28 July 2017


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Image may contain: 4 people, people smilingHeartfelt congratulations to all my dear student .this was outstanding performance .this was possible due to your hard work and dedication.
we also feel sad for other student who could not make it this time.but you all were gems. next time hope you will do better.
total selection:28 (5sdm,3dsp).BEST RESULT IN UTTARAKHAND.

30)Nilesh kumar ,jansampark adhikari
Total no of candidate qualified :30

14 July 2017

The difficulty of being a farmer

The difficulty of being a farmer
The Indian farmer faces pressure from both the demand and the supply sides. Technology can help solve some of his problems.
The Indian farmer has always been like an areca nut in a nutcracker—always under pressure from both the supply and the demand sides.
There are about 145 million landholdings in the country. With about 92% of them being wholly owned and self-operated, we may assume that we have about 130 million farmers. With more than 40% of our cultivated area of 175 million hectares being irrigated, there is a clear distinction between farmers with irrigation and those with rain-fed acreages. The most disadvantaged are the farmers who own patches of the 20 million hectares of unproductive saline land in the country. While farmers who have access to irrigation are better placed, those who are in rain-fed and drought-prone areas are most vulnerable. They occupy 60% of the cultivated area but contribute only 45% of the total agricultural production. These are the farmers without the financial wherewithal to withstand the vagaries of nature. A single crop failure due to drought, flood or similar reasons can destroy them.

Crop insurance programmes have not been able to recover farmers’ investments in most cases due to lack of accurate farm-level data that can be used to settle claims. Satellite and remote sensing technologies are for the future.
Farm economics are beholden to the economics of demand and supply. With every recurring phenomenon of high production that is in excess of demand, there is the consequent (and drastic) fall in prices. Planted acreages have little to no connection with projected demand. When a farmer plants a crop, he does not know what the likely market price of his produce will be. The government’s minimum support price (MSP) gives him some direction, but it operates only with some crops. Neither is the government any better at forecasting. In the 2016 kharif season, for example, the government pushed farmers to reduce cotton and plant more pulses. Those who continued growing cotton made good money but the majority who went in for pulses faced excess supply and are dealing with a steep fall in prices.
There is no commodity-based farmers’ organization in the country to address these issues. In other countries, such organizations advise farmers on global projections of demand and supply for specific crops and help in moderating acreages in line with projected demand. Neither are there platforms for farmers to highlight issues to key stakeholders such as policymakers, economists and scientists. Existing farmer organizations are aligned with political or other special interest groups and are neither objective nor scientific in their approach. Hence, the need for the development of a non-partisan platform.
Another high-input cost today is that of farm labour, itself a much misunderstood and maligned issue. Everyone thinks there is ample farm labour available. But the problem is the availability of labour at the right time and at the right cost. The cost of labour has risen due to social welfare programmes and minimum wage levels. At peak times, like sowing, transplanting, harvesting, etc., it is very difficult to get sufficient farm labour. In the case of cotton, for example, the cost of harvesting has risen to about 10% of the selling price—which is very high. Sensitive crops like fruits, vegetables, etc., which have to be harvested at precise times to maximize the quality of the produce, face the same problems.
One solution to address this is greater reliance on technology, be it through farm mechanization, the use of weedicides or genetic engineering, that can lower input and time costs. Farmers operating in states with labour shortage use chemical pesticides to control weeds, which is cost- and time-efficient. There is also rapid mechanization of paddy transplantation. Farmers should be encouraged to use such labour-saving options instead of being burdened with the social objective of protecting rural employment and being denied access to new technology.
The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act prohibits farmers from selling their produce in any mandi other than their designated one. This makes farmers vulnerable to middlemen and vested interests. They are exposed to global prices but are not provided with access to cost-efficient technologies and information systems. This places them at a disadvantage with farmers from other countries. Karnataka has united all mandis in the state on an electronic platform and this has reportedly improved farmers’ selling prices by 38%. This should be replicated nationally.
The agricultural extension system has collapsed in many parts of the country. The farmer is forced to depend on the advice of agri-input dealers and commercial organizations instead. Some organizations are attempting to use information and communication technology-based methods to give technical advice to farmers. This may prove to be beneficial. The other issue is that banks need to get more generous with credit in rural areas where the stranglehold of private moneylenders continues to wreak havoc. Lack of rural infrastructure, reliable power, cold-storage, roads and transport systems, etc., continue to cripple farm operations and increase costs.
We need to overhaul our thinking and approach towards addressing farmers’ challenges which are complicated and structural in nature. Waiving farm loans is a lazy option for governments and a costly option for the banking system. Successive governments have chosen this option because they do not have the political will to find better solutions.

NITI Aayog proposes higher tax on big cars, SUVs in draft National Energy Policy

NITI Aayog proposes higher tax on big cars, SUVs in draft National Energy Policy
NITI Aayog has made a case for higher tax on big cars, SUVs and promotion of mass transport system like metro rail to improve air quality in the draft National Energy Policy
Government think tank NITI Aayog has made a case for higher tax on big cars and SUVs, and promotion of mass transport system like metro rail to improve air quality in the draft National Energy Policy.
The proposed National Energy Policy has also pitched for providing conducive regulatory framework to encourage investments in the energy sector in India which would around $3.6 trillion between 2015 and 2040.
“Further widening taxation differential between cars (higher tax for big cars/ SUVs) will promote adoption of more fuel-efficient cars,” stated the draft National Energy Policy on which NITI Aayog has sought public feedback till 14 July 2017.
The draft policy also said that the success of efficiency in private transport depends on progress in mass transport system such as metro rail. The poor air quality in India, particularly in urban centres where energy is used in concentrated areas, calls for bold action through energy policy as a part of the overall environment strategy, says the draft.
An analysis of total emission over life of different modes of transport options is critical to decide about the appropriate mode of transport. The draft says that the policy to promote electric and hybrid vehicles needs to be supported.
Other policy options should be explored to arrive at optimal solutions and incentives to decide whether to support expensive technology; or to give subsidies. The higher emission of big diesel cars was a issue of public discourse in the recent times after the apex court banned the sale of SUVs with cubic capacity of 2000 or more in Delhi.
Later last year, the Supreme Court allowed sale of these vehicles but imposed 1% cess on ex-show room price in the National Capital Region.
The policy said that the capital requirement in the energy domain is the biggest challenge before the country, which is aggravated by high interest rates as compared to developed economies.
According to the estimates of International Energy Agency, the Indian energy sector will require an investment upwards of $3.6 trillion between 2015 and 2040. It notes that India needs large doses of private capital, both domestic and international, and this will be forthcoming only if we erect world-class regulators.
The draft points out that the competitive markets cannot be achieved without effective independent oversight. The policy has proposed to complete the regulatory space by putting in place statutory Regulators for coal, oil and gas (upstream) on the same lines as in electricity.
The growth in India’s energy supply by a multiple of nearly more than three by 2040, has to be facilitated by assuring investors of competent, arms-length and effective decision-making, it said.
In a developing scenario, investors will not come forward unless they anticipate commercially in the sector. On the other hand, consumer interests can also be addressed by the same strong watchdog mechanism. Simultaneously, Regulators must implement Government policy on current issues such as access, air quality, affordability etc, it added.

