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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 10 2017



Front Page / NATIONAL [The Hindu]


[1] Olive Ridley eggs hatch in thousands

[2] Indian team in U.S. for defence technology talks

[3] States pan ‘politicisation’ of Governor’s role

[4] AICTE all set to release model exam format


Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]


[1]. Clarity and facts on the ground

[2]. None for the road

[3]. Stepping up to a shared potential


Economy [The Hindu]


[1] Russia – a forgotten trade partner?


Indian Express


[1]. A court order, a consensus from below


Live Mint


[1]. Will the GST increase political fragmentation?


Front Page / NATIONAL


[1] Olive Ridley eggs hatch in thousands

 

The Hindu

 

Context

Odisha is a major mass nesting site for Olive ridley turtles in India

 

What has happened?

  • The Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district of Odisha is a major mass nesting site for Olive ridley turtles in India
  • As the rate of mortality among the hatchlings is so high, the Olive Ridley remains an endangered species
  • The hatchlings come out of the sand 48 hours after they hatch

 

Fact Check:

During this period, they remain under the sand, getting oxygen through the porous sand, their shells turning hard for them to cope with the condition outside

 

[2] Indian team in U.S. for defence technology talks

 

The Hindu

 

Context

The Navies of the two countries signed terms of reference on March 1

 

What has happened?

  • A Defence Ministry delegation is in the U.S. to discuss the entire range of cooperation under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)
  • Nine working groups have been established under the initiative, which aims to promote co-development and co-production of military technologies for use by both countries

 

Underwater surveillance

  • Underwater surveillance systems such as sonars and sonobuoys are of particular interest to India as it is augmenting its capabilities to keep track of the increasing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean
  • The naval cooperation is also in U.S. interests as there is sharing of information regarding Chinese maritime movement in the Indian Ocean

 

[3] States pan ‘politicisation’ of Governor’s role

 

The Hindu

 

Context

At Inter-State Council meet, general consensus among them that the post is being misused in an ‘unhealthy’ manner

 

What has happened?

  • The Inter-State Council (ISC), led by Home Minister discussed the discretionary powers of the Governor during government formation
  • Some States wanted a fixed cooling-off period for retired bureaucrats and judges before they are appointed Governors
  • The meeting of the Standing Committee of the ISC, held after a gap of 12 years, also discussed the tenure of governors and guidelines on the use of discretionary powers in appointment of chief ministers, besides a host of other issues

 

Backdrop

Renewed discussions on the role of Governors after the BJP formed governments in Goa and Manipur despite not having a majority

 

No role in politics

Bihar has said the post of Governor should be abolished, while Gujarat and Haryana feel the present parameters with regard to qualification of the Governor suffice. Punjab has said that while appointing the Governor, State government should be consulted

 

Advised by Cabinet

  • On another controversial issue of granting prosecution sanction against a member of the Council of Ministers under Section 197 CrPC, seven States, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, contested the Punchhi Commission’s recommendation that the Governor should follow Supreme Court interpretation that a Governor is not bound by the advice of the Council
  • According to an internal note of the Inter-State Council on deployment of security forces in States, 18 of them agreed to the suggestion of the Punchhi Commission that the Centre must protect States from internal and external disturbances
  • The recommendations of the Standing Committee, finalised at this meeting, will be placed before the Inter-State Council headed by the Prime Minister

 

[4] AICTE all set to release model exam format

 

The Hindu

 

Context

To test students’ understanding of concepts and skill

 

What has happened?

The All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has set the ball rolling for the provision of a model examination format to technical education institutions to test the students’ understanding of concepts and skills, as part of a slew of reforms finalised recently by the technical education regulator

 

Key Points

  • Curricula will also be revised annually
  • Every affiliating technical university shall constitute subject-wise industry consultation committee (ICC) with the mandate of examining the existing curriculum and for making suitable changes in the curriculum every year
  • This process shall be completed in the month of December each year for the courses to be offered in the coming academic year
  • Each institution, while applying for approval, shall certify completion of this process, which will be mandatory

Refresher course

SWAYAM Portal:

  • Teachers in technical institutions will also be required to mandatorily undergo an annual online refresher course to ensure better quality in teaching
  • Every teacher shall mandatorily undergo an annual refresher course delivered through SWAYAM portal, encapsulating all the major advances in the field of their study
  • Online courses would also be prepared and delivered through the SWAYAM platform for improving the pedagogical techniques of the teachers
  • The participation in the courses by at least 50% of the faculty would be a mandatory condition for approval of the institution

 

Leadership Training

SWAYAM Portal:

Heads of institutions will also have to undergo leadership training once in 2 years

 

Also

There will be compulsory student induction training to ensure the brushing up of fundamental concepts and required linguistic skills

 

Read More: SWAYAM

 


Editorial/OPINION


[1]. Clarity and facts on the ground

 

The Hindu

 

Context

It’s essential that the Supreme Court speedily hears the Aadhaar petitions

 

Delay is alarming

In the first few paragraphs, author rues the delay that has hampered the hearing of petitions concerning Aadhaar & the enormous amount of power that Chief Justice of India wields in constituting large benches to decide such cases.

