The HINDU Notes – 13th July 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis)
India-China trade talks deadlocked
Context: Military standoff in the Doklam area of the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction.
- Trade talks on issues relating to farm products, between India and China remained deadlocked with neither side willing to offer concessions to end the impasse.
- China deferred taking a decision on grant of market access to Indian rice, pomegranate, okra and bovine meat, while India opted to stick to its ban on imports of apple, pear, milk and milk products from China.
- India has an alarming trade deficit with China
- India’s goods trade deficit, which had ballooned to $52.7 billion in 2015-16 from just $1.1 billion in 2003-04, eased marginally to $51.1 billion in 2016-17.
India will be in trouble if breakaway Antarctica iceberg leads to sea level rise
Why in news?
One of the biggest icebergs on record broke away from Antarctica. The one-trillion tonne iceberg, measuring 5,800 square km, which is equal to four Delhis, calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica between July 10 and 12.
The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, was already floating before it broke away so there is no immediate impact on sea levels, but the calving has left the Larsen C ice shelf reduced in area by more than 12%. The Larsen A and B ice shelves, which were situated further north on the Antarctic Peninsula, collapsed in 1995 and 2002 respectively.
This resulted in the dramatic acceleration of the glaciers behind them, with larger volumes of ice entering the ocean and contributing to sea-level rise
If Larsen C now starts to retreat significantly and eventually collapses, then we will see another contribution to sea level rise. Falkland islands and coastal areas of Argentina including the coast of Buenos Aires Province, and northeastern Brazil are already vulnerable to sea level rise may be in danger with melting of this iceberg.
Sea level rise and India
- If there is eventually a rise in sea level, it is certain to impact India badly since the country has a long and densely populated coastline.
- In 2016, a United Nations report said that nearly 40 million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050, with people in Mumbai and Kolkata having the maximum exposure to coastal flooding in future due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth.
- In 2013, the IPCC estimated an increase in sea level of somewhere between 30cm and 100cm by the year 2100. But more recent research has suggested the great ice caps are more vulnerable than expected in a warming world and that ocean levels could rise more rapidly to reach 200-300cm by the end of the century.
- India has already started seeing effects of sea level rise in places such as Sundarbans and Majauli, one of the largest riverine islands in the world.
- Any rise in sea level will also lead to economic loss of coastal communities and spark inland migration.
Cauvery tribunal overlooked equity: Karnataka
- Karnataka argued that the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal did not apportion the waters of the inter-State river on the basis of “settled principles of equity”.
- Karnataka’s counsel and senior advocate Fali Nariman argued that at the time of the 1924 agreement for water-sharing, Tamil Nadu was entitled to develop only 21.38 lakh acres for irrigation.
- However, even as the 1924 agreement continued, the State had developed 28.2 lakh acres for irrigation utilising 566 tmc of Cauvery water.
- Mr. Nariman continued that the “real shares” of each riparian State should be determined on the basis of needs by taking into account the contribution of water by each State to the river valley, the population of each State in the basin depending upon the waters and the culturable area of each State in the basin. The culturable area in the basin on Karnataka side is 5,522 th.ha. and that of Tamil Nadu is 2,891 th.ha.
- He argued that the tribunal should have given due weight to the climatic factors, hydrological cycle, engineering factors and geographical positions in the basin while assessing the needs of each State.
- Mr. Nariman said the tribunal should have first adjudicated the shares of the States by the “principles of suitable apportionment, without reference to any diversions/utilisation made by party States”.
No liquor ban for Arunachal, Andaman
- The Supreme Court allowed Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands to join the club of Sikkim and Meghalaya, both of which enjoy full exemption from the court’s ban on sale of liquor within 500 metres of National and State Highways.
- A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar took note of the geographical quirks of Arunachal Pradesh and the islands and concluded that they “deserved parity” with Sikkim and Meghalaya.
- On March 31, 2017, the north-eastern States of Sikkim and Meghalaya got a full exemption from the 500-metre no-liquor zone ban after the court took into consideration their hilly terrain and also the fact that 82% of its area was forest land and over 90% of its liquor shops would be closed if the ban was imposed strictly in its original form.
- Arunachal Pradesh argued that it had lost 50% of its revenue following the December 15, 2016 ban, earmarking 500 metres alongside highways as liquor-free zones. The State said 80% of its roads are national highways.
- In March, though confirming its ban, the court had however reduced the liquor-free zone along highways from 500 metres to 220 metres in areas with a population of 20,000 or less.
