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Day: January 12, 2018

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[12 Jan 2018 | Low Priority News Items of the Day]

Low Priority News Items of the Day:

Afzal Guru’s son gets 88%

Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s son Ghalib Afzal Guru has passed the Class 12 examination securing 441 marks (88.2%) out of 500 in the science stream.

This news may seem interesting. But it is in no way related to the Mains syllabus. But still you can remember the headline, for mentioning it at anywhere.

 

The Iranian crisis is not yet over

When revolutionary regimes stagnate, confusion and chaos reign, and both are palpably true of the Islamic Republic of Iran today. Amid a deep economic, political and now social crisis, many on the ground in Iran and even more observing from abroad don’t know what to think or to do. The recent protests which spread around Iran in the waning days of 2017 and early 2018 represented the largest public display of discontent in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement.

The Op-Ed talks about issues related to Iran. It is not related to the UPSC syllabus, as it will not have any significant direct effect on Indian Foreign Policy.


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ISRO Missions and Discoveries Space Technology

ISRO successfully launches 42nd PSLV

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the payload

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view. Also, it is the first successful launch after the recent failure. 


News

What is the news?

  1. The ISRO has launched its 42nd Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
  2. The PSLV-C40 is to place 31 satellites, originating from seven countries, across two orbits

Particulars of the Cartosat-2

  1. The Cartosat-2 imagery will be used to develop various land and geographical information system applications, weighs 710 kg and was to be placed in a circular polar sun synchronous orbit 505 km from Earth
  2. The satellite’s design life is five years
  3. The 30 co-passenger satellites together weigh 613 kg

Technology demonstrator

  1. It was the two other Indian satellites in the C40’s payload that generated the most excitement
    (A microsatellite and a Nanosatellite)
  2. Both were called technology demonstrators, indicating significant strides towards miniaturisation
  3. The Indian Nano Satellite – 1C, is the third in its series; its predecessors were part of the PSLV-C37 launch of February 2017
  4. The INS-1C, whose mission life is six months, carries the Miniature Multispectral Technology Demonstration payload from the Space Applications Centre
  5. Why important: With a capability to carry up to 3 kg of payload and a total satellite mass of 11 kg, it offers immense opportunities for future use

Background

  1. The ISRO had seen its previous launch of August 31, 2017 being recorded as a failure
  2. The heat shield of PSLV-C39 did not separate, resulting in satellite separation occurring within the shield
  3. It was only the second total failure of the PSLV in nearly 24 years: the PSLV-D1, in its maiden flight, had failed on September 20, 1993

Back2basics

Microsatellite

  1. The term “microsatellite” or “microsat” is usually applied to the name of an artificial satellite with a wet mass between 10 and 100 kg (22 and 220 lb)
  2. However, this is not an official convention and sometimes those terms can refer to satellites larger than that, or smaller than that (e.g., 1–50 kg (2.2–110.2 lb))
  3. Sometimes designs or proposed designs from some satellites of these types have microsatellites working together or in a formation
  4. The generic term “small satellite” or “smallsat” is also sometimes used, as is “satlet”

Nanosatellite

  1. The term “nanosatellite” or “nanosat” is usually applied to the name of an artificial satellite with a wet mass between 1 and 10 kg (2.2–22 lb)
  2. Again designs and proposed designs of these types usually have multiple nanosatellites working together or in formation (sometimes the term “swarm” is applied)
  3. Some designs require a larger “mother” satellite for communication with ground controllers or for launching and docking with nanosatellites
Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc. Conservation & Mitigation

[oped snap] The bamboo curtain

Note4students

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: Difference between tree and grass.

Mains level: Complement it with our previous newscards on the same issue(attached below).


News

Bamboo: Grass or Tree

  1. Bamboo may belong to the plant kingdom, but even if we choose to call it a tree, it is not a tree
  2. It belongs to the family Poaceae, which means it is a kind of grass
  3. There are complicated botanical differences between grass and a tree
  4. But one is simple to understand. A tree’s stem is solid, while a bamboo’s is hollow

The Indian Forest Act (IFA) of 1927 has been amended

  1. Initially it was done through an ordinance( Read [op-ed snap] Bamboo shoots and Bamboo ceases to be a tree, freed of Forest Act )
  2. It was decided to amend clause (7) of section 2 of the said Act so as to omit the word ‘bamboos’ from the definition of tree
  3. Why: In order to exempt bamboos grown on non-forest area from the requirement of permit(from one state to the another) for felling or transit under the said Act
  4. And would encourage bamboo plantation by farmers resulting in the enhancement of their income from agricultural fields

Does the amended law demolish the bamboo curtain?

