News (Text)


When:
June 1, 2017 @ 1:00 am
2017-06-01T01:00:00+05:30
2017-06-01T01:15:00+05:30

NEWS

1 JUNE 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.       

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Blast hits Kabul’s diplomatic quarter

2.       

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

Rajasthan High Court recommends declaration of cow as national animal

3.       

GS III: ECONOMY INDICATORS

India is no longer the fastest-growing economy

4.       

GS II: POLITY – CAG

Three-member panel to probe Vizhinjam pact

5.       

GS II: SOCIAL – EDUCATION

‘School education in Bihar has collapsed’

6.       

GS III: SECURITY

PDP charts its own course for talks

7.       

GS II: GOVERNANCE

Yogi Adityanath sees chance to solve Ayodhya dispute

8.       

GS III: ECONOMY – AVIATION

Trade unions oppose Centre’s move to privatise Air India

9.       

GS II: BILATERAL INDIA-RUSSIA

Russia a natural ally: Modi

10.    

GS II: BILATERAL INDIA-EUROPE

India, Spain call for ‘zero tolerance’ to terrorism

11.    

GS II: POLITY  – JUDICIARY

Preventive detention not a quick alternative to normal legal process: SC

12.    

GS III: DEFENCE

Strategic Partnership model takes effect

13.    

GS III: DEFENCE

First Scorpene submarine Kalvari to be commissioned by July

14.    

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

Donald Trump may quit Paris climate accord

15.    

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Russia fires cruise missiles, targets IS positions in Syria

16.    

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

Non-cash transactions in May slide back to near Nov. levels

17.    

GS II: BILATERAL INDIA-BANGLADESH

Plan for Indian SEZs in Bangladesh hits bump

18.    

GS III: S&T – SPACE

NASA to fly Solar Probe Plus right into sun’s atmosphere in 2018

 GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Blast hits Kabul’s diplomatic quarter

  • The massive suicide truck bomb attack in Kabul killed at least 90 people and wounded around 400.
  • It has also damaged several embassies in the city’s highly-fortified diplomatic quarter.
  • The French, Chinese and Turkish embassies were among those hit, the three countries said adding that there’s no immediate signs of injuries to their diplomats.
  • The BBC said a driver for the British broadcaster was killed and four of its journalists were wounded.
  • No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, though both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.
  • The Taliban issued a statement denying any involvement and condemning all attacks against civilians.
  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, which came just days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

 

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

Rajasthan High Court recommends declaration of cow as national animal

  • The Rajasthan High Court recommended that the Centre declare the cow as a national animal and increase the punishment for cow slaughter to life imprisonment.
  • In a slew of directions passed on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the court asked the State Chief Secretary to take steps to get the suggestions implemented.
  • Disposing of the PIL moved by Jago Janata Society regarding the conditions at Hingonia gaushala in Jaipur, the court also appointed a committee of lawyers to keep a watch on the cow shelter’s functioning.
  • The Forest Department was asked to plant 5,000 saplings every year in the gaushala to keep it green.
  • The judgment has come amid a raging debate over the Centre’s notification banning the sale of cattle for slaughter and the increasing instances of attacks and violence by cow vigilantes on the roads in several States on the suspicion of smuggling bovine animals.

GS III: ECONOMY INDICATORS

India is no longer the fastest-growing economy

  • India lost its fastest-growing major economy tag in the fourth quarter of 2016-17, with GDP growth coming in at 6.1% compared with China’s 6.9% in the same period.
  • Data from the Ministry of Statistics showed GDP grew 7.1% in the financial year 2016-17, slower than the 8% registered in 2015-16.
  • The GDP numbers were based on the new 2011-12 base year recently adopted for data including the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
  • Gross value added (GVA) growth was 6.6% for 2016-17 and 5.6% in the fourth quarter, compared with 7.9% in 2015-16.
  • Demonetisation has clearly had a tangible and adverse impact.
  • The GDP growth rate is slightly higher (than GVA growth) because of a more than proportionate increase in indirect tax net of subsidies.

