Newspaper notes for UPSC 09-06-18

Hello friends, this is Newspaper notes for UPSC of 08-06-18, Please do leave your valuable comments , feedback and suggestions, , telegram @naylak . Do subscribe to our website and please share this post with your friends.

Modi likely to take the spirit of Wuhan to Qingdao

  • Prime Minister will participate in a two-day summit of the eight- nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the weekend, riding on the bonhomie generated by the Wuhan informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and an extended one-on-one dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.
  • Russia, China and India were likely to emerge as the core of the SCO, after New Delhi and Islamabad joined the grouping last year, and would be participating as full SCO members for the first time in Qingdao. But it was also imperative that the importance of the four Central Asian Republics — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan  were not undermined in the expanded SCO.
  • America-first” doctrine of U.S. President Donald Trump, which was getting translated into rising protectionism and threat of trade wars, had provided an important subtext to the Wuhan summit.

J&K to get 2 new border battalions

  • Context: Pakistan has been shelling the International Border (IB) heavily in recent times
  • Union Home Minister described the border residents of Jammu and Kashmir as “a strategic asset.
  • He also said five battalions of the Indian Reserve Police and two women’s battalions of the State police would be raised with 60% reservation for border residents.
  • The Minister also announced an enhanced compensation package for the border residents.
  • Tip :
    • Remember the difference between International border, Line of control, line of actual control. 
    • How many countries each state share IB with. 

Jaguar develops snag while landing

  • In news: Within 72 hours of the Indian Air Force (IAF) losing one of its senior most active pilots in a Jaguar crash, another Jaguar fighter met with an accident.
  • The IAF has a fleet of about 120 Jaguar deep penetration strike fighters they also carry nuclear weapons  which are being upgraded with new avionics and sensors to keep them flying for another two decades.
  • The Jaguars are expected to remain in service till 2025-30.
  • In a July 2017 report presented in Parliament, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) observed that some Jaguars were still flying without auto-pilot, 20 years after the project was conceived.
  • Value addition: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by Article 148 of the Constitution of India. Please refer Laxmikanth for CAG chapter.

SC wants panel to monitor shrines

  • The Supreme Court  (articles 124-147)  on Wednesday directed the Centre to form an independent committee to review whether the “management practices” of shrines across the country are visitor-friendly.
  • It also ordered a judicial enquiry into allegations of rampant fleecing and exploitation of worshippers by staffers and sevaks at the Puri Jagannath Temple in Odisha.
  • There is no doubt that proper management of pilgrimage centres of great importance is a matter of public interest. These centres are of undoubted religious, social, historical and architectural importance, representing the cultural heritage of our country.
  • The order is based on a PIL filed which highlighted the difficulties faced by visitors to Shri Jagannath Temple.

Uranium contamination in Rajasthan groundwater

  • Many parts of Rajasthan may have high uranium levels in their groundwater, according to a study by researchers at the Duke University in North Carolina, United States, and the Central Groundwater Board of India.
  • The main source of uranium contamination was “natural,” but human factors such as groundwater table decline and nitrate pollution could be worsening the problem.
  • “Nearly a third of all water wells we tested in Rajasthan, contained uranium levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safe drinking water standards.
  • The WHO has set a provisional safe drinking water standard of 30 micrograms of uranium per litre, a level that is consistent with the U.S. EPA standards.
  • Despite this, uranium is not yet included in the list of contaminants monitored under the Bureau of Indian Standards’ Drinking Water Specifications.

An unexceptional economic performance.

  • Central Statistics Office (CSO) released  estimates of national income for the final quarter of the 2017-18 financial year.
  • Annual rate of growth since 2014 has first risen and then declined. By 2017-18 growth at 6.6% was less than the 6.9% it was in the final year of the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Questions of promotion

Background information from various Judgements:

