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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 16, 2017



Front Page / NATIONAL


[1] Jadhav’s trial farcical, says India

[2] ‘Will enact divorce law for Muslims’

[3] India escapes major damage from ransomware


Editorial/OPINION


[1] Triple talaq not fundamental to Islam

[2] Timely refresh

[3] Putting a global price on carbon

[4] Off the road


Economy


[1] Cash is back as digital payments dip on costs

[2] Virus scare spurs banks into action


Indian Express


[1] Two verdicts, one message


Live Mint


[1] The case against triple Talaq

[2] An evolving risk paradigm in the power sector


The Hindu


Front Page / NATIONAL


[1]Jadhav’s trial farcical, says India

 

The Hindu

 

Context

At urgent ICJ hearing, Pakistan says Vienna Convention provisions were not intended for spies.

 

What has happened?

The International Court of Justice will decide whether to order Pakistan to temporarily halt the execution of former Indian naval officer KulbhushanJadhav after what India termed a “farcical” military trial in Pakistan, following a day of intense public hearings at the Peace Palace

 

[2]‘Will enact divorce law for Muslims’

 

The Hindu

 

Context

Centre promises legislation if SupremeCourt strikes down triple talaq

 

What has happened?

The Centre promised to enact a divorce law for Muslim men if the Supreme Court, as the “guardian of the Constitution”, strikes down all three forms of triple talaq unilaterally pronounced by a Muslim man on his wife

 

Backdrop

When one of the judges on the Constitution Bench, Justice U.U. Lalit, asked Attorney-General MukulRohatgi: “So if we accept that giving unfettered rights to a husband is bad and we strike down triple talaq, then where will Muslim men go for divorce?

 

[3]India escapes major damage from ransomware

 

The Hindu

 

Context

Machines in TTD, Kerala local bodies hit; no further attacks

 

What has happened?

The first weekday after the WannaCry ransomware attack began, several thousand more computers turned out to be affected, particularly in Asia

 

However, a second wave of the attack that many feared would be carried out with mutated versions of the malware did not happen

 

In India, Acc to Minister of Information Technology barring “isolated incidents” in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, there had been no major impact of the attack.

 

Advisory Issued in March

Government had issued an advisory in March, and informed administrators about Microsoft’s “software patch” to be used against a possible attack

The existence of the EternalBlue exploit of Windows that the malware uses to spread has been known for some time

 

Measures

A cyber coordination centre to take precautions against such attacks would start operations by June. A software upgrade of all government systems will also be in place by then

 

The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In), under the IT Ministry, held a web conference, sharing technical details of the attack and precautions to be taken

 

 

Editorial/OPINION

[1]Triple talaq not fundamental to Islam

 

The Hindu

 

Context

The Supreme Court will be well within its rights to lay down the procedure of divorce as per Koranic principles

 

Triple Talaq issue already discussed in detail, please refer to earlier briefs

 

[2]Timely refresh

 

The Hindu

 

Context

The data set revision for the IIP and WPIreflects a macroeconomic resilience

 

IIP data founded on the new base year of 2011-12 show that industrial output has grown annually at an average pace of 3.82% over the last five fiscal years, with a 5% rate of growth in the 12 months ended March 2017

 

Contrast this with the 1.42% average pace based on the previous 2004-05 base year, with 2016-17 showing a paltry 0.7% expansion

 

The simultaneous updating of the base year for WPI to the same 2011-12 means the deflator applied to the 109 items captured in value terms in the new IIP (54 in the older series) has also changed, with a more benign wholesale inflation reading automatically lifting the value of the corresponding industrial item

Central Statistics Office makes clear that the growth rates of the two series are not strictly comparable since the indices for 2011-12 have been normalised to 100 at a monthly level

 

Manufacturing sees its weight in the index raised by slightly more than 2 percentage points to 77.63%, while electricity, which now includes renewable sources, has had its weight pared to just under 8% in the new series

 

Technical Review Committee

A mechanism in the form of a Technical Review Committee has been put in place to periodically review the products featuring in the item list and to revise the series dynamically

 

The reviews, to be undertaken separately for both the IIP and the WPI, will help ensure that data pertaining to industrial output and wholesale price inflation will be relatively current and more accurately reflect economic trend

 

[2]Putting a global price on carbon

 

The Hindu

 

Context

A carbon tax is less likely to face political opposition while creating avenues for businesses and growth

 

Carbon tax as a potent mitigation policy

A carbon tax aims to internalize the externality of climate change by setting a price on the carbon content of energy consumed or greenhouse gas emitted in the production or consumption of goods

 

Harmonized Carbon Policies WorldWide

Different country-wise policies could lead to ‘carbon leakages’ where energy-intensive businesses will most likely move to less strict national regimes

 

Harmonized carbon taxes hold advantages over quantitative limits imposed through government control and regulation

