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Insights Daily Current Events, October 26, 2013


October 26, 2013


EC regulates poll advertisements, campaign on Net, social media

  • Political parties and candidates will now have to account for the money spent on the use of social media for the poll campaigns.

  • The Election Commission has issued a series of instructions to political parties and candidates on utilising the Internet and social media websites for poll campaign and advertisements, asking them to strictly abide by the model code of conduct. This regulation has come into force in the interest of “maintaining transparency and a level playing field during polls.”

  • The order would be applicable to social media sites such as Wikipedia, blogs, microblogs such as Twitter, content communities like YouTube, social networking sites such as Facebook, and virtual game-worlds (Apps).

  • As per the new order, every candidate, at the time of filing the nomination, has to give their e-mail Ids and accounts of their social networking sites, if any, for monitoring by poll/expenditure officials. Contents of the advertisements issued by parties/candidates in such websites should be pre-certified by the appropriate authorities and all expenditure made towards such campaign/advertisement would be included in the election expenditure accounts of candidates/parties.

  • The provisions of the code of conduct and related instructions issued by it would apply to the content being posted on the Internet, including the social media websites, by candidates and parties. And with regard to content posted by ‘persons other than candidates and political parties’ especially those who are related or somehow connected with the election campaigning of political parties and candidates, further clarity would be given on consultation with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology on practical ways to deal with the issue

  • Payments made to social media websites for carrying advertisements, expenditure on development of content, and spending on salaries for staff hired to maintain the social media accounts of the parties and the candidates would be included in poll expenses.

  • The Commission’s order is significant in view of the ongoing election process for the Assembly polls in Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan. The SMS facility, availed of by candidates and political parties during campaign, is already under the scanner of the Commission’s poll expenditure monitoring officials.

India ranks 101 on gender gap index

  • India was ranked 101 out of 136 countries on a global gender gap index.

  • The index is compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF). According to which the countries are ranked based on the division of resources and opportunities between men and women in the areas of economy, education, politics, education and health.

More about WEF

  • The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

  • Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971, and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.

  • Klaus Schwab is the Founder and Executive Chairman

Courtesy- WEF website


Stapled visa issue continues to stay: India –China

  • India will have to bear with China’s policy of issuing stapled visas for people from Arunachal Pradesh(ArP)

  • Earlier in 2009, China had decided to relax its policy of not issuing travel documents to ArP residents and instead hand out stapled visas, it was impossible for Indians from the State to travel to China.

  • Though China has dropped its practice of giving stapled visas to people from Jammu & Kashmir, it won’t do the same with ArP. According to a report, about six lakh Indians visited China in 2012 as against one lakh Chinese to India.

  • It should also be noted that, ‘No MoU on simplifying visa procedures was signed during Manmohan’s China visit’.

  • However China has allowed visa-free entry to spouses of diplomats.

  • To encourage more travel to India, China has requested India to ease a two-month bar on second entry applied to all foreigners after David Coleman Headley was found to have entered India several times in quick succession to conduct preliminary observation for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Troubled West Asian Nation ‘Mali’ and the UN mission

  • French, UN and Malian forces are engaged in a major operation aimed at preventing a resurgence of Islamist rebels in Mali.

  • The Malian army and U.N. mission “Minusma” are engaged in a large-scale operation in the Niger Loop (refer the map beside), an area hugging a curve of the Niger River between Timbuktu and Gao.

  • About 1,500 troops were involved, including some 600 French, 600 Malians and 300 U.N. soldiers. This is the first time forces of significant size are working together.

  • The goal of the mission known as “Hydra” was ‘to put pressure on any terrorist movements to avoid their resurgence’.

  • This is one of those operations that are conducted regularly for stabilisation of the country.

  • Earlier, Al-Qaeda-linked militants had declared that they were behind the attack on a United Nations checkpoint in the far northern town of Tessalit.

  • The UN Security Council had strongly condemned the attack, following which the UN mission in Mali requested for more troops.

Courtesy Hindu newspaper

  • U.N. forces have been facing an upsurge in rocket attacks and bombings by militants ahead of nationwide elections In November, 2013 in the troubled West African nation.

  • A French-led martial in January, 2013 had drove Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda out of cities of northern Mali  including Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, that they occupied in the wake of a coup in Bamako(Mali) in 2012.

  • But the rebels have taken to bases in the surrounding mountains and launched strikes on the French and peacekeeping forces.