The road to Rashtrapati Bhavan

The road to Rashtrapati Bhavan
Here’s a look at what the process involves to elect India’s next president
Presidential elections are due on 17 July—a contest (in case there are candidates other than the National Democratic Alliance’s Ram Nath Kovind) that will be decided by an electoral college. Here’s a look at what the process involves, according to data provided by New Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research.

India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-17 was on Thursday successfully launched by a heavy duty rocket of Arianespace from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana.

India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-17 was on Thursday successfully launched by a heavy duty rocket of Arianespace from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana.
Configured around I-3K extended bus, GSAT-17 with a lift-off mass of about 3,477 kg, carries payloads in Normal C- band, Extended C-band and S-band to provide various communication services. It also carries equipment for meteorological data relay and satellite based search and rescue services being provided by earlier INSAT satellites.
The European launcher Arianespace Flight VA238 blasted off from Ariane Launch Complex No 3 (ELA 3) at Kourou, a French territory located in northeastern coast of South America, couple of minutes delayed than the scheduled time of 2:29am.
GSAT-17 was injected shortly after orbiting co-passenger Hellas Sat 3-Inmarsat S EAN in a flawless flight lasting about 41 minutes. “GSAT-17 successfully launched by Ariane-5 VA-238 from Kourou, French Guiana,” the city headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) announced after the mission.
GSAT-17 that will strengthen Isro’s current fleet of 17 telecommunications satellites was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). This will be third satellite launch by Isro this month, the other two being first developmental flight of GSLV MkIII and PSLV C-38 missions—both from Sriharikota spaceport.
GSLV MkIII successfully launched GSAT-19 satellite on 5 June while PSLV-C38 orbited Cartosat-2 Series satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites on 23 June from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Isro, which has been dependent on Ariane-5 rocket for carrying its heavier satellites, is developing GSLV Mk III for this purpose.
Announcing the successful launch of the satellite, Arianespace chief executive officer Stephane Israel tweeted: “Confirmed: GSAT-17 has successfully separated from its #Ariane5 launcher #VA238 @ISRO “ Thanking Arianespace, Director Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Dr K. Sivan who watched the launch from the mission control centre called it a “text book mission”.
Noting it as a special mission for Isro, he said “GSAT-17 is a need of the hour for Isro and India as it provides the continuity in services of ageing two satellites, as well as augmenting our transponder capability, and widening our horizon to mobile satellite services as well as to Antarctica areas.”
GSAT-17’s co-passenger Hellas Sat 3-Inmarsat S EAN is a two-payload “condosat” produced by Thales Alenia Space for Hellas Sat and Inmarsat. Once in orbit, the Hellas Sat 3 component will deliver direct-to-home and telecom services to maintain and expand Hellas Sat’s business reach, while the Inmarsat S EAN component provides the satellite portion of Inmarsat’s new European Aviation Network.
Hellas Sat (member of the Arabsat Group) is a premium satellite operator, offering services in Europe, the Middle East and South Africa from the orbital position of 39 East. Inmarsat is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services.
The total payload carried on Flight VA238 is approximately 10,177 kg. GSAT-17 will be the 21st satellite from Isro to be launched by Arianespace, and its designed in-orbit operational life is about 15 years.
After its injection into GTO, Isro’s Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan takes control of GSAT-17 and performs the initial orbit raising manoeuvres using the Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) of the satellite, placing it in circular Geostationary Orbit, the Indian space agency has said.

indo israel

PM Narendra Modi to advance sales and production of missiles, drones and radar systems from Israel under his signature ‘Make in India’ drive
Narendra Modi is making a first visit to Israel by an Indian prime minister next week, in a public embrace of a country that he has long admired for its military and technical expertise but which his predecessors kept at arm’s length.
India has traditionally trodden a careful diplomatic line in the region, analysts say, wary of upsetting Arab states and Iran—upon whom it relies for its vast imports of oil—and its large Muslim minority. It has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, even as it quietly pursued ties with Israel.

