June 2020 Editoirals Summary
QUESTION: Issues related to Universal Basic Income and how technological advancement are creating hurdles before developing countries like India. Discuss
Topic- IT’S TIME FOR A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME PROGRAMME IN INDIA:
- Universal Basic Income(UBI) or Basic Income – Universal Basic Income is a theoretical govt. program for a periodic payment delivered to all on an individual basis those are unemployed.
WHY IN NEWS?
- The ongoing crisis is creating changes and these changes are likely to increase the new challenge accompanying 4th Revolution.
- 1938: A minimum income standard was discussed.
- 1964: Plan to start such a programme was on horizon.
- 2011-12: Two pilot projects conducted in 8 villages of Madhya Pradesh.
- 2016-17: Economic Survey suggested scheme for bottom 75% of the population.
- 2022: Sikkim Democratic Front planned to roll out UBI.
UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME AT GLOBAL LEVEL:
- Finland started in 2017 to pay 2,000 jobless people assistance and many countries are working on this to take into account this i.e. USA, Kenya, Brazil, Canada et al.
SIGNIFICANCE OF UBI:
(1). ALTERNATIVE TO EMPLOYMENT GENERATION; this could mitigate crisis caused by dwindling job opportunities.
(2). TOOL TO ERADICATE POVERTY; Fiscal cost of UBI pegged at Rs. 7620 at 75% universality, was 4.9% of the GDP . A UBI with numbers suggested by Economic Survey could lead to targeted household incomes given fact that average Indian household size is approx. five.
ISSUES IN IMPLEMENTION:
- Fiscal cost is too high so the political will for UBI has been lacking.
- Requirement to trim some of the existing subsidies to balance the resultant deficit are also politically different that have not recovered any attention.
CHALLENGES BEFORE INDIA:
(1). COVID-19 Pandemic- the ongoing lockdowns have resulted in economic misery to a large section of the society. The migrant labourer have been affected adversely by such measures.
- Concern is India has almost 90% working population in informal sector without minimum wages or social security.
- Lockdowns are expected to be norm till the vaccine arrival.
(2) . SLOWING DOWN WORLD’S GROWTH
- IMF has projected global growth to be -3.0% in 2020, will be the worst year since the Great Depression of 1929-30.
- India projected growth at 1.9%
- Employment opp. Would be cut down due to lesser economic activities.
(3). EMPLOYMENT RELATED ISSUES:
- Even before this pandemic , India was struggling to find more job related opportunities for less than 1 million aspirants who were entering the job market.
(4). 4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: new challenge we have.
- In the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) like never before meaning human power will be replaced by robots and machines and this will lead to jobless growth.
There is a way to ensure sustenance of migrant workers is the introduction of unconditional regular pay checks at max. universality , at least till the economy normalizes is the need of the hour.
QUESTION: New challenges are emerging at global level and how they are affecting Indian economy at large? Critically analyse.
Topic – OPEN WITH CAUTION
Lockdown 5.0 or ‘The Unlock 1’ Plan
WHY IN NEWS?
Severe restrictions to contain COVID-19 produced traumatic displacement of the weakest sections, and the centre is looking for a phased unlocking o of public activity after these rigorous lockdowns.
- Government commitment to mitigate misery of the worst affected .
- A genuinely universal PDS with adequate supplies of foodgrains, ensuring that no one is left behind .
- Cash supplements should reach all needed beneficiaries.
- For the elderly , vulnerable individuals and children below 10 , the centre’s advice is to shelter in place even during this relaxation phase.
- ‘Unlock 1’ must prioritize some actions are-
Create public awareness that the virus is present.
Ramp up testings.
Provide public health services.
Intensively monitor relief measures.
DIRECTIVES FOR COVID-19 MANAGEMENT:
Such as face covers, physical distancing , no spitting at public places and in crowded areas and no gatherings in large numbers.
QUESTION: Africa is critical to India’s security because of its proximity and how their bilateral relations are changing in this era ?
Topic- INDIA, CHINA AND FORTIFYING THE AFRICA OUTREACH
- COVID-19 and medical assistance by partners of Africa.
WHY IN NEWS?
- Africa needs medical protective equipment and gear to support its frontline public health workers and Africa’s two partners i.e. India and China have increased their outreach through medical assistance.
- COVID-19 pandemic has been a great leveller, as it has affected almost all the regions of the world adversely.
- Its effects to be seen more devastating particularly in Africa where economic and public health conditions are extremely poor.
- Although African countries moved quickly to curb the initial spread, they are still ill-equipped to cope with a public health emergency of such magnitude due to shortages of masks, ventilators and even basic necessities such as hand wash and water.
- In this backdrop efforts of India and China are directed to fill a part of the growing African need at a time when not many others have stepped in to help.
NEW DELHI’S FOCUS:
- For India, the pandemic presents an opportunity to demonstrate its willingness and capacity to shoulder more responsibility.
- A responsible and reliable global stakeholder- even with limited resources, India can fight with the virus at home.
