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27 May, 2020

37 Min Read

GS-II : Indian Polity Supreme court
Impeachment of a SC judge

Impeachment of a SC judge

Recently four Supreme Court judges went public with charges against Chief Justice of India. According to constitution a judge of the SC can be removed from his office by an order of the president. The president can issue the removal order only after an address by parliament has been presented to him in the same session for such removal.

The address must be supported by special majority of each house of the parliament (i.e. a majority of the total membership of that house and a majority of not less than 2/3rd of the members of that house present and voting). Article 124 (4) specifies the grounds of removal as proved misbehaviour or incapacity. So far no SC judge has been impeached in India.

Source: Polity book

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GS-II : International Relations China-USA
US-China new Cold War

US-China new Cold War


The prospects of a trade war between China and the western economies ratcheted as Beijing accused the US of pushing relations towards a “new cold war”.

Trade war

  • Even before the coronavirus outbreak became a pandemic, the trade ceasefire between the United States and China was fragile at best.
  • A "phase one" deal reached in January only reduced some of the tariffs each side had placed on the other, while allowing Beijing to avoid additional taxes on almost $160 billion worth of goods. China also committed to buying an additional $200 billion of US goods and services this year and next.
  • Earlier this month, Trump, who has claimed without providing evidence that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, hinted that the United States could enact more tariffs on China as punishment for the pandemic.
  • The US Commerce Department prevented the Chinese tech firm Huawei from manufacturing and obtaining semiconductor chips using American-made software and technology — a move that inhibits the company's ability to work with its suppliers.
  • In response China, hinted that Beijing could soon retaliate against Washington and its decision to restrict Huawei's ability to manufacture and obtain semiconductor chips by unveiling a long-rumored blacklist of foreign companies. American firms including Apple (AAPL), Qualcomm (QCOM), Cisco (CSCO) and Boeing (BA) could face restrictions on doing business in China.
  • Even before the pandemic, economists and experts warned that a worsening relationship between the two countries could stifle the development of artificial intelligence and super-fast 5G mobile networks.
  • Further, there'll be currency wars and devaluation, stagflation leading to job losses and higher unemployment and more importantly, the possibility of a contagion effect, or what we call a reactionary effect, leading to a cascade of other trade distortionary measures may be adopted by others.

Issue on Hong Kong

Over the past few months, Hong Kong, a former British colony and now a special administrative region under Chinese sovereignty, has emerged on the radar of the United States. USA Is cautioned about the sustainability of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” (OCTS) model. Hong Kong, the region’s autonomy has been “diminished” in consequence of China’s interventions, though it the proposed Extradition Bill, which, when passed, will authorize the Hong Kong government to extradite people to China and put an end to Hong Kong’s 178 year-long separate legal jurisdiction and the recent National Security bill.

U.S. Interests in Hong Kong

  • The U.S. presence in Hong Kong could be traced back to 1843, when it set up its first consulate. U.S. interests in Hong Kong only became prominent during the Cold War period, when the United States replaced Britain as the dominant geopolitical power in Asia.
  • The United States made use of the status of British Hong Kong as a separate jurisdiction located in proximity to the People’s Republic of China to pursue its strategic aims, such as establishing the United States’ largest overseas intelligence apparatus in the U.S. consulate-general in Hong Kong (which housed a large-scale CIA station and FBI attaché) and conducting anti-communist propaganda via the U.S. Information Service (appealing to mainland Chinese, Hong Kongers, overseas Chinese, and Asian readers).
  • Hong Kong’s value to the United States had become economic — Hong Kong is now the United States’ 19th largest trade partner (and the single-largest contributor to the U.S. trade surplus) and a major business operation base for U.S. companies in Asia (U.S. companies ranked first among non-local companies, having 290 regional headquarters and 434 regional offices in Hong Kong in 2018). Nevertheless, a close examination will reveal that Hong Kong is still playing a considerable role in promoting U.S. strategic interests in Asia.
  • The U.S. Navy still regularly makes port calls to Hong Kong because it is the “closest to deployment tracks” of U.S. vessels; U.S. C-17 military aircraft regularly operate in Hong Kong’s airport to deliver supplies to the U.S. consulate general.
  • The United States’ extensive geopolitical interests in Hong Kong were institutionalized by the 1992 U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act (USHKPA). The USHKPA recognizes Hong Kong as a no sovereign entity distinct from China under U.S. laws (in terms of trade, investment, immigration, transport, international agreements and membership, etc.) and indicates U.S. support for its democratization.