  • He further concludes that by the time SC of India constitutes a large bench to hear Aadhar petitions to decide whether Constitution of India provides a right to privacy, India would be transformed into a surveillance state

 

Dangers (Perils) of the delay

Author states that,

Delays in constitutional judgements can have adverse impact on the fundamental rights and can have irreversible consequences.

 

Global examples

Author lists few global examples where courts have fast tracked such important cases,

  • The U.K. Supreme Court heard in December 2016 and ruled in January this year that British Prime Minister Theresa May must get Parliament’s approval before formally triggering Britain’s exit from the European Union
  • In Mar 2017, A South African High Court ruled that the decision by President Jacob Zuma to withdraw from the International Criminal Court was not only premature but was also procedurally flawed

 

Author suggests

Author states that Supreme Court should prioritise its cases for hearing so that important cases are not sidelined.

 

[2]. None for the road

 

The Hindu

 

Context

SC should examine the consequence ofits order on the liquor trade — and amend it

 

What has happened?

Confirming its verdict on making National and State highways liquor-free zones, the Supreme Court clarified on 31st March 2017, that its prohibition on the sale of liquor within a distance of 500 m from the outer edge of these main thoroughfares is not restricted to liquor shops alone but also includes other larger establishments

 

Issues with the ruling

Author lists out following issues with the present SC ruling,

  • No enforcement against drunk driving: Court’s order is wholly concerned with the availability of liquor — to the point that it bans sale of liquor on highway stretches even within city and town limits, where police checks are quite common — and does not talk about strengthening the enforcement of the law against drunk driving

 

What could have been done?

The court could have ordered stricter patrolling on highways and regular check-points

  • Revenue of the states would be affected grossly, hence some of them are downgrading the highways to ‘urban roads’ & ‘major district roads’ which could lead to safety and quality norms being compromised
  • No clarity on distance measurement: It is not clear how the 500-metre distance is to be measured — as a straight line from the highway in any direction or along the paths leading to an outlet

 

[3]. Stepping up to a shared potential

 

The Hindu

 

Context

As liberal democracies, India and Australia can encourage free trade and help safeguard the Indo-Pacific

 

The subject matter of this article has been covered in detail here

 


Economy


[1] Russia – a forgotten trade partner?

The Hindu

 

Context

India’s 2015 goods exports to Russia were worth just $1.6 billion, compared with $40.3 billion to the U.S.

 

Backdrop

India and Russia are celebrating the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between them

The Indian and Russian governments in December 2010 elevated their bilateral ‘Strategic Partnership’ to what they termed a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership

 

What has happened?

According to Research and Information System for developing countries (RIS) (New-Delhi based think-tank):Russia comprised just 1% of India’s total trade, India accounts for a minuscule 1.2% of Russia’s overall trade

 

Foundation for National Security Research assessment Report

Comparative assessment of India’s strategic partnerships (political-diplomatic, defence and economic cooperation) during the 10-year period prior to November 2011

  • Russia emerges as the most important strategic partner of India
  • Russia had provided strong political and diplomatic support to India and helped enormously in building India’s defence capability
  • Economic content of the (India-Russia) partnership is extremely weak
  • Recommendations:Urgent and vigorous steps need to be taken to improve economic relations if this (India-Russia) partnership is to be sustained and made durable

 

Watershed events(A “watershed moment” is a point in time that marks an important, often historical change)

The erstwhile Soviet Union was among India’s leading trade partners

But due to the following watershed events Russia is now not anywhere near the top in the list of India’s trade partners:

  • Economic liberalisation was introduced in India
  • The Soviet Union was dissolved

 

Expedite negotiations

RIS

  • Expediting the conclusion of negotiations of the proposed India-Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) Free Trade Agreement would provide opportunities to India and Russia for regional cooperation and development as well as concessional trade and investment in the region
  • Members of the EEU include Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

 

The INSTC:

A multi-modal transportation route connecting the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian sea through Iran and onward to Northern Europe through St. Petersburg in Russia will enhance trade and investment linkages between these regions

