UPSC, 13 Feb 2017, News Analysis, for UPSC & Other Exams, by...

UPSC, 13 Feb 2017, News Analysis, for UPSC & Other Exams, by Dr Ashok Dhamija

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News analysis and explanation of the main news reports appearing in newspapers of 13 February 2017 (also freely subscribe to our YouTube Education channel with about 100 free videos on UPSC IAS and other competitive examinations):

Proposal to hike President’s pay pending

  • After 7th Central Pay Commission was implemented, President Pranab Mukherjee has been drawing less salary than a Joint Secretary in the Government of India.
  • A proposal to increase the salaries of the President, the Vice-President and Governors is pending in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for 6 months.
  • Home Ministry had proposed an increase in the salary of the President from the current ₨ 1.5 lakh to ₨ 5 lakh per month.
  • Similarly for the Vice-President, the proposal was to increase the salary from ₨ 1.1 lakh to ₨ 3.5 lakh per month.
  • Cabinet Secretary, the senior-most in Govt, gets ₨ 2.50 lakh pm currently.
  • The boost in salary is commensurate with the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, implemented last year.

Legal provisions with regard to President’s salary

Article 59(3) of the Constitution:

“(3) The President shall be entitled without payment of rent to the use of his official residences and shall be also entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by Parliament by law and, until provision in that behalf is so made, such emoluments, allowances and privileges as are specified in the Second Schedule.”

The President’s Emoluments and Pension Act, 1951.

“Section 1A. There shall be paid to the President by way of emoluments one lakh fifty thousand rupees per mensem.”

[amended by President’s Emoluments and Pension Amendment Act, 2008, and made effective from 1-1-2006.]

ISRO plans Venus mission, wants to revisit Mars

  • India plans to go to Venus for the first time and also revisit Mars very soon.
  • In the 2017 budget, funds for the department of space have been increased by 23%.
  • Under the space sciences section, the Budget mentions provisions “for Mars Orbiter Mission II and mission to Venus”.
  • The mission to Mars is tentatively slated for 2021-22 and as per existing plans it may well involve putting a robot on the Martian surface.
  • While India’s first Mars mission in 2013 was purely indigenous, the French space agency wants to collaborate in making the Mars rover.
  • India’s maiden mission to Venus is in all probability going to be a modest orbiter mission.

Distance of Venus and Mars from Earth

  • Distance of Earth form Sun = 149,600,000 km   = 1 AU
  • Distance of Venus from Earth = 41,400,000 km     = 0.28 AU
  • Distance of Mars from Earth = 78,340,000 km     = 0.52 AU

Railways’ hi-tech survey for high-speed train corridor

  • The railways will use LiDAR technology — which involves conducting an aerial survey, and is known to give accurate data on the contours of land, even below vegetation — to expedite work on India’s first high-speed train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
  • The use of Light Detection and Ranging, or LiDAR, will allow the survey of the 508 km corridor to be completed in 9-10 weeks against the normal 6-8 months.
  • It will help the national transporter start ground work on the Modi government’s dream project by 2018.
  • According to the plan, almost the entire corridor will be on an elevated track, except 21km that will be underground. Of the 21km, 7km will be undersea.
  • LiDAR was a remote-sensing technology that measured distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analysing the reflected light. The GPS unit interacts with GPS satellites to finalise the ground control points.
  • The exercise is highly accurate and enables capturing data of buildings and forest.
  • The survey will be conducted by a helicopter, which carries equipment, including a high-resolution digital camera (100 megapixel), a laser scanner and a data recorder.
  • This technology would be used for the survey of a rail line for the first time. For the survey, the helicopter will fly at a height of 500 metres while identifying 15.6 points per square metre.
  • The LiDAR survey is among four surveys —geo-technical investigation, hydrological survey and land plan preparations — being conducted by RITES at a cost of Rs 40 crore to finalise the alignment of the corridor.
  • Nearly 81% of the funding for the project, estimated to cost Rs 97,636 crore, will come by way of a loan from Japan.

