UPSC, 18 Feb 2017, News Analysis, by Dr Ashok Dhamija

UPSC, 18 Feb 2017, News Analysis, by Dr Ashok Dhamija

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News analysis and explanation of the main news reports appearing in newspapers of 18 February 2017 (also freely subscribe to our YouTube Education channel with about 100 free videos on UPSC IAS and other competitive examinations):

Govt. junks border wall plan in Jammu

  • The Centre has given up its proposal to build a wall along the Pakistan border in Jammu, originally envisaged as a barrier to cross-border terror.
  • The raised embankment, initiated by the UPA government in 2013 after the twin attacks in the Hiranagar/ Samba sector, was to come up along 179 km of the International Border (IB) in Jammu.
  • The plan for raising an embankment was not materialising and the Govt would instead depend on ‘technological solutions’ such as a ‘smart fence’, a seamless virtual fence with sensors to identify any infiltration.
  • The Army too opposed the embankment, saying it would pose hurdles for their forward movement during military operations.
  • Unlike the Line of Control, the IB is densely populated and has fertile agrarian land. Not many people were willing to let go of their land.
  • Home Ministry is now working on a Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) for 24X7 surveillance.
  • Currently a pilot project is under way, where an integrated system of human resources, sensors, networks, intelligence and command and control solutions are being worked upon.
  • A major component of this system will be the smart fence, which will be a seamless virtual fence, comprising various sensors and laser-based technologies.

No concept of National Song: SC

  • Orally noting that “there is no concept of National Song”, the Supreme Court has refused to intervene in a petition seeking a direction to the government to frame a national policy to promote and propagate the ‘National Song’, along with the National Anthem and the National Flag.
  • A 3-judge Bench of SC said it should be clearly noted that Article 51A (a), citing the citizens’ fundamental duties, does not refer to ‘National Song.’ It only refers to National Flag and National Anthem.
  • Article 51A(a) mandates that citizens should abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.
  • “Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the National Song is concerned,” the court concluded.
  • The petition also sought to “ascertain the feasibility of singing/playing the National Anthem and National Song in the Parliament/Assembly, public offices, courts and schools on every working day.”
  • SC agreed to examine only the possibility of singing National Anthem in schools.

Article 51A of the Constitution

51A. Fundamental duties.- It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—

(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;

*** ***.

Foundation stone of National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) laid

  • The Minister of State for Home Affairs Shri Kiren Rijiju laid the foundation stone of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), in Delhi on 17 February.
  • Role of NIDM is crucial in the wake of India’s vulnerability to natural disasters.
  • NIDM is an institute of national importance.
  • Member Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Shri R. K. Jain said that National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and NIDM work as a team in the field of disaster.
  • He suggested that NIDM should focus more on training and capacity building of communities and also partner with other agencies (private and Government) to increase its reach.

What is  National Institute of Disaster Management?

  • National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) was constituted under an Act of Parliament with a vision to play the role of a premier institute for capacity development in India and the region.
  • Under the Disaster Management Act 2005, NIDM has been assigned nodal responsibilities for human resource development, capacity building, training, research, documentation and policy advocacy in the field of disaster management.
  • NIDM has a multi-disciplinary core team of professionals working in various aspects of disaster management.
  • NIDM provides technical support to the state governments through the Disaster Management Centres (DMCs) in the Administrative Training Institutes (ATIs) of the States and Union Territories.
  • Presently NIDM is supporting thirty such centres.

Indian Navy Concludes First Contract Under Buy and Make (Indian) Category

  • A contract between Nova Integrated Systems Ltd and Indian Navy for procurement of Surface Surveillance Radars (SSR) was concluded on 17 February.
  • This is the first contract concluded under the Buy and Make (Indian) Category, in line with the Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • Nova Integrated Systems Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Tata Advanced System Ltd, would indigenously manufacture these state-of-the-art radars in collaboration with Terma, Denmark.
  • This contract marks the entry of Indian Private Industry in production of hi-tech sensors for the Indian Navy.
  • Procurement of SSR is a part of Indian Navy’s Plan for modernisation of its Fleets, and these radars would also be installed on-board the ships under construction.