GS II: POLITY – CAG

Three-member panel to probe Vizhinjam pact

  • A three-member commission headed by former judge of the High Court C.N. Ramachandran Nair will inquire into the pact signedby the previous United Democratic Front government with Adani Vizhinjam Ports Ltd for the Rs. 7,525-crore VizhinjamInternational Multipurpose Deepwater Seaport.
  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the commission had been given six months’ time to submit the report and that the terms of reference of the inquiry would be finalised later.
  • The inquiry had been ordered against the backdrop of the observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on lapses on the part of the State government while signing the agreement with AVLP.
  • The CAG’s report had mentioned that the State’s interest was not protected in the pact and that by extending the contract period of the project by 40 years, the Adani Group would gain an extra income of Rs. 29,217 crore.
  • Although the concession period for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects is 30 years, the Chief Minister said the CAG had pointed out that the AVLP had been given 40 years.
  • AVLP of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), the private multi-port operator, was selected through global bidding to build the superstructure and operate the seaport.
  • The work for the dream project of the State is on.
  • Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who took the lead in signing the agreement with the Adanis, had maintained that the 40-year period had been agreed to as per the model PPP agreement approved by the erstwhile Planning Commission. Besides, it had got the Centre’s clearance for viability funding.

GS II: SOCIAL – EDUCATION

‘School education in Bihar has collapsed’

  • A day after the declaration of the Class 12 (or intermediate) results of the Bihar State Education Board (BSEB) in which more than 64% of the students had failed, students protested in Patna and at several district headquarters, demanding re-evaluation of their answer sheets.
  • Concerned over the dismal pass percentage of 34.25%, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar held a meeting with Education Minister Ashok Choudhary and BSEB chairman Anand Kishor.
  • Meanwhile, students and experts blamed the drastic fall in the pass percentage on the rampant corruption in the State’s education system which, they said, had collapsed.
  • A large number of students who had cleared their IIT-JEE entrance examination, too, have failed in their Class 12 board exams.
  • Earlier in 1996, only 10.58 students passed the Intermediate Examination after the Patna High Court intervened to ensure that there was no cheating in the exams.
  • However, in following years, the pass percentage rose sharply, with regular reports of mass-cheating, and large-scale corruption at BSEB.
  • “The State’s education system has collapsed and become corrupt. It got exposed because the exams were conducted strictly. The State government is responsible for this. There is an urgent need for qualitative change,” an expert on the Bihar education system said.

GS III: SECURITY

PDP charts its own course for talks

  • PDP vice-president Mohammad Sartaj Madani warned that the “people of Kashmir were agonised by the confrontationist politics and provocative voices”.
  • Distancing itself from coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) recent approach in Kashmir, ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it “will work towards holding a dialogue with Hurriyat and Pakistan.”
  • “The PDP has forged an alliance with the BJP to see that the State comes out of instability and will ensure this objective is accomplished.”

GS II: GOVERNANCE

Yogi Adityanath sees chance to solve Ayodhya dispute

  • Stressing that a “good opportunity” had come up to resolve the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute in Ayodhya through dialogue, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath promised “all possible support” to the two sides if they agree on talks.
  • “I was happy to know that many Muslim organisations in Lucknow were in favour of handing over the Ramjanmabhoomi to the Hindu society,” the CM said at a function in Ayodhya.
  • The Supreme Court had in March 2017 made a suggestion that the dispute should be settled through talks.
  • During his tour of the temple town, Mr. Adityanath offered prayers at the makeshift Ram Temple near the disputed site and visited the Hanuman Garhi temple.
  • He also performed elaborate Hindu rituals on the ghats of the River Saryu.

GS III: ECONOMY – AVIATION

Trade unions oppose Centre’s move to privatise Air India

  • The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), affiliated to the CPI (M), voiced its opposition to the Centre’s move to consider privatisation of Air India, saying the move was not required as the national carrier was registering profits in recent times.
  • CITU said the Air India management should not be held responsible for “bungling and disastrous experiments by successive governments” which had left the national carrier, which was registering profits till 2007, debt-burden.
  • After prolonged losses since 2008, Air India has started making operating profit. For the year 2015-16, it was Rs. 105 crore and for 2016-17, estimated operating profit is going to be around Rs. 300 crore,” Tapan Sen, general secretary at CITU said.
  • Terming the airline’s huge debt as the main reason behind its accumulated losses, it criticised any move to write off the airline’s debt to pave the way for private investors. “Had the same magnanimity of writing off debt been offered to Air India, it could very well eliminate its huge accumulated losses substantially,” Mr. Sen said.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said that government is looking for a strategic investor in Air India.