ITBP jawans get snow scooters for border patrol

  • To facilitate smooth patrolling in the Himalayas along the 3,488 km India-China border, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has given snow scooters to its jawans.
  • This was the first of its kind procurement by ITBP and was aimed at reducing travel time and increasing efficiency.
  • The first lot of five scooters, procured from a US-based firm, will be deployed at border locations in Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim that overlook Chinese PLA deployment on the other side.
  • The scooters, costing around Rs 1 crore, could seat two personnel and negotiate 45-degree slopes and were supported by chain-case belts to help the 278 kg machine glide smoothly and cut through ice.
  • The black and white scooters come with hydraulic brakes for effective ground control and can hold over 41 litres of fuel.
  • They are the most modern variants of such vehicles.

Delhi airport 12th busiest airport in the world

  • Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) was the 12th busiest airport worldwide in Nov. 2016 as per report published by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
  • It is run by the private airport operator Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL).
  • Last year, the airport handled a record 55.64 million passengers, which is the highest ever in the country.
  • The airport has also reached an average of 1,185 air traffic movements per day, the highest in the country.
  • The Delhi airport connects to 127 destinations worldwide and is the hub for major airlines such as Air India, Vistara, IndiGo and SpiceJet.
  • Atlanta airport in the USA is the world’s busiest, followed by Beijing and Tokyo airports.

NGT asks about method to check fuel adulteration

  • After several laboratories across the country said they did not have facilities to test impurities in petrol and diesel, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to spell out the methodology followed to check adulteration.
  • NGT directed the Ministry and oil marketing companies to inform about the process followed to test fuel impurity and also name the laboratories being used to do so.
  • NGT was hearing a plea seeking directions to inspect fuel quality at petrol pumps across the country, especially in cities facing acute air pollution.

Multi-role chopper model at Aero India expo

  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will reveal the mock-up of India’s first indigenous multi-role helicopter at the Aero India exhibition, beginning in Bangalore next week.
  • The medium-category helicopter is sought after by the services, and such helicopters have so far been imported.
  • HAL will put up the initial design before the services for their response, and the design and development will commence based on a firm demand from the Army and the Air Force.
  • It is planned as a twin-engine helicopter in the 10- tonne category, capable of flying at a height of 15,000 feet, and with a range of 500 km.
  • It can perform several tasks, including counter-insurgency operations, casualty evacuation and combat search and rescue.
  • It can carry 24 fully equipped military personnel or 18 persons in the VVIP role.
  • It can be a good substitute for the Russian built Mi-17, which is in use, and also fit the Navy’s requirement for medium-lift helicopters.

26% increase in IED blast incidents in 2016 versus 2015

  • As per a report by National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) of the NSG (National Security Guard), there was a 26% increase in IED blast incidents in 2016 as compared to 2015 and human casualties have increased by 3% in the same period.
  • As many as 112 deaths due to explosive blasts were reported in the country last year, with the maximum of 73 coming from the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) theatre, 14 from the insurgency-hit areas of the northeast, five from Jammu and Kashmir and 20 from the rest of the country.
  • LWE-hit States accounted for 65% of total fatalities [73 personnel], while other States accounted for 35%.
  • A total of 337 blasts of various kinds, including IEDs and other bombs, were reported last year that injured 479 people across the country.

What is IED?

  • IED = Improvised Explosive Device.
  • IED is a bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action.
  • It may be constructed of conventional military explosives, such as an artillery round, attached to a detonating mechanism.
  • IEDs are commonly used by terrorists and extremists.

Single-point military adviser soon?

  • The government is keen on appointing a single-point military adviser within a year to promote synergy among the Services.
  • The issue was discussed in detail during the recent combined commanders’ conference chaired by Prime Minster Narendra Modi.
  • There is general consensus that it is high time India had its single-point military adviser and greater coordination among the three services. India had two adversaries who have managed to achieve this and it is not right for India to remain so.
  • The government is also intent on creating theatre commands for greater interoperability within the Services, which is likely to be an “incremental step”. It is expected to be done in a year.
  • Setting up of theatre commands will help integrate air, land and sea assets under one operational entity to improve efficiency as well as optimise resource utilisation.
  • While there was consensus on having a permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), who will also be a four star officer, there have been apprehensions that it would end up being another ceremonial post in the absence of a clear-cut role and authority over the Service chiefs.
  • However, discussions are still continuing on whether it should be a Permanent COSC or a five star Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) with specific functions.