- The court had reiterated that liquor vends should neither be accessible nor visible from the highways.
- The ban was ordered to prevent drunk driving, one of the major killers plaguing Indian roads.
- On July 11, the court however upheld the Chandigarh administration’s move to denotify highways within city limits as major district roads.
Bitcoin trade may come under SEBI
- The government is considering the introduction of a regulatory regime for virtual or crypto currencies, such as Bitcoin, that would enable the levy of the Goods and Services Tax on their sale.
- The new regime may possibly bring their trading under the oversight of the stock market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
- In India, they are neither legal nor illegal.
Why such a move?
- The idea is to treat such currency in a manner similar to gold sold digitally, so that it can be traded on registered exchanges in a bid to “promote” a formal tax base, while keeping a tab on their use for illegal activities such as money laundering, terror funding and drug trafficking.
Crypto-Currency: Crypto-currency is a digital currency which allows transacting parties to remain anonymous while conforming that the transaction is a valid one. It is not owned or controlled by any institution – government or private.
Eg: Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple
CPI inflation slows to 1.54%, IIP at 1.72%
- Inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) slipped below the central bank’s lower tolerance level to 1.54% in June 2017 from 2.18% in May 2017, prompting Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian to hint at the need to reboot monetary policy assumptions including ‘systematic inflation forecast errors’ he had red-flagged earlier.
- Growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) slowed for the second consecutive month, to 1.72% in May 2017.
- Consumer durables’ production contracted by 4.55%, following April’s 6.05% contraction.
- In the IIP, mining and quarrying witnessed a sharp slowdown in May, contracting 0.89% from a growth of 3.23% in April. Manufacturing activity also slowed to 1.21% from 2.35%.
- The slowdown in the IIP is likely due to uncertainty relating to GST (Goods and Services Tax) as well as subdued demand.
- The government has been highlighting the need to cut interest rates to boost growth, citing low inflation and investment along with sluggish industrial growth. RBI on its part has defended its position of not cutting rates, citing lurking inflationary pressures.
Nod for Bangladesh JIN pact
- The Cabinet gave its approval for the Joint Interpretative Notes (JIN) on the Agreement between both the nations for the Promotion and Protection of Investments.
- The JIN would impart clarity to the interpretation of the existing Agreement between India and Bangladesh for the Promotion and Protection of Investments.
- The JIN includes interpretative notes to be jointly adopted for many clauses, including, the definition of investor, definition of investment, exclusion of taxation measures, Fair and Equitable Treatment, National Treatment and Most Favoured Nation treatment, expropriation, essential security interests and Settlement of Disputes between an Investor-and a Contracting Party.
Juno peers into the Great Red Spot
- A NASA spacecraft, Juno, has successfully peered into the giant storm raging on Jupiter, known as the Great Red Spot.
- The unmanned spacecraft came closer than any before it, as it passed about 9,000 km above the clouds of the mammoth cyclone, the iconic feature on the solar system’s largest planet, the gas giant Jupiter.
- Experts say the Great Red Spot is a massive storm — some 16,000 km wide — that has been churning for centuries, but little is known about the forces driving it.
- It has been monitored since 1830 and has possibly existed for more than 350 years.
- The storm is believed to have been shrinking in recent years.
- Scientists hope the exercise will help unlock such mysteries as what forces are driving the storm, how long it has existed, how deeply it penetrates the planet’s lower atmosphere and why it appears to be gradually dissipating.
- Juno launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has been orbiting Jupiter for just over one year.
- Present encounter with the Great Red Spot was the latest of 12 flyby missions currently scheduled by the NASA for Juno, which is to make its next close approach to Jupiter’s cloud tops on Sept. 1.
Enrolment of Muslims in Bengal varsities abysmally low, says survey
The 6th All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) for the year 2015-16 reports:
- The percentage of Muslim students in leading State and Central universities of West Bengal is abysmally low.
- The report, prepared by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD).
- No Muslims students in elite institutions – the Presidency University in Kolkata, Visva Bharati in Shantiniketan, the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, the West Bengal University of Teachers’ Training, Education Planning and Administration in Kolkata, the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Kalyani, the Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol, the West Bengal State University in Kolkata, and the Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswa Vidyalaya in Mohanpur. Amity, a private university
- A little over 27% of Bengal’s population is Muslim. In nearly all of the State’s universities and institutes of higher education, the percentage of Muslims stands between 0 and 3%.