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International relations:

Trade goes on(The Hindu Opinion)


On 8th March, 11 Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, Australia and Canada, signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in Chile.

About CPTPP:

  • The CPTPP incorporates the original Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP) agreement, with suspension of a limited number of provisions, while still seeking to maintain the high standard of the agreement.
  • Tariffs schedules are kept as negotiated with custom duties on 95 per cent of trade in goods to be removed in the long run.
  • Commitments to liberalise in key areas such as textiles, technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, competition, state-owned enterprises and small- and medium-sized enterprises, labour, and dispute settlement, are still intact
  • List of Suspended Provisions: These provisions were part of the original TPP text. 20 provisions from chapters on trade facilitation, investment, services, public procurement, intellectual property rights (IPR), environment and transparency have been suspended
  • These rules – included earlier in the TPP at the US’ insistence – have now been put on hold, but could be reinstated in the future.
  • The countries signing the agreement, which account for more than 13% of the world economy, have agreed to bring down tariffs on cross-border trade by as much as 98% after domestic ratification.
  • More countries are expected to sign the CPTPP in the future, and there is hope that a post-Trump U.S. may join the bloc.

What was the original TPP about?

  • In 2005, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership comprising four countries – Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore – was signed.
  • That pact was then expanded and became US-led during the Obama administration.
  • Dubbed the TPP12, it was initialled in February 2016, and member countries are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
  • The 12 countries signed the deal – which set a new standard for global trade – on Feb 4, 2016.
  • But on Jan 23, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to withdraw the US from the TPP. The TPP could not enter into force without the US, as it accounts for 60 per cent of the combined GDP of the 12 TPP members.


  • The CPTPP is, in effect, the original Trans-Pacific Partnership struck during the Barack Obama presidency minus the U.S.
  • The CPTPP, as it looks to expand influence by adding other countries into its fold, will need to address some problems as well.
  • One of the points of criticism of the TPP, even in its original form as a 12-member agreement, was the alleged influence of special interests in dictating its broad framework.
  • The TPP text, which has in large part been incorporated into the new deal, had also been flayed for mandating labour and other regulations that increase the bureaucratic burden on businesses.
  • Many have cited the size of the agreement, which runs into several chapters and thousands of pages, to contend that the benefits from tariff reductions may be cancelled out by the massive increase in regulatory requirements.

Way Ahead:

  • Addressing the concerns will strengthen the chances of more countries joining the agreement.
  • A simpler trade agreement can also help the cause of transparency and lower the chances of lobbying by special interests in the future.
  • Amid palpable fears of a global trade war, the survival of a free trade agreement despite the sudden pullout of the U.S. offers some respite to the supporters of free trade.

Trump hails ‘great progress’ on Korean nuclear crisis


U.S. President Donald Trump hailed “great progress” in attempts to resolve the Korean nuclear crisis after the White House said the President accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a face to face meeting.

What has happened?

  • The White House has portrayed the breakthrough as a success of Mr. Trump’s policy of maximum pressure on North Korea, declaring that there will be no let up in pressure and denuclearisation remained the objective of the U.S.
  • The White House official has said that the terms of a settlement is not on the agenda at the moment, but as and when that stage is reached, inspection and verification of North Korea’s nuclear programme would be part of it.


  • In a remarkable development that followed unprecedented meetings in Pyongyang, South Korea Delegation had said that North Korea has been willing to talk to USA about giving up its nuclear weapons
  • South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong told Mr. Trump that Mr. Kim was committed to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and no longer objected to joint military exercises by South Korea and the U.S.
  • He added that North Korea will also refrain from further nuclear and missile testing

U.S-South Korean Joint Military Exercise:

  • North Korea’s willingness to ignore the U.S-South Korean joint military exercises is a climb-down for Pyongyang, and encouraging for Washington.
  • China has been proposing ‘freeze for freeze,’ i.e. discontinuation of tests by the North and exercises by the South and the U.S., as an initial step towards a diplomatic breakthrough.
  • Joint exercises are now due; thought dates have not been announced.

Reaction from China:

China has welcomed the decision for talks, saying the nuclear issue is moving in the right direction.

Indian Constitution and Polity:

SC upholds passive euthanasia(The Hindu)


  • The Supreme Court has upheld passive euthanasia and the right to give advance medical directives or ‘Living Wills’ to smoothen the dying process as part of the fundamental right to live with dignity.

More in news:

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has recently ruled that the fundamental right to life and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the “right to die with dignity.”
  • Dignity is lost if a man is allowed or forced to undergo pain and suffering because of “unwarranted medical support.”
  • Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed that “to deprive a person of dignity at the end of life is to deprive him of a meaningful existence.”
  • “Meaningful existence” includes a person’s right to self-determination and autonomy to decide his medical treatment, the court held.
  • Justice Ashok Bhushan observed that right to a dignified life includes a “dignified procedure of death.”