  1. According to some experts, it doesn’t
    Why
  2. The first tension is this bamboo anywhere versus bamboo in forest/non-forest areas. (Almost all, if not all, bamboo in the Northeast will be in forest areas.)
  3. Second, while IFA doesn’t define “forest”, notwithstanding the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006, are we clear about what is “forest”, or will it be left to the courts (such as in the Godavarman case) to determine what is a forest?
  4. Third, where is “forest” in the Seventh Schedule? Today, forests feature as Entry 17A in the Concurrent List.
  5. But this is after the 42nd Amendment, famous for other reasons
  6. Before that, “forests” featured in the State List
  7. We, therefore, have a Union government cum state government angle, with several states (Assam, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka) enacting legislation/rules on the cutting or transit of bamboo.
  8. Fourth, under FRA, is there clarity between the rights of the forest department vis-à-vis community rights?
  9. Think of a piece of bamboo in transit
  10. In the absence of chips embedded into it, how does one establish it originated in a non-forest area?

The way forward

  1. Legislation on forests in India have a colonial and complicated legacy, the antecedents go back to 1865, not 1927
  2. Bamboo has suffered in the process, “in the skirts of the forest like fringe upon a petticoat”
  3. There is still a lot of cleaning up to do

[op-ed snap] Wrong time for fiscal squeeze

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Indian Economy Issues relating to planning

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic terms related to fiscal consolidation like fiscal deficit, etc.

Mains level: The article comprehensively deals with the issue of Fiscal Consolidation, government borrowings and its effects on the Indian Economy. It is an important issue as the government has recently decided to borrow more before the annual budget, Govt. to borrow more; fiscal deficit may widen.


News

Current issues with the Indian Economy

  1. There is a distinct slowdown in economic growth
  2. Employment creation, already too little, has slowed down even more
  3. The persistent recession and fragile recovery in the world economy, means that external markets cannot provide the demand to stimulate growth
  4. Is anything positive: The good news is that inflation is moderate and world oil prices are still low
  5. Yet, the economy remains vulnerable to shocks such as a jump in oil prices or a bad monsoon

Issue of Fiscal Deficit(in this fiscal year)

  1. There are revenue shortfalls attributable to the complex structure and hasty implementation of the goods and services tax (GST)
  2. There are expenditure overruns
  3. It is possible that the forthcoming budget resorts to an adjustment of revised estimate (revenue and expenditure) so that the fiscal deficit conforms as closely as possible to what was targeted
  4. For avoiding dampening of the GDP further, the government has no choice other than to allow fiscal deficit to exceed the target

Two opposite views on ‘what should be done’

  1. (1) At one end, there are those who want a reduction in the fiscal deficit in conformity with the targets: 3.2% of GDP in FY18 and 3% of GDP in FY19
  2. They have an ideological belief in the virtues of fiscal consolidation
  3. (2) At the other end, there are those who want fiscal expansion to boost growth in the economy through domestic demand in the face of a global slowdown
  4. They hope that government expenditure on consumption and investment will stimulate demand to revive economic activity
  5. But if the object is to drive economic growth and foster employment creation, the choice is obvious(i.e. to follow 2)
  6. In an economic downturn, fiscal policy must be expansionary

Why are investment and exports important determinants of economic growth?

  1. From demand side: The three sources of growth on the demand side are consumption, investment and exports
  2. Investment, which is decided upon within the economy
  3. And exports, which depend on world demand for our goods, are the primary, autonomous sources of demand that drive growth in output
  4. From supply side: Investment and exports are also critical determinants of growth from the supply side
  5. Investment creates capacities or raises productivity, both of which increase output from the supply side
  6. Exports, which must be price- and quality-competitive in world markets, raise efficiency and productivity of exporting firms to drive growth in output

Issues with the monetary policy

  1. Monetary policy should provide stimulus to private investment by lowering interest rates
  2. The Reserve Bank of India stubbornly resists, refusing to recognize that it was the low oil prices rather than high interest rates that tamed inflation
  3. Instead, it caught in the flawed belief system that inflation can be controlled by high interest rates

Are the government borrowings reliable?

