Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam VOL - 41 (8th September 2014 TO 14th September 2014)

Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam

VOL - 41 (8th September 2014 TO 14th September 2014)

Issue : VOL - 41 (8th September 2014 TO 14th September 2014)


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Covered Topics:


Scheme on Enhancement of Competitiveness in the Indian capital goods sector

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, approved the "Scheme for Enhancement of Competitiveness of the Capital Goods Sector" to boost the Indian economy. This scheme, on its implementation, would attempt to make the Indian capital goods sector globally competitive. The sub sectors of Capital Goods covered under the scheme are mainly for Machine Tools, Textile Machinery, Construction and Mining Machinery, and Process Plant Machinery. The proposed scheme addresses the issue of technological depth creation in the capital goods sector, besides creating common industrial facility centres.

The Scheme on Enhancement of Competitiveness in the Indian Capital Goods Sector will be implemented in the 12th Plan period and spill over to the 13th Plan period with an estimated outlay of Rs. 930.96 crore. The Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) from the government for the scheme would be Rs. 581.22 crore and the balance Rs. 349.74 crore would be contributed by the stakeholder industries.

The scheme has five components to achieve the desired result in pilot mode –

  1. Creation of "Advanced Centres of Excellence" for R & D and Technology Development with National Centres of Excellence in Education and Technology such as the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and the Central Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), Bangalore.

  2. Establishment of "Integrated Industrial Infrastructure Facilities" popularly known as Machine Tool Parks with a basic objective of making the machine tool sector more competitive by providing an ecosystem for production. Establishment of Machine Tool Parks will cut down logistic cost substantially and would be a step forward in making the sector cost effective, having enhanced export capability and favourable for attracting more investment. The park would be established by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed by local industries, industry associations, financial institutions, Central / State Governments, R & D Institutions, etc.

  3. Common Engineering Facility Centre" for Textile Machinery is to be set up with active participation of the local industry and the industry association, which in turn would improve facilitation to the users along with visibility. The Common Engineering Facility that can be provided within such set ups are common foundry, common heat treatment, testing laboratories, design center, common prototyping, general and specific machinery, etc. The facility would enable textile machinery and other capital goods manufacturers to develop capital goods to meet the large requirements and improve capacity utilization, thereby reducing the variable cost of operation. This would also be established by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed by local industries, industry associations, financial institutions, Central/State Governments, R&D Institutions, etc.

:: Ministry of External affairs ::


  1. The President of the Republic of India, H.E. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, is on a State visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam from 14-17 September 2014 at the invitation of H.E. Mr. Truong Tan Sang, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

  2. President Pranab Mukherjee was accorded a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on 15 September 2014. President Pranab Mukherjee held bilateral talks with President Truong Tan Sang on 15 September 2014, who also hosted a state banquet. President Pranab Mukherjee met H.E. Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of Vietnam Communist Party, H.E. Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Vietnam, and H.E. Mr. Nguyen Sinh Hung, Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam. President Pranab Mukherjee visited the Ho Chi Minh’s Residential Complex and laid wreath at the Memorial of National Heroes and Martyrs. The Presidents jointly inaugurated the Center for Indian Studies at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration. President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Ho Chi Minh City from 16-17 September 2014 and meet with H.E. Mr. Le Thanh Hai, Secretary of the Communist Party of Ho Chi Minh City and H.E. Mr. Le Hoang Quan, Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee.

  3. A sapling of the Holy Bodhi Tree from Bodh Gaya was gifted by President Pranab Mukherjee to President Truong Tan Sang. This sapling, a symbol of shared Buddhist heritage between the two countries, was jointly planted by the Presidents in the Presidential Palace. President Truong Tan Sang expressed gratitude to President Pranab Mukherjee for this gesture.

