Author: Discuss

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Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU India Beyond its Neighbours

Erdogan calls for war on terror

  1. What: Turkey and India called for a collective fight against terrorism
  2. Speaking at the end of delegation-level talks, visiting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack on CRPF personnel in Sukma and expressed solidarity with India
  3. However, Mr. Erdogan’s condemnation of the killing of security personnel in central India contrasted with his silence over the news of an alleged cross-border attack by elements based in Pakistan
  4. The issue of cross-border terrorism was strongly taken up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who urged for a common strategy against states that use terrorism as an instrument of power
  5. President Erdogan in a TV interview before arriving in India had called for end to the violence in Kashmir and starting a multilateral dialogue involving India and Pakistan
  6. However India maintained that it had never shied away from holding bilateral talks in line with the 1972 Shimla Pact and the 1999 Lahore agreement and said the main issue in Kashmir is of terrorism
  7. President Erdogan also targeted the prominent Sufi cleric Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet network that he blamed for the failed coup of July 15-16 2016

Note4students:

Turkey has traditionally been very close to Pakistan and hence it is no surprise that it is supporting Pak in some ways. However, it is a sign of mature diplomacy that India is willing to overlook these predictable responses and try to build on other areas of the relationship with Turkey. President Erdogan is supporting India’s bid for NSG and UNSC reforms. However, he is also supporting Pak for NSG membership.

Look at Turkey in the atlas, look at all water bodies, physical features, surrounding countries etc.

ASEAN wants stronger ties with China

  1. Steering clear of blaming China for the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has focussed on a regional trade pact and shoring up economies of some of the lesser developed countries in the grouping
  2. The leaders focused on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, pointing out that the giant free trade pact will boost global trade
  3. The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN and six other states — Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand
  4. The document highlighted a commitment to assist Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to enable them to bolster regional integration
  5. The ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

Note4students:

A sign of China’s influence. Read about RCEP here – Link.

Why you may (or may not) have worked on May Day

  1. May Day, also known as the International Workers’ Day, originated in 1884, when the Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions of the United States and Canada demanded an eight-hour workday
  2. Depending on where you live in India, May Day may or may not have been a holiday for you
  3. That’s because State governments use their discretion in declaring a holiday on May Day since it is not a national holiday across the country
  4. In India, Labour Day was first celebrated on May 1, 1923 on the Triplicane beach in Chennai
  5. The celebrations were organised by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan, founded by Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar, one of the founders of the Communist Party of India

Note4students:

Make a note of point 1 for prelims.

Indian Army Updates Security Issues

Army set to install smart fence along LoC

  1. What: With infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) on the rise, the Army is all set to accelerate work on installing a new smart fence to replace the existing border fence following successful trials
  2. The existing fence called the Anti-Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS) is located about 700m from the LoC
  3. It is a double row fence consisting of concertina wire and was constructed between 2003 and 2005
  4. According to officials: The present fence has high rate of degradation due to snow and has to be repaired after every season which costs about ₹50-60 crore every year
  5. In addition, over time the infiltrators get used to the fence and have devised ways to cross it
  6. To overcome these, a proposal has been in the works for sometime to install a smart fence which will also enable round the clock real-time surveillance
  7. This gained momentum after the Pathankot and Uri terror attacks last year in which terrorists crossed the LoC and attacked military installations
  8. The fence has already been tested and installed along a 50km stretch on a trial basis
  9. The project would be implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers
  10. The smart fence stretching about 700 km will have enhanced surveillance features with sensors integrated and also has better survivability
  11. Infiltration across the LoC peaked last year in the aftermath of the surgical strikes by the Army on terror camps in September
  12. Attacks on military installations have also gone up dramatically over the last two years
  13. The border fence forms the first line of defence in the three tier counter-infiltration grid
  14. The new fence would be erected in place of the existing one and is expected to cost around ₹1000 crore
  15. Army sources said that they have received in-principle approval for the project and have been assured on the allotment of required funds

Note4students:

This news is helpful in understanding issues related to infiltration and how technology can help.

