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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 3rd September 2016

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National 

 

[1]. Industrial strike shuts down Kerala, Tripura

The Hindu

Context:- The one-day nationwide industrial strike called by the group of Central trade Unions evoked moderate to nil response in most parts of the country.

Why the strike had been called?

Trade Unions were pressing their 12 point charter of demands. Although 3 days before the strike, government had announced a hike of 42 percent in the wages of nonagricultural workers in the central government, allied departments and undertaking, Unions rejected it and went ahead with the strike as planned i.e. on 3rd Sept 2016.

Impact of the strike

Both the sides tried to negate each other’s view regarding the impact of the strike. As per the labor ministry,

  • Overall absenteeism across sectors wasless than 20%
  • Sources from the ministry admitted that mining and financial services got crippled

As per industry body ASSOCHAM,

  • Lossesdue to strike could be around Rs 18,000 crore

According to multiple sources from the government and industry,

Strike had a significant impact in

  • Two Left-ruled states and on,
  • industrial production and businesses in Karnataka, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and in some pockets in Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal

As per the central trade unions,

  • strike was the “biggest ever” with employees from all sectors of the economy i.e. organized and unorganized, public sector and private sector, central and state government departments, and scheme workers, participating

Demands

Central Trade Unions are demanding,

  • containing of unemployment
  • strict enforcement of basic labor laws
  • Universal social security cover for all workers
  • minimum wages of Rs 18,000 per month
  • assured pension of no less than Rs 3,000 per month for the entire working population
  • stoppage of PSU disinvestment
  • removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus
  • complete reversal of allowing FDI in defence and railways and abandoning the plan to amend labor laws

 

[2]. Live and Let live, SC tells Karnataka

The Hindu

Context:- Cauvery dispute between Karnataka and Tamilnadu is not a new phenomenon. Yet again, the dispute came to the forefront when SC urged Karnataka to embrace the principle of Live and Let live & release water to distressed Tamilnadu

Let us have an overview of the dispute,

What is the dispute?

The Cauvery basin covers a large expanse of land including major chunks in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and also smaller areas in Kerala and Puducherry. Initially, the dispute was between Karnataka and TN but later Kerala and Puducherry also entered the scene. The issue dates back to 1892 when an agreement was filed between Madras Presidency and Mysore for arbitration but led to a fresh set of disputes.

Post-Independence

Fact finding Committee: As Kerala and Puducherry also laid claim on share of Cauvery water after India attained Independence, a Fact Finding Committee was set-up in 1970 to figure out the situation on ground.

Result: The committee submitted its report in 1972 and further studies were done by expert committee and the states reached at an agreement in 1976. 

New government disagrees: after a new government came to power in Tamil Nadu, it refused to give a consent to terms of agreement paving way for further dispute.

The Cauvery Waters Tribunal was constituted on 2nd July 1990

  • Verdict:After 16 years of hearing and an interim order, the Tribunal announced its final order in 2007 allocating,
    • Tamil Nadu – 419 tmc ft
    • Karnataka – 270 tmc ft
    • Kerala – 30 tmc ft
    • Puducherry – 7 tmc ft

The Tribunal had come to a conclusion that total availability of water in Cauvery basin stood at 740 tmc ft.

  • Review petition: However, both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka filed a review petition before the Tribunal. 

Note: tmc ft – Thousand Million Cubic feet

2012 – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as chairman of Cauvery River Authority, directed the Karnataka government to release 9,000 cusecs of water daily. The Supreme Court slammed state government as it failed to comply with the order. The government offered an unconditional apology and started the release of water leading to widespread violent protests.

Tamilnadu sues Karnataka: However, the issue kept troubling the region as Karnataka stopped release of water again and Tamil Nadu government led by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa decided to sue the Karnataka government for contempt of court

August 2016: With Tamilnadu failing on its commitments to release water time and again, Tamilnadu CM Ms.Jayalalithaa filed an interlocutory petition before SC. The petition sought release of water as guidelines of Cauvery Tribunal

SC will announce its final verdict on 5th September 2016

[3]. SC can’t decide on Triple Talaq 

The Hindu

Context:- All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on 2nd September 2016, challenged the Supreme Court’s initiative to judicially examine Islamic personal laws relating to marriage and divorce, such as the triple Talaq, which discriminate against Muslim women

It further said

  • personal laws of marriage and divorce are outside the purview of the fundamental rights of the Indian Constitution
  • practices depicted in the Holy Koran are out of bounds for the Supreme Court
  • Uniform civil code is listed under Article 44 and is a directive principle, not a fundamental right

What is the whole issue?