  1. Government borrowing is always sustainable if it is used to finance investment and if the rate of return on such investment is greater than the interest rate payable
  2. Hence, there is nothing sacrosanct about keeping the fiscal deficit at 3% of GDP

Primary deficit and the Fiscal Situation

  1. The primary deficit, which is the gross fiscal deficit minus interest payments, reflects whether the fiscal situation is getting better or worse, is estimated at a negligible 0.1% of GDP in 2017-18
  2. These numbers suggest that the fiscal situation is not a cause for concern

The way forward

  1. Government deficits are better managed by increasing revenues for which there is ample scope just by improving tax compliance
  2. Our direct tax rates are among the lowest in world. So are direct tax-GDP ratios
  3. It is time to remove exemptions and deductions
  4. GST is a step in the right direction for indirect taxes
  5. But it is essential to reduce its multiplicity of rates and complexity in administration
Skilling India – Skill India Mission,PMKVY, NSDC, etc. Human Resource Development

[op-ed snap] A global opportunity for the Indian workforce

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Economic Prospects report, Gini coefficient, Annual State of Education Report, World Development Report

Mains level: Ways to improve skill development and employment


Context

Global Economic Prospects report

  1. The World Bank’s latest “Global Economic Prospects” report shows that the second wave of change in the global labour market will play out over the next two decades
  2. Developing economies will be contributing to all of the addition in the global skilled labour force
  3. This is because the number of skilled workers in advanced economies is expected to decline

Global workforce and skilled workers

  1. Skilled workers have been defined as those having at least nine years of education
  2. The global skilled workforce is likely to increase from 1.66 billion workers in 2011 to 2.16 billion by 2040

What will this lead to?

  1. Improvement in the level of education and skill tends to increase income
  2. Rising income in the developing world will lead to a reduction in inequality
  3. The global Gini coefficient is estimated to decline from 65.8 in 2012 to 62.6 by 2030

Gains depend on adjustments

  1. India has benefited by integrating with the global economy
  2. The next wave of gains will depend on how well it adjusts to the changing economic and technological environment
  3. Policymakers will need to work on different levels to be able to create a competitive labour force

What needs to be done?

  1. First, India urgently needs to focus on education and skill development
  • The “Annual State of Education Report” periodically shows the depressing state of education in Indian schools
  • The World Bank also highlighted the problem in its “World Development Report” last year
  • Outcomes in education could be improved by better use of technology

2. Second, the World Bank in its analysis assumes that additional workers will get employed

  • India has not been able to create enough employment opportunities for people moving out of agriculture
  • The basic reason for this is India has not capitalized on labour-intensive manufacturing
  • Recent research shows that India’s competitive advantage in some of the labour-intensive sectors has actually declined in recent years
  • The legal and regulatory requirements in markets like land and labour make it difficult for firms to grow and take advantage of economies of scale
  • To be able to absorb its rising workforce, India needs to remove impediments in the manufacturing sector

3. Third, inequality has gone up in advanced economies

  • Even though inequality at the global level declined in recent decades, it has gone up in advanced economies as the national income share of wages came down
  • Therefore, the lingering risk of protectionism is unlikely to dissipate in a hurry
  • India will need to protect its interest in such an environment and look for opportunities to increase trade at both bilateral and multilateral forums
  • Adequate attention should be paid to currency management in the world of volatile capital flows
  • It will be difficult to grow at a faster pace without the backing of strong exports as exports are an important driver of growth and job creation

Way Forward

  1. An increasing number of skilled workers not only raises the potential growth but also reduces inequality within the country by reducing the skill premium
  2. A skilled labour force along with a focus on manufacturing and exports will help India grow at a faster rate in the medium to long run

Back2Basics

Gini Coefficient

  1. Gini Coefficient is a popular statistical measure to gauge the rich-poor income or wealth divide
  2. It measures inequality of a distribution — be it of income or wealth — within nations or States
  3. Its value varies anywhere from zero to 1
  4. Zero indicates perfect equality and one indicates the perfect inequality
  5. Gini Coefficients can be used to compare income distribution of a country over time as well
  6. A general rise in Gini Coefficient indicates that government policies are not inclusive and may be benefiting the rich as much as (or even more than) the poor
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States Bilateral Relations

US sends clear signal to India: At some point, let us post officers at each other’s combatant commands

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Free Trade Agreement, MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia group, NSG

Mains level: Growing partnership between India and USA


News

Strategic ties between the United States and India set to rise

  1. US ambassador has proposed “reciprocal military liaison officers at each other’s combatant commands” at “some point” in defence relations between the two countries
  2. This suggestion comes two years after India and the US signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) which allows their militaries to work closely and use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies

Current US military liaison arrangements

  1. At present, the US has arrangements to have military liaison officers with some of its NATO allies and close defence partners including Australia, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, Philippines, New Zealand, Great Britain
  2. Posting liaison officers will mean formalising the robust partnerships between theatre commands, viz Pacific command of the US defence forces

