dual charge of both finance and defence. The
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government did announce an increase from 26 per cent to 49 per cent for foreign direct investment
(FDI) in the defence production sector but this may not be very attractive to investors who will seek
majority control. Moreover, the Defence Technology Commission, set up as a commercial arm of the
DRDO to attract investments, is yet to take shape. The Make in India slogan for defence production
means little unless it is part of a credible policy framework. It is also not known whether the national
technology council to be chaired by the Defence Minister with representation by private companies
engaged in the production of arms and defence equipment, as was recommended by the Naresh
Chandra Task Force, is going to see the light of day. According to estimates, some Rs.30,000 crore is
required only to end the perennial shortage of artillery and ammunition. Where is this money to
come from if the governments priorities are to spend double this amount on bullet trains? Important
steps also need to be taken to create a more effective procurement policy. The Rafale fighter aircraft
deal is, I believe, an outright purchase and does not involve the transfer of technology. And, finally,
it is time that specialists from the armed forces have a much greater say in the entire defence
production process, but there is no sign that this is happening. The short point is that, whatever the
rhetoric, India lacks a strategic mindset to tackle its defence preparedness and this government has
been, thus far, not any different, and certainly much too slow in changing past approaches.

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Current Affairs | June 5, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams
1 Critically analyse the relevance of WTO in trade dispute resolution.


Drug trafficking is not a short term problem it aggravates in long term. What are the
consequences? Explain


Explain the role and functions of food safety and standards authority of India.
Self reliance in Defence production needs an Institutional push. Elaborate.
Explain the qualification of members and functions of national human rights commission. Also
analyse the limitations.
India must act as a guardian to Neighbouring Himalayan country in it's crisis. Describe the role
of India in development of Nepal.
Fragmentation of natural habitation is a major threat for wildlife protection. What are the
factors responsible? Give your measures to rehabilitate.
Development in a federal polity never comes by depending solely in centre's grant. States
must think out of box and act precisely in receiving external aid. Discuss how it will be
Extremism in North Eastern India is completely an unique issue fueled by ethnic complexity.
Goods and service tax is a major concern for states as it reduces their revenue. What is GST?
What are it's implication?



1. India loses poultry case against US at WTO

Topics: Economy
India has lost a case at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as the body on Thursday ruled that the
Indian ban on import of poultry meat, eggs and live pigs from the U.S. was inconsistent with the
international norms.
India will have 12-18 months to implement this ruling, after which the U.S. can begin exports of these
products to India. The Appellate Body agreed with the panels finding that Indias AI (avian influenza)
measures are inconsistent... because they are not based on a risk assessment, the WTO said.
A WTO panel last year had ruled against Indias ban.
After hearing New Delhis appeal, the appellate body said it has found that the Panel did not, as
India contended, act inconsistently.
The appellate body also upheld the panels findings that Indias AI measures are neither based on,
nor conform to, the relevant international standard.

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It also endorsed the panels finding that Indias AI measures violated global norms on the grounds
that the prohibition was limited to just one country and not to all imports from any country with AI
India filed an appeal in January 2015 with the Dispute Settlement Board of the WTO.
In its ruling on October 14, 2014, the WTO panel had said that Indias measures arbitrarily and
unjustifiably discriminate between Members where identical or similar conditions prevail and are
applied in a manner which constitutes a disguised restriction on international trade.
India is a big market for the U.S., which is one of the worlds largest exporters of chicken meat. Indias
broiler meat consumption has been consistently increasing and is estimated to have touched 3.72
million tonnes in 2014, from 3.45 million tonnes in 2013.
Reacting to the ruling, Washington said the appellate body overwhelmingly agreed with the claim
that India discriminates against U.S. products.
The WTO panel also said that New Delhis measures were more trade restrictive than necessary.

2. In memory of Tiananmen
Topics: International
Unease with Beijing:Thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on
Thursday. They gathered to mark the anniversary of student-led protests that took place at the
Tiananmen Square in 1989. This annual commemoration takes on greater meaning for the citys
youth after last autumns pro-democracy demonstrations sharpened their sense of unease with

3. Big haul
Topics: Health
The Narcotics Control Bureau seized 500 kg of marijuana from a house in Suraj Vihar area of
Berhampur, Odisha, on Wednesday night.- Photo: Special Arrangement

4. One-fifth of food samples adulterated

Topics: Health
With the favourite Indian noodle brand Maggi found containing high levels of lead and monosodium
glutamate, there is a fear that a good portion of the food we buy from stores might be unfit for
The Annual Public Laboratory Testing Report for 2014-15 brought out by the Food Safety and
Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) says that of the 49,290 samples of food items it tested, 8,469,
nearly one-fifth, were found adulterated or misbranded.
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Fewer convictions
However, convictions were secured in only 1,256 cases. Many food adulteration cases never reached
the conviction stage. The report shows that Rs. 6.9 crore in penalties was collected from errant
agencies. Data from only 14 States are available in the report.
The FSSAI is a public authority, formed under the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, mandated to
ensure that food is safe for consumption.
By available data, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were found to have
the largest sample of food items violating safety standard norms. However, the number of cases
reaching conviction in these States is not encouraging.
In Tamil Nadu, where over 1,047 cases of adulterated food samples were found, only 203 reached
In Madhya Pradesh, the respective figures were 1,412 and 418. In Maharashtra, 75 of 1,162 cases
reached conviction.
In Uttar Pradesh, 1,223 samples were found violating safety norms, but only 83 reached conviction.
By the 2006 Act, all cases of food adulteration and misbranding are punishable.
Lack of information
There is no information on food samples tested in States such as West Bengal. In New Delhi, though
148 food samples tested were found violating norms, there is no information on whether any
measures were taken against the companies that manufactured or sold the product.
There is also no information on what the tested samples were of and if any preventive steps were
taken when they were found to be adulterated.
Despite repeated attempts, the FSSAI officials remained inaccessible for comment.

5. Food safety act does not specify liability of celebrities

Topics: Health
One of the primary statutory objectives of the 2006 Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) is to
ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption and it makes the promoter,
manufacturer, packer, wholesaler, distributor, seller and even the manager of a food business outlet
liable for violations including unfair trade practice in several instances.
But there is no specific word in the Act about the extent or lack of liability or duty of care of the brand
ambassador, who signs on to promote the brand as its face and takes on the role of a marketing
Wide definition
The Act affords a comprehensive definition of the term advertisement in Section 3 (1) (b) to mean
any audio or visual publicity, representation or pronouncement made by means of any light, sound,
smoke, gas, print, electronic media, internet or website and includes through any notice, circular,
label, wrapper, invoice or other documents.
Two sections Section 24 and Section 53 in the 2006 Act deal specifically with advertisements.
Section 24 (1) says in general terms that no advertisement shall be made of any food which is
misleading or deceiving or contravenes the provisions of this Act, the rules and regulations made
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there under. Here, it does not explain whether the term made is only confined to commissioning
the advertisement or the actual making of it. In the latter case, a brand ambassador does play a part.
Sub-section (2) of the same section says no person shall engage himself in any unfair trade practice
for purpose of promoting the sale This clause does not specify who the person mentioned in it
is, thus, making the ambit of the provision pliable.
Clauses (a) (b) and (c) of Sub-section (2) holds this person legally responsible for falsely
representing the standard and quality of the food product, its need and usefulness and also for giving
the public any guarantee of the efficacy that is not based on an adequate or scientific justification.
If any defence of such guarantee is raised in a court of law, the burden of proof lies on the person
doing so. If the definition of the term person used in this provision includes a brand ambassador, he
has to provide the scientific justification in his defence. Besides, it is reasonably assumed that a
person must have applied his mind about the quality and standard of a brand before agreeing to
promote it.
Whether this means brand ambassadors will be held responsible for every single thing that goes into
the making of the product they endorse is not spelt out but it is this very ambiguity that has left actors
Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta in the dock.
Consumers claim
Brand ambassadors have a duty of care. They are paid in crores to use their persona or voice to
make the public purchase a brand. Consumers enjoy a tortious claim against them for using their
highly commercially exploitative rights to mislead the public, Madhavi Gorakhia Divan, senior
Supreme Court advocate and media law expert, said.
Vipul Mudgal, rights activist and Director of NGO Common Cause, however, said a brand ambassador
cannot be culpable for promoting a brand if it is done in good faith.

6. Evolving a defence bottom line

Topics: Internal Security
The media recently reported that the armed forces pleaded before the Parliament Standing
Committee on Defence to modernise their resources in order to improve defence preparedness. This
is not entirely unexpected, but it is distressing nevertheless.
Providing the military with modern equipment to tackle security concerns and prepare for future
operations entails a certain number of trade-offs and risks. It involves meeting objectives against the
reality of limited resources and uncertainty.
The Indian Armed Forces Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) 2012-2027 (which is not in
the public domain) is the main document to be considered for this. It matches force levels with
operational requirements. It focuses on bridging gaps and building force levels that are considered
essential for the services to meet their operational directives. It also lists the inductions planned by
the three services.
It is no doubt that the Indian military will confront a very diverse and demanding array of strategic
challenges in the coming decades, emanating either from state actors along the troubled peripheries
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with neighbouring countries or from non-state groups. Determining what sort of wars India may have
to wage against these two challenges in the immediate and distant future, and deciding the
fundamental determinants of the countrys defence will be the crucial to filling the gap between
perception and reality.
The task of defending the countrys borders needs to take into account the nuclearisation of the subcontinent and the employment of other instruments of power. Defining the notion and shape of
victory, given the nuclear overhang, is a first step towards building capability. It also needs to be seen
whether, should the conventional and infrastructural asymmetry continue, a stalemate would serve
a similar purpose.
Only when these issues are jointly ironed out and articulated will a solution for the right capabilities
and their development in time and within available resources emerge.
Joint solution
The LTIPP, therefore, cannot simply be an aggregate or arithmetic sum of desired capabilities but an
integrated and balanced acquisition programme for the three services that uses strategy, sets
priorities and demands budgetary support.
Given the financial constraints, a joint strategic prioritisation of capital acquisitions, particularly for
those proposals or schemes that have already been granted Acceptance of Necessity, is necessary to
get early results.
A joint review will also enable a defence bottom line involving land and coastal security to come up
first, along with necessary and deterrent vectors that could keep wars away. It will also allow us to
consolidate and build the desired capabilities in the interim. Considering the likely paucity of funds,
it would be prudent, therefore, to realign the projections of LTIPP 2012-27 and the 12th Defence
Plan. What should they be realigned to? This could be arrived at through a joint consultative process.
The following issues need to be kept in mind while realigning the long-term capability matrix.
The five steps
First, one has to re-evaluate service-specific schemes and programmes in the backdrop of the
conventional programme focussed at China and Pakistan, and in that order. Second, individual
priority must be recalibrated in the backdrop of envisaged future missions and desired joint
capability. Third, certain capital intensive key programmes (KPs) must be identified that can fight and
win local wars and dominate sea lanes of communication through a joint consultative process.
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance or ISR and precision targeting capabilities will remain
common to both.
Fourth, having identified the KPs, definitive rolling funds must be allocated with a time-bound
implementation schedule to ensure that existing capability voids are bridged within a reasonable
Finally, it must be recognised that the countrys capability to prevent war, or fight it successfully, has
to be holistically developed. War cannot be a zero-sum game amongst the Services, because no
individual service by itself can achieve the objectives or be a gainer or loser. The only criteria must
be the optimising of the joint potential of all three forces to achieve a common military aim. Thus,
the need will be to make hard trade-offs, based on prioritisation of missions.
Prioritisation itself must be based on an objective evaluation of the need and relevance for a
particular capability projected by a service, in the prevailing threat scenario, against the availability
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of funds. An integrated exercise is recommended to be undertaken both for inter-Service and intraService prioritisation, based on operational necessity.
Self-reliance in defence production needs to be given an institutional push by bringing stakeholders
(including users, R&D agencies, and industry) on board a common platform. Monitoring the progress
of indigenous projects and fixing accountability is of utmost importance. Technological sovereignty
must be achieved and forex reserves preserved. By creating jobs associated with defence
manufacturing, defence and development will reinforce each other.
The impact of the choices that senior leaders are making today will not be fully seen for many years
to come, and will enable or constrain their successors for decades. There is no choice but to look
ahead and plan for an uncertain future while preparing for shocks.

7. An inappropriate appointment
Topics: Indian Polity
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is the premier body that investigates abuses and
violations of human rights in India. Set up in 1993, the NHRC has wide-ranging powers to investigate,
recommend prosecutions, and award compensations for human rights violations.
High-profile cases investigated by the Commission include encounter killings by the police and other
acts of violence by the state. In 2002, the Commission under former Chief Justice J.S. Verma, was the
first official body to visit Gujarat after the riots; it moved the Supreme Court to transfer cases outside
the State to secure a fair trial.
The NHRC, set up under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, consists of nine members. Four
are ex-office appointments serving Chairpersons of the National Commissions for Minorities,
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Women. Two are persons who have done work in the area
of human rights. And three are from the judiciary: a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court; a
Chief Justice of a High Court; and, the most important of all, a former Chief Justice of India (CJI) who
heads the Commission.
Needing an icon of independence
That the head has to be a former CJI is for good reason. Commonly, human rights violations are
committed by, or with the connivance of, or allowed to be perpetrated by high-level political leaders,
the police or other officers. The public needs to have unquestionable confidence that these cases will
be investigated without a tinge of favour, by the most independent persons available. The
Commissions public face and guiding force is the Chairperson. Hence, the insistence on a former CJI
as the Chairperson of the Commission. Even a puisne judge of the Supreme Court is not to be
considered for the post; nothing less than a person who has occupied the highest rank in the judiciary
will do. If there is an icon of independence in the country who has received no favour from the
government and is fearless about tackling the powers that be, surely it is the CJI. So proceeds the Act.
Justice P. Sathasivam held the office of the CJI from July 2013 to April 2014. Shortly thereafter, the
government offered him the position of Governor of Kerala. He accepted, setting off a chorus of
criticism. One former CJI, when asked for his reaction, enigmatically and crisply commented that
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standards differ. Lawyers and retired judges pointed out that the office of the CJI was being
devalued. Its holder was part of a constitutional triumvirate of power along with the President and
the Prime Minister, they argued, and therefore accepting Governorship meant going to an office not
only several rungs lower, but more crucially one which was given entirely as patronage and largesse
by the executive. It was also feared that once a precedent was set, and by no less than a CJI, it would
not be long before judges on the verge of retirement would have the vision of a comfortable
gubernatorial position hazing their eyes while deciding sensitive cases against the government.
Very few voices defended the appointment. One of those was that of Justice Sathasivam himself. He
argued that he was accepting just another constitutional post, an untenable argument when the
Constitution enumerates many posts barely comparable to the eminence of the CJI. He is also
reported to have said that these standards would not apply to a retired CJI, a defence which poses
some difficulty.
Indeed, it needs to be remembered that judges, especially of the Supreme Court, will inevitably
handle cases of controversy involving the government and political personages. Justice Sathasivam
himself has handled cases involving prominent politicians such as Amit Shah, where the accused
received relief. Accepting appointment from governments of which such petitioners are a part will
invite scrutiny of these cases and give rise to questions. This post facto scrutiny and linkage is one of
the main reasons why judges have stayed away from accepting appointments that are decided purely
by politicians. Even the eminent Justice M.C. Chagla received strong condemnation from leaders of
the Bar for accepting the posts of Union Minister and Ambassador. Over the years, Raj Bhavans have,
with distinguished exceptions, become havens for politicians being eased out, or rewarding civil
servants for services rendered. Justice Sathasivam was appointed during the season when Governors
of several States were being given marching orders telephonically by the Home Secretary. That a justretired CJI broke precedence and judicial ranks to join this less than august group was an action that
was widely seen as diminishing the image of the head of the judiciary, with no countervailing public
An inappropriate appointment
The concern that arises now is that Governor Sathasivam is in the running for appointment as
Chairperson of the NHRC. His name is mentioned as one of the likely appointees, and it is said that
he has given his consent. This would be an inappropriate appointment, going against the grain of the
primary qualification for heading the body, namely, independence from the government and the
perceived ability to take hard actions against those in power.
This is an institutional qualification; it is no defence to say that a person who enjoys a sinecure from
the government will revert to absolute independence when appointed to head the NHRC. It is true
that the statutory qualification for Chairperson does not specify that the candidate should not have
held previous office at the hands of the government, but the framers of the Act would not have
envisaged, even in their wildest dreams, that there would be a case of a Chief Justice becoming a
Governor and then looking to become Chairperson of the NHRC.
Viewed from another angle, it is the proximal position that matters he ought not to be treated as
a former CJI, but as a Governor of a State, and hence not qualified to be Chairperson of the NHRC. It
appears that a petition was filed in the Supreme Court raising these grounds, but it was withdrawn
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on the ground that the objection was being placed before the government. Perhaps judicial
determination will have to follow if executive consideration is inadequate.
The position of the head of the NHRC is a crucial one for protecting human and democratic rights.
These rights and the Commission are primordial for all citizens, especially for those who fall foul of
the powerful in government. The appointment to this office must not be tainted in any way. Justice
Sathasivam committed one mistake in accepting governorship and lowering the office of the CJI. One
hopes that another such mistake will not be committed.

8. In Nepal, the politics of reconstruction

Topics: IR India and the World
The destruction of the April 25 earthquake provided Nepali citizens with a respite from the presence
of the topmost political party leaders in their lives. Having hogged the news for more than a decade
through an incestuous cabal that bypassed parliamentary practice, the leaders did not have the
credibility to come forward to lead the rescue and relief effort.
But it did not take a month before they were up to their old tricks the dust from the earthquake
had not even settled when the power brokers raised a political sandstorm that had the ability to
derail reconstruction. On the basis of personal career calculations, with no introspection as to naked
past practice, they started an exercise to bring down the coalition government led by Sushil Koirala.
It was a clear case of opportunism rather than using the earthquake tragedy as opportunity to build
back better. The most desperate in trying to turn the calamity to personal advantage were the
Maoists, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai, both of whom went into overdrive. By contrast,
the leaders of the Madhesi Morcha opposition, with longer investment in democratic politics, were
Mr. Dahal is hounded by fears of international jurisdiction on human rights and money laundering,
and also feels he must have a hand in reconstruction expenditure. This is why he wants to join
government rather than serve as effective opposition during a critical period. Mr. Bhattarai, finding
his own ambitions checked at every step by Mr. Dahal, with amazing hubris presents himself as
candidate for tsar of the national reconstruction effort.
Democratic danger
The sluggish performance of the Koirala government in the aftermath of the earthquake is lost on no
one. The Prime Minister has not been able to lead from the front with spark and vision, nor generate
collective ownership within his cabinet even at this time of crisis.
But comparative perspective is needed to gauge the Nepal governments response, considering that
the earth shook in the most difficult and densely populated mountain terrain in the world. The
government was not as devastatingly inept as projected in the immediate aftermath infrastructure
and services remained in place and the authorities retained control over the miscellaneous
international rescue force.
There is now a mood to change the government in order to prepare for the reconstruction effort,
and there is a pre-existing agreement that Nepali Congress President Koirala will make way for the
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Communist Party of Nepal (Unified MarxistLeninist) Chairman, K.P. Oli, around the time of
promulgation of the new constitution. What is new is the demand for a national government to
include the Maoists and the Madhesi Morcha.
The most natural evolution is for Mr. Koirala to make way for Mr. Oli in an orderly fashion, and for
the ruling coalition to appoint a national reconstruction body with professional appointments from
outside the political realm. The Congress and the UML must avoid an unbecoming firefight at a time
when there are still bodies to be recovered from under destroyed houses and landslide rubble. A
political tug-of-war would serve only to deflect the need to plan reconstruction, including preparing
for an international pledging conference, scheduled for June 25.
Says sociologist Chaitanya Mishra: Political bargaining at this time would divert attention and utterly
fail to recognise the human significance of the disaster and the need for recovery. It would prioritise
political power over public service.
The shift of the tectonic plates could not have been more inopportune. The Nepali state, severely
weakened by a decade of conflict and another decade of confusion and intervention by foreign
forces, from next door and from afar, was limping towards normalisation following the elections of
November 2013. In March-April this year, the constitutional negotiations seemed to be moving
towards resolution, with the Maoists on the back foot after the failure of an announced three-day
national bandh.
That was when the earthquake struck, and it took no more than a couple of weeks of quiet before
the political opportunists were casting about. But the hard-won Nepali democracy cannot be
upturned by an earthquake, nor can geopolitical shifts be dictated by geological strata.
The overwhelming show of national and international military hardware and khaki prowess following
the disaster sent an exaggerated message to the public that the civilian authority was weak in
contrast. Indeed, for a whole month, Nepal was a staging ground for a dozen military rescue
contingents, including India with the largest force and the United States and China. Nepals
experience indicates a need for enhancing civilian capacity for disaster response in each of the
countries of South Asia.
National constitution, local bodies
But the most pressing question for now is whether there is a need to go beyond reconfiguring the
Congress-UML coalition, to expand it to include the Maoists and the Madhesi Morcha. Under any
other circumstance this would be a travesty within democracy, but given the nature of Nepals
transitional polity, the answer would be yes, if the Congress and UML can leverage the invitation
to national government into obtaining agreement on promulgation of the constitution and holding
of local government elections.
National reconstruction is impossible to contemplate without the stability that would come with a
constitution. Neither can it happen without elected officials in the village, district and municipality
councils, which is the only way to ensure equity and accountability in the reconstruction planning
and expenditure. The UML and the Congress have nearly two-thirds majority in the house, and given
that they are ideologically divergent and under normal circumstances would be in opposition to each
other, this is already a national government. It can be expanded further only if, gathering courage
from the suffering visited on the citizens, the ruling coalition insists that the constitution be adopted
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by due process, including two-thirds majority vote if required, and a date is set for local elections in
early autumn.
If the long-standing deadlock over demarcation of federal provinces cannot be resolved, the republic
must be declared federal in the constitution, with the details to be worked out by an empowered
International contribution
The worldwide response to the Nepal disaster has been heart-warming, but has been concentrated
on the high-profile rescue and relief phase. International attention is already tapering off, long before
the reconstruction phase has begun, with the National Planning Commission still engaged in
preparing the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA).
The Congress and UML must work to give new energy to government, taking the Maoists and the
Madhesi Morcha on board only as required, and prepare for the pledging conference. The target of
$6-7 billion will not be easy to achieve, as past experience with disasters elsewhere in the developing
world has shown.
First of all, the ruling coalition must be able to broadcast the message of unity and common purpose,
and prove its ability to plan and spend with competence and transparency. India, whose response to
the earthquake was immediate and generous, can help in the reconstruction process by ensuring a
substantial contribution to get the ball rolling. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had actually proposed
hosting the pledging conference in New Delhi, and his visit to Kathmandu for the purpose would have
positive impact both in terms of publicity and volume of contributions overall.
Social justice
Nepals geography seems designed for natural disasters, from cloudbursts and floods to landslides,
heatwaves, frigid spells, droughts, glacial outburst floods and earthquakes. The country has to learn
to cope and respond, and one of the gifts of the April earthquake was the spontaneous rise of
young professionals in the rescue effort, who now constitute a new category to engage in national
All the responders, from the young professionals to government officials and international
supporters, must not lose sight throughout the rebuilding phase that it was the poor that were
disproportionately hit by the quake it was the houses made using mud mortar that collapsed.
Therefore, the entire reconstruction effort must be anchored on social justice, which requires watchdogging of the party bosses used to feudal era patronage politics and rule-by-syndicate.
Nepal could come out of this as exemplary in its response to mega disaster, but this will not happen
for the wishing, and without political stability deriving from a new constitution and participatory local
democracy. The alternative is continuing political disarray even as the monsoon approaches, to rain
down on a landscape weakened by the tremors and aftershocks of April.

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9. Half of the mammals face habitat loss: ZSIFight against hunger too slow and uneven
Topics: Environment
In a unique initiative, the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has published a book containing a
consolidated documentation and listing of all the scheduled or protected species of mammals found
in India.
It is important to note that India is home to 428 species of mammals out of which more than 60 per
cent about 251 species are under protected or Scheduled categories of the Indian Wildlife
(Protection) Act, 1972 Gaurav Sharma, scientist of ZSI, and one of the authors of the publication
told The Hindu.
The book, An Identification Manual for Scheduled Mammals of India, provides detailed information
on scheduled mammals, their status as per IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Red list of Threatened Species.
Mr. Sharma also added that the 428 species of mammals in India contribute to about 8 per cent of
the total mammal species found in the World. About 50 per cent of mammalian fauna of India have
shrunk in their distributional range due to various anthropogenic pressures, he said. Already four
mammal species Cheetah, Banteng, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Javan Rhinoceros are extinct in
The publication assumed greater significance particularly in view of the fact that the country was
celebrating World Environment Day on June 5, Director of ZSI K. Ventakaraman told The Hindu,
emphasising that except a few flagship species there was very little known about many mammals.
Out of the 251 Schedule mammals species listed under the India Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and
documented in the publication, about 180 fall under the lesser-known category, and very little
information is available about their habitat, behaviour, and population.
Around 78 species of mammals are included in Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,
implying that highest priority is placed on the conservation of these animals in the country. While the
Schedule I mammals constitute well known species like tiger, elephant and Indian rhinoceros, lesser
known species such as clouded leopard, snow leopard, gaur, desert cat, Niligiri tahr, swamp deer,
sloth bear and Tibetan, sand fox are also included in the list.
The book also lists the mammals that fall in the Critically Endangered category of the IUCN. These
animals are: pygmy hog, Malabar civet, large rock rat and kondana rat. As per the IUCN status 29
mammals (such as, Chinese Pangolin, fishing cat, Gangetic dolphin, golden langur, hispid hare etc.) in
the country come under the endangered category.

10. TN inks $400-m loan pact with World Bank

Topics: Governance
The World Bank and the government of Tamil Nadu on Thursday signed a loan and project agreement
that would enable the international bank to provide $400 million to the government for its
Sustainable Urban Development Project.
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The loan agreement, signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry
of Finance, and Onno Ruhl, country director, World Bank (India), will provide two-thirds of the $600
million that has been budgeted for the project.
The project aims at improving urban services in participating Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in a financially
sustainable manner and piloting improved urban management practices in selected cities. As such,
the project consists of three parts investment in urban services including water, sewerage,
municipal solid waste, urban transportation and storm water drainage; results-based grants for urban
governance; and urban sector technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of ULBs and urban
sector officials.
Earlier in the year, the government of Tamil Nadu, along with the Centre, signed a $300-million loan
agreement for the Second Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project. The aim of the project was to improve
the capacity, quality and safety of Tamil Nadus core road network.
These two loan agreements add to the World Banks portfolio in Tamil Nadu, which amounted to
$1,012.6 million as of May 2014.
Prior to these two agreements, the World Bank has been supporting three single-state projects
amounting to $541.7 million. These include the Tamil Nadu Empowerment and Poverty Reduction
Project (RWSRP), the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration
and Management Project, and the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project. Apart from this, there are five
multi-state projects being implemented in Tamil Nadu, with the States share amounting to $470.9
While it looks like the World Bank is increasingly putting money in Tamil Nadu, the overall scenario
in India is one of fluctuating funding. From providing $5,563 million to India in 2011, the World Banks
loans to the country reduced to $1,334 million in 2013, only to rise again to $5,236 million in 2014.
So far, the 2015 amount stands at $2,378 million.

11. 20 soldiers killed in Manipur ambush

Topics: Internal Security
At least 20 personnel of the 6 Dogra Regiment were killed when suspected militants ambushed their
convoy in Chandel district, bordering Myanmar, in Manipur on Thursday.
Eleven of those injured have been airlifted to a military hospital at Leimakhong.
In a joint statement, the Naga Army, the Kangleipak Communist Party and the Kanglei Yawol Kunna
Lup claimed responsibility for the ambush.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh ordered an all-out coordinated offensive against the militants.
He held a high-level meeting with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Adviser Ajit
Doval and the Chief of the Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh.
A high alert has been sounded in Manipur and Nagaland.
Though security on the border has been increased and reinforcements have been rushed in, most of
the assailants are suspected to have escaped to their camps in Myanmar.
The insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons for the attack. Government
sources said the Army personnel could not even put up an effective counter-attack.
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Modi condemns attack

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: Todays mindless attack in Manipur is very distressing. I
bow to each and every soldier who has sacrificed his life for the nation.
Mr. Parrikar condemned the attack. Congress president Sonia Gandhi extended her condolences to
the family members of those killed, saying the entire nation stood indebted once again to the brave
Preliminary findings suggested the role of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang
group) in the worst attack in two decades. The group unilaterally withdrew from a ceasefire
agreement on March 27.
Arunachal attack
Three soldiers of the 4 Rajput Regiment were killed in an ambush allegedly carried out by the group
in Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering Nagaland, in May.

12. New demand by states could hit GST rollout

Topics: Economy
In a setback to the governments plan of rolling out the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by April 1, 2016,
the States demanded on Thursday that the Centre compensate them fully for any loss of revenue
during the first five years of transition to the new tax regime.
In the Constitution Amendment Bill for the introduction of the GST, pending before a Select
Committee of the Rajya Sabha, the Centre proposes to compensate the States fully for the first three
years, followed by three-fourths of the losses in the fourth year and half during the fifth.
The States are worried about revenue loss, Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani said after a meeting
of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers here on Thursday.
Mr. Mani, chairman of the empowered committee, said the States would present five broad concerns
before the Select Committee on June 16. They wanted power to levy additional sales tax over and
above the GST on tobacco and tobacco products. Some States wanted that the purchase tax be not
subsumed in the GST. However, if it were to be merged, then they should be awarded compensation
for 15 years. The committee, Mr. Mani said, did not finalise at the meeting the revenue neutral rate
of levy for the GST.
The States raised concerns over the proposed provision of an additional 1 per cent tax over and above
the GST, which the Centre offered as an assurance against apprehensions of loss of revenue.

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Current Affairs | June 6, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

1. What are the main river basins in Africa? Give its importance.
2. Directionally and in terms of content gold monetisation reflects practical approach. Consider
the statement and evaluate.

3. Briefly explain the role of lead in environment pollution and its cycle.
4. Discuss the course of relationship between India and Netherlands.
5. Reactive measures have never achieved lasting results in tackling insurgency in north east.

6. Humongous task of regulating cyberspace. How to bring in organization? Give measures.

7. New world needs new methods to ensure safety standards. Intense urge to regulate
everything will only make things worse. Explain.

8. Significant

international impact in India comes with states participation in economic

dialogues. Justify.
9. Infrastructure backlogs to improve women's participation in defence is a must watch
phenomena. Exemplify.

1. African village visitor centre planned for Victoria falls

Topics: Geography
Zimbabwe could soon approve construction of a large new tourist centre at Victoria Falls to cater to
120,000 visitors a year, officials said Friday, as developers denied allegations that the facility will be
a gaudy theme park.
The $18-million park at the UNESCO world heritage site will boast a replica Africa village and will use
exhibits to tell the story of the waterfalls known locally as Mosi oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders).
Earlier reports had said the government planned a Disney-style development that would include a
zoo and several hotels to cater for many Zimbabweans who struggle to afford the current upmarket
accommodation on offer.
Traditional customs
It will be a giant village, African in design and style, showcasing village scenes, traditional customs
and history, Dave Glynn, chairman of the developers Africa Albida Tourism, said.
We are not building a zoo. We are not going to have animals in display cages. And this is not a theme
park. This is strictly to tell the story of Victoria Falls.
The 80-acre (32-hectare) park will have historical, cultural, wildlife and entertainment sections. The
park is expected to open in 2017 and employ 150 people. AFP
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2. Interest rate, a key to its success

Topics: Economy
The Indian consumers affinity for gold has been sought to be addressed by the draft Gold
Monetisation Scheme (GMS) announced in the Union Budget 2015-16. As the worlds largest gold
consumer, Indian demand was at 843 tonne in 2014, with most of it being imported.
World Gold Council (WGC) estimates that Indians hold around 22,000 tonne of the yellow metal.
Bringing even a part of this into the system through the GMS would help reduce import dependence.
The government was receiving suggestions from industry till June 2, 2015. The GMS aims to bring
Indian private holdings of gold into circulation as also provide gold owners with a return as also do
away with storage and security risks. WGC said the scheme can provide a fillip to the gem and
jewellery sector by making gold available as loans from the banks. Both directionally and in terms
of content, this draft reflects a practical approach, Somasundaram P. R., Managing DirectorIndia,
WGC said.
The draft guidelines envisage using 350 hallmarking centres as a starting point for customers to
deposit gold which may be inadequate to address demand. With more than 2,000 bank branches
already accepting gold as collateral for loans, WGC has recommended that bank and NBFC branches
be allowed to accept gold deposits directly.
The proposed scheme is to replace the scheme in existence since 1999 but which has garnered a
mere 40 tonnes of gold offering a 0.75-1 per cent rate of interest. Industry watchers expect a rate of
3-6 per cent to attract consumers.
A significant make-or-break factor for the scheme will be the interest rate, Ashok Minawala, former
Chairman, All India Gem & Jewellery Traders Federation, said, adding. The earlier schemes poor
interest rate did not work and the new one would certainly have to better it to incentivise gold
In a report, CARE Ratings said, educating consumers about the benefits of the scheme will be crucial,
as it will be offering them attractive interest rates to part with their gold holdings.

3. Soil, source of lead in Maggi

Topics: Health
The source of the heavy metal lead in Maggi noodles is most likely soil, say Food Safety officials who
investigated the issue.
The lead content was found to be higher in the tastemaker of the product, which contains onions,
than in the rest of the product, which led to the inference that the presence of heavy metal in the
soil in which these were grown must have led to its presence in the food item, Y.S. Malik, Chief
Executive Officer, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), told The Hindu.
Rarely tested
Mr. Malik said food samples reported for adulteration in the FSSAIs Annual Report for 2014-15 were
mostly milk, milk products, edible oil and water. Processed food was rarely tested in government
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laboratories. Asked if that would not leave consumers in the dark about whether it was safe, he said:
The FSSAI has been functional for merely four years, though the Food Safety and Standards Act was
passed in 2006, and as per Section 26, there is huge responsibility on the shoulders of food business
operators for self-compliance. If FSSAI starts cracking down on the enforcement front, there will be
the allegation of running another inspector raj on our part.
Rup Lal, general secretary, Indian Network for Soil Contamination and Research, and Professor of
Molecular Biology, Delhi University, said the lack of efficient environmental regulation to stop the
release of toxic industrial effluents into waterbodies was one of the primary reasons heavy metals
such as lead had found their way into the food chain.
B.D. Tripathy, Professor at Banaras Hindu University, said that in the course of a study conducted at
the Centre for Environmental Science and Technology, sewage generated from Varanasi was found
to be high in lead, cadmium, chromium and nickel content due to its mixing with effluents coming
from thousands of small-scale industries there. The sewage mixed with untreated effluents was
released into the Ganga without treatment, he said. Even when this effluent mixed river water was
treated, the heavy metal presence in it was not removed, and this was later used to irrigate crop
fields where wheat, vegetables and other such items were grown. The findings of Mr. Tripathys
research were admitted as evidence in the Allahabad High Court which held the Dinapur sewage
treatment plant as responsible for toxifying the river water.
Once heavy metals present in polluted river water enter the soil, it results in crops growing in them
absorbing these metals. After entering the food chain by way of consumption, the toxic element
magnifies in concentration within the body of the organism through a process known as biological
magnification, he said.
Mr. Tripathy compared the present controversy surrounding Maggi with that of Coca Cola earlier, in
which pesticide were found in 2003. Even in that case the presence of pesticide was from the water
used to manufacture the cold drink.
Although consumed in small quantities, the human body can develop a resistance to the heavy metal;
if present in large concentrations the metal can cause considerable harm.

4. India-Netherland to fight terrorism

Topics: International, IR India and the World
India and the Netherlands will collaborate on fighting terror and cyber crime and have decided to set
up a joint working group on counter-terrorism, which will hold its first meeting on June 19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement on Friday, after meeting his Netherlands
counterpart, Mark Rutte, who is in India on a two-day visit.
Mr. Modi said both countries agreed that they stood to benefit from closer bilateral and multilateral
collaboration in countering terrorism and extremism.
Cyber crime
The two nations, which are keen on forging an alliance to fight terror and cyber crime, are looking to
increase bilateral trade and will sign 18 agreements on water management, infrastructure
development, defence and maritime cooperation.
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We have the experience in fighting the IS in Iraq. India has experience in fighting terrorism as well;
we will exchange information on how to deal with terror and share our experiences, Mr. Rutte told
presspersons here.
The Netherlands is part of the group of countries led by the United States that is helping to break the
fighting power of the IS terrorist organisation; it has deployed military trainers to help Iraqi and
Kurdish armed forces, personnel and F-16 fighters for airstrikes.
The visiting Dutch delegation offered its expertise in flood control and for cleaning the Ganga under
the Namami Gange programme.
Defence cooperation
Indias economy is growing faster than Chinas, and though it has its challenges, there is scope for
the Netherlands and India to work together. Right now our trade is at six billion Euros and over 200
Dutch companies are already working here, but we are looking at possibilities in other areas, Mr.
Rutte said.
The Netherlands, which has supported New Delhis bid for permanent membership of a reformed
United Nations Security Council, is looking at collaboration with India in the defence sector and
infrastructure development, particularly in Mumbai.
India, which is the fifth largest source of investments for the Netherlands, for its part has announced
e-visas for Dutch visitors to give tourism a fillip.
The two countries will sign agreements on manufacturing dredgers at the Cochin Shipyard, making
measles and rubella vaccine with transfer of technology and collaborating on developing coastal
roads and metro lines in India, borrowing Dutch expertise.

5. Manipur: Waiting to happen

Topics: Internal Security
The killing on June 4 in Manipurs Chandel district of 20 Army personnel of the 6 Dogra Regiment was
an incident waiting to happen. It is a miracle that such attacks have not taken place earlier and will
be equally surprising if they dont recur.
Given Manipurs troubled past, there is something eerie about its tranquillity today. Once upon a
time, Manipur used to be the most insurgency-affected State in the Northeast, with more than 30
outfits operating there. However, over the last five years (except 2012), the State has reported less
than 100 insurgency-related deaths per year. Since 2008, the annual fatalities among security forces
have remained below 20. This year, till the Chandel ambush took place, only two security personnel
had been killed.
This shows that with arrests of key leaders and with defections and splits within militant outfits,
militancy in Manipur is now at its weakest. However, the June 4 attack proves that even during a time
of weakness, the militants have the capacity to carry out a serious strike.
Pointing at the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) or the Khaplang
faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K), or blaming the probable violation of
standard operating procedures by Army personnel or the killing of a woman in firing by the Assam
Rifles, mischievously linked to this ambush, are irrelevant.
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The Myanmar link

It was hoped that Myanmars promised cooperation would end insurgency movements in the
Northeast. On November 22, 2011, Mullappally Ramachandran, then Minister of State in the Ministry
of Home Affairs, told the Lok Sabha, The use of Myanmars territory by Indian Insurgent Groups
(IIGs) for carrying out violence in Northeastern States has regularly been taken up at various highlevel interactions between India and Myanmar every year. As a result of regular follow-up, [the]
Government of Myanmar has shown willingness to act against separatist groups and has even taken
some action against IIGs. Three years after this optimistic speech, there has been no concrete action
on Myanmars part. Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs, told Parliament in August 2014
that the IIGs continue to use Myanmar territory notwithstanding Myanmars repeated assurances
not to allow its territory for activities inimical to India.
This proves that without Myanmars cooperation similar to how Bhutan in 2003 and Bangladesh
since 2009 launched systematic clean-up operations the problem of militancy in Manipur,
Nagaland and Assam cannot be solved. Nothing short of a prolonged joint operation with the Indian
security forces stationed on the Indo-Myanmar border will work.
Since the 1994 MoU, India and Myanmar have conducted annual security negotiations at two levels:
the Home Secretary and the Joint Secretary level. On each occasion, Myanmar has assured India that
it will not allow its soil to be used by IIGs. However, the assurances have remained confined to paper
and press statements.
Myanmar suffers from two drawbacks that make peace along the border look extremely remote.
One, it is still busy arriving at a country-wide ceasefire with the ethnic armed groups inside its
borders, which includes the NSCN-K. Two, despite being supplied with weapons and equipment by
India, its policies against the IIGs have never gone beyond small areas and short-duration operations.
Advanced information continues to be passed on to the insurgents by Myanmars local military
commanders, who receive protection money from these groups.
Indias own faults
Indias own efforts at ensuring some degree of border security along the porous 1,643-kilometre
Indo-Myanmar border must come under some introspection. A paper submitted by the National
Security Advisory Board in 2010 pointed to the fact that the 46-battalion strong Assam Rifles, the
paramilitary force that guards the Indo-Myanmar border, is so short of strength that it stations its
forces 40 kilometres away from the border. It deployed 31 battalions in counter-insurgency duties,
leaving only 15 battalions to guard the risky border.
Moreover, operational control of the paramilitary force has remained a bone of contention between
the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Defence. The proposal under the United
Progressive Alliance government to replace Assam Rifles with the Border Security Force has been
nixed by the present regime. The fact that MHAs own assessments of the threats emanating from
Myanmar are so out of sync with reality is evident from the following statement. On March 2, 2015,
an MHA official told the media, There is no real danger from any activities on the India-Myanmar
border. In fact, there is a need to strengthen ties between the two countries and allow borderless
travel and trade. Any additional build-up of force or change in deployment will send a wrong signal
to the country which is our neighbour and friend. Such laxity has resulted in the Indo-Myanmar
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border being guarded by a force that simply does not have the adequate numbers to foil militants or
even arms and drug smugglers.
Now, the Home Minister has called for strongest action against the ambush on the Army personnel.
This will only amount to a temporary area domination exercise; the militants would have fled to
safety in Myanmar anyway. Just as the 2014 massacre by the National Democratic Front in Bodoland
in Assam and the army operation that neutralised over 150 of its cadres did not result in the
decimation of the outfit, militancy in Manipur will continue to survive. Reactive measures, as the
history of insurgency in the Northeast tells us, have never achieved lasting results.

6. Who rules cyberspace?

Topics: Internet, CyberSpace
The Internet evokes a deep dilemma of whether to govern or not. Few things work as well as the
Internet does: its always on, always obliging, and consists of endless possibilities, routinely conjuring
wonders that we have not dreamt of. On the other hand, it is difficult not to be troubled by how the
Internet is everywhere, but without any clear means of accountability and political reaction to how
much it is changing around us.
But without sufficient clarity regarding the nature of the problems and the required solutions, mere
general political scepticism cannot hold a candle to the populist governmental-hands-off-theInternet sentiment. The latter is expectedly strongest among the richer classes, who trust the devices
of the market to get the Internet to do their bidding. Other than routine knee-jerk reactions over
people freely expressing themselves on the Internet, which could threaten various kinds of power
elites, while also sometimes causing genuine security and cultural concerns, there exists no serious
political conceptions around the Internet in India today, much less its appropriate governance in
public interest.
This state of affairs is quite detrimental to society as the Internet is becoming closely associated with
social power and control in almost all areas. It has become like a global neural system running through
and transforming all social sectors. Whoever has control over this neural network begins to wield
unprecedented power economic, political, social and cultural. Two elements of this emerging
system are the connectivity architecture and the continuous bits of information generated by each
and every micro activity of our increasingly digitised existence what is generally known as Big Data.
Even a superficial scan of how the triple phenomenon of digitisation, networking and datafication is
occurring in every area will suggest the nature of consolidation of power in the hands of anyone who
can control these two elements.
Every sector is impacted
Take the agriculture sector for example. Monsanto is now increasingly a Big Data company, as it holds
almost field-wise micro information on climate, soil type, neighbourhood agri-patterns, and so on.
Such data will form the backbone of even its traditional agri-offerings. It is easy to understand how
data control-based lock-ins are going to be even more powerful and monopolistic than the traditional
dependencies in this sector. Recently, John Deere, the worlds largest agricultural machinery maker,
told the U.S. Copyright Office that farmers dont own their tractors. Because computer code runs
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through modern tractors, farmers receive an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate
the vehicle. There is a pattern of end-to-end informational controls.
Similar developments are occurring in every other sector. Policymaking and governance are
becoming dangerously dependent on Big Data, even as the public sector is all but giving up its
traditional responsibilities for public statistics. The state is increasingly dependent on data collected
and controlled by a few global corporations. Data companies such as Google are entering verticals
like automobile and health in a manner that is threatening the traditional players in these sectors.
Doctors subscribing to medical information networks carrying patient data, disease demographics,
pharma information, and so on could soon become but appendages of the network. The network
they think right now is a mere support may become the primary agent in the relationship. Such is the
power of the network, vis-a-vis its peripheral users. Network and data providers in the education
sector sell their services in the name of personalised offerings for every student, and every context.
Schools with resources may find them alluring, but then they merely add to the power of the
monopolistic networks, at the expense of their peripheral users. As their power consolidates, so do
the terms of engagements mutate in the favour of the network controllers.
Here we have deliberately used examples of power shifts across whole sectors induced by digital
networks. On the individual-use front, it is perhaps even easier to see the kind of social power
exercised by those who can at will alter the algorithms of Facebook and Google, which increasingly
provide us the logic and pattern of our social relationships and of means of accessing information
and opinion making.
All this should set us thinking about who really controls the digital connectivity patterns and Big Data.
In this regard, one can speak of a global unipolar networked-digital complex, with its elements of
political and commercial power, both overwhelmingly concentrated in the U.S..
We are therefore witness to a phenomenon which is of extreme social importance, spanning all
sectors of society. And the powerful levers of control of this phenomenon almost entirely lie in an
eco-political domain over which the Indian society or state has no control, and very limited influence.
This should be a public policy nightmare. However, you would not suspect it if you were watching the
political discourse in India, not only inside the government but also outside. One comes across
periodic discussions on freedom of expression issues, while the state, and some civil society actors,
have begun to show heightened security-related anxieties. But one hears nothing about the overall
new architecture of social power and control that is getting built, with its core in the U.S. It implicates
very significant long-term economic, political, social and cultural issues that should greatly concern a
country like India. Even freedom of expression and security are significantly related to this new power
Governments are traditionally slow on the take with regard to such rapidly moving phenomena,
however socially important they might be. Civil society engagement in this area is dominated by
middle class interests, whereby markets tend to be considered as essentially benign. Their major
struggle is against the excesses of the state, the Internet no doubt being a significant new arena for
such excesses. This has resulted in serious blind-spots regarding the larger architectural issues about
the global Internet, with far-reaching economic, social and cultural implications. It is urgently
required to undertake a systematic examination of these issues, situating them in the geo-political
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and geo-economic logics that overwhelmingly drive them. Appropriate domestic and foreign policies
have to be developed within such a larger understanding.
Indias geopolitical options
Even for a country of Indias stature, it is not easy to play the geo-political game on its own, and
certainly not in an area viewed by the dominant actors as among the most crucial for establishing
global political and economic domination. No quarters will be given here, as has been clear from the
pronounced non-activity in the limited UN-based global forums dealing with Internet governance
issues. This, therefore, is not a field for the faint-hearted; it requires strong real politik approaches.
The only option left for India is to go with the strong nations that are similarly placed with respect to
U.S.s digital hegemony. Although this is one area where the EU countries are almost as much the
victims as other countries, it is unlikely that they will break their geo-political alliance with the U.S.
any time soon. They would either keep suffering silently, or seek solutions at the bilateral level with
the U.S., and through strengthening EU level regulation. Just last month, the economic ministers of
Germany and France sought a general regulatory framework for essential digital platforms at the
EU level.
India should work through the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to develop
an alternative to the U.S.-based global unipolar networked-digital complex. This may be the only
viable path right now. It could be difficult for BRICS to work together on issues involving civil and
political rights, for which reason the cooperation could focus on economic issues. The global
architecture of the Internet today is mostly determined by its geo-economic underpinnings.
Going beyond the typical one-off treatment of Internet and big data issues, BRICS must begun to see
them in a larger geo-systemic framework. The last BRICS summit gave a resounding response to the
global financial hegemonies by setting up a New Development Bank, and an alternative reserve
currency system. The next BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, in July 2015 should come up with a similar
systemic response to the U.S.-centred Internet. This can be achieved by pulling together a strong
framework for BRICS cooperation on digital economy. That would be the biggest game changer with
respect to what is now a complete stalemate over global governance of the Internet.

7. Taxis and Technology

Topics: Society and Women Enpowerment
The Delhi governments rejection on Wednesday of fresh licence applications of app-based taxi firms
such as Uber and Ola is justified if it is premised on, as has been widely reported, their failure to
comply with an earlier ban. The administration had banned app-based taxi services in December 2014
after it was alleged that a cab driver working for Uber raped a woman passenger.
Following this, these taxi firms were asked to apply for licences to operate. They did so. But then they
have been accused of not complying with the ban. The rejection of the application comes just days
after a passenger aboard Uber was molested by the driver. Run-ins with authority arent anything
new for tech-enabled firms such as Uber. The world over, Uber has clashed with governments and of
course with the old order of organised taxi services, which it inevitably disrupts. It is hardly surprising
when old, regulated businesses cry foul about new, smart technologies that disrupt them. The
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disrupters are marketplaces they own no cars but make their money linking people who want a
cab ride and drivers who want business. The government, at some point, as in the case of the rape
incident, has to show it is acting tough. And it does so by means of bans. But even without getting
into the question of whether the ban was justified in the first place, the point to wonder about is why
Uber and others didnt comply with the government order. Did they? How are they going to explain
Now, with the Department of Telecom asking Internet service providers to block the websites of the
taxi services in Delhi, the ban order is finally enforceable. Nonetheless, it is still important to question
the ban in the first place. The reasons were weak in December when the ban order was first sent out.
And they continue to be weak, notwithstanding the fact that they were not complied with in the first
place. It can be stated without a doubt that hiring a cab is far easier now than before. The ban doesnt
make any party better off. And the problem of safety in Delhi isnt one that was caused by these appbased services. The problem is bigger and older. Governments across the world and businesses across
the world will be increasingly confronted by new offerings, enabled by technology and by a new world
order where innovation is the order of the day. Today, the battle is over app-based taxis. Tomorrow,
it could be over something else. The governments point is: without a licence, there is no keeping tab.
But the police, by smartly downloading the taxi apps and catching drivers who were violating the ban,
showed how it can be done. The new world needs new methods, not old rules. The wiser thing is to
work together to ensure safety standards. The intense urge to regulate everything will only make
things worse.

8. Warm contact, lukewarm outcomes

Topics: IR India and the World, International
Sampark, Samvad, Parinam Visits, [Contact], Dialogue, Results was Union External Affairs
Minister Sushma Swarajs three-word criterion for success when she recently outlined the ministrys
achievements on the completion of one year by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic
Alliance (NDA) government.
She also recounted how the government had connected with 101 countries. Yet, of these countries
the government has interacted with 18 of which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited none
was as anticipated as his visit to China last month.
Fault lines
Primarily, this visit was to repair the India-China relationship, because regardless of the optics, the
past year has been a particularly bad one for the equation between the two neighbours along all the
fault lines: on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), across the subcontinent, and in the South China Sea.
On the LAC, a three-month long stand-off at Chumar in Ladakh cast its shadow on Chinese President
Xi Jinpings visit to India in September 2014. Next came another stand-off over the subcontinent,
most visible in Sri Lanka, over the issue of Chinese submarines in Indias ocean. Other Indian
initiatives such as relief efforts undertaken by both countries, among others, in Nepal after the
earthquake there in April; Mr. Modis visit in March 2015 to the Indian Ocean island nations
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(Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka); or the extension of credit lines to Bangladesh and Afghanistan
were, often erroneously, played up in the public narrative as Indias way of countering China.
On the subject of the neighbourhood, Ms. Swaraj made it clear that India is upset with the $46 billion
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through India. That Mr. Xi made the announcement of
projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (an 870MW hydropower project and the Havelian-Thakot
highway) just weeks before Mr. Modis China visit was in itself both puzzling and worrying.
Finally, there was the fault line that upsets China the most that of the South China Sea and Indias
perceived shift towards the United States and Japan on the issue. Each of Mr. Modis references to
Chinese aggression and ensuring the freedom of navigation during his speech in Japan in
September 2014, his discussions with the Vietnam Prime Minister during his visit to India in October
2014, his address at the East Asia Summit in Nay Pyi Taw (November 2014), the India-U.S. joint
statement in Washington and the joint vision statement in Delhi have all sent sharp ripples through
People contact
All this meant that Mr. Modi had his task cut out for him when he landed in Xian, China, to a grand
reception and several hours of interactions with Mr. Xi, finally capped by a Tang dynasty style
banquet. His interactions at the Tsinghua University, and Fudan University, on subsequent days, were
equally friendly. As the Director of the Institute of China Studies, Alka Acharya, who visited China two
weeks later said, The visit has left a positive impact, especially at the level of citizens.
While the welcome accorded to Mr. Modi was unusually warm, eventually the visit will have to be
judged, as Ms. Swaraj put it, not by the contact, but by the dialogue and outcome. And while the
Modi visit has helped further people-to-people contacts a great deal, beginning with Mr. Modis foray
on Weibo, the Chinese social media network, the visit didnt appear to measure up to the
governments claims on the substantive issues.
Unresolved issues
At her press conference, Ms. Swaraj listed these substantive issues as being: Economic issues, i.e.
the trade deficit, and political issues, i.e. LAC clarification, stapled visas, land boundary agreement
(settlement) and the sharing of hydrological data. All prior engagement with China, she said, had
been goodie goodie and merely customary (rasm-rivaaz). While one may discount her casual
dismissal of all boundary talks so far (including the 1993 Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and
Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas, signed by Prime Minister
P.V. Narasimha Rao; the Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation
Between the Republic of India and the Peoples Republic of China by Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee in 2003; and the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement signed by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh in 2013) as the rhetoric of a government on its first anniversary, the fact is that this
visit saw no new proposal on the boundary issue.
On at least two occasions, Mr. Modis suggestion to China of a clarification of the LAC has been met
with silence, and has received no mention in the joint statement. In terms of an outcome this is a
non-starter, says author and Centre for Policy Research analyst Srinath Raghavan, adding that we
have tried this in the 1990s and even exchanged some maps of the Western sector. Those attempts
ended in an impasse when it became obvious that the perceptions of the LAC by the Indian and
Chinese Armies, respectively, were far removed from each other. Changing tack, Mr. Vajpayee then
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agreed to set up the SR [Special Representatives]-talks to resolve the boundary issue once and for
all, rather than to try and clarify the LAC.
Therefore, it is significant that the latest Joint Statement (paragraph 11) also only records a
commitment to the SR talks and the three-stage process, while agreeing to operationalise a new
confidence-building measure, of hotlines between the militaries. Subsequent public exchanges
between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials over
the McMahon Line and the LAC clarification only underline the gap in perception.
The issue of stapled visas for residents of Arunachal Pradesh remains unresolved, as it is linked to
the boundary issue, Ms. Swaraj said. Going forward, the government may find it useful to consult the
interlocutors of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government (apart from Foreign Secretary S.
Jaishankar who was Ambassador to China), when the Chinese Embassy stopped stapling visas for the
residents of Jammu and Kashmir in 2011.
On the sharing of hydrological data, the India-China joint statement records no progress either, and
the paragraph on the issue (paragraph 27, Joint Statement, May 2015) mirrors the appreciation to
China for providing flood-season hydrological data and the assistance in emergency management
of trans-boundary rivers that the Singh-Li joint statement (paragraph 7, Joint Statement October
2013) did.
Although Ms. Swaraj didnt list it as a key issue, Indias concerns on cross-border terrorism were
mentioned for the first time in the joint statement (paragraph 32) with a clear phrase on agreeing to
disrupt terror networks and their financing and stop cross-border movement of terrorists in
accordance with UN and international laws. This would be an important step, except that Chinas
actions have belied those strong words. As reported over the past few months, China has blocked at
least three Indian requests against the terror elements, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Syed
Salahuddin, listed by the UNs 1267 committee on monitoring Taliban and al-Qaeda entities.
Breaking down the MoUs
Finally, the economic issues of bilateral trade and the growing deficit. Much has been made of the
$22 billion in memoranda of understanding (MoU) signed during Mr. Modis visit. To begin with, such
big figures can be misleading as only a fraction comes to fruition. Much like the figures of $46 billion
announced by Mr. Xi for the CPEC in April, or the $50 billion announced by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
for Brazil in May 2015, this will have to be confirmed when the money actually comes in.
Of the 26 MoUs signed in Mr. Modis presence, a chunk is between private entities, which includes
the Adani group and Bharti Airtel, and for financing and credit facilities from the Chinese
development banks, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Development Bank. The
Indian Embassy has refused to respond to a request for a break-up of all the MoUs, but an official
conceded that at least half were straight loans. While the loans are an important precedent for
Chinese banks, in terms of expressing confidence in Indian companies, these along with a few other
MoUs signed on renewable energy are unlikely to have any impact on the massive $48-billion trade
deficit between the two countries. According to a parliamentary written reply by Union Commerce
Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in 2014-15, Indias exports to China stood at $11.95 billion while
imports were $60.39 billion. It remains to be seen how the newly set up joint working group on trade
deficit will address the issue, even as the deficit has ballooned by another 34 per cent during a difficult
year in bilateral ties. A more significant development that should have been highlighted is this: the
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State-to-State economic partnerships, with Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in
particular, and which Chinese companies are eyeing as manufacturing bases.
Restart in ties
As a consequence, Mr. Modis visit may not have been a gamechanger on the substantive issues
outlined by Ms. Swaraj, but should be seen as a restart point for those ties, with fresh commitments
from the leadership on both sides to address issues whose resolution has evaded them for decades.
It has also put Mr. Modi centre-stage in China, where he is seen as a man who means business with
the mandate to get that business done. Most significantly, it has brought Mr. Modi and the NDAs
foreign policy full circle in a year when he has engaged China early and often. Completing that circle
of initial engagement is an important first step as they follow through on Deng Xiaopings idea, often
repeated by Mr. Modi, of an Asian century, possible once the two countries resolve their

9. OTA loses firing range at Hanumanthapuram

Topics: Defence
The training imparted to cadets of the Indian Army at the Officers Training Academy (OTA) here has
suffered a setback with the State government revoking its permission for using the notified firing
range at Hanumanthapuram in Chengalpet district.
Though the Army has been using the firing range for several decades now for training its cadets on
using heavy ammunition, the State government revoked its permission in January, following reports
of citing a leopard in the vicinity, official sources told The Hindu .
Though the Academy at St. Thomas Mount has firing ranges within its campus, they can be used only
for training in small arms. Only at Hanumanthapuram firing range, can we train our cadets is use of
81-mm mortars and hand-held rocket launchers, a senior Army official said.
After the permission to use Hanumanthapuram as a firing range was revoked, cadets at OTA are taken
to Veeramalai firing range in Tiruchi, which is over 400 km from the Academy for training in firing
We have to carry our ammunition and cadets all the way. Though the training at the Academy is for
10 months, we are forced to spend at least a week in taking men and material to the new firing
range, he said, pointing out that even the Veeramalai firing range was not fit for training in mortars
and hand-held rocket launchers.
When contacted a senior State government official confirmed the revoking of permission, citing
reports of a leopard in the nearby villages of Chengalpet district few months back.
The Army has approached us seeking temporary permission to use the firing range at least for four
to five days. The District Collector has sent a proposal regarding the firing range. We are looking into
it, he said.
The range with a hillock behind it is located in the protected forest area and is an ideal spot for
training Army cadets as well as security personnel, as it is away from human habitation and located
within an hours drive from the State capital.
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The open area adjoining the firing range was used often for adventure activity like skydiving.
The OTA is the only Academy in the country that trains women officers of the Indian Army.

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Current Affairs | June 8, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams


What are the hurdles in implementation of Gold monetisation scheme.

Discuss how Rupay is useful in payment system. Describe its role.
What are social and cultural practice of belongings? Explain.
Discuss the lessons learnt by India and China from Wangdung incident.

1. Will the Gold Monetisation scheme glitter?

Topics: Economy
The Finance Minister had spoken about it in the budget. The Finance Ministry published draft
guidelines during the third week of May of a new gold monetisation scheme, which it proposes to
implement after incorporating feedback from different sections.
The idea to monetise gold is by no means new. In fact, various schemes to tap the gold hoard already
exist. Though launched with a lot of fanfare, they have garnered very little subscription.
On economic as well as practical grounds, there has been a continuing need for a scheme, which
would basically seek to lure gold now lying idle in households, religious institutions and so on and
convert them into financial assets. The objective has been to remove the disincentives that have
bedevilled earlier schemes.
The bait offered is interest plus the promise that those who deposit gold now can take it back as gold.
The interest rate offered on similar schemes so far has been nominal, and this might have been a
deterrent to many prospective depositors. In the latest scheme, there is a promise of tax exemption
on top of higher interest rates. If implemented, that would enhance the attractiveness of the scheme
but for many other reasons will hardly be a clincher.
Even more problematic is the sales pitch based on gold in gold out, meaning you can take back your
initial investment in the same form, namely as gold. This is deceptive even though the government is
not distorting facts.
However, much the government assures them that the gold value will be protected and that even
the interest will be paid in gold, there is bound to be a resistance from many households. This is
because gold in the jewellery will be melted down (after removing the sludge in the form of bars.
Standardisation with respect to the gold that is melted is a must. That runs into difficulties straight
away. People buy jewellery mostly for consumption, and may be as a hedge against inflation. It is not
uncommon to pass on jewellery from one generation to the next. Family heirlooms can hardly be
enticed by a gold mobilisation scheme.

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Difficulties galore
On the opposite side, in times of distress, the habit among large sections is to take a gold loan or
pledge jewels. These might be disadvantageous, the rate of interest charged in the unorganised
sector might be usurious but the gold ornament remains in tact.
For banks, gold loans have been among major activities in some States. Agricultural gold loans have
been well recognised in states such as Andhra Pradesh supplementing off-season lower incomes from
the farm sector. Of course, some non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), especially from Kerala,
have built up huge businesses over gold loans.
The draft guidelines have laid down several steps that will have to be taken as many as six
before a gold deposit account is set up. These include taking the gold jewellery to approved centres
for melting them and getting the gold content certified (as to purity etc). Needless to add, the number
of such centres will have to up exponentially and their integrity should be beyond question. But, even
with the governments best intentions, the new scheme might flounder over these practical but
necessary steps.
There is hope that the scheme will be infinitely more successful with regard to gold held by temples
and other religious institutions. One, however, tends to disagree. Depositing accumulated gold with
a bank and earning interest is a laudable move but is likely to be very controversial. There will always
be a suspicion that politicians will get into the act. Moreover, religious traditions built up over
centuries might have to be reinterpreted to suit modern day banking.
A better alternative would be to persuade rich temples to convert a portion of their gold stock into
coins, pendants and so on bearing the stamp of the deity. This has already been tried out but from
the point of view of bringing gold into mainstream financial sector will have very little relevance.
For the macro-economy, any scheme that would help in moderating the import of the precious metal
is welcome. Gold imports rank just behind petroleum imports in the countrys import bill. One has to
keep coming with fresh ideas.
One last point: The new scheme will be an improvement over existing schemes it encourages
deposits of very small amounts (35 gram). It guarantees return of principal and interest in gold. Yet,
it is incomplete in one way. For the gold market to enlarge, banks should not only receive but also
sell gold in a two-way process involving bid and offer. Simultaneously, efforts must be made to link
ordinary bank accounts such as savings bank account and recurring deposit to gold.
True `financialisation is a two-way process. Among its many advantages, it can demystify gold. If it
can be bought and sold over-the- counter and that too even in small denominations, its aura will
diminish over time.