  • In news: The Supreme Court’s one line order that the government can go ahead with promotions in government offices — which will have bearing on Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) reservations in promotions  has come with the caveat “in accordance with law”.
  • Barring a few exceptions, the judiciary has not been encouraging on reservation policies. In the State of Madras v. Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan (1951), which related to medical and engineering seats, the Madras High Court struck down the reservation policy. The judgment led to the first amendment to the Constitution to protect reservations.
  • The newly introduced Clause (4) of Article 15 read: “Nothing in this Article or in Clause 2 of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.”
  • In M.R. Balaji (1962), the Supreme Court did make some positive observations. These included:
    • the government need not appoint a commission to determine backwardness under Article 340 prior to formulation of a reservation policy; executive orders giving reservation are valid;
    • caste is important but not the sole determinant of backwardness;
    • and ‘caste’ and ‘class’ are not synonymous.
  • The court struck down the distinction between ‘backward’ and ‘more backward’ communities and termed 68% reservation as a ‘fraud’ on the constitutional power conferred on the state by Article 15(4).
  • It also introduced a 50% upper limit in reservation.
  • In C.A. Rajendran (1967), where governmental policy of 1963 that did not provide for reservation of posts in class I and II posts was challenged, a five-judge bench upheld the policy by saying that reservation both in appointments and promotions is merely discretionary rather than the constitutional duty of the state.
  • In T. Devadasan (1963), the “carry forward” in reservations (if reserved seats remained unfilled in a year they would be carried forward subsequently) was struck down.
  • In State of Kerala v. N.M. Thomas (1975), the Supreme Court did extend the benefit of reservations to promotions while upholding the rule that gave further exemption of two years to SC/ST candidates in passing the tests.
  • In Indra Sawhney (1992), where 27% Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation was challenged, a nine-judge bench authoritatively laid down the law on reservation. The positive findings were:
    • Article 16(4) is not an exception to the right to equality of opportunity provided under Article 16(1) but an illustration of the right to equality of opportunity;
    • a caste can be and quite often is a social class in India;
    • a classification between ‘backward’ and ‘most backward’ is constitutionally permissible, and T. Devadasan was wrongly decided.
    • But here too the court explicitly said that in future reservation, benefits cannot extend to promotions and ‘creamy layer’ is to be excluded in reservation for OBCs.
    • Further, reservation though not ‘anti-merit’, should not apply to some services and certain posts.

Useful from Mains point of view

  • M. Nagaraj (2006) in which the court made certain  observations:
  • The concept of SC/ST reservation is hedged by three constitutional requirements
    • backwardness of SC/STs,
    • inadequacy of their representation in public employment,
    • and overall efficiency of administration.
  • A number of High Courts following Nagaraj have struck down reservation in promotions after applying these requirements.
  • The bench in Nagaraj also went against the judgment of Indra Sawhney where the court had said that SC/STs were definitely socially backward.
  • In Ashoka Kumar Thakur (2008), the Supreme Court clarified that the creamy layer doctrine has no relevance in SC/ST reservation.
  • On Efficiency : it is demonstrated in the performance of employees. No research has so far proved that SC/ST employees are less efficient than employees recruited under the general category. And the judiciary should not pre-judge the efficiency of any category of employee prior to their appointment/promotion.
  • Justice Chinnappa Reddy in K.C. Vasanth Kumar demolished the efficiency argument when he said: “Efficiency is very much on the lips of the privileged whenever reservation is mentioned.”
  • He added: “The underlying assumption that those belonging to the upper castes and classes, who are appointed to the non-reserved castes will, because of their presumed merit, ‘naturally’ perform better than those who have been appointed to the reserved posts and that the clear stream of efficiency will be polluted by the infiltration of the latter into the sacred precincts is a vicious assumption, typical of the superior approach of the elitist classes.”
  • In 2017, the Supreme Court finally referred reconsideration of Nagaraj to a Constitution bench.

A vicious cycle

  • The European Commission on Wednesday announced it would impose tariffs as high as 25% on imports worth $3.3 billion from the U.S. beginning July.
  • The Commission is also mulling import duties on more American goods if the trade war with the U.S. intensifies.
  • Europe is not alone in waging a battle against imports from the U.S.; China, Mexico and Canada have joined hands in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.
  • Last week, the U.S. imposed a 25% tax on steel and a 10% tax on aluminium imports from the EU, Mexico and Canada.
  • Consumers in America and the rest of the world are likely to suffer as their respective governments make it costlier for them to access foreign goods and services.
  • Implications: The sad fact, however, is that at the end of the day nobody actually wins a destructive trade war.
  • Tariffs that seek to disadvantage foreign producers in favour of domestic producers, only increase the burden of taxes. What this leads to eventually is slower global economic growth.
  • The World Bank has warned that the effect of the increased use of tariffs to regulate international trade could be similar to the significant drop in global trade after the financial crisis a decade ago.
  • Countries that are protesting America’s metal tariffs in the name of free trade are also only encouraging further protectionism when they impose retaliatory tariffs.
  • As former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan aptly put it, the ongoing trade war is a “lose-lose situation” for the warring parties.
  • The only winners will be special interest groups and consumers in countries that do not engage in the tit-for-tat tariff war, but their winnings will come at the cost of global growth.
  • Way forward: It is high time countries worldwide come together to promote the cause of free trade.