But now Modi is lifting the curtain on a thriving military relationship. He will hold three days of talks with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, to advance sales and production of missiles, drones and radar systems under his signature “Make in India” drive, officials in Delhi and Tel Aviv said.
The Indian leader will not travel to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestine Authority and a customary stop for visiting leaders trying to maintain a balance in political ties.
At home, the apparent shift in what has long been a bedrock of India’s foreign policy risks sharpening criticism that the country’s 180 million Muslims are increasingly being marginalized under Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which swept to power in 2014.
“Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel will only strengthen its occupation of Palestine,” said Asaduddin Owaisi, a member of the Indian parliament from a regional group that promotes Muslim rights.
In previous decades, under the left-leaning Congress Party, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was a regular visitor to New Delhi, pictured hugging then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when the two were championing the Non-Alignment Movement.
In May, Modi hosted Arafat’s successor, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and offered help in health and information technology, but the trip was low-key.
The scale of the ongoing collaboration with Israel dwarfs anything India is attempting with the Palestinians, officials say.
“We have a wide ranging partnership with Israel that ranges from agriculture cooperation to homeland security,” said Bala Bhaskar, head of the foreign ministry’s West Asia division.
He said India’s ties with Israel and Palestine were important in their own right and neither should viewed through the prism of the other. But an Israeli diplomat said Modi’s standalone trip to Tel Aviv was an important signal.
The two sides are expected to announce strategic partnerships in areas including water, agriculture and space technology during Modi’s visit. But it is the defence relationship that is most advanced—India is now Israel’s biggest arms market, buying weapons at an average of $1 billion each year.
Eli Alfassi, executive vice-president of marketing at state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the country’s biggest defence firm, said it was supplying India with drones, radar, communication systems and cybersecurity.
Missiles, food security
The centrepiece of the collaboration is the Barack 8 air defence system, built jointly by the two countries in a boost for Modi’s campaign to develop a domestic defence industry.
“We are adjusting to the ‘Make in India’ policy which says only local companies will win tenders, so we are setting up three joint projects in India with local companies,” Alfassi said.
IAI has signed a memorandum of understanding to build missiles with India’s state-run Bharat Electronics Limited, launched a joint project with Dynamatic Technologies to make drones and is scouting for a partner for a joint venture for its subsidiary Elta, which specialises in electronic warfare and communication systems, he said.
India is in the midst of a military modernisation programme worth more than $100 billion to help counter rivals Pakistan and China. Israel, the United States and Russia are India’s top military suppliers, and Modi’s government has said it will favour countries that are ready to share technology.
Avi Mizrachi, executive vice-president of business development for Israel and Southeast Asia at Elbit Systems, which supplies electro-optic systems and upgrades of helicopters and combat vehicles, said it would be bidding for a tender to supply drones in partnership with the Adani group.
The two countries stress, though, that there is more to the relationship than arms deals.
Modi will be discussing a plan for Israeli help in boosting India’s food security, officials said. The plan is to expand 26 agriculture expertise centres that Israel has set up in 15 Indian states to help increase output of everything from vegetables to mangoes and pomegranates.
Modi wants Indian companies involved in turning these small centres into commercial entities that would help tens of thousands of farmers to boost productivity.

Sikkim standoff: India pushes more troops in Doka La in longest impasse since 1962

Sikkim standoff: India pushes more troops in Doka La in longest impasse since 1962
Officials say India brought in more troops in Doka La after the destruction of two of its bunkers and ‘aggressive tactics’ adopted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Arm
India has pushed in more troops in a “non-combative mode” to strengthen its position in an area near Sikkim, where its soldiers have been locked in a standoff with Chinese troops for almost a month now in what has been the longest such impasse between the two armies since 1962.
India brought in more troops after the destruction of two of its bunkers and “aggressive tactics” adopted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), officials said.
In a “non- combative mode”, the nozzle of a gun is placed downwards. Giving details for the first time about the events that preceded the face off between the two armies, the officials said the PLA on 1 June asked the Indian Army to remove the two bunkers set up in 2012 at Lalten in Doka La, which falls in the vicinity of Chumbi Valley at the corner of India-Bhutan- Tibet tri-junction.
The Indian Army, which had been patrolling this area for many years, decided in 2012 that two bunkers would be positioned there as a backup option, besides providing security to the Bhutan-China border. The Indian Army forward positions informed Sukna-based 33 Corps Headquarter in North Bengal about the Chinese warnings on the bunkers, the officials said.
However, during the night of 6 June, two Chinese bulldozers destroyed the bunkers, claiming that the area belonged to China and that India or Bhutan had no right over it, the officials said. Indian troops on the ground prevented the Chinese men and machines from doing any further damage or transgressing into the area, they said.
Additional forces from nearby brigade headquarters, located 20km from the face off point, were moved in on 8 June during which a scuffle led to soldiers on both sides suffering minor injuries. PLA troops were rushed in from its 141 division located in the area, prompting the Indian Army to also strengthen its position. This is the longest standoff between the two armies since 1962.
The last one, which carried on for 21 days, occurred at Daulat Beg Oldie in the Ladakh division of Jammu and Kashmir in 2013, when Chinese troops entered 30km into Indian territory till the Depsang Plains and claimed it to be a part of its Xinjiang province. They were, however, pushed back.
Sikkim, which became a part of India in May 1976, is the only state which has a demarcated border with China. The lines are based on a treaty signed with the Chinese in 1898. After the India-China war of 1962, the area where the Indian troops are stationed was placed under the Indian Army and the ITBP, which is the border guarding force and has a camp 15km from the international border.
As the scuffle broke out between the two sides, the Indian Army rushed an officer of the Major General rank to the area and a flag meeting was sought with the Chinese counterparts. China rejected two such requests from the Indian side, but accepted the third call for a meeting, where it asked the Indian Army to withdraw its troops from the Lalten area, which falls in Doka La.
Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it to be part of its Donglang region. As a fallout of the standoff, the Chinese refused to allow the first batch of 47 pilgrims, who were to conduct the annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, into Tibet.
They also conveyed to the Indian side that visas of another batch of 50 yatris had also been cancelled, the officials said, describing the move as an indication of “increased tempers” in Beijing. The Sikkim route to Mansarovar, which is in Tibet, was opened in 2015, enabling pilgrims to travel the 1500km long route from Nathu La to Kailash by buses.
It is not the first time that such a transgression has happened at Doka La. The Chinese forces had in November 2008 destroyed some makeshift Indian army bunkers there. Defence experts believe China wants to exert its dominance over the Chumbi Valley, which is a part of the southern reaches of Tibet.
By claiming the Doka La area, Beijing wants to maximise its geographical advantage so that it can monitor all movements along the India-Bhutan border. China has also increased diplomatic pressure on India and lodged a protest over the alleged “crossing of boundary” by Indian troops in the Sikkim section.
They demanded their immediate withdrawal, as Beijing warned that future visits of Indian pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar would depend on the resolution of the standoff. “Our position to uphold our territorial sovereignty is unwavering. We hope the Indian side can work with China in the same direction and immediately withdraw the personnel who have overstepped and trespassed into Chinese border,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang had told the media in Beijing last week.
People’s Liberation Army spokesman Col Wu Qian also spoke a tough language while making a reference to the 1962 Sino- India conflict, saying that New Delhi should “learn historical lessons”. Qian described Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s remarks that India was ready for a “two-and-a-half front war” as “extremely irresponsible” and asked him to “stop clamouring for war”.
Rawat had said India was prepared for security threats posed by China, Pakistan as well as by internal threats. “Such rhetoric is extremely irresponsible. We hope that the particular person in the Indian Army could learn from historical lessons and stop such clamouring for war,” he had said.
The defence minister, Arun Jaitley, made New Delhi’s stand clear when he said the India of 2017 was different from that of 1962. “If they are trying to remind us, the situation in 1962 was different and the India of 2017 is different,” Jaitley had said when asked about China’s warning. Of the 3,488km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220km section falls in Sikkim.

