Daily News Analysis for IAS/UPSC (24-06-2015) Current Affairs


Bill will erode autonomy, says Director of IIM-Ahmedabad

  • Nanda said the proposed centralisation of power would have three consequences.
  • First, bureaucrats will have considerable decision-making powers, though they may not have the specific knowledge of each IIM.
  • Second, those leading the IIMs will feel disempowered, since most of the decision-making rights will vest with the government.
  • Third, with centralised decision-making will come a tendency to establish uniform rules and procedures
  • “In such a situation, government officials risk becoming interventionist and the tendency to find “one-size-fits-all” solutions to all institutions curtails innovation,” Mr. Nanda said.
  • Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) Director Ashish Nanda


Highest gold haul so far at Vizag

  • The gold seizure by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Customs at the Visakhapatnam International Airport on Sunday night is said to be the highest seizure so far in any airport in the country.
  • Seized 63 kg of gold being smuggled into the country and detained 57 passengers, including two women, at the airport.
  • The gold was moulded into the shape of various parts of electronic items and fitted into the gadgets.
  • The heating rods in hotplates were removed and were replaced by gold. For further deep concealment, they coated the gold with mercury to make them look like aluminium plates or rods.
  • Chosen it for various reasons such as the air fare was pretty low than other airports, it is a new airport and the security is a shade lower than others.


China blocks bid for U.N. action on Pak. over Lakhvi

  • India has taken up the issue of China blocking its move at the United Nations to seek action against Pakistan for releasing the 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi “at the highest level” with Beijing.
  • India’s bid to seek action against Pakistan was blocked by China on the grounds that New Delhi had not provided sufficient information.
  • This move comes a little over a month after New Delhi and Beijing agreed to deepen their commitment to fight terror, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country.
  • Since December 2014, India’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. has filed separate proposals on Pakistan-based terrorists, each of which has been reportedly delayed or stopped by China.
  • The United States, too, has thrown its weight behind India’s demand for re-arresting Lakhvi.
  • S. has asked Pakistan to ensure that efforts are made to arrest Lakhvi and that he does not roam free.
  • A recent U.S. State Department’s report on Terrorism also indicted Pakistan for not taking action against LeT.


‘Either justice or statehood’ campaign from today

  • The first phase of an agitation seeking justice to North Karnataka region under the banner “Either justice or statehood” will be launched in Vijayapura city
  • The campaign will end in Raichur city on June 28.
  • Priority was only to get justice to North Karnataka region; the demand for statehood is a last resort.
  • The MLA said that a booklet on whether regional imbalance has been removed based on the report of Nanjunadappa committee would be released at the launch of the agitation.
  • Stating that he had written to Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa urging him to hold the Belagavi session for 30 days instead of 10, Mr. Nadahalli said that though the Speaker had acknowledged the request, the State government had refused to heed it.
  • He also demanded that the government to move at least 18 offices of various departments pertaining to North Karnataka region to the Suvarna Soudha at Belagavi.
  • Stating that every day, nearly 13 lakh people from North Karnataka region visit Bengaluru for official work, he said that shifting some of the offices would help save money for these people.


SIT reviews probe status

  • The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money on Tuesday sought an update from multiple probe agencies on the role of former IPL chairman Lalit Modi in alleged financial irregularities in the T-20 cricket tournament.
  • The SIT also reviewed cases pending against BCCI officials and individuals involved in the operation of various IPL editions.
  • Sources indicated that while the Enforcement Directorate informed the SIT about the status of 16 Foreign Exchange Management Act cases and a money laundering FIR against the Indian Premier League (IPL)-BCCI, their officials and Modi, the Income Tax department shared data on the tax history of the former cricket czar.


Fund-raising norms for start-ups relaxed

  • In a major boost for start-ups, capital markets regulator SEBI on Thursday relaxed its regulations for them to list and raise funds through a dedicated platform on domestic stock exchanges, rather than going overseas.
  • Under the new norms, stock exchanges will have a separate institutional trading platform for listing of start-ups from the new-age sectors, including e-commerce firms, while the minimum investment requirement would be Rs. 10 lakh.
  • The mandatory lock-in period for the promoters and other pre-listing investors has been relaxed to six months.


