Sunday, 7 June 2015

Daily News Mail - News of 02/06/2015

Names decided for CVC, CIC
  • The Government and the Opposition on June 1 agreed on the names of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). Both positions have been lying vacant for several months and the government has faced significant criticism over the delay in making the appointments, with the Opposition accusing it of ‘fearing transparency.’
  • The agreement on the appointments came at two meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, in two different committees.
  • While Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attended the meeting on selection of CIC, Home Minister Rajnath Singh attended the other meeting on CVC.
  • Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh was also present at the meetings.
  • The senior-most Information Commissioner, Vijai Sharma, is tipped to be the new Chief Information Commissioner, while the former Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, K.V. Chowdary, is understood to be in the running for the post of Central Vigilance Commissioner.
Telangana celebrates, but gloom in A.P.
  • The newly carved out State of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh present a contrasting picture a year after the momentous split.
  • While the Telangana government has lined up a series of programmes to commemorate the first anniversary of the State formed after a decades-long struggle, the mood is certainly not celebratory in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Its Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has said more than once that the bifurcation was carried out against the wishes of the people of the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, indicating that the formation of the new State was not a cause for celebration.
  • The crux of the division being Hyderabad and the maximum revenue generator going to Telangana, Andhra Pradesh is left to fend for itself.
  • A bleak financial scenario is what Andhra Pradesh is facing at a time when Telangana State has registered a revenue surplus for the second consecutive year.
  • In the 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets presented by the new governments, Telangana had recorded revenue surplus of Rs. 301 crore and Rs. 531 crore, while Andhra Pradesh reported revenue deficits of Rs. 6,064 crore and Rs. 7,300 crore respectively.
  • This apart, Telanagana has a ready-made metropolis as its capital. AP, which has scarce resources at present, has to build the new capital from scratch. The much-awaited Centre’s help in this regard remains a distant dream.
  • AP has been repeatedly pressing the Centre to honour the commitment for a liberal financial assistance to help the new State to cope with its needs. Mr. Naidu has been maintaining that the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, had declared on the floor of Parliament that the entire budgetary deficit of the State in the first year of its formation would be borne by the Centre.
Bollywood actors land in a soup for endorsing Maggi
  • Amid the controversy over the alleged violation of food safety standards by instant noodles brand, Maggi, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on June 1 said all players, including Bollywood actors who have endorsed the product, are liable for action under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) norms.
  • Three Bollywood actors – Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta – have endorsed the product in the past few years.
  • The FSSAI has decided to test more samples of Maggi, collected from different States, in the wake of the Uttar Pradesh Food and Drug Administration finding excess levels of lead and mono-sodium glutamate, normally used as a flavour enhancer, in the product.
  • Mr. Paswan said a report on the alleged violation by the manufacturer is expected in two to three days.
  • He said action can be initiated by the government against the manufacturer (Nestle-India), advertising agency, promoters/endorsers if an unfair trade practice complaint is lodged with the National Consumer Court.
  • A complaint can also be filed with Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment Act for putting out a misleading advertisement.
  • Additional Secretary (Consumer Affairs) G. Gurucharan said the manufacturer and promoter are liable to be fined and asked to put out corrective advertisements. “The brand ambassadors are also liable for action, but the decision will be taken by courts,” he added.
  • The government is setting up an authority, under the Department of Consumer Affairs, which will suo motu take cognisance of such claims.
  • Corporate houses, however, said the government’s move to make brand ambassadors liable for violation by the product would be “stretching it too far”.
Big plans for new capital
Amaravathi, the capital for Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation, is to be a fabulous riverfront city modelled on Singapore. But quite a few hurdles loom ahead
  • Amaravathi, the capital for Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation, is to be a fabulous riverfront city modelled on Singapore. But quite a few hurdles loom ahead.