ADVANTAGE IN AFRICA-
- India’s role as ‘the Pharmacy of the world’ , as supplier of low-cost , generic medicines is widely acknowledged.
Pharmaceutical products along with refined petroleum products account for 40% of India’s total exports to African markets.
- There is also growing interest in Research and Development in drugs and vaccines.
- A healthcare partnership in traditional medicines and Ayurveda for boosting immunity.
BEIJING’S DONATION DIPLOMACY:
- China being Africa’s largest trading partner – it dispatched medical protective equipment ,testing kits, ventilators and medical masks to several African countries.
- Chinese embassies across Africa have taken lead by coordinating both public and private donations to local stakeholders.
BEIJINGS’S ADVANTAGE IN AFRICA:
China relies heavily on diplomatic support and cooperation from African countries.
SIGNIFICANCE AND DIFFERENT APPROACHES OF INDIA AND CHINA
(1). Hard infra. Projects and resources extraction.
(2). Strong state-to-state relations as opposed to people-to-people ties and
(3). Money, political influence and elite level wealth creation.
On the other side , is one that focusses on building local capacities and an equal partnership with Africans and not merely with elites concerned.
As these two powers rise in Africa, their two distinct models will come under even greater scrutiny and both New Delhi and Beijing might find that they need to adopt to the rising aspirations of the African continent.
QUESTION: Examine why earthquakes occur? Explain the various kinds of waves produced in a earthquake.
A NEW ARCHITECTURE IN QUAKE-PRONE AREAS
India’s vulnerability to earthquakes and suggested measures for mitigation .
WHY IN NEWS?
Super cyclone like Amphan,earthquakes with tremors seem to intensify and how prepared is India for the ‘big one’.
Earthquake , in simple words, is the shaking of earth due to sudden release of energy and is a type of endogenic processes.
TYPES OF EQs:
(1). TECTONIC EQs ; most common form of earthquake , is caused by movement of loose fragmented pieces of land on earth known as tectonic plates.
(2). VOLCANIC EQs ; happen before or after the eruption of volcano. It is caused when magma leaving the volcano are filled by rocks being pushed to surface.
(3). COLLAPSE EQs; occur in underground mines. Main cause is due to pressure generated within the rocks.
(4). EXPLOSION EQs ; occurrence is artificial in nature . High density explosion such as nuclear explosions is the primary cause.
- Magnitude scale i.e. Richter scale (energy expressed in absolute numbers of 0-10)
- Intensity scale i.e. Mercalli scale is used (range 1-12).
EARTHQUAKE PRONE ZONES IN INDIA
- Over 59% of India’s land area is under threat of moderate to severe earthquakes.
- Bureau of Standards(BIS) , divided country into four seismic zones viz. Zone II, III, IV and V (most seismically active region).
- The regions away from the Himalayas and other inter-plate boundaries were considered to be relatively safe from damaging earthquakes.
- The fact that the Indian plate is pushing against the Eurasian plate makes cities, towns, and villages on and around the Himalayas vulnerable to earthquakes
MAJOR EQUAKES IN INDIA
- Bihar (1934)
- Uttarkashi (1991)
- Latur (1993)
- Kutch (2001)
- Jammu and Kashmir (2005)
STEPS TAKEN FOR PREPAREDNESS:
- India has collaborations with other countries in the field of seismic research .
- India also has a sophisticated set of monitors embedded beneath the soil’s surface in many vulnerable points.
- National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) establishment.
- Use of technology for early warnings.
- India should work on a system for early prediction of such calamities.
- We need to be alert to undertake short, medium, and long term actions.
- Earthquake proof architecture regime in quake prone area.
- High rise constructions regulations in order to reduce vulnerability like Delhi and hill stations.
- Need to be seismic planning for all major infrastructure and construction projects.
QUESTION: Role of International Institutions in curbing COVID-19 like pandemic and challenges they are facing these days. Critically analyse.
SEIZING THE MOVEMENT AT THE WHO
India and the chair of the WHO executive board.
WHY IN NEWS?
- Recently, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India Mr. Harsha Vardhan was elected the chair of WHO executive board.
- The elevation to the position affords India an important platform to steer the global public health response to COVID-19.
FOCUSSED AREAS FOR INDIA:
- Review the COVID-19 response.
- Epidemic prevention and control .
- Equitable access to COVID-19 medicines and vaccines.
- There should be a blanket ban on consumption and trade of rare species of wild animals at global level.
- New international norms to increase the obligations of states.
- Deepening cooperation and collaboration among member countries.
(1). As the virus chain of transmission is broken, the focus should shift to identifying the animal-to-human transmission origins of COVID-19.
India needs to insist that epidemic prevention and control remain the international community’s foremost priority.
(2). India should focus on member states implementation of the International Health Regulations.
India should also lean on the WHO secretariat to fast track the “impartial, independent and comprehensive review” of the WHO’s and China’s early response.
(3). India needs to promote the establishment of an appropriate multilateral governance mechanism in WHO for ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries.
