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Day: October 10, 2017

All news available date-wise and month-wise. Click on the date to revise news.

October 2017
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[10 Oct 2017 | Low Priority News Items of the Day]

Low Priority Items of the Day:

ONGC may sell Indian Oil Corp. stake to LIC

State-owned ONGC is likely to sell some of its stake in IOC to institutional investors like LIC to part-fund its more than Rs. 34,000-crore acquisition of refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL). Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) holds 13.77% stake in India’s biggest refiner Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), which was worth over Rs. 27,800 crore as per Monday’s market price. It has another 4.87% stake in GAIL India Ltd. worth Rs. 1,600 crore.

Important part of the news is given above. But still, we will wait for the final decision and then write newscards on it.


SC to see CBI’s documents on Karti Chidambaram’s foreign account, property

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would peruse on October 11 the documents provided in a sealed cover by the CBI which has tried to nail Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Minister P. Chidambaram, about his foreign bank accounts and properties.

Corruption is a serious issue. But no need to go after individual corruption cases, because the UPSC don’t ask questions on them.


Problem animals

In June this year, the Bombay High Court quashed an order by the Maharashtra Forest Department to shoot a tigress in the Bramhapuri region after she killed two persons. The death warrant was overturned as a result of a Public Interest Litigation petition by an animal rights activist, which argued that the tigress’s behaviour had been forged by illegal human intrusion into her territory. Forest officials were then forced to capture the problem animal and re-release her in the Bor forest reserve, less than 200 km away, putting another set of villagers in harm’s way.

The Op-Ed talks about an environment related case in the Bombay High Court. It is not important to go through the minuscule details of the case, as given in this article.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-EU talks in a muddle


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the BTIA

Mains level: The BTIA is an important trade agreement for the Indian Economy. Failure to take decision on it can have long lasting effects on the Indian Economy.


Disappointment at the Indo-EU Summit

  1. German ambassador is disappointed at the failure of the resumption of talks on the investment and free trade agreement
  2. There is no decision to resume negotiations on free trade agreement despite the possibility being at hand
  3. The EU leaders and PM Narendra Modi failed to take such a decision during the summit

What is BTIA?

  1. India and the European Commission (with a negotiating mandate from the European Council) initiated negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) called the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement(BTIA) in 2007
  2. More than seven rounds of negotiations have been completed without reaching a Free Trade Agreement

Disappointment of the EU diplomats

  1. Disappointment of the EU diplomats is a signal of the growing unhappiness among European diplomats over the long period it has taken to get talks on the BTIA
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols Global Groupings and Conventions

[op-ed snap] At Bonn, stay the course


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the COP, NDCs, etc.

Mains level: The UPSC is known to ask questions on COP and UNFCCC. Also, these issues are specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.



  1. The article talks about the upcoming COP-23 meeting, issues to be discussed and challenges in attaining the targets.

23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  1. Between November 6 and 17 this year, world leaders and delegates from various countries will gather at Bonn for attending this
  2. The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA)
  3. PA was negotiated at COP-21 and entered into force, or became legally binding, on November 4, 2016

Issues to be discussed

  1. Adaptation to climate change
  2. Reduction in greenhouse gases
  3. Implementation of targets that were decided by each country ahead of the Paris meeting, eferred to as the nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
  4. In addition, the Bonn meetings will include the 47th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47) which assists on science and technology

New warming target

  1. At the Paris COP, countries agreed to try and limit global warming to 1.5°C
  2. But since previous discussions had centred on the Lakshman rekha of 2°C, this required renewed understanding of the policies and actions required to stay within a lower target
  3. Half a degree reduction may seem really small, but in terms of the impacts on ecosystems, geophysical cycles and diverse life forms on earth, this is a substantial difference

Is achieving the target of 1.5°C really possible?