What is MINUSMA?

  • United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali.The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established by Security Council resolution 2100 of 25 April 2013.
    Under the terms of the resolution, the mission would support the political process and carry out a number of security-related stabilization tasks, with focus on major population centres and lines of communication, protecting civilians, human rights monitoring, the creation of conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced persons, the extension of State authority and the preparation of free, inclusive and peaceful elections.

  • The mandate also includes protection of civilians under imminent threat of physical violence and protection of United Nations personnel from residual threats, within its capabilities and its areas of deployment. This could include the conduct of operations on its own or in cooperation with the Malian defence and security forces. French forces deployed in Mali were also authorized to intervene in support of MINUSMA when under imminent and serious threat upon request of the Secretary-General.

Courtesy – UN website

Greenland opens way for mining boom

  • Greenland’s Parliament has agreed to remove a 25-year-old ban on uranium mining, paving the way for an industrial boom that the Arctic island hopes will help it gain independence from former colonial master Denmark.

  • Greenland, a semi-autonomous part of Denmark, wants to step up its mining of rare earths.

  • An Australian company has estimated it could extract up to 40,000 tonnes of rare earth metals per year.

  • Since uranium is often found mixed into rare earths, the mining activity was banned in southern Greenland.

  • The Arctic Island wants to use mineral resources to reduce its dependency on a subsidy from Denmark which now accounts for about two-thirds of the island’s economy. Denmark is open to allowing Greenland greater independence, but there is currently no way the island can support its current costs without the subsidy.

  • Also selling of the minerals cannot be done by Greenland alone since Denmark still handles its security and foreign policy.

Courtesy Hindu newspaper

What are rare earth materials? Its application?

  • Rare earths are a group of 17 chemically similar elements crucial to the manufacture of many hi-tech products. Despite their name, most are abundant in nature but are hazardous to extract.

  • The group consists of yttrium and the 15 lanthanide elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium.  …).Scandium is found in most rare earth element deposits and is sometimes classified as a rare earth element.

  • Rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as: computer memory, DVD’s, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, car catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting, weapons systems, and other modern technologies.

  • In early 2010 China accounted for over 95% of the world’s rare earth production. China is also the dominant consumer of rare earth elements, used mainly in manufacturing electronics products for domestic and export markets. Japan and the United States are the second and third largest consumers of rare earth materials.


Pakistan seeks early meet of DGMOs

  • In spite of the recent ceasefire violations by the Pakistan in the LoC, the Pakistan government has stood by its stand saying that, it was in fact India which has violated the ceasefire on number of occasions; and it was Pakistan’s policy not to indulge in firing first.

  • Pakistan govt. has said that the Indian side has carried out unprovoked firing on its 27 posts recently. So it wants immediate dialogue to resolve this matter. On this line, the Pakistan has suggested that the meeting of the two DGMOs (Directors-General of Military Operations) be implemented quickly to resolve the issue of ceasefire violations.

  • The proposal for the DGMOs meet was agreed upon by the two countries, when PM’s of both the countries had met in New York in September, 2013.

Five killed as violence erupts in Bangladesh

  • The Bangladeshi opposition coalition has called for a 60-hour hartal across the country, by the time government needs to initiate dialogue on a neutral poll-time government.

  • According to reports, five people were killed in the police firing on opposition protests across the country.

  • Leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party Khaleda Zia, called the Sheikh Hasina government “illegal” alleging that its tenure had expired on 24th October, 2013 and wanted a legal provision that requires a neutral caretaker government to be set up three months before elections slated for January 24, 2014.

  • But the ruling Awami League had abolished the provision in 2011, handing the job of overseeing polls to a reformed Election Commission.

  • Hundreds of activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir participated in Ms. Khaleda Zia’s rally, calling for the release of their leaders who have been convicted or are undergoing trial for war crimes.

  • However, the opposition leader Ms. Zia, for the first time, supported the trials of war criminals “on principle” though she alleged that the war crimes tribunals were selectively picking Jamaat and BNP leaders.

Madagascar conducts first post-coup vote

  • Citizens of Madagascar for the 1st time voted on 25th October, 2013 in the first presidential election after a 2009 coup.

  • The country had plunged into turmoil after current President Andry Rajoelina seized power from President Marc Ravalomanana with the help of the military in 2009.