Back2basics:

Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India, however some parts of it are illegaly occupied by Pak and China. Due to this various terms like LoC keep appearing in the news. Below is an explanation.

1. The term Line of Control (LoC) refers to the military control line between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir—a line which does not constitute a legally recognized international boundary, but is the de facto border.

2. Originally known as the Cease-fire Line, it was redesignated as the “Line of Control” following the Simla Agreement, which was signed on 3 July 1972.

3. The part of the former princely state that is under Indian control is known as the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani-controlled part is divided into Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan. The northernmost point of the Line of Control is known as NJ9842.

4. Another ceasefire line separates the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir from the Chinese-controlled area known as Aksai Chin. Lying further to the east, it is known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

See here for a map to make it clear – Link.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries Space Technology

SAARC satellite to be launched on May 5

  1. What: The “South Asia satellite” being built by India for use by countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region will be launched on May 5
  2. The satellite was announced by Mr. Modi during the 2014 SAARC summit in Nepal and all SAARC countries have since joined it except Pakistan
  3. The total cost of launching the satellite is estimated to be about ₹235 crore and the cost associated with the launch will be met by the Government of India
  4. The satellite called GSAT-09 enables full range of applications and services in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz. Television, Direct-to-Home (DTH), Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), Tele-education, Telemedicine and Disaster Management Support
  5. The 2,230 kg satellite was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and has 12 Ku-band transponders
  6. It will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota using a Geostationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-II launch vehicle
  7. The GSLV-F09 is about 50m tall and is the 11th flight of the GSLV. It is also the its fourth consecutive flight with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) engine

Note4students:

This has been in news frequently, and there should not be much new information here.

Drought, rural distress and support to farmers Agriculture

Farm suicides get attention of Supreme Court

  1. Source: A study conducted across 13 States by the Union Agriculture Ministry throws up the all-too-familiar reasons that drive farmers to suicide
  2. Reasons: Frequent crop failure, vagaries of the monsoon, absence of assured water resources, attacks of pests and diseases, debts, farming and social causes
  3. Union Home Ministry’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports up to 2015 reveal identical causes of suicides among farmers — bankruptcy, farming-related issues, family problems, illness, drug abuse or alcoholism
  4. Centre views: In an affidavit filed by the Agriculture Ministry in the Supreme Court last week, the Centre agrees with the court that the deaths of farmers are an “unfortunate issue”
  5. But it can only formulate a line of action to resolve the issue, the actual implementation at the ground level is the responsibility of the individual States
  6. SC hearing: The court is scheduled to hold a hearing on May 1 on this affidavit filed on the basis of a petition filed by the organisation, Citizens Resource and Action Initiative (CRANTI), against Gujarat
  7. The court expanded the ambit of the petition to farmers’ suicides across the country and had asked the Centre on March 27 to provide an action plan to end the human tragedy
  8. The affidavit suggests crop insurance, crop and enterprise diversification, government intervention through minimum support price (MSP) covering cost of production plus a reasonable profit margin, establishing farmers’ welfare cells as support groups and regulating informal credit market as remedies
  9. Alternate view: There is a disconnect between the Centre and States, which leaves the farmer empty-handed
  10. “It is clear that the Centre controls most important policies pertaining to farm livelihoods whether it is MSP, credit, crop insurance, disaster compensation, trade policies and so on”
  11. “Often, the States are not consulted on these matters. The MSP is not realised by most farmers. Credit is being cornered by non-farmers”
  12. “Many of these policies are actually going against farmers’ interests. Unless these are addressed, farm suicides can’t be prevented”
  13. The government affidavit: However, points to relief measures such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
  14. It provides farmers’ full insurance and had 390.02 lakh farmers covered and 386.75 lakh hectares insured with a sum of ₹1,41,883.30 crore during Kharif 2016
  15. The Agriculture Ministry said 172.94 lakh farmers had been covered with a total sum of ₹69,851.37 lakh crore during Rabi 2016-17
  16. It said the government had increased the target of agricultural credit from ₹9 lakh crore to ₹10 lakh crore in Budget 2017-18
  17. The Reserve Bank of India has allowed State and district level banks to take a lenient view on rescheduling of loans if crop loss is 33% or more
  18. The govt has highlighted the Kisan Credit Card scheme and the e-National Agricultural Market Scheme to “create a single unified market for the State and ultimately for the nation for agricultural commodities”

