Daily Analysis

An in-depth analysis of the best and most relevant editorials of the day from the best dailies known for civil services preparation.

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS,12th March 2019

India is world’s 2nd largest arms importer

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indigenisation of technology and developing new technology.

Image result for India is world’s 2nd largest arms importer

Why in News?

  • India has ceded it’s long held tag as largest importer to Saudi Arabia and settled to world’s second largest arms importer from 2014-18.
  • India accounted for 12% of the total imports during that period. 

Published by?

This report was published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 

Declining trend

Delays in deliveries of arms produced under licence from foreign suppliers like combat aircraft ordered from Russia in 2001 and submarines ordered from France in 2008. 

Russia – the big brother for India

  • Russia accounted for 58% of Indian arms imports in 2014–18, compared with 76% in 2009-13.
  • Israel, the U.S. and France all increased their arms exports to India in 2014-18.
  • However, the Russian share in Indian imports is likely to sharply go up for the next five-year period as India signed several big-ticket deals recently, and more are in the pipeline.
  • These include S-400 air defence systems, four stealth frigates, AK-203 assault rifles, a second nuclear attack submarine on lease, and deals for Kamov-226T utility helicopters, Mi-17 helicopters and short-range air defence systems. 

Where others stand?

  • The report noted that despite the long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan, arms imports decreased for both countries in 2014-18 compared with 2009-13.
  • Pakistan stood at the 11th position accounting for 2.7% of all global imports. (70% of its imports were from China).
  • The five largest exporters in 2014-18 were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China together accounting for 75% of the total volume of arms exports in 2014-18. 
  • The flow of arms increased to the Middle East between 2009-13 and 2014-18, while there was a decrease in flows to all other regions.
  • China, which has emerged as a major arms exporter, has increased its share by 2.7% for 2014-18 compared to 2009-13. (Its biggest customers are Pakistan and Bangladesh.)

Source: The Hindu.

Excavations in Kutch shed light on early Harappan custom

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

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Why in News?

Kerala Varsity students and teachers who undertook archaeological excavations in Kutch (Gujarat) have shed light on the custom and burial rituals that were prevalent during the Harappan phase. 

Background

The team had camped in Khatiya village for a month and a half unearthing several skeletal remains from a cemetery like burial site where 26 graves out of the nearly 300 odd ones were excavated. 

What were the findings?

  • The graves were of rectangular shapes with varying dimensions.
  • They were assembled using stones.
  • The skeletons were placed with orientation from east – west with the heads positioned on the eastern side.
  • Next to the legs on the western side were found the earthen pots and pottery shards along with other artefacts like conch shell bangles, beads made of stones and terracotta.
  • They also found numerous lithic tools and grinding stones.
  • The burials strengthens the belief in the concept of after life.
  • The presence of animal skeletons along with those of humans were also recorded in a few graves.
  • There was trade network as evidences of mud pots bore similarities with those that were unearthed from other Harappan sites in Kot Diji, Amri and Nal in Pakistan, Nagwada, Santhali, Moti Pipli and Ranod in North Gujarat, and Surkotada and Dhaneti in Kutch.

Source: The Hindu.

India Urban Observatory & Video Wall Inaugurated in MOHUA

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies.

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Why in News?

The state of art India Urban Observatory and Video Wall has been launched by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. 

Understanding Urban Observatory

  • Urban Observatory platform uses data from different sources to enable analysis and visualization over a geospatial platform.
  • The concept of Urban Observatories was formally initiated at the UN Habitat – II Conference in 1997 in Istanbul.
  • These platforms churn out interesting analyses and visualizations by collating massive datasets.
  • Global Urban Observatory network, the Dublin Dashboard and the City Dashboard of London are some of the examples.

About India Urban Observatory

  • This forms an important component of the recently launched Data Smart Cities strategy that envisions creating a ‘Culture of Data’ in cities, for intelligent use of data in addressing complex urban challenges.
  • Making cities ‘DataSmart’ is key to realizing the full potential of technology interventions and innovation ecosystems in cities.
  • The Data Smart Cities Policy allows cities to open their data to public view, such as number of hospitals, gardens, people, public toilets and other city management.
  • It will be a separate portal for Smart Cities under the data.gov website.

Source: PIB.

RBI eases business guidelines for White label ATMs

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Mobilization of resources.

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Why in News?

  • The RBI has relaxed norms for white label ATM (WLA) operators.
  • All guidelines, safeguards, standards and control measures applicable to banks relating to currency handling and cyber-security framework for ATMs shall also be applicable to the WLA operators, the RBI said.

About White label ATMs

  • Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) set up, owned and operated by non-bank entities are called WLAs.
  • They provide the banking services to the customers of banks in India, based on the cards (debit/credit/prepaid) issued by banks.
  • Non-bank entities that set up, own and operate ATMs are called “White Label ATM Operators” (WLAO).
  • The WLAO’s role is confined to acquisition of transactions of all banks’ customers by establishing technical connectivity with the existing authorized, shared ATM and Card Payment Network Operators.

Relaxations

  • The RBI has been decided to allow WLAs to buy wholesale cash, above a threshold of 1 lakh pieces (and in multiples thereof) of any denomination, directly from the RBI.
  • The RBI also permitted WLA operators to source cash from any bank, including cooperatives and regional rural banks.
  • They are also being allowed to source cash from any scheduled bank, including cooperative banks and regional rural banks and to offer bill payment and Interoperable Cash Deposit services, subject to technical feasibility and certification by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • RBI has also allowed WLA operators to display advertisements pertaining to non-financial products or services anywhere within the WLA premises, including the ATM screen, except the main signboard.