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2. Banking on the Rupay

Topics: Economy
It was recently revealed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), a government agency,
that RuPay-branded credit cards would be launched in less than 10 months from now. Lalatendu
What is RuPay?
RuPay is Indias own card payment scheme. Like all other card payment schemes, notably Visa and
MasterCard, it was created to ensure cashless transactions. The scheme was conceived by NPCI, an
initiative of the Reserve Bank of India and an umbrella institution for all retail payment systems in
the country.
Why the name RuPay?
RuPay is a play of the words rupee and payment. It was originally called IndiaPay.
So, you can do with RuPay what you can do with other cards?
Yes, you can use them at ATMs, as well as while shopping both online and offline.
How does any card system work?
Imagine you are paying for your grocery purchases at a supermarket using your card. When your card
is swiped, the sellers bank submits the transaction through a card payment network (the likes of Visa
or RuPay) to the bank that issued your card in the first place. The card payment network forms the
middle layer connecting the card issuing bank and the sellers merchant bank.
When there are other such systems already, why one more in the form of RuPay?
RBI wants to back a domestic card system with a few goals. One, provide affordable electronic
transactions for local banks. Two, promote financial inclusion. The idea of a domestic card is to break
the dominance of international majors such as Visa and MasterCard.
The website of NPCI also lists as a benefit the fact that transaction and customer data of RuPay users
will stay in India.
Where are RuPay cards accepted?
They are accepted at more than one million points of sale terminals. Over 20,000 online merchants
accept RuPay cards. Internationally, RuPay cards can be used at all Discover & Diner PoS and ATM
How affordable are RuPay cards for banks?
Banks pay higher transaction fee in case of foreign cards such as Visa and MasterCard. Since the
transaction processing of RuPay happens domestically, it leads to lower cost for clearing and
settlement of transactions. According to NPCI officials, the cost is around one-third of the fee charged
by foreign card brands.
How much does NPCI charge for use of RuPay?
For use at ATMs, banks are charged 45 paise per transaction and 90 paise per transaction at pointof-sale in merchant establishments or e-commerce platforms, irrespective of the transaction value.
Other card systems charge more in case of high value transactions.
What is RuPay's market share in India?

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According to information in the Finance Ministrys website, around 14 crore RuPay cards have been
issued till date. Out of the 50 crore debit cards and two crore credit cards in circulation, this works
out to about 27 per cent. And, this number has been achieved in less than three years. Out of the 14
crore cards issued, 55 per cent are active, according to Finance Ministry data. The recent Jan Dhan
Yojna has given RuPay a big boost as every account-holder is getting the RuPay card. The direct
benefits transfer scheme has also helped in making the RuPay cards active.

-3. Western callousness in Syria

Topics: International
Two Ambassadors to Beirut, Lebanon, from major European countries, chastised me early last year
for my reports for The Hindu and Frontline on Syria. They said that these reports exaggerated the role
of extremists, notably al-Qaeda affiliates and the newly emboldened Islamic State (Daesh).
Stalemate was the tenor of the Syrian civil war, and Daesh had not yet burst into public consciousness
(that would happen when its forces seized Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014). These Ambassadors, wellinformed in their own right, felt that the Syrian rebels would soon deliver the knockout blow against
the government of Bashar al-Assad.
The policy implication of such a view is that the West, led by the United States, continued to provide
diplomatic support to the Syrian opposition and to funnel arms and logistical support for the various
fighters. Criticism of this strategy was met with the canard that the critic was an apologist for the
Assad government. Pipelines of money and arms to these rebels from the Gulf Arabs, Turkey and the
West enabled them to persist in a war that seemed on the surface to be headed more towards a
bloodbath than a clear result. Massacres on all sides shattered the social landscape of Syria. Peace
manoeuvres by the United Nations had few takers, and thus resulted in the resignation of two wellregarded envoys (Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi). War remained on the agenda, and peace was
regarded as nave.
A sober reality
A U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) intelligence report from August 2012 suggests, however, a much
more cold and sober reality. The report came to light in mid-May because of a lawsuit brought by the
conservative group, Judicial Watch, with regard to the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi,
Libya. A senior intelligence official, who cannot go on the record, said that the report is only one
among many. Other reports would likely have contradicted its assessment although it is one that
is highly informed and was circulated across the intelligence community. The DoD assessment,
coming a year into the Syrian civil war, is sober. Events are taking a clear sectarian direction, it
notes. The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving
the insurgency in Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood, largely weakened in Syria by the crackdown in
1982, was the least of these (although it had a disproportionate role in the exiled political opposition
coalition). The most important fighters were the Salafists and al-Qaeda in Iraq, who, the DoD notes,
are familiar with Syria. AQI trained in Syria [in the mid-2000s] and then infiltrated into Iraq.

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The most startling assessment in the report is its recognition that AQI has roots on both sides of the
Syria-Iraq border. Their sectarian affiliation unites the two sides when events happen in the region,
it says, and the porousness of the Syria-Iraq border will facilitate the flow of materiel and recruits.
Iraq had already become the sanctuary and recruiting ground for AQIs actions in Syria (under the
name of Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Syrian chaos became a catalyst for emboldened actions inside Iraq.
If the situation unravels, wrote the DoD analysts, there is the possibility of establishing a declared
or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria. This is precisely what occurred with the 2013
seizure by Daesh of the provincial capital of Raqqa, a major conduit along the Euphrates River. The
DoD even forecast that such a situation would create the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its
old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi. This is what happened in 2014 (Mosul) and 2015 (Ramadi). Daesh,
the DoD wrote, could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist
organizations in Iraq and Syria. The foresight is chilling. The callousness of U.S. policy is that despite
such an assessment the U.S. government continued to support the rebels, who had now largely
been recruited into extremist groups. U.S. President Barack Obamas refrain Assad must go
was not shared by these DoD analysts, who suggested that Assads regime will survive and have
control over Syrian territory. The exiled opposition hoped to create safe havens under international
sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya. But those safe havens, located in areas that the
DoD had already seen as al-Qaeda and Daesh territory, would hardly have provided the base for a
moderate opposition to Assad. By 2012 it was unlikely that the UN Security Council, burned by the
adventure in Libya, would provide international cover for another dangerous escapade. Unwilling to
back away from the maximum position against Mr. Assad, the West denied, in public, that the rebels
had been overrun by the extremists and continued to fan the flames of a heartless war.
No negotiating space
Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, whose commitment to the maximum (Assad must
go) position was illuminated by his presence at the early demonstrations, has now come to the
conclusion that the moderate opposition should negotiate a national political deal to end the
conflict without Assads departure as a pre-condition.
The absence of such negotiating space was precisely what blocked the political dialogue in the early
years of the war. It now appears as if the U.S. had intelligence that their public narrative was false,
and that a more modest approach toward Syrias future could have prevented both the large-scale
suffering and the expansion of Daesh. The credibility of the Wests ambassadors, who have far too
much power to frame this conflict, is, at best, strained. The West, the Gulf Arabs and Turkey, with
their diplomatic and military assistance, kept the fires of the conflict burning, creating the conditions
for the rise of the extremists. That this coalition should now be seen as the fire-fighters of the conflict
is mystifying.

4. Black Money: Pinning the shadow down

Topics: Governance
Recently, on the suggestion of the eminent lawyer, Ram Jethmalani, the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court allowed me to lead arguments on the effective steps to be taken to bring back black money, or
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undisclosed illegally held funds, estimated at Rs.120 lakh crore, stashed secretly abroad by Indians in
numbered bank accounts.
This amount is about 60 times the annual revenue from income tax in the Union Budget.
The media had reported during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, possibly with the usual dose of
interpolation and dramatisation, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pledged in election
speeches to bring back to the country all this black money. According to these reports, Mr. Modi had
said the money belonged to the nation, and every citizen would receive Rs.15 lakh in his or her bank
account when the money came in.
When or where Mr. Modi said this is not clear, but the nation, convinced after his speech that this
would be done, now holds the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) responsible for
having failed to keep this promise.
It is a fact that despite the Modi government setting up, soon after coming to office, a Special
Investigation Team under two former Supreme Court judges, there is no sign yet of black money
having being brought back.
Does this mean that the BJP had underestimated the reality and complexity of the issue and that
there are no quick fixes for retrieving the black money back? To understand this, it is important to
recognise why eliminating black money is crucial to the nations strategy for high growth.
The black money issue should not be misunderstood as one of merely avoiding taxes. It is, in fact, a
major systemic crime of denying the nations financial system the proceeds of wealth. Such denial
should actually be declared as treason, where opportunities to share the wealth for the benefit of
the poor are wilfully denied.
The spreading cancer
Black money is a cancer in our economic system, not yet terminal or life-threatening. But we do not
have much time left, possibly only a decade, before the economic system starts to unravel and
There are three dimensions to this cancer. First, there is a distortion of investment priorities because
acquiring luxuries with black money favours high-level investment in the luxury goods industries
there is a higher rate of return on investment. This is similar to the cellular disorder in the body of a
cancer patient.
Second, forward trading in agricultural commodities by cash-rich speculators causes fluctuations in
prices due to hoarding of agricultural products.
Third, generating black money with impunity means that the quality is sub-optimised in public sector
infrastructural projects by tender manipulation, under- and over-invoicing in trade, and so on. The
so-called Black Money Bill of 2015, passed recently by Parliament, is inadequate to secure the return
of an estimated $1.5 trillion deposited illegally abroad by Indian citizens in about 90 countries.
The statute is structured in a way that will ensure punishment for black money hoarders once the
money is detected or admitted for amnesty, but has no provisions on how to bring back the money
Taking the right steps
There are four ways by which the names and accounts that are illegally held abroad can be
ascertained, and the money stashed away brought back.
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First, the Central Bureau of Investigation/Enforcement Directorate can register a First Information
Report on the receipt of information of illegal accounts through Intelligence sources, and then obtain
a Letter of Request u/s 166A of the Criminal Procedure Code (1973) from a designated court. Then,
the agency can use Switzerlands Law On International Judicial Assistance in Criminal Matters and
seek Swiss cooperation to confiscate the account.
The second way is the German or French method of obtaining records of a particular bank. Monetary
inducements are used in these two countries to will senior bank officials, as was done with the Bank
of Liechtenstein and HSBC in Geneva.
The third way, the U.S. method, was used in the Washington D.C.-based branch offices of the Union
Bank of Switzerland and Credit Suisse. Senior bank officers based in the Washington D.C. branch were
arrested on charges of espionage to pressurise Swiss authorities into giving over 5,000 names of U.S.
citizens who had illegally opened bank accounts in these two banks that had claimed secrecy as a
business principle. India also has Swiss bank branch offices in Mumbai.
The fourth is the method suggested by eminent jurist and senior advocate Fali S. Nariman in his Rajya
Sabha speeches and opinion pieces in newspapers, namely, invoking the Resolution of the UN
Convention against Corruption, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2005 and ratified by India in
This requires Parliament to pass a law. Or, as a first step, it requires the President to issue an
Ordinance to nationalise all the bank accounts of Indian citizens in the 90-odd nations where black
money is stashed. Thereafter, bilateral discussions with each of these countries can take place to get
hold of the accounts.
Moreover, SIT must seek a report from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Indian government
on what it has done about suspicious transactions reported by banks. This will ensure that the banks
report, on a real time basis, all suspicious transactions. SIT should demand both an investigation into
at least 100 of the major suspicious transactions that have been reported in the past three years, and
action to be taken against them within 10 days. There must also be a follow up on all other cases, as
and when reports surface.
Issue of ownership
There is also no precise definition of politically empowered persons. It is defined as per the UN
Convention against Corruption 2005, which India ratified and became a signatory to in 2011. Further,
in line with the provisions of Section 12 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, all institutions
must declare to the government their beneficial ownership this will include ICICI Bank, Axis Bank,
HDFC Bank, Jet Airways, and so on. Unless this is done, the ownership of several large corporations
will remain unknown.
Mr. Narimans suggestion, the first of its kind, should become a crucial instrument of black money
restitution, mandated by the Supreme Court.
These are the effective ways of obtaining the estimated $1.50 trillion stashed abroad. The measures
being taken presently by the government are completely ineffective in tackling this cancer and are,
therefore, only of diversionary value.
(Subramanian Swamy is a former Union Cabinet Minister of Commerce, Law and Justice,
andChairman of the Action Committee Against Corruption in India.)
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5. What does it maen to bManipur: Waiting to happen

Topics: Society
In a speech last year, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, sought to justify
the Ghar Vapsi programme of a reconversion to Hinduism of people who had converted to other
and defended it the following way: Mera maal chor ke paas hai. mein apnaa maal waapas loongaa,
yeh kaunsi badi baat hai (my possessions were stolen by a thief. if I now take them back, whats the
big deal?). Understandably, his choice of words shocked some liberal sentiments.
That his statement was unbelievably crass is beyond doubt. But, it also raises a couple of interesting
questions. Was Mr. Bhagwat completely wrong in his assumptions that the people he represented as
original Hindus were possessions or belongings, to be stolen from and be retrieved by the
community he claims to represent? And, how does that representation of Hindus as belongings
square with other ideas about Hindutva that emphasise the oneness and togetherness of the Hindu
community? I would like to suggest that neither was Mr. Bhagwat entirely wrong, nor does his
statement contradict other ideas about Hindu-ness. Rather, what his speech calls for is to explore the
idea of belonging.
Sanjay Joshi. File photo.
Unpacking the idea
The notion of belonging lies at the heart of all communities, real and imagined whether they be
those of birth, blood, proximity, or of choice. Everyone belongs, and a sense of belonging is often
crucial to a persons well-being. At the same time, we dispute belonging, vociferously. Such disputes
can be competitive, in the sense of my community is better than yours, or they can occur when
different ideas of belonging intersect and overlap, with different ideas of belonging competing for
primacy. Wars, riots, sports rivalries, some forms of electoral politics, and certainly many family
disputes, are ultimately about competing visions of belonging. Given its overwhelming centrality to
human life, it is somewhat surprising how little attention is paid to unpacking this idea. We use the
word often enough, but, do we really know what it is to belong?
In the English language, the word belonging has two meanings: one, to indicate an affective sense
of identification with a place or people, and the other, to suggest possession. In one sense then, a
person belongs to, as in has a great deal of affection for and identity with, a place or people (or an
institution). In the other sense, a person who belongs, is deemed to be the possession of a place,
people, or institutions. This is not simply an idiosyncrasy of the English language. In Hindi/Urdu too
words apnaa/hamaaraa and/or apnaapan function in very similar ways. I am sure readers with a
larger linguistic repertoire will be able to add other examples.
More than linguistic
My point is not a linguistic one though, but rather is to draw attention to a social and cultural
phenomenon. I would like to suggest that the same word, apparently indicating two different
meanings, is much more than a linguistic coincidence. In fact, I would go further and argue that social
and cultural practices of belonging, necessarily, and almost always, bring both senses of the word
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into play. The carrot of an affective, emotional bond with something larger than oneself is always
accompanied by the stick of possessive authority that demands that one comply with the rules and
hierarchies of the community. Mr. Bhagwat revealed, albeit in an extremely gross fashion, how the
two ideas of belonging come together, at least in his imagination. In both senses, he is saying, the
converts actually belong to the Hindu community as he defines it.
But, its not just one outspoken RSS leaders statements that are at issue. Anthems, flags, patriotic
songs and national celebrations reinforce for us our feelings of belonging to an entity larger than
ourselves. Yet, we also belong to the nation-state in other ways. In a legal sense, the state sets the
parameters for acceptable behaviour, and has the power to punish us. The nation-state also asserts,
not always successfully, a unique primacy on our sense of belonging. If our actions demonstrate that
we value belonging to another community over the nation for example, another nation, or a State
(think of Jammu and Kashmir or Nagaland or Punjab as extreme examples), or even if we value our
sense of belonging to a community shaped by our friends or family, over that of the nation-state, the
latter punishes us for usurping its putative primacy in our sense of belonging. We belong to the
nation, in both senses of the word.
Or, we can think of even smaller communities. Jati and gotra survived over centuries because
institutions such as proximity, marriage, occupations, landholding or commensality, promoted an
affective sense of belonging, of identity, that was important to the members of the communities.
Yet, as the actions of the leaders of the khappanchayats in Haryana demonstrated a few years ago,
the two senses of belonging clearly overlapped. While the diktats of the khap elders have made news
in the last few years, there is little doubt that the sense of belonging to caste, gotra, and community
in general meant belonging in both senses of the word.
Idea of family
And, perhaps where this dual idea belonging is most apparent, and least recognised, is the
community closest home literally. Families, we are often led to believe, are a site of affective and
unconditional love. Despite so much everyday evidence to the contrary, this notion persists. Whether
it is in the realm of politics, of business, the identification of the idea of the family (the parivaar in
Hindi) is brought to the fore to suggest a sense of affective bonds that hold people in the institutions
together. But, as cinematic or televised melodramas repeatedly tell us, families are hardly the sites
of only affective love and togetherness. Indeed, melodramas would not be possible if love,
togetherness, and harmony were the only characteristics of families. There are sons who dont follow
their fathers wishes. Daughters refuse to follow the conventions of the familys womenfolk.
Daughters-in-law dont obey their mothers-in-law. Such are the stuff of these melodramas. And, what
are they if not differing ideas about belonging? What are they but situations that occur when
established ideas about belonging clash with the changing social realities that produce new forms of
affection and belonging?
It is in the microcosm of families that we can also, most clearly, see the extent to which ideas of
belonging are connected both to affection and to power. The modern family, at least, is believed to
be rooted in ideas of affectivity. Carrots of affection are what keep families together. Yet, whether
generational or gendered, the stick of power is never far from the surface. Through gifting the
bride, or the change of her surname, rituals indicate that the woman now belongs to a new set of
owners. And, it is in the way we think about and act towards our own children perhaps, that we
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most clearly reveal the duality inherent in the notion of belonging. That we love and cherish our
children is, for most part, beyond doubt. But, until they are able to act independently, we do seek to
control them as if they were our possessions. Choice of words aside, how different is that from what
Mr. Bhagwat said about the possessions he believed had been stolen from him?
For introspection
The two meanings of belonging do matter, because while we tend to celebrate the first sense of
belonging, a feeling of togetherness, we often ignore the other. From the nation-state, through
religious communities, down to the family, the power to define belonging is confined to the few. That
power allows the government, thesarsanghchaalak, or the elders to exercise the stick of authority
and treat members of the community as belongings. My purpose with this article is not only to point
to the two inextricably-linked aspects of belonging, but also to suggest that it is only from this
recognition that we can either hope to contest the power exercised through the politics of belonging,
or find other and more creative and less oppressive ways of belonging. Alternatively perhaps, we
could change how we think of people with whom we share so much; and start at the most
fundamental level of belonging, as Khalil Gibran did, when he wrote: Your children are not your
children./They are the sons and daughters of Lifes longing for itself./They come through you but not
from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

6. LAC differences may stall India-China CBMs

Topics: IR India and the World
The China-India track on a possible new round of confidence-building measures (CBMs) is expected
to see a contest between New Delhis insistence on the clarification of the Line of Actual Control
(LAC) and Beijings focus on the elaboration of a code of conduct among border troops.
Diplomatic sources told The Hindu that the resumption of the clarification of the LAC, which was
publicly raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his China visit last month, is one of the core
objectives of the CBM process. It was formally documented in the peace and tranquillity accord that
was signed in 1993 in the backdrop of friction such as the one caused during the Wandung incident
of 1986 in Arunachal Pradesh. Neither side wanted a repeat of such an eventuality, the sources said.
The sources pointed out that the spirit behind LAC clarification, which was raised by Mr. Modi, is to
prevent inadvertent incidents along the border.

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Current Affairs | June 9, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams


What are the measures to increase the lending habits of banks?

What are the causes and types of diabetes? How it can be rectified?
Discuss the effect on heat islands .What are the major cause for such effects?
Explain some of the cases which emphasizes on the basic structure of constitution.
What are the various types of patent schemes available in WTO?
Discuss on the various art forms and uniqueness of modern artist Jamini Roy.
What are the different security agencies under ministry of home affairs?
Briefly discuss about India, Japan and Australia trilateral talk.

Discuss on the various types of pressure groups in India. How NGO fundings from
abroad is maintained?


Give note on the autonomous organisation under Human Resource development



Explain about the Multi system operators in telecommunications.

1. More teeth to lending banks

Topics: Economy
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has empowered lending banks to also consider change in ownership
of borrowing companies, which have been through a debt restructuring process.
In a circular to banks, the RBI said, It has been observed that in many cases of restructuring of
accounts, borrower companies are not able to come out of stress due to operational/managerial
inefficiencies despite substantial sacrifices made by the lending banks. In such cases, change of
ownership will be a preferred option." And, it has suggested that the joint lenders forum (JLF) should
actively consider a change in ownership under the framework for revitalising distressed accounts in
the economy, issued in February 2014.

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The RBI wants lending banks to incorporate a clause at the time of debt revamp itself that allows
them to covert loans into equity if a borrower fails to adhere to set visibility milestones.
Apex bank has made it clear that the JLF should approve the debt conversion package within 90 days
from the date of deciding to undertake the SDR.
Equity shares acquired and held by banks under SDR scheme will be exempt from the requirement
of periodic mark-to-market prudential norms for a specified period.
The February 2014 guidelines talked about change of management vis--vis stressed accounts.
However, it emphasised that the shareholders bear the first loss than the debt-holders." With this
priority and also to ensure more skin in the game of promoters, a set of possible options were
envisaged which include, among others, transferring equity to lenders, promoter infusing more
funds, and transfer of promoter holding to a trustee or an escrow arrangement till turnaround of the
With a view to ensuring more stake of promoters in reviving stressed assets and also providing banks
with increased capabilities to initiate change of ownership in accounts which fail to achieve the
projected milestone, the apex bank has empowered lending banks to undertake a strategic debt
restructuring (SDR) by converting loan dues into equity shares.
The RBI wants lending banks to incorporate a clause at the time of debt revamp itself that allows
them to covert loans into equity if a borrower fails to adhere to set visibility milestones. In such
instance, the joint lenders forum (JLF) must immediately examine whether the account will be
viable by effecting a change in ownership, the RBI said. In that event, JLF could invoke SDR. The apex
bank has said the provisions of the SDR will be applicable to accounts which have been restructured
before the date of this circular. A decision on invoking SDR should be taken within 30 days from the
review of the account concerned. Such decisions should be well documented and approved by
majority of the JLF members (minimum 75 per of creditors by value and 60 per cent of creditors by
numbers), the RBI said.
The apex bank has detailed the process of debt conversion into equity. Also, it has made it clear that
the JLF should approve the debt conversion package within 90 days from the date of deciding to
undertake the SDR. The invocation of SDR ``will not be treated as restructuring for the purpose of
asset classification and provisioning norms, the RBI said. The RBI has also elaborated on the asset
classification and its treatment once banks divest their holdings in favour of a new promoter.
Equity shares acquired and held by banks under SDR scheme will be exempt from the requirement
of periodic mark-to-market prudential norms for a specified period. Also, equity holding through such
conversion of debt may not be treated as investment in associate", the apex bank has clarified.
Sets terms to spot 'new promoter
The RBI has also laid out terms for banks in identifying new promoters. The new promoter should
not be a person/entity/subsidiary/associate etc. (domestic as well as overseas) from the existing
promoter/promoter group. Banks should clearly establish that the acquirer does not belong to the
existing promoter group, it has made it clear.
The new promoters should have acquired at least 51 per cent of the paid-up equity capital of the
borrower company. If the new promoter is a non-resident, and in sectors where the ceiling on foreign
investment is less than 51 per cent, the new promoter should own at least 26 per cent of the paid84 | C u r r e n t A f f a i r s | J u n e , 2 0 1 5

up equity capital or up to applicable foreign investment limit, whichever is higher, provided banks
are satisfied that with this equity stake the new non-resident promoter controls the management of
the company," the RBI has further said.

2. Disability burden highest in diabetics

Topics: Health
Across the world, India included, even as longevity has increased during the period 1990 to 2013, the
number of years both men and women live with disease and disability has shot up.
The major causes of disability in men and women in India are depression, anaemia, low back pain,
migraine, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, age-related and other hearing loss, neck pain
(spondylitis), diabetes, anxiety disorders, and uncorrected refractive error.
These are the results of a Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 report published on Monday in the
journal The Lancet.
Important findings emerge from the study. Mortality is declining faster than disease prevalence due
to treatment and faster than disability, which is also increasing due to ageing. In an accompanying
Comment piece, Rifat Atun from Harvard University said: [This] combination is driving the increase
in the absolute numbers of years lived with disability and in relative terms as a proportion of total
For both sexes combined in India, the leading causes of years lived with disability have remained
largely the same during the period 1990-2013. However, the disability caused by disease has taken
an increased toll on health due to population growth and ageing.
The major causes of death and disability are generally different, which has implications for planning
of health services, said Prof. Lalit Dandona, study co-author who is Professor at the Delhi-based
Public Health Foundation of India and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University
of Washington. While ischemic heart disease kills the most number of people in India, it is not a
leading cause of disability. On the other hand, major depression is the leading cause of disability in
India, but is not a direct cause of death, he said.
Relative to the 44 per cent growth in Indias population during the period 1990-2013, diabetes has
shown the greatest increase in the disability burden. The number of years lived with disability from
diabetes per million people in India is about 55 per cent higher in 2013 compared with 1990, said
Prof. Dandona. The total increase in the number of years lived with disability from diabetes in India
during the period 1990 to 2013 is 123 per cent. In contrast, the number of years lived with disability
from anaemia per million people in India has gone down by 45 per cent.
The number of years lived with disability per million people in India has gone up for many leading
diseases from 1990 to 2013. For instance, it is 16 per cent higher in the case of major depression, 20
per cent higher in the case of low back pain, 26 per cent higher in the case of chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, and 19 per cent higher in the case of neck pain.

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3. From slums to neighbours

Topics: Governance, Policies
Policy slogans are usually fragments of a sentence. Make in India. Housing for All. Swachh Bharat.
Whats usually missing in the fragment is that the verb has no subject to agree with. For slogans to
become statements, missions, policies and actions, someone has to make in India, keep it swachh
and build the housing. The big elephant in the room is: who?
For housing, this is a particularly important challenge. The numbers are daunting: there was a
shortage of 18.78 million housing units in 2012. Over 95 per cent of this shortage was for low-income
households that earn less than Rs. 2 lakh as total household income per year. Taking the Ministry of
Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviations own formula that a household can afford a house five
times its annual income this means Housing for All needs to make nearly 17 million houses, all
under Rs.10 lakh. Thats the finish line.
Who should build this housing? One way to answer this question objectively is to see who has built
affordable housing at scale and under Rs.10 lakh so far. Three candidates emerge: the government,
private developers, and communities of the urban poor themselves. Government output has risen in
the past two decades but remains woefully inadequate. In Karnataka, one of the better functioning
States, all arms of the government built, under both State and Central schemes, 3,60,000 dwelling
urban units or sites in the last 15 years. The current urban shortage in Karnataka is one million units.
Even if this shortage doesnt move an inch and no new demand appears, the government, acting
alone, would need nearly 30 years to catch up.
What about private developers?
There has been an increase in the production of affordable housing by private developers in recent
times, whether unaided or through public private partnerships in exchange for incentives such as
transfer development rights. Market studies by firms such as Monitor Inclusive Markets and KPMG
suggest, however, that private developers cannot enter the market unaided for below Rs.5 lakh
housing, and will require significant incentives to build units between Rs.5 lakh and Rs.10 lakh. Most
of the market, they argue, is in the Rs.10-20 lakh bracket. This is undeniably an important category,
and one that is arguably underserved in the present housing market. Yet it cannot make a significant
dent where it needs to, in order to make a dent in Housing for All.
Where developers can make housing below Rs.5 lakh is through slum rehabilitation schemes such as
in Mumbai or Ahmedabad, building vertical rehousing. Leaving aside the debate on the efficiency or
appropriateness of that verticality, the more important obstacle for housing policy is that these
schemes can work at scale only in large metropolitan cities where markets for tradable development
rights exist. The majority of the shortage, however, lies outside these major metros. Private
developers have a role to play in affordable housing, but the limits of the market must be recognised
clearly so that policy can regulate and direct the market effectively.
This leaves us with our final category: communities and urban poor residents. In Karnataka, even if
we just count the officially categorised slums, there were 7.5 lakh of them in 2012. There could be
an equal number that fall outside the official category. The figure is worth pausing to think about:
people themselves have built, brick by brick, nearly three times as many houses as the government
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has, usually over 10-15 years and often on land they do not own but claim. They are affordable and
accessible for the poor. Electricity, roads and water came later, layers of a slowly emerging urban life.
Yes, for years this housing is deeply inadequate materially, and vulnerable to eviction. But it is also
dynamic. It may not meet the paper standards of planning norms immediately, but almost all these
slums become neighbourhoods, if given time and support. A generation of migrants begets one of
urban residents.
We thus reach the paradox of Indias urban housing shortage: affordable housing when built at scale
is done best by the people themselves, but is often inadequate and vulnerable, both materially and
legally (in terms of security of tenure). And secure housing built by formal state and market actors is
deeply insufficient in number, and almost entirely unaffordable for those who need it the most.
Recognising this paradox must change the way we approach the idea of Housing for All. The slogans
fragment must become not one but a set of complete sentences that recognise different roles for
different actors. Private developers must be enabled as well as mandated to build houses below Rs.15
lakh, but we must recognise that they cannot address the majority of the shortage in the category
below Rs.5-10 lakh. The government must continue to play a strong role in providing low income
housing, but recognise that it is unlikely that it will, even with the best of intentions, be able to scale
its capacity to deliver enough units.
Upgrading built houses
This leaves us with trusting the only actors that have so far performed at scale: the people. If the
inadequacy of these self-built, auto-constructed housing can be addressed, housing shortage can be
dramatically reduced without building a single new unit. Upgrading existing but vulnerable and
inadequate housing has a long history in global housing policy. It is indeed the only way that many
countries that share our income profile and inequalities Thailand, Brazil and Egypt, for instance
have made a significant dent in their housing shortages in one generation.
Upgrading has several advantages. It is significantly cheaper than building new housing units. It can
be done with low-cost and easily available technology. It changes the role government and policy to
one of simply providing settlement-level services such as internal roads, sanitation, drainage, and
electricity, tasks it is mandated to do anyway. The multiplier effects of such upgradation for human
development outcomes are enormous, and way over the economic gains of a city that reaches new
households with networked infrastructure and services.
Most of all, working with existing settlements means that no new land has to be found. The work of
occupying land and slowly making it habitable has already been done. The challenge is making that
land legally available for use. There are many ways to do this, whether the land is publicly or privately
owned, but it requires an enabling national policy framework that sets a precedent to find ways to
protect what people have made rather than seek to evict them in order to maximise economic rent
from the land. It is this that Housing for All must do if it is at all serious about turning the fragment
of a slogan into a statement of effective action. It must secure the land under the feet of those who
have built our cities and their own homes so that another generation can inherit the gains of their
sacrifice rather than the continued vulnerability of their lives.

4. Indias deceptive constitution

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Topics: Indian Polity

Every written constitution is supplemented by important unwritten principles: the constitutional law
of all nations (whether or not they have a codified Constitution) consists of some combination of the
written and unwritten. Judges interpret the abstract language of written constitutions and speak
where the text remains silent.
As a codified constitution grows older, it forms less and less of the constitutional law of a nation,
having been supplemented by judicial decisions and political practice over time. But what happens
when constitutional law diverges from the written constitution to such an extent that it is not just a
radically incomplete statement of the higher law but, going a step further, is positively misleading?
Deceptions in provisions
The Indian Constitution is transforming into a deceptive one several constitutional provisions
misrepresent what the existing constitutional position is. Most conspicuous among these are Articles
368(4) and (5), which categorically provide that there is no limitation whatever on the power of
Parliament to amend the Constitution. In the most famous case in the Supreme Courts history
(Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala), the Court assumed the power to strike down constitutional
amendments that altered, destroyed, or abrogated the basic structure of the Constitution. Articles
368(4) and (5) thus have no effect, and Parliaments power to amend the Constitution is
unquestionably constrained. Similarly, Article 31B a clause intended to protect legislation inserted
into the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution notwithstanding the judgment of any court does not,
by virtue of a succession of Supreme Court judgments, fully insulate legislation from judicial scrutiny.
Instead, courts can test legislation inserted into the Ninth Schedule on the basis that it abrogates
fundamental rights that form part of the basic structure of the Constitution. The deception espoused
by provisions of the Indian Constitution is fairly unique. In most other nations with written
constitutions, the divergence between the text and practice arises on account of the difficult of
formally amending a constitution, coupled with the need to modernise a constitutions functioning.
As Tom Ginsburg and other scholars observe in the context of the U.S. Constitution, judges have
filled in the details of the vague 18th century document to make it suitable for modern life. In
contrast, the Indian Constitution has proven relatively easy to change, and has been amended more
than once a year on average. The deception in India has arisen on account of the fact that even
though the Indian Supreme Court has the power to strike down or set aside constitutional
amendments, it has no power to repeal them, which means that many ineffective provisions of the
Constitution remain on the books. Parliament is the only institution that can change the Constitution
to more accurately reflect the true constitutional position, and, so to speak, force the hand of the
This discussion has an interesting bearing on one of the most important cases currently being heard
by the Supreme Court the challenge to the constitutional amendment that sought to change the
way in which judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are appointed. Under the system, as it
existed before the amendment, the power to appoint judges effectively belonged to a collegium of
the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
Parliament attempted to transform the appointments process by amending the Constitution to
establish a six-member National Judicial Appointments Commission. Naturally, as it stands, the
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constitutional text contains provisions explaining the modalities of how the Commission is to perform
its task. In the event that this constitutional amendment is struck down, we will be left with a
situation in which the Constitution refers to an appointments process by a body that neither had an
inaugural meeting, nor appointed a single judge.
Deception may not be seen as much of a problem for lawyers. However, it represents a major access
barrier for members of civil society who, quite understandably, refer to the constitutional text as the
first (and often, only) port of call in understanding what the constitutional position is. Aside from its
symbolic significance, one of the benefits of a codified constitution is that it generates awareness
about the processes of government.
The National Democratic Alliance government has promised to repeal hundreds of obsolete statutes,
including many that have been struck down, as part of a legislative clean-up exercise. It is more
perilous to envisage the same being done for the Constitution the concern always being that any
government in power will silently remove an inconvenient provision of the Constitution too,
appropriately sandwiched between groups of obsolete provisions. Perhaps all that can be done, then,
is to encourage people to continue reading the text of the Constitution as a starting point but warn
them that what you see is not necessarily what you get.

5. Will the Veena gently weep?

Topics: WTO, Patent, IR India and the World
When the government announced last year that it intended to frame an Intellectual Property (IP)
policy, it evoked responses which were polar opposites.
One heard the questions why now? and why not now? which were almost like an exchange
between Alice and the March Hare, Why with an M, why not with an M. Then, there was the
threnody in parallel: S.3(d) must stay and S.3(d) must go.
It is not worth examining headlines such as IP is not patents alone and patents are not about
medicines alone, for the noise is too overpowering. But it must be understood that IP is also located
in unforgettable trademarks in the creativity of writers, singers and others, in Geographical
Indications (GI), and in traditional knowledge.
Amid all this noise, there was a moment of calm, in the form of a pentatonic tune that was played
out in Northeast India, and as a workshop organised by the Geographical Indications Registry,
Chennai, in collaboration with the Tezpur University Intellectual Property Rights Cell (TUIPR) Cell,
Tezpur University, Tezpur, and the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi),
Guwahati. Its focus was to enhance business and to protect the regions arts and crafts. This was
followed by a Geographical Indication camp, a grass-root level initiative for the benefit of the famed
Muga silk makers of Assam.
The benefits of GI
Muga Silk is a GI. GI is a genre of IP that is Indias strength. Practically everything that we grow, make
or produce is linked to a particular region. For example, we often hear these examples in every day
conversation: Leave your Kolhapuri chappals over there. Come in and wash your hands with Mysore

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Sandal soap. Have those idlis made with the Coimbatore wet grinder. The Darjeeling tea in the
Jaipur pottery cup. Where did you buy that Sanganeri print? All of them are GIs.
The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 provides for the
registration, the protection against infringement, and also protection for authorised users. Our
people have always been closely linked with the soil, the vegetation, in short the local environment
to make or grow our products. So, the promotion of GI has other socio-economic and environmental
benefits besides just the protection of IP. The Northeast region has a rich and ancient tradition and
culture. It is also rich in bio-diversity. A stunning variety of forms of art and craft continues to be
preserved by ethno-cultural groups who belong there. Like in the rest of India, the people there have
fully and creatively used what they have found around them and have made it typically theirs and of
their region. It is this that forms the basis for the generation of many GIs. Besides empowering them,
the workshop was aimed at creating an awareness of their rights and teaching them how to make
use of the law.
Low awareness
The golden yellow Muga Silk was registered as a GI in 2007. But only two persons applied to be its
authorised users till 2014. So the focus of the GI camp at Lakhimpur was to examine this single GI
and the reason behind such low awareness. It was found that the GI status of the product is not
utilised to its potential, the stakeholders are unaware of the value of their GI and its benefits, the
quality of these products is not standardised, and even when made by genuine persons, the quality
varies. Also, the market for the products and the pricing are fragmented, and there are piggyback
riders who pass off products as GI which naturally devalues the original product. This would apply to
other GIs across the country. The camps report noted that there is a steady stream of products that
are not pure Muga but mixed with other yarns and being passed off as Muga which is detrimental
to the Muga producers.
Dr. Prabuddha Ganguli, the Ministry of Human Resource Development Intellectual Property Rights
Chair of Tezpur University, who was associated with the workshop and the GI camp, said that the
response from Muga makers was overwhelming, and that by the end of the day there were more
than 90 people applying to be registered as authorised users. So, even small steps bear results, which
is a very valuable lesson to all State governments. With some imagination and effort, they can make
the legislation work so that quality is maintained and GI products do not face extinction.
The veena is made from the wood of the jackfruit tree; the Thanjavur Veena is a GI. But it may soon
become a distant memory because the raw material is becoming scarce and expensive and
craftpersons are turning to other sources of income. It is not enough granting a product a GI; the
State should nourish the craft. The Thanjavur Veena probably has a more hoary history than the
Stradivarius violin. But it does not inspire the national passion that the violin has. In 2013, cyclone
Thane which crossed the Tamil Nadu coast caused severe damage to crops and trees, which included
jackfruit trees, in Cuddalore district. The State could have ensured that some of that was supplied to
the veenai makers of Thanjavur. But the fallen trees were sold as timber! Thenadhaswaram makers
of Narsingampettai, Tamil Nadu, too are looking for the aacha tree to make their products; they want
a GI for their nadhaswarams. But will registration alone be a panacea for their problems and ensure
the continuity and nurturing of their crafts? One day when there is no jackfruit tree to make
the veenai, oranaacha maram to make thenadhaswaram, will the Thodi and Kalyani gently weep?
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For state, private initiatives

Although the Act gives the creators/producers statutory and proprietary rights, it is insufficient. The
Act must be translated into reality by state and private initiatives. GI owners also have a role to play
in promoting their GI, but the undeniable reality is that many of them come from groups that are less
vocal and less powerful than say trademark or patent owners. The weavers of Kancheepuram Silk (a
GI) are abandoning their craft to earn their livelihood elsewhere, perhaps in one of the global
corporations nearby. They know that the dignity and respect that they once commanded as master
weavers cannot be earned in these occupations, but when hunger gnaws, one makes compromises.
There was a master weaver and designer, Muthu Chettiar in Kanchipuram, who came to Madras in
the early 20th century with just 13 annas in his pocket. His craft was so exquisite that the elite of
Madras soon vied with each other to possess his saris. The colour M.S. Blue was his creation, and
the lady nonpareil who gave her name to that hue (M.S. Subbulakshmi) wore only his saris. Today,
the looms in Kanchipuram are growing quieter by the day.
Reviving GIs
The government has also announced the USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional
Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme in Varanasi, which is expected to enhance the traditional skills
of craftsmen and artisans there. Banarasi Silk is a GI too. If the scheme is worked as conceived, it will
benefit the silk-weaving families and their 40,000 looms, and ensure that the exquisite art lives on.
Let me cite another example. Ikat (a GI) weaving may not last this decade. Chennais Kalakshetra has
taken up the revival of the ancient Kodalikaruppur weaving tradition. During the 19th century, these
traditional saris were produced at Kodali Karuppur village, about 30 km from Kumbakonam, for the
royal family of Thanjavur, using natural vegetable dyes. They went out of fashion due to a variety of
reasons. Though Kodalikaruppur is not a GI, this case must be used as an example to revive fading
GIs. However, there is another issue. When the GI is made in another area by the original craftsmen,
will they be entitled to retain the indication? This is a question that evolving jurisprudence will
A scheme called the Kanchi Mahaswami Kalvi Kalachara Kaitozhil Maiyam has been framed by private
initiative in Kalavai to nurture the skills of the five groups of Vishwakarmas, who are creators who
work with wood, iron,panchaloha, gold and black stone. The students will be taught the creative skills
and, alongside, will also learn mainstream subjects. The Swamimalai bronze and the
Nachiarkoilkuthuvilakku are GIs too. Unless this generation transmits the skill, and unless the
continued existence of all the GIs is ensured, there will be no riders of these lost arts.
In the Payyanur Pavithra Mothiram case, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board directed that the
notice to the public must be issued in Malayalam, the regional language. The board also set aside the
grant of GI registration to the Payyanur Pavithra ring in the name of a society. It said: The main
object of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act is to protect those
persons who are directly engaged in creating or making or manufacturing the goods. When these
creators or makers complain that the application has been made behind their back, we cannot allow
the registration to remain. The Mothiram, a uniquely crafted ring, is made of gold and silver by the
artisans at Payyanur in Kannur district of Kerala, and it is believed to bring luck and grace to anyone
who wears it with deep devotion. In the making of the ring, one requires great expertise and
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dedication and the artisan is isolated for at least three days to make it. The point is that language
should not be a barrier.
The craftspeople who come from the east, the northeast or the south may not know either Hindi or
English, but that cannot make their rights less valuable. In fact, the GI camp in Lakhimpur was
conducted in Assamese, as it is the language of the Muga silk weavers.
In short, we must take the cue from the Northeast initiative which is a very important one and must
be replicated across the country.

6. Exhibition LAC differences may stall India-China CBMs

Topics: Culture
Jamini Roy, the eminent Bengali artist, counted among the early modernists of twentieth century
Indian art, is being featured in a new exhibition in Mumbai at the National Gallery of Modern Art.
Titled Jamini Roy (1887 - 1972):
Journey to the Roots, the exhibition is curated by art historian and critic Ella Datta, and comprises
200 artworks that chart the development of the artists unique aesthetic and visual language.
Born in Beliatore village in Bankura, West Bengal, Jamini Roy holds an indelible place in the history
of twentieth century Indian art as a pioneer in that he was among the significant Indian artists to
forge a visual style that was both modern in its sensibilities and resolutely Indian. For Roy, this
comprised a journey from the European naturalism in which he was trained to finally the folk pictorial
arts of Bengal that he would embrace and make his own.
This journey to his roots, involved a period of experimentation with technique, materials and forms
to arrive at the quintessential Jamini Roy that was to become all the rage in middle class Bengal
during his time; and that remains his aesthetic legacy. This journey as the title suggests, informs the
underlying logic of the NGMA exhibition.
Major milestones
Organised thematically, not least because of the difficulty of chronologically arranging Roys paintings
given his apathy for dating his artworks the exhibition is likely to strike the visitor as an
experimental lab in visual imagery.
For the Jamini Roy lover, this means a chance to see his lesser known works that involve elements
very uncharacteristic of his eventual destination in his artistic journey, besides a chance to behold
the full range of his oeuvre.
Ms. Datta has carefully included the major milestones in his aesthetic development with specific
regard for the range of his artistic expression. If the art lover, familiar with what was to become Roys
quintessential style, is surprised by what she sees, this would not be wholly accidental. Ms. Datta
highlighted these aspects during her curators walk and called specific attention to certain milestones
in his development.

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Look out then for the painting of the Santhal woman on the ground floor, which surprises one with
its sensuousness so uncharacteristic of Roys later almond-eyed women, a stellar example of which
lies just a few feet away ,under the staircase, in the form of the famous Three Pujarinis.
Look out also for the development of the minimalism that would define his style, in the drawings of
Bengali women that quite transparently show the source of his inspiration in Chinese calligraphy,
particularly in the volume of the brush strokes he achieves.
As Ms. Datta pointed out, Roy was to reject this style eventually since he found it too urbane and
sophisticated for his purpose which was to make his art accessible to the Indian public and not just
the art connoisseur.
This purpose becomes apparent as one traverses the wall and becomes wonderfully striking in the
blue boy and the almost graphic art style rendering of the three Vaishnavites which marks the
beginnings of another Roy quintessential in the use of colour.
For the uninitiated, the NGMA exhibition is an excellent introduction to one of Indias preeminent
artists and an insight into how an artist develops her art and finds her voice.
In the words of Ms. Datta, Jamini Roy emerged at a time when there was no one doing the kind of
work that he attempted to do and the strength and boldness of his work is still manifest to us today.

7. MHA refuses sanction to prosecute intelligence officials in Ishrat case

The Union Home Ministry has turned down the Central Bureau of Investigations request for sanction
to prosecute four intelligence officials, including former Intelligence Bureau Special Director Rajendra
Kumar, in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
Refusing to divulge exact details of the grounds on which prosecution sanction has been denied, an
MHA official said the decision has been taken following detailed examination of the documents
submitted by the agency.
The CBI took over the case in January 2012 following a Gujarat High Court directive. The agency had
in February last filed a supplementary charge sheet against Mr. Kumar then posted as IB Joint
Director charging him with the murder of Ishrat and three others in an alleged staged encounter
on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in June 2004.
It was alleged that Ishrat, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh and two others, Zeeshan Johar
and Amjad Ali Rana, were shot dead by a Gujarat Crime Branch team on the basis of an intelligence
input about Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists planning to target the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi,
which was purportedly generated through Mr. Kumar.
The other three serving IB officials were accused of involvement in the conspiracy, abduction and
illegal confinement of Ishrat and three others.
A-Gs opinion
However, in the supplementary charge sheet, the agency mentioned that the Attorney-Generals
opinion on prosecution sanction was awaited. The Attorney-General opined that the agency could

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not prosecute the officials without prior approval from the competent authority [MHA] and that it
was mandatory to obtain sanction under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Subsequently, the CBI submitted documents with the MHA seeking prosecution sanction and was, at
least twice, asked to furnish more supporting papers to help the Ministry arrive at an informed
decision. The case diary was also sought, to which the agency had initially raised objections.
The agency had filed the first charge sheet against the Gujarat Police officers and other accused in
July 2013. Among those named were IPS officers D.G. Vanzara and P.P. Pandey. While almost all the
accused are presently out on bail, accused N.K. Amin was reinstated as Deputy Superintendent of
Police earlier this month.

8. Chinas action cause for concern: Australia

Topics: IR India and the world, IR Other Countries
India, Japan and Australia discussed concerns over Chinese reclamation in the South China Sea, and
hoped a code of conduct would be agreed to between China and the ASEAN countries to calm
tensions in the region.
Speaking to The Hindu, Australias top diplomat Peter Varghese, who is in Delhi for the first IndiaJapan-Australia high-level trilateral talks, confirmed the discussion on regional security had included
concerns over the South China Sea.
Its the pace and the scale of Chinas reclamation which is causing some anxiety in the region. This
is something weve expressed publicly, and ASEAN countries have expressed, Mr. Varghese said in
the interview.
While India has made no comment so far on the reclamation, the government has voiced concerns
several times on what it sees as Chinas restrictions on freedom of movement.
India-Japan-Australia forum not anti-China: Peter Varghese
India, Japan and Australia discussed concerns over Chinese reclamation in the South China Sea, and
hoped a code of conduct would be agreed to between China and the ASEAN countries to calm
tensions in the region.
Speaking to The Hindu, Australias top diplomat Peter Varghese, in Delhi for the first India-JapanAustralia high-level trilateral talks, said: Its the pace and the scale of Chinas reclamation which is
causing some anxiety in the region.
At the recently concluded Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore, Defence officials from across the world
sparred over the issue, as U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter accused China of amassing 2,000
acres in the seas, more than ever in history and of causing regional tensions by its actions.
While India has made no comment so far on the reclamation, the government has voiced concerns
several times on what it sees as Chinas restrictions on freedom of movement.
Mr. Varghese denied that the trilateral meeting in Delhi at this time could be considered an antiChina front, saying, This is not a meeting directed at anyone. We are three countries with a lot to
do bilaterally, and we see benefit in cooperation.

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India and Australia also kicked off discussions on their first bilateral naval exercises on Monday in
Mr. Varghese will meet NSA Ajit Doval in Delhi on Tuesday, and as Australias key trade and economic
negotiator is expected to hold several meetings in Delhi at Commerce Ministry and DIPP.
Investment climate
Mr. Varghese said despite a change in the business environment in the past year, the Modi
government has been unable to clear several roadblocks to investment as yet.
We are certainly finding a more responsive and sympathetic attitude from the government in the
past year, and Mr. Modis emphasis on getting things done is registering with the bureaucracy. But
that said, we havent managed to remove the obstacles yet, Mr. Varghese said, listing regulatory
hurdles, State and Centre clearances and the Land Acquisition Act delays as the biggest obstacles.
In particular, Mr. Varghese expressed concern over the legal hurdles for Australian mining giant Rio
Tinto after the Odisha government decided to scrap a joint venture with it, putting its plans for ironore projects in jeopardy. In Odisha, both the Centre and State are yet to give clearances, Mr.
Varghese said.
The regulatory burden is seen by companies in Australia as excessive, and also the interpretation
varies, so what we are looking for is certainty and simplicity.
However, he refused to comment on whether Gujarat-based Adani group would be able to clear legal
hurdles against its Australian $12.7 billion coal-mine project in Queensland, where a court is hearing
cases filed by environmental groups and aboriginal activists.
When it comes to litigation that is in the hands of the courts, and not much the government can
do, Mr. Varghese explained, claiming all government clearances had been granted to the Adani
The Australian Foreign Secretary sounded more hopeful on clearing the impasse over the IndiaAustralia nuclear deal, where administrative arrangements have been held up over differences on
fuel-tracking that was announced by Prime Ministers Modi and Abbott in August 2014.
While India insists on IAEA-inspections only, the Australian government is legally obliged to track all
Australian-origin nuclear material (AONM).
Mr. Varghese said he was confident on resolving the issues, including parliamentary opposition to
the deal in Australia very soon.
In our discussions both sides have been pretty creative in a way that we can meet our frame.

9. Greenpeace staffer sent back despite holding valid Visa

Topics: Society, Pressure Groups
The Union Home Ministry is mulling over a policy to disseminate a list of individuals debarred from
entry into India to foreign missions after immigration authorities at the Bengaluru International
Airport on Saturday turned away a Greenpeace International campaigner Aaron Gray-Block, who had
a valid business visa.

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Speaking to The Hindu on the phone from Sydney, Mr. Gray-Block, an Australian citizen, said he was
surprised when immigration officials detained him at the airport, then confiscated his passport and
deported him by putting him on a flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Though I have received no official communication I heard that I have been blacklisted from entry.
This is nothing but a smear campaign, he said.
Indian missions abroad to prevent entry of persons who are blacklisted
After Greenpeace international campaigner from Australia, Aaron Gray-Block was deported from
Bengaluru International Airport on Saturday, the Union Home Ministry, which had earlier frozen the
bank accounts of the NGO, plans to put in place an institutional mechanism for cancelling the visas
of individuals blacklisted for alleged involvement in activities prejudicial to the national interest.
There is a need to avoid a situation in which a person will have to be sent back after entering India.
Therefore, the Ministry is planning to put in place the new policy for blacklisted individuals, said an
MHA official.
Under the new system, through the foreign missions, the government may also intimate the
individuals concerned that they have been put on the blacklist.
According to the MHA, Mr. Gray-Block was blacklisted as he was allegedly found involved in
campaigns detrimental to the countrys economic growth. He had campaigned against mining of the
Mahan coal block in Madhya Pradesh and written articles and blogs criticising the Indian
government, the official added.
Mr. Gray-Block had a valid business visa and had visited India for the first time in November last year
to attend a series of staff skills sharing sessions.
Greenpeace India Programme Director Divya Raghunandan said in a statement that the NGO
supported the free movement of people across the world, which is crucial to the work of business as
well as charities. There is absolutely no reason why one of our staff members should be treated in
such an arbitrary way, she said. In June 2014, Penny Vera-Sanso, a U.K.-based academic was similarly
denied entry into India.

10. HRD Ministry under fire for choice of Urdu Council Head
Topics: Governance, Society
Academics at Delhi University have questioned Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Iranis
choice of Professor Syed Ali Karim as director of the National Council for Promotion of Urdu
Language, of which she is the chairperson.
Prof. Karim, an associate professor in the Urdu Department of Delhi University, was appointed last
week to the Council, which is an autonomous body under the HRD Ministry.
Concerns over Prof. Karims appointment stem from charges including sexual harassment and
financial irregularities against him.
In the first incident nearly 10 years ago when Prof. Karim was teaching in the Urdu Department of
Delhi University, a young research scholar suffered a mental breakdown, attributed to acute
harassment from him.

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The charges of harassment copies of the documents are with The Hindu led to the setting up of
a committee as per the Vishaka guidelines. Upon examining the allegations, the committee
recommended the following measures: a warning letter be issued to Prof. Karim, no female research
student be sent to study under his supervision, and no administrative work be allotted to him.
A member of the committee confirmed that though a report was sent to the apex committee of the
Urdu Department which forwarded it to the university authorities for action, no further action was
The student never recovered from the mental breakdown.
Academics cite controversial tenure
The appointment of Professor Syed Ali Karim as director of the National Council for Promotion of
Urdu Language under the Ministry of Human Resource Development has raised eyebrows among
academics in Delhi University given the charges levelled against him through his tenure at the Urdu
A committee examining charges of sexual harassment against Prof. Karim had suggested that he be
barred from administrative duties but the committees report was ignored by the University
authorities. A member associated with the committee finding said: There is a general lack of
sensitivity towards such cases and unless they reach the level of the horrific rape of December 16,
they dont merit much attention.
The second incident occurred in 2007 when a lecturer, who had deposed before the committee
enquiring into the harassment charges of the young research scholar, began receiving lewd emails
and pamphlets containing obscene matter. She requested an investigation into the matter and even
registered an FIR against unknown persons.
Speaking to The Hindu, she said: A committee did examine my case, but I am not aware if action was
taken as the police stated they were unable to trace the offenders.
When contacted, Prof. Karim attributed all the charges to intra-department rivalry. You should check
with the university for details about absolving me of all charges, he said.
In addition to the charges of harassment, in May 2015, associate professor Ali Javed wrote a letter to
the Vice-Chancellor of the university, marking the copy to the President of India, who is the Visitor of
the university, the HRD Minister, the secretary HRD, and other officials, requesting an urgent
investigation into the financial irregularities allegedly under the watch of Prof. Karim.
Prof. Javed had reminded them once in 2010 and had written another letter after finding out no
enquiry had been instituted.
Interestingly, officials in the university when contacted denied knowledge of the matter though it is
learnt that the authorities sat on the files of Prof. Karim before clearing his name for the post of
director to the Council, under pressure from the HRD Ministry. The Hindu could not verify the reasons
for the delay in clearing Prof. Karims name.

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11. Sun TV network in trouble as Centre denies security nod

Topics: Science and Technology
With the Ministry of Home Affairs refusing to provide security clearance to 33 of its television
channels, the Sun TV Network of Kalanithi Maran faced a deep crisis on Monday.
On the Bombay Stock Exchange, shares of the firm plunged 22 per cent and were trading at Rs. 267.30
in the morning reflecting the apprehension of shareholders on the possibility of its broadcasting
licence being cancelled and the channels going off air.
Sources said the MHA had rejected a proposal of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) to
provide the clearance. The decision seems to have been influenced by the criminal cases that the
Marans are facing from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the sources added. Last
September, the Madras High Court set aside an order of the I&B Ministry cancelling the Multi System
Operator licence to Kal Cables, a subsidiary of the Sun TV Network.
Even then, the denial of security clearance by the MHA was based on the fact that the brothers were
facing criminal cases.
But the High Court took the view that if the licence were to be cancelled for security reasons as cited
in the I&B Ministrys report, it is the licence of the broadcaster of TV channels that should be
cancelled and not that of a distributor.
In the current scenario, the MHA has declined clearance for the TV channels which may become a
key point if the media network moves court. When contacted, K. Vijaykumar, Managing Director and
Chief Executive Officer of Sun Network, refused comment. The shares collapsed in the morning and
started recovering, said S.L. Narayanan, Chief Financial Officer of the Sun Group. But the shares
closed at Rs. 278.90, against its previous close of Rs. 356.35.
The company also informed the BSE that no communication has been received from any Ministry
and all our channels continue to be on air.

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Current Affairs | June 10, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams
1. Lackluster trend in studies of art and humanity. Analyse.
2. Discuss on the benefits of Rupee Linked Bond overseas.
3. Labour laws of India is most rigorous among all economies. Is it time to rectify the anomalies?
4. Unstoppable terrorism around World is threatening World peace. Elaborate.
5. Tax buoyancy is an important phenomenon to measure real growth. Justify.
6. Discuss on the marital sexual harassment. Why constitution ignores the fact?
7. Yoga is a matter of health, promoting it around the world increases soft power of India.
8. Medicine technology is lagging in India. How technology helps in treating threatening
diseases? Evaluate.
9. Whether Assam rifles are competent in guarding porous borders in North East? Is there any
need to enhance other forces? Analyse.


An effective state administration requires a harmony between de facto and de jure

executive. Exemplify.

1. Hardly the soft sciences

Topics: Education
Common sense has defeated the social sciences and humanities in India. As the rush for college seats
begin, parents worry if there are any viable options outside of medicine, engineering, management
or studying abroad. What good would a B.A. in history or sociology do other than a roll-of-the-dice
chance at the civil services?
As a historian, I have often faced blunt questions: what can a job prospect possibly be if you spend
three/four years learning the causes of Mughal decline or the Permanent Settlement of 1793? This
ably describes why most people see the social sciences, with the exception of economics, as a losing
proposition. But has the tide begun to turn?
One of the most significant bursts of funding in the social sciences and the humanities occurred
during the Cold War years. The United States, keen as it was then to establish spheres of influence,
invested heavily to learn about how societies understood themselves and which ideology appealed
to what individual. The money ran into hundreds of millions of dollars with the Ford Foundation, the
Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York pulling funds from deep pockets.
The Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies were other key
players who helped sponsor innumerable workshops, conferences and academic seminars. These
efforts resulted not only in a vast number of publications, but helped develop many enduring
concepts which arguably continue to explain the world we live in. Scores of scholars, research
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communities and university departments, in being caught up in strategic concerns, ended up

harnessing the social sciences and humanities to understand how nations and societies dealt with
authority, ideologies, politics and power. Hardly the soft sciences!
With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, funding for the Area Studies
expectedly dried up. On the other hand, academic explorations under the rubrics of nation-making,
democracy, globalisation and multiculturalism could hardly wield the previous heft.
In a study published in Research Trends (2013), Gali Halevi and Judit Bar-Ilanit point out that globally
the financing for humanities sharply fell between 2009 and 2012. In part, while the 2008 financial
crisis could be blamed for the sudden yanking of the proverbial rug, the loss in the lustre of the social
sciences had already begun by the mid-1990s following the steady commercialisation of education.
Unsurprisingly, student debt and education loans fell harder on those in the social sciences, arts and
humanities than they did on those pursuing vocational skills such as engineering. At heart, however,
this big turn against the soft sciences was what Bill Reading described, in his classic The University
in Ruins(1996), as the sustained attempt to transform the university from previously serving as an
ideological arm of the nation-state to instead now being redesigned as a consumer oriented
corporation. By morphing the citizen-student into a consumer-student (weighed in by debt), the
actual rout of the social sciences was announced.
Reduced funding
It is amidst the aftershocks of this change in the meaning of education that we should make sense of
Ella Delanys startling report in The New York Times (December, 2013) in which she catalogues a
growing disquiet against the humanities and social sciences. In 2012, a task force convened by
Governor Rick Scott of Florida recommended that students majoring in liberal arts and social science
subjects be made to pay higher tuition fees as they were in nonstrategic disciplines. Australian
Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2013 reprioritised 103 million Australian dollars from research in
the humanities into medical research. In Britain, Robin Jackson, chief executive of the British
Academy for the humanities and social sciences, in 2011 announced that direct government funding
for humanities had been withdrawn and was to be replaced by tuition fees backed up by
government loans.
Is this total defeat? Ironically, just as the social sciences and the humanities are being written off in
many countries, there have emerged vigorous calls for resituating its importance. Notably, climate
change research and global environmental change programmes the world over are stridently
advocating for what they term as the urgent need for integrated analyses. It is imperative, they
argue, that the natural sciences be drawn into productive dialogues with the social sciences in order
to explore critical themes such as global sustainability and green development.
One of the most significant international science initiatives in recent times called the Future Earth
has, in fact, in their Strategic Research Agenda (2014) urged for initiating a new generation in
interdisciplinary and integrated research which can grapple with the realities of a warming planet.
The initiative, however, is not entirely novel. For decades now, interdisciplinary efforts such as
science studies, environmental history and full-fledged post graduate programmes under the rubric
of science-technology-environment-medicine (STEM) have successfully broken down the hard
divides between the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. These interdisciplinary
initiatives have also compellingly revealed that the natural sciences are ideologically driven and are
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often oriented by political practice. In effect, the social sciences and humanities will be critical to help
us understand what the sciences will become in the future. Significantly, given that an entirely new
script for economic behaviour is being drafted in the context of climate change, these conversations
have acquired pressing strategic consequences for the developing world.
The Indian scenario
The university system in India is, unfortunately, ill-prepared to take up these challenges. In part, it
has put all its research and teaching eggs on the vice-chancellor system for administering higher
education. The vice-chancellorship, as an organisational logic, is an ailing legacy and remains a bad
marriage between the Mughal Jagirdari system and the rigidity of the British colonial bureaucracy.
The higher you go up the administrative ladder, there is less transparency, accountability and
intellectual oxygen.
There is an urgent need to initiate a generational change in our university leadership, with fresh blood
and new ideas brought in with rigorous metrics to judge the performance and contributions at the
very top of the administrative chain. If the social sciences and the humanities in India are to be cutting
edge by providing knowledge for the future, then the old has to be entirely dismantled.
(Rohan DSouza is associate professor at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto

2. RBI issues draft norms on rupee-linked bonds overseas

Topics: Economy
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday said that Indian corporates, eligible to raise external
commercial borrowings (ECBs), are permitted to issue rupee- linked bonds overseas.
Corporates which are, at present, permitted to access ECB, under the approval route, will require
prior permission of the RBI to issue such bonds and those coming under the automatic route can do
so without prior permission of the RBI, the apex bank said.
In the first bi-monthly monetary policy, the RBI had proposed to expand the scope of issuance of
rupee-linked bond overseas by the international financial institutions as also permit Indian
corporates, eligible to raise ECBs.
The RBI proposed that the subscription, coupon payments and redemption might be settled in foreign
currency. The proceeds of the bonds can be parked as per the extant provisions on parking of ECB
proceeds. Further, the end use restrictions will also be as applicable under the existing ECB
The RBI said that amount and average maturity period of such bonds should be as per the existing
ECB guidelines. The call and put option, if any, will not be exercisable prior to completion of
applicable minimum average maturity period.
It also stipulated the coupon on the bonds should not be more than 500 basis points above the
sovereign yield of the Government of India security of corresponding maturity as per the FIMMDA
yield curve prevailing on the date of issue.
For dollar-Indian rupee conversion, the Reserve Bank's reference rate on date of issue would be
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International Financial Institutions, of which India is a shareholding member intending to deploy the
entire proceeds of the issuance in India, would not be requiring any prior permission for the issuance
of rupee bonds overseas irrespective of amount of issuance.
In other cases, where an International Financial Institution (of which India is a member) wishes to
retain the freedom to deploy the issue proceeds in any member country would require prior
permission from the Reserve Bank / Government of India.

