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Insights Daily Current Events, November 12, 2013


Insights Magazine October 2013

November 12, 2013


Centre Govt. plans fresh headcount of Jats for job quota

  • The Centre would undertake a fresh survey to identify Jats in six States, taking into account variants in their surnames, for taking a call on including the community in the list of other backward classes (OBC) and bringing them within the ambit of reservation for Central jobs.

  • While the Centre is under pressure to announce Central reservation for the Jats ahead of the 2014 general elections, there has been opposition from the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) due to absence of any official survey on the community’s backward status.

  • The panel deems that Jats are members of a relatively well-off community and do not deserve inclusion in the job quota.

  • As a prelude to the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), the fresh headcount would identify the community’s exact numbers and ascertain community’s socio-economic status  in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Simultaneously, the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) will, on the NCBC’s directions, conduct a study on the socio-economic status of Jats in these States.

  • During consultations over the issue of reservation for the community, it was revealed that, owing to the different spellings of common Jat surnames and the use of ‘gotras’, there have been ambiguity on the numbers.

  • This new survey will address all these issues that have led to confusion in identifying the community members.


Developing world’s firm ‘no’ to market-based mechanism

  • Poland (the hosts for the U.N. Climate talks this year(2013)), and the EU have come in for some harsh opposition from many developing countries, including India, for promoting the idea that the talks must deliver a new carbon ‘market mechanism’ even before countries make their emission reduction targets.

What is the issue ?

  • Carbon markets help developed countries take credit for reduction of emissions carried out by poor countries by paying for the actions. The costs of paying the developing countries works out much lower for the rich nations in comparison with undertaking such actions in their highly developed economies.

  • Since the new emission reduction targets of the developed countries are not arrived at, and the current targets being much lower than those required- the market mechanism proposed is nothing but another loophole that the developed countries are vying at.

  • The Like Minded Developing Countries, of which India and China are key members,would not permit such a mechanism to be put in place before commitments of the developed countries are put forth and are sufficiently high to show their seriousness.

  • Bolivia has criticised Poland for pushing business interests at the climate talks.

  • Developing countries are also against involvement of businesses, industrial lobbies in consultations that have traditionally been held only between country representatives. Poland has come under severe criticism from the environmental lobby in Europe as well for promoting interests of the coal industry, the main stay of its (Poland) energy source.

Focus on ‘result-oriented’ initiatives at Asia-Europe Meeting

  • India has sought result-oriented initiatives by agreeing to work with like-minded ASEM members in areas with potential for tangible cooperation. A consensus has been drawn on these lines bringing about a change in the working methods of ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting).

  • According to the External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, the aim should be to take ASEM “into homes and offices of people across Asia and Europe and allow us to bring in members of civil society, business, media and Parliaments as our partners in strengthening it as a bridge between the two continents.”

  • In this respect, there has been a consensus among the senior officials in setting up of a Working Group on Press and Public Awareness Strategy and another on devising a road map for the 20th anniversary celebrations of ASEM in 2016.

  • According to Vice President Hamid Ansari,  ASEM should act as a forum for dialogue between the East and the West, should  be ‘relevant in situational terms’ i.e., relevant to the current challenges like sluggish economic growth and more sophisticated non-traditional security threats.

  • Dialogue is necessary because as the economic slowdown continues, emerging economies that were previously seen as the engines of economic growth have been compelled to take tough decisions, given the enormity of their developmental needs. The increasing sophistication of non-traditional security threats needs higher levels of comprehension and cooperation which can only be accomplished by dialogue.

  • Therefore, ASEM should be taken beyond a ‘forum for political dialogue only’; it should reach out to the people of Member States and create wider stake-holding amongst economic partners and civil society and invest its outcomes towards tangible deliverables .

  • ASEM has an unparalleled edge in terms of membership, capacity, economic influence, intellectual depth, strategic expertise and political leadership. Concrete steps must be taken to optimize this.