SC had issued notice to Centre on the plea of a Muslim woman challenging the Constitutional validity of ‘triple talaq’ to end a marriage.

Ishratjahan a Muslim woman had file a petition and has sought a declaration from the apex court, saying that

  • Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, was unconstitutional as it violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (equality), 15 (non-discrimination), 21 (life) and 25 (religion) of the Constitution

In her petition she has further asked as to whether a

  • Unilateral and arbitrary divorce through Triple talaq deprives a wife of her rights in her matrimonial home and the right to have the custody of her children

Stand of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) president Shaista Ambar

  • She has demanded abolishing of the triple talaq system.

Stand of the centre

The Centre has set up a high-level committee to review the status of women in India and according to reports has recommended a ban on the practice of oral, unilateral and triple Talaq (divorce) and polygamy

Malady of triple talaq

Triple Talaq is scourge which needs to be remedied because of the following reasons,

  • Women are rendered homeless overnight, left with no help for the children and themselves after being divorced orally, in an instant. Most women are traumatised for life and find it difficult to recover from the shock
  • Triple Talaq is mentioned nowhere in the Quran, and perhaps, this is the reason why it is illegal in most Muslim countries. The Quran gives equal right to both husband and wife to seek divorce. But it nowhere allows instant divorce
  • In Shamim Ara judgement and other various judgements by High Courts, Triple Talaq was held as just one talaq but the situation now is, it is the woman who has to seek justice from court citing the precedents and a man can simply move on with his life after uttering talaq three times 

Conclusion

Right to profess religion cannot be made a ground to oppress a section of society as this right has been equally guaranteed on both women and men by our constitution. It is high time that the Shariat Application Act 1937 is suitably amended to declare Triple Talaq as illegal

 

INTERNATIONAL

[1]. G20 countries score poorly in climate goals report 

The Hindu 

Context:- G20 Hangzhou summit, the first ever in China, is going to be held from September 4-5 in China. Ahead of the G20 summit, a report by Climate transparency, has shown that the emissions by G20 countries are continuing to increase

Why Hangzhou?

Hangzhou is the capital of China’s Zhejiang province, 177 km south-west of Shanghai.

  • It was chosen as it represents China’s economic shift from an economy based on low-cost manufacturing to high technology.
  • E-commerce giant Alibaba was founded in Hangzhou and Chinese president Xi Jinping spent five years in the city.

What is Climate Transparency?

Climate Transparency is an open global association with a shared mission to stimulate a ‘race to the top’ in climate action through enhanced transparency

Climate Transparency was co-founded under the leadership of Peter Eigen (Founder of Transparency International) and Alvaro Umaña (former Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica Costa Rica) in late 2014.

Funded by: Funded by Climate Works Foundation, Stiftung Mercator and the World Bank Group

What is G20?

It is an international forum that brings together heads of states, finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s leading economies.

  • It was founded in 1999
  • The group makes up 85 per cent of the world’s GDP and two-thirds of its population.

Is India a member?

Yes. India is a member of G20

What does the report say?

  • The absolute carbon dioxide emissions by G20 countries from 1990 to 2013 have gone up by 56%
  • Half of G20 countries are ranked “inadequate” as regards actions taken to curb climate change.
  • India received good scores for emissions, share of renewables in energy supply and climate policy. It is ranked ‘medium’ as per the report
  • Brazil, India and Indonesia have the lowest per capita energy-related CO2emissions among the G20 countries, although there is a relatively strong upward trend in Brazil and India
  • Australia, Argentina, Russia, Saudi Arabia among worst performers
  • Carbon intensity of energy sector in G20 is increasing due to continued use of coal
  • China’s per capita emissions were found to be above the G20 average: at 38%, with China having the highest economic growth rate between 2008 and 2013
  • Subsidies continue: G20 governments provided, on average, almost $ 70 billion in subsidies for fossil fuel production between 2013 and 2014.This was despite G20 leaders pledging to phase out ‘inefficient’ fossil fuel subsidies in 2009

Investment gap to fulfill Paris accords

To be in line to achieve a 2°C target by 2035, G20 countries face an investment gap of almost $ 340 billion/year in the power sector

 

[2]. After Silk Road, World land Bridge?

