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Insights Daily Current Events Day – 7 (October 17, 2013)


India-Brazil on their take on Global Governance

  • Of late, Snooping has become an area of concern w.r.t the mass surveillance that was carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

  • So India, Brazil and other countries are gearing up to work out a strategy on “global governance of the cyberspace” to protect privacy, freedom of expression, sovereignty and security of cyber space.

  • In the recent meeting between India & Australia, both countries have expressed their concern over the unauthorised interception of communications and data from citizens, businesses and members of governments, compromising national sovereignty and individual rights.

  • Though the focus of the conference was on issues like bilateral relations, trade (on how to reach the goal of $15 billion by 2015), IBSA, BRICS, G-4 and G-20, the two countries also discussed several regional and global issues. As a large part of India-Brazil trade is focused on mining and oil, more investments would be made in the energy sector.

  • For instance, on the issue of Syria, they called for a complete ceasefire, to halt violence and to end all violations of human rights and humanitarian law and also reiterated that “there is no military solution to the conflict and that it is time for diplomacy.”

U.S. Senate deal ends twin crises

  • Stricter verification of income for those seeking to benefit from the Affordable Care Act(Mr. Obama’s landmark reform of the healthcare industry), was the only concession made to conservatives in the recent compromise proposal announced in the Senate

  • This is good news for the market (Dow Jones jumped as news of the deal broke).

What the Deal means?

  • The Senate bill has extended government financing (i.e., U.S borrowing) until January 15 and puts off the prospect of another debt ceiling breach until February 7.

  • It also allows for closer review of those who participate in healthcare insurance exchanges, a key element of the rollout of the ACA.

US shutdown in Brief

  • A Government shutdown basically means a temporary halt in government services when lawmakers cannot pass the necessary funding measures in time.

  • United States government shut down made news on October, 1st 2013.

  • According to Kramer (Director of Research at the National Priorities Project), the U.S. government shut down is due to the House of Representatives and Senate’s failure to pass a continuing resolution (CR), which is “legislation that permits a government agency to continue to operate at existing funding levels if a new appropriations bill to fund its operations has not been adopted by the start of the fiscal year.

  • Although the House did propose a CR, their proposal would not allow funding of the health care reform law, Obamacare.

For more information- There is an awesome article on “U.S. Shutdown” under the below link. Check out!!

U.K. wants further & swift probe on Sri Lanka’s HR violations

  • Britain has demanded, Sri Lanka to make concrete progress in investigating alleged war crimes and human rights violations.

  • Sri Lanka (SL) will be the host for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in November.

  • Among others, SL has to address land issues, militarization and work towards witness protection; all these are part of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report.

  • In addition to issues over a political settlement in the north, the U.K. was also concerned about wider issues – human rights, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka.

Iran nuclear talks <16th October.docx  Iran’s nuclear talks with P5+1 begins on a positive note>

  • Iran would now allow for snap inspections of its nuclear sites as part of a new proposal .

  • The recent talks have ended a six-month freeze in negotiations and are the first since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office in August, 2013.

  • Mr. Rouhani has pledged transparency on the nuclear programme to try to get the sanctions lifted.

  • However, Iran has not accepted demands to suspend uranium enrichment or ship stockpiles of purified material abroad.


World Bank cuts India’s growth estimate to 4.7 %

  • The World Bank has lowered its forecast for India’s economic growth in the current fiscal year to 4.7 % from 6.1 % it had projected in April, 2013

  • Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) too, in its World Economic Outlook had lowered India’s growth prospects to 4.25 % for the current fiscal.

  • India’s GDP growth slowed to 5 per cent in the year ended March from an average of 8 per cent over the past decade.

Why has there been a slow-down in the GDP?

  • Though India’s growth potential remains high, its macro-economic vulnerabilities i.e., high headline inflation, widening current account deficit (CAD), and increasing pressure on fiscal balances from the depreciation of the rupee could impact the speed of economic recovery.

Some positive aspects to look forward to:

  • India’s growth will continue to remain subdued due to negative business sentiment and higher interest rates. However it would bounce back in the second-half of the fiscal since the financial markets would stabilise, exporters would take advantage of improvements in external competitiveness following the depreciation of rupee, recovery in the manufacturing sector, and delayed investment projects would take off in the coming months.

Reverse mortgage scheme: Safety net for Senior citizens

  • The government has extended the period of the reverse mortgage facility with an aim to make the scheme more attractive for senior citizens.

  • The scheme now has been extended from 20 years to the life of the person, seeking funds from banks by pledging his/her residential property.

  • An amendment has been made on this line to the Reverse Mortgage Scheme.

What is Reverse Mortgage Scheme?

  • The Reverse Mortgage Scheme, 2008 enables a person above the age of 60 years to avail himself of periodical payments from a lender against the mortgage of his/her house while remaining the owner and occupying the house.

  • Hitherto, the period of reverse mortgage loan was 20 years from the date of signing the agreement by the reverse mortgagor and the approved lending institution.

