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Insights Daily Current Events, October 25, 2013

(95 Percent of all ‘distractions‘ removed from sidebars)


25, October 2013


Tamil Nadu (TN) urges Centre to boycott CHOGM meet

  • The resolution passed unanimously in TN assembly, has called for “total boycott” of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo (Sri Lanka) until Tamils are given rights on a par with the Sinhalese and live freely.

Tamil Nadu’s view:

  • According to the CM, only a boycott would bring about a genuine change in Sri Lanka’s attitude to the Tamils on the island. Though India being home to eight crore Tamils, it was not able to take a firm stand on this issue.

  • The CM also noted that in Canada, where only a handful of Tamils lived, had decided against participating in the meeting.

  • The CM has justified the resolution saying that, the Sri Lankan government had completely violated the core values of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth charter says, “we are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other ground”.

  • During the last phase of the civil war, the Sri Lankan government killed lakhs of innocent Tamils and committed genocide, in violation of the international law and the Geneva Convention on war. Earlier India had also stopped providing training to the Sri Lankan Army personnel, following the repeated request of the Tamil Nadu CM.

  • Earlier, in March, 2013, a resolution was also passed in the Assembly urging India to abstain from using the term “friendly” nation while making reference to Sri Lanka. It also demanded an independent international inquiry into the war crimes and trials in the international court of justice, the resolution had called for a referendum among Sri Lankan Tamils and the Tamil diaspora on a separate Eelam.

Sri Lanka’s View:

  • The Sri Lankan High Commissioner is of the view that whether a boycott would give India leverage in the pursuit of its interest in Sri Lanka. That is to say, if a boycott would help the cause of upholding human rights and civil liberties and India needs to take a practical approach here, rather than succumbing to the politics. Else India would be isolated if it boycotted the summit because only Canada had announced its decision to stay away.

  • It was also felt that the TN government had not taken into account that a major development in the form of elections had taken place in the Northern Province, which was the hardest hit in the conflict between the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The TNA had won the elections, getting almost 80 % of the vote. This represents the Tamils of the Northern Province adequately. Hence this issue has been neglected by the TN government.

  • TNA’s View: However, according to a report the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which has just formed the first northern provincial council government is pro-Indian boycott, since the Sri Lankan government had “violated the norms of the Commonwealth” .The ousting of the country’s Chief Justice is one of the instances where the government had violated basic foundations of the Commonwealth.

  • TNA is of the view that, the Indian government should look into the reasons as to why Canada has decided against participating at the CHOGM, and take a decision, accordingly.

More about CHOGM:

  • The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is held every two years to enable leaders of Commonwealth countries to come together to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to decide on collective policies and initiatives.

  • This year (2013), CHOGM is taking place in Sri Lanka, the first time an Asian country is hosting the summit in 24years.

  • One unique aspect of the meeting is that the formal opening ceremony and the formal Executive Session are followed by a “retreat” where leaders meet privately for discussions. With an informal atmosphere, this session allows heads of state to freely and frankly exchange their views on important issues and come to a consensus.

  • Previous CHOGMs have focused on a range of global issues, including international peace and security, democracy, climate change, multilateral trade issues, good governance, sustainable development, small states, debt management, education, environment, gender equality, health, human rights, information and communication technology, and youth affairs.

  • The theme of the 2011 CHOGM in Perth, Australia, was “Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience.”

Courtesy- CHOGM website

No mining within one km of national parks, sanctuaries in Goa


  • The Justice Shah Commission had reported that mines had flourished in the midst of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Goa without the clearance from the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife, as mandated by the Supreme Court. Subsequently, mining was suspended here.

  • Later, the Goa government also sent proposals to the Centre for declaring Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) around protected wildlife areas. The Supreme Court had demanded the Centre and States to decide the boundaries of the ESZs across all protected wildlife areas or let a 10 km periphery around them be accepted as ESZs by default.

  • The State government also proposed that natural features around the boundaries delineating the six wildlife areas be used as the limit of the ESZs. Following which, the Environment Ministry set up a committee under the chairmanship of National Tiger Conservation Authority chief Rajesh Gopal to study the proposal. The committee found that in many cases the natural features suggested as boundaries of the ESZ ended up within a few hundred metres of the parks. The committee, instead, recommended a zone of no-mining up to one km from the boundary.

Present Situation:

  • In the backdrop of a request to restart regulated mining in the coastal State (Goa) (which had been earlier stopped on the reports of Shah Commission), the Union Environment Ministry has decided in an order to restart iron ore excavation in a regulated manner.