Passive euthanasia:

  • Passive euthanasia is the act of withdrawing or withholding medical support to a dying patient who has no hope for revival or cure.

Passive euthanasia is different from suicide and active euthanasia:

  • The Supreme Court had differentiated passive euthanasia from suicide and active euthanasia.
  • It called passive euthanasia as a “mere acceleration of the inevitable conclusion.”
  • Active euthanasia, the court concluded, is unlawful.
  • Suicide involves “overt acts” which culminates in an unnatural death.

Rajasthan passes Bill to give death penalty for child rape(The Hindu)


Rajasthan became the second State, after Madhya Pradesh, to pass a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls of 12 years and below.

What has happened?

The State Assembly passed the Bill seeking to amend the Indian Penal Code with the insertion of new provision by voice vote.

About the Bill:

  • The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018, aims at protecting the girl child by laying down a deterrent punishment, including death sentence, to the offenders.
  • The Bill had inserted two new sections, 376-AA and 376-DD, in the IPC.
  • Section 376-AA provides for capital punishment or rigorous imprisonment ranging between 14 years and lifelong incarceration.
  • Section 376-DD makes a similar provision for gang-rape of a girl child, while laying down death penalty or imprisonment from 20 years to lifelong incarceration for those convicted of the offence. Each of the persons constituting the gang will be deemed to be guilty of the offence.

Statistics on crime against children in Rajasthan:

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2016 report, the cases of crimes against children have seen a steady increase in Rajasthan.
  • The State recorded 4,034 such cases in 2016, which was 3.8% of the crimes against children registered across the country.
  • In 2015, the State had registered 3,689 cases of crimes against children.

Right to avoid protracted pain(The Hindu)


  • A five judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra,  in a landmark judgment legalised the right to die and approved ‘living will’ made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia.

Government arguments:

  • “Suffering is a state of mind and a perception, which varies from individual to individual and depends on various environmental and social factors.
  • Continuous advancement in medical science has made possible good pain management in patients of cancer and other terminal illness,” the government had argued.

What is a Living Will?

  •  Living will is a written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when he or she is terminally-ill or no longer able to express informed consent.


  • The court’s ruling was pronounced on a 2005 plea filed by Prashant Bhushan on behalf of NGO Common Cause, which sought recognition of a living will so that an individual could exercise the right to refuse medical treatment at a terminally ill stage of life.
  •  Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, had said that under Article 21 (Right to Life) a person had the right to die peacefully without any suffering and must be allowed to create a living will for a time when he cannot recover from an illness.

GS: 3


Only about 50% of PAN cards linked to Aadhaar’(The Hindu)


  • The deadline to link PAN with Aadhaar is March 31


  • As per the latest available information had so far been able to link only about 50% of the PAN cards issued to Aadhaar numbers.

Share of private banks

  • The private sector banks have about 20% market share in India, the actual proportion of accounts linked across the banking sector is likely to be less.

Changing our stories(Indian Express)


  • Sometime soon in 2018, India’s annual GDP will cross England ($2.6 trillion), but why it has taken 71 years for 1.2 billion people to cross the output of 66 million people?


  • India’s pathetic productivity is the result of economic stories which were circulated among us after 1947.
  • Not all stories have been unhelpful or unchanging; political stories have spectacularly delivered, and the British Empire story is under review.
  • Post-1947 economic stories targeted the symptoms of poverty rather than the disease of productivity by distrusting decentralization, disrespecting institutions and sabotaging competition.
  • The 1955 Avadi resolution gave us crappy phone service, chose colleges over schools, exploded the public sector, and kneecapped capital markets.
  • These stories poisoned India’s productivity; the country has only 52 cities with more than 1 million people, only 50 per cent of labour force works outside farms, only 25 per cent of labour force has formal wage employment, only 43 per cent of 14-18 aged kids can solve a basic division problem, only 5 lakh of 30 crore students get an apprenticeship, only 7 million of 63 million enterprises were registered for indirect taxes before GST, and only 1.5 per cent of 1.2 billion citizens paid income taxes before demonetisation.
  • Global GDP is churning too; the UK was 10 per cent in 1900, USSR was 14 per cent in 1960, and Japan was 17 per cent in 1990 but they are all now down 70 per cent from those peaks.
  • Whereas, China’s GDP is now four times England because of leadership, luck, and a powerful story.


  • India is a new nation with an ancient past; the challenge is thinking about its future with stories that don’t ignore or glorify its past.
  • For example, it is not the law of god that people in Asia should be poor and Pakistan is destined for greatness”, but the toxic economic stories of Quaid-e-Awam perpetuated mass poverty and Pakistan’s GDP today is less than Maharashtra.
  • India’s old stories were also toxic; but its new stories of formalisation, urbanisation, industrialisation, financialisation and human capital suggest what is happening in India is not once in a decade, or once in a millennium, but once in the lifetime of a country.
  • India’s new economic stories expand economic and personal freedom and recently made it world’s fastest growing economy.
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