 

GS II: BILATERAL INDIA-RUSSIA

Russia a natural ally: Modi

  • Enhancing bilateral trade, nuclear and technology cooperation will be at the top of the agenda, but multilateral issues will hold centre stage during his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at St. Petersburg, Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated.
  • He said that India and Russia were “natural partners” in fighting terrorism, and promoting a multipolar international system.
  • The PM’s words are significant as they come amid a visible strain in India-Russia ties that have further strained since his last meeting with President Putin in Goa, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in October 2016, and rising discomfort over Russia’s growing alliance with China and ties with Pakistan.
  • The BRICS meeting came against the backdrop of the Uri attacks, as well as Russia’s decision to go ahead with military exerciseswith Pakistan despite the Modi government’s publicly stated policy of “isolating” Pakistan.
  • India’s other worry has been over Russia folding into Chinese President Xi’s prestige project, the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI) on the back of the Chinese investment in the $400 billion Russia-China Power of Siberia gas pipeline that is expected to be operational by 2019-2020.
  • The grouping is particularly problematic for India, given that it will enter the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation with Pakistan next week, when Mr. Modi travels to Kazakhstan.
  • In previous decades, New Delhi may have expected Moscow, and President Putin to champion India’s cause, leaning on China to engage on India’s concerns. But the reality of the past few years is that India has been unable to effect such support from Russia on any of its issues with China, including on the Nuclear Suppliers Group and designating Masood Azhar at the UNSC.
  • Mr. Putin has called the two countries “equal partners in international affairs”, suggesting that a free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and India, as well as developing the International North South Transport Corridor would be a part of it.
  • The two sides are also expected to announce, or at least finalise, the MoU for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project units 5&6. “We have had discussions with many countries, but Russia has emerged as the only country with which we have successfully collaborated in the atomic power sector,” said Indian Ambassador Pankaj Saran.

GS II: BILATERAL INDIA-EUROPE

India, Spain call for ‘zero tolerance’ to terrorism

  • India and Spain stressed that there should be “zero tolerance” to terrorism and called on the international community to end “selective or partial” approaches in combating the menace which posed the gravest threat to international peace and stability.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the first Indian PM to visit Spain since 1992.
  • The two sides signed seven agreements; on transfer of sentenced persons, visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports,cooperation in organ transplantation, cybersecurity, renewable energy, civil aviation and one between India’s Foreign Service Institute and Diplomatic Academy of Spain.
  • There are more than 200 Spanish companies in India that are actively involved in road construction, railways, wind power, defence and smart cities.

GS II: POLITY  – JUDICIARY

Preventive detention not a quick alternative to normal legal process: SC

  • Preventive detention of a person by a State after branding him a ‘goonda’ merely because the normal legal process is ineffective and time-consuming in ‘curbing the evil he spreads’ is illegal, the Supreme Court has held.
  • The judgment dealt with the case of a seed manufacturer in Telangana who was taken into preventive detention by the authorities on theallegation that he is selling spurious chilli seeds to poor farmers.
  • The judgment held that detention of a person was a serious matter affecting the liberty of the citizen. “Preventive detention cannot be resorted to when sufficient remedies are available under the general laws of the land for any omission or commission under such laws,” the Supreme Court observed.
  • “The order of preventive detention, though based on the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority, is nonetheless a serious matter, affecting the life and liberty of the citizen under Articles 14, 19, 21 and 22 of the ConstitutionThe power being statutory in nature, its exercise has to be within the limitations of the statute, and must be exercised for the purpose the power is conferred,” Justice Sinha wrote.
  • “If the power is misused, or abused for collateral purposes, and is based on grounds beyond the statute, takes into consideration extraneous or irrelevant materials, it will stand vitiated as being in colourable exercise of power,” the court observed.

