CURRENT AFFAIRS - THE TEN BULLET CORNER (for DSSC- Sep 16)
My interaction with young aspirants for DSSC Entrance Test in April 2016 at Shillong was very rewarding and interesting. It was a pleasure interacting with 200+ officers and discussing current affairs and some other subjects during my short visit. Many officers have kept in touch with me ever since and I feel inspired. In response to numerous messages and mails for guidance, I devised this method to post the ‘Ten Bullet Corner’ online in our new Blog…. A pleasant way to start the new initiative, even though it isn’t really a blog! It’s just a mere guide, a promise kept, and I sincerely hope the young officers benefit from the content put together by our editorial team.
Do look out for some meaningful issues and discussions on this blog in the days to come – Editor.
- Syrian Conflict
- Turkey Coup
- Thailand Referendum
- South China Sea Arbitration
- Baluchistan Issue
- Rio Olympics
- India’s NSG Bid
- GST Bill
- Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
- Raghuram Rajan
- NJAC and the Collegium
- Liberalised FDI Norms
NOTE :- The Bangladesh terror Attack, CPEC and detailed background of the South China Sea issue are covered in the Jul- Aug 2016 issue. Available on this website.
- Pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011 in the southern city of Deraa after security forces opened fire on demonstrators and these escalated to full scale war.
- The conflict has become a sectarian one between the country's Sunni majority and the president's Shia Alawite sect.
- Islamic State (IS) has taken advantage of the situation to expand its footprint and committed many crimes.
- 4.5 million people have fled Syria since the start of the conflict, most of them women and children and 6.5 million people are internally displaced in Syria.
- Syria’s neighbours are facing the largest refugee exodus in recent history on account of this war.
- Around 10% refugees are heading for Europe causing disputes in European nations on who should take how many.
- A quarter of a million Syrians have been killed.
- Iran and Russia support the Alawite-led government of President Assad.
- The Sunni-dominated opposition has varying degrees of support from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, US, UK and France.
- Opposition groups involved in the conflict are deeply divided, with rival alliances battling for supremacy.
- On 15 July 2016, there was an attempted coup in Turkey. The attempt was carried out by a group within the Armed Forces that called themselves the Peace at Home Council.
- They were defeated by forces loyal to the state and the coup failed.
- Social media played a major role in foiling this attempt. It was easier for people to be informed about the spots where the plotters were and where to head to help people in where coup forces had gathered.
- One of the reasons for the failure was also the confusion amongst the plotters- the coup was launched six hours before schedule on account of leakage of the plot.
- Another reason is the inability to neutralise those in authority including the President
- The government said that the coup leaders were linked to the Gülen movement—an organisation designated as terrorist by the Turkish government and led by Fethullah Gülen, who is in exile.
- During the coup, over 300 people were killed and more than 2,100 were injured.
- Wide ranging crackdown by Government, post-coup.
- On 23 July, the Turkish president, Erdoğan, signed an emergency decree that allowed for the closure of institutions linked to the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen.
- In total, 4,262 institutions have been shut down. 40,000 persons have been detained of which almost half have been arrested and thousands including judges, civil servants, soldiers and teachers have been suspended.
- The military junta came to power in Thailand through a coup in May 2014 and revoked the constitution.
- A constitutional referendum was held in Thailand on 7 August 2016 on the basis of a charter which offered only half-baked democracy. Approved by 61%.
- Aim was clearly to tighten military rule in Thailand.
- Political parties are expected to dissolve themselves and reform, which may end up with smaller parties.
- The new voting system will make it harder for larger parties to win an overall majority and more likely to form a coalition.
- The new government will be subject to supervision by the unelected Senate, as well as other constitutional bodies.
- Impeachment will be easier and it is possible that a non-member of parliament become a prime minister if there is a deadlock.
- Future governments also required to adhere to 20-year plan of the military.
- The military will remain a significant actor in Thai politics for many years, and will stay in power until the royal succession has been completed.
Now that the junta’s constitution has passed, it is to be seen whether it makes good on promised elections in 2017.
- A referendum was held on 23 June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU Union. Vote was for Exit -52% to 48%.
- Scotland voted against the exit and may now go in for a second referendum on independence from UK
- The EU Union is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries.
- It has evolved into a "single market" allowing goods and people to move around.
- It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries.