3. Labour laws set for big overhauls

Topics: Economy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing to launch Indias biggest overhaul of labour laws since
independence in a bid to create millions of manufacturing jobs, at the risk of stirring up a political
backlash that could block other critical reforms.
Three officials at the federal labour ministry told Reuters that the ministry was drafting a bill for the
upcoming parliamentary session that proposes to loosen strict hire-and-fire rules and make it
tougher for workers to form unions.
The changes, if approved by Parliament, will be the biggest economic reform since India opened its
economy in 1991, but it is likely to meet stiff opposition in Parliament and from labour activists.
As part of the proposed revamp, a factory employing fewer than 300 workers will be allowed to lay
off workers without government permission.
Companies have long been demanding an increase in the ceiling as governments rarely grant such
permissions for layoffs, making it difficult to respond to business downturns and encouraging them
to stay small.
The World Bank says India has one of the most rigid labour markets in the world.
Economists cite current labour rules as the biggest constraint on Modis Make in India ambition to
spur a manufacturing boom creating jobs for 200 million Indians over the next two decades.
The Indian leader enjoys a majority in the lower house of Parliament, but not the upper, hobbling his
ability to pass politically contentious measures.
That handicap has stymied his efforts to make it easier for businesses to buy farmland and convert
Asias third-largest economy into a common market.
Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said Modi had little option but to push
ahead with the measures.
Without these reforms, the economy would stagnate, and frustrated investors would look
elsewhere, he said.
You cannot make political opposition an excuse for not taking tough decisions.
Since taking office in May last year, Mr. Modi has taken a series of incremental steps to make labour
laws less onerous for businesses, but fear of a union-led political backlash made him leave the
responsibility for unshackling the labour market with Indian states.
He let his partys governments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh take the lead in this area.
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Encouraged by a successful and peaceful implementation of the measures in those States, the federal
labour ministry now intends to replicate them at the national level, one of the ministry officials said.
Manish Sabharwal, one of the brains behind Rajasthans labour reforms and co-founder of
recruitment firm Teamlease, said the federal administration would have been better off without
attempting these changes.
Let states carry out these changes and save your political energy for other policy reforms, he said.
Easier firing
As part of the proposed revamp, a factory employing fewer than 300 workers would be allowed to
lay off workers without government permission. Currently, factories employing 100 workers or more
need approval for layoffs.
But they will have to pay three times the current severance package, the labour ministry officials said.
Companies have long been demanding an increase in the ceiling as governments rarely grant such
permissions for layoffs, making it difficult to respond to business downturns and encouraging them
to stay small.
It will facilitate ease of doing business while ensuring safety, health and social security of every
worker, a senior labour ministry official involved in the deliberations said.
The official said the bill was expected to be finalised in the next three or four weeks, and would then
be sent to cabinet for approval.
The planned changes would also make it tougher for employees to form unions or go on strike, but
would make all employees eligible for minimum wage.
The World Bank says India has one of the most rigid labour markets in the world. That in turn has
been a drag on manufacturing, which accounts for only 16 per cent of Indias $2 trillion economy,
compared with 32 per cent of Chinas.
Some 84 per cent of Indias manufacturers employed fewer than 50 workers in 2009, compared with
25 per cent in China, according to a study published by consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. last year.
Economists cite current labour rules as the biggest constraint on Mr. Modis Make in India ambition
to spur a manufacturing boom creating jobs for 200 million Indians reaching working age over the
next two decades.
Just eight per cent of manufacturing workers in India are in formal employment, the rest are shortterm contractors who enjoy minimal social security benefits.
It will take deft political management to ensure a speedy passage for the bill.
Opposition parties have blocked Modis land bill in Parliament, calling it anti-farmer. The labour
reforms, which are being opposed by labour unions, could also end up being labelled as procorporates.
An official in Modis office didnt rule out holding off the bill due to short-term political
They may introduce it, but the progress would be very slow, said Kilbinder Dosanjh, a director at
the Eurasia Group consultancy.

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4. The Islamic State: A year of death and destruction

Topics: Security, Terrorism
The Islamic State jihadist group launched a sweeping offensive a year ago that overran large chunks
of Iraqi territory, led to thousands of deaths and displaced millions of people. These are some key
events in the conflict:
June 9, 2014: IS-led offensive begins in Iraq's second city Mosul. 10: Mosul falls and the surrounding
province of Nineveh follows as multiple Iraqi security forces divisions collapse. Then-premier Nuri alMaliki announces the government will arm citizens who volunteer to fight.
June 11: Tikrit, another major city north of Baghdad, falls. 13: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's
top Shiite cleric, calls on Iraqis to take up arms against IS. The group claims it executed 1,700 mainly
Shia recruits, releasing photos showing the killings.
June 29: IS declares a cross-border Islamic "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, headed by Abu Bakr alBaghdadi.
August 2: IS launches a renewed northern offensive, driving Iraqi Kurdish forces back and targeting
minority groups with mass killings, enslavement and rape.
Thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority are besieged on Mount Sinjar, drawing
international concern and calls for intervention.
August 8: US begins air strikes in Iraq. An international coalition follows suit.
August 14: Maliki, whose policies helped fuel IS's rise, steps aside, and is replaced by Haider al-Abadi.
August 19: IS says it has beheaded US journalist James Foley, releasing a video of the killing. Similar
shocking beheadings take the lives of journalists Steven Sotloff, Kenji Goto, aid workers David Haines,
Alan Henning and Peter Kassig, and Goto's friend Haruna Yukawa.
August 22: Shia militiamen gun down 70 people in an apparent revenge attack at a Sunni mosque in
Diyala province.
September 23: Anti-IS air campaign expands to Syria.
October 25: Abadi declares first significant government victory, in the Jurf al-Sakhr area near
October 29: IS executes dozens of Albu Nimr tribesmen. More mass killings follow.
November 14: Iraqi forces recapture the strategic town of Baiji, but subsequently lose it.
January 25, 2015: Witnesses and Sunni leaders accuse Shia militiamen of executing over 70 residents
in Diyala province.
January 26: Staff lieutenant general Abdulamir al-Zaidi announces Diyala has been "liberated" from
February 3: IS video shows Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh being burned alive in a cage after his
December capture in Syria.
February 26: IS releases video of militants destroying priceless ancient artefacts in a Mosul museum.
March 2: Iraq launches massive operation to retake Tikrit from IS.
March 5: Iraq says IS has begun "bulldozing" the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud. IS later releases a
video of militants smashing artefacts before blowing up the site.

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March 31: Abadi announces Tikrit has been retaken, a victory marred by pro-government forces
burning and looting dozens of houses and shops.
April 5: IS releases video of militants destroying artefacts at the ancient city of Hatra, a UNESCO world
heritage site.
May 17: IS seizes Anbar capital Ramadi, which along with the capture of Palmyra in Syria a few days
later signal its most significant victories in almost a year.

5. Air-conditioned restaurants alone can levy service tax: Govt

Topics: Economy
The Ministry of Finance on Tuesday clarified that only restaurants and eating places that have airconditioning can charge service tax. And the tax will be levied on only 40 per cent of the amount
Restaurants, eating joints or messes which do not have air-conditioning or central air-heating in any
part of the establishment are exempt from service tax. In other words, only air-conditioned or airheated restaurants are required to pay service tax, it said.
The effective tax rate, after the increase as of June 1 to 14 per cent, will be 5.6 per cent of the total
amount charged. The education cess is subsumed under the new service tax.

6. When even rape is legal

Topics: Society, Vulnerables
Some debates appear to be timeless. Todays raging debate on marital rape in India echoes
arguments that go back more than 125 years ago to the Phulmani case when a 11-year-old Bengali
girl died after being brutally raped by her 35-year-old husband.
The colonial government then proposed to increase the age of consent for sexual intercourse for a
girl from 10 to 12 years. But some of Indias most prominent leaders opposed the measure, and the
Age of Consent Act was passed only in 1891, after much acrimony and argument.
Reflecting on this debate, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said in 1943 (http://bit.ly/17fGw2O): It is impossible
to read the writing of those who supported orthodoxy in their opposition to the Age of Consent Bill,
without realising the depth of the degradation to which the so-called leaders of the peoples had
fallen Could any sane man, could any man with a sense of shame, oppose so simple a measure? But
it was opposed. Dr. Ambedkar would have been as appalled by todays arguments against the
criminalisation of marital rape.
A warped defence
According to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines rape and consent, sexual
intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is
not rape. Sexual intercourse can take place with or without consent, but because of the above
exception, the latter is legalised within marriage by Indian law.
The warped defence for this exception continues in spite of overwhelming evidence that marital rape
is the most common form of sexual violence in India. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) in
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2005-06 (http://bit.ly/1n9ub6H) posed questions to over 80,000 women between the ages of 15 and
49, on sexual violence by husbands and other men (http://bit.ly/1KmUmjh). Sensitive questions such
as did your husband ever physically force you to have sexual intercourse with him even when you
did not want to? are difficult to ask in a survey; hence informed consent for the violence module
was obtained twice, and trained interviewers were given strict instructions to ensure complete
privacy of the respondents. The answers to these questions are available in the last chapter of the
NFHS report. (http://bit.ly/1IsAYPH).
Data show that 8.5 per cent of the surveyed women (one in 12) said they had experienced sexual
violence in their lifetime. Almost 93 per cent of these women said that they had been sexually abused
by their current or former husbands, while only 1 per cent said that they had been sexually abused
by a stranger.
In a recent working paper (http://bit.ly/1e0pIA0), we made a comparison of the above data with the
reporting of sexual violence to the police, based on National Crime Records Bureau statistics. The
analysis found that less than 1 per cent of the incidents of sexual violence by husbands were reported
to the police.
If there is legal backing for marital rape, women who are victims of sexual assault by their husbands
have little hope for justice. The exception in the law needs to be repealed urgently, as recommended
by the Justice Verma Committee in 2013. The committee argued that the relationship between the
accused and the complainant is not relevant to the inquiry into whether the complainant consented
to the sexual activity. The law on rape in India has evolved to place the burden of proof of consent
on the accused, and these provisions are even more important for women facing sexual violence
within marriage because married women are more likely to face social sanction for reporting
violence. Also, Section 498A specifies only mental and physical abuse under its definition of cruelty
by husbands and in-laws. An amendment would include sexual abuse.
Positions of political parties
Even though there is little hope from the current government, the political class could do more in
this respect. The present controversy was stirred when Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi asked the
government if it plans to bring an amending bill to the IPC to remove the exception of marital rape,
to which the Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary reply was that the
government had no plans to do so, as marriage is a sacred institution in India. It is time to ask the
government if it at least accepts its own surveys data on sexual violence by husbands. The
opposition, in a majority in the Rajya Sabha, could pass a private members bill amending the IPC.
Political parties could put the criminalisation of marital rape on their election manifestos.
While the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 provides civil remedies such as
shelter homes, medical facilities and monetary relief to victims of sexual violence by husbands, legal
clarification will go a long way towards recognising and reducing the problem.
But we would be fooling ourselves if we believe that the problem can be solved merely by removing
the marital rape exception. A much bigger challenge is to change the patriarchal social norms. In the
NFHS survey, for instance, when the women were asked if wife beating is justified, 54 per cent said
they believed it was. Clearly, the law alone cannot change mindsets.
We realised this when we worked with a minor Adivasi mute girl in Madhya Pradesh who was gangraped. She was covered by many laws: Section 375 and 376 (rape provisions) of the IPC, Protection
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of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO) 2012, as well as the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled
Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The local police, however, were reluctant to invoke the
SC/ST Act, and did not know about the existence of the POCSO Act. Despite its being banned, the girl
was subjected to the two-finger test in the medical examination. The law is an important means of
enabling social change, but without a wider change in social attitudes,it can be quite ineffective.
In 1943, Ambedkar regretted that political reform had taken precedence over social reform.
Despite this, he continued to seek both legal and social changes to improve the lot of Indias Dalits
and women. Today, what is getting priority is economic reform, but we would do well to remember
Ambedkars words from the same address: Rights are protected not by law but by the social and
moral conscience of society if fundamental rights are opposed by the community, no Law, no
Parliament, no judiciary, can guarantee them in the real sense of the word.
(Kanika Sharma (kanikas764@gmail.com) is the national organiser with the National Alliance for
Peoples Movements (NAPM) and Aashish Gupta (aashish@riceinstitute.org) is research fellow at the
Research Institute for Compassionate Economics.

7. The zeal for Yoga

Topics: Health
It is ironical that at a time when yoga is increasingly being recognised around the world as an
efficacious discipline that aids physical and mental well-being, the ancient Indian system is caught in
a needless controversy, mainly due to its aggressive promotion by the Narendra Modi government.
It is difficult to avoid the impression that the government is showing excessive zeal as well as a
tendency to use its employees and institutions to propagate its own view of culture and tradition.
Mobilising staff members and students seems to be this regimes way of promoting an idea. If it was
Good Governance Day last Christmas, it will be International Yoga Day on June 21. It is indeed true
that Prime Minister Modis address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014
provided the platform for the international community to recognise the importance of yoga. In
December, the UNGA passed a resolution with the backing of over 170 countries to designate June
21 as International Yoga Day. No doubt, the benefits of yoga ought to be widely disseminated.
However, does promoting it require the mobilisation of tens of thousands of people at Rajpath in
Delhi for a massive demonstration? There are apprehensions that employees and students would be
asked to participate in related events on a Sunday, even though it has not been made mandatory.
The government is even aiming for an entry in the Guinness World Records for the single largest yoga
demonstration. It appears that having international impact is a key objective behind the promotional
activities. If yoga is all about health, peace and harmony, there really is no need for a demonstrative
approach to it. The visible presence of the state in the promotion of yoga will only detract from the
idea of making it a peoples movement. Rather, the governments role should be confined to
providing facilities for the practice of yoga in various institutions under it and disseminating
information about its benefits. A related issue that has given a sectarian dimension to the yoga
campaign concerns a perception that the practice of yoga, especially the surya namaskar part of it, is
against the tenets of Islam. Recognising this, the government has dropped surya namaskar from the
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list of asanas to be performed on June 21. While it is true that yoga is part of a wider heritage and
attracts practitioners from among adherents of various religions, the government is obviously unable
to convince everyone that its programmes are free of all religious or cultural association. It should
work to remove its initiatives from areas of contestation so that even programmes having universal
value do not take the hue of its ideology.

8. Robot can beat cancer, but not red tape

Topics: Science and Technology
A 54-year-old finance professional with stomach cancer used to take tablets to get over the pain. But
they became less effective over time, with his body developing resistance. The father of two used to
endure unbearable pain. His family took him to a hospital in Chennai where Dr. Madhan Kumar used
Maxio, a robot, to deliver the medicine precisely to the nerve root where the pain originated.
The treatment was done in five minutes, faster than the conventional method that uses continuous
X-ray imaging. The old method, the doctor said, carries a risk of damage to motor and sensory nerves
that could lead to paralysis. The patient can now carry on with his routine, which was not possible
when he was on painkillers, as they used to cause drowsiness, constipation and blurred vision.
We are bang on target. Robotics is a big boon, said Dr. Kumar, a 36-year-old senior consultant at
Chennais Global Hospitals Group. The robot that helped him perform complex procedures has been
developed by Chennai-based start-up Perfint Healthcare. In the past year, Perfints robots have
helped treat over 1,500 patients around the world.
The eight-year-old firm, founded by three former employees of GE Healthcare, has done something
very few start-ups can aspire to do innovate in the field of medical technology. Its product
managed to enter developed markets such as Germany and Australia. Last year, the U.S. health
regulator Food and Drug Administration gave Perfint its approval to sell Maxio there. What Perfint is
concerned about right now is its biggest market, its home market.
In India, said S. Nandakumar, its 46-year-old co-founder and CEO, the challenge is the delay in the
government process, as we focus on government-run teaching hospitals. One million new cancer
cases are diagnosed in India each year, and this number is projected to jump to 1.7 million by 2035,
according to the British medical journal The Lancet. Nearly 7,00,000 people die of cancer in India each
year, which is projected to rise to about 1.2 million in 2035.
Funding structure hits robot-maker
The government has to become the biggest buyer of medical technology, says S. Nandakumar, 46year-old co-founder and CEO of Chennai-based start-up Perfint Healthcare, who started the firm
along with K. Guruswamy and K. Puhazhendi. Perfints cancer-treating robots have entered
developed markets.
The three launched Perfint as a design services firm for the health-care industry, but soon changed
direction when they realised the opportunity in the image-guided navigation space.
One of the stumbling blocks Mr. Nandakumar refers to is the funding structure under the
governments National Cancer Control Programme. Under this, three-fourths of the money is

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designed to come from the Centre and one-fourths from the State government. Many times, based
on their priority, the State government may not approve the funding.
This means, the whole funding could get stuck. He says 100 per cent Central support is the answer.
Indias medical technology industry, about $6.3 billion (Rs. 40,000 crore) in size at present, is capable
of growing to $50 billion (Rs 3.1 lakh crore) by 2025 if it receives appropriate support from the
government, according to a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Mr. Nandakumars concerns go beyond just sops. He says, Doling out the routine tax breaks only
benefits the larger, profitable companies.
Perfint also faces a problem during tendering processes, when it has to necessarily mention the
names of competitors. It doesnt have any in the country, Mr. Nandakumar says.
The other issue is that there is not a single administrative ministry in India that deals with med-tech.
Is it the Department of Science & Technology? Is it the Ministry of Health? Department of Pharma?
Or the Department of Biotechnology? he asked.
Ajit Singh, a consulting professor at the School of Medicine in Stanford University and partner at
venture capital firm Artiman Ventures, said, For medical innovation in India to find market in India,
the regulatory and peer-review publication framework in India must gain trust of the clinicians.
Otherwise, We will stymie the adoption of Indian innovation in India, said Mr. Singh, who is also a
part of the board of Max Healthcare.
Perfint is counting on hospitals that have adopted its product to spread the word. It is also talking to
bureaucrats at government forums. There are clients beyond the Indian government, though.
It has until now set up robots in institutions such as Alfred Hospital, Australia; University of Frankfurt
and University of Regensburg in Germany; and the Tata Memorial Hospital and Jaslok Hospital in
At the University of Regensburg, Philipp Wiggermann, who is on Perfints advisory board, recently
treated a 41-year-old women patient for liver cancer. This procedure could not have been
completed so easily without Maxio, said Dr. Wiggermann.
The company sells two robot products Maxio and Robio in India, Europe, Asia-Pacific, China and
West Asia. It is now eyeing the U.S. market, the largest medical devices market in the world with sales
of about $110 billion and growing.
Given the expertise of the team and the disruptive nature of the products, Perfint is well-placed to
be a leader in this domain, said Sudhir Sethi, chairman of IDG Ventures India, an investor in Perfint.
IDG, Norwest Venture Partners and Accel Partners have together invested about $30 million (Rs. 192
crore) in the firm.
Perfint is in the process of raising a further $20 million (Rs. 128 crore) for scaling up sales and
distribution in India.
Dr.Riccardo Lencioni, founder of the International Liver Cancer Association, who is also on Perfints
advisory board, said, The ablation treatment plan was mostly based on an educated guess of the ph

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9. Army, Assam Rifles kill 50 ultras on Myanmar border

Topics: Internal Security
In the aftermath of the Manipur ambush last week, Indian agencies said on Tuesday that the Army
and the Assam Rifles killed over 50 insurgents in two operations along the India-Myanmar border in
Nagaland and Manipur.
Top government sources said most of the killings took place in encounters in Ukhrul and Chandel
districts of Manipur. Along the Nagaland border, eight insurgents are believed to have been killed.
In another incident, three insurgents were reported killed as an improvised explosive device they
were carrying went off.
We are yet to receive the exact details of those killed in the encounters. Operations are still under
way, said a Home Ministry official.
Giving a briefing, the Army said it had engaged two groups of insurgents and inflicted significant
Specific and credible intelligence was received about further attacks being planned within our
territory Early this morning, the Indian Army engaged two separate groups of insurgents along the
Indo-Myanmar border at two locations, along the Nagaland and Manipur borders, Major-General
Ranbir Singh, Additional Director-General, Military Operations, said.
Though Army officials refused to give specific details, informed sources said special forces were likely
to have been deployed.
While Army officials declined to say if the operations were carried out across the border in Myanmar,
they said they were in communication with Myanmar authorities and expect such cooperation in
the future too. Intelligence agencies believe that 25-27 militants had carried out the Manipur
ambush, which claimed the lives of 18 soldiers from the 6 Dogra regiment.

10. Delhi Minister held for holding fake degrees

Topics: Governance
The arrest of Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar on Tuesday for allegedly submitting fake
degrees quickly turned into another ugly episode of a long-running battle between the Aam Aadmi
Party government in the State and the Centre for what is seen asde facto control over the national
Mr. Tomar, who was remanded in police custody for four days, resigned on moral grounds soon after
the partys senior functionaries, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister
Manish Sisodia, met at his residence.
The AAP said the arrest was an act of political vendetta by the Centre, which wanted to teach the
party a lesson.
This arrest is illegal. There is an Emergency-like situation. Maybe, it is an attempt to teach the AAP
a lesson, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.

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A senior official said the AAP government would support Mr. Tomar till the court delivered its verdict
in the case. We will continue to support him till the judgment is delivered; the only possibility in
terms of severing ties with him will depend on his conviction, he said.
Mr. Tomar was arrested from his residence around 6 a.m. by 35 policemen led by an Assistant
Commissioner of Police, in what the Delhi government alleged was a disproportionate show of
strength, and taken to a police station for questioning.
Police charge
Police sources said a first information report against Mr. Tomar was converted into a criminal case
late on Monday night, and he was booked for cheating, forgery, forgery with purpose of cheating and
criminal conspiracy.
We converted a complaint received from the Delhi Bar Council on May 11, served him a notice after
26 days of investigation. Police teams travelled to Awadh University in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, and
Tilka Manjhi University in Bhagalpur, Bihar, and discovered that Mr. Tomars name did not figure in
their records, a senior police officer said.
The arrest comes in the backdrop of a tussle to wrest control of the States Anti-Corruption Branch.
Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung appointed a Joint Commissioner of the Delhi Police, M.K. Meena,
as its head on Monday, though Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had selected S.S. Yadav for the post.

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Current Affairs | June 11, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams


Discuss on the importance of lymphatic systems in our body.


Neighbourhood first policy is an inherent necessity to tackle extremist elements. Elaborate.

Briefly explain some of the Autosomal diseases in human?

What is the new water droplet model used in computer technology in bringing accuracy?
Give some measures to revamp the non performing assets in India.
Critically analyse the customs of sanctioning cruelty in the name of faith.
Describe the features and geography of biodiversity hotspots of India.
Though welfare state is not a matter of concern but infringing the rights of people and
imposing paternalism in welfare schemes are worrisome. Analyse.
Even the most populist bills which are deemed to be a game changers of economy has
lacunae. Exemplify.

1. Connection between brain and lympathic system discovered

Topics: Science and Technology
Textbooks of medicine say that there is no direct connection between the brain and the lymphatic
system. Yet, a paper published recently in the journal Naturerefers to the discovery of exactly such a
The researchers are from the School of Medicine, University of Virginia. While it is quite a startling
discovery in itself, it gains significance because it could lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of
diseases such as Alzheimers disease, multiple sclerosis etc.
The lymphatic system consists of vessels that carry a transparent fluid, the lymph, which helps rid the
body of toxins and other unwanted substances. It also forms an important part of the bodys immune
system. Until now, it was believed that this system is not connected to the brain. In a stunning
discovery based on study of mouse brain, the researchers from University of Virginia have identified
connections between the lymphatic system of the mouse and its brain. The group has discovered a
similar structure in human dura (tissue that covers the brain), but write in the paper that further
studies will be necessary to fully characterize the location and organization of meningeal lymphatic
vessels in the human central nervous system.
It is true that a direct connection between the brain and the lymphatic has never been established
before When we started that project, we were not looking for this, our question was: since there
are immune cells in the meninges [layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord], where do
they enter and how do they leave the brain. And while addressing those questions, we came across
the discovery of these lymphatic vessels, says Antoine Louveau of Centre for Brain Immunology and
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Glia, School of Medicine, University of Virginia, corresponding author of the paper, in an email to this
This discovery can be very significant in the treatment of neurological conditions. Jonathan Kipnis,
director of University of Virginias Centre for Brain Immunology and Glia, notes in an email, I want
to see what the role of these vessels is, in different neurological disorders. If we [have] discovered a
new structure it is cool. But, if we [have] discovered a new clue to better understanding and curing
human diseases, then it is a real breakthrough. Time will tell. When asked what diseases he is
referring to, Dr Kipnis adds, We are particularly interested in Multiple Sclerosis, meningitis, CNS
trauma, Alzheimers [disease] and brain tumours, to list a few

2. Nutrition scientists: unsung heroes and their role in Swasth Bharat

Topics: Health
We tend to look at a nations progress increasingly, and almost exclusively, in terms of its economic
and business statistics. India is now invited to the high table as a growing economy, with its annual
financial growth rate of over 4 per cent. Internally too, we have setup many mechanisms, policies,
catalysts, monitors, watch dogs and advisors on the economy and wealth front.
The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Niti Ayog, RBI, CAGI, SEBI, FICCI and many other
acronyms and monickers play a role in this. And it is a matter of satisfaction that over the decades,
India has done well in the area of economic growth and wealth.
We were taught that health is wealth. How true has this proverb been? Here, we need to realize that
India is a nation of the young. Of the 1.271 billion Indians, over 65 per cent (or over 820 million) are
below the age of 35. Further, we have about 160 million Indians below of age of 6. This is larger than
the entire population of Japan, or of Russia or of Bangla Desh. Futurologists claim that this
demographic dividend should help Indias growth in the coming years.
But sadly enough, 30 per cent of Indian children under the age of 6 are stunted in growth, 15 per cent
under 5 years are wasted, and their mothers are anaemic and underweight. Their health is no wealth.
If only we take measures to improve their health, growth and development, their contributions to
Indias well being in the coming years can be enhanced. An unhealthy child cannot perform well while
a healthy one can contribute to a healthy and wealthy nation. Health can thus indeed be wealth. It is
therefore a moral duty of a nation to ensure the health of its citizens. In order that we realize
the Swasth Bharatthat Mr. Modi wishes to bring about, we need to act and do so with speed and
Gratifyingly, successive governments of India (and of its many states) since Independence have
realized this and made efforts. A major player in this endeavour has been the group of nutrition
scientists of India. These people, who work at institutions such as the National Institute of Nutrition
(NIN) at Hyderabad, under the aegis of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) of the Union
Ministry of Health, have long been the unsung heroes of Swasth Bharat. They are not flashy, do not
grab headlines nor make bombastic claims. It is time we pay our tribute to their continuing efforts. It
is thanks to their efforts that many a child born with inherited disorders like PKU (Phenyl
ketonuria which effects one in 16,000) has been saved, by detecting and offering treatment within 3
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weeks of birth; or of kwashiorkor (by offering high protein diets), goitre (by adding iodine in salt),
diarrhoea (giving oral rehydration solution), night blindness (giving mega doses of vitamin A), iron
deficiency (offering iron supplement with rice) and so forth. It is thanks to their efforts that vaccines
for measles, hepatitis, polio, and now rotavirus have been made and immunized millions and millions
of Indians. It is thanks to their efforts that we have reliable knowledge of the nutritive value of
traditional Indian food such as Idli, Samosa, Roti and Dal, Rice and Sambar, various pulses, oils, greens
and such. Their book The Nutritive Value of Indian Foods and the Planning of Satisfactory Diets
(first published as a health bulletin in 1937, as a book in 1971, revised in 1989, and reprinted almost
yearly since then, and priced at a ridiculous Rs 60. With it, you know what you eat. (If only they
redesign the get-up of the book, add colourful pictures, give it a catchier title and have someone like
Kapil Dev recommend it, they will make millions).
Just as we have groups in economics and business which survey, monitor, do surveillance and offer
suggestions on the economy of the states and the nation, a body called The National Nutrition
Monitoring Board (NNMB), set up as early as in 1972, has been doing silent, and remarkable service
to the nation. It is NNMB that has provided the national food policy, highlighted micronutrient
deficiency and suggested supplementations such as fortified salt (with iodine, iron), fortified atta,
midday meal components in schools, what to offer during drought for specific population groups and
so on. Details of its 26 reports can be had at www.nnmbindia.org. It is the NNMB which can provide
the government with what can be the best supplements to add in the Midday Meals program for
school children, initiatives on the food security program, inputs on the nutritional status of
beneficiaries, what the best dietary components would be for various groups and so on.
By monitoring what you eat, analyzing its values, suggesting remedies and improvement, and offering
timely advice to the government, nutritionists have been doing invaluable service to the health of
the nation. It is vital that this continues without a break or any unnecessary interventions. Continuity
is important. It is here that the government should stop dithering (as it has for well over a year)
appoint the Chief of ICMR , Director of NIN, and stabilize and strengthen the NNMB as an integral
and permanent entity rather than jettisoning it.

3. Computers that operate on water droplets developed

Topics: Science and Technology
A computer that operates using the unique physics of moving water droplets has been developed by
an Indian-origin scientist and his team. The computer is nearly a decade in the making, incubated
from an idea that struck Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford
University, when he was a graduate student.
The work combines his expertise in manipulating droplet fluid dynamics with a fundamental element
of computer science an operating clock.
In this work, we finally demonstrate a synchronous, universal droplet logic and control, Prakash
Any operation
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The droplet computer can theoretically perform any operation that a conventional electronic
computer can crunch, although at significantly slower rates. We already have digital computers to
process information. Our goal is not to compete with electronic computers or to operate word
processors on this, Prakash said. Our goal is to build a completely new class of computers that can
precisely control and manipulate physical matter.
Imagine if when you run a set of computations that not only information is processed but physical
matter is algorithmically manipulated as well. We have just made this possible at the mesoscale,
Prakash said.
Prakash wondered if he could use little droplets as bits of information and utilise the precise
movement of those drops to process both information and physical materials simultaneously.
Prakash decided to build a rotating magnetic field that could act as clock to synchronise all the
droplets. Prakash and his team built arrays of tiny iron bars on glass slides that look something like a
PacMan maze. They laid a blank glass slide on top and sandwiched a layer of oil in between.
Then they carefully injected into the mix individual water droplets that had been infused with tiny
magnetic nanoparticles. Next, they turned on the magnetic field. Every time the field flips, the
polarity of the bars reverses, drawing the magnetised droplets in a new, predetermined direction. A
camera records the interactions between individual droplets, allowing observation of computation
as it occurs in real time.
How it works
The presence or absence of a droplet represents the 1s and 0s of binary code, and the clock ensures
that all the droplets move in perfect synchrony, and thus the system can run virtually forever without
any errors. Prakash said the most immediate application might involve turning the computer into a
high-throughput chemistry and biology laboratory.
Instead of running reactions in bulk test tubes, each droplet can carry some chemicals and become
its own test tube, and the droplet computer offers unprecedented control over these interactions.

4. Strategic debt revamp scheme will not be game-changer: experts

Topics: Economy
The Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) new Strategic Debt Restructuring Scheme (SDRS) announced on
Monday will not be a game-changer when it comes to debt recovery, according to banking experts.
The scheme, which allows banks to convert their outstanding loans into equity in a company if even
restructuring has not helped, will serve as a deterrent to big companies and wilful defaulters,
according to the RBI.
This sentiment is echoed by HDFC Bank Managing Director Aditya Puri, who said that the recentlyannounced SDRS was an excellent move. They (corporates) must fear that they will lose the
company if they mismanage funds, he said.
However, other banking officials felt that SDRS would be a tool that would likely not be used often
due to the legal and procedural complications.

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While the RBI has made clear that such a scheme is meant to be used when a companys turnaround
is being held up by the inefficiency or failure of the existing management, there is a concern in many
quarters over what the bank will do once it owns a majority share.
Who will run the company for the bank? The bank itself does not have the wherewithal to run a
company, said Sanjay Bhattacharya, former Managing Director and Chief Credit and Risk Officer of
State Bank of India.
The RBI notification does state that banks have to comply with the Banking Regulation Act,
specifically Section 6, which stipulates the forms of businesses that banking companies can engage
in. However, even looking for alternative management is a time-consuming process, while the
company continues to flounder, according to Mr. Bhattacharya.
The notification also urges banks to sell their equity in these companies as soon as possible.
This opens up all kinds of other issues, according to Mr. Bhattacharya. Banks will find it difficult to
find buyers. Nobody will want stake in a floundering company, he said.

5. Sanctioning cruelty on the name of faith?

Topics: Environment
In the land of the cobra and the snake-charmer, the cobra finds itself in the middle of an unlikely
controversy. Cloaked under the privilege of religion and culture, the new draft National Wildlife
Policy, framed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, suggests amending
existing laws to allow hunting of animals like cobras.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has repeatedly made statements saying wildlife
protection laws can be amended to accommodate religious and cultural practices. A high-level
committee set up to review Indias environment laws, led by former Cabinet Secretary T.S.R.
Subramanian, first suggested these amendments, stating they would be harmless to both man and
The question is whether endangered and protected species, already illegally poached, should be
subjected to further commodification through vague terms like culture and religion. More
problematically, the question is whether decisions that impact ecology and non-human species
should be taken on lines that will likely favour one dominant community, or custom, over another.
Both problems represent the way certain animals are constructed as familiar to us, even as friendly;
even if the animals are, in fact, dangerous, endangered, or hard to procure. At its centre is a persons
perception of the wild animal, however removed from reality.
The wild as familiar
Hunting of most animals, except notified vermin (like rats), is prohibited in India. This stems from
strong conservation and preservation laws in independent India. However, the draft of the new
National Wildlife Policy suggests that if cruelty in hunting can be removed, hunting should be allowed.
It states: Traditional practices involving wild animals are prevalent and in almost all cases, there are
confrontations between the enforcement authorities and communities on these aspects, [thus] it is
desirable to distinguish between hunting and specified religious/cultural practices of communities

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involving wild/ scheduled animals. The regulations for appropriate safeguards and prevention of
cruelty can be provided in the Act.
The predecessor of this is the T.S.R. Subramanian Report, which recommends: India has a varied and
glorious cultural tradition; while there are many national festivals, there are also localised festivals
which are of great local importance in different States. Nature and animal worship has been part of
the national culture. Thus, for example, Nag Panchami in many States is celebrated and snakes
worshipped during five days in the Shravan month, as a thousand-year-old tradition. It is to be noted
that the snakes are never harmed indeed they are worshipped during this period. A dispensation
in the various Schedules should be permitted to take into account such local practices, and reflect
them in their approved schedules, through gazette notification.
Both high-level documents suggest that removing cruelty in the capture or procurement of these
animals can not only give the animal respect but also fulfil cultural traditions. For a species like the
cobra (or any wild snake), this could not be further from the truth. For Nag Panchami each year, tens
of thousands of snakes are captured. Cobras, like many wild snakes, do not take well to capture. They
are almost always defanged using stones or hot metallic instruments and their mouths are stitched
up. They die deaths that are always painful, and sometimes delayed.
The interpretation of certain traditions, however, construe that the captured, livid, hissing cobra
wants to be captured or is being adequately respected. In reality, the hunting of snakes (cobras, rat
snakes), birds (like owls, parakeets) and other animals always masks the death of many more. For
each bird or snake in illegal captivity, there are thousands that died during the capture or
transportation. Several animals will not and cannot breed in captivity. To procure them for any
cultural custom, their capture from the wild will always be necessary. The Ministrys moves try to
cast an accommodative sheen on custom and culture, but the reality is invariably gruesome.
Sacred becoming profane
In India, several animals are deemed holy. This has led in a major part to unsustainable practices.
Wild elephants are captured, beaten and broken, to carry people or stand immobilised for hours on
end, adorned with heavy and blinding ornaments. Snakes and conch shells are illegally harvested
for sale at scandalously greedy rates. For several wild species, their being sacred has actually led to
physical profanity. Should the Environment Ministry broaden the cruelty of hunting in the name of
faith? And further, is it the job of the Environment Ministry to be the gatekeeper of which customs,
religions, and practices to uphold or privilege over another?
It was reported recently that eight tribals from Jharkhands Khunti district have been languishing in
jail for months now, for sacrificing an ox, deemed holy by Hindus. The tribals were unaware of the
furore their actions would cause, and their actions were probably inadvertent. However, amending
the law as per the above suggestions would mean knowingly allowing sacrifice, harvest and hunting
of some animals; and privileging one belief over another. Apart from having social ramifications, it
will also strengthen the hands of poachers by becoming, effectively, a smokescreen for poaching
itself. Till about 50 years ago, it was considered cultured for people to hunt tigers. British and Indian
royals and nobles hunted. As with other social evils, hunting too was deemed an anachronism and
banned. We will be taking several steps back if we re-allow hunting, whether for religious use or
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Ultimately, one hopes culture is something that evolves. The Nyishi tribals of Arunachal Pradesh have
learned to embrace artificial fibreglass casques instead of hunting the endangered hornbills for
headgear that is evolution. Similar solutions should be found, instead of targeting the already
dwindling wild animal populations.
The Environment Ministry needs to show leadership in protecting biodiversity. Towards this end, it
should uphold hunting restrictions, instead of considering changes which will be cruel, regressive,
and fetishise species. The only right answer is in creating new and evolved cultures.
(Neha Sinha is with the Bombay Natural History Society. The views expressed are personal.)

6. India richer by 349 new species

Topics: Environment
At a time when plants and animals are under threat across the world, nature lovers and
conservationists in India have 349 reasons to feel happy. Scientists and taxonomists of the country
have discovered 349 new species of flora and fauna in the past one year 173 species and genera
of plants and 176 species of animals.
The list of new discoveries by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey of India
(ZSI), both headquartered here, were released on the World Environment Day on June 5.
Of the new plants, some of the significant findings include nine new taxa of wild Musa (bananas),
four species of black plum (jamun), three species of wild gingibers and 10 species of orchids, BSI
director Paramjit Singh told The Hindu.
Biodiversity hotspots
According to scientists of the BSI, the Western Ghats accounted for 22 per cent of the new
discoveries, while the Eastern Himalayas and the north-eastern States each accounted for 15 per cent
of the species found.
In Arunachal Pradesh alone, 25 species of seed plants were discovered.
At the ZSI, 176 new species were added to the list of animals of India. These include 93 species of
insects, seven species of collembolans, 12 species each of arachnidan and crustacean and one species
of mollusca.
Reptiles too
Interestingly, two species of reptiles have also been located for the first time in the country one in
Tamil Nadu and another in Madhya Pradesh.
As in the previous year, insects outnumbered other animal groups this year also. But surprisingly, a
large number of amphibians and fish made it to the list with 24 and 23 new species respectively, ZSI
director K. Venkataraman told The Hindu.
While most of the new species of amphibians were discovered from the Western Ghats, majority of
fish species were from north-east India.
Scientists of both BSI and ZSI agree that the Western Ghats and the northeast are biodiversity
hotspots where most new species were found.

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Apart from the new species, the BSI has also added 105 new records and ZSI 61 new records.
Animals and plants that are found elsewhere in the world but have been spotted in India for the first
time are called new records.
Last year, 614 new species of plants and animals 366 plants and 248 animals were discovered.
It is natural that with every passing year, the number of new discoveries will decrease, Mr.
Venkataraman said. In India, 96,891 species of animals and 47,791 species of plants have been
recorded so far.

7. From welfare to paternalism

Topics: Governance, Society
The Narendra Modi government has slashed social sector spending by Rs.1,75,122 crore in one year
alone by way of a Rs.66,222 crore cut in grants to social sector schemes, a Rs.5,900 crore cut by
closing down the Backward Regions Grant Fund, and a Rs.1,03,000 crore cut by not implementing the
Food Security Programme that targets 67 per cent of the population.
What is shocking is that the worst budget cuts have been applied to the most vulnerable segments
women, children, agriculture, irrigation, Panchayati Raj, education, health, and scheduled castes
and tribes.
Take a look at health first. Funding for the National Health Mission has been reduced by Rs. 3,650
crore, for National AIDS and STD Programme by Rs.392 crore, and for Ayush by Rs. 64 crore. In the
UPA regime, the plan outlay for the health sector was raised by 55 per cent (2004-2005), while the
NDA budget has reduced it by 15 per cent.
The total allocation for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been decreased by Rs. 6,000
crore. The National Health Policy Draft acknowledges that achieving the Millennium Development
Goals will mean increasing public health expenditure to 4-5 per cent of GDP, but proposes instead an
increase of only 2.5 per cent.
Women and children
Women and children are another big casualty, with the budget of the Integrated Child Development
Scheme, aimed at improving the health and nutrition of millions of children and lactating mothers,
reduced by Rs. 9,858 crore. The scheme faces many challenges such as inadequate availability of
space for Anganwadi Centres and child minder posts lying vacant but with only about 0.5 per cent
share in the budget, it is unlikely that it can meet its stated objectives. It is worse because India has
one of the worst malnourishment records in the world, with 46 per cent malnourished children,
almost double that of sub-Saharan Africa at 25 per cent (NFHS 3, 2004-05).
The Gender Budget Statement, where various ministries and departments state their investments in
women-friendly schemes, now stands at Rs.79,258 crore compared to Rs.97,134 crore in 2013-14.
Programmes addressing violence against women have also suffered. Reducing Nirbhaya Centres from
the recommended 660 to a mere 36, the government has slashed the budget for these one-stop crisis
centres from Rs.20 crore to Rs.2 crore. The Womens Helpline, launched in 2013 after the Nirbhaya
case, now has a budget of Rs.1 crore, cut from Rs. 10 crore.
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Other vulnerable areas

The UPA government issued just one ordinance and that has been allowed to lapse and not repromulgated by the NDA government. That is the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
Amendment Ordinance, 2014, which pushed for expeditious disposal of cases relating to scheduled
castes and tribes. In fact, the total resources earmarked for Dalits and Adivasis have declined from
previous years, with the allocations in the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan falling by 28.5 per cent, and
allocations in the Tribal Sub Plan by 25 per cent.
The Panchayati Raj institutions provide the last mile connectivity in our democracy. Their budget has
been reduced by a massive 98.6 per cent from Rs.3,306 crore to Rs. 94.75 crore. Besides this, the
Backward Regions Grant Fund, which was created to address regional imbalances in identified
backward districts and ensure direct development in Naxalite-affected areas, has been shut down.
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The Prime Minister launched the Swacchh Bharat Abhiyaan with much fanfare on October 02 last
year, but the allocation for the sector, including drinking water and sanitation, has actually been
reduced by Rs.9,025 crore. And, finally, in education, the government has attempted to shift the
burden of financing central schemes to the States, since 90 per cent of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan
allocation is now coming from the Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh and only 10 per cent from governments
Plan Budget.
None of the NDAs schemes are rights-based. They are contributory and earnings-linked. If the poor
dont have jobs, they wont have an income, and if they dont have an income, they wont have the
money to put in the Jan Dhan accounts, from which they are meant to pay their insurance and
pension premiums under the various Pradhan Manthri Yojanas. There ends their social security. The
governments intent behind the schemes seems to be to disavow any responsibility towards the
socio-economically vulnerable.
Welfare to paternalism
The very idea of social welfare in a modern, capitalist, market economy is informed by two essential
principles. One, because capitalism doesnt work equally well for everyone, it requires some
cushioning, achieved through income redistribution. This is accomplished via progressive taxation
and by setting up a public infrastructure of universal social benefits, such as free health service,
subsidised schooling or subsidised housing. Second, it recognises that social entitlements are a
political right and not charity.
It is precisely this two-pronged welfare paradigm rights-based social provisions and redistribution
of gross national income that the Modi government is determined to dismantle. Under so-called
Modinomics, citizens will have no right to work, no right to food, and no right to ask for what is their
due by right.
Indias rights-based legislations the right to work, the right to food, the right to education, and the
right to information form the edifice on which the social and economic aspirations of a vast
majority of Indians rest.
The Modi dispensation is under pressure to kowtow to the dogma of fiscal rectitude. But fiscal
discipline is not the only agenda behind the savage welfare cuts in its very first year.
The aim is also to prepare the ground for altering the default settings of social welfare in India
from a rights-based one that honours the dignity of the poor to a paternalistic one that will push
thousands more of the landless poor into a debt trap, depress rural wages, and make them ever more
dependant on government charity.
(Dr. M. Veerappa Moily is a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha.)

8. Inside Myanmar, in hot pursuit

Topics: Internal Security
By striking at militant camps across the border and inside Myanmar territory, Prime Minister
Narendra Modi has demonstrated that he is willing to bite the bullet and take tough action when it
comes to the killing of Indian soldiers.

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Days after the June 4 killing of at least 20 personnel of the 6 Dogra Regiment in Chandel district of
Manipur allegedly by militants of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), a robust
response has come from the Indian Special Forces. Confirmation of the strike on two militant camps
inside Myanmar territory has come from none other than Minister of State for Information and
Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. He confirmed that the Indian forces carried out strikes
on two of the militant camps, annihilating the entire camps, and have returned safely. He pointed
out that Prime Minister Modi had taken a very bold step and given the go-ahead for hot pursuit
into Myanmar, adding that the response was a message to other countries that might be inimical to
India. Meanwhile, the official Army version simply spoke of the forces having engaged two separate
groups of insurgents along the Indo-Myanmar border, without referring to any cross-border
India had traditionally justified its links with the military-run Myanmar government by pointing to the
need to keep its eastern borders tranquil. Keeping the Myanmar government in the loop on any crossborder operation can only strengthen Indias efforts to ensure that more attacks do not take place.
The Indian Army, for its part, has spoken of communication and close cooperation but stopped short
of saying whether or not prior information was given on a cross-border operation. Other than the
number of casualties inflicted on the militants, very few details on the exact nature of the military
operation have been made available. For its part, the Khaplang faction has denied that any of its
cadres were killed by the Indian Army in the crackdown. There are, as Mr. Rathore said in his
statement, implications beyond Myanmar reflected in the nature of the operation conducted by the
Indian Army. If the intention is to be surgical and engage in long-term anti-militancy operations, the
Modi government and the BJP should desist from chest-thumping. While India makes it clear that as
a nation it would not take attacks such as this lying down, the Myanmar operation sends its own
signal to the rest of South Asia. It would be contextual to recall that even a major operation in end2003 against anti-India separatist groups that were based in Bhutan was conducted by the Bhutanese
army with support from India. The operation by the Indian Special Forces can only be welcomed. But
at the same time, collateral damage in government-to-government relationships must be avoided.

9. Bills that dont match promises

Topics: Governance
In the recently concluded session of Parliament, while some important Bills got passed, others had
to be sent to parliamentary committees for further scrutiny. Some of the delayed Bills were termed
as game changers and the stock market indices reacted negatively.
The Bills were passed in the Lok Sabha but were stalled in the Rajya Sabha since the government did
not have the numbers. Politics played an important role in all this but there are genuine reasons why
a reconsideration of the stalled Bills may be beneficial for the country.
A paper tiger
Let us start with the so-called Black Money Bill passed with ease in both Houses of Parliament. No
party wanted to be seen opposing it given the prevalent anti-corruption climate in the country. Since
the Bill seeks to bring back illegally stashed wealth from abroad, opposing it would have appeared to
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be anti-national. It also passed easily because most realise that it will do little to bring back the
treasure! The views of the high-profile activists from within the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP), Ram Jethmalani and Subramanian Swamy, make it clear that the Bill is a paper tiger.
It provides for stringent punishment of those Indians who hold undisclosed wealth and/or earn
undisclosed incomes abroad. Excluded from its purview are Non-Resident Indians (NRI) who are
genuine holders of wealth abroad and can earn incomes there. They are not obliged to declare their
assets or incomes to Indian authorities. So, Indians who are moneyed, work out an arrangement with
NRIs to hold their wealth and show their incomes through legal arrangements.
Further, the provisions of the Bill will be applicable only if the government is able to detect incomes
and wealth held abroad. The Bill has no mechanism for doing so. Hence, the draconian punishment
a jail term and 300 per cent fine can hardly be implemented. An amnesty scheme is being
offered to come clean. There will be no punishment if one discloses the assets and incomes abroad
in the specified period and pays the taxes within six months. Thus, the inexperienced ones who had
held illegal wealth abroad in their own names and earned incomes on them would have a chance to
come clean. The HSBC list revealed that some Indians who did take out funds in their own names
have now got caught. The experienced ones would not have made the mistake of holding funds in
their own names.
The process of layering has been available for a long time. It hides a persons identity by using shell
companies in tax havens to transfer funds. It is no surprise then that the Swiss government revealed
that Indians hold only Rs.14,000 crore in Swiss banks. This is mostly legitimate money, of Indians, and
in their own names. The black wealth of most experienced Indians would be parked there via shell
companies in tax havens and hence not be counted as Indian money. The largest amount of money
in Swiss banks belongs to the British since they own the largest number of tax havens.
The loophole of amnesty
The Bill contains no mechanism to identify funds going out or being held abroad. The government
argues repeatedly that it will get information via the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)
or Tax Information Exchange (TIE) agreement with a number of governments. However, these
agreements have been in place for more than two decades; it is ironic that under them, there has
been no information on black wealth holders. Further, these agreements are about the declared
incomes of individuals and not about their undisclosed wealth or incomes. Hence, this argument does
not hold water.
The Bill does hold out a threat that if anyone is caught, the penalties will be harsher than for those
with black wealth detected in India. There may be a deterrent effect but since the brief of clever
lawyers, chartered accountants and bankers is to devise ways to hide incomes, it can only be a losing
battle. Thus, the most significant aspect of the Bill is the amnesty to those to come clean who may
have made the mistake in the past of putting money in their own names. It is no wonder then that
the Bill was passed in Parliament.
A blow against corruption
Then, there is the Whistleblowers Bill, crucial in exposing rampant corruption in the country. While
it is difficult for people outside to unearth corruption in institutions, insiders are often in the know
and can reveal its extent provided they have protection under the act. But the amendments proposed
will make action on complaints by whistle-blowers more difficult, and they can face prosecution.
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Together, both these will dissuade people with information from coming forward to expose
wrongdoing. Is this the intention of the government? Corruption works to the disadvantage of the
vast majority of Indians and if the amendments to the Whistleblowers Bill are passed, they will be
the sufferers.
Affecting the small sector
The introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country is being promoted as the biggest tax
reform in India and a game changer. It is supposed to provide a seamless unified market for business,
raise GDP growth by 1 per cent, tax-GDP ratio by 2 per cent, reduce the cost of indigenous goods by
around 10 per cent and lead to the consolidation of manufacturing to reap economies of scale.
However, the Bill proposing the constitution amendment to enable the implementation of this
reform has been sent to a parliamentary committee, thus delaying its implementation. The United
Progressive Alliance, which introduced this idea, has now backtracked since it does not wish to give
the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) an advantage. Opposing it on genuine grounds are
the manufacturing States that are worried about loss of revenue.
However, the real problem with GST in India is not being addressed by any of the political parties.
India has a large, unorganised sector employing 93 per cent of the workforce. The small and tiny units
under it produce locally and sell locally. The unified market sought to be created is of little help to
them. Actually, they will lose as large-scale production gains. This will slow down employment
generation and aggravate underemployment and distress in the farm sector. Excess labour in farming
typically gets absorbed in the unorganised sector; if that sector declines, rural distress can only
The small-scale sector that would be outside the GST net would not be able to sell to the large-scale
sector because it would not have receipts for payment of Value Added Tax. Further, the unorganised
sector cannot afford computerisation of accounts to calculate the value addition and pay tax on it.
That is why it is kept outside the GST, but that would now be to its disadvantage.
Finally, there are contradictions in the argument being made for GST. The tax-GDP ratio can only rise
if more tax is collected but then prices will rise leading to a slowdown in demand so that GDP growth
rate cannot rise as claimed. Further, if the GST tax rate is not raised to the revenue neutral rate (RNR),
then tax collection will fall and the tax-GDP ratio cannot rise. Thus, the macro-level story shows that
either way, there is a contradiction in the governments argument. It is for this reason that the States
are right to worry about a potential loss of revenue. Clearly, GST is being introduced for the benefit
of large businesses and would work against the interest of the small-scale sector and the majority in
the country.
Marginalising the farmer
The Land Acquisition Bill is also to further the interests of big businesses and a part of creating the
ease of doing business. In the process, the land owning-farming community is being sought to be
marginalised. Farming is not just work but also a way of life and when the village community with
all its drawbacks is broken up, then people are forced to give up a way of life. Many migrate to
urban areas with few assets, to an alien and polluted slum environment and suffer a deterioration in
their living conditions. Should these people not have the right to be consulted? In the past, excess
land has been acquired cheap and has become an investment for big business.
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In Gurgaon, land was acquired by big developers in the 1980s and developed for commercial and
residential purposes rather than for essential purposes. The developers got advance information and
acquired large parcels of land at a cheap rate in connivance with politicians. In fact, a Chief Minister
got over a lakh acres of land notified for acquisition. But for the fall of the government this would
have gone through at the expense of the farmers.
In brief, the Land Bill and the introduction of GST will further marginalise the already marginalised.
The Black Money Bill and the proposed amendment to the Whistleblowers Bill will together make
the task of unearthing black incomes in India or abroad more difficult, in turn adding to the difficulties
of the common man. When the NDA came to power, the Finance Minister had argued that being probusiness is not being anti-poor, but the governments actions seem to contradict that.
(Arun Kumar is the Sukhamoy Chakravarty Chair Professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and
Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University.)

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Current Affairs | June 12, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

1. Budgetary

allocation for recapitalization of banks is inadequate to meet the growth.


2. What are the consequences of network sharing in spectrum. Analyse.

3. Discuss on the uniqueness and efficiency of India's financial market norms.
4. Make in India must emphasise on defence equipment production.

Necessitate the


5. There is no international benchmark in measuring climate change. What will be India's

contribution in containing climate change?

6. Explain the role of statutory organization which brings participatory democracy and vigilance

7. Inorder to materialise foreign policies a country must ideate outside the box. Analyse.
8. What are the measures to ensure fuel security in India?
9. Counter insurgency operations by military is not a political will. Exemplify.
10. Yoga doesn't have a religious barrier. It is a matter of health and well being.

1. Allocate more funds for recaptalisation of banks: RBI

Topics: Economy
The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday said Rs.7,940 crore earmarked for recapitalisation of PSU
banks in the current fiscal is not adequate and has asked the Finance Ministry to increase the
quantum of assistance in view of mounting bad loans and to support growth.
We have been suggesting to the Finance Ministry from time to time that the public sector banks
need more capital than what budget has indicated. So, we have been raising this issue at various
discussions and forums and it was also formally written by the Reserve Bank of India, RBI Deputy
Governor S S Mundra said here.
Budgeted amount which is over Rs. 7,000 crore will not be adequate from the both perspective for
enabling the bank for clean up of the books which is required and growth when it comes back, to
support it, he said.
Last fiscal, government infused Rs.6,990 crore in nine public sector banks based on their
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Asked about additional quantum of infusion needed beyond the budget amount, Mr. Mundra said
there is no single way of calculation on the requirement and it is based on various factors.
We have done some broad calculation for entire part of Basel-III committee implementation... What
we are trying to indicate is that at this point of time because of certain stress on the book some
capital would be consumed for cleaning of the books, he said.
That cleaning is vital because when growth returns capital would be needed to support it, he said,
adding that growth can be well supported with cleaner balance sheet rather than with a stress on
That is the whole idea of increased capital. It can partly help to clean the balance sheet. Make the
balance sheet ready to support when growth returns, additional capital will support the growth also,
he said.
Talking about setting up of a trading platform for receivables, Mr. Mundra said: We have already
invited applications and quite a few applications have been received by the RBI. They are currently
under scrutiny.
If such trading platform is set up, then it would provide cash flow to MSME against such receivables.
It will help them overcome cash crunch.
I would urge and hope that somehow if legislative process is brought in which makes mandatory for
large corporates, public sector units and the government departments to compulsorily register on
(receivables) trading platform so that when the small and medium units has done any supply to any
of these institutions then the payment of receivables on due date becomes legal obligation, he said.
I believe recovery of dues is a major challenge for MSME so if it can become a legislative process or
part of statute it will go a long way in supporting the sector, he said. While NPAs are a matter of
concern, they need to be dealt with, Mr. Mundra said, adding that a number of measures are being
taken to contain it.
Dealing with NPAs in a growth environment becomes easier than dealing with them in an
environment which is either stagnant or decelerating, he said.
Mr. Mundra further said that there is a need to do away with the credit guarantee scheme.
Guarantee scheme, enhancing the limit, I would rather say credit guarantee schemes itself is
something which will not run forever, he said.

2. Nod for spectrum sharing

Topics: Science and Technology
In a move that could lead to improved quality of cellphone services for users, the Telecom
Commission on Thursday gave approval for sharing of spectrum among operators.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the inter-ministerial panel to discuss the recommendations
on spectrum sharing by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

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*The industry, which has been seeking clarity on these guidelines for a long time now, welcomed the
move and expressed hope that these will be cleared by the Cabinet.
*For consumers, this is likely to lead to better quality of services fewer call drops and faster data
The guidelines are expected to be sent for Cabinet approval by the end of the month.
The industry, which has been seeking clarity on these guidelines for a long time now, welcomed the
move and expressed hope that these will be cleared by the Cabinet.
In India, spectrum is divided among operators in small and fragmented manner. These guidelines are
important as spectrum sharing will allow telecom companies to pool their spectrum holdings, leading
to improved spectral efficiency. Sharing can also provide operators additional capacities in places
where there is network congestion.
For consumers, this is likely to lead to better quality of services fewer call drops and faster data
Rajan Mathews, Director General of industry body COAI said, With these norms operators will be
able to bring greater efficiency and better utilise spectrum. They will be able to aggregate spectrum,
which is today very split up. This is essential for decent 3G and 4G services. It will lead to better
quality of services for the consumers.
The regulator also recommended allowing the trading of spectrum. As of now, only government is
allowed to allocate spectrum to telecom firms through auctions.
Hemant Joshi, Partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP commented, It is a positive move from the
Telecom Commission (TC). To enable efficient usage of national resource spectrum, we are hopeful
Cabinet would approve the guidelines sent by TC on spectrum trading and sharing.
It will enable telecom companies, who have a lower subscriber base or un-utilised spectrum, to
trade or share it. This move would be a boon for the industry, which will ultimately benefit the end
consumer through better services, he added.

