Newspaper analysis from The Hindu bearing
relevance to Civil Services preparation
(So much news today that my hands have gone numb from the typing)
- Assam, Manipur, Arunachal CMs still in the dark on Naga accord: CMs have said that the Naga interlocutor who had been appointed for signing the agreement on behalf of the Union govt had no legal standing in signing the agreement. The Naga Accord is shrouded in secercy, and it has been alleged that even the Home Ministry had been kept out of the loop while the details were being finalised.
- India to counter Italy’s claim in marines case: The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is scheduled to hear the case on the Italian marines who shot dead Indian fishermen on August 10-11. The Indian contention is that the incident occurred in Indian territorial waters, and there was no need for approaching the International Tribunal.
- RS panel for ombudsman to deal with online porn: A parliamentary panel from Rajya Sabha has recommended appointing an ombudsman committee to handle complaints on cyber porn. (Because Internet service providers do not have any mechanism to filter out from websites any content that deals with child pornography, all 857 websites continue to remain blocked).
- India flies aid to flood-hit Myanmar: India has flown rice, medicines and other emergency relief supplies to Myanmar on a request from the flood-hit country. The External Affairs Ministry is conducting the operation in close coordination with the Myanmar government, the Indian Ministries of Home, Health and Defence, the Indian Embassy in Yangon and Consulate in Mandalay.
- Public consultation on Western Ghats a sham: The Western Ghats are currently at the centre of a political battle pitting local ‘development’ needs against conservation efforts. Six States – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat – which the forest region encompasses, were supposed to submit recommendations to the Centre on demarcating Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) by July 31, but only Kerala and Goa did so. What is emerging is that the local residents interviewed for the report knew nothing about what an ESA demarcation would entail. Many feared that if a particular village is designated as ESA, the villagers will be relocated or they will be deprived of access to basic facilities, such as water supply or electricity, though both the Madhav Gadgil Committee report and the Kasturirangan Committee report, suggest nothing of that sort.
- A repository of avifauna under threat: The Kolleru Lake is under threat with the State Government proposing diversion of water from its feeder rivulets and drains towards irrigation. The lake is a declared wildlife sanctuary and a RAMSAR Site.
- Boosting digital footprint in rural areas: A research group at IIT Bombay has set up India’s first pilot test-bed, which uses unused TV spectrum to provide broadband Internet connectivity. It could be used by the current government’s flagship “Digital India” programme to enhance broadband Internet connectivity to rural areas at a cheaper cost.
- Subsidy common in canteens world over: As the question of whether to continue Parliament canteen subsidy or not has divided MPs, it has been suggested that subsidised food was common to canteens in legislatures the world over.
- Jihadist-military project at work: The Pakistani govt is claiming it had no idea about the Udhampur attack. If this is true and the militants are acting of their own accord, the govt should rein them in, rather than pretending to be helpless. Otherwise there is a chance that a situation similar to that on Pakistan’s North-Western border could be born in Pakistan’sNorth-Eastern border as well.
- Between prurience and pragmatism: The government’s flip-flop on the issue of banning websites that carry pornographic content highlights both policy confusion and the difficulty involved in having a policy on it. The most pragmatic way for the govt to deal with it will be to be vigilant against child pornography while moving against other alleged violators only in specific cases.
- The rope and a chance to reform: Life imprisonment not only punishes and institutionalises criminals, but also offers them an opportunity to feel genuine remorse and make use of their time in prison. But this is an option that is ruled out when one is handed capital punishment for the sake of retribution, or on basis of public demand. Must-read.
- A worrying ban: An analysis of the constitutionality of Rule 16 of the “IT Rules”, drawing inferences from the ban of pornographic websites in the country.
- Missing some muscle: The element of retribution that has been missing from India’s policy of combating cross-border terrorism for decades. We should give back as much as we get. Because if we continue to remain passive, the ISI will see no reason to discontinue the attacks.
- Beyond ‘Wild West’ diplomacy: Is there a lesson for India in the Israeli model of response to terror attacks? Because Israel has always given a disproportionate response to groups that have harmed its interests. The intent of India to cross borders and hit terrorist installations should gradually become a point to be considered by the terrorists as a possible Indian response. If we can manage to instill this fear in terrorists’ minds, that will itself help in curbing cross-border terrorism.
- China and Iran may barter weapons for oil: China is going to sell Tehran twenty four J-10 fighter jets in exchange for a 20-year access to a major Iranian oil field.
- Egypt unveils 9-billion dollar ‘new Suez Canal’: Parts of the canal which were not conducive for the very biggest ships will now be able to do so. The number of ships passing through the canal will also rise drastically. This project will more than double the Suez Canal’s annual revenue to $13.2 billion by 2023.
- Oil sinks to a new low: There is little sign of oil production coming down in the world, and subsequently, oil prices are at multi-month low prices, and are expected to remain so. And, Iran is expected to start its own production now after sanctions have been lifted as a result of the nuclear deal.
- Gold crashes to four-year low: A strengthening dollar, possible hike in rates by the U.S. Fed and considerable fall in demand have dragged down the demand for the precious metal over the world. Read this to understand why it is so.
- IRDAI to notify new norms for corporate agents soon: Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) will notify within three weeks the new set of regulations for registration of corporate agents. As per the new regulations, a corporate agent (which includes banks) can tie-up with a maximum of three insurers in the future as against one each in the life and non-life segment at present.
- Ban on Indian drugs based on scientific reasons, says EU: A day after India deferred trade talks with European Union (EU), protesting the ban on 700 generic drugs, the bloc said the ban was based on scientific and not trade considerations. India is set to lose about $1-1.2 billion worth of drug exports because of this decision.
- Oil firms ramp up filling station network: The softening in fuel prices has enabled people to drive more. Following growing demand for petroleum products since the crash in crude oil prices and decontrolling of diesel prices in India last year, oil companies are sharply ramping up their filling station network to cater to this incremental demand and grow their retail presence.
- Solar rooftop subsidy only for 4 segments: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has indicated that its subsidy or central financial assistance (CFA) for solar rooftop projects will be provided only to projects under four categories, and industrial and commercial categories will be excluded from this programme. The four categories are residential, institutional (schools, educational institutions, medical colleges and hospitals and R & D institutions – both public and private), government (both central and state government organsiations as also all Panchayati Raj buildings) and social sectors (old age homes, orphanages, common service centres and welfare homes etc).
- Cement makers ink fresh wage pact with workers’ union: Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA), a body representing the employers of the cement industry, and the National Federation of Trade Unions, a representative body of cement workers, have signed a new wage agreement. This agreement will benefit workers employed by 20 companies having 85 cement units across the country, which, in turn, covers around 66 per cent of the total annual cement production capacity in the country.