  4. The official talks between the leaders were held in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual trust. President Truong Tan Sang and President Pranab Mukherjee exchanged views on the socio-economic developments and foreign policy of their respective countries, bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest. President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated the Government and people of Vietnam on the remarkable achievements recorded in recent years. President Truong Tan Sang saluted India on the successful completion of the 16th Lok Sabha elections and expressed his belief that under the leadership of the new Government in India, the people of India will attain greater achievements in national development.

  5. The leaders expressed happiness with the development of traditional friendship between India and Vietnam and expressed satisfaction with the progress made in various fields of engagement, particularly since the establishment of the Strategic Partnership in 2007. India reaffirmed that it regards Vietnam as an important pillar in its Look East Policy. Vietnam reiterated support for India’s Look East Policy and for an increasingly important role played by India at regional and international fora.

  6. The leaders reiterated the importance of the high-level visits between the two countries, including the State visit by H.E. Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of Vietnam Communist Party to India in November 2013. They expressed satisfaction at the successful visit of H.E. Smt. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India to Vietnam in August 2014. They welcomed the discussions at the ministerial level and reiterated that regular consultations at official level had helped consolidate and expand bilateral ties. They agreed to promote frequent exchanges at all levels including Government to Government, Party to Party, business to business and people-to-people with a view to intensifying cooperation in diverse areas.

(Courtesy - Press Information Bureau , Government of India, President's Secretariat)

:: Planning Commission of India ::

Planning Commission to be turned into a monitoring & accountability panel: sources

The decades-old Planning Commission will be turned into a monitoring and accountability panel, government sources told CNN-IBN.

This new commission will headed by the Prime Minister himself.

The panel's main role will be to supervise and monitor central and state schemes. It will be accountable to Parliament and will submit periodic reports.

The sources further added that the employees currently working under the Planning Commission will be drastically cut short.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Independence Day that the government has decided to scrap the Planning Commission and replace it with a new institution to address the emerging economic needs and strengthen federal structure.

For those expecting bold reforms by the government, the announcement to scrap the Planning Commission by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day is perhaps the strongest signal of changing priorities. Seen as a relic of the Nehruvian socialist regime, the end of the Commission may only be symbolic but it does raise the obvious question of what next. The confusion on this is obvious with the government seeking suggestions from the public but also asking the same old mandarins of the erstwhile Commission on what needs to be done.

While the media-driven public opinion was certainly that the Planning Commission symbolises all the failures of policymaking, it was not based on any concrete assessment of why policies failed and who was responsible for it. If the policy paralysis of last United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was any indication of why the economy came to a standstill, the Planning Commission is hardly to be blamed. Most of the scams that were unearthed and seen as essentially the reason for the policy paralysis had nothing to do with the Commission. Be it the telecom spectrum, coalfield allocation, Commonwealth Games or the numerous scams which characterized the process of policymaking in the country, the onus of decision-making rested with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) rather than the Planning Commission.

Nor can the Commission be blamed for the unprecedented spell of inflation that has continued to be a problem even for this government in the short period that it has been in existence. The Commission certainly was not Reserve Bank of India (RBI), entrusted with the task of bringing inflation down. But even for the retrospective taxation, which industry and companies felt to be the reason for lack of investment, the Commission had no role. While it did not have any role in fiscal policy, monetary policy or the allocation of natural resources, for public imagination the Planning Commission was the culprit and not the PMO, RBI or the finance ministry.

(Source – livemint .com and http://ibnlive.in.com)


Don’t celebrate my birthday, instead help J&K: Modi

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to friends and well-wishers not to celebrate his birthday and instead dedicate time and resources towards relief work in this hour of need for flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Mr. Modi’s appeal came amid plans to celebrate his birthday on September 17, 2014 across the country, including in Gujarat where he will be present that day.

Sakshi Maharaj courts controversy, again

  • Days after he courted controversy with his remark that “love jihad” flourished through madrasas, BJP MP from Unnao, Sakshi Maharaj, has set off another controversy, this time with a statement that religious learning institutions are giving “education of terrorism.”

