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GS 2

Between the Elephant and the Dragon

India China; India- Iran

News:

1.Harsh V. Pant, professor of International relations at King’s college london, observe that both India and China should cooperate on Iran’s Chabahar Port.

Important Facts:

  1. After the US decision to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal, It is important for Iran to engage all the major powers.
  2. Both India and china has lots of stake in Iran.
  3. Iran’s attempt to woo chinese investment in chabahar, often projected as India’s pet project (and a response to Gwadar in Pakistan), has raised eyebrow in New Delhi. Inviting Chinese investment is perceived as an attempt to dilute Indian influence.
  4. Chabahar for Iran means pure business.It even invited Pakistan for the inaugural ceremony.Post Sanctions, in a quest for multilateralism, Iran is trying to woo various countries to invest in the Chabahar Port.
  5. Iran-China Ties:
  •  China never severed its ties with Iran, even during the sanctions era.
  • Post Sanctions, Chinese President was the first head of State to visit Iran.
  • China played a crucial role in the nuclear deal by bringing all the countries to the negotiating table.
  • Iran is trying to woo Chinese investments in Chabahar
  • With US showing hostility towards Iran, it needs to maintain good relations with a rising power like China.
  • China has emerged as Iran’s largest trading partner over the years.
  • China is the largest importer of Iranian oil.
  • Iran is crucial to China’s BRI due it geographic location as a bridge between Persian Gulf and Central Asia.
  • Investments in Iran would give China control over 2 of the 3 major routes to world markets.
  • For Iran, BRI would help in making it an inevitable transit hub for countries like China, India and Russia.
  • China as a UNSC Permanent member and its veto power would be a great asset to Iran.
  1. Reason for india to collaborate with China
  • India should not focus exclusively upon the growing influence of China in Iran.
  • Iran’s reliance on China will only grow after US withdrawal from the nuclear pact.
  • In all its ties, India should try to make economics and politics complement each other.
  • India has to capitalize on all its existing ties. For example, in Japan, India should offer favourable terms of trade in the region vis-a-vis China.
  • Frequent Joint Naval exercises should be held in the Persian Gulf
  • India and China can jointly invest in Iran as they are planning to do in Afghanistan.

 

Improving Social Audits

Social Audit; Governance

News:

  1. Institutionalisation of social audits for the implementation of MGNREGA has been a challenging task

Important Facts:

  1. Social audits were introduced in 2005.
  2. Due to government indifference and apathy social audits have been ineffective.
  3. 26 countries have created Social Audit Units(SAUs) but the CAG’s detailed guidelines are yet to be implemented.
  4. Due to ineffective social audits, other implementation challenges faced by schemes like MGNREGA and National Food Security have increased.
  5. Telangana-an exception and a notable example:
  • SAUs have organised regular social audits on NREGA since 2008.
  • It is aligned with activists’ demands for transparency, participation and accountability.
  • Frontline social auditors focused on individual workers’ grievances.
  • The problem solving function of social audits helped local auditors understand the problems of the workers and help them better.
  • It prevented individual grievances from getting stuck in a non existing corrective action system.
  • This system shows the preventive role of social audits over the punitive role i.e., deterring corruption.
  • The social audits have gone on uninterrupted despite the state’s bifurcation and change in governments.
  1. Though social audits are not seen as grievance redressal platforms or means to deter corruption, a study conducted in partnership with The Society for Social Audit Accountability and Transparency (SSAAT-Telangana) showed that they do.
  2. In the National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour(NCCCL) petition on the implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act,(BOCW Act) the Supreme Court asked the Ministry of Labour and Employment, State governments and the Union Territories to conduct a social audit of the BOCW Act.

 

Focusing on building trust: on India and Nepal bilateral ties

India- Nepal; Neighbouhood Policy

News:

  1. Dinesh Bhattarai, an adviser to former Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, says that India and Nepal need to muster the courage to address the difficult aspects of bilateral ties.

Important Facts:

  1. Indian Prime Minister would be paying a return State visit to Nepal barely a month after Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P Oli visited India.
  2. This return visit after a short period of time signifies the intensity of political engagements at the highest levels.
  3. In Nepal, Mr Modi would visit two religious shrines at Janakpur and Muktinath and the two leaders would jointly lay the foundation stone of the Arun III hydropower project.
  4. The relations between India and Nepal go back to ancient times and are multifaceted.india has been supportive of democratic movements in Nepal since 1950s.
  5. Both the countries share wide wide ranging socio cultural commonalities and geopolitical realities.
  6. No two sovereign and independent nations interact everyday in a comprehensive way as India and Nepal do.
  7. People-to-people relations are characterised by mutual good will, respect and cordiality, harmony and understanding. They have never been bitter even at their worst.
  8. The good relations at the ground level are not reflected at the official level dealings despite words of reassurance from the leadership.
  9. one to one meeting reflects double standards as one thing is said in the public and another in while in office.
  10. In 2014, Mr Modi was the first Prime Minister to visit Nepal in 17 years. this visit enhanced mutual trust and confidence and changed the dynamics of the agr old relations.
  11. The Indian Prime Minister attended the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit in 2014 in Kathmandu.
  12. Over the last four years there have been significant developments in the bilateral relations, fundamental transformations in economic, political and societal terms and the rapidly unfolding regional and global geopolitical scenarios.
  13. Nepal promulgated an inclusive, democratic Constitution made by the Constituent Assembly.
  14. India’s reaction as the world’s largest democracy to the protests after the promulgation of the Constitution was significant.
  15. India’s undeclared economic blockade after the Nepali Constitution was passed, eroded the trust and confidence between the two countries.
  16. Ties under Prime Minister, Sushil Koirala:
  • Followed courageous pragmatism in the conduct of foreign policy
  • Respected India’s concerns and sensitivities when needed and asserted Nepal’s sovereignty when circumstances demanded.
  • Was not ready to trade their dignity and sovereignty for support and goodwill of any kind.  For example, the PM discussed the Lipulekh issue immediately over the phone when it was included in the India-China joint statement.
  1. Nepal has always showed that it will not allow any activities against India under any circumstances.
  2. The leaders of the left and right use the rhetoric of populism and jingoism directed against India for the sake of vote bank.
  3. A reactive, ad hoc and divisive approach in foreign policy shatters international trust in leadership.
  4. Suggestions by Dinesh Bhattarai:
  • The precious state of  relations are to be protected.
  • A replication of past mistakes is to be avoided.
  • Bridge the gap to realise the full potential of relations.
  • Political acumen with a vision is required to overcome petty technicalities and bureaucratic meme.
  • It is high time to develop trust between the two countries. And this trust develops only when words are translated into beneficial partnerships, cooperative actions and concrete results.

 

Reviving ‘Neighbourhood First’

India china; India- Nepal; India – Pakistan; Neighbourhood policy

News:

  1. The present government is keen on rebuilding ‘Neighborhood First’ policy which is evident through informal summit at Wuhan, China, last month and a visit to Nepal this month.

Important Facts:

  1. Chinese President Xi Jinping in September 2014 in visited Gujarat reflecting China inclination towards a personalized diplomacy. The personalized diplomacy was reciprocated the prime minister when he visited China.
  2. India and China has various strains in their relation in last few years
  • In 2016, China had blocked India from joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) despite a meeting between the two leaders in Tashkent on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit.
  • China has blocked India’s bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as an UN-designated terrorist.
  • China’s veto against the Uri Army camp attack by JeM cadres.
  • China stopped the sharing Hydrological data amid reports of diversion of Brahmaputra river waters.
  • A long stand-off at Doklam last year reflected downturn in relationship of both countries.
  • Chinese skepticism response in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and stepping up maritime engagement with the U.S. and Japan and reviving the Quad (with Australia) in Manila last year is a serious concern.
  1. Recently there is growing improvement in relation between India and China is visible
  • India china engagement at SCO, G-20 and BRICS summits later this year is clear indication that there is an effort to bring the relationship on track between India and China.
  1. Prime minister visit in 2014 had generated considerable goodwill in India Nepal relations.
  2. In last few years India Nepal has grown strain in their relation
  • Nepal’s new Constitution and support for the Madhesi cause created ill-will with India Nepal relations.
  • The economic impact caused by the disruption of supplies of essential items such as liquefied petroleum gas, petroleum products and medicines fed the anti-Indian sentiment.
  1. Prime minister proposed visit to Nepal May 11-12th may improve the relation between the two countries
  • A surprise one-on-one meeting with Mr. Modi on the first day provided the two leaders an opportunity to clear the air about the past and rebuild a degree of trust.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce a direct bus service between Janakpur in Nepal and Ayodhya in India, both key places in the Ramayana tourism circuit.
  1. Relations with Pakistan is stalled from 2016 following the Pathankot and Uri attacks. Firing across the Line of Control (LoC) has intensified leading to unhealthy relation with Pakistan. India launched ‘surgical strikes’ as retaliation for the Uri attack but this has not reduced infiltration.
  2. India has successfully stalled the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit since 2016.
  3. The resumption of the stalled Track II Neemrana Dialogue last month in Islamabad indicates that a shift may be likely.
  4. The upcoming Elections in July would be ray of hope from the new government for new India – Pakistan policy.

GS – 3

Rethinking Wind Energy

Wind energy; Developing New Technology

News:

  1.       Global scientific research reveals that generation of wind energy has high indirect impact on the ecosystem

Important Facts:

  1.       India has a renewable energy target of 175GW by 2022 and wind energy is one of the most popular renewable energy technologies in India
  2.       Wind farms are mostly located in the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats
  3.       Wind farms need large forest land diversion and denudation and also fragments forest land through access roads and transmission lines
  4.       It also increases the chances of forest fires
  5.       There has also been growing evidence that generation of wind energy has adverse impact on the ecosystem. Examples:
  •         Various researches have shown that in the Pacific islands, bat activity is 20% lower in areas with windmills.
  •         In Texas, there has been a 77% decrease in redhead ducks in coastal ponds with wind farms
  •         In Rajasthan, transmission lines and spinning blades of wind turbines have increased the mortality rate of the Great Indian Bustard (Designated as Critically Endangered in IUCN Red List)
  •         Studies by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore have revealed wind-farms result in a decrease in population of birds, rodents and smaller animals. Lower levels of predation have increased lizard population, resulting in increased competition and decrease in consumable resources
  1.       In India, the guidelines for wind energy do not focus on the mitigation of the impact on wildlife.
  2.       With the growing evidence on indirect impact of windmills on ecosystem, the government should formulate policies to combat the effects.