World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision

World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision
On 21st June, 2017, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat issued World Population Prospects Report: The 2017 Revision.
According to the results of the 2017 Revision, the world’s population numbered nearly 7.6 billion as of mid-2017.
The reports shows that the world’s population is projected to increase by slightly more than one billion people over the next 13 years, and will reach 8.6 billion in 2030, and to increase further to 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100.
Currently, the population of China is approximately 1.41 billion compared with 1.34 billion in India that is 19 percent and 18 percent of the world’s population respectively.
India’s population is projected to continue growing for several decades to around 1.5 billion in 2030 while the population of China is expected to remain stable until the 2030s, after which it may begin a slow decline.
In this way India will be the world’s most populous country by 2024-2030.
According to repots data, ten countries are expected to account collectively for more than half of the world’s projected population increase over the period 2017-2050.
These ten countries are India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, the United States of America, Uganda, Indonesia and Egypt.
Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing most rapidly.
The population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States shortly before 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world.
According to the report in 2017, an estimated 50.4 per cent of the world’s population was male and 49.6 per cent female.
Current estimates indicate that roughly 83 million people are being added to the world’s population every year.

UKPCS-2016 full length test

UKPCS-2016 full length test

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India have topped the medal tally for first time in the history of Asian Athletics Championships.

India have topped the medal tally for first time in the history of Asian Athletics Championships.
In a stunning show of dominance on the fourth and final day of competitions in Bhubaneshwar today, India clinched five gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze.
With that, the hosts ended the championships on top with a haul of 29 medals which included 12 gold, 5 silver and 12 bronze.

Needed: A mutual restraint pact with China

Needed: A mutual restraint pact with China
The 2015 India-China statement on ‘respect and sensitivity to each other’s concerns’ should be narrowed down to primary concerns and core interests
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Beijing in May 2015, India and China issued a well-considered joint statement. The first section of the document, subtitled “Strengthening Political Dialogue And Strategic Communication”, stated: “Full use will be made of the opportunities provided by the presence of their leaders at various multilateral fora to hold consultations on bilateral relations and issues of regional and global importance.”
Yet when such an opportunity was presented last week in the G20 summit, both sides went out of their way to insist that they had not sought a meeting. Against the backdrop of a serious stand-off along the border, there could be no starker proof of the fraying of India-China ties over the past two years.
Pakistan loses its veto vote on India’s bilateral relations
Sikkim standoff: India not entitled to make claims on behalf of Bhutan, says Chinese media
Stand-off with China back in focus after PM Modi’s return from foreign trip
To consider why things have come to this pass, it is important to understand how this difficult relationship was managed over the past 25 years. The Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement of 1993 was a decisive break from the pattern of Sino-Indian relations since the 1962 war. The agreement formalized the two sides’ commitment to maintaining status quo on the border until they arrived at a negotiated settlement. The agreement also enabled them to bracket the boundary issue and allow the bilateral relationship to develop in other areas.
The agreement was enabled by a particular domestic and international conjuncture. Having embarked on major economic reforms, prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao was keen to ensure a stable relationship with China. This would help check defence expenditure and allow India to focus on its internal transformation.
In the wake of the Tiananmen massacre and the ensuing international opprobrium, China too was keen to avoid confrontation with its adversaries and create a suitable external environment to spur its economic growth. Both China and India were also reconciled to the fact of American unipolarity and sought to leverage it for their own power and purposes.
The peace and tranquillity agreements of 1993 and 1996 delivered their core promise. When certain aspects of them, such as clarification of the Line of Actual Control, proved difficult, the two sides responded not by restricting cooperation but expanding it. Think of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s bold decision in 2003 to embark on political negotiations on the border. Over the following decade, the common refrain was: “There is enough room for the growth of both China and India”.
The strategic and political context today is rather different. Having gained an upper hand on border infrastructure, the Chinese are keen to prevent India from catching up. Hence, the new forms of Chinese military activity along the border over the past five years.
More broadly, China’s relative power in the international system has risen since the global financial crisis. Not surprisingly, China’s definition of its core interests and its willingness to pursue them has also increased. India’s interests too have expanded with its growing power. Not only is it prepared to adopt a more assertive posture on the border, but it also harbours concerns about South China Sea and China’s rising footprint along India’s periphery.
Even as New Delhi attempts to resolve the current stand-off, it should think ahead. We now need a restraining pact with China. Diplomatic history is replete, as historian Paul Schroeder reminds us, with such examples of managing antagonistic relations by associative means—also known as pacta de contrahendo.
The Holy Alliance after the Napoleonic Wars stabilized Russia’s relations with Austria and Prussia—countries that had been its enemies recently and that continued to compete with Russia along its periphery. The Entente Cordiale, similarly, helped stabilize Britain’s ties with its historic enemy, France. Contrary to popular wisdom, the entente was aimed not at a rising Germany but at managing Britain’s rivalry with France over colonial possessions.
What could be the elements of an agreement on mutual restraint with China?
The 2015 statement spoke of “respect and sensitivity to each other’s concerns, interests and aspirations”. This should be narrowed down to primary concerns and core interests. For instance, Chinese military activism along the border is a primary concern for India. Not so the political cover they provide in the UN to Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism. Yet India should make it clear that Pakistani terrorism jeopardizes regional security—especially in the context of Chinese projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Both sides should also set aside aspirational or status goals: be it India’s desire for Chinese support on Nuclear Suppliers Group membership, or China’s desire for Indian support on the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s leadership more generally.
As for the border, both sides could build on previous agreements. Former national security adviser Shivshankar Menon has observed that neither side has explored the reference in the 1993 agreement (and subsequent statements) to the need for “mutual and equal security” and for agreement on force levels. An accord based on these principles could help arrest the downward slide on the border and assure both sides of their core interests pending a boundary settlement.
It is easy to naysay the possibility of such a restraining pact. However, diplomacy is not about pessimism but realism—especially if the alternative is heading to hell in a handcart.

