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Insights Daily Current Events, November 07, 2013


November 07, 2013


Grid integration set to boost power supply in South

  • South India is likely to get a boost in electricity supply as the integration of the southern grid to the national grid, scheduled for January, 2014, will allow the region to tap into the other grids.

  • Work is apace on the 800-kV circuit between Raichur in Karnataka and Sholapur in Maharashtra. At present, the inter-region transfer capacity between the western and southern regions is 1,500 MW.

Significance of this integration (southern grid to the national grid):

  • The new transmission lines between Karnataka and Maharashtra would push it up to 5,500 MW, boosting the power-starved southern region, the only grid that remains isolated from the rest of the nation.

  • In the recent times, there have been instances of the northern grid or the western region having had surplus power that, however, could not be transferred to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka because the southern region was not plugged into the national grid. But the situation would change as the integration work gets completed by early next year (2014).

  • At present, all regional grids, except the southern region, are synchronously interconnected and run at one frequency.

  • However, the southern region is linked asynchronously to the northern, eastern, north-eastern and western region grids through the high-voltage, direct current transmission system, which has a different frequency.

  • The synchronisation gained pace after large parts of the country suffered blackouts for almost three days from 31st July to 2nd August, 2012. The southern grid is being connected by two 765-kV lines, linking Sholapur of the western region to Raichur of the southern region.


Thailand royals mark cultural connection with Assam

  • Shared cultural and historical roots connected Namphake village (Dibrugarh district, Assam) with Thailand when Royal Kathina robes were offered at the Buddhist monastery here on behalf of the Thai royal family.

  • The village mainly consists of Tai-Phake community (whose identities, traditions and cultures are very much similar to the Thai people). This community is rooted in Yunan province of China and Myanmar and is about 650 years old.

Significance of Kathina ceremony:

  • The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been organising the Royal Kathina Ceremony in several countries, including India since 1995. The Kathina offering ceremony, or Poi Kathin, is an ancient Buddhist tradition of offering special robes and other necessities to monks who maintain strict discipline of retreat during the rainy seasons.

  • The main purpose of the ceremony is not merely for religious belief but also to strengthen the relationship between Thailand and other countries.

  • Royal Kathina ceremony is in line with the policies of both India and Thailand in promoting Assam and the Northeast India as the gateway to Southeast Asia and vice versa. The proximity between the two regions and culture would be the key factors to strengthen and deepen India-Thailand relations.

Maldives presidential vote likely

  • After two failed attempts, the Maldives is likely to hold its presidential election on 9th October, 2013 as the three candidates have agreed on a voters’ register.

  • The Supreme Court had annulled results of a September 7th, 2013 election because of fake names on the voters’ list. And the October month’s attempted vote was stopped by the police, as all the candidates had not approved the voters’ register.

  • The Maldives must have an elected President by 11th November, 2013 to avoid a possible constitutional crisis. The leaders must also agree on who will be in charge of the country if no clear winner emerges, until a runoff on November 16.

Nepal’s hardline Maoists urged to let people vote

  • The United Nations has urged a group of hardline Maoists who are protesting against Nepal’s elections in November, 2013 to respect people’s right to vote and not to intimidate voters through violence.

  • The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), a splinter group of the mainstream Maoist party that fought a 10-year civil war against the state, is boycotting the November 19thelections which is only the second national election in the country since a peace process began in 2006.

  • According to the hardline faction, the election was unconstitutional and has thus called for a 10-day shutdown.

EU move could cut plastic use

  • According to European commission (EC), European Union (EU) member states could cut their plastic bag use by 80 % by charging for bags or even banning them.

  • Plastic bags are a major cause of seaborne pollution, which is a serious hazard for marine life (fish, seabirds, and mammals can all ingest plastic, which they cannot digest and which can clog up their guts or cause choking).

  • Some regions have already moved to cut their use through charging. Bag use was cut dramatically by the Republic of Ireland after charges were introduced, a similar charge has recently come into force in Northern Ireland, and supermarkets in Wales reported a drop in use of up to 96 % after a charging scheme was brought in two years ago. Scotland is bringing in a 5p charge in 2014.

  • The EC is proposing a new directive that would require member states to choose between three methods of reducing the waste from bags: charges, national reduction targets, or an outright ban.

  • One of the key problems with plastic bags is that they are so light and small that they easily escape into the environment, making it difficult to recycle them.

  • It has been criticized that, ‘targeted reductions’ are relatively weak. Since in U.K., major retailers have pledged for some years to cut their use of bags, but still the usage remains high.

  • And the EC’s proposals were not stringent enough to curb the use of plastics, as it allowed member states too much leeway by allowing them to set their own targets rather than EU-wide goals or clear measures that would cut bag use.


