Insights Daily Current Events, 24 June 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
India’s NSG bid stops at China wall
China has remained the last major obstacle in the way of India’s membership bid in the Nuclear Suppliers Group as 47 of 48 members supported New Delhi’s application at the group’s special plenary session in Seoul recently.
- The session failed to come to a conclusion after hours of discussions, with China adamant in its opposition. Questions and doubts by other fence-sitting countries dissolved in the course of the evening, leaving China as the last man standing against India.
- China raised a procedural block, refusing to admit the India membership issue to be discussed in the meeting. Brazil and South Africa, two other members of BRICS, stood behind India, as did Russia.
- China’s stand might wreck India’s chances this time if Beijing continues to hold out. But the fact that India has mounted such a huge diplomatic exercise will play to India’s advantage going forward.
China’s continued obduracy raises serious questions in the Indian government about the value of organisations like BRICS, RIC or even BASIC, where India and China are believed to be working together. If China continues with its opposition, there could be consequences for bilateral relations with Beijing, because it would be a direct refusal to an Indian head of the government.
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
- Interestingly, the NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes. Currently, it has 48 members.
Once admitted, an NSG member state:
- Gets timely information on nuclear matters.
- Contributes by way of information.
- Has confirmed credentials.
- Can act as an instrument of harmonization and coordination.
- Is part of a very transparent process.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
Tigers roar loud in Manas, population up 50% in 3 years
The second survey to monitor big cats across the Transboundary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA), which covers Manas National Park (MNP) on the Indian side and the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) in Bhutan, has thrown up 21 tigers — a heartwarming increase of 50% over the first survey in 2011-12 that had counted just 14 big cats in the Manas landscape.
- The latest Tiger monitoring, carried out by the MNP, RMNP, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), WWF-India and conservation group Aaaranyak last year, covered an area of 560 sq km across the two protected areas.
- TraMCA, floated in 2008, is a joint initiative of India and Bhutan for trans-boundary biodiversity conservation.
Manas National Park (MNP):
Manas National Park is a national park, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam, India.
Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
- The Manas river flows thorough the west of the park and is the main river within it. It is a major tributary of Brahmaputra river and splits into two separate rivers, the Beki and Bholkaduba as it reaches the plains.
- The Manas river also serves as an international border dividing India and Bhutan.
- The bedrock of the savanna area in the north of the park is made up of limestone and sandstone, whereas the grasslands in the south of the park stand on deep deposits of fine alluvium.
- The combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation along with the riverine succession continuing up to Sub-Himalayan mountain forest make it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world.
- The fauna of the sanctuary include Indian elephants, Indian rhinoceros, gaurs, Asian water buffaloes, barasingha, Indian tigers, Indian leopards, clouded leopards, Asian golden cats, dholes, capped langurs, golden langurs, Assamese macaques, slow loris, hoolock gibbons, smooth-coated otters, sloth bears, barking deers, hog deers, black panthers, sambar deers and chitals.
- The park is well known for species of rare and endangered wildlife that are not found anywhere else in the world like the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Torpid airports may convert into SEZs
The government is looking at converting some unused airports into special economic zones where aircraft leasing companies can park their planes and showcase them to potential customers.
- Besides, it would explore ways to reduce the cost of leasing aircraft as part of larger efforts to make the domestic aviation space more attractive.
- The new civil aviation policy, unveiled recently, provides for measures to enhance regional connectivity and reducing the cost of leasing would help this initiative.
- The Civil Aviation Ministry would look at the possibility of utilising certain unused airports for the purpose of parking aircraft and even use aerodromes for plane-breaking or dismantling of old aircraft. There are around 400 unused airports and airstrips across the country.
What is a Special Economic Zone(SEZ)?
Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a specifically delineated duty-free enclave and shall be deemed to be foreign territory for the purposes of trade operations and duties and tariffs. SEZ is a geographical region that has economic laws different from a country’s typical economic laws. Usually the goal is to increase foreign investments.
Who can set up SEZs? Can foreign companies set up SEZs?
Any private/public/joint sector or state government or its agencies can set up an SEZ.
What is the role of state governments in establishing SEZs?
State governments will have a very important role to play in the establishment of SEZs. Representative of the state government, who is a member of the inter-ministerial committee on private SEZ, is consulted while considering the proposal. Before recommending any proposals to the ministry of commerce and industry (department of commerce), the states must satisfy themselves that they are in a position to supply basic inputs like water, electricity, etc.
The main objectives of the SEZ Act are:
- Generation of additional economic activity.
- Promotion of exports of goods and services.
- Promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources.
- Creation of employment opportunities.
- Development of infrastructure facilities.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Former Indian test captain Anil Kumble has been appointed as the head coach of Team India for one year. This was announced by BCCI recently. Kumble is the first Indian to be appointed full-time India coach since Kapil Dev resigned in September 2000.
- China has launched its first dark sky reserve for astronomical observation in the Tibetan prefecture of Ngari, bordering Nepal and India. The reserve covers an area of 2,500 square kilometre and aims to limit light pollution by stepping up protection of dark-sky resources for education and tourism development. It was jointly launched by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation and the regional government of Tibet. The reserve will also try to seek accreditation from the International Dark-Sky Association, a non-profit organisation based in the US that is devoted to preserving and protecting the night time environment and dark skies globally. Ngari is among the best sites for astronomical observation on earth, due to its high altitude and large number of cloudless days throughout the year.
- As part of a Swachh Bharat Mission drive, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to do away with garbage bins in 10 prominent wildlife parks and make visitors take their litter home. This was done because people dropped litter around garbage bins, inviting animals and thus aggravating the man-animal conflict. The parks have been compelled the visitors to arrange for jute bags to collect their trash. The ten wildlife parks identified are- Jim Corbett National Park, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh; Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park in Gujarat; Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh; Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra; Flamingo Sanctuary in Maharashtra; Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka; Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala; Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan; and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.
- The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Protocol amending the Agreement between India and Belgium for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. The amendment in the Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information between the two countries, which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance. The Protocol will also revise the existing treaty provisions on mutual assistance in collection of taxes.