3. India secures top-most ratings for financial market norms

Topics: Economy
Indias financial market regulatory framework on Wednesday got the top-most ratings from the
global bodies of banking and capital market regulators, with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) being rated better than their peers in China and the
In the latest global assessment study of the regulatory framework for financial market
infrastructures across the world, only six countries, including India, have got the highest score of 4
for all eight parameters on a scale of one to four. The other five countries are Australia, Brazil, Hong
Kong, Japan and Singapore. The Rating Level 4 means that the financial market regulators RBI and
SEBI have all regulatory measures fully in force.
The annual assessment studies the implementation status of the international Principles for Financial
Market Infrastructure (PFMIs) in various countries. These PFMIs work as global standards for the
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financial sector entities across the world and have been finalised by the International Organisation
of Securities Commissions and the Bank for International Settlements. The study showed that SEBI
and RBI have put in place all necessary regulations for the PFMIs, while they also have a legal
capacity to implement the responsibilities outlined under these global standards

4. Fighting without equipment

Topics: Internal Security
In the last five years, the small arms profile of Indias paramilitary forces has emerged as significantly
superior to that of the Army, which continues to struggle to acquire even basic weapons for its
infantry units. Since 2010, the Army has operated without a carbine, and has been battling seemingly
intractable Ministry of Defence (MoD) bureaucratic processes to procure one.
It is also struggling with similar self-defeating and hidebound acquisition procedures to acquire an
assault rifle. It is still years away from selecting one, let alone inducting it into service.
Succeeding Army chiefs have declared the procurement of both weapon systems to be top priority,
but years later, following extended trials and interminable evaluations, this priority remains
On the other hand, the central paramilitary forces have, over the same time frame, inducted a range
of modern carbines and assault rifles into service. Undoubtedly, their numbers are fewer than the
Armys, but there is a procedural lesson for the Army in the relative swiftness with which the central
paramilitary forces have shortlisted, evaluated, tested, and finally acquired the weapon systems.
Interminable processes
Ironically, instead of the bigger and more battle-hardened Army setting an example in small arms
acquisitions, the opposite has been true, due largely to the central paramilitary forces less
encumbered acquisition procedures and swifter decision-making processes. Since 2010-2011, the
Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have acquired some 34,377
Storm MX-4 sub-machine guns from Italys Beretta, with under barrel grenade launchers (UBGLs)
and around 68,000 AK-47 variant assault rifles from Bulgarias Arsenal. A follow-on order by the CRPF
for 60,000-odd AK-47s is under acquisition. Other central paramilitary forces purchases include 2,540
Tavor X-95 carbines from Israel and over 12, 000 9mm MP-5 sub-machine guns from Germany, some
of which have been disbursed to special state police units deployed in counter insurgency operations
against Naxalites.
In comparison, the Indian Armys unending saga of small arms acquisitions makes dismal telling. This
is due to utter confusion in determining their qualitative requirements (QRs) and the inherent
systemic inefficiencies for which the Army has to assume ownership. This time around, it cannot
complain that the MoD deprived its soldiers of basic weaponry.
In December 2010, the Army issued a tender for 44,618 5.56mm close quarter battle (CQB) carbines
and 33.6 million rounds of ammunition to replace its World War II vintage submachine guns, which
even the Ordnance Factory had stopped producing. The trials featuring three vendors ended in end2013. But the Army has yet to declare a winner, reportedly due to a handful of senior officers in the
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interminable procurement chain unduly favouring one carbine over the other for specious, almost
laughable, reasons.
The tender requires a carbine weighing no more than 3kg to be capable of firing 600 rounds per
minute, to a distance of 200 meters. It also requires the winning model to transfer technology to the
Ordnance Factory to licence-build it in order to meet the Armys requirement for over 2,00,000 CQB
carbines. This number is expected to increase manifold.
However, the fear in military circles is that the petty differences in the Armys selection team could
well result in the tender being scrapped altogether. Retendering would take several more years,
during which time the Army will have to operate without a carbine.
The assault rifles delay
The assault rifle procurement story is even more incomprehensible and alarming, as the Army is likely
to scrap its 2011 tender for 66,000 multi-calibre assault rifles, after four overseas vendors failed to
meet its requirements in trials that concluded last November.
The Armys tender required the modular assault rifles to switch from 7.62x39mm to 5.56x45mm for
employment in defensive and suppressive fire roles, merely by changing their barrels and magazines.
The selected system was to have replaced the Defence Research and Development Organisationdesigned assault rifle, which the Army had stated was operationally inadequate in 2010, after using
it on sufferance for years.
The shortlisted rifle, like the CQB carbine, was also to be licence-built by the OFB to meet the Armys
immediate operational requirement for over 2,20,000 assault rifles. Four models participated in trials
at Bakloh cantonment near Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh and at Hoshairpur in Punjab, from August
2014 onwards. All four rifles failed to meet the Armys QRs for various reasons.
Official sources indicated that retrials were unlikely, and that after four years of wasted effort, the
Army now plans to draw up fresh QRs for a single calibre rifle, in all likelihood a 7.62x39mm, which
has a shorter range than its 5.56x45mm calibre equivalent that is in use with most of the worlds
armies. It will then send out a request for information for the new rifle, before re-tendering several
months later. Thereafter, it will navigate the time-consuming process of technical evaluation, user
trials and shortlisting, followed by price negotiations, a process lasting three to four years.
Poor alternative
The MoD is also believed to be considering the alternative proposal of abandoning the import of both
the carbine and assault rifle and manufacturing them locally under Prime Minister Narendra Modis
Make in India enterprise. But this will also entail time-consuming procedures, necessitating a private
or public sector-led joint venture with an overseas original equipment manufacturer, again selected
after extensive trials. Such an enterprise would, doubtless, necessitate the import of a certain
number of weapon systems before their licensed production by the JV begins much later.
Army officers have warned that such delays severely compromise the operational efficiency of
infantry units, especially those deployed in counter-insurgency operations, as they are forced to
employ INSAS rifles against the superior weaponry of militants in Kashmir and the Northeast.
Meanwhile, even the sniper rifles used in the paramilitary forces are more contemporary and
advanced than the Armys Soviet-era Dragunov SVD gas-operated, semi-automatic models acquired
in the 80s.
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Attempts to import around 1,000 sniper rifles for the Armys Special Forces in 2010-11 under the Fast
Track Procurement route proved fruitless and have been abandoned, even though the requirement
remains a priority. An Army team led by a two-star officer conducted comparative trials in Israel (for
IWIs semi-automatic Galil sniper rifle), Finland (for Berettas SAKO TRG-22/24 bolt action model) and
the U.S. (for Sig Sauers 3000 magazine-fed rifle), but with no results.
Unfortunately, even such specialist rifles, which can potentially alter not only the course of battles
and politics but even history, remain victims of Army apathy.
(Rahul Bedi is a defence analyst.)

5. Getting the climate story right

Topics: Environment
In what has been a marathon year for climate talks, negotiators have been meeting for the last two
weeks to prepare a 2015 Agreement to be signed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference
in Paris in December. But, in some ways, the international talks are the sideshow.
In this round of negotiations, the focus lies on what each country places on the negotiating table in
Paris as its national contribution to addressing climate change. India has been correctly arguing that
contributions should include measures to adapt to climate change and the provision of finance and
technology to developing countries, but what will most closely be watched are efforts to reduce
greenhouse gases.
Contribution and justification
For each country to self-determine its national contribution is a curious approach. Currently, there is
no international benchmark of what counts as sufficient climate action. Even if there was such a
benchmark, whether country contributions will be reviewed at the international level is an open
question, and the subject of heated negotiation. The obvious incentive then, for any country, is to
place a limited and costless proposal on the table. There are two counter pressures: from strong
domestic constituencies for aggressive climate action; and, more salient for India, international
pressure through naming and shaming.
But without an agreed benchmark of adequate action, on what basis would naming and shaming
occur? The answer is that each country not only puts out a contribution, but also justifies it. In other
words, equally important will be the story of why a countrys contribution is adequate, ambitious and
Other countries have been on this storytelling exercise for some time. The European Union has
pledged at least 40 per cent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030, which it states is a
substantial step up from its 2020 targets. The U.S. contribution appears far more modest a
reduction of 26-28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025, and is justified by invoking the political risks
the U.S. President took to push this action through in the face of opposition pressure. China has
provided hints of its contribution, and is expected to announce it this month: it will peak emissions
by 2030 at an unstated level. This seemingly weak statement is buttressed not only by Chinese
arguments but by the likes of noted economist Lord Stern, who has declared that China will underpromise but over-deliver, because of domestic compulsions around its local environmental issues.
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So, what story should India tell? It is in Indias interest to signal serious intent, both because it wishes
to project itself as a responsible global actor and because, as a nation that is deeply vulnerable to
climate impacts, an effective global climate agreement is firmly in its own interest. Fortunately, the
ingredients for a convincing and substantive narrative are available.
The first element is an old story with a new twist: India is a rapidly growing economy, starting from a
low economic base. Its per capita emissions are a third of the global average, and between a quarter
and a sixth of those of other emerging economies; it needs carbon headroom to grow. But the twist
is that because it is a rapidly transforming society and economy, it is near impossible to predict future
emissions commensurate with its needs. India is in the early stage of three transformations: a
demographic transition for which its needs to create jobs; a shift from a rural to an at least half-urban
society; and vastly expanded infrastructure to support both transitions. None of these factors are
true to the same extent in other emerging economies. Successfully negotiating all of these
transformations requires energy, which, at least at the moment, means uncertain but higher future
carbon emissions.
Given these factors, it would be foolhardy to place a cap on Indias carbon headroom. This point is
validated by recent analyses from the Centre for Policy Research. The report found that seven recent
Indian energy and climate models predict anywhere from a doubling to a tripling of Indias carbon
dioxide emissions from now until 2030. While there may be some technical scope to narrow this
range, there is a residual uncertainty about the future that leads to such a wide band. Thus, spelling
out a peaking year or putting a firm number to future absolute emission levels would be irresponsible.
A three-step package
However, India will need to provide some pledges as an upgrade on its Copenhagen pledge, which
was to reduce the economys carbon intensity 20-25 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. While
intensity numbers are also hard to predict because they involve computing future carbon emissions
and GDP growth, adding 10-15 per cent reduction in intensity by 2030 is a likely safe statement. But
this is, at most, a relatively conservative starting point, as it is intended to be.
The second step, therefore, is to demonstrate how, despite these circumstances, India is willing to
go much further and put on the table a more substantial contribution to global mitigation action. The
key argument is that for a rapidly transforming economy like India, early and certain actions that
bend the curve of emissions downward, so that emissions increase at a slower rate, are a far more
valuable climate contribution than uncertain future actions. In other words, Indias main contribution
could be to avoid locking the economy into a high emissions path. However, to be consistent with its
priority on sustainable development, and as a country with limited historical responsibility for climate
change, India should amplify its stated co-benefits approach to climate change: pursuing actions
that achieve sustainable development while contributing to mitigation. This is a powerful idea. Our
research shows that in areas such as local environmental control and enhancing energy security,
there are strong complementarities with limiting carbon.
Third, this vision has to be given concrete shape through specific immediate actions that would, in
fact, bend the emissions curve. To develop these actions requires careful sector-by-sector
assessment of the scope for co-benefits. Here, too, India has a strong track record, particularly in
areas such as energy efficiency, where several policy, legal, and institutional changes have reshaped
investment incentives toward greater energy efficiency. In areas such as renewable energy, too, the
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emphasis should be on immediate changes, such as those under consideration in the amendment of
the Electricity Act, 2003, rather than on long-term, uncertain and aspirational targets. Indias
intended contribution should include actions already taken and actions under consideration in these
sectors and others such as public transport, freight, and buildings.
Together, this three-step package provides a compelling story for Indian action that is both a strong
contribution to the global effort, and rightly emphasises the countrys development needs. In 2015,
the climate game is not just about numbers but also about the story. If India doesnt frame the
benchmarks by which it wishes to be judged, others will do it, and to its detriment.
(Navroz K. Dubash, Radhika Khosla and K. Rahul Sharma are senior fellow, fellow, and senior research
associate at the Centre for Policy Research.)

6. Key choices, some questions

Topics: Governance
The appointments of Vijai Sharma as Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and K.V. Chowdary as
Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), which have been a long time coming, also raise some concerns
about the Narendra Modi governments level of engagement with institutions that form the life
breath of Indian democracy.
The CIC presides over the Right to Information, crucial to a participatory democracy in making
institutions accountable, while the CVC is tasked with overseeing the vigilance administration. As
watchdogs, both are premised on the principles of transparency and autonomy. For this reason,
utmost transparency is called for in these appointments, and it is imperative that the processes by
which the names are arrived at are in the public domain. Yet, in the last one year, amid all the
achievements of the Modi government, the delay in appointing suitable candidates to these posts
had been a matter of some concern, flagged by political parties, informed citizen groups and others.
At last count, the Central Information Commission, which has been functioning without a chief for
the last 10 months, has nearly 37,788 cases to clear. Three posts of information commissioners in the
CIC are vacant. The CIC bench is authorised to hear appeals with respect to the PMO, the Department
of Personnel, the CVC, the CAG, and crucial government Ministries.
Democracy is also about processes. Here, the governments intentions cannot be said to have been
strictly above board. If the purpose was to appoint Mr. Sharma, the seniormost Information
Commissioner, as the chief anyway, why did the 10-month-long delay occur? After all, the convention
so far had been to appoint the seniormost Commissioner as CIC. More important, in March the PMO
decided to take away the financial autonomy of the CIC by delegating the powers to a governmentappointed secretary, prompting many citizen groups to say the government had weakened the CIC
and trampled on its autonomy. In the case of Mr. Chowdary, the process of appointment started after
the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead, directing the government to ensure transparency by providing
the selection committee headed by the Prime Minister the details of all 130 applicants who applied
for the CVCs post (according to media reports), and not just of those shortlisted by a panel of three
bureaucrats. The court is yet to complete hearings on a public interest litigation petition questioning
the process of appointment of the CVC. The Opposition, whose role is crucial in the process of
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appointment of the CVC, may have become an ally of the government in this instance. But unless the
government addresses concerns over whether it has gone through all the processes and procedures
laid down under law, questions and doubts will remain.

7. Brick and motor of foreign policy

Topics: International
The consensus among those evaluating Prime Minister Narendra Modis performance at the end of
his first year in office is that while the jury is still out on domestic issues, the Bharatiya Janata Partyled National Democratic Alliance (NDA) governments performance on the foreign policy front has
been praiseworthy.
While some of it may be true, it is important to note that foreign policy outcomes are merely the tip
of the iceberg when compared to the entirety of a countrys foreign policy architecture. In that sense,
Mr. Modi has so far not sought to improve the competence and capacity of the countrys foreign
policy establishment. Therefore, lets move beyond the euphoria surrounding his spectacular
foreign policy performance to examine the deep-seated inadequacies in Indias foreign policy
Organisational inadequacies
The principal drawback of the foreign policy establishment is that it is miserably understaffed. While
New Delhi does have some first-rate diplomats, what we really need are not a few overworked senior
officials but more, well-trained personnel. On account of financial constraints, bureaucratic inertia
and inter-ministerial disagreements, all we have are around 900-odd Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
officers to operationalise Indias ambitious foreign policy initiatives.
Even as the volume and nature of Indias foreign policy workload is steadily increasing and
transforming, especially under the new regime, the recruitment of IFS officers has increased only by
3-4 per year despite recommendations to increase the intake. Though the aim is to have around 1,200
officers by 2018, even that will prove inadequate. The fact is that IFS officers are generalists by
training, and are routinely transferred around the world to man varied diplomatic and foreign policy
assignments. This means that key elements of todays international relations such as trade diplomacy
and climate policy, among others, will be neglected, even as they are the centrepiece of Mr. Modis
international engagement.
Intellectual weaknesses
Diplomacy today is much more than mere courtesies, photo-opportunities and protocols: it is
primarily about pursuing ones national interests in a globalised and highly networked world that is
far more complex than before. New-age diplomacy then needs a lot more intellectual agility, in-depth
knowledge of specialised issues, and an ability to innovate like never before. Therefore, Indias
antediluvian diplomatic and foreign policy architectures should be subjected to radical reform if New
Delhi is to make its presence felt in the fast-changing contemporary international system.

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For one, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is hardly receptive to intellectual inputs from anyone
other than its own overworked bureaucrats who are almost always caught up in the day-to-day
running of the ministry. On issues ranging from trade to climate change to science and technology,
all of which are central to contemporary diplomacy, there exists a great deal of intellectual expertise
in non-state institutions such as private sector think tanks, public and private universities and the
media. But bureaucratic self-importance and the absence of conducive institutional mechanisms
have prevented the proper utilisation of such valuable expertise. Indeed, while foreign ministries
across the world are exploring innovative means to draw upon outside expertise, the tendency in
India is to build barricades against such expertise from trickling into South Block. When the
government does engage the strategic/academic community to carry out research for it, supporting
findings are generally preferred.
K. Subrahmanyam, one of Indias finest strategic thinkers, had this to say about the interaction
between the bureaucracy as well as politicians and the civilian policy community: Our politicians
and bureaucrats entertain the illusion that they know more about overall Indian foreign and security
policies than the think-tank people and academics in India. Most of our leaders listened to the advice
of Western strategists, but would not even engage in serious discussions with Indian thinkers on the
To make things worse, IFS officers also avoid being posted to other ministries such as commerce or
finance and vice versa. Currently, no more than one or two IFS officers are posted in other Union
Ministries. This means that various Union Ministers with interests in Indias foreign policy decisions,
including the MEA, continue to remain in their cozy enclaves, resulting in suboptimal foreign policy
Ideational shortcomings
The Indian foreign policy establishment also suffers from an acute inability to ideate outside the box.
Much of the intellectual energy is spent on routine management of the ministry where adhocism,
outdated precedents and pragmatism are the guiding principles. Moreover, our foreign policy
establishment, by design, tends to be reactive in nature, rather than proactive or creative.
Such adhocism is a direct result of deep-rooted structural and ideational biases against long-term
planning and grand strategic thinking. Successive Union governments have steered clear of
articulating a coherent road map for the countrys foreign policy and strategic engagements, of
identifying medium- and long-term goals, the challenges to be faced while pursuing them, or the
ways to get there. The MEAs Policy Planning Division hardly engages in any serious planning, nor is
it mandated or empowered to do so.
White papers or official documents are rarely issued on key foreign policy challenges nor are
independent panels of experts tasked to work on them. And when an independent panel is appointed
a rare occurrence the recommendations of its members are neatly archived, often classified
under the Official Secrets Act, and never referred to. Senior bureaucrats hardly ever refer to research
findings churned out by research organisations and think tanks. Given this absence of a competent
policy-planning structure within the MEA, policies are often made on the basis of intuition and
common sense. Non-official literature dealing with long-term strategic planning is often dismissed as
academic, meaning, useless.
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There is inadequate and inconsistent focus on major policy initiatives. The focus between two prime
ministerial visits or crises, is on the mundane. Clearly, major initiatives cannot be undertaken in a
sustained manner with a handful of officials distracted by routine matters, and with the political
bosses showing neither the aptitude nor the appetite for it. The political leadership under Mr. Modi
may make grand foreign policy declarations and promises, but the chances of such declarations
translating into outcomes are few, given the establishments short attention span.
Walking the talk
Unlike his predecessors, Mr. Modi has demonstrated no hesitation in articulating that under his
watch, India will play a major role on the world stage. If he is serious about his ambitious plans to be
a part of the emergent Asian century, he needs to start by overhauling the countrys foreign policy
apparatus. If not, his foreign policy agenda is likely to collapse under its own weight.
First, the MEAs institutional capacity must be improved by radically altering recruitment patterns
and philosophy. The intake of IFS recruits per year should be at least doubled, and the government
should consider a separate examination to recruit officers with an aptitude for foreign affairs. Many
such proposals in the past were shot down by other bureaucracies, namely, the Indian Administrative
Service. Hence, the government should not let the MEA or other self-seeking bureaucracy to decide
on how to expand the Foreign Service establishment; this ought to be a political decision. Moreover,
there should be a policy decision to absorb outside expertise through lateral entry or deputation.
In its fourth report, the parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs (2014-2015) made
some thoughtful recommendations: The Ministry must engage with the Department of Personnel
and Training (DoPT) and impress upon them about the urgency of providing more staff, including
through recruitment from other cadres and the academic and private sector, as per the specialized
needs of the Ministry. Recruitment on contract basis from individuals with academic or private sector
experience that is directly relevant to urgent needs should be permitted. One hopes that the
government takes the Standing Committee recommendations seriously.
Second, the NDA government should issue a doctrine that reflects the countrys grand strategic
objectives. There has to be more clarity on what India wants as a country which, when enshrined in
a well-conceptualised official document, will generate a sense of purpose and cohesion in the
countrys foreign policy. Modesty and opaqueness are no virtues in contemporary international
relations. The MEAs Policy Planning Division should be empowered and encouraged to draw upon
wide-ranging outside expertise to help frame and articulate long-term foreign and strategic policies.
Third, there has to be more inter-ministerial coordination in policy-making. Deputations between the
MEA and other key ministries should be mandatory. The government must consider the Commerce
Ministrys proposal to create a separate cadre of commercial counsellors in key Indian missions.
If Mr. Modi does not want the future chroniclers of Indias foreign policy to conclude that his foreign
policy initiatives, considered to be path-breaking, were nothing but more of the same with a lot
more noise, he needs to rescue the architecture from its current disrepair and undertake
fundamental reforms to give it the institutional and intellectual wherewithal it so badly needs.
(Happymon Jacob teaches at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New
Delhi. E-mail: happymon@gmail.com)

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8. TN, Adani Group sign agreement on 200-MW solar plant in Ramanathapuram

Topics: Energy and Resources
The Adani Group has signed a power purchase agreement with the Tamil Nadu government to set up
a 200-MW solar power plant in Ramanathapuram at an investment of nearly Rs.1,400 crore,
according to TANGEDCO officials.
The group is also in discussion with the State government to set up a 1,000-MW solar plant in the
The agreement to set up a 200-MW plant was signed a couple of days back and the investment in
the project will be about Rs. 6.5 croreRs. 7 crore per MW, the official said.
The company is likely to stagger the investment and commission the 1,000-MW plant in phases.
Officials at Adani Group were not available for comment.
The investment comes at a time when Tamil Nadus ambitious plan to commission about 3,000 MW
of solar energy by 2015 has not fructified with the States total grid connected solar power achieving
a mere 5 per cent of its goal in the past three years.
The State government in 2012 unveiled a Solar Energy Policy that envisaged generation of 1,000
MW every year for three years through utility scale projects, rooftops and Renewable Energy
Certificates (REC) schemes.
TANGEDCO recently signed power purchase agreements for 631 MW, which will have to be
commissioned by March 2016, the official said. A load flow study has also found it feasible to
commission another 2,200 MW, the official said.
As per data released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Tamil Nadu ranks
seventh in terms of total commissioned solar capacity till May this year, contributing just about 3.8
per cent of the total capacity of 3.88 GW.
Rajasthan and Gujarat lead the pack.
High solar radiation
Rajasthan has the natural advantage of the highest amount of solar radiation . It also has a lot of
arid land, and land cost there is relatively cheap. The government has also created land banks. Many
of the bidders for projects under the MNRE scheme opt to bid for Rajasthan, according to Madhavan
Nampoothiri, Founder & Director, RESolve Energy Consultants.

9. Government plays down hot pursuit claims

Topics: IR India and the world, IR other countries
Worried by Myanmars objections to the public accounts of the anti-terror operations against
Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) militants, the Union government backtracked on
assertions that the Army went on a hot pursuit in the territory of the neighbouring country.
The Centre made this clear even as the news agency PTI reported that a security alert had been
sounded across the northeast after reports that militants had entered India for revenge attacks.
Sources told The Hindu that the Myanmar government had conveyed its displeasure over statements
from New Delhi about crossing into the neighbours territory to carry out an early-morning raid on
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terror camps, and Indian Ambassador to Yangon Gautam Mukhopadhyaya was given a tough
message during meetings with the authorities on Wednesday.
At a seminar in Delhi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar refused to answer questions, saying only
that the operations had been carried out along the India-Myanmar border.
The claims have sparked strong reactions from Pakistan, whose Army chief warned India against all
forms of aggression, which Mr. Parrikar dismissed as reactions of those who fear Indias new
While the counter-terror operations were negotiated carefully by diplomats over the past few days,
following the killing of 18 Army personnel in an ambush in Manipur, any indication that the Myanmar
government allowed Indian soldiers into its territory would contravene its Constitution.
A Facebook update by Myanmar President Thein Seins office denied that any Indian soldiers had
crossed into Myanmar, while on its main website, the Foreign Ministry carried an excerpt from its
Constitution (Chapter 1, Article 41&42) saying, No foreign troops shall be permitted to be deployed
in the territory of the Union.
Asking not to be identified, a journalist based in Yangon said the junta was worried about criticism in
the wake of statements from India giving details of the operations, carried out by a 70-member
commando team.
Govt. tones down rhetoric
Two Union Ministers, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Prakash Javadekar, on Tuesday had given
statements on the message sent by the hot pursuit of militants into Myanmar.
This is a lesson and a message to all the terror groups that India will not hesitate in going beyond its
geographical borders to eliminate terrorists, Mr. Javadekar said, while Mr. Rathore said the
message was for other countries too. Pakistan is not Myanmar, had retorted Pakistani Interior
Minister Nisar Ali Khan.
On Thursday, however the government took a more muted position. Both Mr. Rathore and Mr.
Javadekar were not available for comment on the issue, but Lieutenant General Subrata Saha, the
General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Army's 15 Corps was quoted by NDTV as saying that the
Myanmar operations could not be replicated on the border with Pakistan.
The government also came in for some criticism from former officers for divulging details of the
operations, even as they claimed to be planning future operations in the border region, and NSA Ajit
Doval is expected to lead negotiations on them in Yangon shortly.
The operation on the NSCN succeeded because it was done in perfect secrecy, said E.N.
Ramamohan, former DG-BSF and security adviser to the Manipur Governor, adding, But they have
spoilt ongoing operations through lack of secrecy thereafter. The Army should have been given credit,
not the political leadership.
Former Governor of Manipur, Mizoram and Jhakhand Ved Marwah, who commended the Army
operations in tough terrain told The Hindu, Operational details must not be revealed to score
political points.
Insurgents have lost credibility
To questions on the fallout of the operation, senior Army officials said since several of the insurgent
groups have now lost credibility after the raid by the Army, they would try new tactics to establish
their presence and cautioned against increased infiltration and attacks in the region.
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Therefore they said such raids were required to keep up the pressure on the insurgent groups, boost
morale of the soldiers and also convey the message that we have the political and military means
to act when necessary.

10. Muslim groups back Yoga day, Catholics unhappy

Topics: Society, Religious issues
A delegation representing a few Muslim groups met Union Minister of State for Ayurveda, Yoga and
Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy Shripad Naik on Thursday to extend support to
programmes being undertaken to mark International Yoga Day on June 21.
Even as the government has been asserting that yoga is not religion-specific, some Muslim groups
have been opposing yoga demonstrations in schools and other places. These groups have been
particularly opposed to Surya Namaskar, a set of aasanas that the government claims has not been
included in the common protocol to be followed in missions abroad and in India.
The delegation, comprising representatives of the Majlis Ulema-e-Hind (Uttar Pradesh), Jamat
Ulema-e-Hind (Delhi), All India Jamat-e-Salmani B, Jamat Huffaz Ikraam, the Daudi Bohra Community,
the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and so on, told Mr. Naik that a large percentage of the community
did not believe in yoga being against their religion and supported the suggestion made by the
Minister that Namaz had eight yoga postures.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recently clarified that joining the yoga programmes was not
mandatory and they had no religious connotation. She cited the co-sponsorship to the event by 47
countries that are part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as an example of yoga not being
associated with any particular religion.
The governments assurance notwithstanding, there were reports that the Catholic Bishops
Conference of India has expressed displeasure over the decision to organise Yoga Day on Sunday,
considered sacred by Christians.
Canadian protests
The Yoga Day celebrations have run into trouble abroad, as the Vancouver Sun reported that the First
Nations groups are planning to crash the provincial governments yoga party on the bridge next
weekend in Vancouver.
As the International Day of Yoga coincides with National Aboriginal Day, certain groups have asked
people to protest. Several pages have been set up on social media calling for a peaceful disruption
of the mass yoga class with signs, singing and drumming, the Vancouver Sun reported.
Ramdev to lead practice session
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi overseeing the International Yoga Day celebrations at Rajpath,
government officials participating in the event have been asked to practise ahead of the D-day so
that the demonstration is a synchronised exercise.
Officials have been given a CD and a copy of the protocol to practise the aasanas which will be
performed by as many as 35,000 people at Rajpath; a feat that India wants recorded in the Guinness
Book of World Records. Practice sessions are also being carried out at the Nehru Yuva Kendras and
Swami Ramdev is scheduled to hold a session at the Nehru Stadium on June 14.
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All central government officials, down to the level of under-secretaries, have been asked to join the
yoga demonstration at Rajpath.
Mr. Modi, an avid yoga practitioner, who proposed the addition of Yoga Day to the list of U.N.
observances, has been sharing yoga aasanas and their relevance on Twitter.

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Current Affairs | June 13, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams


How mummies are preserved in ancient times? Why it is done?

What are the units available to measure gold?
What is Tufs? Explain its role.
Dalits are not lifted in any sphere in an economy. What will be the effective remedy?
Unheard voices of little souls trapped in child labour. Elaborate.
Analyse on the standoff between G-7 and Russia.
Cities and towns formed around the country are rudimentary. Critically analyse.
Explain the role of botanical survey of India and It's importance.

Four decades of impasse over on land boundary agreement but a huge task lie ahead
in rehabilitation. Discuss.


Ease of doing business in state level is much needed as in central level. Explain.

1. Will this mummuy return to health?

Topics: History
A Pharaohs daughter, many centuries old, waits in a mummified state at the State Museum here for
care from her compatriots. The mummy, brought here in the 1930s, has been a victim of apathy.Damage to the prized possession of the museum is conspicuous. The outer crust, face, shoulders and
the toe area have fragmented and the exposed inner wrappings have disintegrated.
Not in the know of methodologies in the care and restoration of a mummified body, the museum
authorities have decided to invite experts from Egypt and seek funds from the State government.
The museum staff say the mummy is one of the few in the country with the others in museums in
Mumbai, Kolkata, Manipur, Jaipur, Lucknow and Kolkata.
Sunita M. Bhagwat, who recently took charge as Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums,
says plans are being made to approach experts in mummy conservation in Egypt and seek their
assistance. We are writing to the government for funds, and this is a priority for us, she says.
The Department of Archaeology and Museums had earlier tried to involve experts from the U.K. and
Egypt, but paucity of funds did not help in taking the initiatives further.

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Tareq-al-Awady, an antique and conservation expert from Egypt, who inspected the mummy six years
ago, suggested a round-the-clock climate-controlled environment to stop deterioration and placing
it in a special oxygen-free showcase.
The mummy is believed to be of a girl aged 16 to 18 and dated to the Ptolemaic period 300 BC to
100 BC.
The mummy was bought for 1,000 by Nazeer Nawaz Jung, son-in-law of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, the
sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, in 1920. He gifted it to Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam, who
donated it to the State Museum, which was opened in 1930.

2. Pursuing gold standard

Topics: Economy
Silver Emporium, a leading player in silver and handcrafted silver artefacts, plans to promote
certification and quality consciousness regarding silver in the country. India is among the top five
silver markets in the world but unlike its more illustrious sibling gold, silver continues to remain a
highly unorganised industry.
It is scattered industry with few organised players, Rahul Mehta, Managing Director, Silver
Emporium, told this correspondent. As a consequence, there is lack of certification of silver items
including jewellery. There is no hallmarking and many silver articles have cadium, which is banned in
most countries.
According to GFMS, a global metals consultancy, Indias silverware consumption almost trebled from
472 tonnes in 2012 to 1,222 tonnes in 2014 while silver jewellery offtake rose 47 per cent to 1,936
tonnes in 2014.
India, among top five silver markets in the world, but industry is unorganised with no quality
Silver Emporium has the only fully integrated silver processing facility in India with capacity of 3,000
kg a day.
Plans to double retail outlets to eight this year and create national silverware brand.
Typically silver items cost between Rs.25 to Rs.200 to certify at hallmarking centres, Mr. Mehta said
adding that Silver Emporiums products were BIS hallmarked and have a 100 per cent buy-back
With the only fully integrated silver processing facility in India at Jaipur, with a capacity of 300 kg a
day, the company sells its products to 400 retailers besides four owned retail outlets in Mumbai,
Jaipur, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. It plans to set up one more in Mumbai this month, one in Chennai
in July and two more in Jaipur by October.
Silver Emporium wants to create a national silverware brand for jewellery and accessories, including
for mobile phone accessories, buttons and walking sticks. These products would include gold and
diamonds and are likely to be launched in September.
In a move to revive traditional silver craftsmanship, the company is identifying traditional Indian silver
craftsmanship because it is a dying craft. We want to promote it commercially. We have a few
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artisans now and aim to have around 50 on board in two years. We want to become the world leader
in handcrafted silver articles, Mr. Mehta said.

3. Textile industry seeks extra funds for TUFS

Topics: Economy
The textile industry has sought additional allocation for the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme
(TUFS) to clear the subsidy amount pending for earlier commitments under the scheme and also for
new investments this year.
Prem Malik, Chairman of Confederation of Indian Textile Industry, told presspersons here on Friday,
The Government should provide Rs.3,000 crore additional allocation for the scheme for 2015-16.
Textiles is a capital intensive industry and the two per cent to five per cent subsidy on interest
available through the scheme helps the industry improve its competitiveness.
The scheme is valid till 2017 and the Government should provide adequate allocations for it. The
industry is facing several challenges and during the last three years, investments were to the tune of
Rs.27,000 crore to Rs.30,000 crore. Investments are expected to be minimal if the scheme is not there
as the capital cost is high for the textile and clothing sector and We need an element of rebate on
interest, he said.
Sources in the industry added that nearly 35 per cent of textile and clothing production in the country
is exported. The scheme helps the industry improve its efficiency and competitiveness by upgrading
the technology.

4. The Dalit moment of truth

Topics: Indian Polity
In May, the most popular Dalit political leader in Tamil Nadu, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK)
leader Thol. Thirumavalavan, took a decision that could herald a turning point for Dalit politics in the
At a public meeting organised to confer the Ambedkar Sudar award on Arundhati Roy in Chennai,
Mr. Thirumavalavan made it clear that his party was no longer willing to play second fiddle to the two
Dravidian parties in the electoral arena.
Emerging from the bitter negotiations that took place in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, when
his party was offered merely two seats despite the absence of any major player in the Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam camp, Mr. Thirumavalavan declared that the VCK now wants a share of power
if others want to benefit from its support base. His backing for any formation will now be solely on
the condition that after the 2016 Assembly elections, his party would be part of the government. In
articulating this stance, he sought the support of all the smaller political parties in the State, saying

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that the majority governments of the past five decades have managed to sideline emerging political
forces by taking advantage of electoral compulsions.
Revisiting the past
The VCKs emergence brought an alternative discourse to Dravidian politics in the 1990s. For a long
time, there had been simmering discontent among the Dalits of Tamil Nadu about their exclusion
from existing power structures and the continued discrimination they faced in the social sphere
despite the prevalent anti-caste rhetoric in the State. This was largely due to the mechanics of the
Dravidian movement itself, which many scholars have accused of being centred around other
backward classes and exclusive of the Dalits in its functioning.
In the early 1990s, members of the VCK, a social organisation then, were bold enough to question
even Dravidian icon E.V. Ramasamys method of social engineering. While no aspersions were thrown
on Periyars intentions, writers such as D. Ravikumar raised apprehensions about the castemajoritarian strain visible in the Dravidian movement. This form of politics essentially targeted the
Brahmin castes dominance in the pre-independence era, when the communitys overwhelming
influence on administration and society was contrasted to its relatively small population size.
However, the narrative, in the process, also became detrimental to the Dalits, whose suffering now
continued at the hands of the increasingly powerful intermediate castes. The other backward classes
(OBC) became the biggest beneficiaries of Dravidian politics. In other words, despite the years of
rhetoric, the fundamental hierarchical structure of the caste system continued to remain strong, with
only the central players being replaced.
Even among the intermediate castes, there was dissatisfaction when specific groups gained immense
political power through the Dravidian outfits. This led to the emergence of other caste-based
organisations such as the Pattali Makkal Katchi, which espoused the cause of the numerically strong
but economically backward Vanniyar community.
The Dalit movement, therefore, started as a counter-narrative that posed serious questions to the
Dravidian parties. But it lost track of some of its original objectives when the Dalit parties decided to
experiment with elections and, in the process, were sucked into the bipolar political game between
the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the DMK. Given how elections are
fought in Tamil Nadu, with economic clout as much a factor as political presence, the financially
weaker Dalit parties have been forced to depend on the two principal players for electoral success.
These parties were also affected by internal divisions, escalated by strong personalities who lead
them. They also faced severe criticism for focussing on larger issues of Tamil identity than on the
travails of the community, even though the shift to larger issues could have originally been a tactic
to transcend narrow, limited, caste-based mobilisation.
A non-Dravidian front
It is against this background that Mr. Thirumavalavans concept of power-sharing is significant. The
VCK is hoping for a repeat in Tamil Nadu of what transpired at the national level in the late 1990s.
The success of the National Democratic Alliance forced the Congress to adopt the same strategy and
provide regional players with ministerial berths at the Centre, thus breaking the single-party
domination. Even if one of the two Dravidian parties could be coerced to accept the power sharing
formula, the idea is that the other would also come around eventually due to pressures of electoral
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Participation in government would also mean access to power, which would enable Dalit parties to
take populist welfare measures that are to their benefit, which would, in turn, improve their own
visibility and base. But will the attempt to unite all the smaller parties for this project be successful?
For starters, the situation in Tamil Nadu, with the DMK at its weakest and the AIADMK facing legal
uncertainties, seems to be conducive for the emergence of an alternative arrangement to singleparty majority rule.
However, after the VCK mooted the concept of power sharing, no party it has reached out to has thus
far provided any serious commitment to remaining loyal to the project, though representatives of
the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), the Tamil Manila Congress, the Left parties,
and the Congress have participated in discussions.
Quite significantly, despite the mounting criticism on majority governments led by the two Dravidian
parties, Mr. Thirumavalavan has not openly delinked himself from the DMK camp, which somewhat
undermines the seriousness of his campaign. His arguments tilt more towards electoral strategies
rather than articulating serious ideological questions from the platform and point of view of Dalit
There are also contradictions between the parties the VCK is trying to unite. While the Left has
already ruled out holding hands with the DMK or the AIADMK for the Assembly polls, others such as
the MDMK seem to be gravitating towards the DMK. Also, what these smaller parties could achieve
with a front of their own, given the limited vote share they command, is a question.
If the project fails, the VCK could be staring at a serious situation where it would be forced to go back
to negotiating with the DMK or AIADMK for a few seats. In that happens, its credibility would take a
massive beating and this could further harm Dalit politics.

5. Have we asked the children

Topics: Society
The debate over children working has been raging for centuries, with policies constantly changing to
reflect the attitudes of a given time. During the World Wars, children were allowed to work as they
were needed in factories and other services.
When the soldiers returned home to their jobs, the children were packed off again to schools.
There are different views in society about why children should or should not work. Rationalists see
the need for children to work in poverty-stricken countries and close their eyes to the oppressive and
often hazardous conditions under which they work. Moralists, with their good intentions, want to
ban all work for children to enable them to enjoy their childhood, regardless of the conditions they
face at home. Economists see children as contributing to the Gross Domestic Product of the nations
economy. Politicians, especially those who want to be seen as progressive and their countries to be
listed as developed, make compromises between what is convenient for industry to flourish and
what is feasible to implement.
Nothing without their consent
But few of these groups bother to ask the children themselves what they want. Children are thinking
beings who know what they like and dislike and, depending on their age and ability, also most often
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know what the solutions are to particular problems they face. Childrens right to be heard has been
validated by the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child that India has ratified. Twenty five years
ago, Bhima Sangha, a union of, by and for working children was formed to draw attention to working
childrens concerns. It strongly upheld that no policy or decision regarding childrens present or
future should be taken without their consent. In 1996, Bhima Sangha, with the support of the
International Working Group on Child Labour (of which The Concerned for Working Children was a
member), held the first International Meeting of Working Children in Kundapura, Karnataka.
On this historic occasion, the International Movement of Working Children adopted the Kundapur
Declaration drafted by working children from 36 countries. They demanded of states and
international agencies that they be consulted, their initiatives recognised, and their products not
boycotted; that their work be respected and made safe; that they have access to appropriate
education, professional training and quality healthcare; that poverty be addressed aggressively; that
rural development to stem rural-urban migration be made a priority; and, importantly, that
exploitation of their labour be brought to a halt. These issues, listed in the Declaration they signed,
are highlighted every year on Child Labour Day (April 30). There is also an Anti Child Labour Day,
celebrated on June 12. On this day, national and international agencies highlight their objective to
eradicate child labour through raid and rescue operations that have now become standard
operating procedure for the entire spectrum of child work, ranging from the intolerable to the
enabling. To this working children ask, Do they want to eradicate us like pests using pesticide? Are
we not human beings with rights that deserve respect?
Phoney facelifts
We always seem to get the wrong end of the stick. Instead of understanding the working childrens
demand for rural development and poverty eradication, we have perpetuated poverty with sops in
the form of one rupee rice and Below Poverty Line cards. When inclusive development should be our
priority, we focus on phoney facelifts.
When one in three Indians lives below the poverty line and 46 per cent of Indias children are
malnourished, any legislation has to be an enabling one. We know from historical experience that
legislation cannot be enforced without a dramatic change in peoples lives.
For instance, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 has been in force for almost 30
years; yet there are a large number of working children. The Child Labour Programme (CLP) has been
renewed, with minor changes, several times over the years, irrespective of the fact that the rate of
convictions for employing children is dismal and little is being done to mitigate the plight of children
in the workforce.
Instead of analysing the root causes of child labour, we have continued with an ostrich-like approach.
An example of this is the recent proposed amendments to the Child Labour Act of 1986. Even though
it recognises that work can also be a learning arena for children, and that socio-economic conditions
are the root cause of child labour, which is a step in the right direction, the amendments it proposes
ignore these insights. They instead take the line of least resistance and relax the ban on children
working in family-owned occupations, a sector that is informal and very difficult to monitor, given
that the labour machinery does not extend that far. This will also encourage caste-based occupations.
The most dangerous possibility is that the industry will use this loophole to use families for
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Relaxing the ban in the entertainment industry, one of the most exploitative industries in the world
and riddled with sexual abuse, appears like a concession to the advertising sector, which is using
children as a selling gimmick for all kinds of products.
Instead, what should have been suggested are safe and strongly protected occupations in the formal
sector, which are part-time and can be easily monitored. The proposed amendments also extend the
ban from children below 14 years to include children below 18, thus extending criminalisation as well.
Instead, they should have explored the Apprenticeship Act, and provided earn as you learn avenues
for children in this age group, as countries such as Zimbabwe and Norway have done.
The proposed amendments are a setback mere minor tinkering of an already faulty approach.
What is required is an approach that focuses on childrens rights and which addresses the causes of
child labour, primarily poverty. Yet, the proponents of the total ban persist in their simplistic
equations and draconian strategies. Manju, a working child, summed it up. Describing the efforts to
eradicate child labour, he said that the children were like a pot of boiling rice and the child labour
policies just kept scooping away the froth from the top. What is needed, he said, is to remove the
fire below.

6. The Ukraine imbroglio

Topics: Governance
The G-7 nations put on a brave face against Russia at a summit held this week in the Bavarian Alps
and decided to continue their sanctions against President Vladimir Putin for what they called his war
in Ukraine.
U.S. President Barack Obama in fact accused Mr. Putin of wrecking his country in pursuit of a wrongheaded desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire. Russia countered by warning that it
would prolong its own counter-sanctions, indicating there would not be any change in its Ukraine
policy. While all this is happening, a fresh outbreak of violence between government troops and proRussian separatists in eastern Ukraine is threatening to derail a tenuous ceasefire. Ukraine is paying
a heavy price for this stand-off. It has lost Crimea to Russia, is fighting a deadly civil war in the east,
and its economy is in a state of collapse, it having contracted by nearly 18 per cent in the first quarter
of 2015.
The real crisis of Ukraine is that it is caught in a game of one-upmanship between the West and
Russia. The West wants to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea and for helping separatists in
eastern Ukraine. Moscow, on the other hand, sees Western involvement in the ouster of Ukraines
pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, and seems determined to resist the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisations outreach to its backyard. If the Wests real intention is to get Russia to change its
policy towards Ukraine, it should rethink its sanctions regime, which has been demonstrably
ineffective over the past 15 months. Supporters of the sanctions might argue that those worked in
the case of Iran and might work in Russias case as well. But Russia is not Iran. It is a geopolitical giant,
a former superpower and a huge country that still has substantial leveraging power in Central Asia
and Eastern Europe. Given the way policy-making works in the Kremlin, it is illogical to believe that
any kind of coercion would work against Mr. Putin. Besides, there is little to suggest that the Western
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policy of isolating Russia is working at all. More than a year after Russia was suspended from the G8 following its annexation of Crimea, the leading powers still need Russia to deal with pressing global
issues ranging from the Iranian nuclear talks to the Syrian civil war. So a more pragmatic approach
would be to start a diplomatic engagement in a mutually conducive environment. The inept handling
by both sides of what was a domestic issue in Ukraine has turned it into a regional problem. Left
unchecked, the problem could well turn into a war. It is high time the West and Moscow set aside
rhetoric and started addressing the problem directly.

7. For a small city with a heart

Topics: Governance
The smart city is an urban means to enhance the use of municipal utilities and public services. Its
reliance on computerised data and digitisation allows for an efficient allocation of resources and a
more equitable distribution to city consumers.
Is such a description an adequate foundation for the new Indian city?
For the most part, the Western definition of the smart city is spineless, if not altogether redundant
in India a mere glossing over of civic services and infrastructure. The urban migrant, seeking city
employment, is marginalised in ways that go much beyond just needing improved transport, roads
or utilities. Without any cultural affinity to the place, he is a rudderless atom with little or no
attachment. For him, the city is an unformed rough frontier, a temporary market place where
everyone lives in a semi-hard rubble of makeshift houses and tenements, extracting favours,
exchanging livelihoods. His citys incompleteness and visible ineptness subsume everything into a
neutral brown haze a torturous human and material composition of habitation, excrement,
movement ...
Urban despair
The formal city alongside, grows with different considerations. Given the desperate demand for
space, only its constantly changing and unmade character is apparent. Behind grimy, monsoonstained walls and dust-laden, glass facades, people build according to antiquated regulations and
half-baked formulas, adding rooms, breaking walls, enclosing balconies. Like the tenements, the city
they make appears as a shifting, unfocussed transformation of masonry irregular, disjointed, even
illegal an urban landscape on which the paint never dries. Without social connections or public
life, the place too only has an air of purposelessness and futility, with each man for himself.
Such unstructured physical blight also reflects in a daily atmosphere of urban despair. Wherever you
go, you come face to face with the sad consequence of a degenerate, defeated city. Tired faces greet
you behind bank computers, broken bricks and garbage float on roads, shabby government
departments operate with officials not in their chair; on the street, peoples movement is sluggish
and shambling, expressions sour, even depraved. Unquenched demands for water supply, electricity,
rations, school admissions, licences and sanctions, make life a daily battle. Without museums,
walking space, gardens, shaded parks or any public engagement, the rougher strains of urban living
take centre stage: rape, molestation, road rage are the symptoms of general urban indifference and
the dislocation that comes from migration and disparity. With an implicit mistrust of everyone
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around, is it a wonder that people shoot each other over a wrongly parked car, or a servant kills an
elderly couple for a pocket full of change?
When daily survival is the primary focus of Indian urbanity, the cultural life of the city becomes a
laughable ideal. Music, sports, art, recreation and social life assume secondary importance. The
freshness of Danish parks, the thrill of a Los Angeles clover leaf exchange, the sidewalk cafs of Paris
or Istanbul, and the museums of New York cultural, engineering, visual and sensory familiarity
rarely play a role in Indian city routines.
The city and considerations
The forces and demands that press against the Indian city daily are formed out of entirely
rudimentary considerations. Shrinking homes, deteriorating air, poor sanitation and overstretched
transport have left the city resident with low expectations. In the next decade, 35 towns will grow
into mega cities, each with a population above 10 million. Within these monuments to third world
urbanism, life will grind to a halt: the current 60 per cent of slums will rise to a whopping 90 per cent,
traffic movement will decrease to cycle speed of five kmph, and family occupancy space will shrink
from the present 200 square feet to a mere 80 square feet. What this foretells for the provision of
basic civic necessities of these places is a painful, unanswered question. Their security, their social
and cultural life, their state of well-being, remain an unasked question.
However bleak this scenario, the pessimism need not translate into future planning. If anything, the
plans for Mr. Modis hundred cities and industrial corridors must look in an altogether different
The new city
Unlike its medieval conception as a place bounded by walls and gates, the new city, once built, will
stretch beyond visibility and physical comprehension. It will house people, places, incidents and
ideals that may never intersect with each other. But within the vast agglomeration will be the
existence of smaller cities, places with personal boundaries with constant engagements for its local
In many ways, these smaller, localised cities must enthral and engage in the traditional way. Such a
traditional intent can only be achieved through a radical reversal of property rights, zoning, bylaws
and civic design.
Nowhere in the new scheme should the government extend any form of home or commercial
ownership to private parties. Even if places are built in partnership with builders or developers, the
ideals of leased and rental building would allow for greater mobility of city residents. In the absence
of gated communities, people would not just live, work and recreate without unnecessary commutes,
but the freedom of mixed-use living would additionally create a more engaging social life. The
privatisation of social life in the Indian city pool, movies, libraries, play areas has made the city
insular and protected. By returning the facilities to the public realm, the city would gain a more
vibrant collective life.
One-dimensional surface
Moreover, the Indian city has so far been an entirely one-dimensional surface experience. Homes,
offices, cars, pedestrians all inhabit the ground, despite conflicting conditions of ecology or
occupancy. The mismatch between pedestrians and vehicles, landscape and road is itself enough
reason to consider serious separations for each condition; and to rethink the possibilities of making
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places away from the ground up in the air, or underground, as in the sky bridges of Chicago, the
underground commerce of Minneapolis. The idea would be to provoke the users into a more
comprehensive realisation of the third dimension. In cities short of usable ground space, the earth
below and the rarefied sky would offer numerous architectural possibilities.
Best city experiences
The best cities are ironically built on undemocratic ideals. Even when innovating and providing
opportunity, they enforce severe restrictions on daily life. London would not have some of the
worlds most natural urban parks without ordinances controlling the building around them, and the
imposition of a congestion tax that restricts polluting cars from entering the centre of town.
Singapores auction of a limited number of vehicle registrations achieves a similar purpose. Along the
East Coast of the U.S., many small towns are designated for pedestrians only. Such restrictions have
been designed for the larger common good, and clearly state preferences for better public health,
green space, and enriching the experience of surrounding heritage. Similar restrictive practices in
future civic design will be necessary if the problems of the current city are to be avoided.
Of the many threats to urban life, nothing is more repressive and mind-numbing than daily living
without spontaneity, imagination and a ready dose of the unfamiliar. A radical move away from
current city conventions would allow greater densities and more fluid approaches to design. Hong
Kongs elevated sidewalks and street escalators allow people to cross into buildings without
descending to street level. Houses in traditional Italian towns connect with each other above the
streets. In some of the new towns in Spain, train stations are incorporated in municipal and
commercial structures. The importance of innovative combinations of public uses lends a civic
uniqueness to utilitarian places.
What would it take to combine Mumbais Victoria Terminus with a cricket stadium or a public club?
Or retrofitting Delhis main Metro stations with swimming pools or libraries? Could cycle tracks in
Bengaluru have benefited from an alignment along the city park system? Like the
public chaikhannas of Uzbekistan or the baths of Turkey, wouldnt the Indian public too gain from
the insertion of innovative social uses inserted into its daily movement through the city?
At this stage in the life of Indias older cities, perhaps that is too much to ask. But the designs for
Indias hundred new cities cannot be allowed to emerge from a mere business model; without an
innovative, cultural and social blueprint, the plans might as well be shelved.

8. Indias only double coconut tree artificially polluted

Topics: Science and Technology
Scientists at the Indian Botanical Garden in West Bengals Howrah district have carried out artificial
pollination of the only double coconut tree in India, which bears the largest seed known to science.
One of the rare and globally threatened species of palm, the double coconut (Lodoicea maldivica)
tree was planted at the botanical garden in 1894 and the artificial pollination is a result of decades of
work by scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).
The tree took almost a hundred years to mature and when it started flowering, we started looking
for this particular palm species in this part of world. We collected some pollen from palms from Sri
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Lanka but could not successfully pollinate it. Finally, with the help of pollen from another tree in
Thailand, the pollination process was successful, BSI Director Paramjit Singh told The Hindu.
Longest surviving palm
The Double Coconut tree not only bears the largest seed known to science weighing around 25 kg
but this unique species is also the longest surviving palm which can live for as long as 1,000 years,
he says. The palm tree also bears the largest leaf among palms and one leaf can thatch a small hut.
Successful pollination means that we can have another Lodoicea maldivica in the country. In fact we
have two fruits and it might take them another couple of years to mature, said S.S. Hameed, BSI
scientist who has been working on the pollination project since 2006.
This species of palm is diecious (where male and female flowers are borne on different plants).
Fortunately at the Botanical Garden, we had the female plant which can fruit and produce seeds,
Mr. Hameed said. The Indian Botanical Garden which serves as the repository 12,000 trees from
1,400 different species is careful in nurturing the palm.
The palm tree is located in the large palm house of the Botanical Garden which has the largest
collection of palms in South East Asia with around 110 palm species.
This rare tree can be found in only two of the 115 Seychelles islands and is also called Coco de Mer
(coconut of the sea), says Mr. Hameed

9. Exchange of enclaves from midnight of July 31

Topics: IR India and the world
The much-awaited implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement will start next month, beginning
with the exchange of enclaves on July 31 midnight, official documents say.
Launching the exchange of 111 Indian and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves, the two countries will start
implementing the historic LBA, which the Indian Parliament ratified in early May.
Before the start of the historic process, the officials of the two countries will jointly visit the enclaves
to finalise the process, according to the documents the two sides exchanged on June 6.

10. To cut project delays, Telangana brings Right to Clearance

Topics: Society, Religious issues
The Telangana government announced its maiden industrial policy on Friday with a unique feature
Right to Clearance, on the lines of Right to Information, for industrial projects.
For every day of delay in clearance, the State will fine the official concerned Rs. 1,000. No country
has such a policy, the government says.
The Telangana State Industrial Project Approval and Self-Certification System Act, 2014, was enacted
by the government prior to the drafting of the industrial policy.
Chief Secretary Rajeev Sharma disclosed the fine amount at a mega function to launch the policy.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao was present.
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Corporate honchos, foreign diplomats, editors and senior business journalists attended the launch,
showcasing the State, particularly Hyderabad, as an ideal investment destination.
New ecosystem
The Right to Clearance is intended to convey a message that the government is determined to create
an ecosystem in which ease of doing business matches and even exceeds the best global standards.
It enables an applicant to know the reasons for the delay in clearance.
This feature, along with the governments policy of minimum inspection, maximum facilitation,
with single-window clearance and automatic renewals, besides encouraging self-certification, has
caught the attention of the captains of industry.
The policy won praise from ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshwar; GMR Group chairman G.M. Rao; Ruia Group
chairman Pawan Ruia; GVK Group chief G.V.K. Reddy; Walmart India president and chief executive
officer Krish Iyer; Apollo Hospitals joint managing director Sangita Reddy; TCS vice-president and
head of its Hyderabad operations V. Rajanna; Nasscom chairman B.V.R. Mohan Reddy; Vanitha Datla,
chairperson, Confederation of Indian Industry, Telangana; and other captains of industry.
Mr. G.M. Rao said he would have started more industries in Telangana if such a policy had been in
existence before.
Imaginative policy
The ITC chairman felt it was a very imaginative industrial policy. Ms. Reddy said true to what the
Telangana Chief Minister had told her earlier, the policy will attract the entire country and the
Mr. Ruia said the policy will lure many industrial houses to shift their base to Telangana. Mr. Iyer
said Walmart was planning to grow its presence in the State.

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Current Affairs | June 15, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

1 Why banks give importance to corporate citizens than common citizens? Discuss the
2 What are the pros and cons of disinvestment?
4. Write a note on Comet Philae and it's mission?
5. Pink economy is flourishing in India. Explain.
6. Marriage is not a consent for right of an individual. Misogyny is prevalent in India. Analyse.
7. Geopolitical influence and mutual rivalry among West Asian countries is one of the cause for
extremist elements. Substantiate.
8. Give a case study to show that human interventions increases the stress level of wild animals
there by damaging their habitat.
9. The most catastrophic disaster in world now is refugees. Asylum is detoriating but migrants
increasing. Analyse.

1. Banking on dual strategy

Topics: Economy
If balancing income and expenditure is an unavoidable necessity for a home, it should be equally so
for a country. So saying, many have relentlessly argued for the need to balance the budget of a nation.
In the same way, cant we also argue that what is applicable for a common citizen should also equally
apply to a corporate citizen? Given the role and responsibility of the government in shaping a welfare
society, it may well be foolish to demand a balanced budget from the government. Is it, however,
incorrect or too much to expect a secular treatment to individual and corporate citizens alike.
The recent decision of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to empower banks, which have been reeling
under mounting NPAs (non-performing assets), to not only convert their loans into equity, but also
induct new promoters into defaulting firms, which fail to achieve prescribed guidance agreed upon
at the time of debt restructuring exercise. At one level, the RBI move has been hailed as an
extraordinarily path-breaking attempt. At the other end of the spectrum, however, it has elicited
considerable scepticism. Questions have been raised, doubts have been cast, and allegations too
have been hurled at.
No doubt, the apex bank has come out with a detailed guideline on how banks should go about in a
calibrated way in recovering their money from these recalcitrant firms. Yet, an articulate section is
not quite convinced if largely empowered banks would be able to go about their jobs in a
professional, no-nonsense and transparent manner while dealing with the task of finding new
promoters for firms which have fallen into bad times.
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The inequality, nay the differential treatment, between a common citizen and a corporate citizen is
conveniently explained away by pointing to the so-called larger role played by a corporate citizen in
the economy-building exercise. This argument, often times, allows a corporate citizen (read company
promoters) the legitimacy to justify the financial mishaps or mismanagements. This privilege if you
could call this so is not available to a common citizen, who is also subject to due diligence before
being given a loan. In this networked times of digital era, any loan-seeking common citizen is
subjected to a greater scrutiny what with the emergence of credit information bureau. An involuntary
default of even a paltry sum could render this common citizen ineligible for loan. The rules are,
however, different for corporate citizens. Ironically, payment defaults enhance their relationship
with their lenders. Often times, lenders become fidgety, and the defaulting corporate citizens turn
aggressive. History is replete with instances where good money had chased bad money only to
evaporate in the end! Read against this background, the RBI move is a welcome initiative. The
exercise has to begin somewhere. And, it has begun just now. Hopefully, this will right the wrong in
the system that has been there for long.
One can, in a way, argue that it is the common citizen who is paying for the misadventures of
corporate citizens of the defaulting kind. After all, banks dabble in public money. Given the hugeness
of the NPAs primarily arising out of the corporate defaults, one finds it hard to comprehend the
noise consistently made by India Inc against subsidies especially those intended to reach a common
citizen. When will this inequality in the banking system go? Will there be a level-field in the loan

2. Disinvestment hopes slip on stock market volatility

Topics: Economy
The governments efforts to offload a portion of its shareholding in public sector undertakings (PSUs)
have begun in right earnest. In the third week of May, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
(CCEA) headed by the Prime Minister gave its approval to the Department of Disinvestment for the
sale of government stake in 20 PSUs.
The CCEAs approval was given anticipating a realisation of nearly Rs.50,000 crore, if disinvestment
was to be carried out, at the then ruling prices.
A major portion of the budgetary commitment would be met. That, of course, is a facile assumption.
The market prices of the shares of the companies, being divested will obviously not be the same as
those prevailing at the time of cabinet approval.
Indeed, in a sharp jolt to the assumptions, the share market has slipped badly in the intervening
weeks. The Sensex, which had crossed 30,000 in March, has slipped badly since then. The government
would have based their expectations on the extremely buoyant stock quotes. The fallacy of basing
estimates on a volatile market stands exposed so early in the year.
Secondly, it is also problematic as to whether the market can absorb so many shares at one ago at
the assumed price. Further, question marks arise over investors appetite for such large quantities,
and the practical difficulties in selling those shares. These and other reasons suggest that most targetbased calculations will end in disappointment as indeed they have in all the previous years.
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However, the government is right in planning ahead. It should, to some extent, minimise the glitches
that had bedevilled the disinvestment programme over the years, and no matter which coalition was
in power. The stock markets get the correct message. The companies chosen for divestment will
probably get more time to spruce themselves up for the markets. That, as past experience suggests,
has been a neglected area.
Understanding disinvestment
The term disinvestment refers to the process through which the government offloads a portion of its
shareholding in a PSU. Capital receipts so garnered will help in central government finances.
Importantly, however, under disinvestment, government will remain the majority shareholder even
if its post-divestment shareholding is smaller than before.
However, disinvestment is more than the government diluting its stake in some PSUs.
The Finance Minister has indicated that the government might undertake strategic sales of identified
units as well as selling some shares in unlisted companies.
These two processes should also go under the nomenclature disinvestment but because there have
been so few of these in the past, they are often discussed separately. Together with the more
conventional forms of divestment, the government hopes to garner Rs.69,500 crore of capital
receipts this year from strategic sale and selling shares in unlisted companies.
Standing firm at 51 per cent
Government ownership with at least 51 per cent stake after divestment has been non-negotiable in
most cases. Underlying that logical is political compulsion, more than anything else. That, for
instance, makes the government repeat, ad nauseam, its willingness to protect government
shareholding at least 51 per cent in all public sector banks. Economic logic would suggest a further
divestment in some PSBs to enable them raise additional capital. However, even if government would
remain the biggest shareholder, it will not let its stake come down to below 51 per cent.
The usual challenges
With such a large budgetary target, the government faces a number of daunting challenges. Some of
these are common, inherent in the process itself. The most important challenge is for the
governments economic managers to remain steadfast in the face of fierce criticism that could derail
the process. Selling family jewels, as the critics of disinvestment call it, can never be popular not
with the unions nor with the politicians. The latter are known to oppose any sale of PSU shares when
they are in opposition. Main points of criticism relate to the price and the timing of sale. It is never
easy to arrive at the correct price: there will always be an accusation that you have undersold public
property. Even the most literate of the political class are not immune to this habit.
Attempts to blunt the criticism by letting the market discover the price through book-building
process and so on have not helped. On the hand, there are instances to show that a larger
technology application to stock markets can alienate small shareholders. Much has been said about
protecting the interests of the small man but so very little obtains in real life.
The timing of the issue is another rallying point for the critics. There is never a good time anymore
than there is a correct price. Consequently, decision-making by the government is a thankless task.
Accountability issues not very different from those involved in credit decisions by government
banks can stall the disinvestment process, often indefinitely.
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If the conventional divestment the government sells only a small portion and keeps the majority
stake can be so controversial, strategic sale has become well nigh impossible. Here, the
government cedes control along with a majority stake and control to strategic partner. None of the
strategic sales undertaken in the past have escaped trenchant criticism. The controversies remain to
this day,
The shadow looms over one important source of public finance .The stock markets are slippery, and
the other usual challenges remain as daunting as ever.

3. Taking refuge on Italian rocks

Topics: International
Perpetual state of emergency:Migrants protect themselves with emergency blankets on the rocks off
the coast of Ventimiglia, Italy,on Sunday. The migrants, who had entered Italy by boat, spent the
night near the sea at the French-Italian border after being refused entryinto France. Though the
Italian police had moved on Saturday to disperse them, a group of around 50 men slipped away and
took refuge on rocks near the border post.