U.S. wants India out of S-400 deal

  • The United States is trying to discourage India from buying large defence systems from Russia, an action that may attract sanctions, according to a senior official of the State Department.
  • Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanction Act (CAATSA), a 2017 law, requires that countries that have significant defence cooperation with Russia be sanctioned by America.
  • India is planning to buy five S-400 Triumf air defence systems for around $4.5 billion from Russia.
  • The US administration has publicly expressed its desire to protect India from CAATSA, considering the U.S.-India strategic ties.

CPEC is elephant in the room

  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the “elephant in the room” for India, but India does not view its bilateral relations with China through the prism of China-Pakistan relationship/
  • Defence minister said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the “elephant in the room” for India, but India does not view its bilateral relations with China through the prism of China-Pakistan relationship.
  • There has been an increased dependence of Pakistan’s military on Chinese arms and ammunition. The fundamental reorientation of the China-Pakistan relationship is getting intense.
  • There was now a greater engagement between India and China, and with India’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the relationship was becoming stronger.

Delhi charts new line on Indo-Pacific area

  • New Delhi does not consider the newly re-established quadrilateral format of U.S.-Japan-India-Australia a part of its “Indo-Pacific” region policy.
  • India would like to engage more closely with Russia in the Indo-Pacific region as well.
  • India’s maritime partnerships would not be restricted to the Quad formation with the U.S. and its allies.
  • The Quadrilateral format of U.S.-Japan-India-Australia is one of the many multilateral dialogues in the region, and not directed against any country. It is not part of the Indo-Pacific region concept outlined by Prime Minister Modi in Shangri La.
  • Given improved relations with China in the last few months, the government has been seen as less active in promoting the Quad, also declining a request from Australia to join the ongoing Malabar naval exercises with the other three Quad members.

Trump calls for Russia to be readmitted into the G7 bloc

  • U.S. President Donald Trump made a shock call  for Russia to be readmitted into the G7.
  • He wanted Russia which was expelled from the group of the world’s most industrialised nations after annexing Crimea to be brought back into the fold.

Indonesia wins UNSC vote

  • The Maldives  failed to get elected to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member. Maldives and Indonesia had contested for a seat in the UNSC, but in the plenary session  held at the UN headquarters in New York, Indonesia won the seat after securing 144 votes against 46 for the Maldives.
  • Maldives.
  • In the election, 190 members participated, and the winning members had to get more than two-thirds majority or 127 votes. Indonesia is likely to take up the seat on January 1, 2019 with other newly elected non-permanent members — Germany, Belgium, Dominican Republic and South Africa.

Panel to mull ARC for stressed assets

  • The finance ministry has set up a committee to examine the possibility of setting up an asset reconstruction company or an asset management company to fast track resolution of stressed assets.
  • At least five state-run banks do not have a chief executive, and several executive directors’ positions are also vacant. Some more vacancies are expected to arise in the coming months.

GST Council meet may take up inclusion of natural gas

  • The Goods and Services Tax Council is likely to take up the possible inclusion of natural gas in the indirect tax regime during its next meeting.
  • Petroleum is a considerably larger source for revenues not only for the Centre but States also and on the] natural gas front, there is some consensus for bringing it into GST ambit and therefore, it could be the first petroleum product that could come within the GST network.
  • Currently, petroleum crude, motor spirit (petrol), high speed diesel, natural gas, and ATF have been kept out of GST.

More than 2.25 lakh shell firms

  • The Centre said it has identified 2,25,910 companies whose names are to be struck off from the register of companies during the current financial year 2018-19.
  • This comes on the top of the removal of 2,26,166 companies from the register during the previous financial year.
  • The Task Force on Shell Companies had so far confirmed a total of 16,537 shell companies on the basis of the information received from the various law enforcement agencies.
  • The major achievements of the task force include the compilation of a database of shell companies by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO),. “This database, as on date, comprises of three lists, viz the confirmed list, derived list and suspect list.

From Indo-Pacific to Eurasia

Written by C. Raja Mohan this is one article I do not like to summarise , because it , it self is a summary of the weeks international dynamics in Indian context . It’s totally worth the time you invest in reading it.

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