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GS 2

Government policies


Centre’s ‘no’ to SC appeal on old notes: (The Hindu)


Centre denies SC appeal to extend grace period to deposit old notes Context

  • The Centre says there is no justifiable reason to let citizens have any grace period to deposit their demonetized notes after the cut-off date of December 30, 2016.

Centre explains

  • Centre told Supreme Court that the decision taken was a conscious one.
  • Accepting SC plea for allowing so, would defeat the very purpose of demonetization.

SC appeal

  • The Supreme Court appealed to open a window for genuine people, like the terminally ill and invalids.
  • Window only for those who were unable to deposit their demonetized Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 notes between November 9 and December 30 last year.

Spaces, not embraces: (The Hindu, Editorial)


(Microscopic view on the countries’ friendship) Context:

  • The impact of a closer friendship with the U.S. can be better judged by the challenges that the superpower’s retreating global role presents

Background

  • In early 1987, U.S. President, Ronald Reagan had difficult choices to make on the future of Afghanistan.
  • As the Soviet Union planned its pull-out, the U.S. government, more notably the Central Investigation Agency, had been arming mujahideen fighters trained by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence to hasten the process by pushing out the Soviet army.
  • Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was, given his close ties with the Soviet leadership and a growing friendship with Reagan, trying to advocate a path of conciliation that clashed with Pakistan’s plans to control Kabul: a government of national unity supporting the newly appointed President Najibullah.
  • After months of considering the Indian case for a “non-aligned” Afghanistan, however, Reagan and the U.S. Congress chose the other course, transferring funds, arms and responsibility for the outcome to Pakistan.
  • In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. President George W.
  • Bush had a similarly complex decision to make on the future of Afghanistan.

  • The attacks had brought a rare moment of global unity, one which saw Russia, India, China, Pakistan and Iran pledge support to the U.S.’s plan to defeat the Taliban and its al-Qaeda guests.
  • Within months, however, the bonhomie was banished with three words, as Mr. Bush pronounced Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, as the “Axis of Evil”, choosing Pakistan as its ally to continue its war in Afghanistan.

Current Scenario – US’s Role

  • In 2017, President Donald Trump is in the same place as his administration finalises its Af-Pak policy review to be announced in July, and New Delhi once again has its hopes up that the U.S. will take a stern view of Pakistan’s support to the Taliban and its use of terror groups that target both Afghan and Indian interests.
  • The present U.S President’s first foreign visit was to Saudi Arabia, where he presided over a grand show of Arab-Islamic unity.
  • His wholehearted support to Saudi Arabia, his call for a unity of the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) and his open call to isolate Iran, however, came unstuck within days.
  • The U.S President plans for troop levels in Afghanistan seem modest at best.
  • He would like the numbers of American troops to add to the current 8,400 capped at 3,900.
  • Given that President Barack Obama’s 2009 surge of troops to 100,000 had little impact on the war in Afghanistan; this implies that the U.S. will simply cede more space to Russian-led efforts.
  • India thus risks becoming partner to a player whose military role in Afghanistan is in decline over a more nascent alliance.

Concern’s of India

  • Saudi Arabia and several other nations decided to blockade Qatar, calling for it to cut ties with Iran, ban the Muslim Brotherhood and shut down the Al Jazeera media network which they said targets the rest of the Gulf’s leadership.
  • But Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, dismissed fears of any impact on India from the move.
  • But the government must go beyond the obvious to assess its impact.

  • The US President plans for troop levels in Afghanistan seem modest at best.
  • He would like the numbers of American troops to add to the current 8,400 capped at 3,900.
  • Given that President Barack Obama’s 2009 surge of troops to 100,000 had little impact on the war in Afghanistan, this implies that the U.S. will simply cede more space to Russian-led efforts.
  • India thus risks becoming partner to a player whose military role in Afghanistan is in decline over a more nascent alliance.