Note4students:

Issues such as these can be asked in mains and interview. Don’t just dismiss them as due to weather or a regular occurrence. It is a complex issue and hence try to have a balanced view.

Real Estate Industry Infrastructure

Real estate Act will come into force today

  1. Event: The much-awaited Real Estate Regulatory Act, which promises to protect the rights of homebuyers and bring in transparency to the sector, comes into force on Monday
  2. Though only 13 States and Union Territories have notified the rules so far, the Centre believes that within the next two months, others too will follow suit
  3. Provisions: Under these regulations, developers are required to display sanctioned plans and layout plans of at least 3X2 feet size at all marketing offices, other offices where properties are sold, all branch offices and head office of the promoters in addition to the site of project
  4. As per the new act, 70% of the funds collected from buyers would have to be deposited in a separate bank account in case of new projects and 70% of unused funds in case of ongoing projects
  5. Projects with plot size of minimum 500 sq.m or at least eight apartments shall be registered with regulatory authorities
  6. Both developers and buyers to pay the same penal interest of SBI’s Marginal Cost of Lending Rate plus 2% in case of delays
  7. The Act also puts the liability of developers for structural defects for five years

Note4students:

The Act is expected to bring transparency in the sector and boost confidence among consumers.

Official Language of the Union & the issues around Constitution

NFDC to dub regional movies in Hindi

  1. What: Presidential nod to a parliamentary panel recommendation that the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) either dub regional movies or have them carry Hindi subtitles
  2. The Committee of Parliament on Official Language has also recommended that film-makers submit their script in Hindi to the NFDC and make it available to all concerned
  3. About NDFC: The NFDC facilitates line production services of shooting in India and animation services of overseas clients. It deals with film financing, production and distribution, and works under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  4. As of now, the corporation’s sub-rules on submission of applications for feature films state that the applicants should submit six copies of their script in English and one in the language the movie is to be made
  5. The recommendation only covers regional films produced by the NFDC

India, Cyprus call for decisive action against hosts of ‘violence factories’

  1. What: PM Modi and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday held detailed discussions on bilateral and regional issues and agreed on the need for all countries to decisively act against States that shelter and sustain violence factories in their regions
  2. Mr. Modi said India had always stood with Cyprus on crucial issues and firmly supported its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity
  3. The two sides also agreed on the need of early reforms of the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Modi said and expressed India’s appreciation of Cyprus’ support to India’s bid for inclusion in it as a permanent member

Note4students:

This news is not important. However, locate Cyprus on the atlas and look at the surrounding countries, water bodies etc.