The Hindu 

Context:- The co-founder of The Schiller Institute (TSI), Helga Zepp-LaRouche, says the World Land Bridge is the natural sequel to the Eurasian Land Bridge whose blueprint was conceived by the TSI itself

Eurasian land bridge

Historical Background

The idea to link the Far East and Europe by rail takes its origin with the construction of the Trans -Siberian railway linking Moscow to Vladivostok, completed in 1916. With a length of 9,200 km it is the longest rail segment in the world

4Trans-Asian Railway (Eurasian Land Bridge)

                        [Source: United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific]

 

  • It was initially used solely as an inland rail link, but in the 1960s the Soviet Union started offering a land bridge service from Vladivostok using the Trans-Siberian to reach Western Europe.
  • However, geopolitical considerations would limit the adoption of this trade corridor by international shipping companies.
  • In addition, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s created a context of geopolitical instability within Russia and its former republics as well as a lack of investments and maintenance over the existing rail and terminal facilities.
  • The idea of using the corridor as a transcontinental and transnational route was abandoned.

 

Revival of the idea

]The beginning of the 21st century has however brought renewed interests for a long distance rail connection between Asia and Europe, especially with the booming Asian trade and the increasing pressure to ship containerized freight in a time sensitive manner over long distances. These connections came to be known as the Trans Asian Railway, the Northern East-West corridor, the Eurasian Landbridge (or the New Silk Road or the “One Belt. One Road” initiative)

Route: The main route uses the Trans-Siberian Railway either branching to Vladivostok with connections to Eastern China, branching to Kazakhstan, entering western China at Druzhba and then through the Lanzhou rail hub and onward to the coast of China or branching in Mongolia to enter China at Erenhot and then to the main Beijing hub.

Triggers for the Idea of Eurasian Land Bridge

The idea for a Eurasian Land Bridge was triggered by,

  • Collapse of the Berlin wall
  • The economic distress of the Eastern European countries
  • The crumbling of the former Soviet Union: When Soviet Union crumbled the most obvious thing was to link the industry & population centers of Europe to those of Asia

World Land Bridge

Siberia in Russia can be connected with Alaska, if an undersea tunnel across the Bering Strait is built. That would lay the foundation for a World Land Bridge

Commenting on countering terror and refugee problem

She said that the societies of the West Asia and North Africa mired with terrorism cannot be rebuilt by one country alone. Economic development is the only counter to give young people hope and stop them from joining jihad. This is the path to resolve the refugee problem

On energy security for BRICS countries she said

Energy committee of BRICS must develop thermonuclear fusion, to achieve long-term energy security, and reduce pressure on finite resources

What is T-20?

It is a meeting of 20 global think tanks to brainstorm recommendations for the Hangzhou G-20 summit. The above ideas were given on the sidelines of this summit by the co-founder of TSI.

 

ECONOMY

[1]. India faces Catch-22 on steel capacity at G20’s China meet 

The Hindu

Context:- It is known that China is dumping excess steel in world markets. This article presents India’s situation at G20 and prescribes that India should tread a middle path and keep a low profile at G20 when US pressurizes China to drastically reduce its steel capacity.

Excess steel is bad for USA

US President will mount pressure on China to reduce its steel capacity as it is hurting their producers because Chinese steel is cheap and as China is dumping it in world markets, local producers are suffering like in US.

India’s situation

  • India is in a Catch-22 situation here as it is not only the third largest steel producing nation, but was also among the top 10 steel importers in 2015. It means at G20 India will need to balance the needs of its producers and the user industries multaneously.
  • Centre wants more steel for its Make in India initiative aimed at boosting local manufacturing and exports

G20 & excess steel

  • G20 trade ministers met in July recognized the issue of excess steel capacity as a global one.
  • They stated that attention must be given to subsidies and other forms of government-related support
  • G20 steelmaking economies will participate in the OECD Steel Committee meeting slated for September 8-9, 2016 to tackle the issue.
  • Discuss the possibility of the creation of a Global Forum to share information on global capacity developments as well as on governmental policies and support measures.

India & excess steel

  • India: A representative from steel ministry will take part in the OECD meet

To counter a surge in cheap imports of steel, which was hurting local steel makers,

India had taken following measures like

  • anti-dumping duty
  • safeguard duty
  • Minimum Import Price
  • India had also brought out an order banning the manufacture and distribution of stainless steel products that do not comply with the ‘Bureau of Indian Standards’ mark.
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