  1. Many scientists who research climate change, believe that we are on our way to a world that is 4°C warmer and that limiting warming to less than 1.5°C is an impossible dream
  2. But a recent paper in Nature Geoscience scientists analyses scenarios to demonstrate that limiting warming to 1.5 °C is not yet a geophysical impossibility
  3. But this would imply continuing to strengthen pledges for 2030, deepening the mitigation targets rapidly and deeply

Article 14 of the Agreement

  1. It provides the details on the targets, taking stock and reviewing them and the progress made towards long-term goals
  2. The first such stock-taking covering all aspects such as mitigation, adaptation communications, and support for implementation is expected to take place in 2023

Issues that can halt the progress

  1. This is the first COP after the US pulled out of the PA and the implications of this at a global platform are likely to become more evident
  2. According to earlier reports from the UN and other groups, the NDCs, when added up, fall short of what is needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C and will likely take us about a degree higher
  3. Further, most NDCs are conditional — they depend on financial and technological support from rich countries for their full implementation

The way forward

  1. Political conditions prevalent today are not favourable to renegotiate the Paris Agreement
  2. Our only hope is to see a greater readiness on the part of all nations to compromise on their erstwhile hard positions, and sincerity to make progress in reducing emissions


Nationally Determined Contributions

  1. Countries across the globe adopted a historic international climate agreement at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015
  2. In anticipation of this moment, countries publicly outlined what post-2020 climate actions they intended to take under the new international agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
  3. The climate actions communicated in these INDCs largely determine whether the world achieves the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement: to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C, to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C, and to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of this century

Citing ‘alarming’ air quality, Supreme Court bans sale of firecrackers in NCR


Mains Paper 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Conservation of environment and curbing pollution, Traditions and pollution: can we balance the two?



  1. The article discusses the SC order banning sale of firecrackers in New Delhi


 What is the order?

  1. The Supreme Court reinstated the ban on sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR, saying that there was “direct evidence of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels” every year during Diwali on account of bursting of firecrackers.
  2. It also suspends all licences that “permit sale of fireworks wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR”.
  3. The court said that last year’s order was made after Diwali, hence there was no chance of testing its effect on air quality so far. So, the order suspending the licences should be given one chance to test itself in order to find out as to whether there would be positive effect of this suspension.


Chronology of events-

  1. The November 2016 order had come on a petition by three children. This order had suspended licenses that permit sale of fireworks in Delhi-NCR territory.
  2. In September 2017, a plea was filed which challenged the November 2016 order of the SC. In that order the court had allowed temporary licences for sale of crackers in Delhi-NCR, subject to a maximum of 500 licences for Delhi, and 50 per cent of what was allowed in 2016 for NCR.
  3. The bench had, however, added that this order might require a review after Diwali.
  4. This order was again challenged by the petitioners saying that the effect of the order (November 2016) be tested at least for one Diwali season. The court agreed to test the effect of ban of fireworks for one Diwali season.

Observations by the SC-

  1. The air quality deteriorates alarmingly due to crackers and the city chokes thereby. It leads to closing of schools and the authorities are compelled to take various measures on emergent basis.
  2. Burning of firecrackers during Diwali in 2016 had shot up PM (particulate matter) levels by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, so far as air pollution is concerned.
  3. The bench added that the September 12 order would take effect only from November 1 this year, that is after Diwali.
  4. There are various other factors which contribute to the air pollution in Delhi and NCR. There is a need to tackle those factors as well.
  5. The court also referred to campaigns by various government agencies to create awareness in the general public about the ill-effects of bursting crackers. This means there is consensus among the society that crackers should not be burnt during Diwali.


Electoral Reforms In India Indian Polity

[op-ed snap] The mandate, the mirror


Mains Paper 2: Indian Constitution- significant provisions and basic structure.


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: First Past the Post System

Mains level: Electoral reforms in India




  1. The article discusses pros and cons of various electoral systems like the First Past the Post, Preferential ballot system and List system.
  2. The author also argues that it could be a good idea to have additional seats in Lok Sabha for smaller parties that poll significant votes but fail to get any seats.