India’s plan for gas export to Pakistan runs into price issue wall

  • Though India has expressed its willingness to export gas to Pakistan(through a 110-km pipeline), there are certain issues raised by Pakistan. It has asked India to re-consider the high gas price on offer while India has sought sovereign payment guarantees.

  • LNG imports to India are in the range of $13-14 per million British thermal units, and after including customs or import duty, pipeline transport charges and local taxes, the delivered price will be close to $21. LNG would be gasified by the Indian side as Pakistan does not have an LNG import facility.

  • India has sought sovereign payment guarantees (three months payment and advance termination commitments) before signing a contract. The pipeline would start from Jalandhar in Punjab leading through Attari.

Iran to allow IAEA to visit Arak reactor, Gachin uranium mine

  • With the recent Geneva talks being stalled over the possible military applications of the Arak heavy water reactor, Iran has now opened a technical route to build confidence with the global powers.

  • In this respect, Iran has signed an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which would, for the first time, allow its inspectors to visit Arak. Iran’s transparency is meant to allay fears that were most publicly raised by France in Geneva, that the heavy water reactor in Arak could yield plutonium that can be used by Iran to manufacture atomic bombs.

  • To counter suspicions about their military intentions, the Iranians have also agreed to open up for inspections the Gachin uranium mine, to which the IAEA had also sought, but had been denied access, in the past.

  • According to Iran, the Arak heavy water reactor will use natural uranium to produce radio medicines to treat cancer patients. It is slated to replace the Tehran Research Reactor, which currently makes these medicines, using uranium as fuel that has been enriched to a 20%.

U.N. court rules on Cambodia-Thailand row

  • The International Court of Justice(ICJ) has ruled that the area around a flashpoint ancient temple on the Thai border belongs to Cambodia and that any Thai security forces should leave.

  • The U.N.’s top court has interpreted a 1962 ruling saying that “Cambodia had sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear”.

  • At least 28 people have been killed in outbreaks of violence since 2011 over the ownership of the patch of land next to the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

  • In 2012, the ICJ had ruled that both countries should withdraw forces from around the ancient Khmer temple, which is situated on a clifftop in Cambodia but is more easily accessed from the Thai side. Thailand does not dispute Cambodia’s ownership of the temple, a Unesco World Heritage site, but both sides laid claim to an adjacent 4.6-square-km piece of land.

Courtesy –Hindu Newspaper

More about International Court of Justice (ICJ)

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.

  • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).

  • The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

  • The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.

Courtesy – ICJ website

Syria polio outbreak traced to Pakistan

  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the recent polio outbreak in Syria has originated from Pakistan. It is said that 3 cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) have been confirmed in the Syrian Arab Republic; WPV1 had not been detected in the Syrian since 1999.

  • Genetic sequencing indicated that the isolated viruses are most closely linked to virus detected in environmental samples in Egypt in December 2012, which in turn had been linked to wild poliovirus circulating in Pakistan. Closely related wild poliovirus strains have also been detected in environmental samples in Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip since February 2013.

  • According to WHO, Pakistan was responsible for the international spread in 2011 and the virus from Pakistan caused an outbreak in western China.

To know more about Polio virus – refer our ‘October Insights Current Event Analysis magazine -2013’)


Efforts on to resolve price row in KG D6 field with Reliance Industries

  • The Petroleum Ministry is planning to approach the Union Cabinet to allow Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) to double the price of gas from the KG D6 fields, provided it gives a bank guarantee, which can be encashed in case it is proved by experts later that the company is hoarding gas in the block.

  • The Petroleum Ministry had proposed that RIL be forced to sell gas from D1 and D3 gas fields in the KG-D6 block at the current rate of $4.2 per mmBtu (million metric British thermal unit) till it was proved that the over 80 % fall output was due to natural reasons, or the company made up for producing less than the target since 2010-11.