Higher base price for spectrum sale mooted

On Spectrum pricing:

  • Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has recommended raising reserve price for auction of pan-India 1800 MHz mobile phone spectrum by 15% over the one suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), and the base price for 900 MHz be fixed at 25 % higher than what the TRAI had recommended.

  • The new base price per mega hertz (MHz) in 1800 band for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata is 25% higher than the base price recommended by TRAI.

  • The rates recommended by the Telecom Commission were still lower than the reserve prices fixed for previous auction.

  • The spectrum pricing will now be decided by EGoM (Empowered Group of Ministers).

  • The DoT is likely to conduct the third round of spectrum auction by January, 2014 and is expected to garner a minimum revenue of about Rs.11,000crore this fiscal (2013-14).

  • The commission has also decided to conduct the auction on 800 MHz band.

On Mergers & Acquisition:

  • The Telecom Commission has also approved the M&A (Mergers &Acquisition) policy, allowing mergers with a combined market share of up to 50%. This would replace the present cap of 35% market share of the combined entity.

  • The acquiring company has to pay for spectrum which has come embedded with the licence to the acquired company.

  • The companies will also be allowed to retain two blocks of 3G spectrum in respective areas as a result of the merger.


Stark-reality about ‘Prevalence of TB cases in India’

  • The article is about prevalence of TB disease across the globe and particularly in India and specially w.r.t the vulnerable section of the society i.e., the children

  • According to WHO’s global tuberculosis report 2013 released recently, the incidence rate has been falling, and the mortality rate since 1990 has been reduced by 45%.

  • However, the reduction in prevalence of TB is far below the half-way target of 2015 Millennium Development Goals. India might be responsible for this slow reduction.

  • India accounts for 26% of the global TB cases but the main issue is with the number of cases that has gone ‘unreported’. On this line, in 2012 India has made TB a ‘notifiable disease’ so that every TB case detected would be reported and the actual estimate of cases would be known. However there is no mechanism to ensure that the private sector complies with the requirement.

  • Another major worry is the prevalence of TB in children below 15 years.  According to WHO’s 2006 ‘guidance on TB management in children’, it has been estimated that TB incidence among children is about one million across the globe. This is a dangerous trend!

  • Though children can contract TB at any age, those under five are especially vulnerable, particularly those from households where an adult has been recently diagnosed with active pulmonary TB. Young children are more susceptible to getting infected and face an increased risk to the disease. The children may also acquire the more severe forms of the disease. It is for these reasons that WHO had recommended contact tracing.

  • Though India’s Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) has also approved contact tracing of young children from such families, its implementation is sub-standard. Thus, while RNTCP estimates children with TB to be 10.2% of the total TB cases, only 7% of the cases were registered in 2011.

The Drone attacks & Pakistan’s reaction

  • The killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack and the reaction of Pakistan reminds us about the similar reactions after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Pakistan has condemned US, saying that it has violated Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

  • But the irony is the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mehsud was the mastermind of terrorist attacks that killed innocent Pakistanis by the hundreds in mosques, markets, hospitals; the TTP took on the Pakistan Army, ambushing, kidnapping and beheading soldiers, acts for which it readily took responsibility. It was behind the attempted killing of the teenager Malala Yusufzai for standing up for girls’ education. It killed anti-polio workers suspecting them to be American spies and holding the immunization programme as a conspiracy against Islam.

  • The TTP also played a dark role in the elections earlier in 2013 with a bloody campaign targeting candidates of the “secular” Pakistan People’s Party and Awami National Party. Mehsud formed alliances with other militant groups across Pakistan, building a country-wide terror network.

  • Yet, he is being hailed by some of Pakistani politicians as a Taliban leader who wanted to make peace with the government. Some have even described him as a martyr.

  • Pakistan views the killing as a set-back since Pakistan Govt. was keen on having a dialogue with the TTP. But critics view this is surrender by the govt. rather than a step towards the peace process.

  • It is true that the war by drones has repeatedly violated Pakistan’s sovereignty, but this opportunity can be used by the Pakistan govt. to forge a new, more visionary political consensus on how to deal with the terrorism, extremism and militancy that has been a bane to the country’s development all through the years. Moving in this direction would also help in developing friendly relationship with all its neighbours, especially India and for a stable ‘South Asia’!


Father of Indian poultry industry‘Banda VasudevRao’

TarlaDalal dead

  • Noted food writer and celebrity chef TarlaDalal is dead.

  • Ms. Dalal has been on the culinary landscape for the last 40 years and was a famous face on televised cookery shows. She wrote more than 100 cook-books and was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007.


{P.S : Go through the Interview with Jayanthi Natarajan , Union Environment and Forests Minister, it will provide more insights into Climate change negotiations between the developed and developing countries that is set to begin from 11th November, 2013.}