Read summary of all news articles of the day below


GS-2

International groupings and agreements


India thanks Switzerland for support in global fora:

Context

  • India on Thursday thanked Switzerland for its support in global multilateral organizations.

Talk of greater cooperation

  • Welcoming the visiting Swiss President Doris Leuthard, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought greater cooperation to ensure bilateral financial transparency.

Token of Thanks

  • India thanked the Swiss government for its support to India’s membership bid for the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  • India is seeking greater cooperation with Switzerland within the framework of India-EU cooperation.

Increasing bonding

  • India became an MTCR member last year and made a serious bid for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group where Switzerland supported India.
  • Mr. Modi also sought Swiss support in ensuring transparency in investments.
  • Mr. Modi also noted that Switzerland has recognized traditional medicinal discipline of Ayurveda and sought greater cooperation to promote it in Switzerland.
  • Both sides signed two major agreements on railways.

Financial transparency

  • Switzerland have accepted automatic exchange of information on financial issues with India.

Understanding the Chinese mind: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

  • Post the stand-off between India and China over the Doklam plateau,the two sides agreed to step back and disengage, thus avoiding a confrontation.

What is left unclear?

  • The Indian side has pulled back its personnel and equipment to the Indian side of the boundary, while China has agreed to make ‘necessary adjustments and deployment’ on its part.
  • It is unclear, however, whether China will patrol the region, which it claims to have been doing earlier. Road construction will not continue for the present.

India’s reason

  • India’s actions in Doklam are easy to detect, viz. going to the help of a treaty partner in its time of need, a decision which incidentally has security ramifications for India.

China’s reason

  • China’s reasons are more complex and complicated but, nevertheless, cannot be easily wished away.

Current situation

  • China and India have a kind of competitive coexistence.
  • While professing friendship, both sides have mutual suspicion for each other at times prompting several degrees of alienation.
  • Both countries remain wary of each other’s intentions and actions.

China shaping its policies

  • The BRICS summit and the 19th Party Congress both have high priority for China today.
  • China is trying to reshape the regional and international order, and is keen to fine-tune its ‘Great Power diplomacy’.
  • It, hence, needs to be seen as preferring peace over conflict.
  • It is well-positioned to achieve this if it maintains its present course.
  • Any interruption, by indulging in a conflict with nations small or big, would not only damage but derail the levels of progress that are essential to achieve this objective.

GS-3

Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment


GDP growth boards slow train at 5.7%:

Context

  • India’s GDP grew at 5.7% between April to June this year, considered the slowest pace recorded in 13 quarters or since the NDA government assumed office in May 2014.

The slagging of GDP growth.

  • It was led by a sharp decline in industrial activity ascribed largely to an inventory drawdown by firms ahead of the rollout of GST from July 1.
  • GDP growth in the last quarter of 2016-17 was 6.1%, marking a steady decline from the 7.9% clocked in the April to June quarter.
  • The gross value added (GVA) in the economy grew at 5.6%, same as the previous quarter but sharply lower than the 7.6% growth in the first quarter of the last year.
  • It is the sixth continuous quarter marking a decline in growth.

Effect on Industrial sector

  • The major decline in growth is on account of industry, which comes in at 1.6% compared to 7.4% last year.
  • Industrial output grew by 3.1% in the previous quarter, one of the worst quarter for the manufacturing sector in five years.
  • Most part of this dip was due to the rise in input costs as well as an unprecedented “high level of inventory de-accumulation” in the first quarter.
  • Firms were then worried if the GST regime would grant them input tax credits for output generated before its implementation.
  • With this anticipation of the GST price-levelling effects, there are chances of revival in the stocks in the second quarter.

What needs to be taken care of?

  • While interpreting the manufacturing data, the negative wholesale price inflation (WPI) trends should be kept in check.

Service sector

  • The services sector did fairly well, growing at 8.7% compared to 9% in the same quarter last year, the gross value added by the agriculture sector dipped from 2.5% in the first quarter of last year to 2.3%.

India, U.S. eye states to boost trade ties:

Context

  • India and the U.S. are working on establishing a state-level engagement mechanism to widen and deepen bilateral trade and investment ties.

State Engagement Task force’ (SET)

  • The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), will disclose within a fortnight a ‘State Engagement Task force’ (SET) ensuring American and Indian companies align their interests with the priorities of the State governments of both the countries.

Engagement for improving ties

  • The move has come as India and the U.S. are set to carry out a comprehensive review of bilateral trade ties.
  • Priorities sectors in the exercise will be defense and energy.

The main focus

  • The focus in defence would include Lockheed Martin’s proposal to make F-16 fighter jets in India.
  • There is also sale of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. or GA-ASI’s ‘Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft’ to India.
  • Energy ties would be covering exports of U.S. natural gas, transfer of U.S. technology on oil and gas refining, as well as the conclusion of pacts between Nuclear Power Corp. and Westinghouse Electric for six nuclear reactors in India and related project financing.
  • Smart cities are the other priority areas including Ajmer, Allahabad and Visakhapatnam.
  • Regional airport development in India through public private partnership, e-commerce, digital payments and medical devices is also point of focus.