Criticism over this approach:

  • However, according to legal experts, it would be difficult for the government to make up for the difference between the current rate and the new rate (likely to be around $8 per mmBtu plus for all domestic gas from April 1, 2014) if at a later date it was proved that the fall in output was actually due to geological reasons.

  • Also verification of RIL’s claims through arbitration or appointment of expert panel would take a long time, and could cast uncertainty over the whole matter.

Possible Solutions:

  • Hence it would be better to charge a higher price for the consumers and pay $4.2 mmbtu to RIL and keep the balance in an escrow account (collateral account)till things are cleared.

  • However, the production sharing contracts (PSC) have no such provision for escrow accounts.

  • The other option would be to allow RIL to charge the increased price provided the company gives a bank guarantee (the amount to be decided by the Union Cabinet), which could be encashed if the charge of hoarding gas is proved.


  • The gas output from the D1 and D3 fields has fallen to 10 million standard cubic metres per day (mscmd) from the peak of 54 mscmd achieved in March, 2010. Production has been lower than the target since the latter half of 2010-11, and it should have now been 80 mscmd as per the 2006 investment plan. Production from MA oil and gas field in the same KG-D6 block, too, has fallen by over 62 %, but the Petroleum Ministry and the Director General of Hydrocarbons have agreed with RIL’s reasoning of geological complexity being responsible for the same, and has approved the higher price for the same from April, 2014.

More ultra mega solar plants on anvil

  • With states like Madhya Pradesh making rapid strides in solar energy generation, more than four ultra mega solar power plants could come up.

  • The objective was to bring down the cost of solar energy to Rs.5.50 per unit, and this could only be possible through ultra mega solar power plants.

  • The first ultra mega solar plant would come up near Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan, followed by the second one in Gujarat.Two more such plants would come up at Kargil and Ladhak with a capacity of 2,000 MW and 5,000 MW, respectively.


An opportunity to strengthen CBI & make it functionally autonomous body

  • CBI’s working has come under constant criticism from the State Govt.  the High court,  Supreme Court, political leaders criticizing it for being an affiliate of the Government in power and having a biased approach.

  • Earlier in 2013, the Supreme Court described the CBI as a ‘caged parrot’. More recently the CBI was in news, as the Gauhati High Court had questioned CBI’s legal validity and seeked it’s termination. According to the High Court CBI’s existence was based on a mere executive instruction with no sanction from the Cabinet or assent from the President.

  • CBI was constituted by a resolution of the Union Home Ministry in 1963. And since its setup it has taken over the responsibilities and functions of the Special Police Establishment (SPE), formed in 1941 under the War Department to curb corruption. SPE had got statutory status under the Delhi SPE Act, 1946.

Lack of clarity on CBI’s legal status:

  • The absence of a clear legal link between the establishment of the CBI and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the law under which the agency has been functioning for half a century, is indeed an irresistible point of law that was bound to be raised.

  • On these lines, there could be some merit in the contention that the CBI’s legal basis was not clear. The High Court could have highlighted any legal infirmity it found and sought the government’s views on how this issue could be solved. Instead it has outrightly rejected CBI’s very existence.

Way forward:

  • Now, the onus is on the Supreme Court to decide whether to accept the CBI’s legality as a fact established by five decades of existence and functioning with judicial recognition, and how any infirmity, if it exists can be solved.

  • It has been generally assumed that the CBI is synonymous with the SPE. The constitutional basis for the CBI’s formation is traceable to Entry 8 in the Union List, ‘Central Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence’.

  • This should be seen as an opportunity to provide a firmer statutory framework for the CBI, one that grants it the functional autonomy that the Supreme Court mandated in the Vineet Narain case in 1997.

  • The Lokpal Bill, which is stalled due to political disagreement despite being passed in the Lok Sabha, also provides for measures to insulate graft investigation from interference and envisages an independent role for the CBI under the Lokpal’s supervision. Strengthening this bill and ensuring its early adoption would be the right course to grant functional autonomy to CBI and safeguarding its existence.