What is First Past the Post (FPTP) System?

  1. In this voting method voters indicate on a ballot thecandidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives most votes wins.

Criticisms of FPTP-

  1. Reflects ground reality unfairly: It allows a disproportionate relation between the votes a party polls and the seats it garners. This disproportion is two-fold: Some parties suffer due to an adverse ratio between votes and seats while some benefit from it and win too many seats.

Explained: In the last parliamentary elections, for instance, the BJP polled under one-third votes and managed to win more than 50 per cent of the seats. In contrast, the Congress polled under one-fifth votes but it could win just 8 per cent seats.

  1. Two, the winning candidate does not necessarily have a real (that is, absolute) majority in the constituency.



  1. The system that is sometimes erroneously seen as unfair might actually be articulating the reality a bit more sharply and correctly. This can be justified by the following facts. During the period of 1989-2014, there is a decreasing trend in the Congress’s votes and seat share (both) and increasing trend of the same for the BJP in the same period. Also, this period is widely accepted as the period of decline of the Congress and the rise of the BJP. So, the FPTP in turn quite accurately reflects the ground reality.
  2. Not absolute but relative majority: The logic behind the present system of plurality is that it is adequate if a candidate is “more” popular than any other contestant. To expect a candidate always to have clear or absolute majority would be unrealistic and unnecessary as a democratic precondition.


Alternative to Vote-Seat inconsistency: List System-


  1. Adopt a List System: In this system parties are allotted seats in proportion to the votes they poll. In case of parties that are new entrants or parties who have very narrow support base (community based) such a system could be a good alternative to win seats.
  2. A list system would genuinely encourage a multi-party system whereas the plurality system is often supposed to encourage two-party system.


  1. Our present system is based on the idea of constituency-level representation. The list system would nullify that or, at best, craft huge (often state-wide) multi-member constituencies and even then, the relation between the voter (the constituency) and the candidate (representative) would be snapped.
  2. The grip of the party over legislators would possibly become vicious because the candidature of a particular person would be less important than the party leader and the party brand name.



  1. Preferential Voting System: It is a system of voting in which voters indicate their first, second, and lower choices of several candidates for a single office. If no candidate receives a majority, the second choices are added to the first choices until one candidate has a majority.


Stand Up India plan slowing down: Only 6% of bank branches gave loans to SC/STs


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Stand Up India initiative

Mains level: Efforts for the upliftment of vulnerable sections of society since independence and their outcomes


What was promised?

  1. Every bank has been told that it will be your responsibility to ensure that wherever you have a branch, you have to give loans to two persons in the area — a youth who is a Dalit or an Adivasi, and a woman — to help them start a new enterprise, new business
  2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this at the launch of the Stand Up India initiative in Noida on April 5, 2016

Is the promise fulfilled?

  1. Records show that 17 months after this assurance, barely six percent of the 1.3 lakh bank branches have provided Stand Up India loans to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe individuals
  2. And less than 25 percent of the branches have provided loans to women in the general category
  3. This is according to data on loans obtained from the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance under an RTI application

Are banks unwilling to give loans to SC/ST individuals?

  1. Four private banks and 15 of 42 regional rural banks (RRBs) have not provided a single Stand Up India loan to any SC individual
  2. Five private banks – Axis Bank, Federal Bank, ICICI Bank, The Nainital Bank and Yes Bank – have not sanctioned a single such loan to any ST person
  3. The total loan amount sanctioned across banks is Rs 8,803 crore — so far, only Rs 4,852 crore has been disbursed


StandUp India Scheme

  1. The stated goal of Stand-up India, according to the government’s website, is to enable bank loans between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore to at least one SC or ST borrower and at least one woman per bank branch
  2. This loan is provided to set up a “greenfield enterprise.”
  3. The loan — repayable in seven years — is at the lowest applicable rate of the bank for its rating category
Disinvestment in India Industries

Convicted companies will not be allowed to participate in PSU privatization


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the DIPAM.

