GS Paper I – Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.,

Srinagar-Jammu highway remains shut for the 7th day

Key Points discussed were:

  • Special air sorties have been arranged by the government for stranded passengers in Jammu as well as in Kashmir.
  • “The national highway is still closed for traffic as fresh landslides have rendered it unsafe for vehicular movement,”

Fresh landslides

  • Landslides have occurred at a few places near Ramban and Ramsoo, leaving behind a trail of muck.
  • The highway, the only all-weather road link between the Valley and rest of the country, was closed following heavy rains and snowfall.
  • Meanwhile, the IAF carried out sorties to evacuate over 500 passengers who were stranded in Jammu following closure of the highway.
  • About 830 passengers, who were stranded at Jammu bus stand, were ferried to IAF station here in 17 SRTC buses. Of them 530 passengers were airlifted in two sorties by IL-76 aircraft to Srinagar.

Structural Mitigation Measures

  • Enhancing Structural Capacities
  • Construction of deep drains, cut-off walls.
  • Setting up of indigenous, alternative and innovative contour bunds and similar structures for diverse terrains.
  • Construction of check dams, gully plugs, vegetative barriers, etc.
  • Carryout drainage correction.

What’s Happening-
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was closed for traffic for the seventh day in the wake of landslides due to snowfall and rains.

Essential Steps TOWARDS A SAFE, DISASTER-RESILIENT JAMMU AND KASHMIR:
Range of policies and actions that must be undertaken by a number of Government departments. Setting up and operationalising an Emergency Operations Centre Implementing the Disaster Management Plan is a structured, time-bound process Ensuring an adequate framework for Disaster Governance Developing Human Resources and their Capacities for Implementation is the Key
District Disaster Management Plans must be followed up with immediately Awareness generation, capacity building and simulation exercises with all stakeholders.

GS Paper III Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Panama Papers: 424 under probe, India gets data on 165 cases with links to offshore firms

What’s Happening-
According to data made available at the latest meeting of the Multi Agency Group (MAG) last month, the number of Indian clients of Mossack Fonseca, whose PAN numbers had been traced, has swelled to 424.

Key Points discussed were:

  • Nearly a year after The Indian Express published the Panama Papers, tax authorities have succeeded in obtaining 165 replies — partial or complete — from among 13 jurisdictions where Indian nationals had incorporated offshore companies through the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
  • According to data made available at the latest meeting of the Multi Agency Group (MAG) last month, the number of Indian clients of Mossack Fonseca, whose PAN numbers had been traced, has swelled to 424. Of these, 205 have accepted links to offshore entities named in the global expose.
  • However, 60 other Indians named in the Panama Papers remain untraced.
  • The MAG, comprising officials of CBDT, RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and ED, was set up last year to ensure a “speedy and coordinated” probe against Indians whose names have figured in the Panama Papers for allegedly holding bank accounts in foreign nations.
  • The documents were dubbed the Panama Papers because of the country they were leaked from; however, the Panamanian government expressed strong objections to the name, as did other entities in Panama and elsewhere. Some media outlets covering the story have used the name “Mossack Fonseca papers”.

Background-
The Panama Papers are 11.5 million  documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for more than 214,488  entities.
The documents, some dating back to the 1970s, were created by, and taken from, Panamanian law firm and  provider Mossack Fonseca, and were leaked in 2015 by an anonymous source.
The documents contain personal financial information about wealthy individuals and public officials that had previously been kept private.
While offshore business entities are legal, reporters found that some of the Mossack Fonseca  were used for illegal purposes, including , , and evading .
“”, the whistle-blower who leaked the documents to German journalist  from the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), remains anonymous.
John Doe cited  as the reason for his action, and said he leaked the documents “simply because I understood enough about their contents to realise the scale of the injustices they described”.

GS Paper II –International Relations

BRICS to discuss steps to boost investment

What’s Happening-
BRICS nations will soon consider a proposal to frame ‘guiding principles’ for investment policymaking to boost investment flows into Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as well as take steps to promote e-commerce among the five leading emerging economies.

Key Points discussed were:

  • China, the current BRICS chair, wants to push ‘investment facilitation’ and ‘e-commerce’–related issues.
  • Beijing’s proposal for ‘Guiding Principles for BRICS Investment Policymaking’ is similar to ‘Guiding Principles’ agreed by the G20 (group of 20 major economies of the world) Trade Ministers at Shanghai in July 2016 under the Chinese G20 Presidency.
  • China has also been at the forefront of a proposal for a global pact on ‘investment facilitation and promotion’ at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)-level, and is making efforts to ensure that the proposal on a global investment pact gains traction before the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC) meeting in December 2017 in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Definition:

  • The ‘G20 Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policymaking’, states that, “Governments should avoid protectionism in relation to cross-border investment” and that “investment policies should establish open, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable conditions for investment.”
  • China, driving this year’s BRICS agenda, wants the BRICS nations to separately adopt these principles and enter into an ‘investment facilitation’ agreement.
  • India had recently rejected a proposal by the European Union and Canada at the WTO-level for a global investment pact that incorporates the contentious Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.
  • The ISDS mechanism allows firms to drag governments to international arbitration without waiting to exhaust the available local remedies and seek huge compensation.

Background-
BRICS is the  for an association of five major :  , , ,  and
The BRICS members are all leading , all five are .
Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.
As of 2015, the five BRICS countries represent over 3.6 billion people, or about 41% of the world population; all five members are in the , and four are in the top 10.
The five nations have a combined nominal  of US$16.6 trillion, equivalent to approximately 22% of the , combined GDP (PPP) of around US$37 trillion and an estimated US$4 trillion in combined foreign reserves.
Overall the BRICS are forecasted to expand 4.6% in 2016, from an estimated growth of 3.9% in 2015.