Ahmedabad takes giant leap, becomes India's first World Heritage City

Ahmedabad takes giant leap, becomes India's first World Heritage City
The historic city Ahmedabad has been declared as a World Heritage City at the 41st session of Unesco's world heritage committee meet in Karkow in Poland on Saturday. This day (July 8, 2017) will be remembered in history as for the first time an Indian city was declared a world heritage property.
The nomination of Ahmedabad was supported by close to 20 countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Portugal, Peru, Kazakhistan, Vietnam, Finland, Azerbaijan, Jmaica, Croatia,Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Korea, Croatia, Angolam, Cuba, and the host country of the Unesco session, Poland.
The countries unanimously supported Ahmedabad citing a secular co-existence of Islamic, Hindu and Jain communities along with exemplary architecture of intricately carved wooden havelis dating back hundreds of years. The countries also recognized that the city was a cradle for India's non-violent freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi.
The walled city has 26 ASI-protected structures, hundreds of 'pols' that capture the essence of community living and numerous sites associated with Mahatma Gandhi who lived here from 1915 to 1930.
It will now join the likes of Paris, Cairo and Edinburgh. Of the 287 world heritage cities across the globe, there were only two cities in the Indian subcontinent-- Bhaktpur in Nepal and Galle in Sri Lanka. The Unesco tag will add immense value to the city and boost tourism.

ukpcs mains :test series running.make out of it by doing writting practice. lower pcs mains batch from 22nd july.

ukpcs mains :test series running.make out of it by doing writting practice.
lower pcs mains batch from 22nd july.
12 candidates out of 16 had qualified ukpcs mains 2012.

NGT declares 100m from edge of Ganga river as ‘no-development zone’

NGT declares 100m from edge of Ganga river as ‘no-development zone’
National Green Tribunal (NGT) also prohibits dumping of waste within 500 metres of Ganga river, declares Rs50,000 fine on anyone found doing so
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday passed a slew of directions to rejuvenate the Ganga river, declaring a “No-Development Zone” 100 metres from the edge of the river between Haridwar and Unnao and prohibiting dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar also declared that an environment compensation of Rs50,000 will be imposed on anyone who dumps waste in the Ganga river.
The apex environment regulator directed all authorities concerned to complete various projects including setting up of a sewage treatment plant and cleaning drains within two years. It also said the Uttar Pradesh government should be “duty-bound” to shift tanneries within six weeks, from Jajmau in Kanpur to leather parks in Unnao or any other place it considers appropriate.
The NGT also directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of Ganga or its tributaries. The tribunal also appointed a supervisory committee, headed by the secretary of the water resources ministry and comprising IIT professors and officials from UP government to oversee implementation of the directions passed in its 543- page verdict. It also asked the committee to submit reports at regular intervals.
The NGT said the concept of zero liquid discharge and online monitoring of affluents should not be applied to industrial units. It said that all industrial units falling in the catchment area of the Ganga river should be stopped from indiscriminate extraction of groundwater.
The tribunal had heard the arguments of the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh government, pollution control boards and various other stakeholders for almost 18 months before reserving the judgement on 31 May.
The green panel has divided the work of cleaning the river in different segments—Gomukh to Haridwar (Phase-I), Haridwar to Unnao (termed as segment B of Phase-I), Unnao to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal. It has already delivered the verdict in December 2015 with regard to first phase between Gomukh to Haridwar. The verdict came on a 1985 PIL of noted environment activist M.C. Mehta which was transferred to the NGT from the Supreme Court in 2014.

What exactly are antibiotics? How do they work? And why haven’t we curbed their use, despite the overwhelming evidence of growing antibiotic resistance?