India moves to reset ties with Iran

  • India has begun to reset its ties with Iran, notwithstanding the uncertainty surrounding the negotiations between the Persian Gulf nation and the P5+1 (the U.K., China, France, Russia and the U.S.; and Germany) as the June 30 deadline for clinching a nuclear agreement draws near.
  • After cutting down oil imports from Tehran in the recent past following sanctions, India is now keen on pushing for connectivity with Iran, which will pave the way for its entry into Afghanistan and the Central Asian region.
  • The impetus being given to the North-South Transport Corridor are perceived as attempts to mend ties.
  • An inter-government memorandum of understanding signed in May for the development of the Chabahar Port in Iran
  • New Delhi has also ignored cautionary voices from the U.S. not to rush into doing business with Iran till it firms up the nuclear deal with it.
  • After its meeting on June 12, members of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) reviewed the status of the dry run study between India, Iran and Russia via the Caspian Sea, a follow-up meeting to further streamline work related to the corridor has been scheduled for July.
  • The international transport corridor across Nhava Sheva (Mumbai) through Bandar Abbas (Iran) to Astrakhan (Russia) and Baku (Azerbaijan) is expected to substantially reduce cargo transport time between India and Central Asia and Russia.
  • Professor at the Centre for West Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said India must vigorously pursue relations with Iran with an eye on possible cooperation to fight the emerging terror groups in Central Asia.
  • The disturbing developments in Afghanistan, the penetration of militants into Central Asia, and the continued expansion of IS in Iraq, all necessitate better India-Iran ties
  • While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to visit Tehran in the next few weeks for the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial meeting, there is no word yet on when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Iran.


New set of Income Tax return forms notified; deadline for filing returns extended to Aug. 31

  • With the publication of the Gazette order by the Finance Ministry, taxpayers can now file their returns till August 31.
  • The previous deadline for the filing of returns was July 31, but this was extended because of various changes the government made to the return forms.
  • In the new and simplified forms, filers no longer have to provide the details of their foreign travels.
  • They need furnish only details about “total number of savings and current bank accounts” held by them “at any time during the previous year [excluding dormant accounts]”.
  • The most simplified form, ITR-2A, to be filled by those individuals and HUFs who do not have income from business, profession or by way of capital gains and do not hold foreign assets, only asks for the passport number of the tax-filer, “if available”.
  • With regard to bank accounts, filers only need to provide the IFSC code of their bank and the account numbers of all the current/savings accounts held at any point of time during the previous year.
  • In an additional feature, tax filers have been given the option of indicating to which account they would like their refund credited.
  • In the ITR-2 forms, for individuals and HUFs having income from business or profession, filers will also have to declare if they hold any assets abroad or have any income from any source outside India.


Cement plants to burn Maggi stocks as fuel

  • Nestle India has decided to destroy the recalled Maggi noodle stocks at cement plants nationwide.
  • Nestle in Goa informed the Food and Drugs Authority that it would produce the documentary evidence of transport and destruction of the product.


Delhi Govt invokes ESMA to end strike

  • The Delhi Government invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) on Tuesday evening to end the two-day-old strike by resident doctors, which continued to paralyse essential health services at over 20 hospitals across the Capital.


El Nino may have only a minor impact

  • This year’ s farm output may fall by only around 4.5 per cent despite the projection of a strong El Nino year by the India Meteorological Department, says a recent report
  • A normal monsoon, however, could lead to a 0.6-% growth, the report says.
  • The report by brokerage house Edelweiss has found that over the last four El Nino years (1997, 2002, 2006 and 2009), production fell by an average of 8 per cent compared to the production in the previous years, across all major crops.
  • Major production loss is observed in groundnut followed by moong, castor seed, bajra, sesame, jowar, maize and paddy.
  • Cotton has an advantage of the longest sowing window, sugarcane is hardly rain dependent as most of it is grown in irrigated regions and urad will do well in terms of yields with lower rains.