Chinese Interests in Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong has always been seen by Beijing as crucial to the survival of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime.
  • By keeping Hong Kong as a separate jurisdiction in the name of British Hong Kong, China successfully circumvented the blockade imposed by the United States since 1949.
  • Hong Kong functioned as the single-largest contributor of foreign exchange to China (estimated at over 173 million pounds in 1966, about a third of the total); the only entrepôt for “smuggling” sanctioned Western technology, equipment, and medicines to China and exporting Chinese food products; a business operation base for Chinese enterprises; and an intelligence center for Chinese agents.
  • In recent years, China has aggressively expanded its influence, Beijing leaders are trying to transform Hong Kong into a “Red China outpost” because its internationally-recognized status as a separate jurisdiction provides the best vehicle for offshore Chinese influence operations.
  • For example, many Chinese companies have transformed themselves into “Hong Kong companies” for the purpose of exporting China’s outward direct investment (in 2017 HK$179 billion flowed from China to Hong Kong)
  • Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory and an independent shipping registry also serves China’s interests well by allowing it to circumvent U.S. export controls (e.g. China purchased U.S.-made satellites via a Hong Kong-registered company called Asia Satellite Telecommunications)
  • Hong Kong’s separate membership in international organizations have been found to be useful for China to expand its influence.
  • Hong Kong’s separate status also effectively gives China a second vote in international organizations, as shown in the vote to revoke Taichung’s hosting rights for the East Asian Youth Games in July 2018 (China and its two SARs, Hong Kong and Macau, all voted in favor of calling off the games)
  • The Trump administration, since taking office in January 2017, has altered the direction of U.S. policy toward China by abandoning the traditional engagement approach and exploring a competitive approach, confronting Beijing on various fronts from trade and technology to intelligence and military affairs.

Tension related to Taiwan

  • Tensions between the United States and China are already at its peak after Washington vowed to support Taiwan's effort in the World Health Assembly late last month.
  • The U.S. also announced a potential deal to sell torpedoes to the island, whose disputed political status has long been a fraught subject of U.S.-China relations.
  • The U.S. and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic relations, and officially the U.S. has a One China policy that recognizes the regime in Beijing as the government of China.
  • But the U.S. and Taiwan maintain strong unofficial relations, as well as robust economic ties, and it is U.S. policy to help Taiwan defend itself against Beijing.
  • The Trump administration greenlit a controversial F-16 fighter jet sale and a $2.2 billion package of M1A2T Abrams tanks and portable Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and also approved a possible sale of 18 submarine-launched torpedoes for $180 million to Taiwan that infuriated Beijing.
  • As China aggressively builds up its military capability, even signaling an increased willingness to attack Taiwan, U.S. officials are now pushing to normalize weapons sales, sell more advanced equipment and even potentially begin conducting joint naval exercises with the island — all moves sure to further enrage Beijing.

The consequences of the breakdown in US-China relations is going to be very devastating for the world and for the global economy because the ability of the US and China to work together was the keystone of the whole arch of globalization and global trade.

The global economy is already expected to contract 3% this year, its deepest slump since the Great Depression, according to the International Monetary Fund.

If tensions continue to escalate, the dispute could morph into a damaging conflict that not only weakens the world's recovery from Covid-19, but also risks slowing important technological innovations.

Source: TH

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GS-III : Economic Issues Oil Crisis
Oil price pickle

Oil price pickle


The increased duty on fuel can fund welfare, but arbitrary methods will have implications

Union Petroleum Minister that the Centre is taking a ‘cautious and conscious approach’ of ensuring a balance in fuel prices and aims to use the resultant savings for welfare is on the face of it unexceptionable. With global oil prices still about 45% lower than 2019 closing levels despite coordinated supply cuts by major producers, India had an opportunity to pass on the benefit to consumers and provide a fillip to becalmed consumption.

Imp Points

  • That the ‘deregulated’ oil marketing companies chose not to reduce pump prices, even when crude tumbled last month, could be attributed to their caution amid a sharp slump in demand in the wake of the nationwide lockdown.
  • It is the government’s decision, earlier in May, to raise Excise Duty on petrol and diesel for a second time in less than two months that raises several concerns.
  • For one, subsequent to the latest increase the Centre’s tax revenue on a litre of petrol sold by IOC in Delhi as on May 16 was 1.8 times the fuel’s freight inclusive base price of ?18.28 and represented 46% of the final retail price of ?71.26.
  • With economic activity brought to a near standstill by the lockdown the Centre’s overall revenue prospects have come under severe strain, and from that perspective the government’s move to maximise its takings from transport fuels is understandable.
  • Still, the fact that the government has consistently tinkered with the duty structure through recent years of largely benign oil prices, undermines the benefits from pricing deregulation that ought to have accrued to oil companies and consumers.
  • Back in 2018, ahead of key Assembly elections, the Centre had cut the excise duty at a time when global crude prices were on the ascent in order to minimise any electoral fallout from unchecked fuel costs.
  • The government’s goal of maximising revenue from fuel products to fund welfare measures can only bear fruit if demand for petrol and diesel remains unaffected by the continuing high costs.