- or UK to exit from the EU it has to invoke an agreement called Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives the two sides two years to finalise the arrangements for the divorce.
- It is assumed that the country could formally sever its relationship with the EU by December 2018.\The terms of exit will have to be agreed by 27 national parliaments.
- EU law still stands in the UK until it ceases being a member. The UK will continue to abide by EU treaties and laws, but not take part in any decision-making.
- The status of EU nationals currently living in the UK will depend on reciprocity from other EU members about British nationals.
South China Sea Arbitration
- It is a dispute over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, and the Paracels and the Spratlys - two island chains claimed in whole or in part by a number of countries.
- Apart from China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam also have overlapping claims to the South China Sea, a key shipping lane rich in mineral and marine resources.
- China has backed its expansive claims with island-building and naval patrols.
- China prefers bilateral negotiations to resolve the issue.
- The Philippines sought international arbitration in Jan 2013.
- On 12 July 2016, the tribunal gave a verdict in favour of Philippines.
- China had boycotted the proceedings and has rejected the decision
- The verdict in favour of Philippines in the case is considered path breaking (on account of status of some islands declared by the Tribunal) and a bad defeat for China.
- Taiwan whose claims are similar to China has denounced the judgement especially the judgement that Taiping/Itu Aba was not an island.
- China has taken a belligerent stance post the judgement and Philippines says that they are also ready to go to war.
- Baluchistan region, covers Baluchistan in Pakistan and areas in adjoining Iran and Afghanistan.
- The Baluchistan conflict is guerrilla war being waged by Baloch nationalists against Pakistan and Iran.
- The Baloch people want greater autonomy, more royalties from natural resources and provincial revenue and also speak of an independent nation.
- In Pakistan there were earlier insurgencies but the current one which began in 2003 is far more widespread. In Iran the rebellion started in 2005 but has not gained as much ground.
- This insurgency in Pakistan gained strength in sync with the worsening situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
- Attacks against the Shia community by sectarian groups, even though not connected to political events have risen in the past few years thus increasing tensions.
- There have been attacks on important establishments of the Pakistani government, including the military cantonment in Quetta.
- In spite of housing vast natural resources, Baluchistan is one of Pakistan's poorest regions.
- The Baluchistan Liberation Army is the most widely-known Baloch separatist group. Other separatist groups include Lashkar-e-Baluchistan and the Baloch Liberation United Front.
- India’s PM has recently raised the Baluchistan issue. Pakistan feels cornered and is feeling the pinch as it somewhat counters Pakistan’s active support to militants in J&K and elsewhere.
- Indian Army’s restraint in J&K and Pakistan Army’s use of excessive force in Baluchistan including use of Artillery guns and gunships is a case study in contrast.
- 31st Summer Olympics held in Rio-de-Janeiro.
- Vinicius, named after Brazilian lyricist Vinicius de Moraes, is the Olympic mascot. Vinicius's design represents Brazilian wildlife, combining "the agility of cats, sway of monkeys and grace of birds.
- 11000 athletes from 205 countries participated in 42 events.
- India’s show was poor, standing 67th in the overall medal’s tallydespite the largest contingent ever. Qualifications for Olympics is the silver line in an otherwise lack lustre performance. PM Modi has announced an action plan for podium finish for next three Olympics.
- India won a silver medal in badminton (P V Sindhu) and a bronze in wrestling (Sakshi Malik)
- Michael Phelps won 5 golds and a silver taking his overall Olympics medal tally to 28 including 23 gold
- Usain Bolt won 3 golds in the 100m, 200m and 4X100m relay races. Triple- triple for him making him one of the greatest sports icons.
- India’s Dipa Karmakar did well in gymnastics, finished fourth in Vaulting horse.
- 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo.
India’s NSG Bid
- NPT was signed in 1968 to prevent spread of nuclear materials, technology and weapons and to develop co-operation among the nations.
- India did not sign as it would have to dismantle all nuclear weapons and place them under international safeguards.
- NSG - formed by 48 nuclear supplying countries to ensure nuclear trade for peaceful purposes and non-proliferation after nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974 by India.
- India has been trying to get into NSG since 2008.
- India is being backed by United States, Switzerland and Mexico for its membership. It is being opposed by China and several other nations like New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan.
- If India becomes a member it will have better international market for export as well as for import of nuclear related materials.