GS III: DEFENCE

Strategic Partnership model takes effect

  • The much-awaited and long-delayed Strategic Partnership (SP) policyintended to promote Indian private sector participation in defence manufacturing, formally came into effect.
  • The Defence Ministry notified the policy as the final chapter under the Defence Procurement Procedure.
  • “The SP model is being implemented to enable participation of private Indian firms in ‘Make in India’ in defence. The SP is expected to play the role of a system integrator by building an extensive ecosystem comprising development partners, specialised vendors and suppliers…,” says the policy.
  • Various selection and evaluation criteria have been stipulated for short-listing the SP.
  • The policy acknowledges that the Indian private sector currently has “limited experience in defence manufacturing and even lesser in respect of final integration” of complex defence systems and sub-systems.
  • In view of this, the policy states, “besides any experience in defence manufacturing, potential SPs will be identified primarily based on their experience and competence in integration of multi-disciplinary functional system of systems, engineering and manufacturing.”
  • In a bid to avoid cancellation of deals in case of a single vendor situation, the policy states that “even if only one Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) submits a proposal in any given segment, the process of technical evaluation will be completed”.
  • Of the four segments under SP, two are for the Navy: submarines and utility helicopters. The others are single-engine fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force and armoured vehicles for the Army.
  • Both the Navy deals have been held up from some time due to delay in finalising the SP policy.

GS III: DEFENCE

First Scorpene submarine Kalvari to be commissioned by July

  • The first of the six Scorpene submarines being built in India under technology transfer is likely to join the Navy by end of July 2017, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said.
  • Kalvari is going through its final phase of trials.
  • Six Scorpene submarines are being built under Project-75 by Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL) with technology transfer from France.

 

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

Donald Trump may quit Paris climate accord

  • U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, a White House official said, confirming a move certain to anger allies that spent years negotiating the landmark agreement to reduce carbon emissions.
  • But there may be “caveats in the language” that Mr. Trump uses to announce the withdrawal, leaving open the possibility that the decision isn’t final, according to the official, who insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the decision before the official announcement.
  • Nearly 200 nations, including the United States under President Barack Obama’s administration, agreed in 2015 to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to combat climate change.
  • Withdrawing would leave the United States aligned only with Russia among the world’s industrialised economies in rejecting action to combat climate change.
  • Mr. Trump has repeatedly expressed doubts about climate change, at times calling it a hoax to weaken U.S. industry. An overwhelming majority of scientists, however, say climate change is driven by human use of fossil fuels.
  • Since taking office, Mr. Trump has moved to delay or roll back federal regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions while pledging to revive the long-struggling U.S. coal mines.
  • What is not yet clear is whether Mr. Trump plans to initiate a formal withdrawal from the Paris accord, which under the terms of the agreement could take three years, or exit the underlying U.N. climate change treaty on which the accord was based.
  • The U.S. is the world’s second largest emitter of carbon, following only China. Beijing, however, has reaffirmed its commitment to meeting its targets under the Paris accord, recently cancelling construction of about 100 coal-fired power plants and investing billions in massive wind and solar projects.
  • Mr. Trump had vowed during his campaign to “cancel” the Paris deal within 100 days of becoming President, as part of an effort to bolster U.S. oil and coal industries. That promise helped rally supporters sharing his scepticism of global efforts to police U.S. carbon emissions.
  • After taking office, however, Mr. Trump faced pressure to stay in the deal from investors, international powers and business leaders, including some in the coal industry. He also had to navigate a split among his advisers on the issue.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Russia fires cruise missiles, targets IS positions in Syria

  • Russians warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired four cruise missiles at the Islamic State group’s positions in Syria in the area of the ancient town of Palmyra.the Russian Defence Ministry said.
  • The announcement came as Syrian government troops pushed ahead in their offensive against IS and militants in central and northern Syria.
  • Syrian troops have been on the offensive for weeks in northern, central and southern part of the country against IS and U.S.-backed rebels under the cover of Russian airstrikes, gaining an area almost half the size of neighbouring Lebanon.
  • Most recently, Syrian troops and their allies have been marching toward the IS stronghold of Sukhna, about 60 km northeast of Palmyra.
  • The strategic juncture in the Syrian desert aids government plans to go after IS in Deir el-Zour, one of the militants’ last major strongholds in Syria. The oil-rich province straddles the border with Iraq and is the extremist group’s last gateway to the outside world.
  • Russia, a staunch Damascus ally, has been providing air cover to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s offensive on IS and other insurgents since 2015. Moscow had fired cruise missiles from warships in the past, as well as from mainland Russia against Mr. Assad’s opponents.
  • The fighting came days after the U.S. told Syrian government forces and their allies to move away from an area near the Jordanian border where the coalition is training allied rebels. The warning comes less than two weeks after the Americans bombed Iranian-backed troops there after they failed to heed similar warnings.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