  • If none of the candidates garners more than 50 % of the votes, the two top candidates will compete in a runoff scheduled for December 20, 2013. The two front-runners are backed by rivals Mr. Rajoelina

‘Night of rescues’ in the Strait of Sicily

  • Nearly 700 refugees including dozens of Eritreans have been rescued off Sicily in five operations, as leaders grapple with the issue of illegal immigration at a European Union (EU) summit.

  • Italian coastguard and navy vessels and a Maltese cargo ship have saved asylum-seekers from five boats in the past 24 hours

  • (From Prelims point of View)

The Strait of Sicily is the strait between Sicily and Tunisia. It divides the Tyrrhenian Sea and the western Mediterranean n Sea from the eastern Mediterranean.

Courtesy Wikipedia

Kenya Dy-President’s presence needed: ICC

  • The International Criminal Court (ICC) has overturned a decision excusing Kenya’s Deputy-President from attending his trial on charges of post-poll violence in 2007.

  • This means William Ruto must in principle appear at his trial, but can still be excused on a “case by case” basis.

  • The ruling could deepen a rift between the court and African leaders and could also set a precedent for Kenya’s President, whose trial on similar charges is scheduled to start from November, 2013.

74 Boko Haram fighters killed: Nigeria

  • Nigeria’s army has killed 74 suspected Boko Haram fighters in a raid in northeastern Borno state, as gunmen from the Islamist group battled security forces.

  • The army is battling since four-years, to crush the Islamist uprising in Nigeria.

  • According to a report, the conflict had cost more than 3,600 lives, including killings by the security forces. The current toll is certainly much higher.

  • Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, is another area repeatedly targeted by Boko Haram in an insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.

  • The Islamists have killed hundreds of people across the northeast since June, 2013 including a number of students. In September, 2013 the President Goodluck Jonathan had ordered the top military leaders to redouble their efforts following a spate of brutal attacks on civilians.

Who are Boko Harams? What is their Ideology?

  • The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad better known as Boko Haram is an Islamic jihadist militant organisation based in the northeast of Nigeria, north Cameroon and Niger. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2001, the organisation seeks to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law, putting a stop to what it deems “Westernization.”

  • The group is known for attacking Christians and government targets, bombing churches, attacking schools and police stations, but has also assassinated members of the Islamic establishment.

Their Ideology:

  • Boko Haram was founded as an indigenous group, turning itself into a Jihadist group in 2009.It proposes that interaction with the Western world is forbidden, and also supports opposition to the Muslim establishment and the government of Nigeria

  • The members of the group do not interact with the local Muslim population and have carried out assassinations in the past of anyone who criticises it, including Muslim clerics.

Courtesy Wikipedia


Tower companies to come under licensing regime

  • Following the government’s decision to allow 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in the telecom sector, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is set for a proposal to bring mobile tower companies under the licensing regime.

  • Mobile tower companies (called IP-I in technical jargon) would now have to pay 8 % licence fee on the revenue earned from telecom services once brought under the licensing regime.

  • At present, they can operate by paying Rs.5,000 to register with DoT.

  • The DoT’s proposal would be placed before the Telecom Commission, an inter-ministerial panel, and if approved, tower firms would have to obtain telecom licence for carrying out their operations.

  • Earlier, Telecom Regulator Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended bringing telecom tower companies under the licensing regime. TRAI estimated that bringing IP-I under the licensing regime will fetch the government revenues of around Rs.1,900 crore a year.

  • However, the suggestion had been opposed by industry players. The Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), the industry body representing mobile tower companies such as Bharti Infratel, Reliance Infratel and Indus Tower, opposed the proposal on mainly two grounds:

  • FDI limit and

  • definition of revenue on which they would have to pay the licence fee.

Hurdles to include the Tower companies earlier:

  • In order to include IP-I in the licensing regime, one of the hindrances was that the FDI limit was 74 % for telecom services, and IP-I was allowed with 100 % FDI. Now that the issue has been resolved with 100 % allowed in the telecom sector, the IP-I can be brought under the licensing regime.

  • The AGR (adjusted gross revenue) definition had to be revisited for which a reference may be required to be made to TRAI. Keeping this in view, the approval of the Telecom Commission will be sought to include IP-I in licensing regime.

Significance to the Government:

  • As per government, bringing mobile tower companies under the licensing regime will help in reducing cost of telecom services, faster nationwide roll out of infrastructure, sharing passive as well as active infrastructure such as optical fibre network and the like, and contribute to the government’s revenue in terms of licence fee, among others.