INSV Tarini to be Inducted into Navy on 18 Feb

  • The Indian Navy’s second ocean going sailboat Tarini will be inducted at the INS Mandovi Boat Pool on 18 February 2017.
  • Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff will also be present on the occasion.
  • INSV Tarini is a sloop built by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd at Divar, Goa.
  • The sail boat Tarini is being inducted into the Navy and is slated to be the platform for First Indian All Women Circum-navigation of the Globe expedition of the Indian Navy.
  • INSV Tarini uses all the learning experience from INSV Mhadei.
  • The construction of both the Mhadei and Tarini in Goa shows the success of Government’s ‘Make in India’ policy in this field.
  • INSV Mhadei has sailed over 115,000 nautical miles in the past eight years.
  • INSV Tarini draws its origin from the famous Tara-Tarini temple of Orissa’s Ganjam district.
  • In order to promote ocean sailing activities and to encourage women empowerment, the Indian Navy conceptualized the idea of the First Indian All Women Circumnavigation of the Globe.
  • A team of six women Officers led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi was selected for this project.
  • They have been sufficiently trained for this purpose and they have already sufficient sailing exposure on INSV Mhadei, including voyages to Mauritius and Cape Town.

Maximum Possible Marks to Indian NRA in WHO Assessment

  • WHO has completed the assessment of the status of the Indian vaccine regulatory system against WHO NRA Global Benchmarking Tool (GBT) for benchmarking, and measured the maturity of the system.
  • The assessment has been carried out by a WHO team comprising lead experts in different areas.
  • The assessment has been done in respect of nine different functionalities and Indian NRA (National Regularity Authority) has been declared ‘functional’ with a maturity level of 4 i.e. the highest level as per currently evolved definitions in respect of 5 functions, and maturity level 3 in respect of 4 functions.
  • The nine functions included in the tool are National Regulatory System; Registration and Marketing Authorization; Vigilance; Laboratory Access and Testing; Regulatory Inspection; Clinical Trial Oversight; NRA Lot Release; Licensing Premises; and Market Surveillance and Control.
  • India is one of the main players in the pharmaceutical industry worldwide. The pharmaceutical industry covers conventional as well as biological medicinal products including vaccines, medical devices, and traditional medicines.
  • India, as a large vaccine producing country, is currently supplying several vaccines to the UN agencies (UNICEF, WHO and PAHO).
  • A fully functional NRA is a pre-requisite for WHO prequalification of vaccines.
  • One of the requirements to become eligible and retain prequalification status is to have the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) assessed as functional against the WHO published NRA indicators.
  • The vaccine manufacturers can only apply for WHO vaccine prequalification if the NRA meets the standards of the WHO NRA published indicators i.e. WHO Global benchmarking Tool on functional regulatory system for vaccines.
  • The result reflects the growing maturity of the Indian NRA emanating from a concerted effort by the Government in consultation with WHO to build capacity and capability of the National Regulatory Authority over last several years.

Kamov-226T Helicopter deal takes shape

  • The joint venture (JV) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Rosoboronexport and Russian Helicopters of Russia for manufacturing Kamov-226T light utility helicopters in India will be registered very soon and the final contract is likely to be signed this year.
  • “By end of this month, we will have the Russian government approval and the JV will be officially registered,” said Victor N Kladov, Director of International cooperation and regional policy of Rostec.
  • As per the deal worth over $1 billion, 60 helicopters will be imported from Russia and at least another 140 will be built in India by the HAL with technology transfer.
  • The final technological specifications of the helicopter have been sorted.
  • The HAL is setting up a new helicopter manufacturing facility at Tumakuru outside Bengaluru where the Kamov’s would be built in addition to other helicopters in its portfolio.
  • Russia expects the helicopter to function the same way as the JV for Brahmos cruise missile.
  • The Kamov-226T helicopters are meant to replace the aging and obsolete Cheetah and Chetak fleets of the Indian Armed Forces.
  • The number is expected to go beyond 200 given the requirement from the services.
  • India and Russia intend to export the Kamov-226T to third countries after meeting domestic requirement.