With curbs on inter-State road transport still in place, contracting automobile sales unlikely to recover any time soon, job losses and pay cuts sure to shrink household budgets, it is hard to see transport fuel demand rebounding to pre-lockdown levels for at least one or two quarters. Add to that the fact that the Centre’s ambitious disinvestment target of ?2.1-lakh crore for this fiscal had included a stake sale in BPCL, and the petroleum products’ pricing approach gets even more complicated. With potential investors unlikely to be impressed by the lack of autonomy in the sector, it is in the government’s interest not to risk the health of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Oil crisis past to present: https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/Oil-Crisis-Past-to-Present

Source: TH

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Farthest known galaxy

Farthest known galaxy

NASA has spotted the farthest known galaxy in the universe, a primitive cluster of stars just 500 million years old. The galaxy was named SPT0615-JD. Preliminary analysis suggests that the galaxy is less than 2,500 light-years across.

A galaxy is a huge collection of gas, dust, and billions of stars and their solar systems. A galaxy is held together by gravity. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, also has a supermassive black hole in the middle.

Source: TH

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GS-II : Governance Policies and Programmes


  • UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is envisaged to make e-governance.
  • It is developed by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to drive Mobile Governance in India.
  • It provides a unified approach where citizens can install one application to avail multiple government services.
  • The app services include Aadhaar, DigiLocker, and Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS). Etc.

Source: PIB

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GS-II : Governance Acts and regulations
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958)

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958)

Union government has tabled amendments to Ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains act in the parliament. The Lok Sabha passed the amendments to the Act, the Bill is yet to be cleared by the Rajya Sabha. The Act was originally instituted conservation measures and banned construction activities near protected monuments.

The amendment now allows carrying out public works within the 100 m prohibited zone.

Source: TH

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GS-III : Economic Issues
FDI in single brand retail

FDI in single brand retail

Union government has decided to allow 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in single-brand retail trading through the automatic route. Single-brand retail chain is expected to sell all its products under only one label across its store, example Burger King, KFC, Levis.

If an MNC operates a single-brand retail chain, the product must also be sold under the same brand name globally. The MNC must also source 30 per cent of its purchases for the business from India. Now this rules are slightly relaxed to allow an MNC to set off any local sourcing for its global business, against this 30 per cent quota.


  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment made by a company or individual in one country in business interests in another country.
  • Foreign direct investments are distinguished from portfolio investments in which an investor merely purchases equities of foreign-based companies.
  • FDI comes to India with two routes through automatic and Government route.
  • Automatic route-under this route the foreign companies do not need a prior approval for investment either by the Government or the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The investors are only required to intimate the Regional office concerned of the Reserve Bank within 30 days of receipt of inward remittance.
  • Government route - Certain activities that are not covered under the automatic route and that require prior Government approval comes under this route.
  • Earlier Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) issued permissions for such foreign investments.
  • Recently FIPB was scrapped and now concerned government department can clear such procedures.

Source: TH

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GS-II : Governance Acts and regulations
Orange Passports and LOTUS mark on PASSPORT

Orange Passports and LOTUS mark on PASSPORT

Ministry of External Affairs has decided to offer orange coloured passport to the travellers who require an emigration check. By this ECR status would be issued a passport with an orange-coloured, non-ECR status will continue to get blue passports.

ECR status

As per the Emigration Act, 1983, certain categories of Indian passport holders require obtaining an ‘Emigration Clearance’ for going to certain countries.

Emigration, as per the Act, means the leaving of India by any Indian citizen with the intent of taking up employment in certain foreign countries. Persons who don’t have a minimum educational qualification of 10th standard (SSC, Matriculation) will come under ECR category. The idea behind the ‘ECR’ is to ensure the safety of uneducated and unskilled Indian citizens, from the most deprived socio-economic strata, against prevailing legal conditions in certain foreign countries.

Types of passports issued in India

  • Regular Passport - This has a navy blue cover; it is issued to citizens for ordinary travel like vacations and business trips.
  • Diplomatic Passport - This has a maroon cover; it is issued to Indian diplomats, top-ranking government officials (joint secretary and above) and diplomatic couriers.
  • Official Passport - This has a white cover; it is issued to individuals representing the Indian government on official business.