4. Comet probe Philae wakes up

Topics: Science and Technology
Europes tiny robot lab Philae, hurtling through space on the back of a comet, awoke overnight and
sent home its first message in nearly seven months, mission officials said Sunday. Jubilant that the
nail-biting wait was over, they declared Philae may soon resume science work, opening up a new
chapter in its exhilarating voyage.
Hello Earth
Hello Earth! Can you hear me? the washing machine-sized lander tweeted under the hashtag
#WakeUpPhilae, breaking a silence that had lasted since November 15 when its batteries ran out.
We got a two-minute... successful communication at 2228 Central European Time (2028 GMT) on
Saturday, mission manager Patrick Martin told AFP from the operations centre in Madrid.
This was sufficient to confirm that Philae is healthy and that its sub-systems are OK in terms of
energy and temperature for ongoing communication with Rosetta, he said, referring to the landers
mothership orbiting Comet 67P.
The mission seeks to unlock the long-held secrets of comets primordial clusters of ice and dust
that scientists believe may reveal how the Solar System was formed.
Philae touched down on the comet on November 12 after an epic 10-year trek piggybacking on
But instead of harpooning itself onto the iceballs surface, the lander bounced several times before
settling at an angle in a dark ditch.
It had enough stored battery power for about 60 hours of experiments, enabling it to send home
reams of data before going into standby mode.
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The hope was that better light as the comet approaches the Sun would recharge Philaes batteries
enough for it to reboot, then make contact, and ultimately carry out a new series of experiments.
But three bids to make contact, in March, April and May, all came to nothing

5. Talking to the Pink rupee

Topics: Society
On the surface of it, it would seem as if we have come a long way. In 1996, Deepa MehtasFire was
banned because it showed a lesbian relationship between two sisters-in-law in a Hindu family.
The director and the actors Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das even got death threats from right-wing
groups. In 2015, India or at least the microcosm of it that makes its opinions known online is
celebrating an ad film that shows a young lesbian couple preparing to meet the parents and declare
their love. In fact, although the film is being hailed as the first of its kind, I remember a lighthearted
ad from Fastrack a year or so ago, also about coming out of the closet.
Of course, the irony is not lost on anybody that two years ago, the Supreme Court actually overturned
a 2009 High Court order that had declared Section 377 unconstitutional. In other words, a same-sex
relationship is illegal in India today, even as we suddenly seem okay about celebrating it in popular
culture. In fact, the recent Bollywood film, Margarita, with a Straw, had the protagonist with cerebral
palsy exploring a lesbian relationship; and, strangely, neither fringe elements nor our delicate Censor
Board tried to ban it.
Over the ages, outdated and unjust laws across the world have always had to play catch up, as social
mores have changed far more swiftly than formal codes. Until as recently as 1967, when a law finally
overturned it, interracial marriage and even sex between people of different races was considered a
criminal offence in the U.S.
It took decades of struggle before the American Constitution was amended in 1920 to allow women
to vote. So it is hardly surprising that as countries across the globe slowly move to legalise same-sex
marriage, India is still struggling to decriminalise same-sex relationships. Long before the law here
catches up, the people will have. And, ultimately, the law will too.
The film that has caught everyones attention was made for Myntra, the online shopping portal, for
its ethnic clothing brand Anouk. Whats the connection, you might ask, but companies are
increasingly using social messages as a way to create sticky branding. It is one of a rather syrupy
three-film series called Bold is Beautiful, conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather, and each story is about
womens rights single mothers, lesbians, and sexual harassment, respectively along the lines of
the Tanishq ad that broke taboos about remarriage some time ago.
Economic reasons
Both Myntra owners and the films creators naturally claim that their aim in making the film was
social change, but it obviously helps their bottom line tremendously that a theme dealing with
alternative sexuality gathers them more eyeballs than a years advertising budget would have. But
we still have to give them credit for courage. Given how intolerant we have become as a society, with
every chance that the film and the brand could have been targeted by raging yobs, it was a brave
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Some LGBT activists have commented on the upper-class, comfortable and safe life of the gay couple
in the ad, far removed from their own lived realities of sordid discrimination and ostracism. It is an
important point, because regardless of the courage shown or the professed aim of social change, the
ad was made for a specific commercial purpose to sell the products of an online clothing brand.
This brands market segment will typically be young, upmarket, urban, modern, web-friendly, and
most important highly likely to include lesbians or young women whose friends are lesbians. Thats
why the film chooses a chic, boho and clean setting, something the main buyers of its clothes will
identify with.
On the other hand, television often screens an ad for platinum jewellery, an exorbitantly expensive
product whose buyer is likely to be older, far more well-heeled and conservative. Far from breaking
new boundaries, in a clear bow to its market segment, the film endorses and encourages the age-old
tradition of arranged marriage!
What is significant in all this is the fact that Myntra and its advertising agency have cottoned on rather
early to the fact that the LGBT segment is growing in numbers, visibility and economic clout. They
now have purchasing power, which the market cannot afford to ignore as easily as the courts have
ignored their demand for legitimacy. As always, markets will lead social change.
In the West, for example, long before same-sex marriage was legalised, what was already booming
was the industry for gay people. An entire sub-economy thrives on business from same-sex couples,
ranging from gay pubs, clubs and hotels to boutiques and gaycations customised by travel agencies
for gay clients. There are LGBT bookshops, film-makers, wedding planners, spas and health clinics.
The LGBT tourism business in the U.S. is reportedly worth 65 billion pink dollars a year, while in
Europe gay tourism reportedly brings in some 50 billion per year.
In fact, as same-sex marriage is legalised and LGBT communities begin to get mainstreamed, these
markets are beginning to see the trend come full circle exclusive gay pubs and pink spaces are
gradually shutting shop, not just for business reasons but because sections of the community dont
want to be ghettoised.
The LGBT economy in India has barely started, so there is a long way to go, but what is becoming
increasingly clear to businesses and marketers is that they cannot afford any longer to ignore the
community. As same-sex couples and people with alternative sexualities get more confident and selfassertive, the pink rupee will begin to dictate to the market. And political and legal rights follow very
close on the heels of economic power. Not only will products and services oriented to the same-sex
community contribute to an increased and a more public discourse about their identity and
acceptance, it will provide the final push towards mainstreaming the community.

6. When marriage is less than sacred

Topics: Society
In April, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said marriage in
India is a sacrosanct institution. The concept of marital rape is not suitable in the Indian context, he
said, due to illiteracy, poverty, social customs, values, religious beliefs, and other factors.

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Many years ago, when I was travelling in rural north India on a research trip, I encountered some
women in a village, who asked me if I was married. I said I was not. After giving me warnings about
finding a good boy before it was too late, the women started joking about their men. And in an
uncharacteristic move, they began to discuss their very first sexual encounters. I was shocked, not by
the unexpectedly liberated manner of these women, but by the acts that they described on their
wedding night, where their husbands had pounced on them in hormone and alcohol-fuelled frenzies.
Their initiation into conjugal life was through an act that can only be described as rape.
They did not know the word for rape, but from what they described, they hated the encounter, which
turned into a lifelong abhorrence for their husbands. At least one woman said that she had tried to
lock the door the next night. You may be compelled to dismiss the argument saying, but they were
married much like some of our current politicians.
Appropriating consent
However, what I realised is that these women in ghoonghats had no desire for their men; they did
not love them and hated the idea of intercourse. When we discuss marital rape and whether women
need to be protected from it, we need to think about one key issue womens consent and its
relationship to misogyny. Misogyny is a special type of hatred for women, much like racism, where a
person believes that women deserve to be treated in particularly demeaning, hateful ways; that they
are inferior simply because they are women. Misogyny is the ideology that undergirds patriarchy, a
system where men dominate in all spheres of life. Misogyny formulates for patriarchy an other
over whom a man can express superiority, ritually and through open violence. Without this female
other to suppress, patriarchy would not be a system.
Misogyny is insidious because it is also an ideology that appropriates and controls female consent.
Patriarchy is a system that can only thrive if womens consent to the rules of the patriarchal game is
pre-scripted and defined. The practice of misogyny is the practice of prejudice. Misogyny is an
ideology that affects the lived experiences of women.
To understand this debate on marital rape, we need to first locate what Indian societys relationship
is to the idea of female consent. On the one hand, consent in many matters is taken as given. For
instance, girls who are raped are asking for it because they wore short skirts (implied consent or
availability for sexual acts), or if a woman marries someone she is consenting to intercourse always.
On the other hand, it is precisely the lack of consent which is part of the allure for a misogynist. So
misogynists, on the one hand feel entitled to a womans consent, on the other; when it is not given,
men see it as extra encouragement to extract this consent by other means, usually by other means,
usually violent.
Therefore, misogyny not only appropriates female consent in matters especially related to desire and
sexuality, but when a woman begins to make choices, misogyny denies women the freedom to say
no. When we do not recognise marital rape and sexual crimes against women, we are derecognising
female consent. Derecognising consent in a sexual matter means that a womans no is equated
with her saying yes. In other words, a woman can say whatever she wants; a man is still entitled to
her body. Her voice does not matter. Neither does her choice making, nor her consent or lack thereof.
When we do not recognise marital rape as rape, we are consigning women to lifelong sexual abuse
at the hands of men, who should properly belong in jail. Consider that the National Family Heath
Survey revealed that about one in twelve women had at some point faced sexual violence. Of these,
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as Kanika Sharma and Aashish Gupta report, 93 per cent had experienced this at the hands of their
To suggest that a husband has a right to his wifes body is spurious. Let me illustrate this. Suppose a
wife bakes a cake and asks her husband to eat it. He says no. So, she forcibly opens his mouth and
shoves large chunks of cake down his throat without his consent. Even when he says he has had
enough and asks her to stop, she continues to shove more cake down his throat. He then asks her
again to stop but she does not. She slaps him and force-feeds him the whole cake until he throws up.
Once he is done throwing up, she feeds him a second cake until he throws up again. He is terrified of
her because this is a never-ending cycle. Technically, she is a good wife feeding her husband. But
chances are that she would be booked for cruelty and abuse.
Differences in a no
Are we disturbed by this illustration? We are, and this is because when a man says no, society
understands that he means no. Marriage does not mean that choice and consent are always given
and non-contested. A woman's no should be treated at the same level as a mans no. Our
ministers and lawmakers are trying to deny women the right to say no to intercourse in a marriage
in the name of culture, values and tradition. When they do this, they clearly do not have a clear
picture of the type of abuse that women face in Indian marriages. They clearly also have not looked
at data which ably demonstrates that sexual violence within families and by acquaintances is rather
high for a country which mistakenly prides itself on culture and values. Their assessment rests on a
circular logic that a husband cannot be a rapist because he is a husband. How logical is it to assume
that men, who have abusive patterns of behaviour, will not somehow sexually harm a woman who
they have complete control over because they married her?
As mentioned before, part of the allure of misogyny is to take consent by force when it is denied. If
we can safely assume (and we can) that a majority of men are misogynist in India, then how can we
possibly logically conclude either that marital rape does not occur, or if it does it is not quite so
serious. If the housewife suicide rate between the ages of 18-35 and the number of cases of cruelty
to wives are any indicators, then Indians are foolish to think either that marital rape doesn't happen,
or, that it can be left out of policymaking.
Policymakers have a responsibility to protect their citizens from violence by putting in place
preventive laws and generating consequences for perpetrators. A man who commits a violent crime
against his wife should be tagged as a criminal for he has violated another rights-bearing individual.
When we do not take marital rape seriously, we allow husband-rapists to get away with crimes that
they would be prosecuted for had they not been married to the victim. We take away from women
the right to choose when to give consent to an act of intercourse and we allow men to maintain a
hateful entitlement to the body of women.
(Vasundhara Sirnate is the Chief Coordinator of Research at The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public

7. The hot Saudi-Iran cold war

Topics: International
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The rapid rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a development that must have taken many
by surprise. What was once a small group of Sunni militants in north-western Iraq engaged in a
sectarian battle with the Shia government in Baghdad till three years ago
the al-Qaeda of Iraq has now transformed itself into one of the most sophisticated forms
of jihadimachinery in the world, controlling territories that are as large as Great Britain with a
population of around eight million.
What led to this phenomenal rise? There are multiple explanations, includingconspiracy theories
such as the United States being responsible for its creationand of Saudi Arabia bankrolling it. If one
sets aside the conspiracy theories and starts looking for the historical factors that have led to this
emergence, its not difficult to see that Iran-Saudi rivalry is one of them.
A weakening of states
IS derives its strength from the weakening of nation states. And there are at least three factors that
have contributed to the weakening of states in contemporary West Asia: external interventions; the
Arab revolts and Saudi-Iran antagonism. The first two, relatively newer phenomena, gave the SaudiIran balance of power conflict a new context and battlefields, and together are reshaping West Asian
The Saudi-Iran competition dates back to the days before the Iranian Revolution. Both the Pahlavi
dynasty of Iran and the al-Saud royal family of Saudi Arabia vied for regional influence as well as for
an edge in the global energy market, even as they remained the the two pillars of the U.S.s West
Asian policy. The Islamic revolution of 1979, that overthrew the monarchy in Iran, brought about an
ideological twist to this competition: Shia Islamist Republicanism versus Sunni Wahhabism. In the
early months of the revolution, Radio Tehran used to air propaganda, targeting monarchy rule in
general and the al-Saud family in particular. Kings despoil a country when they enter it and make
the noblest of its people its meanest, began a broadcast on March 14, 1980, quoting from the Koran.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeinis call to the oppressed in the Muslim world to turn
against their rulers did not go down well with monarchs in the region. The Saudis, who preferred
status quo, saw the revolutionary Iran as a disruptive force. Sunni monarchs and dictators faced two
challenges in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution. First, the possibility of their own people
inspired by the Iranian revolution turning against them; and second, the potential rise of Iran as a
regional power. To prevent both, they wanted to contain Iran. Tehran, on the other hand, seeing
Riyadh as the leader of a bloc that sought to cripple its natural rise, wanted to counter those efforts.
The stage was set for a new form of rivalry in the region. Its first definite manifestation was the IranIraq war of 1980-88, in which most Sunni states stood behind an aggressive Saddam Hussein despite
their differences with him.
Two axes
Though the Sunni coalition could not achieve its goal of overthrowing the Islamic regime in Tehran,
it succeeded in locking Iran into a long-lasting conflict with Iraq. At the same time, the Saudis stitched
together an alliance of Gulf monarchies to strengthen their regional standing. The formation of the
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a group of conservative Gulf monarchies, in 1981 was initially
designed to counter Iranian influence.
It became the lynchpin of the Saudi strategy towards Tehran. In the years that followed, an
emergence of a Saudi-led axis of Sunni Arab monarchies and dictatorships pitched itself against Iran.
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Tehrans response was initially limited as its primary focus was on Saddam Hussein. But it had a grand
strategy too for regional influence, which, unlike the Saudi model of a coalition of nation states,
was focussed on non-state actors. Iran was behind the formation of the Hezbollah, a Shia militia-cumpolitical movement in Lebanon, in the early 1980s, and had been one of the consistent supporters of
the Palestinian militant group, Hamas. Syria was perhaps the only staunch state ally of Iran in the
region. The Iranians projected themselves and these non-state groups as an archipelago of resistance
against an axis of dominance led by the Saudis. That the U.S. was backing the Saudi alliance actually
strengthened the Iranian narrative that it was the vanguard of anti-imperialist struggle in West Asia.
What changed the rules of this balance of power game was the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The war not only toppled Saddam Hussein, Irans biggest direct threat in the region, but also set the
stage for the political rise of Iraqs majority Shia community, who had historical ties with Iran. Tehran
immediately sensed an opportunity in the post-Saddam Iraq. It has expanded its presence in Baghdad
ever since. The formation of a Shia government in Baghdad has only strengthened Iranian influence
in Iraq. Saudi Arabia, which had seen Iraq as a buffer between Iran and the rest of the region, was
alarmed by the fall of Baghdad into Iranian hands. To be sure, it was a historical blow for their
interests, though that was not the least of American intentions while launching the war. To weaken
the Iraqi government, Saudi Arabia refused to send an envoy to Baghdad, and demanded that Iraq
repay a loan it gave to Saddam Hussein, estimated to be around $30 billion, during the Iran-Iraq war.
There were also reports that the Kingdom was helping Sunni extremist groups in Iraqs Shia-Sunni
sectarian civil war. According to WikiLeaks documents, the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri alMaliki, accused Saudi Arabia of fomenting sectarian conflict and funding a Sunni army.
The proxy wars
This cold war went beyond Iraq into greater West Asia with the breakout of Arab street revolts. In
the fall of Egypts Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Arabia lost an ally. When protests touched off in Bahrain, a
Shia majority country ruled by a Sunni royal family, the Saudis saw the Iranian hand. Iraq had already
gone into the Iranian camp, and Riyadh didnt want the same to happen in Bahrain, a GCC member.
In March 2011, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent troops to Bahrain to brutally remove
protesters from Manamas Pearl Square. They did the same in Yemen months later, but failed to
protect the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh in the wake of public protests. The Saudi game plan was to
replace Mr. Saleh with another president loyal to them; Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was chosen to do
the job. But when the Hadi government was overthrown by the Shia militia Houthis, the Saudis were
again unsettled. Afraid of growing Iranian influence in the Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh started bombing
Yemen in March in a bid to push the Houthis out of power. The campaign is still going on, without an
end-result in sight.
Syrias slide
In Syria, a Sunni majority country ruled by the Alawite-dominated Ba'ath party, this Saudi-Iranian
rivalry played out disastrously. When protests broke out in Syria, the Saudis changed tack. If they
batted for stability in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, their slogan in Syria has been regime change,
because Damascus has been an ally of Tehran. Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies actively funded and
weaponised Syrian rebel groups which played a major role in destabilising parts of the country. Its
from this chaos that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rebuilt his dilapidated terror machinery into the IS of
today. Most of the weapons the Saudi-Gulf nations supplied to the Syrian rebels ended up in the
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hands of al-Baghdadis men, who effectively erased the Iraqi-Syria border and established the
Caliphate. On the other side, Tehran did everything it could to back the Syrian regime; if Mr. Assad
falls, that would weaken Iranian power in the region. It would also cut off a vital link between Tehran
and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group. Syrias slide into a geopolitical battlefield was rather quick,
much to the joy of extremist groups who love chaos.
Syria is now effectively a divided country where at least five blocs, including the regime, the IS and
the so-called moderate rebels, hold on to territories. In Iraq, Baghdads writ rules only in the Shia
majority regions, while the Iraqi Armys fight against the IS is largely backed by Iran-controlled
militias. Bahrain is uneasily quiet and could explode any time. Yemen is being destroyed by the Saudi
bombers, while the Houthis, contrary to Riyadhs declared goals, are tightening their grip over the
country. Lebanon could be the next battleground where the Iran-backed Hezbollah is a strong actor.
The Saudi-led axis has already expressed concerns over Hezbollahs growing clout in the country,
where Sunni extremist groups are particularly targeting Hezbollah positions, threatening to drag the
country into another civil war.
Whats common in all these crises is that both Saudi Arabia and Iran are involved in them, either
directly or through proxies, adopting opposite positions. The Saudi-Iran rivalry is no longer about two
nations vying for supremacy; its now deeply intertwined with regional geopolitics and sectarian
equations. Any effort to find long-lasting peace in West Asia should primarily address this problem.
If not, this game of destabilising the region in the name of proxy battles will go on, creating conditions
for the emergence of more groups like IS.

8. Stress takes a toll on tigers in Sariska

Topics: Environment
High stress levels in tigers, caused by human activity, have affected their breeding in the Sariska Tiger
Reserve in Rajasthan, a study says.
Tigers were reintroduced in the Sariska and Panna tiger reserves after poaching, habitat loss and prey
depletion made them extinct in those protected areas. As part a species recovery programme, tigers
were reintroduced between 2008 and 2010 in Sariska and 2009 and 2013 in Panna.
While the reintroduced tigers have given birth at regular intervals in Panna, it is not so in Sariska,
though the tigers have been mating. This led to a study by scientists from the Laboratory for the
Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) of the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology
(CCMB); the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun; and the Endocrine Research Laboratory,
Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Govindhaswamy Umapathy from LaCONES, in collaboration with Kalyanasundaram Sankar of the WII,
studied the stress responses of the reintroduced tigers in relation to human disturbance. They used
a non-invasive approach to study stress by monitoring faecal glucocorticoid (fGCM) metabolite
concentrations in the tigers over 18 months and collected 120 samples. It was found that 80 per cent
of the 881-sq.km Sariska reserve had some kind of disturbance, such as livestock movement,
woodcutting and human and vehicular movement, elevating fGCM concentrations in the monitored
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Dr. Umapathy says prolonged stress might have affected reproduction. The study recommended
regulation of vehicular traffic, shifting of artificial waterholes away from tarred roads and relocation
of eight villages from the core area of the reserve.
The relocation has been due since 1984. Once that is done, an inviolate area of 300 sq.km will be
available for breeding, the study noted.
CCMB Director Ch. Mohan Rao says reproductive studies in endangered species are immensely useful
in developing breeding protocols and creating stress-free habitats for tigers and other wild animals.

9. 4300 from Af, Pak get citizenship

Topics: IR India and the world
The NDA government on Sunday said it had granted citizenship to about 4.300 Hindu and Sikh
refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan in its one year of being in power, nearly four times the
number granted to such persons in the preceding five years under UPA-II.
According to officials in the government, this rapid increase in granting citizenships is in keeping with
the BJPs stated aim of positioning India as a natural home for Hindus fleeing persecution anywhere
in the world, a policy similar to Israels Law of Return that grants only Jews the right to return and
settle there. This policy was outlined in the BJPs election manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The Hindu had, in an exclusive report on May 10, said the BJP government would soon submit to
the Supreme Court a plan to grant citizenship to thousands of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh
who had crossed over into India after 1971. This process would be simultaneous with the BJPs
continued efforts to rid India of infiltrators, a veiled reference to Muslims who crossed over from
Officials say there are about two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and
Afghanistan living in India. During the entire tenure of UPA-II, they said the total number of
citizenships granted to such persons was only 1,023.
Ever since the Modi government assumed charge in May 2014, nearly 19,000 refugees have been
given long-term visas in Madhya Pradesh. Around 11,000 long-term visas were given in Rajasthan
and 4,000 long-term visas were given in Gujarat, official sources said.
In April, the Home Ministry had rolled out an online system for submission of Long Term Visa
applications and for its processing by various agencies. The decision has been taken to address the
difficulty being faced by Hindu and Sikh minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had
come with the intention of settling permanently in India.
There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner
and Jaipur. Hindu refugees from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and north-eastern States.
Sikh refugees mostly live in Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh.

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Current Affairs | June 16, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

What is NPA? How it affects the growth of banking sectors? Elucidate.

Differentiate in WPI and CPI inflation.
Immense austerity of Greece is a good lesson to be learnt by world countries. Analyse.
Explain the benefits of reusable launch vehicle and role of ISRO in reusable launch vehicles.
Discuss the chronicles of statelessness around the world.
Give brief notes on Bibek Debroy committee report and analyse the report.
Insecurity in north east is also due to factional rivalries. What are the other reasons? Explain.
Abrogation in exam affects all areas concerned. It prevents genuine students from
development. Evaluate.

1. Rising NPAs put banks in a tight spot

Topics: Economy
The banking system as a whole has been witnessing higher level of non-performing assets (NPA).
With restructured loans turning bad, the problems of the industry have only compounded.
State-run banks continue to report higher bad loans and the gross non-performing assets as on March
31, 2015, stood at 5.17 per cent. The stressed assets ratio (which includes NPAs and restructured
loans) was 13.2 per cent, according to RBI data.
At the annual review meeting of the Union Finance Minister with the CEOs of banks (including private
banks), insurance companies and financial institutions (FIs) held on June 12 in New Delhi concerns
were raised over the increase in non-performing assets which were impacting credit growth of banks.
The rise was due to some infrastructure projects, slowdown in global economic recovery, and
continuing uncertainty in global markets leading to lower growth of credit. It was stated that public
sector banks continued to be under stress on account of their past lending.
Going through the details of annual financial results of public and private sector banks (including old
private banks) for 2014-15, it may be noted that the gross non-performing assets (GNPA) of 26 public
sector banks (including 19 nationalised banks, State Bank of India and its associates and IDBI) have
risen by 22.5 per cent to Rs.2.78 lakh crore against Rs.2.27 lakh crore in the previous financial year.
While the 19 nationalised banks have registered a rise of 39.8 per cent in gross NPA at Rs.1,92,270
crore against Rs.1,37,487 crore in the previous financial year, State Bank of India and its associates
have reported eight per cent drop in their NPAs at Rs.73,508 crore against Rs.79,818 crore.
Private sector banks
The details of new private sector banks consisting of Axis Bank, DCB Bank (Development Credit
Bank), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Yes Bank present a different picture. Their
gross NPA has risen by 35.3 per cent to Rs.24,534 crore in 2014-15 from Rs.18,133 crore in the
previous financial year.
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In this segment, ICICI Bank, with 43.7 per cent rise in gross NPA at Rs.15,095 crore against Rs.10,506
crore, contributes to the maximum followed by DCB Bank (Development Credit Bank) at 33.8 per cent
(the increase is on a lower base).
Old private sector banks
The gross NPAs of eight old private sector banks (listed on stock exchanges) and Tamilnad Mercantile
Bank put together shows a rise of 50 per cent at Rs.7,755 crore against Rs.5,170 crore in 2013-14.
Jammu & Kashmir Bank tops the list with a sharp rise of 253 per cent at Rs.2,764 crore against only
Rs.783 crore, followed by Karur Vysya Bank with 143 per cent rise at Rs.678 crore (Rs.279 crore) and
South Indian Bank (48.5 per cent). Tamilnad Mercantile Bank has shown a reduction in NPA to 318.68
crore from Rs. 428 crore. Lakshmi Vilas Bank has reduced its NPA significantly to Rs.455 crore from
Rs.546 crore, followed by Federal Bank to Rs.1,058 crore from Rs.1,087 crore

2. Wholesale price index dips in May

Topics: Economy
Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation was -2.36 per cent in May, marking the seventh consecutive
month in which it has been negative, compared to -2.65 per cent in April. Food inflation remained
positive, at 3.8 per cent compared to what it was in May 2014.
However, the consensus among analysts is that this will not induce the Reserve Bank of India to cut
rates further.
The continued contraction in WPI was due to broad-based factors, with the three main components
of the index-primary articles (-0.77 per cent), fuel and power (-10.5 per cent), and manufactured
products (-0.64 per cent) all trending negative.

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Food inflation, which was a concern due to the India

Meteorological Departments prediction of a deficient monsoon, was lower than feared it
increased only 0.5 per cent over what it was in April.
According to Rishi Shah, an economist with Deloitte, some of this could be put down to better
management by the government. Importantly, vegetable and fruit prices have been well behaved
despite the untimely rains earlier in the year. This could possibly reflect better supply side
management by the government, he said.
The preparedness of the government was reiterated by other analysts as well. Though the monsoon
has been predicted to be below normal this year, the Government has already outlined its
preparedness and plan of action to deal with any contingency on this account. This should ensure
keeping in check any pressure on inflation arising from the food segment, said Jyotsna Suri,
President, FICCI.
The ongoing decline in the price of manufactured products is mostly due to external factors,
according to a report by CARE Ratings. The decline in prices of manufactured products is in part a
reflection of the decline in global crude and metal prices which has lowered the cost of raw materials
and inputs used in the production process, the report said.
However, the report added that this decline in price also reflects the inability of the producers to
raise prices in the absence of a pick-up in demand and prevailing excess capacity.
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Looking ahead, Kotak Securities believes that this continued contraction of WPI inflation may not
induce the Reserve Bank of India to cut rates further, since the central bank will remain focussed on
the Consumer Price Index.
We expect the headline CPI inflation to reach a low of around 4.2 per cent by August 2015 aided by
a favourable base effect, before picking up in the second half of FY 2016 towards around 6.0 per cent
by March 2016. The WPI inflation trajectory will move into the positive from November onwards to
register around 3.3 per cent by March 2016. This uncertainty, along with volatility surrounding the
Feds rate hike, should keep the RBI cautious and stop it from easing rates further in CY 2015, Kotak
Securities said in a report.
This sentiment is backed by CARE Ratings and Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers Ltd. in their
respective reports.
Last week, in a column in The Indian Express, Chief Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Finance Arvind
Subramanian questioned whether monetary policy decisions based on the CPI was the best policy.
Today, real policy rates are either 2.4 per cent, based on the CPI, 5.9 per cent, based on the average
of the CPI and WPI, or a whopping 7.5 per cent, based on the GDP deflator. Which is the right measure
of the monetary policy stance? The monetary policy agreement between the Ministry of Finance and
the RBI, as well as the Urjit Patel report, has argued, not inappropriately, that the inflation
target/objective should be based on the CPI. In normal times, that would be completely
unobjectionable. But are these normal times, when the price indicators are, frankly, pointing in
dramatically different directions? he wrote.

3. On the brink, Greece aims return to bailout talks

Topics: International
Greece insisted Monday it is ready to return to bailout talks at any moment after a breakdown in
negotiations with creditors pushed the country closer toward bankruptcy and jolted international
As concern over Greeces financial future swelled across financial markets and the two sides
quarreled over whos to blame for the current standoff, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called an
emergency meeting with his team of bailout negotiators.
Without the release of the remaining money left in Greeces bailout fund, the country faces the
prospect of a debt default on June 30, putting up limits on money transfers and eventually dropping
out of the euro.
Those fears dominated trading in financial markets on Monday. The Stoxx 50 index of leading
European shares closed down 1.6 percent while the main index in Athens ended 4.7 percent lower.
Greek borrowing costs rose, in a clear sign that investors are more worried about default, with the
yield on twoyear bonds up 2.7 percentage points at 28.5 percent.

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While remaining low, bond yields also rose in Italy, Spain and Portugal as investors worried those
countries might be most affected by turmoil in Greece.
In recent days, hopes had emerged that the outlines of a deal could emerge at a meeting of the 19
eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday, but those expectations are fading after the
weekend breakdown.
The meeting had been billed as a decisive moment in the protracted talks as the Greek bailout
program runs out at the end of the month and Athens needs to pay some 1.6 billion euros to the IMF
or risk a default. The negotiations center on freeing up 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) to make sure
Athens can keep paying off loans.
European officials urged Greece to swiftly resume negotiations with international creditors, which
include its partners in the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund.
Greece must not wait ... theres not a moment to lose, French President Francois Hollande said.
And European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi told EU lawmakers in Brussels that the ball lies
squarely in the camp of the Greek government.
Draghi underlined the ECBs role in supporting Greek banks, allowing up to 83 billion euros ($93
billion) in emergency credit, but cautioned that such lending could only continue so long as Greek
banks remain solvent. The lenders have been allowed to purchase short-term government bills within
limits, helping the government with its day-to-day struggle to raise cash.
Draghi said that limit could only be raised a move that could help ease some of the governments
financing concerns if there was a clear prospect of an agreement that will lead to the release of more
bailout money.
Asked under what circumstances the ECB would end emergency support, Draghi said: I dont want
to speculate on what would happen if Greece misses its upcoming payments to its creditors. The
ECB will review its support for Greek banks on Wednesday.

4. ISRO to test re-usable satellite launch vehicle in September

Topics: Science and Technology
In a major technology demonstration ultimately aimed at cutting down the cost of satellite launches
to one-tenth the present rates, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will flight test an
indigenously developed re-usable satellite launch vehicle for the first time this September.
Under the project, a plane will be flown into outer space at five times the speed of sound, deliver the
payload and then land back like an aircraft. At present, the various stages in a satellite launch vehicle
fall off in succession during launch and cannot be reused, making such launches expensive.
The launch vehicle will be landing for the first time in the ocean and the ultimate attempt is to make
it land at an airstrip at Sriharikota, ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said at a press conference on
Mr. Kumar said wind tunnel modelling and other tests had been completed. It is in starting point.
There is a long way to go, he added.

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Minister of State for Department of Space Jitendra Singh said 11 satellites were launched in the last
one year and by next year the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System would be operationalised.
It will be only the third such system in the world.
Mr. Singh launched an Android-based application Sakaar, an augmented reality application
intended to give a real world environment to visualise ISRO projects. It provides in real time, threedimensional models of Mars Missions, various satellites, launch vehicles and other projects of ISRO.
We will be distributing this in schools and other institutes for free so that students can get a better
understanding of our space working, Mr. Singh said.
There are currently no reusable launch vehicles in operation anywhere.

5. Homes, no longer
Topics: IR India and the world
On May 7, a day after India and Bangladesh signed the historic Land Boundary Agreement, the
residents of Mosaldanga, a hamlet in south Cooch Behar district of West Bengal, marched down the
main market. Bharat Mata Ki Jai (Long Live Mother India), they shouted, waving the Indian flag.
As the parade entered the neighbouring village of Battala, it was blocked by a group of men wielding
long bamboo sticks. They asked us if we have permission to step on Indian land, said Jayanal Abidin,
25, who was leading the procession.
Mr. Abidin and his people in Mosaldanga are among the 50,000 stateless people of East Bangladesh
who, after Indias independence, got cut off from both East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and India,
confined to fragments of land belonging to neither country. In an accident of geography, about 51
parcels of Bangladeshi land stayed on the Indian side, known as Bangladeshi enclaves, but with all
roads leading to Bangladesh either fenced with concertina wires or guarded by the Border Security
Force. And across the border, Bangladesh was left with 111 enclaves with Indian citizens and no
access to India.
After four decades of dithering, the conundrum has been finally resolved, with enclave dwellers on
both sides now allowed to choose which of the two countries they want to belong to. On the Indian
side, the Bangladeshis have decided to become Indian citizens. They consider this a milestone of
freedom and worth a thousand celebrations.
It was this sense of freedom that Mr. Abidin and his friends were celebrating in Battala village. They
told the Battala men that the enclaves would soon be recognised as part of India, and its people
would be considered Indians, so there was no need for any permission to rejoice. But the Battala men
were in no mood to listen. They said, go back or we [will] beat you, Mr. Abidin recalled.
The Mosaldanga group didnt, however, pay heed to the threats. They regrouped in the village and
danced to the drumbeats all through the afternoon. But as dusk fell, the protestors from Battala
entered Mosaldanga with knives and sticks, beat up the revellers, and set a house on fire.

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But, much to everyones surprise, the police arrived the first-ever intervention made by an Indian
law enforcement agency in a Bangladeshi enclave and arrested an attacker immediately. They are
currently searching for five more persons suspected to have been involved in the rampage.
Prior to the agreement, the Indian government viewed the enclaves as foreign territories, where
Indian law was inapplicable and where criminals settled for years to evade police arrests. The polices
appearance in Mosaldanga this time sent out a strong message to the residents that the law had
finally been established in the enclaves. For the first time, these stateless people today feel that they
belong to India and India belongs to them.
The transition from being Bangladeshi to embracing an Indian identity will dismantle several
oppressive structures that bred the lawlessness. Drug dealers who sold their marijuana in both Indian
and Bangladeshi markets; local contractors who smuggled the enclaves teenagers to Delhi and
Mumbai for cheap labour; or Sarpanchs of Indian Panchayats who passed biased judgments on
property disputes all of this will end.
Political and economic players
Indian citizenship will make the enclaves residents equal players in the local politics and economy.
The political workers of the Trinamool Congress and the All India Forward Bloc have already sensed
the shift. They have started canvassing support in the enclaves, promising to build everything from
scratch for the new citizens. All 51 enclaves will soon merge with the electoral constituencies
adjacent to them, and their votes will be game-changers in legislative and gram panchayat elections,
where victories are often decided by small margins.
With the sudden influx of political activism, the community is wondering if it should support a
traditional political group or float its own party. The budding state-enclave relationship is
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empowering, and will help the enclave residents negotiate their rights with the people who have
exploited them for decades.
But its hard to foresee that change taking place smoothly: the violence in Mosaldanga is evidence of
the fact that the people who illicitly benefited from the enclaves are enraged and peace will not be
granted so quickly.
On a rainy Thursday morning, a group of middle-aged men in lungis sat in a huddle under a rusty
metal roof in Nalgram, another Bangladeshi enclave in east Cooch Behar. They chain-smoked beedis
and crushed tobacco in their palms. Several cows wandered by on long halters. A woman in a pink
saree fetched water from a hand pump. In the absence of piped drinking water, the people of
Nalgram use groundwater.
The mood was jubilant. We want to congratulate Mamata Banarjee and Narendra Modi, Rasidar
Mian, a 50-year-old farmer, who seemed to be the unofficial leader of the group, said. We are very
happy that we are becoming Indians very soon.
More men assembled around Mr. Mian to narrate their stories of suppression. Mushtaq Ali, 38,
explained the ordeal of studying as a stateless student. My father has bribed so many people to get
me enrolled in school and college, Mr. Ali said. Im the first graduate of my chitt [enclave] but that
doesnt mean anything. I am still ineligible for a job.
Mr. Ali graduated in 2010 in political science. The same year he passed an examination for the post
of bus conductor in the governments transportation department. Like most enclave dwellers, Mr.
Ali acquired a voter ID, a unique identification number (Aadhaar card), and a driving licence by bribing
the local Indian authorities. He submitted all the documents in the transportation department as
proof of Indian citizenship. But the Panchayat of the neighbouring Indian village came to know about
it, and the Sarpanch told them that I was a Bangladeshi and got my named removed from the list,
said Mr. Ali.
Finding ways to establish an Indian identity hasnt been restricted to students. In the last decade, the
younger generation in the enclave has tried hard to buy property on Indian territory, so that the sale
agreement documents can be used as proof of their Indian identity, allowing them to marry Indian
women. Without this, finding a match was difficult. In the winter of 2010, 32-year-old Abdul Rehman
of Karola enclave got ready in a grooms finer. He was to marry a girl in the neighbouring Indian village
of Nadina. The brides family welcomed Mr. Rehman and his companions with a delicious meal.
Before approving the vows of consent, though, the cleric crosschecked Mr. Rehmans name,
parentage and address. Mr. Rehman felt it would be inauspicious to lie about his identity, so he
confessed that he was from a Bangladeshi chitt. The brides father simply cancelled the wedding and
asked Mr. Rehman and his companions to leave.
As we walked out, everyone [from the brides side] said things like we will never send our daughter
to that jungle, Mr. Rehman recalled.
The women in the enclaves are just as hard up for marriage partners. In fact, they fare worse. The
men in their community prefer marrying outside it is a trend, a status booster. We are compelled
to pay huge dowries to get our girls married to Indian men, said Mr. Rehman. As a result, a large
number of people in the enclaves are reeling under debt. Many farmers have mortgaged their
agricultural land. Many of them have uncleared debts dating back to the early 2000s. Every year,
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their landlords, the moneylenders, take 70 per cent of the production, leaving them with two or three
gunnybags of rice.
It is in the absence of governance that an informal economy, aimed at exploiting the enclaves,
materialised. It has been largely run by Indians from the villages that encircle the enclaves. From
small grocery shops, which even have charging slots for cell phones because the enclaves dont have
electricity, to a big cattle and labour smuggling industry, the enclaves are a haven for exploitative
entrepreneurs. It costs Rs. 5 to charge one cell phone here, said Jamal Sheikh, 20, from Mosaldanga.
There are about 200 cell phones in this enclave and we charge them twice a week.
Similarly, the middlemen sell the farmers rice and jute to Indian merchants for a massive
commission. Contractors take Rs. 1,000 per person to smuggle them to big cities as cheap labour.
Agents charge Rs. 5,000 for an original voter ID and Rs. 500 for a fake one. For every small step, there
is an agent to go through. Its hard to know whether these exploitative forces will vanish after the
enclaves join the Indian mainstream, or whether they will realign themselves to the new reality.
Hidden voters
Diptiman Sengupta, a social activist from Dinhata distict, is watching the developments closely. Mr.
Sengupta has worked for the rights of enclave dwellers, just as his father Dipak Sengupta, a former
MLA of Dinhata from Forward Bloc, did. Mr. Sengupta said 3,000-odd hidden votes were issued by
local politicians to the enclave people, in order to bolster their voter base. The politicians promised
them [hidden voters] jobs. But after the elections, they refused to recognise them. We thought about
this vote bank and decided, lets have them vote for a candidate whos an Indian but lives in an
Mr. Sengupta found Mayamana Khatun, an Indian whos married to an enclave resident, and pitched
her as a candidate in the legislative elections of 2011 from Dinhata constituency. She lost the
elections but she proved that she was able to turn around [the results of] four-five gram panchayats,
he said. She got 3,500 votes, which is enough to destroy any [assembly-level] politician.
Through Ms. Khatuns electoral advance, Mr. Sengupta earned some degree of power. He utilised it
by lobbying the politicians to gather support to Indianise the enclaves. I told them we will support
you in the next elections if you convince the Chief Minister to support us, he said. By 2014, the West
Bengal Chief Minister had changed her stance, from being critical of merging the enclaves with the
Indian mainland, she endorsed the settlement bill passed by the Indian Parliament in May 2015.
On June 6, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina signed the
historic deal. The government has now signed contracts for laying roads, drainage systems, and
building hospitals and schools. An initial investment of Rs. 174.98 crore has been charted out. In
addition, existing government schemes for housing, sanitation and agriculture are set to be
implemented shortly.
And this is where politics comes into play, Mr. Sengupta worries. As the enclaves will be run by the
Panchayats close to them, he thinks their unity is likely to be challenged. The politicians may divide
the people on the basis of religion and caste while misappropriating funds, he said. When asked if
the Mosaldanga violence had anything to do with local politics, Mr. Sengupta said: I dont think so.
I think its too early to jump to any conclusion. I would say some miscreants did it.

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6. The makings of a game-changer

Topics: Governance
e is allowing private sector players to run trains. It has suggested exposing railway production units
to competition, and the creation of an environment conducive to private investment by giving
confidence to private players through transparent accounting processes. This has to be seen in the
context of the failure of the public-private partnership route so far in both the road and railway
sectors. There have been different reports in the past that have pointed to what ails the Indian
Railways. For instance, in 2012 a committee headed by Sam Pitroda, then Adviser to the Prime
Minister, submitted plans for the modernisation of the Railways at a cost of Rs.5.6 lakh crore over a
10-year period. The Debroy Committee report stands out in having identified definitive measures to
effect a transformation, and setting a timeline.
But it will be a challenging task, especially the recommendations relating to opening up to the private
sector and setting up an independent regulator. The committee has acknowledged that restructuring
would be a humongous task, and quite cautiously used the term liberalisation for the entry of
private players rather than privatisation or deregulation. The railway employee unions are already
up in arms over the references to the private sector. This would be a difficult equation to manage.
The suggestion to set up an independent regulator will equally pose a challenge. This will essentially
mean setting up a body outside of the powerful and centralised Railway Board, which might resist
such a move. The setting up of an independent super-regulator has been spoken about in the
financial services space, but not much has happened on that front. However, all these suggestions
merit immediate consideration. The Railways has suffered huge under-investment in capacities and
today its very viability is a question mark. Now the onus is on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who
initiated the setting up of this Committee, and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, known for his
dynamic approach, to take the railway unions into confidence and implement the measures. Both
have declared the Railways is not going to be privatised, but the unions do not appear pleased.
Winning their trust would be key to the implementation of the measures. That would determine if
this will remain just another report or a game-changer.

7. The tortuous road to Naga peace

Topics: Internal Security
After the June 4 ambush in Manipur that left at least 20 soldiers of the Indian Armys 6 Dogra
Regiment dead when suspected militants ambushed their convoy in Chandel district bordering
Myanmar in Manipur,
and the retaliatory transborder raid into Myanmar by Indian para-commandos (21 Para-Regiment
Special Forces), on June 9, the attention is back on the long, tortuous and uncertain Naga peace
Since the leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isaac-Muivah) (NSCN), Thuingaleng
Muivah and Issac Chisi Swu, signed the ceasefire with the H.D. Deve Gowda government in 1997 and
started negotiations, the peace talks have gone on and on, with round after round of inconclusive
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negotiations. There were suggestions recently that a final solution might be in sight and that may
have provoked those left out of the process into striking back. But the secrecy shrouding the Naga
peace process only complicates it further and makes it difficult to speculate on when there will be an
end to Indias longest running ethnic insurrection.
Dialogue and division
The sheer duration of these negotiations does point to the complexities involved in trying to settle
the Naga insurgency, but many critics of the Indian decision-making process have also suggested that
New Delhi is trying to wear down the rebel leaders in a battle of attrition since the limited tactical
advantages of keeping the Naga rebels off the battlefield have been achieved by the ceasefire. Some
have also said that the ceasefire and the political dialogue have helped India further divide the Naga
rebels, pointing to the talks with the Muivah faction and the refusal to talk with the Khaplang faction
despite a ceasefire with his group. That, many would say, is what finally provoked Khaplang, a
warlord, to renege on the ceasefire and form the rebel coalition, the United National Liberation Front
of West South East Asia (UNLFWSEA), with motley rebel factions like the United Liberation Front of
Assam (ULFA) (Independent), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) (Songjibit) and the
KLA (Jibon).
Like Khaplangs faction, these other groups are splinters of the original movements. Their factional
rivals are already talking to India and New Delhi treats them as principals. These rebel chieftains who
are holed up in the remote jungles of Myanmars Sagaing division are treated as marginals. Khaplang
was under pressure for the last few years from New Delhi for providing shelter to these other
Northeast Indian rebel groups. Home Ministry mandarins insist that this was a breach of trust on the
part of Khaplang. But in the 1990s, former Home Minister L.K. Advani had clearly said that Khaplang
is a Myanmarese national and that India cannot negotiate with him. While that is a valid position if
one were to go by legalese, how can one expect Khaplang to just maintain a ceasefire when he knows
that New Delhi will never call him for talks, let alone treat him as an equal to Muivah and Issac? On
the other hand, the Myanmarese Naga rebel leader has seen his Indian Naga comrades break away
to form splinter groups with whom India has promptly signed or negotiated a ceasefire. First it was
Khole Konyak and Khitovi Zhimomi; now it is Wangting and Thikhak. The first faction calls itself NSCN
(K-K), while the second calls itself NSCN (Reformation). These factions may now be offered to accept
a deal India may have finalised with the Muivah-Issac group in an attempt to make it look like a
settlement with all NSCN factions who represent Indian Nagas.
Sending out a message
Khaplang on the warpath again is partly dictated by his urge to end his isolation in the jungles of
Myanmar, if only to remind New Delhi that he cannot be ignored a point he seeks to make by
getting together all those in the Northeast who still intend to fight India. His one-time comrades,
Wangting and Thikhak, blame Paresh Barua, an activist with ULFA, for manipulating Khaplang into
reneging on the ceasefire. Barua has steadfastly remained on a separatist course even after the ULFA
was decimated in Bangladesh after a crackdown by the Sheikh Hasina government and by periodic
desertions. So, though the ULFA of today is not much of a fighting force, its leader emerges as the
glue for a rebel coalition in Myanmars jungles because of his track record of leading an armed
struggle through unending adversity. The other factions which have joined up with Khaplang in
UNLFWSEA are also motley groups capable of occasional hits here and there. But it is the working
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relations of UNLFWSEA with the powerful Meitei rebel groups like the United National Liberation
Front (UNLF) and the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) (who have not joined Khaplangs coalition) that
makes the anti-India platform in Myanmars jungles such a worrying proposition for New Delhi.
Khaplangs faction admitted in the post-June 4 ambush press release that the other two Meitei
groups, KYKL and KCP, had joined his fighters to pull off the ambush in Chandel.
Missing the big picture
So, the real failure of Indian intelligence was not in predicting the possible spot of the ambush but in
anticipating the emergence of a rebel coalition in the jungles of Myanmar. The first step in that
direction was taken by Khaplang when he signed a truce with Myanmars Thein Sein government,
one of the 14 rebel groups in Myanmar to strike a ceasefire deal with it. Having secured that ceasefire,
Khaplang has ensured that his bases in Sagaing will be protected from the occasional raids by the
Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army). Even after the attacks on Indian forces by Khaplangs fighters in the last
two months, the Myanmar government has not broken off the truce with his faction. For the
Myanmarese Army which has to battle half-a-dozen powerful home-grown insurgencies at any given
point of time, tackling the Kachin or the Kokang guerrillas is a bigger priority, not Khaplang. After the
June 9 raid by India, Paresh Barua reiterated that his rebel coalition had not faced any problems in
Myanmar so far. The second phase of forming that coalition was in extensive negotiations between
the constituents. Now, reports about these negotiations have been trickling out of Myanmar off and
on. They have been reported in the Northeast Indian media but not picked by the big media guns in
faraway Delhi. This is what Indian intelligence seems to have largely missed out. The way the fighters
of Khaplang slowly trickled out of their Indian camps in the rundown to the breakdown of the
ceasefire was completely missed, despite alerts sounded to Indian intelligence by factional rivals.
Then came the actual breakdown of the ceasefire but New Delhi was not concerned because it felt
the Myanmarese Naga rebel leader had been isolated and confined to his lair in the jungles of
Myanmar. They underestimated his strike power on Indian soil.
The Indian response
The Indian reply after the rebel violence has also been hasty and ill-conceived. The Indian Army was
under pressure from top decision makers to hit back immediately, to make a political point of a
strong India which will not tolerate terrorism. The Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag,
was keen on striking back, but after careful planning. Under pressure, all that he could do was to plan
two hits on rebel bases on the border or slightly inside it. These locations were chosen not because
they had a lot of rebel fighters but because these were rebel bases and could be hit with smaller
forces to make a political point that India will go after its enemies. The raids have made much less of
an actual impact than was initially suggested by an gung-ho media, joined by a battery of retired
soldiers and security officials baying for rebel blood.
The Nagaland Chief Minister, T.R. Zeliang, made a telling point in a recent interview when he said
that the Centre has never kept his government in the picture over the breakdown of the ceasefire
with Khaplang. Mr. Zeliang said it was possible to have reasoned with Khaplang through Naga civil
society against breaking off the ceasefire. After 60 years of brutal conflict, the Nagas have got used
to the peace dividend since 1997. Naga civil society groups, which have grown in stature, have
ensured that the rebels do not go back to the jungles even if they were upset with the long, unending
negotiations with India. Mr. Zeliang thus made a telling point using the doves of peace to fight the
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dogs of war. But involving the States in the complex peace negotiations like those with the Naga rebel
factions is yet to become a feature of Prime Minister Narendra Modis cooperative federalism. He
is yet to get over the hush-hush hangover of his Congress predecessors when it comes to
peacemaking with underground rebel groups. As the leaks after the transborder raids into Myanmar
seem to indicate, the government is keen on greater secrecy in peacemaking than in war-making.
(Subir Bhaumik, a former BBC Correspondent, is the author of the books on the Northeast, Insurgent
Crossfireand Troubled Periphery.)

8. AIPMT cancelled, CBSE told to hold fresh exam

Topics: Education
In a decision impacting over six lakh students across the country, the Supreme Court on Monday
cancelled the All-India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test held on May 3, 2015 due to exam
fraud and ongoing investigation.
It directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to hold a fresh examination within four
Any attempt to save the exam will leave merit a casualty and generate frustration among genuine
students, the apex court said in its 41-page judgment.
A Bench of Justices R.K. Agrawal and Amitava Roy held that if the court allowed the May 3 exam to
survive, a wrong message would be sent that crime pays and students would be encouraged to resort
to unfair means.
Whats most important, the court held, is to sustain the publics faith in the exam system as a fair,
transparent and credible method to evaluate the merit and worth of the candidates.
Price has to be paid
We are aware that the abrogation of the examination would result in some inconvenience to all
concerned and that some extra time would be consumed for holding a fresh examination. This,
however, is the price the stakeholders would have to suffer in order to maintain the impeccable and
irrefutable sanctity and credibility of a process of examination, Justice Roy wrote in the judgment.
The court exhorted the authorities to consider the conduct of the fresh exams as a collective
challenge. It said fresh exams should be in compliance with the norms and mindful of the fact that
the academic session is scheduled to start from August 1.
Plea to segregate results rejected
The Court while cancelling the All-India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test held on May 3,
2015, took into account that there was no guarantee that the police would be able to round up all
the illegal beneficiaries of the cheating scandal.
In such a case, those who escape the police net would steal a march over genuine candidates by
reaping the benefit of their illegality.
The examination has become suspect. At present, the examination stands denuded of its sanctity as
it is not possible to be cleansed of all the participating beneficiary candidates with certainty, the
judgment said.

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The court dismissed the Central Board of Secondary Educations suggestion to segregate the exam
results of genuine students from the 44 candidates presently identified by the police as
beneficiaries in the scandal. It also disagreed with the Board that a re-examination would see a
delay of three to four months.
Police reports said 358 suspected mobile numbers were used and about 300 special vests fitted with
SIM cards and Bluetooth devices were sneaked into exam halls. Seven persons, including two doctors
and an MBBS student, have been arrested so far.

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Current Affairs | June 17, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

Analyse the reason for trade deficits and how it can be rectified?
Write notes on Mesopotamian culture and its art forms.
Explain briefly on Microchepaly and patent foramen ovale.
What is employees stock operation program and role of SEBI in ESOP.
Though age of consent for marriage increased fate of women remain the same in distress.
International criminal court is biased. Discuss.
Though people aspire engineering but not all being engineers. Discuss.
Explain the nature of neutrinos and it's spin off in modern technology.
Is fossil emission target aimed at 2100 a viable option? Will India phase out emission as of G7
countries? Critically analyse.

1. Trade defecit narrows, but experts continue to fall

Topics: Economy
Though the trade deficit has narrowed, exports and imports have contracted for the sixth month in
a row in May.
With countries such as the U.S. and China facing growth challenges, even the export outlook remains
hazy. A substantial reduction in the oil import bill, due to declining international prices, primarily
helped overall imports contract.
Exports stood at $22.3 billion in May against $27.99 billion in the year-ago period, reporting a 20.2
per cent fall in dollar terms.
However, the fall was marginal when compared with the $22.1 billion in April. Imports during May
were at $32.75 billion, down 16.5 per cent on the figures in the corresponding month last year. It was
marginally lower than the $33.05 billion in April 2015. The trade deficit narrowed to $10.4 billion in
May from $11 billion in April and $11.2 billion in May 2014.
Analysts expect the monthly trade deficit to hold at present levels.
Oil import bill dips by 41 per cent
The oil import bill in May, at $8.5 billion, was 41 per cent lower than what they were in the
corresponding month in 2014.
However, gold imports increased 10.5 per cent over their May 2014 figures. Nevertheless, this is far
lower than the 78.3 per cent growth seen in April. In fact, in absolute terms, the $2.4 billion of gold
imports in May were a three-month low.
Exports continue to soften with no visible pick-up in global growth. At present, growth in the U.S. is
in the negative. Chinas growth has decelerated to a six-year-low. And, only a slight growth can be
seen in the Euro area and Japan. The poor growth outlook will impact our export growth. Import
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growth, on the other hand, may bounce back if gold imports continue trending up, said a report of
Anand Rathi Financial Services Ltd.
This is not all bad, however. Good import growth in electronic goods and transport equipment are,
on the other hand, positive for the economy. With comfortable external balances, the short-term
pressure on the exchange rate is contained. An unanticipated U.S. rate hike, however, could pose a
challenge, it added.

2. Rare inscription of Biblical name found

Topics: History
Archaeologists have discovered a rare 3,000-year-old inscription of a name mentioned in the Bible,
according to Israels antiquities authority.
The name Eshbaal Ben Beda, son of King Saul, appears on a large ceramic jar. However, archaeologists
Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor said on Tuesday that the jar belonged to a different Eshbaal, probably
the owner of an agricultural estate.
They said that it was the first time the name was discovered in an ancient inscription. It is also one of
only four inscriptions discovered from the biblical 10th century B.C. kingdom of Judah, when King
David is said to have reigned.
Archaeologists pieced together the inscription from pottery shards found at a 2012 excavation in the
Valley of Elah in central Israel.

3. Mumbai hospital helps 16-day-old with rare disorder

Topics: Science and Technology
A Mumbai hospital has stepped forward for the treatment of a prematurely born 16-day-old baby
who suffers from a rare medical condition that has restricted the size of her head to that of a 26week-old foetus and, encouraged by donations trusts and individuals, will fund the expenditure for
the girls treatment, doctors said on Monday.
Born to Mamata and Ajay Dode, a farmer from Palghar district in Maharashtra, on May 30 and two
months premature, the baby was diagnosed with microcephaly, a neuro-developmental disorder in
which the head circumference of the newly-born child is significantly smaller than normal, doctors of
the Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital said. The mother, suffering from a post-partum depression,
has rejected the baby.
Dr. Sudha Rao, head of the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, said the probable causes of
this condition could be a genetic syndrome, chromosomal abnormality or intra-uterine infection. The
baby is expected to experience problems with regard to the brain functioning as she grows. 0.1 to
0.2 babies in 1,000 live births are born with microcephaly. The little girl also has a small hole in her
heart; medically this is termed as a Patent Foramen Ovale , Dr. Rao said.
Asked about the babys health after she was admitted to the hospital on Saturday, she said the girl
has shown signs of improvement.
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She has gained 40 gm in weight over the last 48 hours, exhibited movement and has been able to
digest milk. She will continue to be given antibiotics for the next 10 to 15 days and the doctors hope
to be able to counsel Mamata into participating in her daughters treatment.
As for the girls life expectancy, Dr. Rao maintained that if her condition remained an isolated brain
infection, the girl could be expected to live up to two years, after which she would require intensive
therapy and monitoring. Since the baby requires a multi-specialist approach, she has a team of almost
20 doctors attending on her, consisting of four senior doctors as well as senior specialists being
brought in, as and when required. The baby was brought to the hospital by her grandfather, Dilip
Dode, on Saturday night.
She was in a state of shock, had lost weight and was suffering from severe dehydration. Her initial
blood tests showed the presence of an infection and she was put on IV fluids, Dr. Rao said, adding
that the hospital had assured the grandfather it would bear the expenses for her treatment.
After media reports highlighted her case, the hospital has begun receiving donations and has
collected approximately Rs. 1.25 lakh from various sources, including the Sir Ness Wadia Foundation
and Earth NGO, as well as various individual donors.

4. SEBI issues detailed ESOP disclosure norms

Topics: Economy
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Tuesday come out with detailed disclosure
norms for listed firms while exercising employee stock options programmes (ESOP) to address
concerns regarding potential market abuse.
As per the norms, the compensation committee constituted by companies for ESOP schemes will be
required to formulate detailed terms and conditions.
In addition, they have to disclose information about the trust, powers and duties of trustee. These
disclosures are part of SEBIs efforts to improve governance and transparency of such schemes.
The circular details wide ranging disclosures that listed firms are required to make with regard to
ESOS, SAR (stock appreciation right) and description of the schemes, among others

5. Coming south in search of a bride

Topics: Society
Some trends seem astonishing at first, but begin to make sense when closely examined. The case of
Kerala women marrying Haryanvi men is one such example. Why would women from a State known
for its excellent social and human development indicators, particularly its treatment of women,
marry men from a State infamous for its skewed sex ratio?
Recent newspaper reports show that in the context of a huge sex ratio imbalance and an imminent
shortage of brides, several Haryanvi men are heading to Bihar, West Bengal and Kerala in search of
brides. In order to understand the nature of these marriages and the motivations of these women,
we visited Kerala recently.
Women incur the costs
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In a hegemonic and heteronormative society, not being married carries a huge cost, as desperate
Haryanvi men seeking wives know only too well. In our study, we found that several men who may
not have been seen as marriageable in the local context have made their way to Kerala with no
expectation except that of getting a wife. Typically, the brides came from very poor families with
more than one daughter. And when the women are above a certain marriageable age, it is
considered better for them to be married than remain single. It is these women, priced out of
marriage in Kerala, who marry Haryanvi men. As the father of a recent such bride put it, If the family
was well off, the girl would not be married away in Haryana.
The case of Rani (name changed) points to the troubling aspect of this arrangement: how marriage
is regarded as indispensable, and how women, in particular, incur the greater costs in the process.
Rani, about 32 years old, has studied up to Class 8. About eight or nine years ago, she married a man
from Haryana and now has two children. She was introduced to her husband through a relative (also
married in Haryana to a Haryanvi but returned to Kerala to marry a Malayali). But Rani did not see
her fianc or even his photo until the day of the wedding. He was quite old, she recalls. Ranis
wedding was not registered in the temple or in the Panchayat, as is the norm, as it took place on a
holiday. She and her husband left for Haryana in a hurry and she does not have a photo of her
wedding or even one of her husband and her together. Upon her arrival in Haryana, she discovered
that her husband was an alcoholic, and he would regularly abuse her. Thankfully, with the support of
her two brothers and her mother, who paid her train fare, Rani was able to keep coming home.
Finally, last year, Rani decided that she had had enough. She fought with her husband and returned
to Kerala permanently. Soon after, her husband fell sick and died. When she went back to Haryana
and asked for his death certificate, his elder brother convinced her to sign a blank sheet of paper and
gave her a photocopy of the death certificate. She realised that the document would be used to cut
her off from any claim to her late husbands house and the little property his family owned, but signed
it anyway. True to her fears, she has not heard from them since.
Several other cases show a pattern in the treatment of women in such marriages. In one, a woman
tried contacting her Haryana husbands family after his death, but she was told there was no one by
that name. In another, a woman suffering from cancer died in Kerala, but her Haryana husband did
not come to see her, either during treatment or after her death. Her mother told us, We spent on
her treatment because she is our daughter. Who else will do it?
Ticket to a good future
All the families we spoke to said the same thing: that they had agreed to their daughters marriage
to complete strangers and going away to a distant place so that they would have someone to take
care of them in future. This underlined a bitter fact: that marriage in India is still believed to be the
only route to a good future for a woman. If the marriage goes well, this wish is fulfilled; if not, she
bears the consequences. Many families rush into such marriages with little knowledge about the
groom or his circumstances. Some family members rationalised these marriages away as the
womans destiny whatever is written in ones fate is what one gets said a maternal uncle, whose
niece married a Haryana man who turned out to be a different person from the man they saw in the
In all these marriages, both the family and the woman agree reluctantly to the marriage because the
woman is desperate to reduce the burden on her family and the family is desperate to find her a
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good life in the form of a happy marriage. It was distressing to listen to how these women agreed to
venture into the unknown, to settle in places where they didnt speak the local language, where the
food was unfamiliar, social norms restrictive, and where discrimination based on skin colour are
prevalent. At the same time, their courage is equally startling. The only silver lining was that in some
cases, the women managed to come back to Kerala along with their husbands, and both settled down
Recent research pointed out that development may have contributed to a rise in the age of marriage
in India, but the institution remains strong and is unlikely to break down in the near future. Our study
just reinforced this point.