  • The Ministry has ordered that areas ranging up to one km beyond the boundaries of the national parks and sanctuaries in the State would be declared Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 where mining activities would be banned.

  • It has also recommended that mining be banned in these areas in future and existing mines around two of the six sanctuaries should be phased out over time to ensure there is no sudden loss of livelihood for the people. The Ministry accepted the report and has ordered that in cases of Bhagwan Mahaveer and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuaries, mining would be phased out.

  • With the case still in the Supreme Court, the Ministry has said that the draft notifications for each sanctuary would be subject to the final decision of the apex court.

Article 371J: Nod for development board

  • President Pranab Mukherjee has issued an order, allowing the Karnataka Governor to establish a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region under Article 371J of the Constitution.

  • The region comprises Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Koppal, Yadgir and Bellary districts.

Advantages of this setup:

  • The Board, which has come into force with immediate effect, will ensure equitable allocation of funds for development from the State budget. It will also promote employment by providing for local cadres in service and reserve seats for locals in educational and vocational training institutions.

About 98th Amendment Act & Significance of Article 371J

  • The 98th Amendment Act provides for an insertion of a new article 371J in the constitution. It was passed in January, 2013.

  • It aims to establish an institutional mechanism to develop the region and promote inclusive growth which will reduce inter-region and inter-district disparity in the State of Karnataka.  

  • Article 371J, empowers the Governor of Karnataka to take steps to develop the Hyderabad-Karnataka Region.  

  • The President may now allow the Governor to take the following steps for development of the region:

  • setting up a development board for the Region

  • ensure equitable allocation of funds for development of the Region

  • provide for reservation in educational and vocational training institutions, and state government positions in the Region for persons from the Region (local residents)

Courtesy -Prsindia website


Israel, Saudi Arabia unhappy with U.S. on Iran outreach

  • Israel and Saudi Arabia has retaliated the U.S softening stand over Iran.

  • According to the Israeli Premier, Mr. Netanyahu, Iran must not have a nuclear weapons capability, which means that they shouldn’t have centrifuges or enrichment. Also Iran must ship out its stockpiles of enriched material, shut down its underground nuclear facilities, and shutter the facility that develops heavy water for a plutonium reactor. Once Iran complied with these conditions, which would rule out the development of an atomic bomb, it could harness nuclear power under international supervision.

  • The Israelis fear that negotiation that happened between Iran and the six global powers in Geneva, could only curb, but not eliminate Iran’s enrichment programme. In return, Iran could be rewarded with the lifting of financial sanctions.

  • Moreover, the Russians too have argued with the other global powers that Iran should be allowed to carry out enrichment under supervision; this would comply with the norms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran has been a member.

  • Displeased with the U.S over its policy shift towards Iran and then Syria, the Saudis have threatened a fundamental realignment of their ties with U.S.

  • In response to this, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry has assured that U.S would ensure that Iran translates its commitments into action.

Iraq attacks kill seven as U.S. pledges aid

  • Violence has been on the rise in Iraq since a security crackdown in April, 2013 on a Sunni protest site in the northern town of Hawijah. According to a report, atleast 462 people have died in attacks across the country so far in the October month alone.

  • The U.S pledged $1 million for relocating a group of Iranian dissidents displaced in Iraq. The U.S. decision has come after the United Nations launched a trust fund to cover the cost of moving of 3,174 members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq outside Iraq.


Fed tapering: regulators told to take preventive steps

  • At the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) meet, the Finance Minister has asked all regulators to take preventive measures and counter steps to buffer the economy from the impact of tapering of Quantitative Easing (QE) by the U.S. Federal Reserve and to further address the macroeconomic imbalances.

Deliberations (discussions) in the Council:

  • The Council deliberated on the implementation of the recommendations of the FSLRC

  • Impact of tapering off of the Quantitative Easing (QE) in the U.S. and preventive measures to be taken

  • Steps to be taken by regulators/government to facilitate the ‘Corporate Distress Resolution Mechanism’ as laid-out in the Companies Act, 2013.

Way forward:

  • Based on the deliberations, it has been decided that all the financial sector regulators will finalise an action plan for implementation of all the FSLRC principles relating to regulatory governance, transparency and improved operational efficiency that do not require legislative action.

What do you mean by Tapering?

