Current Affairs Analysis

12th January 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
January 12, 2016



  • PMO sets up panel to fast-track bullet trains

Environment & Ecology

  • No more ‘droughts’ in India, says IMD
  • Bear population up and counting at the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

International Relations

  • India-Australia social security pact comes into operation


PMO sets up panel to fast-track bullet trains

The Prime Minister’s Office has constituted a committee under Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of the NITI Aayog, to hasten the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor, meant for bullet trains between the two cities.


The panel will interact with the Japanese counterpart for taking the next step in implementation.

The Railway Board chairman, secretary in the department of expenditure, foreign secretary and secretary (industrial policy) will be part of the panel.



  • The Cabinet’s approval for the high-speed line was based on the recommendations of a committee headed by Panagariya. Also approved was a suggestion to consider allowing private operators on the 508-km line.
  • The Panagariya panel had favoured Japan over China due to the low-cost funding up to 80 per cent of the cost proposed by Japan International Cooperation Agency, at a 0.1 per cent interest rate (50-year repayment), apart from a commitment for technology transfer and local manufacturing for a specified period.
  • It had suggested Indian Railways run the corridor for an initial five years, after which private operators could be allowed.

Bullet trains in other countries:

  • Bullet trains are run by state-owned agencies in France and Germany.
  • The Japanese system was handed to private companies after two decades of operation.

Proposed bullet trains in India:

  • In India the proposed trains will be run on a standard gauge line, covering 12 stations between the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai and Sabarmati at Ahmedabad.
  • The train is described as having a maximum design speed of 350 km per hour.

[Ref: BS]


Environment & Ecology


No more ‘droughts’ in India, says IMD


 India Meteorological Department (IMD) has decided to simply replace the word “drought” to describe poor rainfall with “deficient year” and “large deficient year”.

  • It is actually part of an effort to help people better understand the terms used in weather forecasts

IMD also changed several terms used by the forecaster based on the recommendation of a committee that was set up by the director general.


  • The communication gap was particularly visible during the Uttarakhand flood in 2013 when the state administration failed to anticipate the severity of the disaster from the IMD warning, which used the outdated language.
  • Subsequently, a committee was set up to review the terminology and to determine how each of these terms can be defined based on supporting observational data.
  • At the end of the exercise, IMD now has better expressions to describe extreme weather events, which would also alert the administration on the need to take precautionary measures.

Committee’s recommendations:

The committee has also suggested new terminology for rainfall, snowfall, heat wave, cold wave and city as well as tourist spot specific weather forecast for short, medium and long term.

Following are the key terms that have now been standardized by the IMD:



[Image Courtesy: Hindu]

The new criteria classify all-India rainfall into five categories:

12th Jan Pic

The rules also change criteria to classify seasonal rainfall. Instead of the old four rainfall categories (excess, normal, deficient, and scanty), the IMD has introduced six categories – 

  • Large excess:60% and above; 
  • Excess:between 20% and 59%; 
  • Normal:minus 19% to plus 19%; 
  • Deficient:minus 20% to minus 59%; 
  • Large deficient:below 60%; and
  • No rain: (0).

Improving capability of IMD:

  • Over recent years, Numerical Weather Prediction models have improved IMD’s ability to predict weather and rainfall across various regions.
  • Forecasters also have better access to Doppler Weather Radar, satellite and other data to help with decision-making.

[Ref: Hindu]


Bear population up and counting at the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

The Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu has seen a sizeable increase in its bear population in the last few months.

  • The current bear population in this forest is said to have possibly crossed 100.

About the reserve:

  • Located in the Erode district of Tamil Nadu, the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve is the largest wildlife sanctuary in the state.
  • With a forest area of 1,411.6 square kilometres, the reserve is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and lies between the Western Ghats and the rest of the Eastern Ghats.
  • The reserve also adjoins four other protected areas — Billigiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, Sigur Plateau, Mudumalai National Park and Bandipur National Park.
  • Situated in a key position between the Western and Eastern Ghats, the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve boasts of a wide variety of fauna. The forest is known for a sizeable population of elephants, and a host of other animals including tigers, sloth bears, bisons, leopards, spotted and barking deer, blackbucks, and hyenas, among the others.

[Ref: The Hindu]


International Relations

India-Australia social security pact comes into operation

A new social security agreement signed between India and Australia has come into operation enabling people of both nations to avail retirement benefits in each other’s country, a pact likely to boost bilateral business linkages.

  • The Agreement signed in November 2014 came into operation on January 1, 2016.

Significance of the agreement:

  • This agreement will give people more freedom to move between Australia and India, knowing their pension rights will be recognised and protected.
  • Australian residents living in India will be able to claim the Australian Age Pension without having to return to Australia, while Indian residents living in Australia will have access to Indian retirement pensions.
  • As a result of this agreement, temporarily seconded workers, and their employers, will only have to make compulsory contributions into their home country’s superannuation or pension system rather than both countries’ systems.
  • This is expected to save Australian businesses operating in India about Rs. 66 crore (USD 10 million) per year, and put Australian businesses on an equal footing with their competitors from other countries that already have similar agreements with India.


  • There are 397,000 Indian-born people living in Australia.
  • Australia now has 30 international social security agreements around the world to support people living and working in more than one country, including with countries like Austria, Belgium, Canada, Japan, Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the US.

[Ref: BS]


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