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Day: March 12, 2018

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

Low Priority News Items of the Day:

Be responsible, Venkaiah tells MPs

Addressing the valedictory session of the National Legislators’ Conference here, Mr. Naidu said there was no place for banners, placards or shouting in the House. “One week of Rajya Sabha was lost. Who is the loser? Someone in the Opposition may think the government is a loser, the government may think the Opposition is loser. But it is the country and the people who lose out. How much money they have spent, how much confidence they have put in us, in our system. These disruptions will not help us,” Mr. Naidu said.

Important part of the news given above. Statements given by President, PM or Vice-President are important. But no need to go through the complete article.


Saving Ghouta

The agreement reached between armed groups in Eastern Ghouta and a UN delegation to evacuate some militants from the besieged enclave is the first major concession the rebels have made since Syrian government attacks began a month ago. Under the deal, the Jaish al-Islam, the main rebel group, will evacuate militants linked to the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly an al-Qaeda front, from Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus.

The Op-Ed talks about Syrian crisis. As it does not directly related to India’s foreign policy, it is not important from the UPSC’s point of view.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-France Bilateral Relations

[op-ed snap] Reshaping Indo-Pacific


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: International Solar Alliance, NATO, blue economy

Mains level: India France strategic partnership


 India’s strategic partnership with France

  1. The expansive prospect for India’s strategic partnership with France underlines the growing importance of middle power coalitions
  2. These coalitions transcend the traditional alliance frameworks and new geopolitical fault lines

Breaking down the old stereotypes

  1. Amidst America’s uncertain external orientation and China’s effort to reshape the global order, second-tier powers like India and France seek a greater say in world affairs through more intensive collaboration
  2. In that process, they are breaking down the old stereotypes of East versus West and North versus South
  3. In taking the lead on mitigating climate change, through the International Solar Alliance, India and France are demonstrating their potential for shared global leadership
  4. France, a long-standing military ally of the United States, is also looking beyond NATO to forge security partnerships with Asian democracies like India

Delhi’s quest for a larger role in the world

  1. It can’t be founded in exclusive security partnerships with either Russia or America
  2. Nor does India want to cede Asia and the world to the rigidity of a new bipolar framework between the US and China

Indo-Pacific as the new arena for cooperation

  1. Although India’s strategic partnership with France is the oldest and dates back to the late 1990s, it lacked a regional anchor
  2. With their long-standing national advantages in the Indo-Pacific threatened by the global power shift, they have chosen to band together
  3. Delhi and Paris have agreed on greater political coordination in the region, mutual logistical support and seamless interoperability between their security forces

Shared maritime vision

  1. It seeks to uphold the law of the sea in the Indian Ocean
  2. Prevent the kind of military unilateralism that has come to grip the Western Pacific
  3. Secure the sea lines of communication
  4. Respond to humanitarian disasters and
  5. Promote sustainable blue economy

Way forward

  1. French president’s unbridled enthusiasm for India connects with his effort to rejuvenate France and revitalize Europe
  2. It is upto Delhi to make the best of this moment

Parliament panel asks govt to define ‘shell companies’ in Companies Act


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, Companies Act, CBI, ED, DRI, CBDT, SFIO, Department of Financial Services, Financial Intelligence Unit, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, SEBI

Mains level: Corporate frauds and measures to curb them


Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance directives

  1. A Parliamentary panel has asked the government to define “shell company” in the Companies Act
  2. It has also asked the government to ensure the distinction between those guilty of fraud and those irregular with filings

Background of the directive

  1. The government is cracking down on companies that have not been carrying out business activities for long as well as those entities being allegedly used for illicit fund flows
  2. As part of larger efforts to curb the black money menace, the corporate affairs ministry has already struck off the names of more than 2.26 lakh companies from the official records besides disqualifying a large number of directors associated with such entities

Real-time data sharing

  1. Amid instances of corporate frauds, the panel has also called for “real time data sharing” among the ministry and other agencies
  2. According to the panel, in order to prevent corporate misfeasance/ malfeasance, there should be real-time data-sharing amongst Ministry of Corporate Affairs and other regulatory enforcement agencies such as CBI, ED, DRI, CBDT, SFIO, Department of Financial Services, Financial Intelligence Unit, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau and SEBI
Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc. Human Resource Development

NCRB to collate data on online child sexual abuse


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NCRB, IT Act, CCTNS, Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children

Mains level: Rising threat of cybercrimes against children


Data on online child sexual abuse

  1. In a first, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has started collating data on online child sexual abuse in the country
  2. Till now no repository of such crimes was available at the national level

Under-reporting of crimes

  1. The move comes after a parliamentary standing committee on home affairs pulled up officials for not reporting the cases
  2. There was severe under-reporting of crimes related to online child sex abuse in India
  3. NCRB was collecting data on cases registered under Section 67B of IT Act (publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in a sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form, on annual basis)

Separate mechanism for data collection

  1. The panel recommended that starting 2017, NCRB should collate all the instances of online child sex abuse and other cyber crimes against children under a separate category
  2. After the parliamentary panel’s observations, NCRB has started segregating the data where children have been abused online

Other initiatives to control child abuse

  1. The home ministry informed the panel that the Crime & Criminal Tracking Network & System (CCTNS), once operational, will generate details with regard to child victims reported under cyber crimes
  2. The home ministry said that it has approved a Central Sector Project, namely Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children (CCPWC)
  3. It will set up online cybercrime reporting platform, a national level advanced cyber forensic laboratory and provide support to 36 states and Union Territories for police training institutions


Crime & Criminal Tracking Network & System (CCTNS)