NEET mandatory for AYUSH streams

  • Students aspiring for a seat in any of the AYUSH streams (Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy) for 2017- 18 academic year will have to appear for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
  • NEET, the single entrance exam that began last year for medical and dental seats, will be applicable to other allied courses, the Central Council of Indian Medicine has said.

Aadhaar a must for scholarships

  • The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has made Aadhaar mandatory for providing scholarships to meritorious school students from economically weaker sections.
  • Students who want to avail scholarship benefits under ‘National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme’ need to get enrolled under Aadhaar by June 30.
  • The responsibility to collect Aadhaar from students or to authenticate them, as the case may be, shall be on the Principal of the School concerned, in coordination with parents or guardians of the children.
  • In 2015-16, around 2.05 lakh students were beneficiaries of the scheme, launched in 2008, aimed at arresting school dropouts at class VIII and encourage children to continue their studies at the secondary stage.
  • Scholarship of ₹ 500 per month is awarded to meritorious students every year for study in classes from IX to XII in State government, government-aided and local body schools.
  • Aadhaar has also been made mandatory for 12 scholarship schemes administered by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for Scheduled Caste, Other Backward Classes (OBC), economically backward classes and semi-nomadic and nomadic tribe students. Such students need to apply for Aadhaar by March 31.

Russia reset still on: US President Trump

  • S. President Donald Trump on 16 Feb reiterated that his push to reset the U.S. relations with Russia would continue regardless of the political blowback.
  • The new administration’s efforts to start afresh with Russia, which is considered an irreconcilable adversary by the U.S. security apparatus, has prompted a media outcry leading to the ouster of Michael Flynn as the National Security Advisor.
  • Trump said even if it is politically not good for him, he would like to get along with Russia.

Pakistan Security forces kill 100 suspected terrorists

  • Pakistani security forces on 17 Feb launched a major crackdown on militants, killing more than 100.
  • This operation comes a day after 88 people were killed in a suicide attack at a Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander at Sehwan in Sindh.
  • Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement that he has authorised armed forces and law enforcement agencies to “eliminate” the enemy.
  • Afghan Embassy officials were summoned to the military headquarters in Rawalpindi and handed over a list of 76 terrorists which Pakistan believe are hiding in Afghanistan.
  • Separately, Pakistan’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz told Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar over the phone that Jamat-ul-Ahrar, which accepted responsibility for the acts of terror, continued to operate from its sanctuaries in Afghanistan.
  • He added that Pakistan’s calls to Afghan officials regarding its existence went unheeded.

Apple to start iPhone manufacturing in India

  • Apple will, in the coming months, start assembling its lower-priced iPhone SE models at a contract manufacturer’s plant in Bengaluru.
  • Apple’s Taiwanese manufacturing partner Wistron Corp is setting up a plant in Bengaluru to focus solely on assembling iPhones.
  • Apple’s move comes as it seeks to boost its share in the world’s fastest growing major mobile market, where handsets far cheaper than Apple’s iPhones dominate. It also comes as smartphone sales growth is slowing in Asia’s other massive market, China.
  • To lower prices, Apple has been seeking to set up local production and has been in talks with the Indian federal government regarding issues such as tax concessions.
  • The initial manufacturing of the iPhone SE model was not contingent on those concessions.
  • Apple planned to initially assemble 300,000 to 400,000 iPhone SE handsets in India.
  • Apple shipped 2.5 million iPhones to India last year.

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 18 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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