Black Money – Domestic and international efforts Finance and Banking

Money laundering may be made criminal offence

  1. What: The Central government is considering a proposal to make money laundering a separate criminal offence to be investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, irrespective of a probe by other agencies
  2. Effect: This will facilitate quick action against those indulging in money laundering
  3. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has also been of the view that money laundering investigations by the ED should be allowed without any dependence on registration of cases by other police agencies under the legal provisions listed in the schedule of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)
  4. Current arrangement: The fate of money laundering cases depends on that of the probe and prosecutions in predicate offences pursued by primary agencies
  5. Many in government agencies are of the view that certain restrictions on money laundering investigations on several occasions cause impediments in taking the cases to their logical conclusion
  6. Elsewhere: Money laundering in itself has been defined as a criminal offence in several countries
  7. Besides, there are separate legislations for dealing with funds generated through activities like drug trafficking or terror financing
  8. The United States has very stringent laws to check money laundering
  9. UK: In the United Kingdom, police have to prove predicate offence through circumstantial evidence, linking it to the funds generated and laundered
  10. Wherever money laundering is treated as a stand-alone crime, U.K. agencies are not required to wait for the outcome of investigations into the predicate offence
  11. Also, they are not supposed to prove that the funds are proceeds of a particular offence
  12. Based on enough circumstantial evidence, they have to just establish that the proceeds had a criminal origin
  13. According to experts, the Indian government will have to bring about several amendments to the PMLA
  14. Including the current definition of the “proceeds of crime” that is right now dependent upon the predicate offences as listed in the Act’s schedule
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act Indian Polity

SC dismisses Centre’s plea against judgment for probe into encounter deaths in disturbed areas

  1. What: The SC dismissed a curative petition filed by the Centre seeking to urgently re-consider its July 2016 verdict which ripped open the cloak of immunity and secrecy provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) to security forces for deaths caused during encounters in disturbed areas
  2. Effect: With this, the court’s original judgment that encounters with security forces resulting in deaths in sensitive areas should come under investigation has attained finality
  3. The SC had held that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court” if an Army man has committed an offence
  4. The judgment had held that every death caused by security forces in a disturbed area, whether the victim is a dreaded criminal or a militant or a terrorist or an insurgent, should be thoroughly enquired into in order to address any allegation of use of excessive or retaliatory force beyond the call of duty
  5. The Centre had argued in the curative that the judgment had become a fetter against security forces involved in anti-militancy operations in sensitive and border areas of the country
  6. Argument in curative: This court ought to have appreciated that the principles of right to self defence cannot be strictly applied while dealing with militants and terrorist elements in a hostile and unstable terrain
  7. This court ought to have taken into account the complexity and the reality of the conduct of military operations and tactics especially while combating terrorists
  8. Mr. Rohatgi submitted that the July 2016 verdict cast a shadow over personnel’s morale and ability to respond to insurgent and terror situations
  9. The court had agreed to consider the curative plea
  10. The July 2016 judgment by the SC had observed that an impartial investigation and prosecution of the guilty party is the basic requirement for rule of law to prevail in a democracy
  11. It does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the state
  12. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both… This is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of the rule of law and the preservation of individual liberties
  13. Background: The judgment came on a plea by hundreds of families in the north-eastern State of Manipur for a probe by a Special Investigation Team into 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters involving the Army and the police
  14. The July 2016 judgment was based on writ petitions filed by NGOs and victims’ families seeking a fair probe into encounter deaths in the northeastern State of Manipur during the heights of insurgency
NITI Aayog : The New Development Agenda Indian Polity

NITI Aayog mulls taxing agriculture income

  1. Govt think-tank NITI Aayog has suggested that agriculture income be brought under the purview of personal Income Tax in a bid to curb tax evasion
  2. Event: In its three-year action agenda, discussed at the Governing Council meeting, the Aayog reasoned that non-agricultural entities sometimes use the blanket relief to evade taxes
  3. All agricultural income is currently exempted from Income Tax regardless of its size
  4. While the provision is meant to protect farmers, non-agricultural entities sometimes use it to evade taxes by declaring agriculture as the source of their income
  5. A key limitation of personal Income Tax regime is the small tax base
  6. In assessment year 2014-15, only 3.65 crore individuals filed returns. Of this group, only 1.91 crore individuals or around 1.5% of the population paid any Income Tax at all
  7. Therefore, the govt should endeavour to bring a large number of citizens into the direct tax net even if their tax liabilities are minimal
  8. There were about 225 million households in India of which roughly 2/3rd were in rural India. Rural India was effectively out of the purview of all personal income taxation
  9. The three-year agenda, which Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya said has been prepared through extensive consultation with state governments, enlists 300 specific action points
  10. The document has 7 parts with 24 chapters
  11. Other recommendations: The Aayog has also proposed reduction of fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2018-19 and the revenue deficit to 0.9% of the GDP by 2019-20
  12. It has also suggested that high and rising share of NPAs in India’s bank be addressed through supporting the auction of larger assets to private asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) and strengthening State Bank of India-led ARC
  13. The Aayog said there was a need to bring down land prices to make housing affordable through increased supply of urban land
  14. This can be done through measures such as releasing the land held by sick units
  15. It has also called for reforming the Rent Control Act along the lines of Model Tenancy Act and promoting dormitory housing
Indian Navy Updates Security Issues