What exactly are antibiotics? How do they work? And why haven’t we curbed their use, despite the overwhelming evidence of growing antibiotic resistance?
Today, less than 100 years after the serendipitous discovery of penicillin, antibiotics have almost become a household remedy. Though we were quick to exploit the therapeutic values of antibiotics, for too long we paid scant heed to the sustainability of these wonder drugs (long-term thinking has rarely been mankind’s forte).
In a few decades, antibiotics may very well be as useless as placebo sugar pills. On the bright side, a few of us at least are watchful of fast-approaching threats. For years now, scientists have issued dire warnings about the dangers of antibiotic resistance (unfortunately, we still have a long way to go). But before we get into why that is, let’s consider a simple question: exactly what are antibiotics?
It may surprise you to know that antibiotics were not made by, or for, humans. Many microbes produce various substances, including antibiotics, to kill other microbes that are their competitors for food and space. Humans just happened to find a way to take advantage of this microbe-on-microbe conflict.
The molecular weapons deployed are nasty chemicals which can harm the enemy in different ways. They can bore holes in the sheath that protects microbial cells. Or they can short circuit important life processes when ingested.
The microbial artillery of antibiotics varies widely, with different capacities and specificities. Some antibiotics merely arrest the growth of their enemy, while others outright kill their target. Every environment on the planet—from soil to water to sand to the bodies of other living beings (like us)—is the battleground for this bacterial warfare for food and space.
Some of the parties involved bode ill for human beings. Our organs are 'space' for them, and the stuff inside those organs, including our cells, serves as food. Our natural defences against these enemies: the wonderfully complex and effective human immune system.
The battle has been raging for millions of years—our ancestors, and the ancestors of the microbes we battle today, kept evolving new weapons and defence systems. Each side loses some of its battles and, quite naturally, in spite of multiple lines of defence employed by our immune system, bacterial infections can often maim or kill. This happens most often when the immune system is not at its best—for instance, when an individual is severely wounded or suffers from long-term illnesses, or when people are on immunosuppressive medication.
Wonder drug
The discovery of antibiotics was a fortunate accident. On 3 September 1928, in St Mary’s Hospital in London, Alexander Fleming, a professor of bacteriology, found something curious while studying a Staphylococcus specimen (this particularly notorious bacterium is often responsible for food poisoning, abscesses, boils and sore throats).
Fleming saw that the petri dish was full of Staphylococcus colonies, thriving on the nutritious jelly, save for a blob of unwanted fungus growing in the middle and a nice clear zone around it. Clearly, the fungus was somehow inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus. A substance oozing out of the miracle fungus was later identified as penicillin. The rest is history.
Let’s come back to the present for now. We have reached a stage where antibiotics have become an indispensable part of our medical system. Hundreds of different antibiotics have now been identified and many more are discovered every year. Their chemical structure, mechanism of action and possible targets are well known.
Scientists first found the microbes that make the weapons against microbes that infect humans, and then devised a way to separate these weapons from their makers. Afterwards, they took it a step further and synthesized antibiotics chemically, without any microbial aid.
In 2000, a staggering 150 million pounds (68 million kg) of natural and synthetic antibiotics were produced worldwide. We use antibiotics not only to treat the bacterial infections but also to prevent infections.
So, what's the problem?
Amid all this, though, we underestimated the bacteria. Not unlike us, microbes have millions of years of experience in this warfare and over time, more and more grew resistant to the antibiotics. Our estimates for the evolution and spread of these defence strategies, unfortunately, were quite off the mark.
In 1950, 20 years after penicillin was discovered, scientists were largely of the opinion that antibiotic resistance would be a rare phenomenon. We now have ample evidence to the contrary.
In the face of the antibiotic menace, microbes evolve different kinds of mechanisms to render the drugs useless. For instance, one common strategy is to recognize the harmful antibiotic and pump it out of the cell. Another is to change the structure of the the socket where the antibiotic would plug in, preventing the short-circuit. A microbe with any of these tricks, unhindered by the presence of antibiotics, will reproduce happily.
And what’s more, once evolved, the genes for resistance are swiftly circulated through a microbial game of passing the parcel. Unfortunately, the music never stops and the resistance can spread across continents. On top of that, it is only (relatively) recently that we began to fathom the magnitude of this problem. And when it comes to predicting the course of antibiotic resistance, we are only slightly better than cavemen trying to judge the distance between the moon and the earth.
The laws of physics allow us to predict the movements of planets and stars. Remember that scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey (the book, not the film) where a spaceship uses the gravitational field of Jupiter to speed itself up, sort of like a slingshot, and propels itself towards Saturn? Well, we’ve actually managed to pull off something similar, during the Voyager launch. And with superb precision. The same, alas, cannot be said for most of things in biology.
The most important reason for this failure is the fact that, unlike astrophysicists, biologists deal with living things. In the antibiotic wars, we fight against beings that have been selected through billions of years of evolution and whose survival skills are second to none.
A way out
Does this mean that the trick, i.e. resistance to any given antibiotic, needs to evolve only once on our planet? Before spreading to every microbe?
Not at all. Life is rarely wasteful—if there isn’t an antibiotic in the environment of the microbe, building the defences to keep it out is a waste of energy. If the antibiotic is not encountered for a long time, storing and sharing the defensive trick is also a waste.
And there lies the crux of the problem. We now use antibiotics to such an extent that most environments are teeming with them. The pressure to retain survival techniques is always on. And hence the resistance is persisting and spreading.
What does this mean for us? Soon, antibiotics might not be effective at thwarting the infections. We might have to suffer our day-to-day infections a bit longer. But we still have our almighty immune systems, right?
Yes, we do. But many medical procedures, from common surgeries to cancer treatments to organ transplants, involve the active suppression of immunity. The patient faces a tremendous risk of infections. Simple accidents, like stepping on a nail, could prove tragic in the absence of effective antibiotic treatment.
This might sound overly pessimism to many, but unless we take immediate measures, it may become reality in the not-too-distant future.
This brings us to another question: what is it that we can do? Currently, our best bet is the moderation of antibiotic use. How, though, can we achieve this without serious drawbacks? There are quite a few options.
One is to minimize the administration of antibiotics to domesticated animals. Nearly 50% of antibiotics produced in the world are administered to animals, not as a treatment, but to improve the yields of meat.
Two, for humans, antibiotics are often prescribed before the disease-causing agent is identified. In the majority of instances, the culprit is some kind of virus, against which antibiotics are useless. But testing samples of bodily fluids is costly and time consuming. This results in blind prescription of antibiotics—sometimes even a cocktail of them—by physicians.
In many countries, India included, antibiotics can be bought over the counter without a prescription, and hence are consumed more than actually necessary or even effective.
If globalization has bought world the closer, it has also bought its own “global” problems with it. We should try, and I dare say we are trying, to fight them globally.
Across the world, attempts are being made to regulate the usage of antibiotics. Scientists are trying to discover more and better antibiotics, as well as new ways to utilize the existing repertoire. We might even stumble upon a new wonder weapon. But these attempts will require much time and, of course, large amounts of money. For now, though, we must build awareness of the issue and minimize the use of antibiotics.