 

Drowning in Dust

Disaster and Disaster Management

News:

  1.       Recent extreme weather event in North India has highlighted the need for better disaster management system.

Important facts:

  1.       According to the UN Environment Programme, globally major dust producing region releases 1000-3000 teragrams of particles into the atmosphere. Sahara Desert contributes the highest with one-third of the total dust
  2.       In India, presence of dust particles is 3 times higher than the global average due to the abundance of mineral dust
  3.       Research points out that altered climatic patterns due to accumulation of dust particles affect the Himalayan glaciers
  4.       Every year in pre-monsoon season, North Indian States experience storms carrying natural dust clouds from the Thar Desert and further west.
  5.       However, some scientists have reported reduction in dust volumes in pre-monsoon season due to pattern of increased rainfall
  6.       The recent storm was highly destructive as it combined hot western winds and moisture from the east. Extremely hot April temperature in parts of Pakistan added to the intensity of the storm.
  7.       Problems with disaster management in India:
  •         Lack of coordination among various stakeholders which affects disaster preparedness
  •         Poor public infrastructure
  1.       Measures to be taken:
  •         Develop accurate forecasting methods
  •         Strong public infrastructure
  •         Capacity development among administrators and personnel
  •         Protocols to mitigate impact and ensure rescue and rehabilitation

 

Walmart to buy Control of Flipkart

Effects of Liberalisation; Indian startups

News:

  1. Walmart has acquired stakes of Flipkart.

Important facts:

  1. Flipkart is India’s first billion-dollar e-commerce company
  2. Walmart is a US based company which first entered Indian market in a joint venture with Bharti Group in 2007
  3. Recently, Walmart has acquired 77% stakes of Flipkart worth $16 billion. This is Walmart’s largest acquisition till date
  4. The $16 billion investment includes $2 billion of new equity funding. This is expected to help Flipkart to achieve its growth potential
  5. Walmart considers that with its acquisition of a controlling stake in Flipkart, India would serve as a key centre of learning global operations of the firm
  6. Post Walmart’s announcement of acquisition of Flipkart’s stakes, share of leading retail firms have declined
  7. Benefits:
  • The deal is expected to facilitate the consolidation of markets and boost the retail sector
  • The deal is also expected to help the retail sector to address the market need gaps
  • New categories food and groceries are likely to receive more attention
  • The deal may also serve as a push for Japanese investments in Indian companies
  1. Criticisms:
  • The Confederation of all India Traders has criticized the deal saying that this would allow Walmart to control and dominate India’s retail trade through e-commerce which is bridge to reach India’s offline retail market
  1. For Walmart, the deal offers a big advantage as it allows tapping India’s retail market without building stores. However, competition with Amazon pose serious challenge for Walmart

 

 World’s Second Oldest Rock is from Odhisa

News:

  1.       A rock sample collected from Champua in Kendujhar district of Odhisa is world’s oldest rock.

Important Facts:

  1.       The discovery as a research paper has been published in the journal Scientific Reports
  2.       Zircon grains of 4,240 million and 4,030 million years were discovered.
  3.       The rock is believed to be oldest in India and second oldest in the world
  4.       The oldest age recorded from rocks is 4400 million years, which is the age of a zircon grain.
  5.       This oldest zircon was discovered from a metamorphosed sedimentary rock at Jack Hill of Western Australia.
  6.       Zircon is a mineral that contains traces of radioactive isotopes. The mineral is used to date its parent rock

 GS – 4

 

Corruption in Tennis

Corruption; Gambling; Match fixing

News:

  1.       Report by Independent Review Panel (IRP) highlights the problem of corruption in tennis

Important Facts:

  1.       Investigations by BBC and Buzzfeed revealed that there was widespread match fixing and illegal betting in tennis.
  2.       Post the revelation, the Independent Review Panel (IRP) was formed in 2016, which published its draft report in April 2018.
  3.       According to the report, governing bodies in tennis did little to combat the menace of corruption in the sport
  4.       The bodies face ethical dilemma as sponsorships from betting agencies have become an integral part of the sport.
  5.       The report highlights the problem of low prize money for players as one of the major reasons for match fixing.
  6.       The report recommends that the International Tennis Federation (ITF) should stop sharing official live scoring data with Sportradar
  7.       Sportradar is a sports data company that sells information to betting companies. This facilitates betting during low level matches
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