Surgical strikes here to stay

  1. What: India’s latest military doctrine has added surgical strikes, including across the border, among India’s possible responses to terrorist attacks
  2. The ‘joint doctrine Indian armed forces’ prepared by the Headquarters, Integrated Defence Staff was released by Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Navy Chief
  3. The first joint military doctrine was released in 2006
  4. According to the doctrine: The response to terror provocations could be in the form of ‘surgical strikes’ and these would be subsumed in the sub-conventional portion of the spectrum of armed conflict
  5. According to the Navy: The doctrine will serve as a cornerstone document for application of military power in a “synergised manner leading to enhanced efficiency, optimum utilisation of resources and financial savings”
  6. According to an officer (points 6-14): The reclassification of surgical strikes shows that they are not a one-off event any more but part of several options that would be considered
  7. In the last two years, the Army had carried out surgical strikes across the border with Myanmar and Line of Control (LoC) Pakistan, targeting terrorist camps
  8. The revised doctrine was formulated in a record time of nine months
  9. Last year’s event of surgical strikes and increased tensions on the border gave further impetus to it
  10. Doctrines are always works in progress and keep evolving from time to time
  11. A colligate approach was adopted and all three service Headquarters actively participated in the formulation of this capstone document
  12. In the past decade or so, a lot of integration has taken place in the Indian armed forces which is highlighted in this doctrine, especially integration in the field of operations, training, management, and perspective planning
  13. The officer stated that this will be followed by formulation of other keystone doctrines like information warfare, training and so on in due course
  14. It speaks of the threat posed by radicalisation of youth and also lays emphasis on a proactive philosophy of the Indian armed forces

SC seeks common law against cross-border cattle smuggling

  1. What: The Supreme Court asked the Centre to extend to the India-Bangladesh border areas the rules framed to counter cross-border cattle smuggling to Nepal
  2. A Bench led by CJI J.S. Khehar was informed by govt counsel that the Livestock Animals Rules and Case Property Animals Maintenance Rules to prevent cattle-smuggling across the Nepal border, framed in Dec 2016 on the basis of the SC’s orders, were now with the Union Law Ministry prior to its notification
  3. The govt said the rules would have far-reaching effect on the authorities’ efforts to curb cattle-smuggling and they envisaged joint action by paramilitary forces and the district administrations
  4. Earlier on Monday: The Centre had proposed issuing “unique identification number sequences” for cows and their progeny to protect them from cattle smuggling
  5. Govt panel report in the SC: “ … Government of India, has devised a method of tamper-proof identification of cattle using polyurethene tags with unique identification number sequence. This may be made mandatory for all cow and its progeny throughout India for all cattle that is owned”

No plan to deploy Army, says official

  1. The government has no plans to deploy the Army to tackle the Naxals, notwithstanding reverses being faced by paramilitary and police forces according to a Home Ministry official
  2. It is an internal security issue
  3. There is no question of deploying the Army in the anti-Naxal operations
  4. Since the Naxal violence is considered a law and order problem, paramilitary and police forces will continue to deal with the Maoists, though there have been casualties among security forces

Note4students:

Helpful to understand the difference in theatre of action for Army and police/paramilitary forces.

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