What is “theatre command”?

  • A joint command is called a ‘theatre command’ in military parlance (of army, air force and navy).
  • It places the resources of all forces at the command of a senior military commander.
  • For example a ‘theatre command’ in the East will integrate components of the IAF and the Army, and also have component of the Navy integrated with it.
  • At present, the only joint command is learnt to be in Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Switzerland votes on relaxed citizenship laws

  • Switzerland voted on 12 February on whether to make it easier for third generation immigrants to become citizens, after a campaign tainted by anti-Muslim messages and charges of religious prejudice.
  • Preliminary results pointed to the measure being approved, in what would be a defeat for the far right nationalist Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which put issues of Islam and national identity at the centre of the debate.
  • The government as well as most lawmakers and political parties supported the proposal that would allow the grandchildren of immigrants to skip several steps in the lengthy process of securing a Swiss passport.
  • According to a migration department study, less than 25,000 people in the country of about eight million currently qualify as third generation immigrants.

North Korea test fires ballistic missile

  • North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea on 12 February.
  • This is the first such test since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected.
  • Trump administration indicated that U.S. would have a calibrated response to avoid escalating tensions.
  • The test was likely to have been of an intermediate-range Musudan-class missile that landed in the Sea of Japan.
  • It was not an Inter-continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), which the North Korea has said it could test at any time.
  • Japan has called it ‘absolutely intolerable’.
  • S. President Donald Trump has assured Tokyo of full support.
  • The launch marks the first real test of Trump’s determination to get tough on an isolated North Korean regime that last year tested nuclear devices and ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate in violation of United Nations resolutions.
  • An intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) is a ballistic missile with a range of 3,000–5,500 km.
  • An inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a guided ballistic missile with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres (mainly for nuclear warheads).

New German President elected

  • German lawmakers elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier by an overwhelming majority on 12 February to be the country’s new President.
  • Steinmeier, Germany’s former Foreign Minister, was elected in Berlin by a special assembly that was made up of the 630 members of Parliament’s lower house and an equal number of representatives from Germany’s 16 States.
  • The German President has little executive power, but is considered an important moral authority and symbol of the country as its host for visiting dignitaries.
  • Germany has a parliamentary system of government in which the Federal Chancellor is the nation’s leading political figure and de facto chief executive.
  • At present, German Chancellor is Angela Merkel.

U.S. denies visa to Pakistan Senate’s deputy chairman

  • Pakistan’s Senate deputy-chairman and leader of one of the largest Islamic parties in the country was denied a U.S. visa, leading to the cancellation of a two-member delegation’s planned visit to New York to attend a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the UN headquarters.
  • Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the deputy-chairman and the secretary-general of Jamiat Ulema Islam, was scheduled to lead a two-member Senate delegation at IPU meeting being held on February 13 and 14 at the UN.
  • The visa of Haideri was put on hold in what can be termed a technical refusal.

Watch the YouTube video with full explanation:

This video discusses and explains the current affairs topics appearing the newspapers and media (such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Economic Times, Press Information Bureau, etc.) of 13 February 2017.

This video is useful for the aspirants of the UPSC Civil Services Examination (for IAS, IPS, IFS, and Group-A Central Services). This lecture is also useful for aspirants of other competitive examinations, such as SSC, Bank PO, LIC, RBI Assistant, RBI Grade B, State Public Service Commission examinations like RPSC, UPPSC, MPSC, MPPSC, HCS, RAS, CLAT, Hotel Management entrance, BBA and several other examinations.

This video has been prepared by Dr. Ashok Dhamija, a former IPS.

 

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