  • The remark, made at Nademau in Kannauj district, is a repeat of what the MP said on September 7 at a programme in Etah, branding madrasas as “hubs of terror” where “love jihad” prospered.
    “Love jihad” is a term used by right-wing Hindu outfits while referring to alleged conversion of Hindu girls through marriage.

Singrauli to be developed as energy city: Chouhan

  • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that Singrauli will be developed as ‘energy city’ of the State.
  • “Singrauli will be developed as energy city of the state,” Mr. Chouhan announced while launching development works worth Rs. 161 crore in the city during the Deendayal Anyodaya Mela.
  • Apart from other measures, an industrial area will also be developed for all-round development of the district.
  • He said Rs. 100 crore will be spent on infrastructure development in Singrauli during five years.
  • It will be connected with air and rail facilities. A Central School will also be established in the city for providing education facilities to the wards of those working in the energy city, he said.
  • He also provided benefits under various welfare schemes totalling Rs. one crore to 516 beneficiaries.

Leaders mourn Avaidyanath death

  • Avaidyanath, also a former MLA, was admitted to Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon. He passed away at the Peeth hospital in Gorakhpur, where he was admitted after being brought from Gurgaon.
  • Avaidyanath, former chief priest of Gorakhpur’s famous Gorakhnath temple, was also the guru of Yogi Adityanath, current MP from the city and BJP’s firebrand leader who is in the news for his campaign against “love jihad”.

Over Rs. 5,000 cr. loss to J&K due to floods: Assocham

  • Devastating floods in Jammu and Kashmir have caused an immediate loss of Rs. 5,400-5,700 crore to the state’s economy, with heavy damages to trade, hotels, restaurants, horticulture and handicraft, according to initial estimates of industry body Assocham.
  • Jammu & Kashmir has been hit by the worst floods in over a century, throwing basic infrastructure like power, railways and communication in the state completely out of gear.
  • The initial estimated loss to hotels, trade, agriculture — horticulture, roads and bridges in the Jammu and Kashmir regions itself is Rs. 2,630 crore.
  • Besides, high-cost infrastructure like Railways, power and communication in the hilly terrains would have suffered a loss of about Rs. 2,700-3,000 crore, the industry body said.

Over 1.84 lakh people rescued in J&K

  • Over 1.84 lakh people stranded in the flood-hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir have been rescued so far by the armed forces and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
  • A total of 224 boats of the Army and 148 inflated boats of the NDRF are conducting rescue operations.
  • With life limping back to normality in the State, the Centre, as part of the relief and rehabilitation plan, has made arrangements for 13 tonnes of water purifying tablets and six water-filtration plants.
  • Over 5 lakh litres of water, 3 lakh food packets and over 1,054 tonnes of cooked food have already been airdropped and distributed.
  • Engineering stores, including suction pumps from Visakhapatnam, have reached the flood-affected areas.
  • Heavy duty pumps have been airlifted from Jodhpur and Raipur, whereas sewage pumps have been dispatched from Delhi.
  • The government is taking all measures to restore power supply to the worst-hit parts of Srinagar.


IS releases beheading video of British aid worker

  • Islamic State (IS) extremists released a video showing the beheading of British aid worker David Haines, who was abducted in Syria last year.
  • IS militants recently beheaded two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and posted the videos online after the U.S. began launching airstrikes and humanitarian missions in August to aid waning Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq.
  • The IS group has also put out videos showing the beheading of Kurdish and Lebanese soldiers and the mass shooting of dozens of captured Syrian soldiers.
  • At the end of the video showing the beheading of Sotloff, the Islamic State group threatened to kill Haines next and briefly showed him on camera.

John Kerry arrives in Paris for IS talks

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris after a four-day tour of the Middle East trying to build a coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS).
  • Nearly 40 countries, including 10 Arab states, have signed up to a U.S.-led plan to tackle the extremist group, the BBC reported.
  • Mr. Kerry arrived at the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris after flying from Cairo, where he met Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.