  • The historical region of Amaravathi, chosen to be the capital city of the new Andhra Pradesh, resembles the terrain of 1960s Singapore. But the attempt is to replicate Amaravati as Singapore in the 21st century, a commercial island city-state on the Krishna riverfront. But this will be a mammoth task, given the innumerable hurdles that lie in wait for Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
  • The bifurcation of united Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and residual Andhra during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regime left many scars on Andhra Pradesh. The split State has a Rs. 17,000 crore budget deficit, with no capital city to call its own. Though the State machinery has been allowed to function from Hyderabad for 10 years after bifurcation, several departments have had to suffer step-motherly treatment in the new Telangana regime under its first Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao.
  • The bifurcation, which took place ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, deeply hurt Telugu pride, but political parties across the spectrum, in their constant attempts to be politically correct, have not revealed these wounds. The loss of Hyderabad, or Cyberabad as it was fondly called, in which Andhra Pradesh has high stakes, was another blow. It was especially painful for Mr. Naidu, whose efforts to conceive of and build Hyderabad into a world-class cyber city are well known.
  • While cash-rich Telangana is in celebratory mode on its first birthday, Mr. Naidu has resolved to have no festivities. Instead, there is going to be a Nava Nirmana Deeksha or focus on the building of a new State.
  • Mr. Naidu apparently wants to turn this adversity into an opportunity by planning a world-class capital on the banks of the river Krishna. About 7,068 sq. km have been earmarked for the capital region, of which 225 sq. km have been dedicated to Amaravathi, the capital city. In the words of Mr. Naidu, it will not just be “an administrative capital but an economic driver, a people’s capital, and an affordable city”.
  • Amaravathi, meaning ‘abode of the immortal’, is a small town in Guntur district, and was specifically chosen by Mr. Naidu to leverage on its rich 2,000-year-old heritage. It was the capital of the Satavahana kings between the 2nd and 3rd century BCE — they ruled most of the country from here — and also an important region for Buddhism.
  • Mr. Naidu wants the new capital to be Andhra Pradesh’s pride. “After the bifurcation, he wanted to develop Amaravathi into a world class city and a huge metropolis near Visakhapatnam, as a fitting counter [to Telangana],” said a leader closely associated with the Chief Minister.
  • The people’s response to the government’s intended pooling of around 33,000 acres needed for the capital has been positive, according to ministers and officials. The government was able to successfully convince farmers and pool almost half of the land along with ownership rights. The offer of annuity and developed residential and commercial land has been received well by several land owners.
  • “Consent letters [have been given] for 33,000 acres and [there has been] agreement on half of the land. This can be termed as the first achievement, first of its kind in the country. People are excited and showing tremendous interest,” said Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Commissioner, N. Srikanth. That the Singapore government has kept its word in submitting a master plan within the stipulated time, as per the agreement, is another milestone according to the government. The foundation stone will be laid today and several programmes are to follow in the coming days.
Dissenting voices
  • However, all is not well — there are dissenting voices as well. The opposition is questioning the logic behind using such a huge stretch of agricultural land for building the capital, as this land is one of the green pastures of the State, and provides three kinds of crops. Questions have been raised on the fate of landless labourers and tenant farmers in the region. The whole exercise, the Opposition has said, is an attempt to marginalise farmers and distribute land to corporate entities. Doubts have been raised on the real intent of the government, with fingers pointed at government attempts to arm-twist farmers on land acquisition.
  • Adding to the confusion, people from other regions such as coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, which had capital expectations, are growing impatient with the new government’s excessive focus on the capital while ignoring the rest of the State. The government’s lacklustre approach in demanding special status category to Andhra Pradesh from its alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has also surprised many observers. While leaders across party lines are busy making safe statements, the people have launched protests, demanding special status. For instance, Guntur-based Mamillapalli Sanjiva Rao braved the scorching sun and spent nearly 38 hours on a cell phone tower, threatening to commit suicide, to protest the delay in declaring Andhra Pradesh’s special status. In another case, Sai Krishna Kota, an assistant professor in Gudlavalleru Engineering College near Vijayawada, went on hunger strike for the same cause.