Conclusion:

  • U.S President’s decision on Afghanistan must be closely watched, but without unrealistic expectations.
  • For India, the impact of U.S President’s world view and international policies are better judged not by the closeness of his embraces with India’s Prime Minister, but the spaces that he is ceding across the globe.

India and neighbors


China holds live drills near Arunachal border: (The Hindu)


China held live-fire exercises in South Tibet Context

  • China on Monday held live-fire exercises in Tibet, in an area facing Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls South Tibet.

Mind games being played at Doklam area by China

  • China’s Global Times carried that the exercise was conducted by one of the two brigades, which are part of the Tibet Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army.
  • The brigade is responsible for frontline combat missions.
  • The state-run broadcaster mentioned that brigade has long been stationed around the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River, which becomes the Siang and the Brahmaputra after crossing Chinese territory.

The message conveyed

  • Analysts believe that Beijing by conducting the exercise was sending messages to India.
  • It appeared willing to widen a possible area of encounter beyond the current focus of the standoff in the Sikkim section, by including Arunachal Pradesh, the scene of the 1962 war.
  • The exercises also looked carefully calibrated, and were defensive in the orientation, with the testing of Chinese air defenses as one of the major components.
  • The Global Times pointed out that a video showed radar units identifying enemy aircraft and soldiers using anti-aircraft artillery to annihilate targets.
  • It also showed soldiers using anti-tank grenades and missiles against bunkers and howitzers for artillery coverage.

GS 3

Science and Tech


GM mustard policy: SC gives govt. time: (The Hindu)


GM mustard policy on hold by Center Context:

  • The government on 17.07.2017 informed the Supreme Court that a policy decision on the commercial release of the Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop is yet to be finalised.

Introduction:

  • On October 17, 2016, the court had extended the stay on the commercial release of the GM mustard until further orders.
  • The court had asked the Centre to collect public opinion before the release.
  • Thus, the Center is running through various suggestions on and objections to the commercial rollout of the GM crops.
  • The government now gets a week by a Bench of Justice to report back on when the policy would be finalised which the condition that he policy should be good-intentioned and well-informed.

Drawback:

  • The government was sowing the seeds in various fields without publishing the bio-safety documents which has to be made public by putting it on the website.
  • Moreover field trials were being carried out without the relevant tests.

Eco-bridges for the movement of tigers: (The Hindu)


(Tigers get eco-friendly connectivity) Context:

  • Telangana State will have eco-friendly bridges over a canal cutting across the tiger corridor linking the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra with the forests in Telangana’s Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

What is it?

  • ‘Eco-bridges’ will be constructed at key locations along the 72 km-long, and at some places over a kilometre wide, right flank canal of the Pranahita barrage in the Bejjur and Dahegaon mandals.
  • The concept of the bridges emerged after visits by experts from the Wildlife Board of India and the Wildlife Institute of India.
  • They were concerned about the large-scale destruction of pristine forest along the corridor, which would result in cutting off tiger movement between TATR and Bejjur.

Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment


Industrial policy,clusters for manufacturing on anvil: (The Hindu)


National plan for manufacturing clusters Context: The process for formulation of a new industrial policy has been initiated and consultations are being held with stakeholders. Introduction:

  • The government is preparing a national plan for manufacturing clusters with an aim to bring about convergence in development of industrial areas by central and state government.

Objectives of plan:

  • The plan aims to bring about convergence in development of industrial areas by the central and state governments so as to bring about optimal utilization of resources.
  • The National Master Plan for Manufacturing Clusters intends to cover the database and GIS mapping of industrial clusters, zones, corridors, areas, parks etc. developed under various schemes of Central Government and State Governments.

Key points:

  • In April-June this fiscal, exports from SEZs stood at Rs 1.38 lakh crore.
  • The lack of substantive progress in the project or on a request by the developer, the Board of Approval cancels the letter of approval for the SEZ.
  • India ranks 130th in the World Bank’s annual Doing Business Report of 2017.
  • The government’s target is to improve the business regulatory environment of India and its ranking.
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