  • Baseline Problems: A carbon tax regime avoids the problems related to choosing a baseline. In a price approach, the natural baseline is a zero carbon tax
  • Ability to Adapt: A carbon tax policy will be better able to adapt to the element of uncertainty which pervades the science of climate change. Quantity limits on emissions are related to the stocks of greenhouse gas emissions, while the price limits are related to the flow of emissions
  • Price Volatility:From this uncertainty arises another complication of price volatility which is the third reason why a carbon tax policy is likely to cause less volatility in the prices of carbon emissions.
  • Administrative Barriers: Quantity limiting policies are often accompanied by administrative arbitrariness and corruption through rent-seeking. This sends off negative signals to investors. In a price-based carbon tax, the investor has an assured long-term regulation to adapt to and can weigh in the costs involved.
  • Equity based problems:The price-based approach in the form of carbon taxes makes it easier to implement such equity-based international adjustments than the quantity-based approach

 

Cap and Tax

Another near-term approach can be a ‘cap-and-tax’ which combines the strengths of both quantity and price approaches. Cap-and-tax might also address the concerns of environmentalists that a price-based approach does not impose hard constraints on emissions

 

Africa as a priority region

Any prospective policy regime must give the highest importance to the African continent. A rapidly growing African economy must then be able to learn from past lessons without having to choose between economic growth and climate change mitigation

 

Conclusion

A carbon tax policy might not seem a magic wand, but it is also less likely to face political opposition and compromise while creating new sectors for businesses and growth

 

[4]Off the road

 

The Hindu

 

Context

Don’t shut the door on diplomacy overChina’s Belt and Road Initiative.

 

India’s Concerns

  • The B&RI’s flagship project is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes projects in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, ignoring India’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”
  • The B&RI infrastructure project structure smacks of Chinese neo-colonialism, and could cause an “unsustainable debt burden for communities” with an adverse impact on the environment in the partner countries
  • There is a lack of transparency in China’s agenda, indicating that New Delhi believes the B&RI is not just an economic project but one that China is promoting for political control

 

Closing the door on diplomacy

The decision to not attend even as an observer, however, effectively closes the door for diplomacy. It stands in contrast to countries such as the U.S. and Japan, which are not a part of the B&RI but sent official delegations

 

Difficult choices ahead

India may also face some difficult choices in the road ahead, because as a co-founder of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (from June 2017) it will be asked to support many of the projects under the B&RI

 

Conclusion

India must actively engage with China to have its particular grievances addressed, articulate its concerns to other partner countries in a more productive manner, and take a position as an Asian leader, not an outlier in the quest for more connectivity

Economy

[1]Cash is back as digital payments dip on costs

 

The Hindu

 

Context

Demand for PoS devices falls on remonetisation

 

What has happened?

Cash transactions are beginning to trump almost every form of digital payment alternative with April clocking a decline in volumes as well as value of transactions conducted through cards, mobile banking and the Unified Payment Interface (UPI)

 

Decline in demand for PoS devices

Due to:

  • Remonetisation
  • Unwillingness of the merchants (particularly the small merchants) to pay MDR

 

E-wallets see growth

E-wallets were the only commonly-used mode of electronic payments that witnessed a growth (4%) in the value of transactions in April

 

It’s tough to beat the anonymity and convenience of cash and that challenge will remain

 

[2]Virus scare spurs banks into action

 

The Hindu

 

Context

SBI increases surveillance, deploys security patches and strengthens firewalls

 

What has happened?

Banks and financial institutions in the country went on a war footing to upgrade their software systems, particularly their anti-virus packages, in the wake of the ransomware virus, WannaCry, which affected computers in 150 countries across the globe

 

Closed Loop

  • Generally, as compared to many other sectors, the security in the financial sector is higher
  • Bankers said vulnerable systems, through which the malware generally comes in, is a closed loop
  • The core banking system (CBS), for example, is a closed loop
  • This means that the manner in which it connects to the front end, the network and the end-point servers are all in the banks’ control

 

Software Updates

  • Wherever Windows machines are there, banks are working with Microsoft to deploy patches in a centralised manner
  • SBI is updating its anti-virus systems and other related software systems

 

Strategy

Increased surveillance, deployment of patches (software updates) and watching the firewalls

 

ATMs unaffected

  • There is no impact on automated teller machines, acc to SBI
  • As ATM [network] is a [highly] closed loop [system] and one mitigating factor is that, generally, the malwares are large files while ATMs are connected with a very small bandwidth
  • The Indian banking sector is largely un-impacted; nothing has been reported so far

 

Indian Express

[1]Two verdicts, one message

 

Indian Express

 

Context

A civilised and progressive jurisprudence calls for banning the death penalty.

 

Backdrop

On May 3, the Court rejected the review petition of Vasant SampatDupare, convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a small child

The death penalties for the convicts in the December 16 Delhi gang-rape case

 

Question Asked

Why was it that these cases were not deemed fit for consideration, even when the Court itself agreed that the sentencing carried out by the trial court was legally deficient?