Free Trade Agreement between India and USA

  1. US envoy also proposed a Free Trade Agreement with India in the future
  2. There have been no negotiations between India and the US on FTA so far
  3. The economic partnership should be looked through the strategic lens — as the US looks for alternatives to China in the region

On India joining multilateral export control regimes

  1. India recently joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangements
  2. The US expects India to join the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons in near future
  3. The USA is working closely with India and our international partners to secure India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group
Air Pollution Conservation & Mitigation

Domestic biomass burning deadliest source of air pollution: Study

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Burden of Disease report, PM 2.5

Mains level: Rising air pollution and ways to tackle it


News

Deadliest air pollution source in India

  1. Emissions from domestic biomass burning has emerged as the deadliest air pollution source in India
  2. It is responsible for around a quarter of the deaths caused by PM2.5, a global study has found

Global Burden of Diseases (GBD MAPS) report

  1. The report is published by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute
  2. It builds on the GBD report, which was launched in November last year
  3. That report had attributed over 1.1 million deaths recorded in 2015 to outdoor exposure to PM2.5
  4. PM 2.5 are ultrafine air-borne particulates as tiny as 30 times the width of a human hair

Role of biomass burning

  1. The latest study focuses on the major sources of PM2.5 that are behind the deaths namely, residential biomass burning, coal combustion in industries and thermal power plants, burning of crop residue and vehicular combustion
  2. The study does not take into account indoor exposure to biomass burning, especially in rural areas where charcoal, firewood and animal dung are used for cooking in the absence of cleaner fuels
Electoral Reforms In India Indian Polity

In view of new media, EC panel to suggest changes to model code

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 126 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, Model Code of Conduct

Mains level: Measures being taken by EC to make elections more transparent


News

Changes sought in Model Code of Conduct

  1. The Election Commission (EC) has set up a 14-member committee to suggest changes to Section 126 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act
  2. This provision prohibits poll campaign in the last 48 hours leading to voting
  3. Due to the multifold expansion of digital and electronic media, the extant Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951, and other related provisions require revisiting to cater to the requirement and challenges of the present and emerging situations

What will committee do?

  1. Apart from suggesting modifications to the election law, the committee will also study the impact of new media and social media during the “silence period”
  2. It would study its implication in view of Section 126 and suggest changes to the model code of conduct (MCC) accordingly
  3. It has also been tasked to examine the difficulties faced in regulating media platforms during the prohibitory 48 hours in a multi-phase election

Back2Basics

Model Code of Conduct

  1. It is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct
  2. These set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code in its letter and spirit (The Code doesn’t have any statutory basis)
  3. Even though the Code of Conduct does not have any statutory basis, the EC has the power to disqualify a candidate if he/she violates the code
  4. The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission for the need of ensuring free and fair elections
  5. The objective of MCC is to ensure that the party in power is not able to use public money to improve its electoral prospects
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict Constitution

Indu Malhotra set to script history

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Appointments in Judiciary, Articles 124 and 217

Mains level: Gender gap existing in judiciary and its effect on judgments delivered


News

First woman advocate being directly promoted

  1. Senior advocate Indu Malhotra is set to make history as the first woman lawyer to be directly appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court
  2. Ms. Malhotra will be the seventh woman judge in the Supreme Court, since it was established 67 years ago, if her appointment goes through

Other achievements

  1. In 2007, she became the second woman to be designated a senior advocate by the Supreme Court only after the legendary Justice Leila Seth, who was given the honour in 1977
  2. She is on the board of trustees in SaveLIFE Foundation and represented the NGO in a case which resulted in the Supreme Court passing a slew of laws to protect Good Samaritans, who save lives in road accidents

Gender gap in SC

  1. There is only one woman judge at present in the Supreme Court which currently has a strength of 25 judges
  2. In 1989, Justice M. Fathima Beevi became the first woman judge in the Supreme Court
  3. Only five women judges have been appointed as Supreme Court judge till now

Back2Basics

Appointments in Judiciary

  1. Appointments to the higher judiciary, governed by Articles 124 and 217, for the Supreme Court and the High Courts respectively are in hands of the executive, or so it appears from a literal reading of the provisions
  2. In the early decades since the adoption of the Constitution, the appointments were made primarily by the executive after consultation with the judiciary as per the provisions of the Constitution
  3. The tectonic shift took place from 1981, where a 7-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court declared that the executive would hold primacy in judicial appointments (First Judges case)
  4. Judiciary regained primacy in appointment of Judges in 1998 (Third judges case)
  5. It was said that the Chief Justice of India, along with senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court would play a primary role in appointments to the judiciary (Collegium system)
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