Non-cash transactions in May slide back to near Nov. levels

  • The value of non-cash payments is on track to contract for the second consecutive month in May following the contraction seen in April, according to representative data released by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The RBI datacollected from a sample of banks and the National Payments Corporation of India, shows that the value of non-cash transactions up to May 28 is only marginally higher than the amount transacted in November, the month demonetisation was announced, and significantly lower than the amount seen in subsequent months.
  • The data shows that RTGS transactions contracted 13.5% in the first 28 days of May compared with the figure for April, while NEFT transactions contracted 14.4% over the same period.
  • Cheque transactions were down 17% and card transactions were down 10.7%. The card transaction data was obtained from four banks, and so may not indicate the exact picture of the industry, but it is still representative, according to banking experts.
  • The only two areas that witnessed growth in the value of transactions were those conducted using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and e-wallets. While the former grew 11.4%, the latter grew 2.2%. However, since the absolute value of these transactions is so small, the two instruments together make up only 0.05% of all non-cash transactions.
  • Month on month, we have been witnessing 100% growth consistently since demonetization. The digital payments peaked in March and post that, with remonetisation taking place, of course the cash transactions have increased.

GS II: BILATERAL INDIA-BANGLADESH

Plan for Indian SEZs in Bangladesh hits bump

  • India’s plan to step up investments in Bangladesh by setting up three mega Special Economic Zones (SEZ) exclusively for Indian companies in the latter’s territory has hit a major hurdle.
  • Citing “constraints, including inadequate infrastructure and lack of uninterrupted power supply” at Mongla, Bheramara and Mirsarai – the sites in Bangladesh for the proposed Indian SEZs, representatives of India Inc. told the Centre at a meeting that it will not be commercially viable to set up SEZs in the locations.
  • For better connectivity and business prospects, they sought alternative sites close to the Chittagong Port and the capital city of Dhaka – similar to those been allocated by Bangladesh for Chinese SEZs.
  • Expressing reluctance in taking forward the proposal, India Inc. also referred to “ambiguity and uncertainty regarding incentives offered by the Bangladesh Government to develop the SEZs,” the sources said.
  • To lure investments into its SEZs, Bangladesh had offered incentives, including exemption from income tax, VAT, customs duty and stamp duty, removal of ceiling on FDI, full repatriation of capital and dividend, no curbs on issuance of work permits as well as resident visas and citizenship for investments over a certain limit.
  • India Inc. wanted greater clarity on some of the incentives as well as an assurance that they will be continued even if there was a regime change in Bangladesh.
  • India and Bangladesh had inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June 2015 – during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh – for cooperation on establishing Indian SEZs in Bangladesh.
  • The plan was to develop Indian SEZs at Mirsarai (1,005 acres), Bheramara (about 480 acres) and Mongla (200 acres). The construction of these SEZs and Indian investment in the zones were to be facilitated through concessional Line of Credit extended by India to Bangladesh.
  • The Centre had promised to address the concerns of India Inc. by taking them up with the Bangladesh Government in June-end or early July and asked Indian companies not to reject Bangladesh’s offer of land and other incentives to build Indian SEZs there.
  • The government officials said the proposed sites are close to a port (Mongla) and not far from the Petrapole-Benapole Integrated Check Post.
  • Besides, they said, India was considering a supply of about 5,000 MW (including 1,320 MW Rampal power plant that was not far from these sites) of power to Bangladesh.
  • In the meantime, the Centre had asked consultancy firm PwC – that had carried out a preliminary study on the topic – to incorporate the suggestions of India Inc. in its report and give a clearer assessment of the potential gains for Indian companies from the incentives, including tax benefits, offered by Bangladesh for setting up SEZs.

GS III: S&T – SPACE

NASA to fly Solar Probe Plus right into sun’s atmosphere in 2018

  • NASA has announced a red-hot mission on May 31, 2017 scheduled to launch in summer 2018.
  • The Solar Probe Plus will fly within 6.4 million km of the sun’s surface right into the solar atmosphere.
  • It will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation like no other man-made structure before.
  • The purpose is to study the sun’s outer atmosphere and better understand how stars like ours work.

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