WHO: Ebola death toll hits 2,400

  • More international medical workers are needed to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, where more than 2,400 have died from the disease, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan said in Geneva.
  • The WHO Director-General welcomed an announcement by Cuba to send 165 doctors, nurses and infection specialists to Sierra Leone for half a year.
  • Some 170 international medical staff are already active in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries at the centre of the epidemic.
  • The number of people infected with the deadly haemorrhagic fever virus has risen to 4,784, according to the UN health agency.
  • Health services in West Africa have been strained, partly because many health professionals have become infected.


India, Vietnam to sign key oil search pact

  • President Pranab Mukherjee arrived for a four-day state visit during which India and Vietnam are expected to sign agreements on oil exploration and air connectivity.

  • The President will also visit the historic city of Ho Chi Minh. The visit marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

  • Mr. Mukherjee was received at the Noi Bai International Airport by the Vietnamese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of President’s Office Dao Viet Trung and was given a guard of honour.

  • Key agreements between ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) and Petro Vietnam for joint oil explorations in the South China Sea blocks are expected to be signed during the visit. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is part of the delegation accompanying the President.

Developed nations back India’s stand at WTO

  • India said it has won the support of major developed countries, including the U.K. and Germany, as also the European Commission, for its stand at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) demanding that the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) be kept pending unless its apprehensions on the issue of food security are addressed.

  • Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram was leading the Indian delegation as Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is indisposed.

  • “Many countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and the European Commission emphasised on the need for expressing deep concern on non-implementation of TFA without mentioning India’s concern on the issue of food security,” the release said.

  • He also garnered the support of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Russia for India’s standpoint, it added.

  • India is not opposed to the TFA as it increases the ease of doing business but wants its adoption postponed till there is “satisfactory” progress on finding a permanent protection for its minimum support prices to farmers against the WTO’s agriculture subsidy caps that are benchmarked to food prices of the 1980s.

  • At the WTO’s General Council meeting in Geneva on July 31, India stalled the ratification of the TFA owing to these concerns.

  • India got a reference to BRICS and disappointment with poor progress on the IMF quota reforms also included in the ASEM communiqué.

  • The communiqué talks about enhanced cooperation between countries of Asia and Europe to create sustainable and profitable growth.


TCS opens Saudi Arabia’s first all-women BPO centre

  • India’s largest software exporter Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Sunday said it has opened Saudi Arabia’s first all-female business process centre, which will provide employment to up to 3,000 women in three years.
  • Saudi Aramco and GE are the centre’s first customers, TCS said in a statement in Mumbai.
  • Both the clients have already surpassed their target of recruiting 100 women each, while the total number of those employed at the centre stands at 300, it said.
  • The Riyadh-based 3,200-sq mt facility will offer customers specialised finance and accounting, human resources, materials supply and office services to improve their operational efficiency, it said.

HDFC Bank to send debit card PINs via SMS

  • As part of its ‘go-green’ initiative, HDFC Bank has started sending PIN, unique code number, for debit card holders through SMS instead of sending it by post.

  • It is not just environment friendly but also convenient and saves time of both customers and the bank, HDFC Bank Senior Vice President and Business Had (Cards Payment Products) Parag Rao said.

  • Green PIN is One Time Password (OTP) sent to the customer’s mobile number registered with bank. Using the OTP, customer can set debit card PIN at the bank’s ATM, Rao said. Customers will get OTP within 48 hours of applying for it.

  • HDFC Bank has nearly 1.75 crore debit card holders and about 16.5 lakh cards on an average are issued annually by the bank.

  • This facility is for all States except in Jammu and Kashmir due to restrictions on bulk SMS delivery in the State, Rao said.