6. Omar al-Bashirs exposes a flaw in the ICC

Topics: International
The whole debacle lasted only two days, but the legal and political chaos it produced will probably
continue for far longer. The moment a South African court ruled that Sudanese president Omar alBashir should not be allowed to leave South Africa where he was attending the African Union summit,
and succumb to the ICC arrest warrant for war crimes, furious speculation and anticipation began.
Was it possible? What were the legal ramifications for South Africa if it did arrest him? What were
they if it didnt? Had Mr. Bashir miscalculated, complacent in the view that the ICC was toothless?
Even though it seemed very unlikely that he would ever be arrested, for a brief moment wishful
Sudanese suspended their disbelief and cynicism, and thought that it might just happen.
It didnt of course. Mr. Bashir is now safely back in Khartoum, where he took a very public victory lap.
The whole episode was an embarrassment for everyone: the South African judiciary and executive
for being out of step, Mr. Bashir for not being able to step out of his own country to sit among other
Africans without being jittered by fear of arrest, and the ICC, for the snub it has received.
Mr. Bashir has come to represent the confusion of international law over crimes perpetrated by
sitting heads of government, and the merits (or lack thereof) of the arrest warrant cannot be
discussed without raising the African bias point. To argue against Mr. Bashirs indictment and arrest
is to engage in Olympian feats of whataboutery the crux of which is: if your white western war
criminals are roaming free, then we reserve the right for ours to roam free as well. Ignoring the
obvious self-harming failure of this logic for one moment, there is something to be said against the
obvious lopsided justice meted out by our supranational legal organisations.
It is the cry of the troll everywhere that there is embedded bias in a dominant value system that has
been forged by imperialist victors. But as diversionary as that reasoning is most of the time, in this
instance that is fundamentally the reason why the international criminal court cannot mobilise a
manhunt for Mr. Bashir in many of the non-western countries he visits. The Sudanese people are not
only victims of Mr. Bashir, but also victims of a world where the justice system accommodates a
sovereignty class system. The U.S. has not even ratified the Rome statute that established the ICC,
effectively marking its territory as a super sovereign whose actions do not succumb to any legal value
system other than its own.

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That obviously should not mean that we do not impart justice when we can, but it does mean that,
as the case in South Africa shows, you will get clashes between the idealistic formal endorsement of
the ICC by the judiciary, and the informal dismissal of it by the executive. Moreover, there is a panAfrican solidarity playing out here, one that is based on the view that en bloc, Africans are
disproportionately censured for their records in power. This support for Mr. Bashir as a function of
realpolitik is a dirty shameful business that verges on apologism, and it is nothing that he should be
celebrating. But the law by its very nature should be a single benchmark, otherwise it is not law, its
an opinion.
It is not the fault of the ICC that it exists in an imperfect world where the powerful can opt in and out
of human rights. Ideally, Mr. Bashir would be standing in the dock today with all other heads of state
that have perpetrated illegal wars, but until that happens, the court has no mandate, and the
Sudanese people will continue to suffer the double whammy of international sanctions against them
for having a government they have had no say in choosing, and a president that they cannot enlist
outsiders to eject because the willpower to arrest him cannot be reasonably summoned in the face
of exceptionalism.
Mr. Bashir has not escaped justice because South Africa was weak, nor did he get away because
people do not believe that he is responsible for presiding over a government that has savaged the
Sudanese people with impunity. He got away because without universal jurisdiction, there can be no
individual enforcement. Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2015.

7. Where aare the Engineers

Topics: Education
A crisis, pundits on American television often say, is a terrible thing to waste. The recent
unpleasantness following the de-recognition of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle by the Indian
Institute of Technology administration is a case in point.
That the administration found a graceful way to put an end to the impasse and come to some
reconciliation with the small group of students involved is, of course, important. But it also gives us
occasion to ponder over some bigger questions involving higher education in India.
The issues concerning greater inclusivity for long-marginalised groups and of freedom of speech on
campus are important but most university administrators have found effective ways to resolve these
problems through models such as affirmative action and diversity policies, gender and ethnic
sensitivity training, modular learning programmes, remedial education and so on. Indian universities
could adapt these to the local context. Periodic workshops and meetings of senior academic
administrators could also help.
A broken engineering education
The bigger and perhaps far more serious predicament is that engineering education is completely
broken. Ironically, this is because of the very success of the IITs and engineering colleges. One
problem is that economic and public policy interpretations of the problem are inadequate to
characterise it fully. Well-worn neo-Benthamite frameworks of interpretation, a resource efficiency

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study, for instance, might reveal poor teachers or infrastructure, but would miss fundamental insights
from fields like culture studies and sociology.
Calling something a societal problem means that more is at stake than just an aggregate of individual
interests or utilities. Social scientists recognise that broad patterns of human interaction tend to
coalesce into structured routines and maybe even have rules of their own, but that these are always
situated in broader historically and spatially defined contexts. In engineering education, we see this
in the mad rush for seats in the milieu of rising aspirations cutting across caste and class.
The race for a career
In the past two decades, young men (and rarely women) have been drawn in large numbers towards
elite engineering colleges but they cannot simply be understood as autonomous souls drawn towards
engineering as an academic discipline. Rather, there is a large set of other social influences pushing
them parents, peers and teachers but also the image of IIT graduates as smart, young, well-dressed
professionals in high-paying careers. Most important, this rush has taken place in the context of great
churning and economic opportunity, even as more than 95 per cent of the population struggles to
find true forms of mobility. In my own case, my father, who had a degree in English literature and
became a journalist and later a civil servant, was convinced that I, his only son, had to be educated
in an IIT, which he termed a passport to the good life. I did actually benefit from my IIT degree in
aeronautical engineering, by using it to get advanced degrees in science and environmental policy,
which again helped me gain entry into the humanities and social sciences.
For tens of thousands of IIT alumni, similar success stories are evident. But let us look at what
happens to the entrants to the system. I categorise three broad sets of attitudes that students
develop in IITs. First, there are those who are motivated by the prospect of the passport, largely
having come from modest economic and social backgrounds. Earlier they used to have an eye on
postgraduate education, primarily abroad, with the hope of securing corporate or academic
positions. Today, with the global corporate market demanding IIT talent, students often skip further
education. Indeed, the proportion of undergraduates from IITs doing their PhDs has diminished
dramatically in recent decades.
The second group is characterised by a deep despondency of some sort, even with outstanding job
prospects. Many turn towards non-engineering vocations, ranging from the arts to politics and
entrepreneurship, as Chetan Bhagat, Arvind Kejriwal and Mansur Khan have famously done.
It is the third group that is the real motivation for the IITs. This group has a direct interest in solving
challenges of technology. They could be experimenters or entrepreneurs but are mostly trying to
engage with the material sense in which the transformation of human society is an undertaking in
itself. Examples here range from Vinod Khosla and Subra Suresh to numerous other technology
leaders across the world.
In all groups, however, students seem to experience many forms of alienation that could spiral into
crises where one is forced to take a position unexpectedly. To the extent that IITs are also prone, like
every other institution today in India, to asking socially relevant questions around gender, caste, and
elite privilege and corruption, politics is always already within its midst. If it has been muted, it was
only because of a self-fashioning by its members that the discourse could be apolitical, itself a
doomed venture.
Whats the solution?
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The fact that only a third of graduating IIT students fulfil the original vision of IITs to create temples
or true workshops of technology should give us pause. What does it mean that most of the
engineering students today do not seek to work on real-world engineering problems?
Several of my colleagues in the Humanities and Social Sciences, increasingly seen as an oasis for
engineering students but also as a threat by many, are routinely solicited for advice, to find options
to exit their pre-organised trajectories. Most students are like unwilling recruits in the army, forced
to do time, but seeking space to explore other interests. That the APSC issue was read by many as
reinforcing the institutes disciplinary authority, as if it were an extension of cheating, for instance,
raised tensions and voices. What, then, should be done about IITs?
First, phase out the undergraduate BTech programme and replace it with a five-year engineering
curriculum, but with roughly 50 per cent of time devoted to technology development as an end in
itself. The reasons for doing so are many. Primarily, IIT education reinforces elite engineering status
by emphasising theory and equations over practice. I learnt a lot of high-level mathematics before I
came face-to-face with a real aircraft, where the equations I had studied seemed distant. But what
one really needs to build skills and understanding is a greater emphasis on real-world technologies
and their operations in relation to economy and society. This is not happening, except in some
excellent initiatives such as the Centre for Innovation in IIT Madras. By preferring mathematical
puzzle-solving over manual skills, the present system subtly reproduces prejudices in many Indian
communities and accentuates certain routines of privilege, both within the student community and
occasionally in faculty hiring and promotions. Even the entry into IITs should be based on problemsolving ability as well as demonstrated aptitude for materially engaging with tools and technologies.
Second, turn IITs into nodes that actively foster living laboratories across India. If this were a part of
a new national mission, each IIT would be expected to build communities of practice within its
neighbourhood by drawing on all existing segments of local entrepreneurship, and India has
outstanding models. Such relationships should be open-ended and truly experimental if even a few
are to succeed.
Third, the Ministry of Human Resource Development should continue to stay at arms length from
the IITs and indeed all higher education institutions in general. This does not imply privatising them,
which would increase fees and further stratify education. Rather, such institutions should be
encouraged to experiment with forms of curricula that are expansive rather than particular, and
require them to take responsibility for building a collective, inclusive platform for higher education,
while providing the resources, both economic and otherwise.
The bottled-up tensions that emerged in the recent IIT Madras crisis are symptoms of a larger, deeper
crisis in which all of us are implicated. It is time to recognise these signs and find sustainable solutions.

8. Going all out for neutrino research

Topics: Science and Technology
Just a few years ago, we witnessed how a national project, the India-based Neutrino Observatory
(INO), which is to study fundamental particles called neutrinos, was subject to a barrage of questions
from environmentalists,politicians and others ever since it was cleared.
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The project, which involves the construction of an underground laboratory, was initially to be located
in the Nilgiris but later, on grounds that it was too close to tiger habitat, was moved to a cavern under
a rocky mountain in the Bodi West Hills region of Theni district, about 110 kilometres west of Madurai
in Tamil Nadu.
The already much-delayed and important physics project needs to be explained.
Reclaiming Indias position
India has been among the pioneers in neutrino research, the first of such laboratories having been
established in the 1960s. We led neutrino research when our physicists used a gold mine at Kolar in
Karnataka to set up what was then the worlds deepest underground laboratory. This was called the
Kolar Gold Field Lab. In 1965, it enabled researchers to detect atmospheric neutrinos. In 1992, when
the mine became uneconomical, the laboratory was shut down. With that, we lost our advantage in
understanding the most mysterious particle in the universe. INO may reclaim this advantage and our
global leadership.
Most of the advanced countries are already working vigorously in neutrino science with dedicated
labs. These include the United States, Russia, France, Italy, China, Japan and South Korea. India is set
to not only join this league, but also become a key player in global efforts in neutrino science. The
Magnetized Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) being set up at INO will be among the largest ever in the world,
weighing over 50,000 tonnes.
In 2011, we visited the now much talked about Fermi Labs neutrino study laboratory. Located about
60 kilometres from the main city of Chicago, the laboratory has been pioneering some major work in
understanding elementary particles including neutrinos. In this laboratory which is deep within
the ground and accessible through a large elevator we could witness the sense of pride among the
staff for having such a facility for advanced particle study which could unravel the universe. A
professor said, Fermi Lab is the pride for Chicago. We are happy to see Fermi Lab so close to the city
it makes it easily accessible to us and students.
INO is designed to go much beyond Fermi Lab in some aspects of neutrino research; to us, this should
be a moment of our national pride.
Widely occurring particle
Neutrinos, first proposed by Swiss scientist Wolfgang Pauli in 1930, are the second most widely
occurring particle in the universe, only second to photons, the particle which makes up light. In fact,
neutrinos are so abundant among us that every second, there are more than 100 trillion of them
passing right through each of us we never even notice them.
This is the reason why INO needs to be built deep into the earth 1,300 metres into the earth. At
this depth, it would be able to keep itself away from all the trillions of neutrinos produced in the
atmosphere and which would otherwise choke an over-the-ground neutrino detector. Neutrinos
have been in the universe literally since forever, being almost 14 billion years old as much as the
universe itself.
Neutrinos occur in three different types, or flavours ve, v and v. These are separated in terms of
different masses. From experiments so far, we know that neutrinos have a tiny mass, but the ordering
of the neutrino mass states is not known and is one of the key questions that remain unanswered till
today. This is a major challenge INO will set to resolve, thus completing our picture of the neutrino.
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Neutrinos are very important for our scientific progress and technological growth for three reasons.
First, they are abundant. Second, they have very feeble mass and no charge and hence can travel
through planets, stars, rocks and human bodies without any interaction. In fact, a beam of trillions of
neutrinos can travel thousands of kilometres through a rock before an interaction with a single atom
of the rock and the neutrino occurs. Third, they hide within them a vast pool of knowledge and could
open up new vistas in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics, communication and even in medical
imaging, through the detector spin-offs.
While this should be a moment of joy, there is also some scepticism, partly arising due to the fact
that the neutrino, though so abundant, is a silent stranger to most people.
Public misconceptions
Can neutrinos cause cancer? Not at all! Neutrinos are the least harmful of all elementary particles, as
they almost never react with solid bodies. The mean free path for iron, or the average distance a
neutrino will travel in say an iron rod, before interacting with an atom, is about 1 light year
(9,460,730,472,580 km). Needless to say, with the human body being less than 2 metres in height,
any harmful effect of neutrino is near impossible.
A few people with whom we have discussed this topic, tend to confuse the neutrino for the
neutron. This has also led to the confusion that neutrinos can be weaponised, which is far from the
truth. The neutron bomb, which many discuss, is dangerous but has nothing to do with harmless
neutrinos and is made based on a technology around the neutrons, particles which are much heavier.
To put this in perspective, the mass of a neutron is 1.67x10 kg while the mass of a neutrino is of the
order of 1x10 kg . Hence, a neutrino is about 17 billion times lighter than a neutron. The two are
There is further misconception that laboratory generated neutrinos, fancily termed as factory made
neutrinos, are more dangerous than naturally abundant neutrinos. Scientifically, this is not true.
Neutrinos are fundamental particles; there is nothing such as a natural and an artificial aspect to
them. It is like saying that electricity at the same voltage, from a coal-based plant can give one a more
severe shock than electricity produced by a hydroelectric plant.
What can understanding neutrinos give us? A lot, actually.
Key role in science
First, neutrinos may have a role to play in nuclear non-proliferation through the remote monitoring
of nuclear reactors. The plutonium-239 which is made via nuclear transmutation in the reactor from
uranium-238 can potentially be used in nuclear devices by terrorist groups. Using appropriate
neutrino detectors, the plutonium content can be monitored remotely and used to detect any
pilferage. Neutrino research can be our answer to ensure that no terror group ever acquires nuclear
Second, understanding neutrinos can help us detect mineral and oil deposits deep in the earth.
Neutrinos tend to change their flavour depending on how far they have travelled and how much
matter they have passed through in the way. Far more importantly, we believe that this same
property might help us detect early geological defects deep within the earth, and thereby might be
our answer to an early warning system against earthquakes. This is where an area of Geoneutrinos is
applicable. First found in 2005, they are produced by the radioactive decay of uranium, thorium and
potassium in the Earths crust and just below it. Rapid analysis of these Geoneutrinos by neutrino
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monitoring stations a process called Neutrino Tomography could provide us vital seismological
data which can detect early disturbances and vibrations produced by earthquakes.
Data transmission
Third, as we now know, neutrinos can pass right through the earth. They may open up a faster way
to send data than the current around the earth model, using towers, cables or satellites. Such a
communication system using neutrinos will be free of transmission losses as neutrinos rarely react
with the atoms in their path. This can open up new vistas for telecom and Internet services. Some
scientists further believe that if there is any extraterrestrial form of life, neutrinos will also be the
fastest and most trusted way to communicate with them.
Fourth, neutrinos are the information bearers of the universe which are almost never lost in their
path. Indias effort in studying neutrinos at INO may help us unravel the deepest mystery of the
universe why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.
Some scientists believe that formidable neutrino research can help us understand dark matter. Dark
matter and dark energy make up 95 per cent of the universe, far more predominant than ordinary
matter in the universe but we hardly understand it. Neutrinos are the only way to detect this great
mystery which may completely alter our understanding of the universe and physics. Searches for this
dark matter can only be carried out in INO.
We believe that the neutrino is our mode of access to some of the most unimaginable technologies,
and therefore, with INO, India is poised to take its rightful place at the helm of neutrino research. For
example, the particle detectors developed for the neutrino experiment at INO can also be used to
detect the photons in positron emission tomography (PET) which is used to identify cancerous
Hundreds of thousands of years ago, a species, Homo sapiens,went about rubbing two small rocks
until they ended up producing the spark and then the fire which helped man master the planet.
Today, we stand at a point in time when we are on the verge of manipulating fundamental particles
with the possibility that they may allow us to master the universe.
(Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India, is a recipient of the Bharat Ratna, Padma
Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan. He pioneered Indias space launch vehicle programme, strategic
missile programme and partnered nuclear programme. He has written over 30 books.
Twitter:@APJAbdulKalam; Srijan Pal Singh is an IIM gold medallist and adviser to Dr. Kalam. He runs
a sustainable development NGO, Three Billion Initiative, and has written five books.

9. Will India phase out fossil fuels as pledged by G7 nations?

Topics: Pollution, Environment
After G7 countries committed to phase out fossil fuel consumption by 2100 in Germany recently, is
it time that India also pursued this goal? While some climate experts argue that should be the case,
others say that developed countries have a greater share of responsibility, which they havent lived
up to as yet, and it is they that need to be pressured to do more.

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The long-term goals for decarbonisation in the G7 communiqu are not matched by the pledges on
emission reduction that they have tabled for 2020 and 2030, senior economist Nitin Desai, a
member of the Prime Ministers Council on Climate Change, told The Hindu, to a query on whether
the G7 countries announcement was indeed significant.
Indrajit Bose, climate expert at the Third World Network, said that the G7 countries had shifted the
goalpost to the end of the century which was highly unambitious.
These countries should have cut fossil fuel consumption long ago. In fact, the latest Structured
Expert Dialogue report released in Bonn, Germany, shows that 1.5 degree Celsius is the desired global
average surface temperature we should be aiming for and even 2 degree Celsius is unsafe. For this
40-70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions are required by 2050, which wont be achieved
by pushing the goal to 2100.
No consensus yet
After the U.S.-China deal on climate change came through in November last year, there have been
expectations that India too would commit itself to an emissions target. But no consensus with regard
to cutting fossil fuel consumption was reached at the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) sessions which concluded on June 11 at Bonn, Germany, Ravi Shankar
Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), who attended it, told The Hindu.
Although some streamlining of probable goals did happen, a more concrete document would only
emerge in the next session of the UNFCCC meet scheduled in August-September, he said.
No headway has also been made in determining Indias Intended Nationally Determined
Contributions (INDC) for the 2015 Paris agreement. Any decision on this front made by India would
be keeping in mind our development and growth requirements, he said.

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Current Affairs | June 18, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

Cleaner air could save millions of lives in India. Elucidate.

Russia and western countries are playing foul inorder to establish their supremacy. Analyse.
What is a monsoon? What are the major cause of reduction in rainfall?
Discuss the relationship between Crony capitalism and sports in India. Explain how it affects
the sport spirit in India?
Explain the pros and cons of minimum support prize in agriculture.
Street vendors are the most vulnerable in urban area. Substantiate.
Most of the roads in India is not friendly towards cycles. How to improve it? Give measures.
Give a short note on trade between Greek and south Indian kingdoms.


Defective urban planning collapses the entire infrastructural establishments. Discuss

and give measures.


Yoga is universally applicable but forcibly imposing on people will not bring fruits.
Critically analyse.

1. Cleaner air could save 1.4 million lives in India, China

Topics: Pollution
Improving air quality could prevent up to 1.4 million premature deaths per year in polluted countries
such as China and India, a new study has found.
The study also warned that with no changes in air pollution, deaths per capita from air pollution
would increase 20 to 30 per cent during the next 15 years in India and China. If also accounting for
population growth, the increase in deaths would be even greater if those countries experience no
change in air pollution, researchers said.
WHO guidelines
The researchers found that meeting the World Health Organisations (WHO) particulate air quality
guidelines could prevent 2.1 million deaths per year related to outdoor air pollution worldwide.
Joshua S. Apte of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas Austin and his team
looked at outdoor air pollution from particulate matter (PM) smaller than 2.5 microns.
Those particles can enter deep into the lungs. Breathing PM is associated with increased risk of heart
attack, stroke and other cardiovascular disease; respiratory illnesses such as emphysema; and cancer.
We wanted to determine how much cleaner different parts of the world would need to be in order
to substantially reduce death from particulate matter, said Apte, lead author of the study published
in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The study used the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations Global Burden of Disease 2010
database, estimates of PM concentrations derived from ground-based measurements, satellite
observations and air pollution models, and WHOs air quality guidelines.
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Worldwide, most people live in areas with PM concentrations far above WHOs air quality guideline
of 10 microgrammes per cubic metre, with some parts of India and China experiencing levels that
exceed 100.
The study demonstrated major potential to reduce mortality from PM in the worlds most polluted
One of the studys unexpected findings was that cleaning air in less polluted parts of the world,
including in North America and Western Europe, can have as much health benefit as similar measures
taken in the most polluted areas.
The study determined that meeting WHOs air quality guidelines could prevent up to 1.4 million
premature deaths per year in polluted areas such as China and India.
Meeting WHO guidelines in clean regions could reduce premature deaths from outdoor pollution by
more than half a million deaths per year.
Another important finding is that because of ageing populations, health risks in many countries will
increase even if pollution levels are constant.

2. Russia, Germany see now Cold War

Topics: International
Russia accused NATO on Wednesday of reviving the ghost of the Cold War by encroaching close to
its borders and seeking to change the strategic balance of power, as Germany denounced Moscow's
nuclear weapons build-up as a Soviet-style reflex.
Ties between Russia and the West have hit new lows over Ukraine and the latest accusations come
after Moscow said it would enhance its nuclear arsenal in response to Washington's plans to station
heavy military equipment in Eastern Europe.
It's not Russia that's approaching someone's borders. It's NATO's military infrastructure that is
approaching the borders of Russia," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"All this ... forces Russia to take measures to safeguard its own interests, its own security."
Peskov said the West had increasingly resorted to "unconstructive and confrontational" Cold Warstyle rhetoric.

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United States plans

Russian response

To restore equipment for brigade of up to 5,000 U.S.

Says move would violate tacit agreements of
troops in Baltic and Eastern European states to deter
possible Russian aggression
Moscow could speed up deployment of
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to store equipment of 150
Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad and beef up
forces in Belarus
Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and possibly Hungary to have
storage for battalion of around 750 soldiers
U.S. plans to store around 1,200 vehicles, including M-2 Bradley fighting vehicles, armoured tanks
and M1-A2 tanks
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused President Vladimir Putin of "sabre rattling" on
Tuesday after the Russian leader said Moscow would add more than 40 intercontinental ballistic
missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year.
On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier accused Putin of acting on Cold
War reflexes.
Russia and the West accuse one another of endangering global security and the latest spat adds to
tensions over Ukraine where Russia-backed separatist rebels seized land in the east after Moscow
annexed Crimea from Kiev in early 2014.

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Foreign Ministers from Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine will meet in Paris on June 23 to discuss
the conflict in east Ukraine where a four-month-old ceasefire stemmed large-scale fighting but
deadly skirmishes occur almost daily.
Putin's top foreign policy adviser said on Wednesday that Russia would not be dragged into an arms
race with the West as this would hurt the economy.
"Russia is not entering an arms race. Russia is trying to react in some ways to certain threats but
nothing more than that. We are not entering any arms race because that would hurt our capabilities
in the economic sphere," Yuri Ushakov said.

3. India: Ocean warming weakens Monsoon

Topics: Environment
The summer monsoon has been showing a weakening trend over the past century with decreasing
rainfall over large regions of the Indian subcontinent. The monsoon occurs because the land heats
up much more than the ocean and the warm air over the land rises and results in low pressure.
This causes the rain-bearing winds from the relatively cooler ocean to blow on to the land and cause
rainfall. That is, it is the strong thermal contrast between land and ocean that results in a strong
However, a recent study by Dr. Roxy Mathew Koll of the Centre for Climate Change Research, Indian
Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and others, and published recently in the journal Nature
Communications contends that this thermal contrast has been decreasing in the past decades, i.e.,
the land has been cooling and the ocean warming and the monsoon has shown a decreasing trend
during the past century.
Ideally, under a global warming scenario the land temperature should increase greatly in the hot
summers and serve as a strong monsoon driver. But, in the case of the Indian subcontinent, over the
past century, that has not been the case. Observed data dating from the 1870s are available for the
summer monsoon rainfall, from the Indian Meteorological Department and other sources. Using the
data from 1901-2012, it was found that the rainfall has been decreasing over central South Asia
from south of Pakistan through central India to Bangladesh.
The decrease is highly significant over central India where agriculture is still mostly rain-fed, with a
reduction of up to 10-20 per cent in the mean rainfall.
Quite a few other studies indicate that the monsoon rainfall is weakening over the South Asian region
during the past half century (since 1950s). Some of these studies suggest that though the extreme
rainfall events have increased over some regions, the frequency of moderate-to-heavy rainfall events
has decreased over the subcontinent.
The reduction in land-sea temperature contrast is attributed mostly to a strong warming in the Indian
Ocean on a multi-decadal scale with the latest reason being climate change under a global warming
The surface warming in the Indian Ocean, especially in the western regions has reached values of up
to 1.2 degrees C during the past century, much larger than the warming trends in other tropical
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oceans. The decrease in the land-sea thermal contrast surface temperature trends (1901-2012) is
also visible in the upper atmosphere, as the warming trends in the ocean surface are transferred to
the atmosphere above through convective processes.
Apart from the ocean warming, a part of the decrease in land-sea temperature difference is also due
to suppressed warming over the Indian land mass, possibly due to increased aerosol levels. Aerosols
in the atmosphere reflect the suns heat back into space and cause a cooling effect.
The warming Indian Ocean also plays a role in weakening the monsoon circulation. Increased
warming in the ocean enhances the large-scale upward motion of warm moist air over the equatorial
ocean. This enhanced upward motion over the ocean is compensated by subsidence of dry air over
the subcontinent, inhibiting convection and rainfall over the Indian landmass. This means that a
warming Indian Ocean has resulted in surplus rains over the ocean at the cost of the monsoon rains
over land, simultaneously drying the Indian subcontinent.

4. Board of Crony Capitalists in India

Topics: Governance
It may seem a trifle trivial to ask the Prime Minister to take interest in the business of cricket, when
he has several onerous tasks at hand.
However, if he is indeed serious about ridding India of the scourge of crony capitalism, he could make
a powerful statement by cleaning up the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that cosy club
where Indias most powerful politicians and most influential business do more than just co-habit;
they make unscrupulous billions off unsuspecting consumers without a rule book and without even
a fig leaf of accountability. The exiled Lalit Modi is just one minor, though very talkative and
newsworthy, symptom of a deeper malaise.
No accountability
The complete lack of accountability is what is so unique about the BCCI and its subsidiaries including
the Indian Premier League (IPL). Politicians are accountable to the people, if not on a daily basis then
at least once in five years. Most big businessmen are accountable to shareholders and investors; all
listed companies have to declare excruciating details of their business to the public every three
months, and the stock markets can punish them for wrongdoing. But once politicians and
businessmen enter the hallowed halls of the BCCI, there is not an ounce of accountability. No wonder
they are so entrenched.
Of course, it can be no ones case that Indian cricket doesnt deserve a strong dose of capitalism. By
all accounts, Indias favourite sport has benefited from the massive sums of money that it has
attracted in the last decade and a half. It has led to better infrastructure facilities and better pay for
cricketers. In turn, that has attracted more talent to the game and from places that were not
traditionally in the cricket map of India until the early 2000s. But cricket would have been much
better off without the cronyism and the opaque functioning of its administrators. These people are
responsible for the pernicious side of Indian cricket, which ranges from intrigue and politics in team
selection, to corruption in management, and rampant match-fixing (duping the cricket fan) in the IPL.

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The problem is that no principles or rules are sacrosanct in the governance of Indian cricket, except
the one about honour among thieves. Mr. Modis cardinal sin was that he reneged on the only rule
that mattered to those in the BCCI. He washed dirty linen in public when he implicated Shashi Tharoor
in the murky dealings related to IPLs Kochi franchise. That is what set the authorities, then under the
thumb of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, after Mr. Modi. Conveniently, he disappeared
to London, never to return to India.
Now, does anyone believe that Mr. Modi was the only alleged crook in the BCCI or IPL? Sure, the IPL
was his brainchild and, like it or not, as an enterprise it has transformed the face of Indian cricket and
the lives of not just Indian cricketers but their peers from other nations. But while Mr. Modi may have
created the IPL on his own, there is little doubt that the spoils would have been shared by many in
the BCCI. These very people continue to run the IPL in a manner that is as non-transparent as it was
when it started in 2008. If Mr. Modi was the only one involved, the IPL would have died with his
A clear strategy
That is perhaps why Mr. Modi has been hounded but not charged with any offence. What if he
decides to testify in a court of law against his fellow travellers? How many politicians and big
businessmen/celebrities (invested in the IPL in particular) will stand implicated of breaching the trust
of a billion fans? The strategy of the insiders is clear: destroy Mr. Modis reputation (with some
politicians as collateral damage), isolate him as the wrongdoer, and then run the BCCI and IPL as
before. Mr. Modi is no saint, but why is he the only one being hung out to dry?
Consider how soft the entire establishment has been on ex-BCCI head N. Srinivasan despite his many
conflicts of interest that spilt out into the public domain. Sure, Mr. Srinivasan is a strongman but
when there were/are powerful politicians like Sharad Pawar, Arun Jaitley and even Amit Shah in
positions of influence in the body, how is it not possible to nail Mr. Srinivasan for his unsavoury
practices? The answer is obvious: even if they dislike Mr. Srinivasan and his practices, no one really
wants to break the code of silence and be ostracised like Mr. Modi. At best, minor changes can be
made, which usually signal business as usual, such as the return of Jagmohan Dalmiya as BCCI head.
Crony capitalism thrives as long as the bond between politicians and businessmen remains intact. In
the real economy and realpolitik, the bonds can be, and are, ruptured by scandal and the public anger
that follows 2G and Coalgate forced a pause in rampant cronyism in telecom and coal. But in
cricket, despite scandal, despite public anger, nothing has changed. There is no alternative there
is no Narendra Modi to take on the Congress because everyone who matters is on the same side.
Since the BCCI and IPL cannot self-correct, an external intervention is necessary. Who better than
Mr. Modi who considers himself a cut above the regular politician? It probably isnt a great idea for
the government to run the BCCI many of the problems will simply carry over. However, the
government could push legislation to first take it over and then reconstitute it as a corporate entity
managed by professionals. Indian cricket should not be run by politicians or big businessmen. It
should not even be run by cricketers who have no expertise in administration. It should be run by
managers who know what it is to be accountable.

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5. Bonus for lentils, higher minimum support for paddy

Topics: Agriculture, Economy
To boost production of pulses during the kharif season, the Centre announced on Wednesday a bonus
of Rs. 200 a quintal on the revised minimum support price for tur, moong and urad dal (lentils) for
the marketing season of 2015-16.
The minimum support price for paddy was increased by Rs. 50 a quintal for the kharif marketing
season of the financial year.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, decided to
grant the bonus to encourage farmers to enhance the area under pulses cultivation and invest in
increasing the productivity of the crop.
The prices of pulses have shot up by over 50 per cent on an average in the past year as inclement
weather cut production and the area under cultivation shrank.
As much as 5,000 quintals of pulses had to be imported on the government account.
The Cabinet Committee approved the minimum support price, inclusive of bonus, for tur (arhar) dal
at Rs. 4,625 a quintal for this year as against Rs. 4,350 last year; moong dal at Rs. 4,850 against Rs.
4,600; and urad dal at Rs. 4,625 against Rs. 4,350.
The minimum support price for the common variety of paddy was fixed at Rs. 1,410 a quintal against
Rs. 1,360 last year and for Grade A variety, at Rs. 1,450 against Rs. 1,400. The price for jowar has been
raised by Rs. 40 a quintal for hybrid variety, Rs. 1,570 a quintal and for Maldandi, Rs. 1,590.
The price for Bajra has been raised by Rs. 40 to Rs. 1,275 a quintal, for maize by Rs. 15 to Rs. 1,325,
and for ragi by Rs. 100 to Rs. 1,650.

6. Living on the citys sidelines

Topics: Society, Vulnerables
The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 came into
force on May 1, 2014.
It was one of the last pieces of legislation passed by the United Progressive Alliance-II government.
In its intent, it is similar to the other pro-people laws passed in the UPA years, such as the Right to
Education, Right to Information and the Food Security Acts.
In the spirit of these progressive pieces of legislation, this law (henceforth the Street Vendors Act)
seeks to bring in greater transparency and functional democracy in urban governance. But as is often
the case in India, passing a law is one thing, and enforcing it is another. With this particular law, the
biggest hurdle to implementation, it appears, is the implementers themselves.
The background
Street vendors, or hawkers as theyre more widely known, have been around for as long as
civilisation. There has never been a city ancient or modern that did not have traders vending
their wares informally in public spaces. Indian cities are no exception, as the tradition of natural
markets or mandistestifies.
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With the onset of colonial modernity, however, India acquired a set of municipal laws that overnight
criminalised the vast majority of street vendors. They instituted a system of licensing. But the licences
issued were few and far between. As Indira Unninayar, a Supreme Court lawyer who has fought cases
on behalf of street vendors puts it, There were always far fewer licences than the number of
hawkers. The whole idea was to perpetrate a regime of illegality so that the municipal authorities
and the police could carry on an extortion racket.
Even the Supreme Court, while pointing out that street vendors have a fundamental right to their
occupation as per Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution, has acknowledged the exploitation of hawkers
by state authorities.
In its landmark judgement of September 9, 2013 in the Maharashtra Ekta Hawkers Union vs.
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai case, the apex court stated, street vendors are a
harassed lot and constantly victimised by the officials of the local authorities, the police, etc, who
regularly target them for extra income and treat them with extreme contempt.
Hawkers kept approaching the court to seek relief from this harassment. Says Ms. Unninayar,
Usually the courts dont ask the government to enact a law. But the judiciary was so overburdened
with all these cases over hawking rights that the Supreme Court finally asked the government to
enact a law to regulate vending rights. Despite that, when no law was forthcoming, it gave the 2009
National Policy on Urban Vendors the weight of law until such time a law came into force.
The Streets Vendors Act, largely drawn from the 2009 policy, was finally passed in 2014.
The Street Vendors Act
The Street Vendors Act, 2014 is a truly innovative solution to the problem of balancing the livelihood
rights of hawkers and the right to free movement of pedestrians and traffic.
The legislation lays down four fundamental provisions: one, there will be a survey of all existing
hawkers; two, instead of licences, certificates of vending will be issued to all existing hawkers
identified in the survey; three, vending and non-vending zones will be demarcated and all hawkers
accommodated in the vending zones; and four, no hawker will be evicted from his/her spot unless
and until the survey has been done and certificates of vending issued.
The centrepiece of the Act is the Town Vending Committee (TVC), which will have representation
from street vendors, traffic police, police, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), market
associations, and the planning authority, among others, and be headed by the municipal
It is the TVC which is mandated to organise the survey, decide on vending/non-vending zones, issue
certificates, decide on vending fees that the hawkers should pay the municipality, publish the street
vendors charter, and so on.
Simply put, the Street Vendors Act takes the powers currently concentrated in the municipality and
police and distributes them among the various stakeholders who will have their say via the TVC. And
since the street vendors are the biggest stakeholders it is a matter of their livelihood to ensure
that their interests are protected, the law mandates that members representing them should be not
less than 40 per cent of the TVC.
Additionally, in what ought to give major relief to the hawkers, Section 27 of the Act, titled
Prevention of harassment of street vendors, states explicitly that this law must override any other
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law that has a bearing on hawking rights, and that no street vendor shall be harassed under any
other law for the time being in force.
But the harassment continues
The Street Vendors Act is not a model law the State governments dont have to pass similar laws
in order for it to come into effect. It is a national law and it is already in force. And yet, the harassment
of hawkers by the cops and local bodies continues. In Delhi, it continues despite explicit orders issued
by the Delhi government to both the police commissioner and the heads of all the municipal bodies.
To take just one example, last year, on the eve of Independence Day, hawkers in the Jama Masjid
area were evicted from their areas for security reasons. This happens every year. They are usually
allowed back to their spots a day or two later. But last year barely four months after the passing
of the Street Vendors Act they were not allowed to resume their trade, and were sent away by
cops who told them there would be no longer be any market in the area.
Says Sandeep Kumar, 45, a socks vendor, We met the DCP, the JCP, the Police Commissioner, the
Home Minister. All we wanted was for the law of the land to be enforced, so that we could continue
our trade. But none of them was ready to help us. We finally went to the court. Once again, the
Delhi High Court ordered the municipality and the police to let the evicted vendors back. But all this
took time, and the vendors had no income for about five months.
I have been a hawker for 18 years, says Anwar Ali, 32, a footwear vendor, but these five months
were the worst days of my life. I have a wife and children to support. With the cops not letting us ply
our trade, we were sinking deeper into debt, and our lives were in turmoil. Thankfully, the High Court
came to our rescue.
But still the harassment did not end. It merely took a different form. Says Iqbal, 32, who sells watches,
Now the cops insist that goods can only be kept on the ground. No benches or shelves or tables are
allowed. Not even an overhead sheet to protect the goods from the sun.
Adds Fatima, who sells utensils, Because of this new rule that the cops have invented, our clothes
fade in the sun. Our wares get muddy when it rains. People kick our goods by mistake as they walk
past. Tell me, how can we keep food items on the floor?
Nafisa Begum, 42, a sweetmeat and water pouches vendor, claims that two weeks back, in gross
violation of the Delhi High Court order, a cop from the Jama Masjid police station came and
distributed all her goods free to passers-by. Her crime? She had displayed her goods on a small
wooden platform. I had taken a loan to purchase my goods. Now I have to borrow again and start
from scratch.
When contacted, a senior police officer from the central district under the jurisdiction of the Jama
Masjid police station said, Elevated sale platforms provide room to potential terrorists to plant
explosives in crowded areas. They are disallowed from using them in line with anti-terror procedures
across the city.
Is the law being diluted?
The design of the Street Vendors Act is such that it requires municipalities to come up with schemes
for the implementation of the law. Most municipalities are yet to frame these schemes. But those
that have a draft scheme ready seem determined to dilute the Act back to status quo.
It is very obvious that in their schemes, the municipalities are bending the law, says Arbind Singh,
national coordinator of the National Association of Street Vendors of India. Mr. Singh gives several
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examples of the law being diluted in the scheme (yet to be notified) drafted by the New Delhi
Municipal Council (NDMC) as well as the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. For instance, the NDMC
scheme says cooking will not be allowed. Now, will you have chhole bhature cooked beforehand?
Isnt the very USP of street food that it is prepared in front of you? How can you say cooking will not
be permitted?
Also, whereas the Act specifies that a survey of existing vendors should be carried out, the schemes
mandate issuing of public advertisements about the survey. The moment it is advertised, vested
interests will get people to set up temporary rehris (wheelcarts). Fake vendors will try to come in.
The very purpose of on-the-spot survey of already existing vendors will be defeated, says Mr. Singh.
A more fundamental problem with the schemes is that many of the issues which, as per the Act, are
to be decided by the TVC, are being usurped by the municipality. For instance, it is the TVC which is
supposed to make recommendations on matters such as the vending fees, conduct of the survey,
issue of certificates, and charter of self-regulation for vendors. The municipality is only supposed to
ratify them the TVC, after all, is headed by the municipal commissioner. But in the NDMC scheme,
the municipality becomes the key decision-maker, and the TVC, a glorified consultant.
Given that the stakes are so high, one cannot expect the municipalities to cede control so easily,
says Ms. Unninayar.
What are the stakes?
A 2001 report by the journal Manushi estimated that five lakh vendors of Delhi were being fleeced
of Rs. 480 crore annually by government functionaries. A 1998 study by the Tata Institute of Social
Sciences, which only looked at hawkers on BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation land (accounting
for perhaps half the total number of hawkers in Mumbai), reported that about Rs. 385 crore were
extorted by the police and municipal officials every year.
These studies were done more than 15 years ago. And these are just two cities. Sharit Bhowmik,
National Fellow of the Indian Council for Social Science Research and an academic who has done
extensive research on street vendors, says that if we take into account inflation and growth in the
number of hawkers, by now, the extortion rackets must be worth at least Rs. 1,000 crore in Mumbai
and Rs. 600 crore in Delhi. In the absence of recent data, what it must be worth nationally can only
be speculated upon.
If the municipal officials and the cops stand to lose so much, then resistance from these quarters is
not surprising. But they are not the only hurdles.
The RWAs are another big challenge, says Ms. Unninayar. The elitist sections of the middle classes
think of hawkers as encroachers, as a nuisance that blocks footpaths, creates traffic congestion, and
dirties the place.
But it is precisely these problems traffic congestion, hygiene, pedestrian rights, etc that the
Street Vendors Act seeks to address by decentralising decision-making and empowering the local
Another middle class concern that the presence of hawkers in residential areas could give a free run
to anti-social elements, and increase crime. The opposite is the case, says Mr. Bhowmik. When
hawkers were evicted some time back in Vile Parle (East), about 250 women wrote to the local MLA
asking for them to be allowed back, because they did not find it safe or convenient to walk a deserted
stretch of 1-2 km to buy vegetables.
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Mr. Bhowmik also believes that the municipalities, which have a vested interest in the status quo,
sometimes deliberately instigate the middle classes against the hawkers by demarcating arbitrary
vending zones in their development plans. If you put hawkers on Carter Road, which is a totally
upper class area, first, what will the hawkers sell there? Second, there were no hawkers there to
begin with. Third, you will just get the upper classes worked up against hawkers. On the other hand,
the BMC wants an area with high hawker-concentration, such as Dadar, to be a no-hawking zone.
Another strategy said to gaining favour among municipal officials is to initiate eviction drives on
some pretext or the other before the hawker surveys are done, so that there would be no or very
few hawkers left in an area when the survey mandated by the new law is conducted. Then they can
claim that there were no existing hawkers, which means so many fewer vending certificates for
The way forward
Street vendors, Mr. Bhowmik points out, are service providers. Even the middle classes benefit from
their provision of essential goods at low cost and convenient locations. For the poor, nearly 80 per
cent of their purchases are from street vendors.
The street vendors enormous contribution to the economy rarely gets acknowledged. On the one
hand, they subsidise the urban poor, who cannot afford to shop from malls or supermarkets for their
necessities. On the other, they are a cheap distribution network for small and micro-enterprises in
the informal sector that make toys, clothes, utensils, and other household goods from moulded
plastic at a low cost.
These small industries cannot afford to sell their goods via conventional retail outlets. But they
employ a large number of workers. If we take the number of people employed in these microindustries, and add them to the total number of street vendors, it becomes clear that hawking
sustains a great deal of employment. And in a country with a decade of jobless growth behind it,
hawkers are asking for neither jobs nor handouts only to be left alone.
Only economic stupidity or epic callousness would want to keep destroying the livelihoods of street
vendors, who are, at the end of the day, a valuable class of entrepreneurs. Yet, the mindset of
sections of the middle class, not to mention the municipal bureaucracy and the police who have their
own reasons, remains largely hostile to hawkers.
In its very name, this legislation speaks of protection of livelihood of street vendors. The abiding
irony is that the entities from whom protection is sought, are the ones mandated to provide the
The future of this law may ultimately be determined by our civic imagination how we envisage our
cities, and our public spaces.
Do we want them to be seamless freeways for smooth circulation of pedestrians and vehicular
traffic? Do we want a city of income-based ghettos where the lower income groups carry on their
economic activity out of sight of the higher income groups? Or do we want our neighbourhoods to
be spaces for social and communal life, where people from different socio-economic classes get to
interact, transact, form social bonds, and together create a rich tapestry of urban living?

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7. Cycles face curbs, but police use them for campaign

Topics: Governance
Nearly two years after they imposed restrictions on movement of cycles on 174 roads in the city, the
Kolkata police on Wednesday flagged off a cycle rally to spread awareness against drug abuse.
An activist who agitated against the restrictions, however, said that if the police really understood
the importance of the pollution-free mode of transport, then they should also understand the plight
of those who depend on these cycles for their livelihood.
If the police have blocked certain roads for cyclists they should provide alternative routes for them,
Ekta Kothari Jaju, secretary of the NGO, Switch On, which took part in the agitation against the
restriction, told The Hindu .
Through a May 29, 2013 notification, the police imposed curbs on the movement of cycles and other
non-motorised vehicles (NMT) on 174 city roads citing safe and uninterrupted movement of
vehicular traffic under the West Bengal Traffic Regulation Act, 1965.
However, the restriction lapsed as it was not ratified by the State government within two months of
its imposition. In the wake of wide protests, the police issued a new notification under the West
Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and relaxed the restrictions on the movement of cycles. The
number of city streets with restrictions on cycles was brought down from 174 to 63 in the fresh
At present, the restrictions on the use of bicycle are imposed on 63 roads, a senior police official

8. Uncovered: Pandyas_Roman trade link

Topics: Culture
An ongoing excavation of a Sangam period habitation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is
poised to throw more light on the flourishing trade of the Pandyas with the west and their rich
culture, which was the envy of the Romans.
The Bengaluru-based Excavation Branch VI of the ASI has taken up the excavation at Keezhadi village,
12 km south east of Madurai, in Sivaganga district.
Into the third month, the exercise has already thrown up very interesting antiquities
glass/pearl/terracotta beads; terracotta figurines; grooved roof tiles and early historic pottery.
This is the ASIs major excavation in Tamil Nadu after Adichanallur, says K. Amarnath Ramakrishnan,
Superintending Archaeologist and director of the current excavation.

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Keezhadi was chosen after an exploration carried out through 2013-14 in 293 sites along the Vaigai
river valley in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts.
It was found to possess archaeological wealth that may provide crucial evidence to understand the
missing links of Iron Age to early historic period and subsequent cultural developments.
The excavation area, a mound, referred to as Pallichandai Thidal, has a circumference of 3.5 km and
spans 80 acres. It is contiguous to ancient settlements like Konthagai and Manalur. We chose the
mound raising about one to 2.5 metres above the ground level as it is relatively undisturbed, says
Mr. Amarnath. We have found the finest variety of black and red ware bowls at the site, says M.
Rajesh, assistant archaeologist.
The most interesting findings in the 32 quadrants dug up so far are the damaged brick structures,
including walls. The bricks are unique to early historic period and they measure 33 cm in length, 21
cm in breadth and five cm in height.
Noted epigraphist and domain expert for the excavation, V. Vedachalam, attributes the age of the
remains to third century BCE to third CE. The earthenware contains Tamil Brahmi script. The black
and red pottery belongs to the Sangam period. The bricks belong to early historic period and similar
ones were found in Kaviripoompattinam, Woriyur, Alagankulam and Korkai, he says.

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The presence of a number of large handmade grooved tiles suggests that the brick structures had a
super structure with tiled roof, according to N. Veeraraghavan, assistant archaeologist.
The Roman ware found at the site supplement the historical references to a flourishing trade
between the Pandya kingdom and the Roman Empire. Historically, these settlements would have
been part of Kuntidevi Chaturvedimangalam, named after a Pandya queen.
The first major excavation of a habitation undertaken by the ASI in south Tamil Nadu will go into
2016. The Director (Exploration and Excavation), ASI, Syed Jamal Hasan, who visited the site on May
15, was impressed with the findings, says Mr. Amarnath.
The ASI is likely to extend the period of excavation by a year. The final report will be released after
corroborating the antiquities with existing evidence and conducting various scientific analyses.
Research scholars from the University of Madras and Government Arts College, Krishnagiri, assist the
ASI team in the excavation.

9. Government plans 20 million houses for urban poor

Topics: Infrastructure
The Union Cabinet approved on Wednesday the launch of the Housing for All by 2022 programme
for the rehabilitation of slum-dwellers and promotion of affordable housing for the urban poor. The
target is to provide nearly 20 million houses over seven years.
The programme is a key promise in the Bharatiya Janata Partys manifesto for the Lok Sabha election
in 2014 a pucca house for every family by the 75th year of Independence.
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An official statement said a Central grant of an average Rs. 1 lakh would be available for a house
under the slum rehabilitation programme. But the State governments could exercise flexibility in
spending the grant for any slum rehabilitation project using land as a resource for providing houses
to slum-dwellers.
Under the credit-linked interest subsidy component, an interest subsidy of 6.5 per cent on housing
loans availed up to a tenure of 15 years will be provided to economically weaker sections/lower
income group (EWS/LIG) categories, wherein the subsidy pay-out on a net present value basis would
be about Rs. 2.3 lakh per house for both categories, it said.
The Central assistance of Rs. 1.5 lakh a house for the EWS category would be provided in partnership
and for beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said here on Wednesday that the Housing for All programme
would be a Centrally sponsored scheme.
The scheme will be implemented as a Centrally sponsored scheme, except the credit-linked subsidy
component, which will be implemented as a Central sector scheme, he said.
He, however, clarified that the proposal cleared by the Cabinet on Wednesday only dealt with urban
areas and the rural component would be introduced later.
The official statement said the scheme would cover all urban areas consisting of 4,041 statutory
towns with initial focus on 500 Class I cities. The programme would be implemented in three phases:
Phase I (April 2015 to March 2017) to cover 100 cities to be selected from willing States and Union
Territories; Phase IIA (April 2017 to March 2019) to cover additional 200 cities; and Phase III (April
2019 to March 2022) to cover the remaining cities.
The government said the task at hand was to build an estimated two crore houses, though the exact
number would depend on a demand assessment carried out all by all the States or cities by
integrating Aadhaar numbers, Jan Dhan Yojana account numbers or any such identification of
intended beneficiaries.

10. Charles Correa: The man who swore never to design a glass building
Topics: Infrastructure
He was the chief architect of Navi Mumbai, considered among the largest urban spaces in the world
housing over two million people. He pioneered some unique concepts in urban development and
affordable housing that, if adopted widely, could change the landscape of the poorest townships of
not just India but much of the Third World.
It was Mr. Correa who founded the Urban Design Research Institute in Bombay in 1984.
If there is a legacy that Mr. Correa can be said to have left behind, it is a rare spirit of frugality,
freedom, sustainability and rootedness in Indian culture, traits that distinguished his work and which
shaped the trajectory of post-colonial modern architecture in India.
In a career that spanned five decades and an array of prestigious projects, Mr. Correa was the
quintessential Renaissance man architect, urban planner, activist and theoretician. He swore that
he would never design a glass building, and believed in open-to-sky spaces. All his projects breathe
this concept. They are responsive to climate and people, with emphasis on plenty of light and air. He
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extended these ideas to whatever he touched; his projects range from low-cost houses and
educational institutions to state-of-the-art research centres and industrial townships, to cultural
centres and urban hubs.
Widely recognised as his most important international project, the Champalimaud Foundation Centre
in Lisbon was described by Mr. Correa himself as a Project to the Unknown, a tribute to how
humanity stretches into new frontiers. Other significant projects include the new Ismaili Center in
Toronto and the McGovern Institute of Brain Research at MIT, Boston.
In India, Mr. Correa is famous for the Gandhi Smarak in Ahmedabad, Kala Kendra (Goa), National
Crafts Museum (New Delhi), Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal), and Jawahar Kala Kendra (Jaipur). Over the last
few years, he was involved in researching alternatives to water recycling, renewable energy, rural
habitats, conservation and regional biodiversity.
Mr. Correa passed away at the age of 84 in Mumbai, where he had established his practice in 1958.
His philosophy and work will inspire several generations.

11. Govt. pushes Yogas universal appeal, Ministry releases book

Topics: Health
As part of its effort to package yoga as a religion-neutral exercise and ensure maximum participation
nationwide in the first International Day of Yoga programmes on Sunday, the Union AYUSH Ministry
on Wednesday released a book, Yoga and Islam, on its universal appeal and acceptance.
However, the Ministrys decision to drop Om and Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) from the Common
Yoga Protocol for Yoga Day has not gone down well with some sections of the Sangh Parivar.
Union Minister of State for AYUSH Sripad Naiks suggestion that Muslims who do not want to
chantShlokas can take the name of Allah instead came in for sharp criticism from Vishwa Hindu
Parishad leader Praveen Togadia, who said this would not be acceptable to Hindus.
Published by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, an RSS initiative, Yoga and Islam has as its main thrust the
idea that yoga does not have anything to do with religion. The book seeks to address apprehensions
that minority communities have expressed over participating in the programmes.
It draws parallels between some yoga exercises and namaaz, stating that namaaz is one sort of yoga
Earlier this week, the RSS weekly Organiser said in an editorial that yoga had nothing to do with
religion. Denouncing the celebration on the ground of opposing certain hymns or celebrating it on
Sunday only echo our fractured mindset and all the more highlight the need for a yogic life.
Even Surya Namaskar is not a form of worship but well known as a capsule form of yoga which anyone
can practise in a short span of time. If leading a healthy life is a human right, then it should be
available to all human beings, irrespective of religion.
But in Bulandshahr on Sunday, Mr. Togadia is reported to have said that the utterance of Om and
the practice of Surya Namaskar are integral to yoga and hold supreme importance.

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Current Affairs | June 19, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

1. What are the possible reasons for divergent characters among same species? Exemplify.
2. Corporate social responsibility must come from corporates and not to be imposed as tax.
Why? Give reasons.

3. What are the pull factors in US to garner working population? Discuss.

4. Explain briefly on Sashi Tharoor committee recommendations.
5. Detoriating arms, mounting security threats. How-to tackle the distress? Will indigenisation
is an effective mean? Explain.

6. Muslims are largely discrimination in all streams. Even in housings. Critically analyse.
7. Below normal monsoon will depict a drought which was not seen since 1987. What will be an
effective measure to help people?

8. Is reduced Indian holdings in Swiss bank is attributed to enhanced scrutiny by government?

Or siphoning? Discuss.

9. Autonomy in educational institutions in India is studded with fallacies though autonomy helps
in bringing better educational circumstances. Analyse.

1. Valleys, gaps, climate change affect songbirds speciation

Topics: Environment
A new study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B , by National Centre for Biological
Sciences on high elevation songbirds of Western Ghats, has found that deep valleys have greater
impact on speciation than shallow ones in this mountain chain.
The study was conducted by Uma Ramakrishnan and her colleagues at NCBS to investigate genetic
variation of all 23 species of songbirds that inhabit the Shola forests of the sky islands of Western
The study found that not all species are affected by the gaps. Out of the 23 species studied, 10
showed genetic divergences across the deepest, widest valley, the Palghat gap, while three others
diverged across the Shenkotta gap. Only one species diverged across the shallowest valley, the
Chaliyar River valley. While the Western Ghats were formed some 50 million years ago, the arrival of
songbirds in the Western Ghats is only dated earliest to 34 million years ago.
Simulated studies suggested the species diverged at different times. Our study shows that it was not
only the valleys and gaps in the mountain, but also the climate that affect to play an important role
in these bird divergences. Going by their past response to climate changes, we can predict that future
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climate changes may impact the speciation of these birds, said V.V. Robin, the lead researcher of the
Our results reveal a richly varied, yet generalised pattern of divergence. The nested pattern of
divergence across deeper versus shallower valleys also provide us clear predictability regarding
where to look for the two most different individuals in a species-across the Palghat gap, says Ms.
Most studies like this use museum specimens when analysing a large number of species. Knowing
the topology and spending close to 400 nights out in the field really helped us sample the entire
mountain community, C.K Vishnudas, a researcher said.
Pooja Gupta, another researcher, said it was an amazing experience going from the birds in the
mountains to the large amount of genetic data we generated in the lab.

2. Need to mentor young talent: Ratan Tata

Topics: Economy
Batting for e-commerce start-ups in India, Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, who has
personally invested in nearly a dozen start-ups post-retirement, said that the young entrepreneurs
with high ambitions should be supported and mentored.
E-commerce is the new trend in Indian commerce. I believe that young Indian entrepreneurs need
to be encouraged, and there is need to mentor young talent. This segment is emerging and should
be supported, Mr. Tata said while addressing the 107th Annual General Meeting of the Indian
Merchants Chamber in Mumbai on Thursday.
Stating that he had put his personal money in these ventures and not that of others, he said it was
difficult to predict whether these start-ups would emerge successful going forward.
It is difficult to predict. There is great deal of enthusiasm among the young entrepreneurs, and there
are huge aspirations. Many external investors, who are very good at identifying emerging companies,
have put their money. And, one has to wait and see (whether the invested companies would
deliver), Mr. Tata added.
Admitting that the valuations of these new companies were sky high, Mr. Tata said this was a global
phenomenon. This had been driving the growth of e-commerce start-ups and their valuation. It (high
valuation) is similar to elsewhere, he said. Irrespective of the valuation, one needed to encourage
the youngsters, he added.
Answering a question whether corporate governance was of highest standard among the start-up
community, Mr. Tata said governance must ensure that one obeyed the law of the land. The
enforcement should be strict, he added. We are weak on enforcement. There is inequality in
enforcement, he said.
Now that the government has made it mandatory for companies to spend two per cent of their profit
on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity, there has been concern whether the money is
reaching the rightful beneficiaries. Answering a question on this, Mr. Tata said that CSR should come
from within (the corporate) and should not be imposed as a tax. Many non-governmental
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organizations (NGOs) would get attracted to this money without having proper projects to
implement. He said there should be proper guidelines as to where to use this fund.
Mr. Tata, who heads the Tata Trust that controls over 60 per cent of Tata Sons equity, said that he
had been personally mentoring many companies and people who wanted to help the needy through
their CSR funds, be it in providing mid-day meals to the poor or any other charitable work.
Speaking of the growing potential of e-commerce, he said, I feel proud to see a new segment
emerging in the country. Young people need to be encouraged and mentored to embrace ethical
practices. They deserve a chance to prove themselves shoulder to shoulder with traditional

3. Technical glitch hits US Visa services

Topics: Science and Technology
Interviews for all non-immigrant visas to the United States have been put on hold in India following
a hardware glitch in the State Departments computer systems.
Interviews scheduled between June 22 and 26 at the U.S. Embassy in Delhi and Consulates General
in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad have been cancelled. Visa applicants with appointments
during the period have been asked to reschedule their appointments for biometric enrolment and
visa interview to a date after July 6.
There is no need to contact the call centre or customer support simply login to your visa
atwww.ustraveldocs.com/in., the U.S. Embassy in Delhi said in a statement.
Upon restoration of visa services, applicants will be notified via email or SMS when the passport is
ready for pick up.
For those who have other urgent upcoming travels requiring them to have their passport back, their
applications will be put on administrative hold and they have been asked to contactsupport-India@
ustraveldocs.com/into request reclaiming of the passport.
The problems stem from a hardware failure in a State Department facility in the United States on
June 9. That failure is preventing the department from processing and transmitting biometric data
checks at visa-issuing embassies and consulates Each visa decision is a national security decision,
and we take our obligation to protect the United States seriously, the Embassy said.

4. MEA to recruit experts from private sector

Topics: Governance
Academicians and experts from various sectors can now look forward to a lateral entry into the Indian
Foreign Services. Based on the suggestion made by the Standing Committee on External Affairs, the
Ministry is working on the proposal to allow experts from outside the government cadre to join the

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On Thursday, at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs to discuss

recruitment structure and capacity building of IFS cadre, it was mentioned the Ministry has begun
work on the proposal that will ease the challenges posed by having few officials.
Chairman of the Committee, Shashi Tharoor, tweeted: Foreign Secretary informed us that
Government was finally implementing one of our recommendations for lateral entry into MEA.
He followed this with another tweet: MEA will advertise posts for academics&pvt sector candidates
to apply for jobs in Policy Planning & Research. Good2let new thinking into MEA.
Speaking to The Hindu , he said though lateral entry will for now be allowed only in the policy planning
and research divisions, the move will bring in fresh thinking and different expertise and could be
emulated by other departments of the government.
Dr. Tharoor said the lateral entries can help fill in the gaps, as the Ministry is understaffed.
A member of the Committee not wishing to be named said there was agreement to increase the staff,
but process of increasing the cadre strength from the current 900 will be a long drawn process,
involving several departments of the government.

5. Time for an indigenous arms industry

Topics: Science and Technology
Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter signed the 10year Defence Trade and Technology Initiative in early June, to extend defence cooperation between
the two countries.
The move has been hailed as path-breaking, but in reality the agreements on joint technology
development are far below expectations. In fact, to expect any country to share cutting-edge defence
technology would be gross naivety. As the Narendra Modi government enters its second year, its
time to map the challenges facing it in the defence sector.
There is no choice for India but to go Indian. Results will only flow if cogent policies drive decisionmaking, even as field work continues. With 250 million people on either side of the poverty line, the
defence budget has rarely crossed 2 per cent of the GDP, and it is doubtful if it ever will. To make
optimal use of the scarce money, the Ministry of Defences (MoD) task is cut out along two avenues:
operational and administrative.
Operationally, two basic issues require immediate consideration. First, the Defence Procurement
Procedure (DPP) has to be urgently revamped, to address the hollowness of the forces (as one Chief
put it). Second, the Defence Offsets Management Wing (DOMW) must be strengthened immediately.
Even as the security environment has palpably deteriorated, the defence acquisition process has
failed to get India out of the arms import trap.
The Defence Research and Development Organisations efforts have been embarrassingly poor. The
reality is that India will continue to import for the next two decades. These frightfully expensive
acquisitions need leveraging through the DPP and DOMW to ramp up Research and Development
and manufacturing capabilities. The phrase in war there is no prize for runner-up might be a clich
but unfortunately never truer, as victory and defeat have acquired new definitions. Vietnam, Iraq

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and Afghanistan have shown that these terms have a contextual hue, and considering that Indias
future wars will be short and sharp, time and intensity are also keyfactors.
State of arms
India's acquisition process must enable an indigenous defence manufacturing base that delivers on
quality, timeliness of supply, and capacity

1 India has the third-largest armed force in the world.

2 India is one of the largest importers of conventional defence equipment
and spends about 40 per cent of its defence budget on capital acquisitions.
3 About 60 per cent of its defence requirements are met through imports.
4 The allocation for defence in the last budge was approximately Rs. 2.4 lakh
5 In 2015, the budgetary allocation for defence was Rs. 2.6 lakh crore, an
increase of over 7 per cent.
Our defence procurements need to address these complexities, and if a confrontation drags on, the
nation must have the strategic depth of a continuous supply chain, which only an indigenous arms
industry can ensure. So, Indias acquisition process must become the enabler of an indigenous
defence manufacturing base that delivers on quality, timeliness and capacity.
Achilles heel
Indias acquisition hierarchy, however, has an Achilles heel in the absence of a structure that owns
the acquisition process. Thus, targets, responsibility and accountability cannot be fixed. The
Department of Defence Production, Director-General (Acquisition), and the MoD are amorphous
behemoths; no responsibility can be pinned on any one of them.
What happens elsewhere? The U.S. set up a Defence Acquisition Corps when it realised that its
acquisition system had been managed and over-reformed into impotence with volumes of oversight
regulations, as a defence historian put it. Doesnt that sound familiar? The U.K. ensures continuity,
and hence accountability, through an integral civil services permanent cadre in its MoD. India has
deputationists and part-timers who come and go from any Ministry, with no attachment to the spirit
of indigenisation.
Any reform of the DPP has to start with the creation of an entity that owns the acquisition process.
This entity should have officers of all departments influencing defence indigenisation and must work
under one head, who will oversee the process of drafting policy and implementation. The careers of
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personnel in this organisation should swim or sink with the progress of defence indigenisation.
Naysayers just need to look at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to understand that creating
such an entity is possible.
DOMW augmentation
The immediate reform of the DOMW is the second major requirement. With offsets still a norm, the
nation has paid at least 10 to 15 per cent more in each contract as a cost of offsets. The 36 Rafales
that are coming from France have a $4 billion offset estimate, while the total estimate in the next
decade could reach $100 billion! To manage such massive amounts, there are only 10 people
manning the DOMW today. The staff needs to be immediately expanded and must be given a fixed
tenure of at least five years. In parallel, training in defence acquisition needs to be institutionalised
through the upcoming National Defence University.
Pride in uniform is the mantra that gives the armed forces josh. Its time this lost sheen was restored
to them. In its second year in office, the government must work on the administrative aspects of
defence building. The nation expects the armed forces to deliver everywhere. Surely, the government
can respond with correct pay, housing and one rank one pension policies?