Source: Times of India. 

Sundarbans Wetlands

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Image result for 2. Sundarbans Wetlands map

Why in News?

  • Indian Sundarbans were accorded the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention on January 30th.
  • Indian Sundarbans comprises of hundreds of islands and a network of rivers, tributaries and creeks in the delta of Ganga and Brahmaputra at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh. 

About Sundarbans

  • It is located on the south western part of the delta and Indian Sundarbans constitutes over 60% of the country’s total Mangrove forest area.
  • It is the 27th Ramsar site in India.
  • It has an area of 4,23,000 hectares .
  • It is now the largest protected wetland in the country.
  • Indian Sundarbans is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • It is home to 
    • Royal Bengal Tiger, 
    • Critically endangered northern river terrapin
    • Endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin
    • Vulnerable Fishing Cat 

Which Criteria of RAMSAR was met by Sundarbans?

  • Presence of rare species and threatened ecological communities
  • Biological diversity
  • Significant and representative fish
  • Fish spawning ground and migration path

Source: The Hindu.

A SWIFT response could have saved Banks :RBI

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

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Why in News?

RBI had cautioned the banks about the possible misuse of the SWIFT infrastructure and had directed them to implement safeguards much before the scam came to the light at the PNB in 2018.

Understanding SWIFT

  • It is the global messaging software that enables financial entities to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardised and reliable environment.
  • Messages sent by SWIFT’s customers are authenticated using its specialised security and identification technology.
  • These messages remain in the protected SWIFT environment, subject to all its confidentiality and integrity commitments until they are safely delivered to the receiver.
  • It does not facilitate funds transfer, rather it sends payment orders that must be settled by correspondent accounts that institutions have with each other.
  • On receiving this message through SWIFT, banks abroad, mostly branches of domestic banks abroad provide funds to the company.

Source: The Hindu. 

National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Image result for 4. National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage to drive clean, connected, shared and sustainable mobility initiatives in the country.
  • It also approved a Phased Manufacturing Program to support large-scale, export-competitive integrated batteries and cell-manufacturing giga plants in India, to localize production across the electric vehicles value chain.

About the mission

  • It entails creation of a phased manufacturing programme (PMP) valid for five years till 2024 to support setting up of a few large scale, export competitive integrated batteries and cell manufacturing Giga plants in India.
  • To implement gigawatt-scale battery manufacturing, a National Storage Mission will initially focus on large-scale module and pack assembly plants during the fiscal year that starts next month, followed by integrated cell manufacturing by 2021-22.
  • It will prepare a roadmap for India to leverage its size to produce innovative, competitive multi-modal mobility solutions to be deployed globally.

Highlights

  • India has a significant market potential for batteries and electric vehicles.
  • Electric vehicles are creating a big demand and due to this demand, the cost of batteries will further come down.
  • IESA estimates the market for energy storage would grow to over 300 GWh during 2018-25.
  • It is working with various EV and charging infrastructure companies through its MOVE – Moving Onwards with Vehicle Electrification – initiative to catalyze the adoption, through indigenous manufacturing, of EV components.
  • Currently, more than ten companies are engaged in module and li-ion pack assembly in India and we expect four to five large companies to enter cell manufacturing in the next two to three years.
  • With appropriate policy support through this mission, Indian companies will be able to diversify into energy storage business.
  • The Supreme Court judgment, however, rejected the appeals filed by Mantri Techzone Pvt. Ltd. and Core Mind Software and Services Pvt. Ltd. against the tribunal’s conclusions that their constructions were illegal and encroached upon water bodies in Bengaluru.
  • “There is a definite possibility of environment, ecology, lakes, and wetland being adversely affected by these projects,” Justice Nazeer wrote about the levelling of ecologically fragile land between Bellandur and Agara lakes to host techno parks, hotels and parking lots for over 14,000 vehicles.
  • The NGT had ordered the demolition of “all the offending constructions” raised by the companies, including any kind of boundary walls.

Source: The Hindu.

Map of the Day

Plate Tectonics Map

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Quote of the Day

“Pain is certain, suffering is optional” – Gautama Buddha. 

Mains Answer Writing

1.Write a note on the salient features of Harappan Civilization which has its significance even today.
2.What do you understand by Urban Observatory Platforms and Explain the importance of Urban Observatory Platforms.
3.Discuss the differences between White label and Brown label ATMs.

Test your Knowledge

1. Consider the following statements:

1.Harappan graves were of square shapes.
2.The skeletons were placed with orientation from west – east.
3.The burials strengthens the belief in the concept of after life.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

[A] 1 only

[B] 3 only

[C] Both 1 and 2

[D] Neither of the above

2. Which of the following is not a Harappan site?

[A] Moti Pipli 

[B] Kot Diji 

[C] Bhimbetka

[D] Dhaneti

3. Consider the following statements ;

1.Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) set up, owned and operated by non-bank entities are called WLAs.
2.They provide the banking services to the customers of banks in India, based on the cards (debit/credit/prepaid) issued by banks.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

[A] 1 only

[B] 2 only

[C] Both 1 and 2

[D] Neither 1 and 2

4. The military imports and exports by countries report was released by

[A] IUCN  

[B] OPEC

[C] SIPRI 

[D] IMF

5. S-400 which is in news recently is a?

[A] Stealth frigate

[B] Assault rifle

[C] Air defence systems

[D] Nuclear attack submarines

Answers

1.B 2.C 3.C 4.C 5.C