Some Concerns

Reports of Russia and China proposing to bring the EEU closer to China’s One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative:

  • India should study the impact of this development in the context of the proposed India-EEU FTA
  • India should also carry out an assessment of U.S.-Iran ties and its impact on INSTC as part of a study on the strategic relevance of INSTC

 

Renewing Ties to their Former Glory:

Indian Prime Minister is slated to take part as the Chief Guest in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum — also known as the Russian Davos after the World Economic Forum, which is an international organisation whose flagship annual meeting is held in Davos, Switzerland

 

Steps that can be taken:

If the emphasis continues to be on sectors such as defence, hydrocarbons and nuclear power, it would result in Russia gaining more

  • Creating a balance: To ensure a balance, sectors such as IT/ITeS, pharmaceuticals and healthcare where India has considerable strength should also be encouraged
  • Russian investments in Indiacould be sought in areas including defence manufacturing to push the ‘Make In India’ programme and in infrastructure and space technology to take forward the Smart City and Digital India initiatives respectively
  • Trading in local currencies
  • Setting up pipelines for direct gas delivery from Russia to India
  • Operationalisationthe funds: of the proposed $1-billion fund through India’s National Investment & Infrastructure Fund and the Russian Direct Investment Fund for investment in infrastructure and technology projects

Indian Express


[1]. A court order, a consensus from below

 

Indian Express

 

Context

Regulationists and other critics of SC order must answer: Just how much liquor on a highway, or in an area generally, would be too much? Or are they for free flow of alcohol, at all times and everywhere?

 

Issue: Liquor ban ruling of SC

 

Author states that criticism is being levelled against Supreme Court for its recent ruling concerning liquor ban on highways, with some people citing judicial overreach

 

Why the recent ruling of SC is not a judicial overreach?

Author states that,

  • SC is well within its jurisdiction in this case, as per Article 47 of the constitution of India

Article 47:  the state shall endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health

 

Does the number of casualties matter?

Author tries to rebuff the arguments given by those against the alcohol ban

  • Number of casualties: Those against the alcohol ban of SC are resorting to statistics to prove that number of accidents due to drunken driving are not significant. Author directs our attention to the Road Traffic Safety Bill of Swedish Parliament which is based on the ‘Vision Zero’. It intends to create a system wherein eventually, deaths and injuries due to road accidents would be reduced to a zero

 

A pertinent question

Whether removal of liquor vends from highways is the effective way of curbing accidents due to drunken driving?

 

The Global Policy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol published by WHO considers regulation strategies as one of the “essential measures that prevent easy access to alcohol by vulnerable and high-risk groups”

 

Impact of SC’s decision

  • Signal to the state authorities: While it is true that habitual drinkers are not going to be deterred by the distance of 500 m, the apex court’s order sends a signal that the state should do everything in its power to ensure that alcohol is not effortlessly available on either side of the highways

 

States also regulate

All states have excise policies that do not allow liquor vends within a certain distance of religious, educational institutions, bus stands, etc. If this is considered a reasonable restriction on the sale and consumption of liquor, why should the apex court’s order not be seen in the same light — as a reasonable restriction imposed for the sake of public safety on highways?

 

Not the only measure

Author states that those against the ban are also panning the court’s recent ruling for it being the only measure being promoted by the judiciary to ensure road safety, which is plain wrong. Let us see why.

 

  • Committee on Road Safety: In April 2014, the Supreme Court set up a Committee on Road Safety headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, which has made recommendations on several aspects of road safety, including
  1. Stricter enforcement of laws regarding over-speeding
  2. Red light-jumping
  • Use of seat belts and helmets
  1. Establishment of hospitals and trauma centres on highways
  2. Engineering measures for safer roads
  3. Public road safety education
  • Criminal prosecution in cases of drunken driving etc

 

Thus, the banning of alcohol vends on highways is part of a multi-pronged approach to road safety emerging from public interest litigation on this issue

 

Way forward

The emphasis needs to remain on effective implementation, not only of the ban on alcohol on highways, but of the entire gamut of road safety measures proposed by expert committees over several years.

 


Live Mint


[1]. Will the GST increase political fragmentation?

 

Live Mint

 

Context

The GST is being rolled out in a political economy context characterized by skyrocketing economic disparity both between and within major states

 

In this entire article, author has tried to drive home the point that, GST may in fact, widen the economic discrepancies within the states leading to the rise of political fragmentation.

 

Most of the article is an allusion to already published articles on Live Mint regarding the negatives of GST rollout


 

 

 

 

 

 

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