  • Tapering refers to gradual withdrawal of the $85 billion a month bond purchase programme, which was deferred by the U.S. Federal Reserve in September, 2013.

  • The tapering, whenever it takes place, will have a bearing on global economy. It will impact fund flows to emerging economies( including India)

What is FSDC?

  • The global economic meltdown in 2008 had put pressure on governments and institutions across globe to regulate the economic assets. So on this lines, FSDC (an apex body) was first mooted by Raghuram Rajan Committee in 2008

  • FSDC was set up in order strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial Stability and Development.

  • Without prejudice to the autonomy of regulators, this Council would engage in macro prudential supervision of the economy, including the functioning of large financial conglomerates and address inter-regulatory coordination issues. It will also focus on financial literacy and financial inclusion. The Council shall also look into issue relating to financial development from time to time. The Council would have one Sub-Committee which would be headed by Governor, RBI.

  • It was formed to bring greater coordination among financial market regulators. The council is headed by the finance minister and has the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor and chairpersons of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) as other members along with finance ministry officials.

Courtesy – PIB & Wikipedia

What is Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC)?

  • In pursuance to the announcement made by the Finance Minister in the budget of 2010-11 to rewrite and harmonize financial sector legislations, rules and regulations the Govt has notified the Resolution constituting the FSLRC on 2011. This had become necessary as the institutional framework governing India’s financial sector was built over a century. The tenure of the Commission is 2 years.

  • There are over 60 Acts and multiple Rules/Regulations in the sector and many of them date back

  • decades when the financial landscape was very different from what is obtaining today.

  • Large number of amendments made in these Acts over time has increased the ambiguity and complexity of the system.

  • The Commission would simplify and rewrite financial sector legislations, including subordinate legislations, to bring them in line with the requirements of the sector to achieve harmony and synergy among them. This will remove ambiguity, regulatory gaps and overlaps among the various legislations making them more coherent and dynamic and help cater to the requirements of a large and fast growing economy in tune with the changing financial landscape in an interconnected financial world.

  • In the long term, it would help usher in the next generation of reforms, contribute to efficient financial intermediation enhancing the growth potential of the nation.

Courtesy – Finance Ministry


DRDO to go global and its indigenization quest

  • In the near future, Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) would export military products to friendly nations. This has been hailed as a groundbreaking initiative, since this is a step towards indigenization of the defence technology.

  • India has attained total indigenization in sonars and radars and its ship-borne sonars are now being exported to Myanmar.

  • In the global marketing, DRDO would take part in the Aerospace and Defence Exhibition-2013 to be held in Seoul (Korea).It would showcase Akash surface-to-air missile, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and Pragati surface-to-surface missile at the exhibition.

  • India would need around 80 to 100 satellites in the long-run to be able to ensure a high degree of maritime domain awareness in the entire Indian Ocean region (IOR). There was need to launch low-cost, expendable satellites that could be swiftly deployed on demand. It should be noted here that China already possessed such a capability, with around 19 satellites already keeping a watch over the Indian Ocean.

  • The air-independent propulsion (AIP) system being developed by the DRDO would be integrated into the Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Dock based on transfer-of-technology.

  • ‘No country can progress by importing defence material and equipment’ and therefore, the DRDO has identified several areas, where indigenization could be done in a big way. Ammunition for tanks and artillery guns for instance was one such area.

More about AIP:

  • AIP systems play a vital role in considerably enhancing the underwater endurance of conventional diesel-electric submarines. Conventional submarines devoid of AIP are required to surface once in a few days to recharge their batteries, a process when they are most vulnerable to attacks. Scorpenes being French-origin submarines, the French had offered to install their MESMA AIP on the Indian Scorpenes.

Most distant galaxy in universe discovered

  • Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have discovered the most distant galaxy ever seen as it was 700 million years after the Big Bang. This provides a snapshot of the early universe.

  • The researchers said that the galaxy seen as it was when the universe was only about 5% of its current age of 13.8 billion years.

  • According to the team, the new galaxy z8-GND-5296 is forming stars extremely rapidly producing each year about 300 times the mass of our Sun. By comparison, the Milky Way forms only two to three stars per year


Legendary playback singer Manna Dey is dead

  • Playback singer Manna Dey, whose legendary voice entertained many generations, is no more. He was 94 years old.

  • In a career that spanned 70 years, he sang more than 3,500 songs in 16 different languages.

  • He was recipient of the prestigious awards Padma Shri in 1971, the Padma Bhushan in 2005 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2007.