9 PM Current Affairs Brief – August 28th, 2018

Download the compilation of all summaries of all the news articles here

GS 2

Indus treaty talks to begin tomorrow

Indus treaty talks to begin tomorrow


  1. India and Pakistan will hold two-day discussion on Indus Water Treaty in Lahore.

Important facts:

2. It will be first bilateral engagement since Imran Khan took office as Prime Minister.

3. Agenda for the upcoming meeting:

  • The upcoming meeting is expected to discuss ways and means for the timely and smooth sharing of hydrological data on shared rivers.
  • The last meeting of the Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission was held in New Delhi in March this year.
  • During the last meeting, both sides had shared details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.
  • The two sides would now finalise the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners.

4. However, Pakistan is raising objections on the following grounds:

  • The Pakistan side is raising objections to two water-storage and hydroelectric projects being built by India during the talks.
  • The Pakistan would raise its concerns over the 1000- MW Pakal Dul and the 48-MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on the Chenab River.

5. About Indus Water Treaty:

  • The 1960 Indus Water Treaty, brokered by the World Bank.
  • The treaty administers how the waters of the Indus River and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilized.
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Iran asks UN to act against ‘economic strangulation’ by U.S

Iran asks UN to act against ‘economic strangulation’ by U.S


  1. Recently, Iran demanded the UN’s top court to suspend U.S. nuclear-linked sanctions against Tehran.

Important facts:

2. The Islamic Republic launched a suit at the International Court of Justice over U.S. President Donal Trump’s decision to reimpose the sanctions that had been lifted in a 2015 accord.

3. Arguments given by Iran:

  • Iran accused Washington of plotting its “economic strangulation”.
  • Iran says Mr. Trump’s move breaches a 1955 treaty.
  • The measures were already devastating Iran’s economy and threatening the welfare of its citizens.
  • The sanctions target financial transactions and imports of raw materials, cars, and aircraft.
  • Iran’s lawyers urged the court to order the suspension of the sanctions .

4. Arguments given by U.S.

  • Sanctions are needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb.
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Wuhan spirit should spur India to join Belt and Road initiative: China

Wuhan spirit should spur India to join Belt and Road initiative: China


  1. Recently, China called India its “natural partner” in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Important facts:

2. China also advocated better ties between New Delhi and Islamabad within the Eurasian framework.

3. India-China ties had entered a new phase of development since the Wuhan informal summit.

4. On India’s objections to the China-Pakistan Economic Project (CPEC) on ground of sovereignty, Chinese official said the difference between two nations on the project was overridden by the rapid turnaround in their ties after the Wuman summit.

5. Till now, India has not formally endorsed BRI, New Delhi did not participate in a summit of the grouping, leading to considerable consternation in Beijing.

6. Chinese official cited India and China’s collaboration in the infrastructure arena through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)- one of the pillar that props BRI projects.

7. India is a founding member of AIIB and second largest shareholder of the bank.

8. Around 20% of AIIB’s projects are based in India.

9. Recently, the Chinese Foreign Ministry welcomed India and Pakistan’s joint participation in a Eurasian counterterrorism military exercise under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

10. Way ahead:

  • Both sides need to enhance their dialogue and cooperation both bilaterally and within multilateral mechanisms like the SCO, work together to improve their ties and jointly maintain regional peace and stability.
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Myanmar Army had ‘genocidal intent’

Myanmar Army had ‘genocidal intent’


  1. UN report says persecution of Rohingya Muslims amounted to ‘crimes against humanity’.

Important facts:

2. According to UN investigators, Myanmar’s military carried out gravest crimes against Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent”.

3. The UN report highlighted on the following aspects:

  • UN report calls for the UN Security Council to set up an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects or refer them to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
  • The Council should also impose an arms embargo on Myanmar and targeted sanctions against individuals most responsible for crimes.
  • The report blamed Nobel Peace Prize winner Auug San Suu Kyi, for failing to use her “moral authority” to protect civilians.
  • The report also criticized Facebook for allowing the world’s biggest social media network to be used to incite violence and hatred.
  • However, Facebook responded by blocking Myanmmar officials and organizations found by the UN panel to have “committed serious human rights abuses”.
  • The report pointed out that military action, which included the torching of villages, was “grossly disproportionate to actual security threats”.
  • Commander-in-chief should step down pending investigation.
  • The panel, interviewed more than 800 victims and witnesses in Bangladesh and other countries, analysed documents, videos, photographs, and satellite images.
  • Decades of state-sponsored stigmatization against Rohingya had resulted in “institutionalized oppression from birth to death”.
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The big squeeze

The big squeeze


  1. Iran is reeling under the impact of reimposed sanctions after U.S. walked out of the nuclear deal.

Important facts:

2. Iran’s currency rial has lost over 50% of its value this year, pushing up prices and compelling consumers to convert their savings into gold and other assets.

3. Any additional squeeze could worsen domestic tensions.

4. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in July dropped central bank governor, for incompetence in handling the fallout from the currency crisis.