Indian astronomers discover supercluster of galaxies, name it ‘Saraswati’

Indian astronomers discover supercluster of galaxies, name it ‘Saraswati’
The Saraswati supercluster, 4 billion light years away from us, has 43 galaxies, discover Indian astronomers
In a significant discovery, a team of Indian astronomers have identified a previously unknown, extremely large supercluster of galaxies located in the direction of constellation Pisces.
The supercluster of 43 galaxies, which they named “Saraswati”, is one of the largest known structures in the nearby universe, and is 4 billion light years away from us and may contain the mass equivalent of over 20 million billion suns
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A supercluster is a chain of galaxies and galaxy clusters, bound by gravity, often stretching to several hundred times the size of clusters of galaxies, consisting of tens of thousands of galaxies. The Saraswati supercluster, for instance, extends over a scale of 600 million light years.
The Milky Way, the galaxy we are in, is part of a supercluster called the Laniakea Supercluster, announced in 2014 by Brent Tully at the University of Hawaii and collaborators.
The Saraswati discovery was made by astronomers from India’s Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), both in Pune, and members of two other Indian universities. IUCAA is an autonomous institution set up by the India to promote the nucleation and growth of active groups in astronomy and astrophysics at Indian universities.
“This novel discovery is being published in the latest issue of The Astrophysical Journal, the premier research journal of the American Astronomical Society,” said an official statement from IUCAA.
“The Saraswati supercluster is observed as it was when the universe was 10 billion years old,” IUCAA said in the statement. Thus, the findings could push researchers to rethink the popular theories of how the universe got its current form.
“The long-popular ‘cold dark matter’ model of the evolution of the universe predicts that small structures like galaxies form first, which congregate into larger structures. Most forms of this model do not predict the existence of large structures such as the Saraswati Supercluster within the current age of the universe. The discovery of these extremely large structures thus force astronomers into re-thinking the popular theories of how the universe got its current form, starting from a more-or-less uniform distribution of energy after the Big Bang,” the statement said.
Interestingly, Somak Raychaudhury, currently director of IUCAA and a co-author of the paper, had also discovered the first massive supercluster of galaxies on this scale (the Shapley Concentration), during his PhD research at the University of Cambridge decades ago.
In his paper published in the journal Nature in 1989, Raychaudhury had named the supercluster after the American astronomer Harlow Shapley, in recognition of his pioneering survey of galaxies.
Joydeep Bagchi from IUCAA, the lead author of the paper, and co-author Shishir Sankhyayan (PhD scholar at IISER, Pune) said, ‘’We were very surprised to spot this giant wall-like supercluster of galaxies, visible in a large spectroscopic survey of distant galaxies, known as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.”
“This supercluster is clearly embedded in a large network of cosmic filaments traced by clusters and large voids. Previously only a few comparatively large superclusters have been reported, for example the ‘Shapley Concentration’ or the ‘Sloan Great Wall’ in the nearby universe, while the ‘Saraswati’ supercluster is far more distant one. Our work will help to shed light on the perplexing question; how such extreme large scale, prominent matter-density enhancements had formed billions of years in the past when the mysterious Dark Energy had just started to dominate structure formation,’’ the duo said in a statement.

Rethinking regulators and regulatory Acts

Rethinking regulators and regulatory Acts
It is of immediate concern to take a fresh look at prevailing regulatory Acts if regulators are to be effective in the markets of the future
The pace of innovation in high-technology disruptive markets, defying traditional market boundaries, has created fluidity in the definitions of market, monopoly and the concept of dominance outside the confines of existing regulatory Acts. A rethink on the role of regulators and their efficacy in these markets, as also the revision of existing Acts, is of immediate concern.
Telecommunications is one sector where the changes have been disruptive and innovative, covering a wide range of services far removed from the traditional fixed-line telephones—the natural monopoly segment associated with the sector.
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The telecommunication sector now includes networks, internet services, virtual markets, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and the entire gamut of services using the information highway with innovative approaches to combining voice and data. It is the digital space of virtual markets that promises growth to Indian start-ups and multifold benefits to consumers.
Should this sector come under the purview of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) or the Competition Commission of India (CCI)? Or should it be left to the market, with regulation limited to safety and dispute resolution mechanisms for consumers? After all, inappropriate intervention by any regulator can sound the death knell for the sector.
Trai’s attempts at repositioning itself in the new dynamism of markets has seen it come out with consultation papers, most recently on fixing retail tariffs. These are positive developments that should provoke wider discussion. Unfortunately, Trai, like all regulators, is caught between an archaic legislation and a sector that defies legal confines.
“Forbearance”, or distancing from fixing retail tariffs, is the new principle that Trai plans to follow. Under the suggested dispensation, telecommunications service providers (TSPs) will be free to fix their retail tariffs and are only required to comply with a list of conditions that emphasize transparency, consistency and clarity.
However, Trai seems compelled by Section 11(2) of the Trai Act to bring in two principles of tariff fixation. Even more surprising is the choice of non-discrimination and predation as principles of tariff fixation.
As ex-post facto outcomes, the two principles, fixed on an ex-ante basis, will fail to capture the benefits of a nuanced dynamic pricing policy that the sector is currently witnessing. Instead, TSPs such as Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India Ltd, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and other service providers may prefer to revert to the traditional staid pricing schemes, if only to avoid regulatory intervention.
Discriminatory pricing between consumer groups can be consumer-welfare enhancing while zero pricing need not necessarily be predatory, especially if the marginal costs are zero. Pricing decisions taken by firms are based on several factors, which include information of consumer consumption patterns and “willingness-to-pay”; their own long-run cost structures and the pricing strategies of competitors. Under competitive conditions, price discovery is by the market. The Trai Act structured in the economics of natural monopoly set within the framework of “principal agent” may not be able to appreciate dynamic pricing schemes.
As a licensed activity, the tail-end activity of TSPs also comes under the domain of Trai. Section 11(2) mandates Trai to fix tariffs for all licensed activity. Unease stems from the fact that Trai lacks both the expertise and the legal backing.
Meanwhile, CCI, under the Competition Act, has no powers to fix tariffs. It can only investigate allegations of abuse using the economic analysis of monopolistic competition facilitated by the right to private action (Section 19) unique to the Competition Act. This right vested with CCI provides access to private consumer information that is so essential in understanding discrimination or defining predation.
Further, the commission has the right to levy fines but Trai doesn’t. If Trai seeks powers for damage claims by way of subordinate legislation, it will only encourage firms to indulge in forum shopping to the disadvantage of new entrants and consumers.
If expertise and legal backing indicate that predatory pricing and discriminatory pricing are in the realm of CCI, it is equally important to see if the Competition Act constrains the CCI from assessing competition on the information highway.
The digital space of this highway has no boundaries between products and services and between nations at odds with traditional price-cost parameters of competition. Antitrust authorities are currently grappling with the following questions : i) how to define the relevant product market when the product is free; ii) how to demarcate geographic boundaries for viral networks that do not follow national boundaries; iii) what constitutes predatory pricing or discrimination when prices are not charged purely on account of the fact that marginal costs are negligible within the framework of legal structures.
Emergent new metrics of competition fail to establish unequivocally the dominance of large entities and of abuse. The recent dismissal of the allegation of predatory pricing by CCI in the Bharti Airtel versus Reliance Jio case was on traditional measures of dominance. As in the case of the consultation paper, CCI’s decision is a welcome one. But does it provide comfort for intervening in future information markets? That said, it does provoke a rethink on prevailing regulatory Acts if regulators are to be effective in the markets of the future.