- For building nuclear reactors for energy, we need nuclear materials. By becoming a member of NSG India will have access to sophisticated foreign technologies.
- By becoming a member India can also sell Indigenous technology.
- Opposition is on account of India being non signatory to NPT. China feels that if India is made a member, other non NPT states like Pakistan should also be made members.
- NSG plenary session in Seoul in end June remained inconclusive with opposition to India’s bid stalling India’s application.
- The Constitution- One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment Bill, 2014- was passed by Parliament in Aug 2016.
- It took several years for the bill to be tabled and passed due to glitches on account of varying views.
- The Bill amends the Constitution to introduce the goods and services tax (GST) and is required to be ratified by 16 states. As on 23 Aug. 16, six states had ratified the same.
- The GST regime aims at creating a single tax on manufacture, sale and consumption by subsuming all indirect taxes being levied at present. Govt of India is keen for the bill to come into effect on 01 Apr. However, this may be delayed.
- The GST Council, consisting of the Union Finance Minister, Union Minister of State for Revenue, and state Finance Ministers will spell out rates of tax and dispute resolution etc.
- Alcohol and petroleum products are exempt.
- Parliament may, by law, provide compensation to states for any loss of revenue from the introduction of GST, up to a five-year period.
- Will enhance compliance and harmonise variations of taxes being levied by different states.
- However, some provisions of this Bill detract from an ideal GST regime. Deferring the levy of GST on five petroleum products could lead to cascading of taxes.
- The additional 1% tax levied on goods that are transported across states dilutes the objective of creating a harmonised national market for goods and services.
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
- This is a nuclear power station situated in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
- It is a joint Russia-India project.
- Project started in 2002. Delays on accounts of various reasons
- Estimated investment cost to India is approximately INR 13650 crores
- The first unit at Kudankulam, went critical in July 2013 and, was connected to the southern power grid on October that year.
- The second unit attained criticality in Jul 2016.
- Second unit dedicated to the nation by PM on 10 Aug 2016
- Second unit is to be connected to southern grid by end Aug 2016
- Plans afoot to expedite work on third and fourth units.
- The project will greatly upgrade the production of clean energy in India.
- He is an Indian economist and the 23rd Governor of RBI.
- Was appointed Governor by UPA II in 2013.
- He was chief economist at the International Monetary Fund from 2003 to 2007.
- Was a professor in Chicago University before becoming Governor of RBI.
- Three-year tenure ends in Sep 2016. Government apparently was not keen to offer second tenure.
- Has been seen to be opposed to some views of the Government on the economy and an outspoken man.
- Refused to lower interest rates so that inflation could be curbed. This was not liked by many business houses.
- Urjit Patel, a Dy Governor with RBI will take over from Raghuram Rajan
NJAC and the Collegium
- The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) is a constitutional body proposed to replace the present Collegium system of appointing judges.
- Collegium system is one where the Chief Justice of India and four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court recommend appointments and transfers of judges.
- However, it has no place in the Indian Constitution.
- The system came into being through Supreme Court judgments in the Three Judges Cases (October 28, 1998)
- The Central Government feels that it has created an internal empire of the Supreme Court.
- The NJAC was established by amending the Constitution [Constitution (Ninety-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2014]
- The NJAC Act and the Constitutional Amendment Act came into force from April 13, 2015.
- NJAC will consist of six people — the Chief Justice of India, the two most senior judges of the Supreme Court, the Law Minister, and two ‘eminent persons’.
- The Supreme Court has rejected the NJAC Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment.
- In consequence, a standoff between the Government and Judiciary continues.
Liberalised FDI Norms
- The Union Government liberalized the FDI regime on 20 Jun 2016.
- This is the second major reform in FDI after November 2015.
- Now most of the sectors would be under automatic approval route.
- Accordingly, the Government has decided to introduce a number of amendments in the FDI Policy.
- There will be 100% FDI under government approval route for trading, including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured or produced in India.
- FDI in defense will be up to 100%
- Currently FDI regime permits 49% FDI participation in defence in the equity of a company under automatic route.
- FDI above 49% is now permitted through Government approval if it brings in modern technology.
- The new policy will also impact the civil aviation, pharmaceutical, animal husbandry and private security agencies.
- FDI in each of these will have their own stipulations