The four separate engagement channels

  • Industry puts forward four separate engagement channels —

1.the comprehensive review of trade ties,

2.forthcoming trade policy forum

3.the bilateral ‘commercial dialogue

4.the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in November would be provided during the Global Entrepreneurship Conclave (GEC) being organized by the USIBC next month.

‘Trade-distorting farm subsidies must go’:

Context

  • India and China jointly submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) calling for the exclusion of the most trade-distorting form of farm subsidies by the developed countries.

Why such proposal?

  • The proposal is a prerequisite for consideration of other reforms in domestic support negotiations.

Importance of the proposal

  • This is an important in the view of the ongoing negotiations for the upcoming 11th Ministerial Conference (MC) of the WTO to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017.
  • It counters the efforts by some countries to target the subsidies of the developing countries while letting the developed countries retain their huge farm subsidies.

Prelims Related News

As ISRO launch fails, glitch in space waits for fix: (Indian Express, Explained)

Context

  • ISRO declared the IRNSS-1H launch a failure after a heat shield failed to separate, preventing the satellite from being deployed in space by PSLV-C39, the launch vehicle.

What went wrong?

  • The performance of PSLV-C39 went to plan up to the point when the satellite had to be inserted in orbit.
  • During the operation the heat shield did not get separated.

IRNSS-1H

  • IRNSS-1H was the eighth in a series of IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite Systems) satellites to get launched by ISRO since July 2013.
  • IRNSS-1H was among nine satellites (seven for the navigation service, two backup) indented at Rs 1,420 crore for IRNSS.

NavIC

  • It is an Indian navigation satellite constellation, comprising of seven satellites.

What was IRNSS-1H supposed to do?

  • It was launched to create a constellation to provide satellite-based navigation services over the Indian subcontinent on the lines of the global positioning system (GPS) created by the United States.
  • IRNSS-1H was intended to replace IRNSS-1A, which developed problems last year.
  • IRNSS-1H would have augmented “the existing seven satellites of NavIC constellation”.
  • It was supposed to sit in a sub-Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (sub-GTO).

What kind of problems made a replacement necessary?

  • The first satellite launched on July 1, 2013, had developed problems, rendering the satellite ineffective for navigation services.
  • The Three Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard (RAFS) clocks of IRNSS-1A have stopped working. But the rest of satellite components are functioning perfectly.
  • The satellite is still being used for messaging activity.
  • There is a talk of launching a replacement site.

After the failed launch, what can ISRO do?

  • ISRO has one more satellite in its kitty. A new satellite could be launched in the next few months to make up for the loss.

How do these satellites work?

  • IRNSS intends to provide two services —

Standard Positioning Service for general users and a Restricted Service, which is an encrypted service only for authorized users like the defence forces.

NavIC is designed to provide accurate position information services to users in India as well as the region, up to 1,500 km from the boundary.

For NavIC to become ubiquitous in the subcontinent, ISRO will sell its capabilities to general positioning service providers like mobile phone manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers etc.

Couldn’t existing satellite systems have provided such services?

  • One primary reasons for the development of the indigenous Indian system is the reliability that it offers when used for defence purposes.

What is the payload on IRNSS-1H?

  • IRNSS-1H had both a navigation payload and a ranging payload.
  • The ranging payload of IRNSS satellites has a C-band transponder to determine the range of the satellite.
  • The navigation payload is meant to transmit navigation service signals to users on earth while operating in the L5-band and S-band. Part of the navigation payload is high-accuracy RAFS clocks.

Importance of the clocks

  • Atomic clocks act as a key component in a navigation system.
  • The ISRO satellites are equipped with three clocks each – one clock being the primary timekeeper and two acting as backup.
  • Accurate timekeeping is important for navigation system as a person’s position on earth is subject to the accurate calculation of delays in signal transmission from the satellite to earth.
  • Clocks are so important because if you don’t have the right clocks and even if you don’t consider the relativity theory of Einstein the error would be more than 500 metres in one hour.

What went wrong with the clocks?

  • The Three RAFS clocks supplied by an European manufacturer, Spectratime, which were used by the ESA for its Galileo satellite navigation system, developed problems.
  • These failures seem to have a consistent signature, linked to probable short circuits, and possibly a particular test procedure performed on the ground.

How has ISRO addressed the problems with the IRNSS clocks?

  • The atomic clocks in new satellites are modified versions of the original clocks provided by Spectratime under a 4-million-euro deal signed in 2008.
  • ISRO has been carrying out modifications of clocks acquired from Spectratime to overcome technical issues.

Who built IRNSS-1H?

  • A consortium led by Alpha Design Technologies, a defence equipment supplier from Bengaluru, built it over eight months.
  • The Rs 400-crore company was tasked with making two satellites.
  • The second is expected to be complete by April 2018.
  • Alpha Designs was backed by a team of 70 ISRO scientists.
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