Facebook set to take on YouTube

  • Get ready for a fierce content war between YouTube and Facebook.
  • The social networking site is in talks with some of the biggest video content producers of YouTube to test videos directly on Facebook.
  • Currently, content creators use Facebook to promote their programming but prefer people to watch the videos on YouTube and other platforms where they can make money through advertisements sales easily.
  • Facebook and video content producers are now discussing how advertising might be incorporated into these videos, according to The Wall Street Journal . Facebook has been involved in this video initiative for at least six months, it said.

Global auto makers seek friendly policy

  • As India moves towards becoming a hub for production and exports for global car manufacturers, the latter said India needed to make more business-friendly policies if the country wanted foreign companies to invest here.
  • Chairman of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) Fumihiko Ike, who is also the Chairman of Japan’s Honda Motor Co, added another major challenge was to improve the business environment for investing into India.

Protection to auto industry cannot be forever: Commerce Secretary

  • In a veiled warning to the domestic auto sector, the Commerce Ministry, said it could not continue providing protection to the industry while duty barriers were coming down all over the world.
  • India is protecting the domestic auto industry from overseas competition while signing free trade agreements with different nations and groups.

Skoda launches Yeti upgrade

  • Czech car maker Skoda, launched its new face-lifted sports utility vehicles (SUV), the Yeti, at a price of Rs.18.63 lakh for the 4X2 variant while its 4X4 variant is priced at Rs.20.14 lakh (prices ex-showroom, Maharashtra).
  • Both variants are powered by a 2.0 TDI diesel engine.
  • The new Yeti is being offered at a slight premium to the existing variant and will feature cruise control, KESSY system and Light Assist.

New VP for Renault India

  • Renault India Pvt. Ltd., a fully-owned subsidiary of Renault s.a.s, has appointed Rafael Treguer as Vice-President (Sales and Marketing).
  • He has worked in varied roles at different locations with the Renault group. — Special Correspondent


MH17 hit by high speed objects: report

  • A Malaysian passenger jet blew up in mid-air over eastern Ukraine after being hit by numerous “high speed objects,” according to an interim report published on the disaster that claimed 298 lives.

  • Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 “broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside,” said a highly anticipated report by the Dutch Safety Board.

  • The findings appear to back up claims that the Boeing 777, which crashed in July as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by shrapnel from a missile.

  • “There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or by actions of the crew,” the report said.

  • Kiev and the West have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane with a surface-to-air BUK missile supplied by Moscow. But Russia blamed government forces for the attack.

NASA to send first 3D printer into space station

  • NASA is all set to send the fourth SpaceX Cargo Mission, that would carry among other equipments a 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on September 20.

  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp’ (SpaceX) Falcon-9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo spacecraft loaded with more than 5,000 pounds of scientific equipment and supplies, the U.S. space agency said in a statement.

  • It will also carry a small flowering plant related to cabbage that would allow scientists to study plant growth and adaptations in space.

  • It will be the fifth trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory.

  • The spacecraft’s 2.5 tonnes of supplies and materials are critical for the implementation of 255 science and research investigations that will occur during the station’s Expeditions 41 and 42.

  • Besides, the spacecraft will carry science payloads like the ISS-Rapid Scatterometer to monitor ocean surface wind speed and direction.

:: SPORTS ::

Davis Cup: Doubles win takes France into final

  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet put France back in the Davis Cup final by winning the doubles and ending the two—year reign of the Czech Republic.
  • France makes the final for the first time since 2010. It won the last of its nine cups in 2001.
  • The defending champions Czechs needed to win the doubles to keep alive their chances of reaching a third straight final.

Honour for Bopanna

  • Rohan Bopanna has received the Davis Cup Commitment Award, an honour accorded to players who have competed in at least 20 ties.
  • The 34-year-old from Karnataka is the ninth Indian to receive the award.