  • The persons availing this facility would also get certain income-tax benefits. As per the scheme, on the borrower’s death or on the borrower leaving the house property permanently, the loan is repaid along with accumulated interest, through sale of the house property.


Great Indian Bustard under threat

  • The Great Indian Bustard is currently listed under the category of Critically Endangered birds, in the 2013 ‘Threatened Bird’ list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

  • There are less than 250 bustards left in the country.

  • Community participation (local people) is a must in conservation of the endangered species.

  • Other critically endangered birds in India include the Pink-headed Duck, Jerdon’s Courser and Siberian Crane, Forest Owlet (found in Maharashtra) all the four are on the verge of extinction.

Reasons for endangerment

  • The erosion of the habitat i.e., change of land use from grassland to farmland has been a major threat; add to it Poaching is another major threat.

Way forward:

  • The government should declare incentives to people for spotting bustards.

  • Forest Conservation is a must- saving forests is the only way of saving the birds. One cannot have breeding programmes to compensate for shifting them out of their (bird’s) original habitat.

More about IUCN:

  • IUCN was founded in October 1948 as the International Union for the Protection of Nature (or IUPN) following an international conference in Fontainebleau, France. It was renamed as International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1956 with the acronym IUCN.

  • IUCN is the world’s first global environmental organization. Today it is the largest professional global conservation network

  • The Union’s HQ is located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.


  • Conserving biodiversity is central to the mission of IUCN. It demonstrates how biodiversity is fundamental to addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and food security.

Courtesy – IUCN website

Freshwater shrimps face extinction

  • The researchers have revealed that, water pollution in rivers is posing a threat to the freshwater shrimps in Kerala

  • Two shrimp species – Macrobrachium Madhusoodani and M. Prabhakarani – recently reported from Kerala have been included on the Red List of threatened species published by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), highlighting the need for their conservation and preservation.

  • Both the species have been included in the Data Deficient category of the Red List, indicating that little or no information is available on their abundance and distribution, information that is crucial for an assessment of conservation status.

What is Red list?

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was founded in 1963, is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species provides taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information on plants and animals that have been globally evaluated using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.

  • This system is designed to determine the relative risk of extinction

  • The main purpose of the IUCN Red List is to catalogue and highlight those plants and animals that are facing a higher risk of global extinction (i.e. those listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable).

  • The IUCN Red List also includes information on plants and animals that are categorized as Extinct or Extinct in the Wild; on taxa that cannot be evaluated because of insufficient information (i.e., are Data Deficient); and on plants and animals that are either close to meeting the threatened thresholds or that would be threatened were it not for an ongoing taxon-specific conservation programme (i.e., are Near Threatened).

Courtesy – IUCN website

P.S: The highlighted ones are the categories into which the threatened species are grouped under.

Uncertainty clouds over the plan for largest marine sanctuary

  • The U.S. government shutdown is threatening a long-awaited deal to create the world’s largest marine sanctuary in Antarctica. Though U.S. is among the most enthusiastic proponents, they might not make it to the negotiating table.

  • The U.S., New Zealand and other countries have sought a sanctuary in the pristine waters of the Ross Sea for the past decade, and there are hopes that previous objectors Russia and Ukraine will agree to a new, smaller proposal when the nations that regulate Antarctic fishing meet in the last week of October, 2013 in Hobart, Australia.

  • Jointly proposed by the U.S. and New Zealand, the 1.34 million sq. km sanctuary would be twice the size of Texas and the world’s largest stretch of protected ocean.

  • Progress on the sanctuary has already been very slow. The nations that make decisions about Antarctic fishing — 24 countries plus the European Union (EU) — do so only by unanimous agreement. A proposal for a larger sanctuary failed in July (2013) when Russia and the Ukraine, which have fishing interests in the region, raised objections.

  • The U.S. and New Zealand revised their plans, reducing the sanctuary’s proposed size by 40 %.

  • In the last week of October, 2013 the Antarctic nations also plan to consider a separate proposal to create a series of smaller marine reserves in East Antarctica. Those areas would come with less stringent protections than those in the Ross Sea proposal.

Source – Hindu Newspaper


Eleanor Catton wins Man Booker prize

  • Eleanor Catton, the 28-year old author from New Zealand has won the Man Booker prize 2013 for her novel, The Luminaries.

  • She has set 2 records by winning this prestigious award – Ms Catton became the youngest novelist to win the Man Booker prize and also this is the longest winning novel (The Luminaries is 852 pages).

  • The Luminaries is a murder mystery set in New Zealand during the gold-rush of the late 19th century, with astrology a running theme through the book. Men and women proceed according to their fixed fates, while gold — as flakes, nuggets, coins and bars ceaselessly shifts its shapes around them.

  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri was also one of the strong contenders for this year’s prize.

What is Man-Booker prize? Why is it awarded?

  • Man Booker prize is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original ‘English’ novel written by a citizen of Common wealth of Nations, Ireland or Zimbabwe.

  • Recently, there were certain reforms made according to which, authors across the world will be considered, as long as their work is in English and published in the UK. This change will take place from the year 2014.