6. In Indias largest Muslim ghetto

Topics: Society, Vulnerables
On a recent afternoon, after a two-hour drive out of Mumbai, I followed a highway hugging the low
hills of Mumbra, north-east of the city, near the Thane creek.
As the road forked downhill, hundreds of grimy, teetering buildings stacked like tattered books in a
neglected public library were the first glimpse intimation of Mumbra, Indias largest Muslim ghetto.
Despite the heat, young boys played cricket in a clearing by a graveyard. A chaotic medley of vehicles
choked the main street leading into the Kausa area of the ghetto.
Mumbra expanded with great velocity in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The Bombay
riots of December 1992, which overwhelmingly killed Bombay Muslims, and the retaliatory bomb
blasts in January 1993 by the Muslim underworld, reconfigured the social geography of the city.
Bombay Muslims from riot-hit areas sought safety in numbers and found it in Mumbra, where
Muslims from the Konkani coast had a long-standing presence. Through a combination of the desire
for safety among Muslims, the relatively cheaper price of apartments, and continued rural-urban
migration, Mumbras population grew 20 times from about 45,000 before the 1992 riots to more
than 9,00,000 in the 2011 Census possibly one of the fastest expansions of an urban area in India.
"Not Bombay, a village"
Assadullah Khan, an electrical engineer in his late 40s, was among the first groups of people who
moved to Mumbra from Mumbai after the 1992-1993 violence. Mr. Khan was living in Kannua Nagar
in the suburb of Vitroli, a mixed neighbourhood, where Hindus and a smaller number of Muslims
lived together without incident. Mr. Khan, who also gave part-time tuitions to students, was the only
Muslim in his building. After the riots, most of his Muslim neighbours began to migrate to areas with
a heavier concentration of their co-religionists. Mr. Khan was weighing his options.

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A female neighbour warned him. You should leave now, she said. Things are going to get worse.
He moved his wife and children to his in-laws house overnight. A little later, I sold my apartment
for much less than it would fetch on the market, Mr. Khan told me. The market for distress sales
was booming.
Mr. Khan found shelter in his brother-in-laws apartment in Mumbra. We then bought an apartment
of our own and have lived here since, he said. Thousands followed him, from Bhandup, Vitroli,
Ghatkopar, Behram Baug, and Walkeshwar. Uprooted from the charred geography of the city, they
converted a semi-rural backwater into a promised land.
The Maharashtra and central governments, which had watched impassively through the riots, left
the migrants to their own devices, but Mumbra grew. Power and water supply was feeble. There was
little public infrastructure. The crisis provided a business opportunity for Mumbra builders; they set
out to build illegal and substandard apartment blocks, which were (and still are) a lot cheaper by
Mumbai standards. In the early 90s, an illegally built two-bedroom apartment in Mumbra would sell
for around Rs. 2 lakh. Most of the buildings are illegal, a builder told me. Today, an illegally built
three bedroom costs Rs. 8-10 lakh. If I built that legally, it would cost Rs. 25-30 lakh. Mumbra is a
mixture of middle, lower-middle, and working class Muslims, but the majority are from the lowermiddle and working classes. Most people here couldnt afford the legal market prices, he said.
The poor building quality exacted a terrible cost in 2013 when a building collapse killed more than 70
people. It did not deter new arrivals. Rafiuddin Khan, a retired teacher in his 70s, lived most of his life
in a tenement near Mohammad Ali Road one of the oldest Muslim majority areas in Mumbai. Our
area was safe but I was tired of living with a growing family in two rooms, he said. He sold his chawl;
it fetched enough money to buy an apartment in a Mumbra apartment block. It is a lot more space
than we had in Bombay, he said. He paused for a while, as if reimagining the vistas of his earlier life
in the middle of the bustling metropolis. The ease of travel and the proximity to major public
hospitals, schools, and colleges was missing in Mumbra. A journey to the city in a sardined local train
took about an hour and half. It is not Bombay, it is a village.
Desire for upward mobility
The signs of aspiration are seen in the names of apartment blocks: Shimla Park, M.M. Valley, and
Wafa Park. The impatience with the status quo and the desire for upward mobility screams from
roadside billboards advertising the achievements of Mumbra boys and girls in coaching classes and
private schools. A higher secondary level school, Al Hidayah School, has advertised with a collage of
smiling student photographs and the percentages of their Senior Secondary School marks. There was
pride in that data: Out of 24 students, 9 have secured above 75 per cent and 14 between 60 per cent
and 70 per cent. Meanwhile, Shoeb Junior College simply said: 89.16 per cent success.
When we moved here, we clearly felt the absence of things we were used to in the city, said Mr.
Khan, the engineer. The ghetto had a few government schools, which were abysmally overcrowded
and lacked infrastructure. Mr. Khan gave up engineering and set up a tuition centre, Unique Classes.
When an old Sikh family, which had run a private high school in Mumbra decided to sell the school,
Mr. Khan bought it, renaming it Assadullah Khan English High School and Junior College. It already
has 1,400 students. We are trying to fill the gaps ourselves, he said. Despite having around a million
residents, the Maharashtra government has not set up a single public college in Mumbra.
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Beyond the doors of the ghetto, a Mumbra address often carries a degree of prejudice and suspicion.
A lawyer spoke of trying to buy an Idea Internet dongle at a Thane shop and being turned away; an
Urdu publisher spoke of waiting months to get a landline and broadband connection from BSNL. A
few weeks ago, a private school in Panvel, a suburb 24 kilometres from Mumbra, decided to ban
admissions of students from the ghetto, claiming that they behave badly. Waris Pathan, the Byculla
area legislator from Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, led a protest against the school administration,
which eventually revoked its decision.
Neglect and discrimination
One evening, I met Nazim Qazi, a sanitation officer with Thane Municipality. Before moving to
Mumbra, when his wife, a schoolteacher, got a job in the area, he lived in Andheri and Thane, working
as a freelance Hindi journalist, writing about cinema and the underworld the two great Bombay
themes. He gave it up for a more stable income at Thane Municipality.
Mr. Qazi lived in a relatively spacious, meticulously neat two-bedroom apartment with his wife, son,
and two daughters. He saw certain benefits in living in Mumbra. Women can walk around anytime
and nobody will bother them. We have been here since 1999 and we sleep in peace, without any fear
of riots or disturbances. He loved hearing the azaan, the call for prayer, five times a day. It has been
easy to raise my children with Muslim values here, he said.
As we spoke, Shehzad Faisal Qazi, his 20-year-old son, who has a mechanical engineering degree from
Anjuman-I-Islam College, a minority institution in Panvel, joined us. A fashionable young man with
rimless glasses, Mr. Faisal had recently returned from Coimbatore, where he and his college mates
had won several top positions in a Go-Kart design competition. They were trying to patent an antiskid mechanism for cars. He was about to leave for New Delhi to take classes for the Indian
Administrative Services examination.
Along with the strivings, a sense of neglect and discrimination pervades Mumbra, which does not
have a single public hospital. The nearest public hospitals are in Kalua and Thane. Several clinics and
rudimentary private hospitals have come up. Mumbra goes without electricity for at least six hours
everyday. We are No. 1 in load-shedding, Mr. Qazi laughed. But things are a lot better compared
to even five years ago.
The evidence of incremental progress was visible in Mumbra. Some streets had been paved with tar.
State Bank of India, HDFC, and Bank of Maharashtra had opened branches or ATMs. A Dominos Pizza
outlet opened last year. The absence of banking facilities or companies denying home delivery of
products has, for years, been the standard attitude towards Indias Muslim ghettoes. Barely an hour
from the Indian Parliament, the Okhla Muslim ghetto in New Delhi did not have a single bank despite
a population of several lakh. Two years ago, Jammu and Kashmir Bank opened a branch in Zakir
Nagar. Juhapura, the Ahmedabad ghetto, whose population doubled after the 2002 riots, still does
not get piped water or gas, and remains excluded from Ahmedabads vaunted public transport
Run-ins with police
Mumbra also lives with a hostile relationship with the police. It was home to Ishrat Jahan, who was
killed along with three other men by the Gujarat police. The Central Bureau of Investigation later
described the killings as a fake encounter. Taunts of being a safe house for terrorists are often
thrown at Mumbra. Last March, several hundered policemen raided Mumbra one and a half hours
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after midnight. A video recorded by a local journalist shows scores of men being paraded through
dark streets by the police, bundled into police vans, and held for hours in Mumbra police station.
Around 80 people, including young students, poets and old men were arrested. The police claimed
to be looking for two petty thieves wanted for chain-snatching.
One afternoon, I met Ishrat Jahans family in Mumbra. They continue to litigate and fight the
everyday battles of existence on the periphery. Ishrats sister Musarat Jahan recently completed her
B.A. in Psychology through a correspondence course, but her mother, Shamima Kausar, is too scarred
to let her step out and seek work. I cant trust the world anymore, said Ms. Kausar. Yet, there are
bills to pay. Ishrats brother Anwar Iqbal used to do odd jobs to support the family. Initially, he was
denied employment because he was Ishrats brother, but he persisted and found work at a BPO in
Thane. It is an American company, said Ms. Jahan. He doesnt make calls, he does data entry.

7. Positive expansion
Topics: Geography
With the India Meteorological Departments forecast putting the average seasonal rain for this year
at 88 per cent of the annual long period average for the last 50 years, India is looking at consecutive
drought-like years for the first time since 1987.
It is in this context that the NDA governments proposal to extend the number of work entitlement
days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme from 100 to 150 in
drought-hit districts must be seen. The decision to extend the number by 50 clearly stems from the
concern that there would be greater demand for wage-related work in drought-affected districts.
Considering that the government has been less keen than its predecessor in the implementation of
the scheme, this move constitutes a change of heart. After all, the Prime Minister only recently said
in Parliament that his government would continue the scheme as a symbol of the failure of the
Congress-led rule in tackling poverty, and reports recently suggested that the Ministry of Rural
Development was keen to reduce the scope of the scheme to select blocks. This newspaper had
recently pointed to the curtailment in demand and lack of regularity in work allocation under the
scheme over the past year, leading to a trend of fewer person-days being available to households
(Sunday Anchor, May 31). Ground reports suggested this was mostly due to delayed payments and
lower outlays by the government, in a sign of lack of enthusiasm for the scheme.
MGNREGS could bring relief to farm workers and labourers affected by the laying waste of cropland
for the rabicycle due to both unseasonal rain and deficient monsoon. This fact was acknowledged in
a recent observation by the World Bank on MGNREGS as an effective substitute for lack of crop and
weather insurance in India. The governments decision to extend the days of entitlement at this
expedient hour must therefore be welcomed. That said, it is imperative that the government realised
the importance of the scheme as a crucial intervention to spur the rural economy and alleviate
poverty, and not just as a short-term or stopgap arrangement to alleviate distress which in any
case it does. The record of success of MGNREGS since its launch in 2006 as a welfare initiative that
empowers distressed rural households has been well-documented. Its weaknesses, in terms of the
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quality of assets created and leakages in implementation, are also well-known. The government has
taken note of these and has promised better monitoring and setting of quality standards for work
outcomes. While this is welcome, there needs to be a better focus on timely wage payments and
demand for work under the scheme.

8. Indian funds in Swiss banks see a dip

Topics: Economy
Funds held by Indians in Swiss banks in 2014 fell to 1.8 billion Swiss francs (about Rs. 12,537 crore)
from around 2 billion Swiss francs (about Rs. 14,000 crore) in 2013, a 10.6 per cent decrease, says
the Swiss National Banks annual report for 2014.
The 2014 figures mark the second lowest amount held by Indians there, the lowest being in 2012,
when holdings fell to Rs. 890 crore. Since 2010, Indian funds have been reducing (except in 2011),
mostly due to the enhanced scrutiny of the system by various governments, including Indias, to
clamp down on black money.
Of the Rs. 12,537 crore held by Indians, Rs. 12,280 crore was held directly and the rest through
fiduciaries, or wealth managers. The amount held directly fell 9 per cent from the 2013 levels, while
that held through fiduciaries halved from Rs. 52,8129 crore in 2013. Swiss banks in 2014 had Rs.
1,01,80,800 crore of foreign funds, up from Rs. 89,06.800 crore in 2013. The increased scrutiny on
the banking system led to a fall in foreign funds in 2012 and 2013, but this trend was bucked by the
11 per cent increase in foreign funds in 2014. This latest data come at a time when Switzerland has
finally begun to share foreign client details following the submission of evidence of wrongdoing.
Data do not give complete picture
While the fall in Indian holdings in Swiss banks is a good sign, it is still an incomplete picture. The
figures released in the Swiss National Banks annual report for 2014 do not take into account the
sums of money Indians might have parked under the names of entities from other countries.
In India, the government has formed a Special Investigation Team to probe cases of black money
being held by Indians, including the funds held by them in banks of other countries like Switzerland.
Despite a major crackdown by the U.S. government against Swiss banks, funds held by U.S. citizens
and companies there rose for the second year to $2.65 bn in 2014.

9. Autonomy under attack, feel IIMs

Topics: Education, Governance
For one of Indias best known global brands, the Indian Institutes of Management, a Bill framed by
the Union Human Resource Development Ministry has brought in worries over their autonomy.
The oldest of these 13 institutes, the IIM-Ahmedabad, has expressed concern over some of the
provisions of the Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2015, which, it feels, will spell the end of
After the treatment meted out to the directors and chairmen of the Indian Institutes of Technology,
it appears that the IIMs are next on the block. The recommendations in the Bill, drafted by the
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Ministry headed by Smriti Irani, on display on mygov.in, are at variance with the recommendations
submitted by them last year. The Bill, they fear, carries the trademark signature of overreach as is
evident in some of the clauses. For one, they say the government seeks to appropriate for itself the
power to decide on academic posts other than the one of director, whereas the draft submitted by
the IIM-Ahmedabad wants the institutes to take the decision.
Pankaj Chandra, former IIM-Bangalore Director, who was involved in recommending changes to the
structure of the IIMs earlier, says the Bill should grant more autonomy to the institutes in deciding
how they wish to structure themselves, as they are governed by societies.
Enabling clauses in IIM Bill offset by autonomy question
Though the Bill does have several enabling provisions in making them more accountable, it leaves
the question of autonomy in doubt.
Earlier, in an interview to the Mint newspaper, IIM-Ahmedabad Director Ashish Nanda said: If the
proposed Bill on Indian Institutes of Management is used to bring about centralisation of key
processes, it would be bad news for these institutions and their autonomy.
Perhaps, he was hinting at the Centres design to assume control over the institutes.
The enabling clause of giving degrees to students instead of diplomas is a welcome move, Saibal
Chattopadhyay, Director, IIM-Kolkata, says. This is only a draft. It will go to Parliament, he says.
Previous discussions were about how to structure the degree in a management course, in place of
the diploma awarded now, Pankaj Chandra, former IIM-Bangalore Director, says.
The draft Bill seeks to do away with the special emphasis on the IIMs by seeking to declare certain
institutes of management to be institutions of national importance to empower them to attain
standards of global excellence in management, management research and allied areas of knowledge
and to provide for certain other matters connected with such institutions or incidental thereto the
IIMs want the Bill to confine itself to them.
Also, the proposed Bill takes away the powers of the institutes to determine fees by making it subject
to prior approval of the government. Lastly, the Bill states that in discharge of its functions, the IIM
Board will be accountable to the government, whereas the IIMs envisaged accountability only with
respect to legal compliance, financial stability and growth of the institutes.
Quite clearly, the last word is not out yet as public comments are still being sought before the
government makes its next move.

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Current Affairs | June 20, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

What is the link between monsoon and Sensex surge in Indian economy?
Asia continued to dominate the world's most expensive office locations. Why?
India continued to be a major target for a range of terrorist groups. Discuss.
Explain how Tanzania is helpful to India?
Judging judges on the grounds of inefficiency is inapplicable when there is no mechanism to
assess judicial performance in first place. Substantiate.
6. Explain the following terms: a) Floor area ratio b) Energy and environmental design c) Pronab
sen committee.
7. Normalised anti Muslim prejudice is the cornerstone of contemporary Hindutuva. Critically
9. What are the possible reasons for divergent characters among same species? Exemplify.

1. Sensex surges 200 points on monsoon cheer

Topics: Economy
Logging its first weekly rise in four weeks, the benchmark BSE Sensex on Friday surged by 200 points
to 27316.17, driven by value-buying in auto and bank stocks as above-normal monsoon so far eased
drought fears.
Further, the rupee strengthening by 18 paise against dollar also supported the upside.
India has got better than expected monsoon, CPI numbers and increase in MSP, said Vinod Nair,
Head-Fundamental Research of Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.
Meanwhile, despite rains, both BSE and the NSE witnessed normal trading.
BSE volumes were normal on Friday. Markets functioned well despite low attendance in broker
offices in Mumbai due to pan-Indian nature of BSE market, an BSE official said.
National Stock Exchanges spokesperson said: Trading happened normally at NSE. Volume in some
segment was higher than this months average. Meanwhile, driven by market rally, the market
valuation of listed companies at BSE regained the Rs.100 lakh crore-mark.
Besides, Geojits Head of Research Alex Mathews said the rise was by driven selective buying ahead
of the F&O expiry helped the market to recover.
Rising for the sixth straight day, the 30-share index opened higher and gathered momentum on
continued buying to touch high of 27404.60.
It gave up some gains at the fag-end on profit-booking, settling higher by 200.34 points or 0.74 per
cent higher at 27316.17.
The 50-share Nifty breached the 8200-mark by surging 50.35 points or 0.62 per cent to close at

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On weekly basis, Sensex and Nifty has gone up by 890.83 points and 242.05 points, respectively,
snapping their three-week losing streak. Experts are also attributing Fridays rise to dovish stance of
the U.S. Federal Reserve. PTI
The 50-share
Nifty breached
the 8200-mark
by surging 50.35 points to close
at 8224.95

2. Connaught place sixth most expensive prime office market in the world
Topics: Economy
Connaught Place, Delhis central business district (CBD) has been ranked the sixth most expensive
prime office market in the world.
According to a semi-annual survey by CBRE, a leading commercial real estate services and investment
firm, ``Global Prime Office Occupancy Costs, Connaught Place at $ 160 per square foot in Q3 2014,
moved up two places to the sixth spot on the global top 10 rankings over Q1 2014.
Mumbais alternative business district of Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) remained at sixteenth at $
103.52 per square foot and the CBD of Nariman Point at $ 76.57 per square foot was at thirty-second
position on the Top 50 rankings for global prime office properties.
Despite Connaught Place moving up on the rankings, ``annual occupancy costs here remained stable
because of Rupee appreciation since the first quarter, Anshuman Magazine, Chairman & MD, CBRE
South Asia, said in a statement. ``I have to add that the Capital has seen a strong leasing environment
amid limited availability and shortage of new corporate real estate spaces. Office occupiers from the
financial services and media sectors dominated commercial space transactions during the year.
During the quarter, annual occupancy costs in Gurgaon too remained stable while that of Nariman
Point dropped by about 2 per cent and BKC by about 6 per cent, the report said. ``Meanwhile,
Bangalores CBD, which saw a nearly 9 per cent drop, was among the top five global prime office
markets to witness a decrease in yearly occupancy costs.
London West Ends overall prime occupancy costs of US$ 274 per sq. ft. per year topped the most
expensive list. Others among the top five were Hong Kong Central with a prime occupancy cost of US
$ 251 per sq.ft, Beijings Finance Street (US $ 198 per sq.ft.), Beijings CBD (US $ 189 per sq.ft.) and
Moscow (US $ 165 per sq. ft.).
CBRE tracks occupancy costs for prime office space in 126 markets globally. Of the top 50 `most
expensive markets, 20 were in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), 20 were in Asia Pacific and 10
were in the Americas

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3. India failing to curb terror funds: US

Topics: Security
The U.S. State Department has hit out at India for ineffective implementation of anti-money
laundering (AML) and counterterrorist financing (CFT) laws arguing that even when Washington
supplied Modi government officials with intelligence on terrorism-related funds, basic seizures were
not followed up with investigations, thus ceding ground on a more comprehensive approach.
Country report In its Country Terrorism Reports 2014, released to media here, the Department
noted that despite India aligning its domestic AML-CFT regime with international standards, The
Indian government has yet to implement the legislation effectively, however, especially with regard
to criminal convictions.
Law enforcement agencies typically opened criminal investigations reactively and seldom initiate
proactive analysis and long-term investigations. Specifically, the U.S. alleged that the Indian
government was restricting its enforcement anti-hawala prosecutions to non-financial businesses
only, and more than two years after the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the government has
not taken adequate steps to ensure all relevant industries are complying
What the report says...

1 India is restricting its enforcement of anti-hawala prosecutions to nonfinancial businesses only.

2 United States investigators have had limited success in coordinating the
seizure of illegal proceeds with their Indian counterparts.
3 India continued to be a major target for a range of terrorist groups; in
2014, around 400 people were killed as a result of terrorist attacks in India.
More broadly, the report noted, U.S. investigators have had limited success in coordinating the
seizure of illicit proceeds with their Indian counterparts, in part due to the poor follow-through on
intelligence leads supplied by the U.S. Threats to India Despite this specific criticism, the Department
underscored the fact that India continued to be a major target for a range of terrorist groups, noting
that the U.S. National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism found that
approximately 400 people were killed as a result of terrorist attacks in India in 2014 overall.
The report also outlined the serious nature of the threat posed to India by Islamic State (IS), asserting.
Given Indias large Muslim population, potential socio-religious marginalization, and active [IS]
online propaganda efforts, there remains a risk of increased [IS] recruitment of Indian nationals.
During 2014, attacks and fatalities in Jammu and Kashmir and against Indian facilities in Afghanistan
were attributed to transnational terrorist groups such as LeT, which continued to operate, train,
rally, propagandise, and fundraise in Pakistan, it noted.
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"LeT operates freely in Pakistan"

The U.S. performed a careful balancing act by calling Pakistan, an ally in its fight against terror, both
a target of numerous terrorist attacks and also as a country that had failed to act effectively against
groups that threatened India, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
LeT and its alias organisations continued to operate freely in Pakistan, and there were no indications
that Pakistan took significant enforcement actions against the group, the State Department said in
its report.
Even though the U.S. considered Pakistan a critical counterterrorism partner plagued with
numerous violent extremist groups, it described counterterrorism cooperation with Islamabad
during 2014 as mixed, particularly given Pakistans continued denial of visas for U.S. trainers
focused on law enforcement and civilian counterterrorism assistance.
The report also remarked upon the region-wide effects of Pakistan allowing LeT to operate freely on
its soil, citing the May 26, 2014 attack by the terror outfit against the Indian consulate in Herat,

4. India, Tanzania vow to fight terror

Topics: IR India and the World
India and Tanzania will establish a joint working group to strengthen cooperation in counterterrorism. On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following his meeting with the visiting
Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, said both countries had a common interest in maritime security
in the Indian Ocean and a peaceful and prosperous Africa.
Terrorism in our respective regions is a concern for both countries, Mr. Modi said. Underlining the
areas of mutual cooperation, he said: I offered our cooperation in the development of the
potentially rich natural gas sector in Tanzania.
An agreement on hydrography was described by the Prime Minister as an important step forward.
We are pleased to be a partner in the development of human resources, health care, agriculture,
institutions and infrastructure in Tanzania, he said.
India has announced e-tourist visa for the people of the African nation.
Among the MoUs signed by the two sides are a loan agreement between Exim Bank and the
Tanzanian government on a line of credit for $268.35 million for extension of a pipeline project and
cooperation in the field of hydrology, tourism and agriculture.
The Tanzanian President thanked India for its continued assistance to his country.

5. Allowing judges to be judged

Topics: Justice
To place judicial performance beyond scrutiny would be as myopic as liberty without accountability.
If accountability of public officials is the very essence of a mature democracy, should it be extended
to judges of the superior courts as well?
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If yes, on what yardsticks should performance be assessed? The debate is highly relevant today due
to the Attorney Generals attack on the selection of a judge by the collegium on the grounds of his
having delivered just seven decisions while a judge of the apex court. It has since been reported that
the judge has authored more than seven judgments.
The question, however, is of the relevance of the argument.
The Constitution protects judges against the will of the masses, the will of Parliament, and the will of
the central government. But it does not provide for the accountability of judges. It merely says that
a judge can be impeached by Parliament on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. No
judge has so far been impeached, in spite of serious charges of misconduct or corruption. Chief
Justice of Madras High Court K. Veeraswami, his son-in-law and Supreme Court Judge V. Ramaswami,
Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court P.D. Dinakaran and Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court
escaped impeachment despite serious charges of misconduct. The lengthy and cumbersome
impeachment provision is, thus, not an effective tool to ensure judicial accountability.
What is misconduct?
In fact, judges hold office during what may be termed good behaviour not only in India but also in
the U.K. and the U.S. The Supreme Court in India has held that the word misconduct is a relative
term and would connote wrong conduct or improper conduct. The Judges Enquiry Bill included
wilful and persistent failure to perform duties within the definition of misconduct. Though the
writing of judgments is one of the core duties of judges, it is difficult to argue that writing fewer
judgments must be construed as misconduct or incapacity.
Short of impeachment, we have not created any mechanism to make judges accountable or evaluate
their performance. In the name of judicial independence, the Constitution thought it fit not to devise
any scheme of scrutiny for judicial performance.
Under Roman law, a judge could be held liable for damages if he failed: to appear in court at the
agreed time; to adjourn for just cause; to hear both sides equitably; to give judgment in good faith,
without animosity or favour. In Sweden, till 1976, judges were subjected to mild criminal sanctions
for breach of duty, and the ombudsman could initiate action or even prosecute them. Today, though
the ombudsmans criminal jurisdiction has been drastically curtailed, the authority of admonition is
very much there. Denmark has had a Special Court of Complaints since 1939 to hear complaints
against judges.
Quality or quantity?
Judicial accountability is as important as accountability of the executive or legislature. Judicial
accountability promotes at least three discrete values: the rule of law, public confidence in the
judiciary, and institutional responsibility. In fact, neither judicial independence nor judicial
accountability is an absolute ideal. Both are purposive devices designed to serve greater
constitutional objectives. The apex court hearing the challenge to the National Judicial Appointments
Commission (NJAC)should concede that while judicial independence is the basic structure of the
Constitution, it is not an end in itself.
Coming to performance, the number of decisions given by a judge is immaterial. The question
assessing the quality of judgments, on the other hand, has not received much juristic attention in
India. Many states in the U.S. have a merit plan under which not only are judges appointed on merit
but their continuance in office is decided on the basis of non-partisan elections. Some states such as
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Arizona, California and Utah have Judicial Performance Review Commissions or Councils, which
consist of not only judges and lawyers but also lay persons. New York and Alaska have a system of
evaluation by trained court observers who make unscheduled court visits. Judges are evaluated on
their knowledge of law, integrity, communication skills, sentencing, impartiality and so on.
The regular evaluation of judicial performance is a springboard for ensuring greater judicial
accountability, but unfortunately we do not have any institutional mechanism yet to do this. Neither
the executive nor the earlier collegium system has attached much significance to judicial
performance when considering judges elevation to the apex court. Similarly, no performance
evaluation is done for Supreme Court judges.
Ideally, leading national law universities in India should take up this job by at least publishing in their
journals a critical evaluation of judgments. Lord Denning of England used to say there is court
superior to the House of Lords called the 'Law Quarterly Review. American judges too eagerly wait
for theHarvard Law Review to see juristic response to their decisions. Our law schools could
undertake this task, but these schools are headed by the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justices
of the concerned High Courts.
A deplorable criticism
Against this background, the Attorney Generals criticism of a judge as inefficient is deplorable, as we
have no system of evaluation in place. It is common knowledge that our Supreme Court had some
highly active and efficient judges like Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S.B. Sinha, who have written a
record number of decisions. Similarly, there are judges who have written relatively fewer decisions
such as Justice A.N. Sen and Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta. There have been other judges who have
opted to merely concur rather than write their own opinions. In any case, an opinion written by a
judge is shared with other judges on the bench and the inputs of concurring judges are not made
In fact, most judges have written judgments in less than 50 per cent of the cases they have heard.
Many have written opinions in less than 30 per cent of cases. Nobody has ever called them inefficient.
While judgment writing is an important yardstick to look at the efficiency of a judge, it cannot be the
sole yardstick to measure performance. The condemnation on this ground of a former judge of the
apex court and the present Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission is in bad taste.
Quality and not numbers should matter in judgment writing. And for this, it is important to first put
in place some mechanism of judicial performance evaluation.

6. Building affordable houses

Topics: infrastructure
For Indians, the most important form of social security is to own a house. It is a proxy for their social
standing and prestige. But housing is expensive: realty in New Delhi and Mumbai is generally priced
out of reach and remains mostly unsold.
In India, there is a housing shortage, along with rising inventory and mostly bankrupt developers.
Land, especially with basic infrastructure in place, remains a limited commodity.
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There is now significant social stress on the economy with rising urbanisation and an expanding
middle class, along with a housing shortage estimated at 62.5 million units. Over 65 million people
live in slums. The demand for houses is expected to increase to 88.8 million affordable units,
according to the Pronab Sen Committee on Slum Statistics, within the next two to four years, with
the deficit in urban areas touching 18.9 million units. An estimated investment of $1.7 trillion is
required to meet the housing shortage.
Amidst this demand graph, the housing and construction sector remains Indias second largest
employment generator. Real estate comprises 20-30 per cent of this, contributing to 5 per cent of
Indias GDP. Despite this demand, investment remains in a downturn. Affordable housing remains a
myth. Why is land available and yet so unaffordable?
The absence of land
Unfavourable land management policies such as the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation Act), 1976,
remain prevalent in certain States, along with low Floor Space Index (FSI) ceilings in different cities.
As a result, small low-rise residences and commercial complexes are being developed on each plot,
leading to lower incomes for developers and, hence, higher prices to cover land costs.
The issue of titling and the lack of property rights information add to the problem. Under Indian law,
registration of sale of land is compulsory, but the registration authority is not required to verify from
the seller either the history or ownership of the land. This weakens buyer protection and acts more
as a fiscal instrument for the state instead of being a statutory support of certainty to title. Urban
India recognises presumed ownership to land, a questionable claim which can be challenged.
Floor Area Ratio/FSI ratios have led to horizontal expansion and need to be doubled to bring about a
vertical expansion. Andhra Pradesh, in particular, has removed the FAR concept, creating adequate
supply and stabilised prices. A land pooling policy would aid in semi-urban areas, with beneficiaries
being exempted from tax on capital gains and stamp duties.
If there is successful implementation of the National Land Records Management Programme
(NLRMP) by 2018, it will make it easier for developers to focus on suitable land parcels with reduced
litigation risks.
Regulatory complexity
Project launches and completion delays are becoming commonplace, alongwith bottlenecks in the
supply of raw materials and labour. Regulatory approvals remain a complex process, with a minimum
of 34 of them to be followed by a developer to obtain construction permits. This takes 18-36 months.
Most departments issuing such permits have similar checklists. This leads to duplication of work and
delays. Both the National Housing Policy 2007 and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal
Mission have identified simplification of the building approval process as an important area for
action. The government needs to expedite the implementation of the IT-enabled single window
approval system with linkages between the Centre and State governments, urban bodies and
panchayat levels (SAPREP Committee, 2013). Urban experiments in Ahmedabad, Chennai and Pune
have resulted in automated building plan approval processes.
Globally, many countries offer streamlined online processes and incentives to facilitate affordable
housing these can include tax deductions, density bonuses, direct subsidies, land grants, land use
changes, and so on. The use of fee waivers and fast-track methods are tools adopted by some
countries such as Malaysia to set administrative requirements. Hong Kongs smart regulator
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programme merged eight procedures involving six different agencies and two private utilities into a
one stop centre. Affordable housing can be boosted by establishing a green channel for approving
low-cost housing projects. The National Building Code of 2005 needs to be revisited for low-cost
housing norms, and automatic clearances for projects with Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design/Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment certification should be ensured.
Gathering initial funding for any real estate project is a daunting task, especially for new entrants, as
the Reserve Bank has set a 15 per cent threshold for banking exposure to real estate (including
housing loans and construction finance). The absence of long-term funding from financial institutions
has led developers to consider alternative financing with higher interest rates, leading to higher
housing inflation.
Granting infrastructure status to real estate, especially to affordable housing, will open up additional
financing avenues insurance firms, tax-free infrastructure bonds or up to 50 per cent funding
through external commercial borrowing. A public-private partnership mode with government
backing, as Rajasthan has done, will also secure institutional lending at lower costs. Out of the
Rs.22,407 crore budgeted for the housing sector, a separate allocation is required for affordable
Rationalisation of tax, constituting 30-37 per cent of deal value, will incentivise housing development.
This can be ushered in by reviewing its various constituents including stamp duty, service tax, value
added tax, land conversion charges and external development charges. Unification of stamp duty and
other charges across all States along with exemption on excise duty for pre-fabricated housing
components is a medium-term measure. Introducing the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill, 2015
and the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015 (popularly known as
the black money bill) will curb the flow of black money into real estate, improving the overall
affordability of the sector.
Keeping it affordable
High inflation rates affect the buying ability of first-time buyers, given higher interest payments. The
government needs to focus on closing the affordability gap for economically weaker sections and low
income groups housing segments through increased credit lines to micro housing finance companies,
an expansion of formal banking services and subsidies on interest component for affordability gap
loan. Revisiting the Rent Control Act could free up a significant portion of the 20 million unoccupied
housing units.
Hong Kong and Singapore have institutionalised highly successful public housing programmes
catering to 50 per cent and 85 per cent of their population respectively. Social housing, built through
public-private partnership projects, could be developed to provide subsidised rental housing. Making
rental income tax-free could potentially unlock 11 million housing units.
Indias real estate sector needs large funding, transformative infrastructure development, along with
supportive regulatory and policy mechanisms to achieve social and economic objectives. Careful
nurturing through policy action could catalyse Indias affordable housing boom.

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7. The restrained riot of Atali

Topics: Internal Security
As the Oxford English Dictionary acknowledges, the noun communalism has a different meaning in
South Asia than in the English speaking West, where it invokes something shared by the whole
community, or owned in common.
The South Asian meaning heads in the opposite direction, referring not to sharing and solidarity
within a community but to separation and hostility across communities defined by religion. For
Indians living in the Modi era, the word offers an unsettling insight that is also a challenge. When its
two meanings are taken together, communalism becomes a hinge word. It yokes together the
contradictory senses of a we feeling brought about by solidarities, and a they feeling inciting
animosities. In our time, such a juxtaposition provokes the uncomfortable question: are our most
effective forms of community built on shared hatreds rather than shared ideals?
The line of restraint
This question forced itself on me last week when I visited Atali with two of my colleagues. About 50
kilometres from Delhi, Atali is a village in the Ballabhgarh tehsilof Faridabad district in Haryana.
According to the 2011 Census, it has about 1,200 households and a population of a little less than
7,000 people. It is also the latest addition to the national list of communal hotspots since the evening
of May 25, when a Hindu mob attacked Muslim residents who were praying at the makeshift mosque
that has been the subject of dispute for several years. In a nearly three hour session of orchestrated
violence, men and women were beaten, children terrorised, houses burnt and broken, property
destroyed and livestock stolen. The local police stayed away during this time, returning only to escort
the victims to the Ballabhgarh police station and the injured to hospital. The entire Muslim population
of the village numbering about 400 people fled, and about 150 people including women and children
were camping in the Ballabhgarh thana for a week. Although at least three persons were seriously
injured, suffering severe burns, axe wounds and broken bones, no one was killed; and despite being
beaten and manhandled, none of the women were raped.
This fact that much worse could have happened but didnt proved to be a recurrent motif, like
the chorus line of a song, or the sam beat on which percussion and solo meet. It was there in our
brief conversations with the Jats of Atali, and it appeared frequently in the media accounts of the riot
and its aftermath. When voiced by the aggressors or on their behalf, it became a claim to virtuous
restraint on the part of a majority fully capable of doing far greater harm. Oddly enough, the same
theme was also echoed by the victims, though from a different angle. Everyone we spoke to in the
Muslim neighbourhood was convinced that only the merciful intervention of an allpowerful ooparwala[Almighty] had saved them from certain death.
Target of ire
Weighed down by the voyeurs guilt of safe outsiders, we walked around soot-blackened homes
littered with the heartbreaking debris of devastated domesticity. The visible evidence supported the
attackers claim of restraint, but only in the sense that the primary targets were the signs of upward
mobility rather than lives and limbs. The homes and property of the two most prosperous Muslim
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families received maximum attention. About a dozen parked vehicles including cars, motorcycles and
scooters, and a tractor and tempo were completely destroyed and had already been towed away.
Valuable buffaloes and goats were stolen. Air conditioners, refrigerators, coolers, washing machines
and gas stoves were smashed. Fancy furniture and show cases were burnt or broken. Tiled walls and
floors were stripped, the tiles reduced to rubble, and the exposed brick surfaces left to look like poor
peoples homes should. Compared to these primary targets, the other debris was just collateral
damage: Burnt ceiling fans with drooping, fire-melted blades hanging from sooty roofs like macabre
three-petalled flowers; a childs school bag lying in a corner with charred books and notebooks
showing through its open flaps; or cooking vessels in various stages of damage flung around on
kitchen floors
The calibration of cruelty makes Atali different. If we add the active efforts of its Jat elders to
persuade their Muslim neighbours to return to the village, Atali becomes almost unique in the recent
history of communal violence. And yet, there is so much else that follows a well worn script. A riot
was pre-announced after a recent court order vacated the stay on the construction of the mosque.
A public campaign was mounted in a dozen surrounding villages to recruit the required mob. A local
woman played a prominent role in exhorting the menfolk and gathered a trolley load of women
rioters. The pretexts leading up to the actual attack are also very familiar alleged harassment of
women and dispute over the location of the mosque. This is in the face of the proven facts that the
site has been used for prayers by Muslims for the past several decades if not more; and that the land
on which it stands has long been recognised as Wakf land in the official revenue records. Multiple
court cases intended to block construction of the mosque have all failed, and the latest judgment
strongly rebukes the mala fide suits. But opposition remains adamant and has even gained in
strength. As a Jat leader told the media, court judgments mean nothing to them they will never
allow a mosque to be built in their village.
Normalising prejudice
This combination of the novel and the familiar in Atali invites us to ask if it represents a new
refinement of the model of Hindutva that was inaugurated in the Gujarat riots of 2002. The famous
action-reaction sequence of 2002 attempted to install a normalised anti-Muslim prejudice as the
cornerstone of contemporary Hindutva. While Muslim-baiting is as old as Hindutva itself, the
challenge was to normalise it, to legitimise it in the eyes of ordinary people to the point where it
would become a self-evident truth. This is what the Gujarat model began to achieve by pulling off
something unprecedented in independent India a riot with mass killings and mass participation,
but zero remorse. In a series of firsts, this historic pogrom saw the active involvement of women and
the affluent middle classes; the breaching of the urban-rural divide; and the significant participation
of Dalits and Adivasis. Above all, it was the first riot for which none of the major players has ever
apologised. Prior to this, and regardless of the regime in power, communal riots were always
explained away after the fact as exceptional moments of madness brought on by severe provocation
and the instigation of a few anti-social elements.
Despite its significant ideological innovations, the Gujarat model proved to be a limited success. Its
major achievement was in justifying an anti-Muslim pogrom and even claiming credit for it, thus
making a radical break with the established tradition of dissembling followed by all political parties
until then. And though it did not prove to be a liability for Narendra Modis prime ministerial bid,
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neither was it a clear asset like the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign which carried Atal Bihari Vajpayee
and L.K. Advani to power. The carnage of 2002 also extracted a heavy price in terms of national and
international damage control. In short, the Gujarat model was successful but not sustainable.
Sustainable Hindutva
Although it is important not to read too much into it too soon, we do need to examine the
implications of a possible Atali model of sustainable Hindutva. Such a model would forego the
politically expensive indulgence in extremes like the murder, rape or forcible eviction of Muslims.
Instead, it would seek to cultivate a far more durable system of normalised oppression where
Muslims are compelled to become permanent participants in their own subordination. The key
element here would be the imposition of conditionalities limiting the extent and quality of their
citizenship. Once the basic principle of subordinate citizenship is legitimised, all the old clichs
extolling happy coexistence, syncretic culture, the inherent tolerance of Hinduism, etc., could be
brazenly repeated garv se.
Much of this is already happening. In Atali, the Jats recall an idyllic past where humble Muslims lived
in harmony with their Hindu benefactors, even eating from the same thalis. They attribute the
current friction to two Muslim families that have become too rich. They insist that even now the
Muslims are welcome to stay, as long as they adjust, respect the wishes of the village, and let their
mosque remain unbuilt Though the obvious question about the violence is transparently evaded, it
is followed by the counter-questions: Isnt it true that no one was killed or raped? Didnt our elders
plead with them to return? These questions and the restrained riot that makes them possible
hold the key to sustainability because they raise the benefits-to-costs ratio. Lukewarm media
interest in a no-deaths incident rarely went beyond convenient Muslims-at-police-station visuals. The
police were enabled to avoid the arrest of named rioters. The state will be compelled to offer
compensation which can then be used as leverage to settle the matter. Time will work against the
victims who must rebuild their lives and livelihoods before all else. Meanwhile, their attackers have
humbled the too rich Muslims and terrorised the rest, rallied their own constituency, and are free
to stage a repeat performance at will.
Though the Atali model seems both sustainable and successful, it is yet to face two major
challenges caste dynamics and electoral politics. Atalis Muslims are low caste Fakirs and Telis; the
village also has a large Dalit-Hindu population; and elections are around the corner This space will
be worth watching.

8. World warms up to observe Yoga day

Topics: Governance, Health
As many as 192 countries will usher June 21, International Yoga Day, with some deep breathing and
coordinated movements.
Indias big splash to mark the international event stretches from the Federated States of Micronesia
in the West of Pacific Ocean to the far south of Samoa; from Reykjavik in the Nordic Island to Reunion
Island in the Indian Ocean.

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After 177 countries co-sponsored the big event at the United Nations, preparations are under way in
192 countries to ensure that demonstrations to mark the International Yoga Day pass off without
Missions and embassies abroad, in collaboration with non-governmental yoga institutes, have put in
weeks of preparations to organise public events. Even as the celebrations remain mired in a
controversy in India, 47 nations, which are part of the Organisation of Islamic Countries, giving it their
approval has come as a big boost for the government, which has been trying hard to de-link the
exercise from religion.
Referring to the overwhelming support, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had recently pointed
out that with the start of the holy month of Ramzan, the only concern that Muslim nations had was
over the timing of the demonstration.
While some countries have even had events in the run-up to the big day, in Pakistan the celebration
will be limited to the High Commission in Islamabad.
In Afghanistan, an event has been organised in the Consulate in Heart, while in Burkina Faso, the
venue is the Mediatech Municipal Hall.
In Spain, celebrations will take place in multiple places in Madrid, Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife, Canary
Islands), Valladolid (Castile and Len), and Barcelona; in South Africa, yoga enthusiasts can join
demonstrations in Pretoria, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Australia, too, has welcomed the move
with the High Commissioner in India, Patrick Suckling, saying the celebration is an affirmation of the
universal acceptance of yoga as a practice for mental and physical well-being.

9. Use of social media doubles Autonomy under attack, feel IIMs

Topics: Science and Technology
The use of social media in rural India has grown 100 per cent in the past year with 25 million people
using the Internet to access Twitter and Facebook, according to a report.
Accessing social media is one of the key reasons for people to access the Internet. In fact, for many
people accessing the Internet for the first time, social media was the reason they embraced Internet,
said the IAMAI-IMRB report on social media.
Across India, there are 143 million users of social media. Urban areas witnessed a growth of 35 per
cent with 118 million users as of April 2015. On the other hand, the number for rural India stood at
25 million, up from close to 12 million last year, showing a growth of 100 per cent.
Facebook emerged the leading social media website with 96 per cent of urban users accessing it,
followed by Google Plus (61 per cent), Twitter (43 per cent) and LinkedIn (24 per cent). The largest
segment of users was college-going students (34 per cent), followed by young men (27 per cent), the
report said. Schoolchildren constitute 12 per cent.
Half of urban users from top four metros
The report on social media in India said almost half the urban social media users hail from the top
four metros.
College students and young men still form 60 per cent of social media users in urban India, the
report said.
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The trend, the report said, is moving towards accessing social media on the go through phones
(smartphones as well as feature phones) and tablets.
The fact that almost two thirds of the users are already accessing social media through their mobile
is a promising sign. With the expected increase in mobile traffic the number of users accessing social
media on the mobile is only bound to increase, it added.
Over half the users are really active on social media sites.

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Current Affairs | June 22, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams


Discuss the major export and import products of India? What is needed to narrow current
account deficit?


Online sale of prescription drugs is a threat of life. What must be done to regulate? Suggest.


Stretching muscles against extremism must have to be precautious. As it has the tendency to
backfire. Analyse.


What is one country two system model of Hong Kong? Elaborate.


First international yoga day has proved India's soft power. Explain the history of yoga.

Discuss the geopolitical situation of West Asia.

Spending to big science at the cost of vibrant research culture in universities. Critically

What are the benefits for states in acquiring patents for products and services? What are the
components of patent? Discuss.

1. Decoding the data

Topics: Economy
Coming to the third week of June, we have the usual monthly data releases relating to inflation and
industrial output. The latter, measured by the index of industrial production (IIP), relates to the
month of April.
It shows industrial production growing by 4.1 per cent on a year-on -year basis. The impressive
performance was propelled by a 5.1 per cent growth in manufacturing, which accounts for almost 75
per cent of the IIP index. The consumer price index, which measures retail inflation (CPI inflation), is
for May. The year-on-year rate rose from 4.87 per cent in April to 5.01 in May.
A few days later, the Commerce Ministry released the trade figures, also for May. Merchandise
exports fell for the sixth straight month. In May alone, the decline was by over 20 per cent, following
falls of 14 per cent in April and 21 per cent in March.
Is there is a common thread running through these as well the wholesale price index (WPI) for which
data was released separately? The WPI remains relevant for policy even though the RBI has shifted
to the CPI for monetary policy purposes. In the limited context of growth-inflation dynamics, it is the
CPI that is relied upon.
What do these data say for an economy widely perceived to be on a revival mode? What messages
can be discerned in the ever-present dilemma that policy-makers face while reconciling the twin
objectives of growth versus price stability?

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To take the second issue first, do these data vindicate the RBIs policy stance of a 25 basis points cut
in the in the recent policy statement, which, however, did not satisfy many constituencies? The tone
of the monetary policy statement was seen to be hawkish, ruling out further rate cuts in the months
to come.
The RBI has been concerned over food inflation an apprehension wholly justified in the context of
the unseasonal rains which disrupted the rabi crop. Yet, the official figures show that food inflation
has actually come down in May from its April levels. The only food category which has seen a steep
rise has been pulses which rose by a steep 16.6 per cent
Swift action
The government has been quick to reorient its food procurement policy. The minimum support price
(MSP) for pulses have been raised substantially. In a major departure from the past, the government
has announced only a modest increase in the price of staples. This is a sure signal to farmers to
diversify the cropping pattern away from rice and wheat into pulses. Whether that would pay off in
the near-term is a moot point. There are reportedly supply shortages of widely consumed pulses and
even global supplies of some of these cannot be taken for granted. But the important message is that
the government has drawn the right lesson from the inflation data and is acting proactively to douse
price pressures.
If food inflation is not going to be a threat, at least immediately, should RBI worry about capacity
constraints in industry leading to price pressures in the face of an even modest increase in demand?
Turning to the April IIP index, the signals are mixed. Increase in manufacturing was propelled by the
capital goods sector, which grew by 11.1 per cent in April, much higher than its growth during the
entire 2014-15. Both industrial production and manufacturing have fared better in April, even
compared to the whole of last year. But the progress has been uneven across sectors. The positive
inference is that the economy is showing signs of revival but there are still lots of ground to be
covered before a full-fledged recovery.
Turning to the merchandise trade data, it is wrong to see merit in the narrowing trade deficit caused
not only by falling exports but also imports. Falling imports connote much more than the fall in global
oil prices and of gold the two major items in Indias imports. In fact, Indias major import items
figure prominently in Indias exports. Exports of refined petroleum products and of gems and
jewellery are significant items in Indias export trade. Besides, a deceleration in imports as much as
declining exports suggest an economy beset by low domestic demand compounded but the wellknown weakness is external demand.

2. Online sale of medicine need a dose of regulation

Topics: Health
The advent and proliferation of on-line sale of medicines on e-commerce platforms no doubt buttress
the governments case of access to all but the recent case of prescription drugs being sold online
has alerted authorities to extent and dangers of this unregulated practice.
As such, selling medicines online is prevalent in developed markets and its mushrooming in India is a
consequence of the booming e-commerce segment in India. But, clearly selling over-the-counter
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(OTC) medicines online, which is permissible, is quite different from selling prescription drugs online
where the attendant dangers of abuse are high.
A prescription issued by a doctor cannot be re-used randomly. There is a danger that scheduled
drugs can be re-ordered and misused by the consumer, Jayesh Lele, President, Indian Medical
Association (IMA), a body representing over 2.50 lakh medical practitioners across the country, said.
Besides, there are several `dos and donts with regard to storage and dispensing of prescription
medications that need to be adhered to, he added.
According to Mr. Lele, self-medication is a rampant practice in India, and online sale of drugs would
only encourage it. Indiscriminate use leads to patient resistance which is very dangerous as has been
the case with tuberculosis drugs.
After a brief lull, the Rs.85,000-crore pharmaceutical industry in India is back to growth in 2014,
notching up 12 per cent growth, S.V. Veeramani, President, Indian Drug Manufacturers Association
(IDMA), said. With double-digit growth back, the fledgling on-line medicine segment is also booming
and there is a much needed regulation of this new practice.
We are strongly opposed to the online medicine sale as is prevalent today, J.S.Shinde, President,
All India Organization of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD), which represents 7.5 lakh retail pharmacies,
Scheduled drugs
There has been a call for regulation because the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act does not have any
guidelines in place for e-commerce players in the pharmaceutical industry. However, it is very clear
that scheduled drugs should be sold only by licensed pharmacies against a doctors prescription.
The authorities have responded with alacrity to the situation, and last week, the Drugs Controller
General of India (DCGI) pointed out the need to have in place a regulatory framework to bring online
medicine sale under its ambit. Industry body FICCI has been appointed as the nodal agency by the
DCGI to consolidate the guidelines, and it will seek the views of representative bodies such as AIOCD,
IMA, Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) and others.
The role, responsibilities, and liabilities of e-commerce marketplace and the product sellers need to
be clearly defined, G.N. Singh, DCGI, said at a consultative meeting last week.
It becomes even more critical to have a framework in place when the intermediary is selling drugs
where the safety and health of the consumer is of paramount importance.
Supply chains
The interest of small retailers would be protected and existing supply chains would not be adversely
impacted by e-pharmacies, the DCGI said adding that the aim was to integrate e-pharmacy into the
existing system.
While supporting the need for an unambiguous regulatory framework, Mr. Shinde felt existing brickand-mortar pharmaceutical retailers were prepared as retailers were embracing new technology and
even deliver drugs home in the case of aged patients. But this is all only within the law and
prescriptions for scheduled drugs are non-negotiable, he said. We want a level playing field.

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3. Saudi accused Qatar of stirring up trouble in Yemen

Topics: International
Before becoming the President of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi wanted visas to take his family on a
religious pilgrimage. A Lebanese politician begged for cash to pay his bodyguards. Even the state
news agency of Guinea, in West Africa, asked for $2,000 to solve many of the problems the agency
is facing.
They all had good reason to ask, as the kingdom has long wielded its oil wealth and religious influence
to try to shape regional events and support figures sympathetic to its worldview.
WikiLeaks documents
These and other revelations appear in a trove of documents said to have come from inside the Saudi
Foreign Affairs Ministry and released on Friday by WikiLeaks.
While the documents appear to contain no shocking revelations about Saudi Arabia, they contain
enough detail to shed light on the diplomacy of a deeply private country and to embarrass Saudi
officials and those who lobby them for financial aid.
In a statement carried by the Saudi state news agency Saturday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman,
Osama Nugali, acknowledged that the documents were related to a recent electronic attack on the
ministry. He warned Saudis not to help the enemies of the homeland by sharing the documents,
adding that many were clearly fabricated. Those who distribute the documents will be punished
under the countrys cybercrimes law, he said.
Clear in many of the documents are efforts by Saudi Arabia, a Sunni power, to combat the influence
of Shia Iran, its regional rival, as well as Iranian proxies like Hizbollah, the Lebanese Shia militant
group and political party.
Cables about Iraq suggest efforts to support politicians who opposed Nouri al-Maliki, then the Shia
Prime Minister of Iraq, who was close to Iran.
Other cables show Saudi Arabia working to maintain its regional influence. One accused Qatar,
another Persian Gulf state known for oil wealth and cash-based diplomacy, of stirring up trouble in
Yemen, Saudi Arabias southern neighbour, by backing a rich politician to the tune of $250 million.
And a few cables implied that Saudi leaders had negotiated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
after the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, a long-time Saudi ally.
Missing from the documents is any evidence of direct Saudi support for militant groups in Syria or
elsewhere. New York Times News Service

4. India must look beyond neutrinous

Topics: Science and Technology
One of Indias most loved Presidents, missile technologist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and his distinguished
adviser Srijan Pal Singh have made a strong plea in favour of the India-based Neutrino Observatory
(INO) (Going all out for neutrino research, June 17, The Hindu).
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They have focussed on dispelling local peoples fears about the possible effects (including cancer) of
neutrino research. The controversy around these fears has obscured a larger conversation we need
to have about the place and shape of science in India, and in this piece I shall suggest some questions
we need to think about.
A key argument cited by Dr. Kalam and Mr. Singh is that the observatory will help India to gain
leadership in science. This raises two questions: Why must India gain leadership in science? If it must,
is a project like the neutrino observatory the best way forward?
Impact of spin-offs
To raise the first question is to risk being accused of Luddite blasphemy. How can you even question
the importance of science well be asked; if pressed, statistics and rankings of the poor state of Indian
science will be quoted. Well be told that scientific research will lead to economic growth;
comparisons with the West and China will be drawn. The odd spin-off story about the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or the Indian Space Research Organisation will be
quoted to demonstrate how Big Science changes lives and impacts the economy.
Dr. Kalam and Mr. Singh promise applications in non-proliferation and counter terrorism, mineral
and oil exploration, as well as in earthquake detection. But there has been a long history of the impact
of spin-offs being exaggerated; an article in the journal of the Federation of American Scientists (a
body whose board of sponsors included over 60 Nobel laureates) calculated that NASA produced only
$5 million of spin-offs for $65 billion invested over eight years. If such is the low return from projects
which involve high levels of engineering design, can spin-offs form a plausible rationale for what is
largely a pure science project? The patchy record of Indian Big Science in delivering on core promises
(let alone spin-offs) make it difficult to accept that INO will deliver any significant real-world utility
despite claims. It was not for nothing that the highly regarded Science magazine termed the project
Indias costly neutrino gamble.
Even if it delivers useful technology, the argument that research spurs economic growth is highly
suspect. As David Edgerton has shown, contrary to popular perception, there is actually a negative
correlation between national spending on R&D and national GDP growth rates with few exceptions.
This correlation does not, of course, suggest that research is a drag on the economy; merely that rich
countries (which tend to grow slowly) spend more on science and technology.
Thus, national investment in science and technology is more a result of growing richer as an economy
than a cause of it. Investment in research is an inefficient means of economic growth in middle
income countries such as India where cheaper options for economic development are plentiful. Every
country gets most of its technology from R&D done by others. The East Asian Tigers, for example,
benefitted from reverse engineering Western technologies before building their own research
capabilities. Technologies have always been mobile in their economic impact; this is more so today
when Apples research in California creates more jobs in China than in the United States.
Most jobs in our own booming IT sector arose from technological developments in the U.S. rather
than Indian invention.
Is the INO the best way forward for Indian science?
One may cite better uses (sanitation, roads, schools and hospitals) for the $224 million that is to be
spent on the most expensive research facility in Indian history; but that argument is unfashionable
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(and some may say unfair). However, even if one concedes the importance of India pursuing global
leadership in scientific research, one may question if investing in the INO is the best way to do so.
Allocation of resources
Like many other countries, India has long had a skewed approach to allocating its research budget to
disciplines, institutions and individual researchers; given limited resources, this has a larger negative
impact in India than in the rich countries. Of the Central governments total research spend in 200910, almost a third went to the Defence Research and Development Organisation, 15 per cent to the
Department of Space, 14 per cent to the Department of Atomic Energy (which is now in-charge of
the INO project) and 11 per cent to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The Department of
Science, which covers most other scientific disciplines, accounted for barely 8 per cent of the Central
governments total R&D spending. Barely 4 per cent of Indias total R&D spending took place in the
higher education sector which accounts for a large share of science and technology personnel in the
country. Much of this meagre spending took place in elite institutes such as the IITs and IISc., leaving
little for our universities where vast numbers of S&T professors and research scholars work.
Spending on Big Science has thus been at the cost of a vibrant culture of research at our universities.
Given its not so insubstantial investment in research, India punches well below its weight in research
output. This raises serious questions as to whether our hierarchical model of allocating resource to
research has paid off.
It may be argued that to gain leadership in science, money is best spent in supporting a wide range
of research at many institutions, rather than investing an amount equivalent to nearly 16 per cent of
the 2015-16 Science Ministry budget in a very expensive facility like INO designed to benefit a
relatively small number of scientists working in a highly specialised and esoteric field.
We need to invest in nurturing research at the still-struggling new IITs (and IISERs) as well as increase
support to the old IITs (and IISc). More generally, we need to allocate public resources for research
more fairly (though perhaps not entirely equitably) to the specialised bodies and educational
institutions, including the universities. Besides raising the overall quality and quantity of our research
output, this will allow students to experience being taught by leaders in their discipline who would
not only inspire the young to pursue a career in research, but also encourage the small but growing
trend of the best and the brightest staying back in India for their doctorate rather than migrating
While few can fully understand and appreciate their potential, neutrinos can tell us much about
matter and the universe. There is indeed a case to be made for an observatory, which goes beyond
narrow utility or national pride to the curiosity, the joy of discovery and the sense of wonder about
nature that lie at the very heart of what it means to be human.
As Indias Second Five Year Plan put it, material welfare is not an end in itself but merely a means to
a better intellectual life; a society which devotes most of its resources to the bare essentials of life is
limited in its pursuit of higher ends. But given that for many in India, these bare essentials are simply
inadequate and we are far from having a thriving research culture, we need to think about whether
this particular higher end is worth the cost.

