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Daily Hindu notes for UPSC IAS preparation

General Studies-02

Gujarat HC rejects Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging lower court order upholding clean chit to Modi

News:

  • The Gujarat High Court on Thursday, October 5 dismissed the plea of Zakia Jafri, wife of slain ex-MP Ehsan Jafri, callenging the Secial Ivestigation Team’s clean chit to Narendra Modi and others pertaining to “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 riots in which more than 1000 people were massacred in Gujarat.

Beyond News:

  • The court upheld the magisterial court’s verdict, accepting the Supreme Court-appointed SIT’s closure report giving clean chit to the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others, citing lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them.
  • However, the court has held that the petitioner Zakia, whose ex parliamentarian husband late Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 people massacred in Gulbarg society during the 2002 riots, can either approach the trial court or the Apex Court seeking reinvestigation into her allegations against the accused.

No Indian troops in Afghanistan because of Pak. considerations, says US

  • US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said that India’s decision not to send its troops to Afghanistan was in view of Pakistan’s considerations as this would bring in new complexities in the region.

Open border trade between India, Pakistan

  • The defence secretary insisted that an open border trade between India and Pakistan would help in bringing regional stability.
  • Stability can follow economics as much as stability enables economics & they will eventually see that happen.
  • New Delhi has been generous over many years with Afghanistan.
  • Because of its very generous funding over the years, India has achieved a degree of affection from the Afghan people as a result.
  • Furthermore, they are providing training for Afghan military officers and NCOs at their schools.”

Rehabilitation of Soviet-era equipment

  • India, is willing to do rehabilitation of Soviet-era equipment until they are replaced with American. That will take years.
  • Furthermore, India has been providing and will continue to provide training for Afghan Army doctors and medics in the field so that the Afghan Army is able to take casualties and better sustain themselves thing, he said.
  • Mattis said there are many areas where India and the US are natural partners for each other.
  • The two countries,are deepening and broadening the military-to-military relationship.

Chinese troops still present in Doklam: Air Chief

  • China, held military exercises every year in summer and so their forces were closeby when the Doklam standoff happened.
  • The Air Chief said the possibility of a two-front war remains low but the Indian Air Force has adequate capability to tackle threats despite a shortage of fighter jets.
  • With Pakistan the IAF was more than matched while with China it was adequate.
  • Despite a shortage of fighter jets, the service had plan B to optimise the existing resources and was adequate to tackle any threats.
  • “By 2032, we will reach 42 squadrons. With whatever numbers we have, we are capable of executing operations as we speak,” he said.

VVPAT to be tested in State during Nanded civic poll

News:

  • The State Election Commission on Wednesday said Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines would be used in ward no. 2 during the elections on October 11 to the Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC).

Beyond News:

  • VVPAT machines were used in all 40 Assembly constituencies in Goa during the elections held recently, in 33 Assembly segments in Punjab and for the Bawana bypoll in New Delhi.
  • Political parties, especially the Aam Adami Party (AAP), has been demanding VVPAT machines, which they say will bring in transparency.
  • In October 2013, the Supreme Court had directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to begin using VVPAT machines in a phased manner in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
  • To adhere to the SC order, the State Election Commission has introduced the machines for the Nanded civic polls.

General Studies-03

{Op-Ed}Steadying hand: On RBI’s monetary statement

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee has since inception retained its unwavering focus on its primary remit: the preservation of price stability.
  • It follows then that the central bank’s rate-setting panel opted to leave benchmark interest rates unchanged and retain a neutral stance to achieve the medium-term target of keeping Consumer Price Index inflation close to 4% on a durable basis, while supporting growth.
  • The uncertainty posed by the prospects of weaker-than-anticipated kharif crop output and the impact this may have on food prices, and the concerns agitating policymakers will be evident.

CPI inflation has risen by around two percentage points since the MPC’s last meeting in August: from 1.46% in June 2017, to a provisional 3.36% in August.

  • The overwhelming majority of the MPC’s six members saw little choice but to hold rates; there was a solitary dissent vote for a 25 basis points cut.
  • The RBI’s policymakers simultaneously raised their inflation projection for the second half of the current fiscal to a 4.2-4.6% range and cut the estimate for real Gross Value Added growth this year to 6.7%, from the August forecast of 7.3%.
  • Reiterating the urgent imperative to “reinvigorate investment activity” to spur growth, the MPC has laid the onus squarely on the government’s shoulders: from suggesting the recapitalisation of stressed state-owned lenders, to calling for further simplification of the GST regime and urging that stalled public sector investment projects be restarted.

Coal-fired projections: on the draft energy policy

  • The NITI Aayog’s Draft National Energy Policy (DNEP) predicts that between now and 2040, there will be a quantum leap in the uptake of renewable energy together with a drastic reduction in fossil fuel energy intensity.
  • Because of economic and population growth, India’s annual per-capita electricity consumption is expected to triple, from 1075 kWh in 2015-16 to over 2900 kWh in 2040.
  • The DNEP assumes 100% electrification throughout India in the near term — Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that the government will invest $2.5 billion to provide electricity connections to every home in India by the end of 2018 — and steadily improving energy efficiency.
  • But the DNEP fails to consider several critical issues involved in the ongoing energy transition.

Based on coal

  • The DNEP does not say what would be the fate of new allottees of coal mines which have bid aggressively and won rights to mine coal for captive power generation.
  • Generation of power is licence free under the Electricity Act of 2003, so private miners do not need any licence to set up generating plants. All they need is a connection to the grid.
  • Since the grid is State-owned, the Central government has adequate leverage to defer or delay connections.
    In the past three years, with slow industrial growth, independent coal producers have been faced with reduced demand for their power.
  • The conventional power industry already suffers a high level of bank loan defaults, insolvency and other legal proceedings.

An electric future

  • The DNEP fails to highlight the gradual substitution of internal combustion engines with electric vehicles.
  • Several European nations have announced their plans to go for 100% electric vehicles in the next two decades.
  • This transformation in the automobile sector could be accompanied by grid- and consumer-level electricity storage at homes, offices and factories.
  • While storage and electric vehicles are cursorily mentioned, the DNEP does not focus on these crucial subjects.

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