Nawab zoo and Azad bird sanctuary in U.P.

  • In a “historic” decision, the Samajwadi Party government has renamed the Lucknow Prani Udyan, popularly known as Lucknow Zoo, as “Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Prani Udyan, Lucknow,” making it the first official move — since Independence — to name a monument after a Nawab of Oudh, or Avadh ( roughly corresponding with Central Uttar Pradesh)
  • Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was the last Nawab of Oudh before the province was annexed by the British under the policy of Doctrine of Lapse in 1856.
  • Another first was the decision to rename the Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary in Unnao district after revolutionary freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad.
  • The bird sanctuary will now be known as “ Shaheed Chandra Shekhar Azad Pakshi Vihar, Nawabganj.”
  • The Lucknow Zoo was established in 1921 and was named after England’s Prince of Wales as “Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens.”


‘Chhattisgarh IIIT will be a catalyst of growth’

  • Union Minister of State for Power and Coal (Independent charge) Piyush Goyal on Tuesday inaugurated the newly built International Institute of Information Technology campus at Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh
  • “The institute will become a catalyst of growth in information technology and telecom sector in coming days. Not only in Chhattisgarh, but students from this institute will serve in the entire country,” he said
  • Goyal also announced to set up an innovation lab.


IS destroys ancient tombs

  • Slamic State group fighters have destroyed two ancient Muslim mausoleums in the historic Syrian city of Palmyra
  • Tombs of Mohammed bin Ali, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin, and Nizar Abu Bahaaeddine, a religious figure from Palmyra, three days ago. Bin Ali’s burial place is located in a mountainous region four kilometres north of Palmyra, in central Syria.
  • Abu Bahaaeddine’s tomb, nestled in a leafy oasis about 500 metres from Palmyra’s ancient ruins, is said to be more than five centuries old.
  • IS has destroyed at least 50 mausoleums dating between 100-200 years old in the regions under its control in north and east Syria, the antiquities director said.


Close to 700 people dead in Pakistan heatwave

  • Medics battling to treat patients as a state of emergency was declared in hospitals.
  • The majority of people died in government-run hospitals in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan's economic hub of around 20 million people, as temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius at the weekend.


Denmark, Norway rescue almost 1,000 migrants

  • The European Union must urgently improve overcrowded migrant reception centres in Italy and Greece, a leading humanitarian group said on Tuesday as ships from Denmark and Norway plucked nearly 1,000 people from the Mediterranean Sea.
  • More shelter, food, access to asylum information and help in identifying victims of abuse and torture are urgently needed


Japan marks Okinawa anniversary

  • Japan on Tuesday marked the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to speak at a ceremony in Itoman, at the southern tip of the island, near to the spot where terrified locals jumped from cliffs or were pushed to their deaths on the orders of Imperial soldiers taught never to surrender.


June rate cut by RBI: Rajan tows the majority line

  • Raghuram Rajan’s decision to cut the repo rate by 25 basis points on June 2 was in line with the majority recommendation of the central bank’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
  • Among the reasons cited for the rate cut recommendation were a lack of inflationary risks such as a weak monsoon, and a weak pick up in oil prices.
  • Members felt that any risk to headline inflation, a measure of inflation that includes typically volatile food and energy prices, could be mitigated by strategically releasing food stocks in case of a weak monsoon.
  • Other reasons cited by the RBI report were a lack of demand side pressure on prices, caused by modest rural wage growth and weak cyclical recovery.
  • Members also noted that demand was subdued across the globe and exports had contracted despite depreciation in the rupee.
  • Members cited the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing (QE) programme, which had weakened the Euro and steered the Eurozone away from deflation and the U.S. Fed’s ‘wait and see’ stance on monetary policy, concluding that there was ‘space to increase financial accommodation’


Mr. Jaitley went on to praise the performance of the public sector banks.