 

The Supreme Court, in not referring the cases back to the trial court for sentencing, has, in fact, exercised jurisdiction which is properly with the lower courts

 

 

Rights denied to convicts

Not only does the procedure adopted by the Court curtail the due process rights of the convicts under Article 21, but it also raises the question of whether the Court itself has created a differential criteria for the treatment of petitioners before it

 

Meaningof the “rarest of rare”

Criteria used to identify the category of offenders who may be sentenced to death

A determination of whether or not these cases fall within the rarest of rare category cannot be done, unless the matter is remanded to the court which first sentenced them

 

Possibility of legal and Fundamental Rights being not honored for heinous offences accompanied by public outrage

 

Whether we put anything by the rights to life and liberty must be seen in situations when those rights are under the most pressure and the temptation to ignore them is the highest

 

Conclusion

It is only by abolishing the death penalty in toto (From Latin, meaning “in all”) that we would be able to give full meaning to our commitment to a civilised and progressive jurisprudence in line with international trends

 

Live Mint

[1]The case against triple Talaq

 

Live Mint

 

Context

Personal law must be subordinate to fundamental rights and subjected to the test of constitutional validity

 

Constitutional Protection

  • Whether these practices are safeguarded under Article 25(1) of the Constitution, which guarantees the fundamental right to “profess, practice and propagate religion”. This is the approach the SC has adopted; it is examining if triple talaq forms an essential part of Islamic belief and practice
  • On the face of it, there is substantial evidence that triple talaq is an innovation that has little to do with Quranic prescriptions
  • A number of Islamic states, from Morocco and Algeria to Iran and Indonesia, have introduced modernizing legislation when it comes to divorce
  • And in multiple instances—A. YousufRawther v. Sowramma, 1970, Kerala high court and Shamim Ara v. State Of UP And Ors, 2002, Supreme Court, for example—the courts have ruled against tripletalaq as it is practised today

Islam or Islamicate

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, on the other hand, defends triple talaq as an integral part of Islamic law and, therefore, beyond the realm of the judiciary. Thus, the SC must in effect take a stand in a long-running global debate: Is Islam a “blueprint for a social order”, in Ernest Gellner’s words, or is there a distinction between Islamic—the religious—and Islamicate—associated cultural phenomena—as Marshall Hodgson suggested?

 

Article 13

The other argument against subjecting personal law to the constitutional validity test—that it is not a “law” as defined by Article 13 of the Constitution—has a precedent in the 1951 Bombay high court judgement in State Of Bombay v. NarasuAppa Mali.

 

Uniform Civil Code

Much of the opposition to the SC’s taking up the triple talaq issue stems from the fear that it is a back door for bringing in the uniform civil code

 

 

[2]An evolving risk paradigm in the power sector

 

Live Mint

 

Context

The growing risk profile for thermal power plants is likely to result in increasing cost of capital for them

 

Backdrop

On 11 April, the Supreme Court disallowed Tata Power and Adani Power from charging compensatory tariff to neutralize the price hike of imported coal due to a change in Indonesian regulations

On 9 May, Indian solar tariffs fell to yet another record low of Rs2.44 for Solar Energy Corporation of India’s 500MW project at Bhadla in Rajasthan

 

Non-availability of coal could swiftly turn the once lucrative and viable coal power plants into stranded assets

 

The ministry of coal’s latest discussion paper on auction of mines for commercial mining examines free pricing of domestic coal. The paper suggests pegging the minimum revenue to be generated at 1.2 times of Coal India’s run of mine price, which is likely to increase operating costs for thermal operators

 

Current reliance on imported solar panels and balance of system products exposes the renewable energy sector to balance of payment implications, as in the case of coal imports

 

Thermal power plants are increasingly facing lower capacity utilization

More than one-third of India’s total thermal power capacity is currently stranded and the rest is running at 55% utilization

 

Longer construction periods for thermal plants (three-four years), compared to renewable sources of power (12-14 months), is another important aspect for risk evaluation

 

Delays in obtaining environmental clearances, affecting 89% of the projects, according to a recent Comptroller and Auditor General of India report, could additionally prolong the construction of thermal plants

 

The longer commissioning cycles, combined with higher likelihood of delays, makes investment in thermal power significantly riskier than that in renewables

 

The ministry of environment’s 2015 notification mandating stricter emission and water usage standards to minimize environmental impacts of running coal-based plants has also been troubling the sector

 

Water Usage in thermal Power Plants

  • A coal-based thermal power plant takes around 3.8 cubic metre/MW of water as compared to 0.1 cubic metre/MW for solar, and almost nil for wind
  • Water usage could lead to conflict between thermal power producers and local communities, especially in water-scarce regions of the country

 

The growing risk profile for thermal power plants is likely to result in increasing cost of capital for thermal projects. At the same time, with the tariffs for both wind and solar power dropping to unprecedented levels, power sector investors may shift focus to renewables

 

The redirection of investments to renewables and allied sectors such as energy storage, energy analytics services, etc., could drive the price of electricity from renewable energy sources down further, improving their technical grid integration feasibility and shrinking associated risks for investors

 

Conclusion

If the government continues to actively revamp and reimagine India’s power sector, along with making simultaneous efforts to ensure a quick expansion in transmission infrastructure and a pickup in demand, India could find a sweet spot for itself in the new low-carbon world


 

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