Shuttler Prannoy wins Indonesian Masters

  • H. S. Prannoy clinched the maiden title of his career after winning the USD 1,25,000 Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold.
  • Young Indian shuttler H. S. Prannoy clinched the maiden title of his career after winning the USD 1,25,000 Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold, following his straight-game victory over local favourite Firman Abdul Kholik in the finals in Indonesia.

Field Marshal wins Maharaja’s Cup

  • Field Marshal (Ranjeet Singh up) won the Maharaja’s Cup (1,600m), the chief event of the races .
  • The winner is owned by M/s Harresh N. Mehta and Manav H. Mehta rep. Rohan Bloodstock Pvt. Ltd. and trained by S. Padmanabhan.


David Haines

  • Islamic State (IS) extremists released a video showing the beheading of British aid worker David Haines, who was abducted in Syria last year.
  • IS militants recently beheaded two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and posted the videos online after the U.S. began launching airstrikes and humanitarian missions in August to aid waning Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq.

Ian Paisley

  • Former Northern Irish First Minister Ian Paisley, the firebrand Protestant leader, died at the age of 88.
  • A towering figure during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, he was known for his decades of intransigence and impassioned rhetoric.
  • He did what even he once considered unthinkable in May 2007 and entered office with Sinn Fein — the political wing of Irish Republican Army — and as a result restored stable, devolved government to the province.
  • In a feat few could match, Paisley co-founded both a church and a political party, leading the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and the Protestant, conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). — AFP

Neel Mukherjee

  • Kolkata-born British author Neel Mukherjee’s latest novel The Lives of Others , set in troubled Bengal of the 1960s and centred around a dysfunctional family, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize 2014, in its debut as a global literary award.
  • Mr. Mukherjee, who studied at Oxford and Cambridge, was also the only Indian-origin author to be longlisted earlier this year.
  • Mr. Mukherjee, now a British citizen, reviews fiction for the Times and the Sunday Telegraph and his first novel, A Life Apart was a joint winner of the Vodafone-Crossword Award in India.
  • Previously, the prize was open only to authors from the U.K. and Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.
  • For the first time in its 46-year history, the £50,000-prize has been opened up to writers of all nationalities, writing originally in English and published in the U.K.— PTI

    :: Selected Editorials of Importance ::

Israel, a gift of the Arabs

A tenuous truce has interrupted the most recent and devastating round of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories. I was in Israel on May 31, 2010 when the Gaza Freedom Flotilla had been attacked by Israeli commandos. This was the culmination of Operation Cast Lead (2008) during which Gaza had been subject to phosphorus bombing, killing an estimated 1,400 persons, one third of them children, and even targeting educational institutions for harbouring refugees. Gaza is a slum, a person working with an NGO had told me then. This time it has been rendered a desolate graveyard with over 2,000 dead and a third of the population having fled.

Source of terror

Islamic terror has become the popular topic of drawing room conversations in the last decade. The doings of Hamas and Hezbollah, the Taliban and most recently of the Islamic State have provided much fuel to the fire. There is little reference, however, to the state as the source of terror of which Israel is currently the prime example.

Anti-Semitism has plagued the Jews for two millennia and is often invoked to justify Israeli impunity. Ironically, the Arabs have historically not been participants in this history of racial hatred. On the contrary, it was in Arabia that the Jews sought refuge after they fled Jerusalem following the destruction of Second Temple.

In his story of a small Moroccan town Dammate in the High Atlas Mountains, anthropologist Abdellah Hammoudi describes a ritual exchange of yeast between Jews and Muslims staged each year in a celebration called Mimouna held during the last day of the Jewish Passoves (Pessah). The exchange shows how despite there being hierarchy and inequality for Jews in Muslim dominated polities, there was civility, hospitality and even friendship. There is substantial historical evidence available to show how Jews were thriving in the Abbasid and Ottoman Empires. The present state of Jewish-Muslim relations, therefore, is an inversion of the friendly relations that had lasted through the last 20 centuries.