  • While the government is busy joining the dots to clear key infrastructure projects scheduled for completion by 2019, an appeal has been filed by Vijayawada-based Pandalaneni Srimannarayana that the entire region comes under Seismic Zone category-III and is therefore not fit for a capital. “Not just the seismic activity, the earmarked area is black cotton soil which is not suitable for 70-80 storied skyscrapers. That apart, the area is larger than that of the U.S. capital, New York. Is it necessary to build [the] capital here at the cost of farmers’ livelihood? We have abundant government land available elsewhere,” the appellant reasons.
  • Mr. Srimannarayana’s appeal is in the National Green Tribunal, and notices have been issued to the Union of India, Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Ministry of Forests and Environment, and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA). The hearing is scheduled for July 27.
Where’s the money?
  • There is also concern over raising the funds to build the vast city. This could be another stumbling block for the government, which is currently struggling to pay employee salaries, a fact that came to light in February. A massive hike has been given to employees recently and is going to add to the salary bill. The investment needed for the capital is about Rs. 4 lakh crore, according to a rough estimate by the Chief Minister, but there is no concrete plan in place thus far about how this amount is going to be raised.
  • The government has indicated that most of the projects will be taken up through the public-private partnership mode. “These projects may not be viable. The Central Viability Gap Funding (CVGF) is needed and it is mostly unlikely in the present circumstances,” said a top official.
  • But an optimistic Mr. Naidu is pinning his hopes on global giants such as the Japan External Trade Organisation, the Japan Bank for International Co-operation, the Energy and Industrial Technology Development, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Singapore’s Tamasec Holdings, and Chinese entities to fund and build the capital.
  • Analysts are commenting about a lack of seriousness and a visible gap between theory and practice in the development of a split Andhra Pradesh. The obsession of the Chief Minister and the State departments with Hyderabad, and the stiff resistance from employees to shift to Vijayawada, the base capital, even a year after the bifurcation, citing a lack of facilities, are only adding to the woes of the new State.
“Amaravathi was specifically chosen by Mr. Naidu to leverage on 
its rich 2,000-year-old heritage.” Picture shows the 
Dhyana Buddha in Amaravathi, Andhra Pradesh
Why are all satellites and missiles launched from the east coast?
A launch near the equator towards the east direction will get an initial boost equal to the velocity of Earth surface.
  • Before we discover the reason, let us know about the Earth’s rotation. When seen from the North Pole, the Earth rotates anti-clock wise. It means in general term, from west to east as we see the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.
  • The surface velocity of rotation varies from point to point on the Earth. It is about 1600 km per hour or about 460 meters in a second near the equator.
  • The velocity gradually reduces as we move to the poles and it is practically zero there. A satellite launched from the sites near the equator towards the east direction will get an initial boost equal to the velocity of Earth surface. This is similar to an athlete circling round and round before throwing a discus or a shot put.
  • The initial boost helps in cutting down the cost of rockets used to launch the satellites.
  • This is the major reason for launching satellites in the east ward direction. But this benefit can be taken only for such satellites which are placed in geo-stationary orbit or which circle the Earth parallel to the equator. Such satellites are usually communication satellites or satellites used for scientific research such as ISS.
  • There are other satellites which are placed in polar orbits moving across the equator in north south direction and used mainly for mapping or some times for spying. Such satellites are generally launched in south ward or north ward direction and therefore cannot take advantage of the Earth’s rotation.
  • Another characteristic of launching satellites is that the launching stations are generally located near eastern coast line so that, just in case of failure of the launch, the satellite does not fall on built-up hinterland.
Core industries’ output dips 0.4 % in April
  • Output of the eight core industries shrunk 0.4 per cent in April against growth of 5.7 per cent during the same month last year. Growth in production has declined every month since November 2014.
  • The contraction in April, mainly on account of the poor generation of electricity and declining output of cement, refinery products and fertiliser, came on the back of March’s marginal decline of minus 0.1 per cent.
  • Coal and steel were only two sectors in which output grew, showed official data released on June 1, a day ahead of the Reserve Bank’s scheduled monetary policy review.
  • Coal production grew 7.9 per cent, steel output grew but at 0.6 per cent in April as against 6.9 per cent in the same month last year.
  • The eight sectors contribute 38 per cent to the overall industrial production. 

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