5. Tehran managed to double its oil exports, climb out of a deep recession and contain inflation.

6. With return of economic sanctions, Iran has been prohibited from using the U.S. currency, and faces a bar on trade in cars, metals and minerals.

7. New central bank chief has announced a relaxation of foreign exchange rules, creating access to subsidized hard money for purchase of essential commodities.

8. He also declared the reopening of currency markets.

9. Concern areas:

  • There remains the risk of an Iranian blockade on the Strait of Hormuz, the passage for about a third of global seaborne oil shipments. It would disrupt supplies and cause panic in global markets.
  • With much to lose from Iran’s international isolation, the European Union should exert diplomatic pressure to renew talks. A fresh nuclear agreement appears to be a remote possibility at this stage.

10. Way ahead:

  • The global community must work together to ease U.S. Iran tensions.
  • With much to lose from Iran’s international isolation, the European Union should exert diplomatic pressure to renew talks
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Ways to read the Constitution

Ways to read the Constitution


  1. Thulasi K. Raj is a lawyer has talked about the women religious rights in context of Sabrimala temple entry.

Important Analysis:

2. Ban on entry in temple for women of certain ages raises the concern over religious freedom, gender equality and the right of women to worship.

3. According to author

  • Biological reason cannot be held for discrimination against women.
  • It was argued that discrimination based on notions of purity and impurity is a form of ‘untouchability’ under article 17.

4. However this argument was countered with the view that untouchability was only meant for backward classes and not for women.

5. On the other side, who are in support of the ban have cited

  • It as an age-old custom.
  • Under Article 25 of the Constitution it forms a part of essential religious practice.
  • Article 26 provides for rights to administer and manage religious institutions.

6. Author has cited two approaches to consider both the arguments in context of constitution.

First approach is Originalist Approach

  • Based “Intent of the framers” of the constitution when they drafted the text.
  • According to this approach they could not have thought of situation to protect the same-sex relationship rights under article 21.
  • Similar argument was provided for Homosexuality as well.
  • They asserted, under article 15 the word sex had binary sense (male and female).

7. However, this method of constitution interpretation was severely criticized.

8. Canadian Supreme has also rejected the Originalist approach as it undermine the freedom and values of individual and restricts the growth and development to changing society needs.

9. Second approach is Living Tree Doctrine approach

  • Involved understanding of constitution as evolving and organic instrument.
  • In this approach, framer’s intention matters little but how the constitution will be interpreted matters the most.
  • They emphasized on Moral reading of the constitution.

10. Article 17 has provided for

  • Untouchability and its practice in any form is prohibited.
  • It has also provided for removing social stigma associated with certain classes and eradicate inequality.

11. According to Living Tree approach why the Article 17 interpretation cannot include the discrimination against the women as well.

12. They argue, the criteria for discrimination between menstruating women, homosexual and impure caste are different but the effect of exclusion is common.

13. In this essence, it is the right time for Supreme Court to asses not only the freedom of religion and women’s right but also constitutional interpretation.

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GS 3

How dams can control floods

How dams can control floods


  1. Mathew Abraham, Principal Scientist from the Indian Council of Agricultural Reseach, highlighted that there should be space for greater storage of water in reservoirs before the onset of monsoon.

Important Analysis:

2. reasons for the Kerala tragedy:

  • Poor development plans that have affected the sustainability of the Western Ghats.
  • Unprecedented rainfall.
  • Some argued that Kochi airport has been built on fields and wetlands adjacent to the Periyar River which swelled to dangerous levels during the floods.
  • Opened dams when they were nearly full, causing heavy floods downstream and greatly affecting the lives of the people there.

3. The author highlighted the following benefits of dams after the Kerala tragedy.

  • Dams are useful for irrigation and electricity generation.
  • Dams are constructed mainly for the purpose of irrigation, power generation, and flood control.
  • The large amount of water is stored in reservoirs to ensure greater electricity generation and irrigation.
  • However, the role of dams in flood control has always been underestimated.
  • In both irrigation and hydel projects, flood control is completely ignored.

4. Space in reservoirs:

  • Atmospheric depression that controls wind movement cannot be predicted months in advance.
  • It is important that atleast 30% of the storage capacity of dams be kept free before the monsoon
  • Kerala receives rainfall mainly during the southwest monsoon and northeast monsoon. These rains are controlled by winds that carry clouds from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

5. Suggestions :

  • Internationally, the water level of a reservoir should be kept below a certain level before the onset of the monsoon season.
  • Government need to formulate water management policies for reservoirs in such a manner that dams are used to control floods, not cause them
  • It is high time to think of non-conventional sources for electricity generation such as solar, wind and tidal power.
  • The practice of solar power generation in Kochi airport can be copied in similar large-scale projects by other government agencies.
  • The public too should be encouraged to adopt the practice of solar power generation.
  • It is also crucial to follow good reservoir water management policies.
  • The State Dam Security Authority should be entrusted with the task of water management in reservoirs and with taking decisions in emergency situations.
  • The State government, the State Dam Security Authority and the National Water Commission should all be prepared to take bold decisions together on water management so that there are no such devastating floods in the future.
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