Mains level: It is one of the many steps taken by the government for proper implementation of divestment.


New disinvestment guidelines

  1. According to the new guidelines, the government will disqualify any company convicted for fraud or serious corporate offences from participating in the privatization of state-owned enterprises
  2. Any firm facing
    (1) a conviction by a court of law or
    (2) indictment/adverse order by a regulatory authority or
    (3) has faced market regulator Sebi orders relating to fraud
    will be disqualified

Earlier Criteria

  1. While selecting bidders earlier, the government used to look into the criteria like net worth and experience
  2. It has now decided to look into these additional criteria for qualification or disqualification of parties seeking to acquire stakes in central public sector enterprises (CPSEs)

Governments plan on Divestment

  1. The government has set a target of Rs15,000 crore to be raised from strategic disinvestment of PSUs in the current fiscal
  2. It has selected a host of companies, including Air India, for strategic stake sale and has fast-tracked the appointments of asset valuers and legal firms which would manage the process



  1. The Department of Disinvestment has been renamed as Department of Investment and Public Asset Management or ‘DIPAM’, a decision aimed at proper management of Centre’s investments in equity including its disinvestment in central public sector undertakings
  2. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced renaming of the Department of Disinvestment in his budget speech for 2016-17
  3. Initially set up as an independent ministry (The Ministry of Disinvestment) in December 1999, the Department of Disinvestments came into existence in May 2004 when the ministry was turned into a department of the Ministry of Finance
  4. The department took up all the functions of the erstwhile ministry which broadly was responsible for systematic policy approach to disinvestment and privatisation of Public Sector Units (PSUs)
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict Constitution

[op-ed snap] Open court: In judicial appointments and transfers, justice will now be seen to be done

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Collegium system, Memorandum of Procedure, National Judicial Appointments Commission

Mains level: Transparency initiative taken by SC & various HC’s and its ramifications on overall Indian Polity i.e judiciary, legislature and executive


Judiciary moves towards more transparency

  1. The Supreme Court has begun to upload the decisions of the collegium in the elevation, confirmation, and transfer of judges, and the reasoning behind them, at the time that its recommendations are forwarded to the government
  2.  This initiates transparency in a contested process when the judiciary and the executive have been at loggerheads over the Memorandum of Procedure
  3. In a 2015 judgment rejecting the proposed National Judicial Appointments Commission, the Supreme Court recommended improving the transparency of the collegium system

Consent of judges necessary in transfers

  1. A 1993 judgment makes it clear that consent for transfer should be taken “unless there exist pressing circumstances making it unavoidable”
  2. In addition, the circumstances must be in “public interest”

Current status: Criticism and justification

  1. The collegium’s recommendations for appointments to the Kerala and Madras High Courts are already on record and detail the process by which candidates were vetted
  2. The criticism has been made that the details were uploaded after the collegium took the decision, and the recommendations were on their way to the government
  3. Justification: If the collegium were to publish details prior to the decision, it would impugn the objective of confidentiality, which its resolution specifies
  4. The transparency delivered by the system is enough to prevent appointments that are clearly ill-advised
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Myanmar Bilateral Relations

India-Myanmar border: Panel may not curb free movement within 16 km


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: FMR

Mains level: Suggestions of the panel are crucial for country’s border security in the North-East.


Government panel set up to study gaps on the India-Myanmar border

  1. It may suggest not to restrict free movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens within 16 km of the border as allowed before
  2. But will recommend strengthening border security to prevent infiltration
  3. Also, the panel may suggest that Indians going and staying in Myanmar under the bilateral agreement may be allowed to stay for 72 hours, unlike 24 hours at present
  4. India allows Myanmarese nationals to stay for 72 hours without a visa

Reason behind this move

  1. It is a measure to upgrade security amid the mass exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar

What is Free Movement Regime (FMR)?

  1. The FMR permits the tribes residing along the border to travel 16 km across the boundary without visas
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