Recent news: The symbol of lotus being printed on the Indian Passport for the security feature.

Key data’s:

A day after opposition members in Lok Sabha raised the issue of lotus being printed on new the ministry of external affairs said it was part of the enhanced security features to identify fake passports. Also mentioned that, the other national symbol such as national flower or national animal, also be used for the security features in rotational basis. The question was asked in the Zero hour of the Parliamentary session.

The new passports with lotus symbol being distributed in the Kozhikode in Kerala. These security features have been introduced as part of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) guidelines. Indian citizens who is the bearer of Indian Passport can travel internationally and serves as proof of Indian citizenship as per the Passports Act (1967).

Source: PIB

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Chiru Goat

Chiru Goat

Chiru goat is also known as the Tibetrean antelope. It is native of China (Tibet, Xinjiang region) and India (North Eastern Ladakh region) and regionally extinct in Nepal. Its numbers and distribution have decreased sharply as a result of commercial hunting for the underfur for making of shawls.

In India, it is killed for making of the famous Shahtoosh shawls, which is renowned for its quality from Srinagar.

In 2017, it has been included in “Near Threatened” category by IUCN. The parliamentary standing committee on science & technology, environment & forests had recommended to the ministry of environment, to conserve and breed the Chiru goat, which can then be given to the shawl makers.

The motive behind such recommendation is to provide a sustainable livelihood opportunity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. However, Ministry of Environment has ruled out the possibility of conservation breeding citing that it may lead to decline in its population due to commercial poaching.

Source: PIB

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GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government policies and interventions
Aadhaar Face Authentication

Aadhaar Face Authentication

  • The Unique Identification Authority of India has decided to enable Face Authentication for validating Aadhaar cards from July 2018.
  • Currently, the UIDAI provides two modes of biometric verification: fingerprint authentication and iris authentication.
  • Face authentication will be allowed only in fusion mode along with one more authentication factor either fingerprint or iris or aOTP to authenticate an Aadhaar number holder.
  • Face authentication will only be allowed on a “need” basis.

Source: TH

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GS-III : Economic Issues Economic Data


Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) index is a composite indicator to assess international trade logistics across states and Union territories. It is based on a stakeholders’ survey conducted by Deloitte for the Ministry of commerce and industry.

Gujarat topped the first-of-its-kind index, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh took the second and third positions, respectively. The index is loosely based on the World Bank’s biannual Logistics Performance Index (LPI).

India was ranked 35 among 160 countries in LPI in 2016, up from 54 in 2014. LEADS is based on eight parameters such as infrastructure, services, timeliness, track and trace, competitiveness of pricing, safety of cargo, operating environment and regulatory process.

Source: TH

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Kala Azar

Kala Azar

India has missed the 2017 deadline for elimination of Kala Azar. Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the sub-district level.

  • Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, is caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites.
  • It is transmitted to humans through infected sandflies.
  • It is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anaemia.
  • The parasite migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, may result in the death.
  • It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
  • India itself accounts for half the global burden of the disease.
  • Further, a little-known skin condition called Post Kala Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL), a red flag for transmission of Kala Azar has been growing steadily over the past few years.

Source: PIB

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GS-II : Governance Acts and regulations
International termination charges (ITC)

International termination charges (ITC)

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) cut termination charges for international incoming calls to Land line and wireless connections. International termination charges (ITC) are payable by an international long-distance operator (ILDO), which carries calls from outside the country, to an access provider in the country in whose network the call terminates. ITC is one of the source of foreign earnings for the country.

Source: TH

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North Koel reservoir

North Koel reservoir

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation for completion of North Koel reservoir project. Part of a fund for this project is derived under PMKSY’s LTIF- Long term Irrigation Fund and rest from state governments contribution. The project situated on North Koel River, a tributary of Sone River. It will provide irrigation to most backward and drought prone districts in Jharkhand and Bihar.

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)

  • This scheme has been formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation and improving water use efficiency in a focused manner.
  • It focuses on end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities.
  • The scheme now comes under Ministry of Agriculture and farmer’s Welfare.
  • PMKSY has been formulated amalgamating schemes of
  1. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR),
  2. Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR).
  3. On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).

Source: PIB

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SAREX – 18

SAREX – 18

It is a joint search and rescue exercise between India and Japan to help increase mutual understanding in Anti-Piracy operations. During the exercise, helicopters of the Japan and Indian Coast Guard will perform cross landing operations to improve compatibility between the two forces at Chennai. Japanese coast guard ship “Tsugaru”, a patrol vessel with helicopters will participate in this exercise.

Source: TH

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