  • In promoting Indian businesses including infrastructure and when we are trying to push stalled projects, the public sector banks have had a positive role.
  • Secondly their strength and network is huge
  • Thirdly the good sign is that the private sector banks are also coming up in competition
  • The fourth factor is that public sector banks in social responsibilities have done tremendous jobs. The private sector banks have lagged behind (here)
  • In February, the government had announced an infusion of Rs.6,990 crore in nine public sector banks, including the State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, based on new efficiency parameters such as return on assets and return on equity.


India emerges as third largest FDI source for U.K

  • India has emerged as the third largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for United Kingdom (UK) after United States (US) and France in terms of number of projects.
  • During the year, investment from India increased by 65 per cent. This resulted in creation of 7,730 jobs as well as protection of 1,620 jobs.
  • The key sectors where Indian companies invested include healthcare, agri-tech, food and drink.
  • India and the UK share a long-standing, highly collaborative relationship, fuelling the prosperity of both countries and we greatly value our association with India.
  • He fact that in 2014-15 Indians were the third largest job creators in the UK is a tremendous testimony to the strength of our ties, while the UK is also the largest G20 investor in India, proving the two-way relationship.
  • At a time when global FDI flows have fallen, investors from India understand that the UK is welcoming, diverse and open for business


Make in India, Digital India propel growth

  • Digital India, Make in India and Financial Inclusion are creating vast opportunities for a symbiotic growth of virtual and brick and mortar industries


India, Brazil cross swords with U.S. at WTO

  • Switzerland and the U.S. have begun a campaign at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to not renew a moratorium on ‘non-violation complaints and situations’ for intellectual property rights that expires at the end of the year.
  • Intellectual property laws are governed internationally by the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.
  • A non-violation and situation complaint can be raised against a WTO member when it undertakes a certain action which, while not violating WTO rules itself, denies another member an expected benefit by nullifying or countering another action or policy required by the WTO.
  • Introducing subsidies to undo the effect of lowered tariffs would be an example of an action that could potentially attract a non-violation complaint.
  • A proposal to continue the moratorium has been submitted by Brazil on behalf of a group of 19 countries that includes India and China.
  • If the proposal is successful, the moratorium will continue after 2015, preserving the status quo. If unsuccessful, however, it opens the door to a new world of possibilities and litigation as far as intellectual property is concerned.
  • Section 3(d) of the India Patents Act (1970) is likely to be a target of complainants,
  • This section of the Act defines what an invention is, and has been interpreted by the Indian Patent Office to deny patents for drugs such as Sovaldi, a hepatitis C drug by Gilead Sciences, and Glivec, a cancer drug by Novartis.
  • The denial of these patents has significant benefits for access to affordable medication in India. It also has implications for the revenues of multi-national pharmaceutical companies and their incentives to innovate.


Land availability, faster project approvals key to success of ‘Housing for All’

  • ‘Housing for All’ scheme, the government’s initiative to provide access to affordable housing for the urban poor can be a potential game-changer for the Indian real estate sector
  • Objective of making available two crore homes in India’s urban areas.
  • What is essential to achieve this is a fast-tracked approval process, financial empowerment of the low-income categories to enable them to purchase a house in such areas — and unlocking land for creating affordable housing
  • As per the scheme’s credit-linked subsidy, a borrower can claim 6.5 per cent interest subsidy for up to 15-year housing loans with a maximum subsidy NPV (net present value) of Rs.2.30 lakh, which translates into loan principal amount of Rs.6.5-7 lakh
  • Besides, hiking the income limits for the economically weaker sections (EWS) and low income group (LIG) categories will ensure that a more significant chunk of the urban poor can be covered under the scheme.
  • There are several issues that confront the realty sector like funding for the developers, infrastructure status for it and a separate dedicated single-window for affordable housing projects