  1. CCTNS is a project under Indian government for creating a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-Governance
  2. The system includes nationwide online tracking system by integrating more than 14,000 police stations across the country
  3. The project is implemented by National Crime Records Bureau
  4. CCTNS aims to integrate all the data and records of crime into a Core Application Software (CAS), which is presently spreading across 29 states and 7 union territories of India
  5. The project also involves training of police personnel and setting up of citizen portal to provide services to citizens
Tobacco: The Silent Killer Health

WHO releases new guidelines on tobacco product regulation


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Health Organization, 2018 World Conference on Tobacco or Health, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Mains level: Recent controversy related to tobacco products disclaimer and its effect on various stakeholders


Guidelines on tobacco product regulations

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched new guidelines on the role that tobacco product regulations can play in reducing tobacco demand, saving lives and raising revenues for health services to treat tobacco-related diseases
  2. The new guide, titled ‘Tobacco product regulation: Building laboratory testing capacity’ was launched at the 2018 World Conference on Tobacco or Health recently
  3. The launch of these important publications will further aid the implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO FCTC

About new guidelines

  1. The new guidelines provide practical, stepwise approaches to implementing tobacco testing
  2. Such guidance is relevant to a wide range of countries in various settings, including those with inadequate resources to establish a testing facility
  3. It provides regulators and policymakers with comprehensible information on how to test tobacco products, what products to test, and how to use testing data in a meaningful way to support regulation


WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)

  1. It is a global treaty established under the auspices of the WHO to combat the tobacco epidemic
  2. WHO FCTC is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO
  3. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005
  4. It has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history
  5. The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic and is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health
  6. The Convention represents a milestone for the promotion of public health and provides new legal dimensions for international health cooperation
Foreign Policy Watch: India-France Bilateral Relations

India, France join hands for Indian Ocean security


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: Quadrilateral discussion

Mains level: Security concerns in IOR


New logistical agreement

  1. India and France have joined hands in ensuring freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region
  2. Both sides also announced a new phase of cooperation in space security focussed on the maritime domain
  3. They also signed a fresh logistics agreement that will allow their defense forces to closely cooperate on mutually agreed operations

‘The Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region’

  1. India and France share common concerns on freedom of navigation in the region and will tackle challenges to over-flight and threat of weapons of mass destruction
  2. The agreement has a vast scope stretching from “countering maritime terrorism and piracy” to “building maritime domain awareness”
  3. This is the second major maritime arrangement that India has taken up in the last six months following the Quadrilateral discussion with Australia, Japan, and the US in October 2017

PNB fraud: RBI starts special audit of public sector banks


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: LoUs

Mains level: These audits are important for curbing Bank frauds.


RBI is going for Special Audits

  1. RBI has initiated special audit of State-owned lenders with focus on trade financing activities, especially relating to issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) by them
  2. In addition, the RBI has asked all banks for details of the LoUs they had issued, including the amounts outstanding
  3. And whether the banks had pre-approved credit limits or kept enough cash on margin before issuing the guarantees
  4. Need of these special audits: In view of the recent Rs. 12,646-crore PNB scam, it was pertinent for the regulator RBI to examine the issue of trade finance which also included issuance of letters of credit (LC)

Steps taken by the government

  1. The government recently asked the State-owned banks to scrutinise all cases of NPAs exceeding Rs. 50 crore for possible fraud and report the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation
  2. Banks have also been asked by Finance Ministry to come up with a “pre-emptive” action plan to combat rising operational and technical risks, and assign clear accountability to senior functionaries


Letter of Undertaking

  1. Technically, Letter of Undertaking is a bank guarantee under which a bank allows its customer to raise money from another Indian bank’s foreign branch in the form of short-term credit
  2. The loan is used to make payment to the customer’s offshore suppliers in foreign currency
  3. The overseas bank usually lends to the importer based on the LoU issued by the importer’s bank.
Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc. Energy

[op-ed snap] India must lead the transition to green energy

Image Source


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 ISA

Mains level: Importance of the ISA and related issues discussed in the article.


Why is International Solar Alliance (ISA) important for India?

  1. It is a a breakthrough in India’s global positioning
  2. With this ,India has suddenly became a catalyst in the global attempts at capping climate change
  3. This is important in a geopolitical sense when China is clearly expanding its global footprint

India’s commitment on solar energy

  1. India has a domestic commitment to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy by 2022
    (part of the broader 175GW target for renewable energy)

But what is the main issue?

  1. India has to push towards mass prosperity at a time when climate change is a huge concern
  2. The context of what India will have to do in the next three decades is quite different from what developed countries or Asian success stories such as China faced
  3. Fighting climate change cannot come at the cost of halting the urgent fight against poverty
  4. Global initiatives should always be seen through the lens of national interest
  5. That is why an international alliance based on credible commitments is important
  6. The key issues that India raised at the Copenhagen climate change talks is still important
  7. The rich countries still need to be pushed to provide asymmetrical funding for climate change mitigation and technology transfers
  8. That will continue to be an important challenge for the global solar alliance

Solar Energy: An opportunity

  1. The shift to solar energy should not be seen only as a defence mechanism
  2. It can also be an opportunity
  3. Economic historians have identified five long waves of technology since the Industrial Revolution
  4. The chronological order of these technology waves is as follows—the steam engine and cotton ginning; steel and railways; electrical and chemical engineering; automobiles and plastics; and information technology
  5. The fight against climate change(and the broader move to low-carbon economies) is likely to create the next big technological wave

The way forward

  1. New technology will be the critical factor in the transition to a green economy which also grows rapidly, and India should take a shot at global leadership
  2. Coal will continue to be a key part of the Indian energy mix in the immediate future
  3. But the push for solar energy is welcome if a longer view is taken
  4. ISA thus offers many opportunities —from geopolitical advantages to economic benefits in the next wave of global innovation


International Solar Alliance

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