The 30-year itch in India-China ties

The 30-year itch in India-China ties
The biggest foreign policy crisis of the year is India’s chance to comprehensively revamp its China policy
The stand-off at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction reflects the dissonance in the Sino-Indian relationship, driven by a hardening of the Chinese stand on territorial claims. Some Indian analysts suggest a comprehensive relook at India’s approach to such assertiveness, while others believe such a “reset” is already under way.
The last such “reset” of relations was in 1988, when Rajiv Gandhi visited China. Though a trip had been in the making since 1984, a formal invitation arrived with the Chinese vice-foreign minister in 1987. The trip next year, the first premier-level exchange since 1960, eased strains accumulated from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru-Zhou Enlai. This indicates that a relationship “reset” has a shelf-life of about three decades. So, if it is time to reassess, what should it entail?
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As part of my research, I recently interviewed senior members of the foreign policy establishment in the Rajiv Gandhi government. They said they knew that the engagement resulting from the 1988 visit would break from established policy. It was their opportunity to separate border disputes from other issues and introduce cooperation into a relationship of contention.
The benefits of the 1988 modus vivendi accrued to both sides. Bilateral trade flourished, the boundary issue was managed, and both countries could grow as economic powerhouses without being tied down in their backyards.
Thirty years later, there is a growing view that the 1988 rapprochement has run its course. As those I interviewed explained, with both countries expanding global roles, the agreement needs a revisit.
For some years now, the Chinese elite have believed that their time as the pre-eminent power has arrived. Initiatives like “China Dream” for a “fully developed Chinese nation”, or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are critical to hoist China to the centre of the international system. Publicizing the BRI summit in May was a way of claiming legitimacy for this role.
These alone perhaps would not have required an immediate reorientation. However, US President Donald’s Trump’s apparent transactional approach to Asia makes it a pressing necessity. There is little clarity on how a distracted American administration would react to developments in South Asia.
China believes this is its opportunity to claim geopolitical space in Asia. The selective approach to terrorism, or opposing India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, indicate where it wants to see India in a China-led order. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through Gilgit-Baltistan helps tie down India in South Asia. Similarly, the current stand-off is China’s attempt to legitimize its claim and change the status quo.
The Doklam incident follows a template that China has been using for a while. This involves identifying an area with unsettled claims, and moving in. When challenged, an indignant China claims rights “since ancient times”. As evident elsewhere, China has carefully separated the project of reclaiming national pride from economic relationships—which means better trade relations or Chinese direct investment alone is unlikely to change anything.
The closeness following 1988 was as much a necessity for China as it was for India. Still not an economic behemoth, China needed newer markets to expand. The post-Tiananmen crackdown soon after also made it necessary to nurture new relationships. The China of 2017, however, is far removed from the China of 1988, and India must account for this asymmetry.
First, recalibrating the relationship will require clear signalling of expectations and nuanced communication. Not all developments will merit a reaction but the ones that do will need to be identified and responded to, purposefully. These may include China inciting anti-India sentiment in the neighbourhood, or impeding infrastructure development in Indian territory. To consider these red lines will demand communicating the message clearly; if tested, India will also need to demonstrate that it has a multi-step strategy, and the willingness to follow it.
Second, the government will have to decide on responses—will it challenge China’s own red lines, its “core interests?” India’s approach has changed since the 2015 Chumar incursion. Tibet policy, too, shifted when the “prime minister” of the Central Tibetan Administration attended Narendra Modi’s swearing-in. Turning these separate incidents into cohesive strategy will leave little room to dither. Missteps like the one involving Uyghur activist Dolkun Isa’s visit will have to be avoided. Closer relations with Taiwan will also demonstrate resolve. Following up on these will require determination and finesse, and no space for muddling through.
Third, India will have to consider context while responding. For instance, is it sufficient to only protest China’s stand on Masood Azhar, or will questioning China’s equivocation on terrorism help more? How do the economic and strategic benefits of BRI stack up against the objections?
Admittedly, answering these questions is far easier in theory than in practice. An ad-hoc approach will not work for a reorientation of foreign policy of this magnitude. Serious institutional energy will have to be spent in considering all options and planning a coherent strategy. As in 1988, it will require deliberate signalling that the entire relationship will not hinge only on these issues. As the veterans of South Block explained, the earlier “reset” worked because it was consistently nurtured for years. Another one, if considered, will also need to play the long game

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