Daily News Analysis for IAS/UPSC (27-06-2015) Current Affairs

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Pak. seeks U.K. help to probe RAW-MQM ‘link’

  • The Pakistan government has requested Britain for assistance in establishing whether India has funded and trained cadre of the Pakistan opposition party, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM)
  • A recent BBC report quoted a “Pakistani source” as saying that the Indian intelligence agency RAW had financed the MQM and also trained its cadres at a camp in India’s northeast. India has denied the allegations.

 

Global economy slipping into problems: Rajan

  • RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has asked central banks from across the world to define “new rules of the game” as he warned that the global economy may be slipping into problems similar to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • Rajan, who has been warning against competitive monetary policy easing by central banks, however, said the situation is different in India where the RBI still needs to bring down lending rates to spur investments.

 

India ranked best for investment

  • A ranking of destinations for attractiveness to foreign investors has placed India at the top among 110 countries.
  • In the 2014 index, India was at the sixth position and Hong Kong was number one.
  • The ranking is based on an index for baseline profitability that assumes that three factors affect the ultimate success of a foreign investment: how much the value of an asset grows; the preservation of that value while the asset is owned; and the ease of repatriation of proceeds from selling the asset
  • “...economic growth alone doesn’t determine the returns to investing abroad; you have to worry about things like financial stability, physical security, corruption, expropriation by government, exploitation by local partners, capital controls, and exchange rates as well. Putting all of these factors together gives a better idea of how big the return will be when it finally reaches your pocket,”
  • The big story in the BPI in 2015 is “India coming out on top, with growth forecasts up, perceptions of corruption down, and investors better protected following the election of a government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
  • A high ranking indicates high returns and improving economic institutions
  • Local factors can erode profits. These include payment of bribes and kickbacks, the risk of which is compared across countries using the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a measure for the perceived levels of public-sector corruption worldwide
  • In 2014, the country was at the 85th position out of 175 countries as compared to its ranking of 94 out of 177 in 2013.
  • BPI calculation also uses an index of investor protection compiled by the World Bank

 

Hard-fought victory for gay rights activists

  • once-in-an-epoch decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that gay and lesbian couples across the country enjoyed a constitutional right to marry, and in doing so struck a blow for progressives in the “defining civil rights challenge of our time”.
  • The 5-4 decision guaranteeing the constitutional right to same-sex marriage under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution brings to an end, at least for the moment, a ban on such unions in 13 U.S. States and hands a historic victory to activists who have fought for years in the lower courts with mixed success.

 

Pak., IS flags in Srinagar

  • Clashes broke out between pro-separatist protesters and security forces on Friday, with some youths raising Pakistani and IS flags at Nowhatta here
  • Youths raised pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan slogans and tried to march to Nowhatta Chowk, the police said.

 

No junk food on Amarnath yatra

  • An expert committee, formed after the Supreme Court expressed concern over the large number of pilgrim deaths in 2012, cautioned against the consumption of cold drinks and fried food citing shortage of oxygen on the route to the temple situated at an altitude of over 12,000 feet above sea level.
  • “Health experts say that it becomes difficult to digest such food in the absence of adequate oxygen, which gives rise to breathing problems,”

 

CBI to probe foreign funds to Teesta-linked firm

  • In fresh trouble for social activist Teesta Setalvad, the government on Friday asked the CBI to probe the receipt of over Rs. 3 crore by private firm Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL) linked to her from foreign donors, including the U.S.-based Ford Foundation, in alleged violation of FCRA rules.
  • In a parallel move, the government froze the bank account of the firm located in Juhu, Mumbai, as the Home Ministry claimed that the firm was not authorised to receive funds from abroad as it was not registered under Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

 

Marines row: Italy files arbitration case

  • With unending delay in concluding the judicial process involving two Italian marines in India, Italy on Friday launched an international arbitration case against India within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
  • Italy will seek the immediate transfer of the marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone to the country pending the arbitration process.
  • The goal, the statement said, “is the successful conclusion of the affair, which lasted far too long” and reiterated commitment to freeing the two marines.
  • In February 2012, the two marines, on board an Italian commercial vessel, shot and killed two Indian fishermen, mistaking them for pirates.
  • While India insists that the vessel was in Indian territorial waters and therefore should be tried by Indian jurisdiction, Italy claims the incident took place in international waters and that the marines should therefore be tried in Italy or in an international court.