The Palestinians, through sales of their land to migrant Jews actually made the state of Israel possible on the ground. Israel is, quite literally, as I have argued in a forthcoming book, a “gift” of the Arabs even as the land transfers occurred without Palestinians realising that a “Jewish State” was in the making.

Tragically, the state of Israel seems to have learnt more from its persecutors than its benefactors in the calculated precision of its targeting and killing. But the problem is not just the most recent round of the war in Gaza. The deeper problem is that Israel has made impossible any viable statehood for the Palestinians.

There is little doubt that both the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas have contributed to the Palestinian predicament. The PLO wrote off East Jerusalem in the Oslo Agreement in 1993 and compromised on the right to return of Palestinians in return for its recognition as the official Palestinian authority. The Oslo peace process itself enabled the rise of Hamas, since the PLO had lost legitimacy with many Palestinians. For the West, Hamas was an effective counterbalance to the PLO. Since then Hamas’ own violent politics has gone hand in hand with Israel’s metamorphosis into an expansionist, settler state.

The old secular left that had dominated Israeli politics has been marginalised. A new wave of religious nationalism holds sway, some sections of which advocate a Greater Israel and would like to annex the West Bank as the Biblical Judea and Samaria. There are suggestions that paying Palestinians to emigrate would be less expensive than the costs of maintaining the two-state solution.

Stand in India

What then should be our stand in India? Though India has become hugely dependent on Israel for small arms and India-Israel relations have strengthened, it must stand for peace and justice in Palestine if it aspires for leadership in global politics. Fortunately the official Indian statement at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council criticised the heavy airstrikes in Gaza, the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestine Territory including East Jerusalem and emphasised the need for a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine. Citizens all over the world must press for stronger action in favour of Palestinian statehood including the resort to economic boycott of Israel if required. The solution to Hamas lies in a sustainable Palestine and not in death in Gaza.

Courtesy: (The Hindu)

:: MCQs ::


(i) Devastating floods in Jammu and Kashmir have caused an immediate loss of Rs. 5,400-5,700 crore to the state’s economy, with heavy damages to trade, hotels, restaurants, horticulture and handicraft, according to initial estimates of industry body Assocham.
(ii) Jammu & Kashmir has been hit by the worst earthquake in over a century, throwing basic infrastructure like power, railways and communication in the state completely out of gear.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are not true ?

(a) Only i
(b) Only ii
(c) Neither i nor ii
(d) Both i and ii


(i) Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju appointed a three-member committee to inquire into the remarks of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao allegedly against the media.
(ii) It was in response to complaints from representatives of the Indian Journalists Union and its affiliate, the Telangana Union of Working Journalists.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are not true ?

(a) Only i
(b) Only ii
(c) Neither i nor ii
(d) Both i and ii


(i) Reaching out to people for his ambitious project for a clean India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought their views on the contours of ‘Mission Swachh Bharat’ to be launched on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
(ii) Mission Swacch Bharat aspires to realise Indiraji’s dream of a Clean India through Jan Bhagidari (people’s participation).

Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?

(a) Only i
(b) Only ii
(c) Neither i nor ii
(d) Both i and ii


(i) The Central Vigilance Commission has appointed former Vigilance Commissioner Ranjana Kumar chairperson of the Mumbai-based Advisory Board on Bank, Commercial and Financial Frauds, part of the organisational infrastructure of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
(ii) The Reserve Bank of India provides investigative and secretarial services and funds to the Board, whose advice is binding on the CBI.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?

(a) Only i
(b) Only ii
(c) Neither i nor ii
(d) Both i and ii


(i) The Gorakhpur MP, the BJP’s lead campaigner in U.P. has been charged with violating several sections of the model code.
(ii) This comes against the backdrop of Yogi Adityanath consistently making inflammatory speeches through the campaign, the most recent when he blamed people of a minority religion for the State’s recent communal tensions.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are not true ?

(a) Only i
(b) Only ii
(c) Neither i nor ii
(d) Both i and ii

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