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5. Muscle-flexing that may backfire

Topics: Internal Security
Just three weeks ago, June 4 was a Black Day for the Indian Army, when possibly, it suffered its
highest-ever casualties in peace time; around 20 of its soldiers from the 6 Dogra Regiment were
ambushed and killed and many more injured.
The convoy was attacked in Chandel district of Manipur, in a well-planned and executed move by
elements of the recently formed United National Liberation Front of WESEA (Western South East
Asia) using improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. Thirtythree years ago, in 1982, another Army contingent had suffered a similar deadly attack in the
Northeast, claiming the lives of over 15 jawans.
This attack marks a temporary setback to Indias counter insurgency and counter-terrorism efforts in
the Northeast. Therefore, it was not unexpected that it provoked the strongest reaction from the
government and the armed forces. Instructions were given to launch an all-out search and destroy
operation against militant hideouts in jungles along the India-Myanmar border and the hinterland.
All this was in keeping with existing Standard Operating Procedures, except, perhaps, for the scale of
the operation and the decision to use para commandos.
Missed signals
So far, nothing has been mentioned about the massive failure of military intelligence in this instance.
The Northeast region still remains plagued by multiple insurgencies with the possible exception of
Mizoram. Manipur itself has as many as 33 militant outfits engaged in violent activities.
Consequently, the Indian Armys failure to anticipate an attack which would have been wellrehearsed and take adequate precautions reflect poorly on its intelligence capability. This is also
to say that civilian intelligence agencies have hardly covered themselves with glory.
Two specific developments in recent months in the region should have alerted the agencies to the
fact that something was brewing. The first was the decision of the NSCN(K) to unilaterally abrogate
its ceasefire with the Indian government, thus signalling a return to the path of violence. The second
was the formation of the rainbow coalition of several Northeastern militant outfits, including
groups like the National Socialist Council of Nagaland NSCN(K), the Paresh Baruah faction of the
United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland NDFB(S), led by
Songbijit, and several Meitei outfits such as the KCP, the KYKL and the PULF. Each of these outfits has
an outreach to countries not too well disposed towards India including Pakistan and China
though actual links have been rather tenuous. There could not have been a stronger signal than this
that a new phase in militancy in the Northeast was about to commence.
Behind hot pursuit
The surgical strikes, on June 9, against two militant camps (mainly occupied by NSCN(K) elements)
across the border in Myanmar, by para commandos of the 21 Para Regiment Special Forces were
thus very timely as official figures of the militants who were killed vary from 20 to 50 people. The
action was conducted under the principle of hot pursuit though there could be some ambiguity
about employing this phrase, since the action had taken place after a gap of almost five days.
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Hot pursuit is not unknown to Indias armed forces. It may not have international sanctity or legal
justification, but several countries have resorted to it when confronted with similar situations. Indias
armed forces, the Special Frontier Force and the border guarding forces have, at one time or other,
carried out similar special operations citing hot pursuit much of this is in the public domain by
now. Admittedly, many of them may not have been on this scale, nor were they possibly
acknowledged. Countries which have their sovereignty violated this way either protest against the
action or wink at it. In Myanmars case, the authorities seem to have resorted to subterfuge to
cover up a disinclination to raise a hue and cry. There are also reports of Myanmar not agreeing to
any more such operations.
The theory underlying special operations is to retain a degree of plausible deniability, to obviate
any international opprobrium. Those attacked would realise in any case where the attack emanated
from. In the present instance, the wide publicity violates this tenet which is central to any Special
Operation. It removes the veneer of plausible deniability, needed to stave off any unnecessary or
uncalled for international attention and criticism of violation of another countrys sovereignty.
Jarring note
No doubt, the government would have valid answers to possible criticism levelled against it regarding
the nature and scale of the operation, including that of intruding into a neighbouring countrys
territory. Therefore, this is not the moot point for concern. What is disconcerting are the outpourings
of triumphalism with even official spokesmen ministers not excluded indulging in verbal
excesses. Whether all this signals a change in Indias counter terrorism strategy or not, it certainly
creates the impression that a new and aggressive phase in the battle against terrorism has begun.
More serious are the implications of certain statements made by those in authority, that the strikes
launched inside Myanmar's territory were a precursor to what could well happen on Indias western
border in case of any fresh provocation. An official Army declaration that while ensuring peace and
tranquility along the border any threat to our security, safety and national integrity will meet with
firm response is being interpreted as being indicative of this new attitude and approach. If such
statements were only intended to convey a new machismo image of India, then those who make
these statements need to understand that this could prove to be counterproductive.
If indeed an attempt is on by some circles to modify the existing Counter Terrorism doctrine and
introduce in it an element of pre-emption, then India must weigh the pros and cons before
adopting such a strategy. The doctrine of pre-emption is openly avowed only by countries like the
United States and Israel. It is a principle that both countries invoke to disregard constraints of national
borders to carry out pre-emptive attacks outside their borders to deal with notional threats to their
security and sovereignty.
The western border
If India now seeks to sail close to the wind as far as this doctrine is concerned, it must understand
the inherent dangers in following a U.S.-Israel analogy. Pakistan would seem to be the obvious target
given its spate of provocations. Even though there has been no mention of Pakistan by Indian
interlocutors on the present occasion, Pakistan has already reacted strongly. The imputation that
Pakistan is not Myanmar suggests that it could resort to any incursion with its disproportionate
response strategy. Disproportionate response is already a part of Pakistans official Army doctrine.
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The intrinsic danger in all this is that while Pakistan may appear dysfunctional, it is, by no means, a
failed state. It remains essentially unpredictable, though, even at the best of times, rational decisionmaking has not been Pakistans strong point. Decision-making in Pakistan has generally tended to be
bereft of cognitive thinking. Therefore, it cannot be expected to adhere to the definition of
rationalityviz., behaviour that is appropriate to specified goals in the context of a given situation.
With the Army dominating the commanding heights of policy in Pakistan, it is they who will determine
the manner of retaliation. It may not be an olive branch, but more probably a nuclear one.
This is not implausible, for Pakistan has been steadily increasing its nuclear and missile capabilities,
mainly targeting India. Hence, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Pakistan would see in this
so-called new doctrine of pre-emption, an opportunity to deploy its nuclear and missile capabilities
against India. As it is, Pakistan has constantly harped on Indias non-existent Cold Start Doctrine,
and its response has been to build and deploy battlefield and tactical nuclear weapons to deal with
any incursion by Indias armed forces. Pakistans nuclear capability is today buttressed by its Shaheen
missile family the Shaheen-I, the Shaheen-II and the Shaheen-III category missiles, which are
capable of hitting most parts of India.
Those who preach the virtue of adopting a new muscular response strategy vis--vis our neighbours
Pakistan included need to be careful not to overstate their case. Indias current policy
incorporates a degree of strategic restraint, and it is a well-thought out one. It has served Indias
purpose well. Realistically speaking, there is no substitute for a well-calibrated policy.

6. Hong Kong needs balance

Topics: International
The decision of Hong Kongs lawmakers last week to vote down a proposal put forth by Beijing to
reform the citys electoral system was hardly a surprise. The plan, which would give Hong Kongs
voters the right to directly elect their Chief Executive (CE) but from a list of pre-approved candidates,
triggered large-scale protests last year when it was announced.
Opponents say it is just another means for Beijing to retain control. Beijings explanation is that it is
only doing what it promised to do at the time of Hong Kongs transition from being a British colony
to a special administrative region of China. Under the Hong Kong Basic Law, adopted by China in
1990, the CE would be elected by universal suffrage in 2017; but a committee would supervise the
nominations. Hong Kong had been a British colony for over 150 years till it was handed over in 1997.
All those years it was ruled by governors appointed by London. When the British withdrew, Beijing
offered a semblance of democracy to Hong Kong under the One Country, Two Systems principle. In
contrast to the British-style appointment of governors, the citys CE is now elected by a 1,200member committee of Hong Kongs elite.
Those who support Beijings latest reform plan say it is a step in the right direction in Hong Kongs
evolving democracy, giving the people a chance to vote while not undermining Beijings authority.
But most politicians in the Legislative Council dont seem convinced by this argument. They want an
election process that is completely free of Beijings involvement. This position raises three questions.
First, while the argument for full democracy that includes open nomination of candidates for the post
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of CE could appear to be politically correct, does it have the support of the Basic Law that the Chinese
government says it is bound by? Second, is it logical to believe that Beijing would agree to a
government that is hostile to it being elected in Hong Kong? And, is it possible in practical terms for
Hong Kong to live in perpetual hostility with Beijing, which has grown into an economic and
geopolitical powerhouse in the past three decades? Hong Kongs dissenting politicians should show
pragmatism in dealing with this situation. On the other hand, Chinas decision that it would go ahead
with the reform plan despite the vote is imprudent. It cannot possibly overhaul the citys electoral
system without taking its people along; Beijing needs to avoid fractious outcomes given the citys
dominant mood. There are objective conditions for both sides to give up their intransigent positions
and make a deal that would be in the best interests of the financial and commercial hub that is Hong

7. Patiently ahead: Karnataka edges out TN in filings

Topics: Science and Technology
Patent filings from various entities in Karnataka have shot up by 40 per cent in a year, pushing the
State to the second spot nationally.
With 1,639 applications during 2013-14, Karnataka ranks just behind Maharashtra, which generated
2,892, says the recently published annual report of the office of the Controller-General of Patents,
Designs and Trademarks.
Karnatakas status in intellectual property (IP) has been steadily climbing over the past two years. A
latest report says it has moved from the third spot and 1,167 filings of 2012-13 and overtaken Tamil
Across India, the five patent offices received 42,674 applications that year. While 4,227 patents were
granted, barely 43 per cent were examined or disposed of. The Bengaluru-based Samsung R&D
Institute (84); Infosys (83); Wipro Ltd (59); and Samsung India Software Operations Pvt. Ltd. (66) are
top filers among infotech companies.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (12), the Indian Institute of Science (32) and Siddaganga
Institute of Technology, Tumakuru, (24) figure among the top-10 scientific bodies and institutions.
The citys lush landscape of research entities continues to be a main draw for new R&D players and
expansions of older companies. A recent report by IBEF lists Chinese company Huaweis plan to invest
$170 million in an R&D campus in the city. It mentions similar plans from Xiaomi and Twitter.
Kalyan C. Kankanala, managing partner of IP consultant BananaIP, told The Hindu that national and
State IP policies were in the pipeline. The policies would confirm the two governments stands on
incentives and tax benefits. As for geographic indications or GIs, Karnataka, with 32 registrations,
holds the largest number followed by Tamil Nadu with 24.

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8. India stretches into the record books

Topics: IR India and the World
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday led India in breaking the Guinness World Record (GWR) for
the largest number of people doing yoga at one venue the stately Rajpath which he called
Yogpath on a day when 192 countries celebrated the first International Day of Yoga.
And, foreigners helped India clock a second record that of the largest number of foreign nationals
in a single yoga lesson with participation from 84 countries.
When he stepped up to address the gathering of yoga practitioners lined up on Rajpath which has
for 65 years been associated with the Republic Day parade showcasing the mosaic that is India Mr.
Modis first words were: Had anyone ever even thought that Rajpath could become Yogpath?
On the dais with him were leading yoga practitioners including Baba Ramdev and the Vice-Chancellor
of the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Swami Atmapriyananda. In his brief statement,
Mr. Modi said this was not just a day-long celebration but the beginning of an era to peace and
harmony. Later in the day, at another function, he went on to caution against the commodification
of yoga.
Wrapping up his brief speech, the Prime Minister left the dais to take his position at the head of the
thousands lined up for the yoga demonstration which began with the chanting of Om. Muslims
participating in the demonstration could be seen holding their hands up in salutation (dua mode)
instead of the namaskar, salutation with folded hands.
After doing the warm-up exercises, Mr. Modi took a break at the Vrikshasana stage, in which people
balanced themselves on one leg with the other folded at the knee, to walk down the rows of
Vrikshasana over, he was back doing the rest of the routine for the next half an hour which signed
off with a chanting of the shanti path. In all, 35,985 people powered Indias record-setting endeavour.
Among the prominent personalities who joined Mr. Modi in attempting the record were the warring
duo of Delhi politics Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung and
heads of diplomatic missions.
Opposition members stay away from Yoga Day event
Not many members of the Opposition were present at the record-attempting endeavour on the
Rajpath in the national capital but the Congress did post International Day of Yoga wishes along with
photographs of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru doing yoga and also reports of how the UPA
Government videographed yogic postures to prevent patent piracy.
While joining the celebrations in spirit, senior Congressman Digvijaya Singh described the tamasha
(jamboree) of community yoga as an utter waste of public money and an image building exercise
for Mr. Modi.
Yoga demonstrations were also organised at Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House. In
Parliament, the Lok Sabha Secretariat which has been organising Yoga training sessions for staffers
for years now organised a Yoga Shivir but not the Rajya Sabha which drew some criticism from BJP
national general secretary Ram Madhav.

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However, he quickly withdrew his tweets criticising Vice-President Hamid Ansari for giving Yoga Day
a miss. Apologising, he said, the institution of Vice-President deserves respect.

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Current Affairs | June 23, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

1. What are the safety features introduced in currencies issued after 2005? What is the role of
RBI in money circulation ? Explain.

2. Describe the presence, prevalence and Ill effects of lead.

3. Explain the benefits of Polyhouse farming and crop diversification.
4. Cyber crime is the deadly new age crime. Elaborate.
5. What are the functions and role of Indian council for research on international economic

6. Immigration law in United kingdom will make most nurses jobless. It affects both India and
UK. Discuss.

7. Increased extremists attacks in Afghanistan. India must be prepared to face it. Analyse.
1. Only a few thousand pre-2005 notes left in circulation
Topics: Economy
With less than 10 days to go before the deadline for removal from circulation of all currency notes
issued before 2005, the Reserve Bank of India says there are only a small number of notes left in
There are only a few thousand pre-2005 notes left in circulation. That is why the RBI is taking a
proactive stance by asking individuals to go to the banks and exchange their notes, said Alpana
Killawala, Principal Chief General Manager, Department of Communication, RBI.
The previous deadline for the exchange of the old currency notes was January 1, but was later
extended to June 30, 2015.
More than a year ago, in a February 2014 answer to a Parliament question, the then Finance Minister
P. Chidambaram had said that In RBIs view, the volume of the bank notes printed prior to 2005
today, still in circulation, is not significant enough to impact the general public in a large way.
Year of issue
According to the RBI, it is easy to distinguish the old notes from the new. The notes issued before
2005 do not have the year of issue printed on them while those printed after 2005 have the year on
the reverse side of the note, at the bottom. In addition, the newer notes have a security thread that
runs alternately through the currency note with Bharat (in Hindi) and RBI visible on the thread.
Fewer security features

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The reason behind the phasing out of the old notes is that they have fewer security features than the
new series, according to Ms. Killawala. Even internationally, central banks prefer to have notes of
only a single series in circulation, she added.
The new security features are expected to help curb the menace of fake notes.
In answer to a separate question in Parliament in December 2014, Minister of State for Finance Jayant
Sinha said that 3,03,817 fake currency notes were caught in 2014, which would have amounted to a
face value of Rs. 14.8 crore.
However, this is down significantly from the Rs. 24.7 crore (face value) of fake notes detected in 2011.
As of January, the RBI said it had shredded over 164 crore pre-2005 currency notes 86.9 crore Rs.
100 notes, 56.2 crore Rs. 500 notes and 21.7 crore Rs. 1,000 notes which amounted to around Rs.
21,750 crore.

2. Old debate on lead rekindled

Topics: Science and Technology
Noodles laced with lead have made the news. But humans have been imbibing lead with their food
and drink for over 2,000 years. Lead is an abundant, easily accessible metal that has been in use for
The Romans used lead extensively in cooking vessels, water pipes, and as an alloy in their silver coins.
Annual production in the Roman Empire amounted to 80,000 tonnes. Grape juice boiled in lead
vessels was added to wine and other dishes, all of which meant that Romans guzzled lead in
substantial quantities throughout their lives. This happened despite the fact that Greco-Roman
physicians knew that lead was highly toxic; they had vividly described the symptoms of lead
poisoning. Some historians speculate that the collapse of the Roman Empire was brought on by lead
The wordwide annual production of lead today amounts to 50 lakh tonnes; it is used in solder, paint
and even food colouring. By now, lead has accumulated in significant quantities in human bodies and
the environment. But the major culprit in the spread of lead is the anti-knock additive to the
automobile fuel, tetraethyl lead (TEL). The history of how TEL was unnecessarily thrust on humanity
and the biosphere makes a riveting story.
Push for TEL and opposition
TEL was first synthesised in Germany in the mid-19th century, but never put to use, being highly toxic.
It was resurrected by the American automobile, oil and chemical industry as an anti-knock agent in
the early 1920s. By then it had been widely acknowledged that mixing alcohol with petroleum could
effectively serve the same purpose, with Scientific American reporting on April 13, 1918: It is now
definitely established that alcohol can be blended with gasoline to produce a suitable motor fuel.
By 1920, a U.S. Naval Committee had concluded that alcohol-gasoline blends withstand high
compression without producing knock. But alcohol cannot be patented and cannot bring large
profits to companies. So, all discussion of its potential was deliberately suppressed, and TEL pushed
with vigour.
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This push met with much opposition because there were many deaths and serious injuries in plants
manufacturing TEL. As a result, several U.S. states banned its use. Many distinguished medical
scientists opposed it. In response, the U.S. Surgeon-General convened a meeting in 1925 that, in turn,
appointed a committee. This committee reported that there was no existing evidence of the illeffects of long-term exposure to lead in the atmosphere on human health, but also pointed out that
this was because there had been no research on the topic, and such research needed to be initiated
urgently. Industry happily funded a pliant medical scientist, Robert Kehoe. For the next 40 years, the
Surgeon-General and Kehoe undertook forceful advocacy of TEL. Many noted scientists remained
unconvinced, but Kehoe challenged them to show clear evidence of the ill-effects of TEL. An
important element of Kehoes claim of the absence of ill-effects of TEL was that the natural levels of
lead in human blood were as high as 0.2-0.4 ppm. Notably, toxic effects of lead appear at just slightly
higher blood levels of 0.5-0.8 ppm. Since Kehoe monopolised the research, it was impossible for the
many doubters to produce counter-evidence.
The logjam was broken in the 1960s when a brilliant young geochemist, Clair Patterson, entered the
scene. Patterson was working on iron meteorites to determine the age of our earth, for which it was
essential to determine the levels of lead in the meteorites accurately. But this proved incredibly
difficult, for Patterson discovered that the whole environment was so polluted by lead that it was
well-nigh impossible to set up a lead-free laboratory. Finally, Patterson succeeded, and in 1956
determined the earths age to be 4.56 billion years, an estimate that continues to be accepted to this
date. Patterson was then stimulated to look into the issue of lead in natural and human-impacted
environments. Surprised by the closeness of the ranges of presumed natural and toxic lead levels in
human blood, he began to examine the levels of a series of elements in the non-living environment
and the biosphere. Patterson showed that living organisms preferentially take up useful elements
such as calcium and actively exclude toxic ones such as barium from the same group.
This led to his second major contribution to science in the form of the concept of biopurification.
According to this principle, natural concentrations of harmful elements in human body should be far
lower than levels that are toxic, and that Kehoes claim of natural levels of lead in human blood being
as high as 0.2-0.4 ppm was very much suspect.
Rising levels of lead
Patterson then systematically investigated levels of lead in rocks, rivers and sea water, ocean
sediments, the atmosphere and the biosphere. He demonstrated that over the last few centuries,
the levels of lead in the remains of marine organisms incorporated in sediments had gone up a
hundredfold. He took ice cores from the Arctic and Antarctic and demonstrated a similar increase.
The obvious conclusion was that the prevailing levels of lead in the human body were a result of
pollution, and were not natural levels at all, as Kehoe had been claiming so far. Patterson provided
clinching evidence of this when human teeth and bones from ancient burials turned out to have just
one-thousandth the amount of lead as teeth and bones of modern-day humans.
Summarising his work, Patterson published a ground-breaking paper in 1965 that destroyed all of
Kehoes unsustainable claims. The scientific, especially the medical research, community that had
been mutely witnessing the unacknowledged ill-effects of lead pollution was immediately convinced.
After sidelining his work and oil companies cutting off his funding, the U.S. government was finally
forced to ban TEL a full 20 years after the publication of his paper.
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But this chemical, thrust upon the world only because it is patentable, continues to bring in profits
to its manufacturers from across the world, including Indias neighbours, Afghanistan and Myanmar,
who still use it as an automobile fuel additive. Indeed, as Larry Summers, then a vice-president of the
World Bank, and later Secretary of Treasury under Bill Clinton, had written in his notorious memo of
1991: The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone
earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view, a given amount of health
impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country
with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest
wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. Perhaps India, too, is acting today on this
impeccable logic, to the evident detriment of its environment and the quality of life of its people.

3. Sugarcane farmers switch to flowers and Soya bean

Topics: Agriculture
For many years, farmers in Latur, Osmanabad and Solapur relied on water-intensive sugarcane,
expecting huge profits. The unpredictable monsoons and the groundwater depletion have forced
them to rethink their strategy and for the first time, the government, too, is encouraging them to
look beyond sugarcane.
The government-sponsored Beyond Sugarcane movement has gathered pace in the dry district of
Osmanabad, with thousands of farmers taking to soya bean, tur and horticulture, and most
importantly Gerbera. This campaign supplements the much-publicised Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan
aimed at creating decentralised water sources.
No matter how many water conservation programs are implemented here, the farmers will always
face drought if changes are not made in the crop pattern and water use, says Osmanabad Collector
Prashant Narnavre. According to government data, every sugarcane farmer had dug three borewells
in an acre of farm.
In a dry area like Osmanabad, which has three lakh hectares under cultivation, approximately 48,000
hectares had been under sugarcane till last year. This despite the fact that only six of the 15 sugar
factories are operational, with only two making profit.
Sugarcane had never been a viable option, and the district administration started educating the
farmers, says Mr. Narnavre. The immediate alternative was soya bean and tur, as they needed half
the amount of water required.
The district administration brought 14,500 farmers under farming groups on the basis of crop choice.
At present, we have 220 polyhouses and produce 1.5 lakh flowers every day, says District
Agriculture Officer Shankar Totawar. Thanks to the sustained efforts in the past one year, the area
under sugarcane cultivation has halved.
Solid income
The cut Gerbera flowers are sent to Delhi, Hyderabad, Banglore and Thailand and provide an income
of around Rs. 1 lakh per acre every month. The success of the Gerbera cultivation here is reflected in

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the fact that two new varieties of the flower will be named after two villages of Osmanabad: Padola
and Upla.
Sanjay Pawar of Padola is happy that he switched from sugarcane to Gerbera. Tired of drought every
year, 12 of us from this village decided to do something new. And today, we stand here with profit,
without sugarcane, he says.
Osmanabad is not the only district in the State which is actively discouraging farmers from growing
sugarcane. Solapur which has over two lakh hectares under the cash crop, out of a total cultivable
area of 11 lakh hectares, has also moved away.
We cannot decrease the area under sugarcane but we can certainly control it, says Solapur
Collector Tukaram Mundhe. Mr. Mundhe says drip irrigation has been made compulsory for all
sugarcane farmers if they want loans. We are even planning to ask the sugar mills not to accept
sugarcane unless it is from a certified drip-irrigated farm, he says.

4. The deadly new age weapon

Topics: Science and Technology
In late 2006, the U.S Department of Defence detected a major breach in their computer systems
leading them to believe that their $337 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme had been
Investigations that started at Pentagon, the department headquarters, revealed that the breach had
taken place far away from HQ.
The JSF programme, claimed to be producing one the worlds most advanced combat aircraft, was
primarily being developed by the private defence contractor Lockheed Martin, along with many subcontractors. While the companies were busy meeting deadlines, no one had noticed a deliberate
Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) attack that had taken place on their premises.
Unlike the spies of the Cold War era, when collaborators would provide access to secret documents
to physically copy and photograph documents, the new age spies didnt need any physical access.
Working over the Internet thousands of miles away, they sucked out thousands of secret documents,
jeopardising one of the most secret programmes under development by the U.S military.
Clearly, the nature of the new threat had established that the boundaries that needed to be defended
were no longer housed within the walls of a seemingly secure government facility. Instead, they were
now far beyond the governments secure facilities and at places where such an attack was least
In 2007, Estonia, a tiny former Soviet republic, faced one of the most debilitating attacks in modern
times. No shots were fired and no tanks rolled across its border. Instead, anonymous hackers,
suspected to be operating from Russia, launched a massive cyber-attack on its information systems
and brought critical infrastructure sectors such as banking and power to a grinding halt. For three
days, the country faced chaos. Systems refused to re-start and ATMs refused to dispense cash, as the
financial architecture, based on millions of lines of code, had crashed. The attack, known as a
Deliberate Denial of Service (DDoS), had proved what modern warfare could achieve without any
blood being spilled.
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The attack on Lockheed Martin and Estonia revealed the extent of vulnerability of the systems that
operated some of the most critical sectors in a country. From defence to energy, power, aviation and
law enforcement, every sector that depended on computer networks was suddenly left extremely
vulnerable. This realisation led to the identification of several areas to be designated as Critical
Information Infrastructure (CII) that would need a slew of measures to be strengthened against
future threats.
Indias slow response
The last decade has witnessed a slow but steady realisation within the Indian government that the
threats of the future will come from cyberspace. Unfortunately, while the realisation exists, the
Indian security establishment has not been jolted into action in the manner in which the Kargil war
or the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai galvanised the nation to adopt a series of corrective
measures. In 2008, when the Information Technology Act 2000 was amended, the introduction of
Section 70A and 70B went largely unnoticed in policy circles.
Article 70A mandated the need for a special agency that would look at designated CIIs and evolve
practices, policies and procedures to protect them from a cyber attack. But the then United
Progressive Alliance government took another six years to create such an agency. On January 16,
2014, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) issued a notification announcing the creation
of a specialised body to protect Indias CIIs. The National Critical Information Infrastructure
Protection Centre (NCIIPC) was created and placed under the technical intelligence agency, the
National Technical Research Organisation, to roll out counter-measures in cooperation with other
security agencies and private corporate entities that man these critical sectors.
Unfortunately, since 2014, there seem to have been few moves to establish the mandate of the
governments 2014 notification. A critical sector has been defined under the notification as
sectors that are critical to the nation and whose incapacitation or destruction will have debilitating
impact on national security, economy, public health or safety.
The government has identified 12 sectors that fit the bill and can be covered under the NCIIPC project
as mandated by Section 70A of the amended IT Act. These range from energy to power, law
enforcement, aviation, banking, critical manufacturing, defence and space. While several of them are
housed within the government, sectors such as energy and power are manned by the private sector.
While the overarching guidelines for the protection of CIIs were issued by the government in May
2012, the sectors still lack specific guidelines that will address their peculiar challenges in cyberspace.
A joint responsibility
When the U.S government was grappling with its cyber security challenges, there was a clear
realisation that it did not have the wherewithal or the scope to protect all the critical sectors. It
realised that it needed to work closely with the private sector manning these sectors to establish a
foolproof defence system. That was only possible if both sectors government and private agreed
to come together and establish joint mechanisms to ward off future attacks. This was possible in
principle, but in reality, it was a bigger challenge than what most people had anticipated.
The biggest issue on both sides was the lack of trust. The government was essentially a regulator,
while the private companies sought as little control as possible. It took several years for both sides
to evolve before they could work together, building trust and joint mechanisms to protect each other.
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In India, there should be a proliferation of similar efforts at every level led by the NCIIPC. It needs to
take the lead, as mandated by the DIT notification to assist in the development of appropriate
plans, adoption of standards, sharing best practices, and refinement of procurement processes in
respect of protection of Critical Information Infrastructure. This will mean sitting together to
conduct joint exercises, map vulnerabilities, build counter-measures and achieve a synergy that it is
currently lacking. For a nation that seeks to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modis vision of Digital
India and Make in India, the clock is already ticking away. Any delay now will only lead to disastrous

5. Think tank report hints at diversion of cheap farm loan

Topics: Agriculture, Governance
Pointing to a possible diversion of subsidised funds meant for farmers to non-agricultural uses, a
research paper by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) has
found that the crop loans extended in India are in fact close to exceeding the total expenditure on
farm sector inputs.
In 2012-13, the aggregate short-term credit provided primarily to finance the purchase of inputs
was as much as 99.97 per cent of the input cost, including compensation for hired labour. During
the 1970s, 1980s and even till the 1990s, the aggregate short-term credit as a proportion of input
costs in agriculture was in the range of 13-20 per cent.
By itself, it does not look credible that the short-term credit market has reached a saturation point
in the country [it] casts further doubt on how much short-term credit is actually being absorbed in
farm operations, the paper by ICRIER Chair Professor Anwarul Hoda and Research Assistant Prerna
Terway says.
A possible explanation for the apparent anomaly, it argues, could be diversion of funds resulting from
the arbitrage opportunity created by the huge subsidy of 5 percentage points on short-term
agricultural credit but adds that more research is needed to get at the truth.
Share of private moneylenders in total farm credit has shot up
In evidence of diversion of cheap farm credit, a research paper, which includes a cost-benefit analysis
of subsidies for agricultural credit by ICRIER Chair Professor Anwarul Hoda and Research Assistant
Prerna Terway, has also found that a substantial proportion of the credit disbursements year after
year are made after the end of Rabi sowing (that is, during the months of January to March).
Though data shows that institutional credit is close to 100 per cent of the total short term farm input
costs, the other striking finding of the paper includes the sharp rise in the lending by private
Despite the big push to banks for lending more to the farm sector, the share of private moneylenders
in total farm credit has shot up from 26.8 per cent in 2002 to 29.6 per cent in 2013. In fact, at 17.5
per cent, the share of private moneylenders was lower in 1991.
Non-bank credit

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The significant growth in institutional credit in India since 1951, the paper finds, has not resulted in
a commensurate reduction in the dependence of farmers on non-institutional sources for loans
which, in 2013, accounted for as much as 36 per cent of total agricultural credit.
There was a steep fall in the share of non-institutional sources in the total outstanding agricultural
credit from 89.8 per cent in 1951 to 33.7 per cent in 1991. However, the share climbed back to 38.9
per cent in 2002. In 2013, at 36 per cent, it was still above the 1991 level.
Direct institutional credit as a proportion of the agricultural GDP, however, rose from 5.33 per cent
in 1975-76 to 30.28 per cent in 2011-12.
Credit from non-institutional sources is rising despite the rates of interest from the institutional ones
being much lower. According to the latest All India Debt and Investment Survey (AIDIS) of the NSSO,
in 2013, only a tenth of the institutional sources outstanding debt was at interest rates above 15 per
cent. For non-institutional sources this was 71 per cent. Only one per cent of the institutional sources
debt was outstanding at rates above 30 per cent. But for non-institutional sources this was more than
34 per cent. The non-institutional agencies seem to be flourishing even though they charge
exorbitant interest rates, the paper says.

6. New U.K. rules will hit Indian nurses

Topics: IR India and the World, IR other countries
Changes to British immigration rules will force thousands of nurses recruited by the National Health
Service from non-European Union countries to leave the United Kingdom in the next two years.
Among those affected will doubtless be Indian nurses, who are the second highest non-EU nationality
after Filipinos in the nursing workforce in this country.
Under the new rules, persons from outside the European Union should be earning 35,000 or more
in order to be able to stay in the U.K. after six years.
In a study released on Monday at its annual conference in Bournemouth, the Royal College of Nursing
said that 3365 nurses, whose training has cost the NHS 20.19 million, could be affected immediately
by the rule.

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7. Suicide attack on Afghan Parliament failed

Topics: External Security

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Current Affairs | June 24, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

1. Explain in detail about Basel norms of banks.

2. Explain trade related intellectual property rights of WTO.
3. SEBI' s proposal for start ups a new way of unleashing ease of doing. Substantiate.
4. Bilateral relationship with Iran must not be economy alone. Must be comprehensive. Justify
5. Romance on extremism with a promise to a Muslim state of pristine glory. Discuss.
6. Nepal disaster is not an end, It is a reminder. Elaborate.
7. Amalgamation of all food security programs is essential or not. Analyse.
8. E payments of transactions is a better beginning for cash less economy. Evaluate.
9. Social security for migrants are a distant dream in India. Critically analyse.
India's proposal for action on Pakistan over Lakhvi case is blocked by China. There
must be a geopolitical influence. Discuss.

1. Center yet to decide on quantum of capital infusion in PSBs

Topics: Economy
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday that the government has not yet settled on the exact
recapitalisation figures for the public sector banks.
I have not decided on the recapitalisation figure. I had mentioned the figure in the budget this year.
But what we require would be much more than mentioned in the budget, Mr. Jaitley told reporters
on the sidelines of a public event at the Stanford University where he spoke about Indias economic
During his Budget speech this year Mr. Jaitley had promised a capital infusion of Rs.7,940 crore during
the year. Earlier this month, during his annual review of banks, Mr Jaitley had said that the heads of
the banks had made a strong case for increased capital and that the government was seriously
looking into it.
On Monday, Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said that the government intends to provide around
$9 billion towards the recapitalisation of public sector banks.
What we are aiming at is an infusion of about $3 billion in the current year and perhaps twice as
much in the next year. So, that is the broad time schedule whether it will happen in August or
January I cant say, he said.
Mr. Jaitley went on to praise the performance of the public sector banks.
In promoting Indian businesses including infrastructure and when we are trying to push stalled
projects, the public sector banks have had a positive role. Secondly their strength and network is
huge. Thirdly the good sign is that the private sector banks are also coming up in competition. The
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fourth factor is that public sector banks in social responsibilities have done tremendous jobs. The
private sector banks have lagged behind (here), he said.
In February, the government had announced an infusion of Rs.6,990 crore in nine public sector banks,
including the State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, based on new efficiency parameters such
as return on assets and return on equity. Mr. Jaitley did not mention these parameters either when
he announced added capital infusion in his Budget speech or on Tuesday.

2. India, Brazil cross swords with U.S at WTO

Topics: IR India and the World
Switzerland and the U.S. have begun a campaign at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to not renew
a moratorium on non-violation complaints and situations for intellectual property rights that expires
at the end of the year.
Intellectual property laws are governed internationally by the Trade-Related Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. The moratorium first came into being in 1995, when the WTO was born.
And has survived by way of several extensions.
A non-violation and situation complaint can be raised against a WTO member when it undertakes a
certain action which, while not violating WTO rules itself, denies another member an expected
benefit by nullifying or countering another action or policy required by the WTO.
Introducing subsidies to undo the effect of lowered tariffs would be an example of an action that
could potentially attract a non-violation complaint. A proposal to continue the moratorium has been
submitted by Brazil on behalf of a group of 19 countries that includes India and China. If the proposal
is successful, the moratorium will continue after 2015, preserving the status quo. If unsuccessful,
however, it opens the door to a new world of possibilities and litigation as far as intellectual property
is concerned.
Section 3(d) of the India Patents Act (1970) is likely to be a target of complainants, according to the
Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society. This section of the Act defines what an invention is, and has
been interpreted by the Indian Patent Office to deny patents for drugs such as Sovaldi, a hepatitis C
drug by Gilead Sciences, and Glivec, a cancer drug by Novartis.
The denial of these patents has significant benefits for access to affordable medication in India. It
also has implications for the revenues of multi-national pharmaceutical companies and their
incentives to innovate.

3. SEBI relaxes norms to raise funds

Topics: Economy
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Tuesday relaxed the norms for technological
start-ups to raise funds from the capital market, while easing the norms for issuance of Initial Public
Offering (IPO) by companies.
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The capital market regulator reduced the post-listing lock-in period for tech start-up promoters to six
months, instead of three years for other IPOs.
Exchanges will have a separate platform, Institutional Trading Platform (ITP), and would facilitate
capital raising as well for start-ups, said SEBI Chairman U.K. Sinha while addressing press conference
here after its board meeting.

1 Exchanges will have a separate platform for start-ups

2 Reduces post-listing lock-in period for tech start-up promoters to six
3 Rationalises the framework for reclassification of promoters as public
It also said that this platform is accessible to companies, which are intensive in their use of
technology, information technology, intellectual property, data analytics, bio-technology, nanotechnology to provide products, services or business platforms with substantial value addition and
with at least 25 per cent of the pre-issue capital being held by QIBs (qualified institutional buyers), or
any other company in which at least 50 per cent of the pre-issue capital is held by QIBs.
However, no person (individually or collectively with persons acting in concert) in such a company
shall hold 25 per cent or more of the post-issue share capital, SEBI added.
It also shortened listing period of IPOs from 12 days to six days. IPO process streamlined to reduce
time period for listing of issues from 12 days to 6 days, said Mr. Sinha.
While reducing cost of public issues, issuers will have faster access to the capital raised and investors
will have early liquidity, said SEBI Chairman.
SEBI reduced the requirement of market capitalisation of public shareholding of the issuer for Fast
Track Issues (FTI) from Rs.3,000 crore to Rs.1,000 crore in case of Follow on Public Offering (FPO) and
to Rs.250 crore in case of Rights issue.
This will help more listed companies to raise further capital using fast track route.
SEBI has also announced measures to encourage greater retail participation in Offer for Sale (OFS)
through stock exchange mechanism.
It also rationalised the framework for reclassification of promoters as public. SEBI said that the
proposed framework will bring in consistency and also enable investors to take informed decisions
based on any such move by the company/promoters.
While streamlining the process of IPOs, SEBI allowed Registrar and Share Transfer Agents (RTAs) and
Depository Participants (DPs) also to be allowed to accept application forms (both physical as well as
online) and make bids on the stock exchange platform. This will be over and above the stock brokers
and banks where such facilities are presently available. This would substantially enhance the points
for submission of applications.

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4. India moves to reset ties with Iran

Topics: IR India and the World
India has begun to reset its ties with Iran, notwithstanding the uncertainty surrounding the
negotiations between the Persian Gulf nation and the P5+1 (the U.K., China, France, Russia and the
U.S.; and Germany) as the June 30 deadline for clinching a nuclear agreement draws near.
After cutting down oil imports from Tehran in the recent past following sanctions, India is now keen
on pushing for connectivity with Iran, which will pave the way for its entry into Afghanistan and the
Central Asian region. An inter-government memorandum of understanding signed in May for the
development of the Chabahar Port in Iran, a recent visit by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar for Foreign
Office discussions, and the impetus being given to the North-South Transport Corridor are perceived
as attempts to mend ties.
New Delhi has also ignored cautionary voices from the U.S. not to rush into doing business with Iran
till it firms up the nuclear deal with it.
After its meeting on June 12, members of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
reviewed the status of the dry run study between India, Iran and Russia via the Caspian Sea, a followup meeting to further streamline work related to the corridor has been scheduled for July.
The international transport corridor across Nhava Sheva (Mumbai) through Bandar Abbas (Iran) to
Astrakhan (Russia) and Baku (Azerbaijan) is expected to substantially reduce cargo transport time
between India and Central Asia and Russia.
Experts, however, point out that India must look beyond trade and economic ties. Aftab Kamal Pasha,
Professor at the Centre for West Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said India must
vigorously pursue relations with Iran with an eye on possible cooperation to fight the emerging terror
groups in Central Asia.
The disturbing developments in Afghanistan, the penetration of militants into Central Asia, and the
continued expansion of IS in Iraq, all necessitate better India-Iran ties, he said.
Former diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar pointed out that India would need to work doubly hard to undo
the damage caused by toeing the U.S. line.
He said despite the sanctions, India should not have allowed its relations with Iran to decline.
There has to be a political outreach by India. If Australia could visit Iran, why not India? Before the
sanctions, economic ties between India and Iran were growing exponentially, he explained.
While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to visit Tehran in the next few weeks for
the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial meeting, there is no word yet on when Prime Minister
Narendra Modi will visit Iran.

5. The siren call of pure Islam

Topics: Terrorism
June 29 will be the first anniversary of the Islamic State (IS)s bizarre declaration of the establishment
of the modern worlds first caliphate on territories seized from Syria and Iraq.
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The occasion has spawned a series of unprintable morbid jokes about the grisly ways the IS might
choose to celebrate its triumph.
But this attempt at humour actually conceals a deep concern over the ISs menacing rise, and the
global outrage its brutal tactics have provoked. The biggest worry, though, and for which no
satisfactory explanation has been offered either by Muslims or counter-terror experts, is this: what
makes a group with such a medieval ideology and mindset so attractive to so many educated and
intelligent people around the world that they are willing to abandon everything their families,
careers to join it, knowing fully well the risks involved?
There is, in fact, a widely held view that it is precisely this ISs romantic vision of restoring Islam to
its pristine glory, its bloody-mindedness, its shock-and-awe tactics that lie at the heart of much
of its appeal. In the al-Qaeda days, it was simpler to explain Muslim radicalisation, especially among
second and third generation immigrant youth in the West: people said they were alienated from
the societies they lived in, by the everyday racism they experienced, by the post-9/11 Islamophobia,
and the Wests anti-Muslim foreign policy. The explanation made sense in the wake of the invasion
of Iraq and talk of a new Crusades. In that sort of climate, dominated by anti-Muslim rhetoric, the
bogey of Islam under threat and calls for pan-Islamic solidarity to rescue the religion worked. But
this is unconvincing today, as the nature of Islamist extremism has changed it is a very different
beast than what it was even five years ago.
War within Islam
The IS has transformed what was once a global anti-West campaign into a sectarian civil war within
Islam. The West is no longer the main enemy. To improvise Jean-Paul Sartre, hell is other Muslims
in the IS scheme of things the others are those Muslims who dont subscribe to the IS
interpretation of Islam. Its not even so much about pan-Islamic solidarity as about pan-Sunni
solidarity against other Muslims from enemy sects.
To still insist on the validity of old assumptions about Muslim radicalisation is to ignore the elephant
in the room: the pull of religion. Radicals are responding to the IS call for Islamic revival. Nothing
more, nothing less. Other factors alienation, searching for a meaning in life, the lure of
adventure are secondary. The alienation theory was long busted after it turned out that many, if
not all, of those attracted to extremism were actually well-adjusted and well-integrated into their
communities. And the notion of testosterone-fuelled boys dying for a slice of jihadi adventure has
been disproved by schoolgirls and housewives heading for jihad.
As I write this, Britain is rocked by the strange case of three housewives (sisters born and brought up
in Britain and married to men of Pakistani origin) who have fled to Syria (along with their nine children
aged between 3 and 15) to team up with IS militants. They left their homes ostensibly for a pilgrimage
in Saudi Arabia, and secretly flew to Turkey and Syria after the pilgrimage, leaving their families in
the U.K. and Pakistan distraught. Nobody knows what made them do it.
A report by a British think tank, Institute for Strategic Dialogue, propounds the theory that those who
join IS are not victims of brainwashing because they know what theyre doing. This, they say, is
particularly true of women who are more likely to analyse their actions than men. But this theory
completely ignores the power of propaganda and persuasion that can make people believe in the
righteousness of a cause and that urges them to perform certain acts as part of their Islamic duty.
A common pattern
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It is important to note that people thus targeted have little knowledge of Islam and, therefore,
swallow the interpretations they are sold. Theres a pattern: they are not particularly interested in
religion until the point that they are radicalised, and then suddenly they become ultra religious
they grow beards, women start wearing burqas and avoiding men, they turn to namaaz, shed their
old lifestyle and become secretive. None of them describe themselves as victims; only their families
and friends do. The process of radicalisation is a lot more complex than is assumed, but the ultimate
pull factor is religion. Any de-radicalisation strategy, in order to be effective, will have to be anchored
in a religious counter-narrative. And it will have to come from imams andmaulvis not from counterextremism think tanks and reformed radicals.
Today, nearly ten million people live under repressive IS rule. In spite of a determined U.S.-led
international bombing campaign that has killed several of its key figures, IS has managed not only to
retain and consolidate previously occupied territories, but also gain new ones. And it shows no sign
of slowing down. According to aGuardian newspaper investigation, it has emerged as the uncrowned
king of the terrorist jungle; even al-Qaeda is struggling to catch up.
Meanwhile, for all the apparent outrage and hand-wringing in the West, the fact is the IS poses less
of a threat to it than al-Qaeda did. Not only is its strategy not focussed against the West, it has
effectively taken al-Qaeda off the Wests back by drawing it into a series of regional conflicts for
supremacy. It is not a coincidence that there has been no major terror attack on a Western target
since the emergence of IS. No wonder this has spawned conspiracy theories about IS being a CIA
creation. But that is another debate, for another time.

6. South Asia should prepare now for next disaster

Topics: Religious Issues
About 9,000 lives have been lost in the devastating earthquake in Nepal on April 25 and the powerful
aftershock on May 12. A conference in Kathmandu on June 25 will bring Nepal together with its
international partners to rebuild the country and make it better and safer.
Unfortunately, this is not a challenge only for Nepal. From Afghanistan to Bangladesh, much of South
Asia is located in one of the highest seismically active regions in the world. More than 600 million
people live along the fault-line across the Himalayan belt that runs through Afghanistan, Pakistan,
India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The earthquake threat in South Asia is generated by the collision among three tectonic plates. The
Indian plate is moving northward at a speed of about five centimetres a year. In doing so, it collides
with the Eurasian Plate. Owing to this, the Himalayan mountains are forced upwards and a large
number of earthquakes are generated. This has been happening for millions of years.
Over the past 100 years, several major earthquakes have occurred in the region Bihar-Nepal in
1934, Makran in 1945, Assam in 1950, Latur in 1993, Bhuj in 2001, Pakistan in 2005 and Nepal in
2015. Just focussing on the big earthquakes, however, can obscure the real picture. South Asia is
constantly beset by tremors. The World Bank recently analysed earthquake events over a one-year
period from May 2013 to May 2014 that impacted the South Asia region. Only considered were those
earthquakes recorded by the United States Geological Surveys global earthquake monitoring
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database (USGS) greater than 4.0 magnitude on the Richter scale. The tally totalled 1,247 recorded
earthquake events.
South Asia may have had earthquakes for millions of years, but the difference today is that more and
more people are living in the earthquake zone, often crowded into rapidly growing cities. Much of
this booming urbanisation in high-risk seismic zones includes everything from mega-cities to
secondary and tertiary cities to towns.
No one can predict when or where the next earthquake will happen. But what we do know is that
there are many measures countries can take to protect their citizens against the next natural disaster.
The next big earthquake need not become the South Asian mega-disaster of the 21st Century.
Among the measures countries can take are building resilient housing, improving building codes, and
strengthening critical infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, bridges, dams, key road
infrastructure, public buildings, and so on. Strengthening disaster response mechanisms and
providing better search and rescue equipment and training to first responders is critical. This also
includes having contingency planning and systems set up to hand out food to the vulnerable and
offer vaccinations to halt diseases that inevitably spread in the aftermath of a disaster.
I specifically want to highlight the importance of strengthening schools. The Nepal earthquake caused
the collapse of more than 5,000 classrooms. The earthquake struck on a Saturday when schools were
closed. Had it struck on a weekday, the lives lost and the devastation could have been far worse.
Making schools safe for our children should become a priority across the region.
These things sound like they cost a lot of money. But not doing them can cost even more. This cost
goes beyond the tragic loss of lives.
The World Bank estimates that every dollar invested in disaster prevention saves $4 in disaster
damage. A single large disaster can cost between three and six per cent of a developing countrys
economic output. This can wipe out years of development progress that a country has worked hard
to achieve. In Nepal, it was the poor that suffered the most from the earthquake.
Now is the time to invest in disaster resilience. This should be done across all sectors including
transport, energy, agriculture, education, health, gender, housing and livelihoods.
South Asia should prepare for the next disaster now.

7. Cutting the Food act to the bone

Topics: Governance
When Parliament passed the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in 2013, it had already become one
of the most debated pieces of legislation in decades. Those for and against it had fought it out across
yards of space on the editorial pages of newspapers, not to forget the slugfests on television
The parliamentary standing committee studying it, while it was still a Bill, received over 2,00,000
public responses. A vast majority of those comments called, in writing, for expanding the provisions
of the Bill.
The NFSA was, after all, an outcome of remarkable public and judicial action a battle of over a
decade to secure freedom from hunger for millions who had not gained from Indias emergence as a
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major economy. With all its inadequacies, the Act is still seen by many as a final assault on the
unconscionable hunger that has stalked the countryside and urban slums. Over two-thirds, or more
than 820 million Indians, came under its ambit.
Political reversal
In the debates in Parliament, those who vociferously argued for the expansion of the provisions,
pitching in for universalisation and an increase in the quantum of the entitlements, included stalwarts
from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) like Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi and
Prakash Javadekar. The then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, wrote to the Prime Minister,
asking for the law to be further strengthened. It was not unsurprising because the BJP-ruled States,
led by Chhattisgarh, had considerably enhanced the outreach of the Public Distribution Systems (PDS)
in their respective States and were credited with having put in place robust systems of transparency
and accountability in public food schemes. Therefore, the BJP was determined not to let the United
Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the Congress Party walk away with all the credit for this
landmark legislation.
That was then. And two years is an interminably long wait in politics. Now, the BJP-led National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) government seems equally determined to throttle the NFSA by bleeding
it with a thousand cuts, both fiscal and otherwise, even before it is fully implemented. In the last one
year, the mandarins at the Food Ministry have not allowed a single provision of the NFSA to remain
The first salvo against the Act was fired in July last year with the illegal extension accorded to the
State governments to implement the Act. Illegal, because the NFSA itself specifies that the
implementation would commence within a year of the legislation being enacted. Therefore, any
change in the roll-out should have been first approved by Parliament. Subsequently, the Ministry has
extended the date of the implementation twice. All this ostensibly because States have not been able
to identify those who should be covered under the provisions of the Act. Yet, the final lists from the
the Socio Economic And Caste Census (2011), which most States will use for the identification have
not yet been made public. This survey, which was conducted by the Central government, was delayed
by six years despite Supreme Court orders that the exercise should be completed by the beginning
of the Eleventh Five Year Plan.
Subsequently, in July last year, the Food Ministry arm-twisted State governments not to declare a
bonus for farmers over and above the Minimum Support Price that is provided by the Central
government. This despite the fact that it was paid from the coffers of State governments. Ironically,
it was a move that hurt farmers in the BJP-ruled States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and
Rajasthan the most. The procurement of food grains from farmers was severely restricted as a result
of this decision, one that we will rue if there is a monsoon deficit, as predicted this year.
Budget cuts
The Union Budget for the current fiscal dealt the next decisive blow with punishing cuts to some of
the key programmes under the Act. The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) had a 50 per
cent cut, prompting the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, warning
the Finance Minister that the political fallout of such a situation can be grave. Similarly, the Mid
Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) saw its budget reduced from Rs.13,000 crore to Rs.9,000 crore for a
flagship programme universalised by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayees government. Other social
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sector schemes which have a direct bearing on nutrition have seen similar and vicious cutbacks. The
weak argument that States can compensate the deficit with the additional 10 per cent of revenues
that they will have now from the share of taxes does not bear the scrutiny of numbers or logic. The
majority of the programmes that bear the brunt of the austerity, like the MDMS, are Centrally
sponsored schemes.
To tackle Indias shameful track record in maternal deaths and womens nutrition, the NFSA
introduced the maternity entitlement scheme. Every pregnant and nursing mother was to receive
Rs.6,000 as a one-time cash transfer. Two years down the line there are still no signs of the scheme
taking off.
But credit must be given where it is due. And the one for driving the last nail into the coffin of the
NFSA, if it was required at all, must go to the Food Ministry and the latest round of revisions made
by it to the Public Distribution System (Control) Order. This order was notified by the Department of
Food and Public Distribution on March 20. There are three elements in this order that are in total
contempt of Supreme Court orders and the provisions of the NFSA which stand out.
Phase out and freeze
First, the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) is being sought to be phased out, with States being instructed
not to add any new household to this category if any household drops out of the programme due to
an improvement in social or economic status, death, etc.; the number of households would be
reduced to that extent. This means that over time, the programme would be phased out. AAY
provides 35 kilogrammes of food grains per month (irrespective of the number of members in the
household) to 20 million of the most vulnerable families in the country, and which is currently
accessed by the most vulnerable tribal communities, persons with disability and the aged. Launched
on Mr. Vajpayees birthday 15 years ago, when the NDA was in power, it was a scheme that he took
personal interest in and nurtured through his tenure. The effectiveness of this programme led even
the UPA to expand it twice. There couldnt have been a surer way to disrespect Mr. Vajpayees legacy
programme than to wind it down.
Second, in complete contravention of Supreme Court orders and the NFSA (Section 9), the PDS
(Control) Order freezes the number of people who can access the entitlements, to the decadal Census
figures rather than expand it each year based on the population estimates of the Registrar General
and Census Commissioner of India. What this means is that State governments cannot add to the
number of beneficiaries to accommodate the increase in population in the 10-year period between
the publication of the final Census results.
Establishing citizenship
Most damningly, for the first time, the PDS (Control) Order explicitly places an additional burden of
citizenship, besides being a resident of the State, for someone to access benefits under the NFSA.
Ostensibly, this is to check foreigners, (especially the large number of Canadians who are perhaps
queuing up at our ration shops!) to get the benefits of the PDS. In practical terms, what this means is
that some of the most vulnerable migrant communities of India would find themselves excluded from
the PDS. And if you thought this was an entirely theoretical proposition, try getting a ration card in
Delhi if you are a Bengali migrant who also happens to sport a Muslim name. Well, try getting yourself
a ration card anyway. The last PDS (Control) Order issued in 2001 did not think it necessary to make
this distinction, nor did the NFSA, where the entitlements are defined for persons rather than
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citizens. Since the jurisprudence on the right to food flows from Article 21 of the Constitution, on the
right to life and liberty, the right to food should be available to all persons without their having to
establish their citizenship first.
The impact of these measures is already being felt across the country with the visibly weakening
political will of the Central government impacting programme implementation in the field.
Chhattisgarhs PDS, arguably one of the best in the country even the Supreme Court has repeatedly
highlighted as an example that other States should emulate is tainted by a procurement scam.
Close to 7,00,000 ration cards were cancelled. While a large number of them were reinstated
subsequently, the most marginalised sections of the population did not manage to find their way
back into the system.
Pulses have been removed from the PDS in non-tribal districts. Despite provisions made in the State
budget this year, the pioneering Phulwari crche programme for children is not being expanded; the
scheme for nutritional supplements for patients suffering from tuberculosis is languishing in files.
Bureaucratic intransigence coupled with a diminishing political commitment is threatening to
dismantle the States welfare architecture. Heartbreakingly, Chhattisgarh had two starvation deaths
in quick succession last month, for the first time in years. And as the elections to the local bodies
showed, Maneka Gandhi was right after all. There is a political price to pay.
The irony that the world will not miss is that the Modi government has emerged as a global champion
of farmers rights and food security with its progressive position on the public-stockholding issue at
the World Trade Organization to fix unjust trade rules. A classic case, if there was one, of do as we
say and not as we do.

8. Going the e-payment way

Topics: Economy
The governments proposal to incentivise electronic transactions in preference to cash dealings so as
to curb black money is one of the most complete attempts made till now to achieve that end
although it is not entirely a new idea.
Earlier attempts, such as the UPA governments Banking Cash Transaction Tax, sought to address the
issue only at the bank level, ignoring the actual users of cash the merchants and the public. That
tax, introduced in 2005 by then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, stipulated a charge of 0.1 per cent
on cash withdrawals above Rs. 10,000. However, it was messy: the somewhat arbitrary move that
was also poorly implemented, was repealed in 2009. This governments new proposal takes a more
holistic approach to the cash economy, and as such is more likely to work. In a draft proposal now
open for public comments, the government suggests income tax benefits for individuals who incur a
certain proportion of their expenditure through electronic means, while proposing a nominal
handling charge on cash transactions above a specified level. The removal of the additional charge
often levied on electronic transactions should come with this. As for merchants, the government
proposes a tax rebate to those among them who handle, say, 50 per cent of their transactions
electronically, and a small reduction in value added tax on the items involved. At the moment the
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system discriminates against electronic transactions. Banks and service providers levy extra charges
on them, while cash transactions are implicitly subsidised by banks, which do not factor in the cost
of teller services. Paper money comes with hidden overheads: the cost of printing and providing
additional security features, and the price of counterfeit money.
Cash transactions and black money are directly linked, since a cash trail is nearly impossible to track.
As such, electronic transactions and the ease of audit they afford should make the governments job
much easier in terms of curbing illegal transactions. India is a massively cash-dependent economy,
with its cash-to-GDP ratio being around 13 per cent as compared to a global average of 2.5 to 8 per
cent. Little wonder, then, that some experts estimate the size of Indias black economy to be at least
half the size of the white economy. Commendably, this government seems to be taking a systematic
view in working towards minimising cash-based transactions. At the heart of it, even the Pradhan
Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana is aimed at providing direct, cashless subsidies to those who need them.
There are still more steps that could be taken, such as encouraging major cash-users, traders with
large public dealings for example, to move on to electronic payment modes. But this proposal is
undoubtedly a good beginning.

9. Bengali migrants in Mumbai face job loss

Topics: Society, Vulnerables
Nearly four decades ago Uttam Samanta migrated from West Bengal to join one of the small gold
units forming the lowest rung of Mumbais multi-billion jewellery trade.
A profession involving precious metal has not made him rich but it paid enough to support his family
back home. It even inspired his son Ganesh to follow suit.
But today, the father-son duo are among the nearly 70,000 workers, majority of them Bengali
migrants, who may lose their jobs if the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) goes ahead
with its plan to ban all gold processing activities running in residential buildings.
The recommendation is one of the many made by a committee set up to look into last months
Kalbadevi blaze which killed four senior fire officers, including its then chief Sunil Nasrekar.
While a formal intimation hasnt come yet, the buzz has made its way to the artisans sparking off
fears. Hundreds of such units operate from tiny rooms in multi-storied buildings in the narrow
bylanes of Kalbadevi, Crawford Market and Zaveri Bazaar.
Working in one such unit, Ganesh explains how it is the latest addition to his worries over harsh
working conditions, modest incomes and sharper deadlines thus far.
Only skill
His colleague Ranjit shares similar concerns: We work close to 13 hours daily. But whatever we earn
is better than what we could have made in our villages. This is my only skill. If this goes, I dont know
what I will do.
Jewellers outsource the designing work or the subtasks involved in assembling of ornaments to these
units which work on a commission basis. Those running them say congestion is to be blamed for fire
hazards but add it is beyond them to afford bigger spaces or pay commercial rate rents.
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10. China blocks bid for U.N. action on Pak. Over Lakhvi
Topics: IR India and the World
India has taken up the issue of China blocking its move at the United Nations to seek action against
Pakistan for releasing the 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi at the highest level with
It is not clear how Indias reaction to Beijing was conveyed, but highest level points to the Prime
Indias bid to seek action against Pakistan was blocked by China on the grounds that New Delhi had
not provided sufficient information.
This move comes a little over a month after New Delhi and Beijing agreed to deepen their
commitment to fight terror, during Prime Minister Narendra Modis visit to the country.
Reacting to the development, India late on Tuesday said the issue had been taken up with China at
the highest level.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs said: The government had taken up the issue of
violation of the 1267 sanctions regime in respect of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Our concerns in this
matter were conveyed to the Chair of the 1267 Committee. We also raised this bilaterally with the
other members of the Committee. In the case of China, this matter has been taken up at the highest
Since December 2014, Indias Permanent Mission to the UN has filed separate proposals on Pakistanbased terrorists, each of which has been reportedly delayed or stopped by China.
India wanted to seek Pakistan clarification on release
At the U.N. Sanctions Committee meeting convened on Indias request, a clarification was to be
sought from Pakistan over the release of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi release, but it
was blocked by the Chinese representatives who said New Delhi had provided insufficient
In May this year, Indias Permanent Representative to the U.N., Asoke Mukherjee, had written to the
then Chair of the U.N. Sanctions Committee, Jim McLay, stating that Lakhvis release by a Pakistani
court in April was in violation of the 1267 U.N. resolution dealing with designated entities and
India had also made a reference to the bail money deposited for Lakhvi, since being listed as a
terrorist he cannot give or receive funds. Since December 2014 China has repeatedly blocked or
delayed Indias attempts at filing separate proposals on Pakistan-based terrorists at the United
Nations Security Council sanctions committee on Al-Qaeda and associated entities
U.S. support
The United States, too, has thrown its weight behind Indias demand for re-arresting Lakhvi. On a
visit to New Delhi recently, Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central
Asian Affairs, said the U.S. has asked Pakistan to ensure that efforts are made to arrest Lakhvi and
that he does not roam free.
A recent U.S. State Departments report on Terrorism also indicted Pakistan for not taking action
against LeT.
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The Hindu had earlier reported that China has put a technical hold on Indias request to list Hizbul
Mujahideen chief and head of the United Jihad Council, Syed Salahuddin.
The technical hold amounts to a veto on going ahead with the listing process for at least three

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Current Affairs | June 25, 2015

Current Affairs Questions for Competitive Exams like Bank Exams, UPSC Exams

Explain in brief about Vitiligo disorder causes and symptoms.

Multi drug resistant Tuberculosis is a major threat to India. Critically analyse.
Evaluate the environmental concern of Adani's Carmichael coal project.
Explain in detail about Capital account.
Rape is a non compoundable offence and not a matter for compromise between the parties.
7. What is Espionage Elysee?
8. Overambitious norms in qualitative requirements are largely responsible for the alarming
equipment shortage. Explain.
9. Multilateral postings should not be meant for rotational blessings but for those who have the
talent and experience. Discuss.
10. Emergency is a distant dream as long as government unbents, media unbents and judiciary
remains independent. Still a major impediment is majoritarionism. Analyse.

1. Break through in treating Leucoderma

Topics: Science and Technology
In a first, a medication for treating rheumatoid arthritis has restored skin colour in a patient suffering
from vitiligo. The results of the study were published on June 24 in the journal JAMA Dermatology.
Leucoderma is a condition that causes skin to lose its pigmentation or colour. As a result, people with
vitiligo have white patches on the skin. In an advanced stage, most of the body skin can lose its
Current treatments, such as steroid creams and light therapy, fall short as they are not reliably
effective in reversing the disease. Researchers from Yale University used an existing FDA-approved
medication for rheumatoid arthritis called tofacitinib citrate to successfully treat a patient suffering
from vitiligo.
Dr. Brett A. King, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine and
Brittany Craiglow, the two authors of the paper, administered tofacitinib citrate to a 53-year-old
patient with prominent white spots covering her face, hands, and body.
Quick result
According to a Yale School of Medicine press release, within two months of treatment, the patient
experienced partial repigmentation on her face, arms, and hands. And after five months of
treatment, the white spots on her face and hands had completely disappeared. The drug caused no
adverse side effects in the patient.

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It's a first, and it could revolutionize treatment of an awful disease, Dr. King was quoted as saying..
This may be a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition. He intends to
carry out clinical trials to test the drugs efficacy in treating people with vitiligo.
The inspiration
What inspired the researchers to use the drug was its magical power in treating hair loss in a patient
suffering from alopecia universalis condition. People with this condition tend to rapidly lose all hair
on the body, including eyebrows and eyelashes.
The 25-year-old patient who had psoriasis was referred to Dr. King for psoriasis treatment. Since
tofacitinib citrate had been used successfully for treating psoriasis in humans and had also reversed
alopecia areata in mice, Dr. King used the drug on the patient.
After two months of treatment, some improvement was seen in his psoriasis condition and hair
growth was seen on his scalp and face. His scalp hair had completely regrown and clearly visible
eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair, as well as armpit hair were seen at the end of the fifth month.
By end of the eighth month the patient had full regrowth of hair. The results of the work were
published in June 2014 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
Tofacitinib appears to spur hair regrowth in a patient with alopecia universalis by turning off the
immune system attack on hair follicles that is prompted by the disease, Dr. King had said in a release
last year. The drug helps in some, but not all, cases of psoriasis, and was mildly effective in this
patients case.

2. Rosetta comet mission extended

Topics: Science and Technology
Europe on Tuesday announced its comet-chasing mission Rosetta would be extended until
September 2016 and may end with the dying mothership touching down on the comet.
In a final flourish to the historic mission, the Rosetta spacecraft may be landed on Comet
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the agency said. Rosetta thus would rejoin its payload, the robot lab
Philae, which it has nurtured throughout an odyssey spanning billions of kilometres.
I may get to retire on the surface of 67P at end of my mission, the mothership tweeted. But first I
have a lot of exciting new science to do up here.
Launched in 2004, the mission has been applauded as a milestone in space exploration. It comprises
an orbiter and a lander, which seek to unveil the secrets of comets primordial clusters of ice and
dust that may shed light on how life developed on Earth. After a 10-year chase, the pair caught up
with 67P last August.
In November, Philae was landed on the comet surface, and in a nail-biting 60-hour episode carried
out a range of experiments before its stored battery power gave out. But the plucky 100 kg lander
has revived, thanks to sunlight bathing its solar panels as the comet zips closer to the Sun.
Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor said the mission extension was fantastic news. We'll be able
to monitor the decline in the comet's activity as we move away from the Sun again, and we'll have
the opportunity to fly closer to the comet to continue collecting more unique data. By comparing
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detailed before and after data, well have a much better understanding of how comets evolve during
their lifetimes.
The mission had been nominally funded until the end of December 2015, and its extension was not
a surprise.
By the end of September 2016, as the comet moves far away from the Sun again, there will no longer
be enough solar power to run Rosettas set of scientific instrumentation efficiently," ESA said.
At (this) point, the spacecraft will most likely be landed on the surface of Comet 67P/ChuryumovGerasi menko. The idea is to have Rosetta spiral down to the comet over three months, using up its
last drops of propellant to get unique close-ups of the surface.
But there is still a lot to do to confirm that this end-of-mission scenario is possible, cautioned
mission manager Patrick Martin. Well first have to see what the status of the spacecraft is after
perihelion and how well it is performing close to the comet, and later we will have to try and
determine where on the surface we can have a touchdown. AFP

3. MDR-TB spreads less within hou