 

Teachers with fake degrees quit after HC warning

  • 1,400 teachers of the State who had managed to get jobs with fake degree certificates, have resigned.
  • HC had appealed to all such teachers to resign on their own within a week to avoid arrest and recovery of their salaries.
  • The High Court also asked the State government to put out advertisements in newspapers to ensure that the teachers got the message.
  • The court had earlier directed the department to investigate the appointment of about 40,000 contract teachers who allegedly had used fake certificates to get jobs in State-run primary and middle schools.

 

Centre to revamp oil, gas block auctions

  • Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday said the government will hold the tenth round of auctions for oil and gas blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) this fiscal.
  • The auction, which will be held almost four years after the ninth round received a lukewarm response in 2010-11, is expected to bring in investments and boost domestic production.

 

Putin, Obama discuss Ukraine, IS

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin called his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama on Thursday to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, the Islamic State group’s advances and a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
  • The crisis in Ukraine has triggered the worst standoff between Russia and the West since the Cold War, and the U.S. said earlier this week it would deploy heavy weapons in central and eastern Europe for the first time.
  • The U.S. announcement followed promises by NATO on Monday to step up its military presence in eastern Europe, against the backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine.

 

Sirisena dissolves Sri Lankan Parliament, polling on August 17

  • The seventh Parliament of Sri Lanka, which lasted a little more than five years, has been dissolved with immediate effect.
  • The dissolution, which came into effect on the midnight of Friday, took place 10 months ahead of the completion of the present House’s term.
  • When the present Parliament, under the 1978 Constitution, was elected in April 2010, Mr. Rajapaksa was the President and D.M. Jayaratne the Prime Minister.
  • The dissolution has rendered redundant a gazette notification of the proposed 20{+t}{+h} Amendment, envisaging electoral reforms
  • According to the 2014 data, Sri Lanka has about 1.5 crore electors. The revision of electoral roll, in progress at the moment, would come to a halt once the dissolution of Parliament is notified, said Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya.

 

Government should vacate unused spectrum: COAI

  • The Cellular Operators Association of India, a body of GSM and CDMA mobile service providers, on Friday, said that the government should take steps to vacate the unused spectrum lying with various agencies under it.
  • Association was pushing the ministry and the DoT to allow use of unused spectrum for commercial use and sought a roadmap as to when it would be done.
  • TRAI definition for broadband in the country was 512 kbps, which, compared to the international standard of two mbps, was very low.
  • This, he said, was due to inadequate availability of spectrum for commercial use owing to the huge population base.
  • India, each telecom operator was given 12 to 15 MHz of spectrum, while internationally it was 45 to 50 MHZ.
  • Harmonising of technology was not taking place as a result of which equipment cost for installing networks was rising for the operators.
  • Another challenge which the operators were facing was installation of cell towers.

 

Surging imports worry steel makers

  • India could raise steel tariffs further to check a surge of imports, a minister said on Friday, but local steel firms are concerned that free trade agreements with Japan and South Korea would still let those countries boost shipments.
  • Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete said he would meet finance ministry officials within a week to discuss more measures to ‘safeguard’ the local industry and check the quality of imported steel, after companies complained recent duty increases of up to 2.5 percentage points were inadequate.
  • Japan and South Korea pay little or no duty when they sell steel to India
  • India extended a deal to provide high-grade iron ore to Japan and South Korea as part of bilateral ties.
  • The steel ministry is in favour of taking steel out of the FTAs, according to government and industry sources with knowledge of the issue, but such a decision was unlikely in the near term, given government-to-government relations.
  • Growth in Indian steel demand was expected to be the highest among the world’s 10 biggest users this year and the next, the World Steel Association says.

 

RBI backs move to encourage e-deals

  • Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India R. Gandhi said that the government’s recent move to encourage electronic transactions in favour of cash dealings was a welcome step and that it would help in curbing banking fraud cases.
  • Earlier this month, the government released a draft proposal that, if accepted, would see income tax benefits for consumers, who predominantly use electronic transactions for payments . The draft proposal also sought to incentivise merchants to opt for e-payments rather than cash transactions.
  • Deposit-related frauds, which used to be big in number though not in size, have been on the wane, thanks to the improvements in cheque and payment processing, usage of technology and tightening the provisions of the Negotiable Instruments Act. The advances-related frauds continue to be the major concern for banks, especially because of their size and far reaching implications to their financial soundness and integrity
  • A special variety of frauds, which are increasing in number and in terms of speed, are the cyber frauds
  • A key step towards curbing such cases of fraud, he said, was improving banks’ KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures.
  • This would allow a bank to draw up a robust customer profile and put up a red flag if there is any exception to the norm
  • Apart from this, banks should invest in knowing their employees — since a lot of the fraud cases take place with inside help — and know their partners.
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