Voluntary pooling mechanism to collect patent rights and regulatory test data needs to be suitably tailored to the needs of this crisis.
Recently ,WHO director -general’s idea of creating voluntary pooling.
(4). The destruction of natural habitats and biodiversity loss needs to be taken much more seriously.
India must lead the call for a permanent ban on this trade and consumption of rare species.
New International norms will increase the obligations of states and powers of WHO in facilitating an EARLY DETECTION and pandemic’s notification.
LITTLE ABOUT WHO:
- As it was set up on April 7, 1948 and it is UN’s specialised agency for health.
- Its based in Geneva, Switzerland.
- 194 member states, 150 country offices, 6 regional offices.
- It provides leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards.
- The Health Assembly determines the policies of the organisation.
- It supervises financial policies of the org. and reviews and approves the budget.
- It report to the Economical and Social Council in accordance with any agreement between org. and UN.
WHO AND INDIA:
- India became a party on 12th Jan. 1948.
- Regional office for South East Asia is located in New Delhi.
- With coordination by Indian govt. WHO’s prog. on Small Pox eradication and it was eradicated in 1977.
- Polio removed by India in partnership with UNICEF, WHO.
WORLD HEALTH CONCERNS AND WHO :
- Air pollution and climate change.
- Non communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and hearth diseases increasing day by day.
- Global Influenza Pandemic .
- Weak Primary Health Care.
- Vaccine hesitancy.
- WHO’s inclination towards one particular nation, failed to give early information about COVID-19 like pandemic.
Finally India must lead the call for a permanent and long term global solution and this should be taken more seriously.
QUESTION: Bring out the significances of various activities of IMD and discuss the nature and origin of Indian monsoon .
Monsoon onset in India.
WHY IN NEWS?
The Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) has clearly defined the criteria for declaring onset of monsoon in India.
Monsoon season brings in most of the rainfall over the Indian subcontinent . It is divided into two major seasons- South West Monsoons in summer and North-East monsoons in winters.
Monsoon word comes from ‘MAUSIM’ i.e. Arabic word that means ‘season’ and is defined as a “SEASONAL REVERSAL OF WINDS”.
MONSOON 2020 ONSET: has set in over Kerala on June 1.
- In May, IMD had forecast a four day delay but in early May, Western distrubances brought rains from mediterranean and the impact of super cyclone Amphan in Bay of Bengal both cool down the temperature.
- Established in 1875.
- It is an agency of Ministry of Earth Sciences of the GoI.
- It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
CHALLENGES TO IMD’S MONOPOLY:
- The only agency with the equipment to measure wind speeds and radiation at higher elevations along with multiple weather stations.
- IMD gives outlook on how the monsoon might pan out over India and how much rain likely in July and August.
However, IMD faces competition from domestic and international companies in providing weather related services.
- COMPLEX NATURE OF CLIMATE AND IMPORTANCE OF ACCURATE WEATHER FORECASTS-
Inaccurate forecasts resulted into large scale losses to the agriculture sector and this happened in 2019, when IMD failed to communicate that 2019 would turn out to be the wettest in two decades.
- Excess and torrential rains seem to have long-ranging impact with reports of a second consecutive year of a locust plague in India, can affect the Kharif crop badly.
- It is high time to improve science and forecasting techniques.
- IMD should work at disseminating more precise localised weather forecasts with accuracy.
- Particularly, in cyclone forecasts, IMD needs more focus on communicating weather forecasting even to a wider sections of the population such as fishermen, farmers etc.
QUESTION: Analyse India-USA relationships with reference to the rapidly changing global politics.
SEVEN TO ELEVEN
Expansion of G-7 to G-11.
WHY IN NEWS?
US President Donald Trump has called the existing G-7 a “very outdated group of countries” and he wants to add INDIA,RUSSIA,SOUTH KOREA and AUSTRALIA in group making it G-11.
KNOW ABOUT G-7:
- It was formed in 1975.
- It is an international intergovernmental economic organisation consisting of the seven major countries – CANADA, FRANCE, GERMANY, ITALY,JAPAN,UK and the US.
- As of 2018,these 7 nations represent 58% of the global net worth and more than 46% of the GDP based on nominal values.
- To discuss and deliberate on international economic issues.
- It sometimes act in concert to help resolve other global problems with a special focus.
REACTION FROM OTHER COUNTRIES:
- India has welcomed the idea to expand the format of grouping to keep up with the new realities of the post COVID-19 world.
- Australia and South Korea have also welcomed this invitation from US side.
- However, Russia that had lost its membership of the grouping in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea would attend “if treated as an equal”.
- The current US-China tensions, particularly over coronavirus issues, clearly played a part in the US’s decision to leave Chinese President off his summit guest list.
WHY THIS EXPANSION OF 4 COUNTRIES BY US?
Not all countries of G-7 are among the most advance now.
- India is both a military and economic giant but is not a part of the G-7. So its expansion would open a door for India to be a permanent member of UNSC.
- Adding these four countries reflects American desire to wrest back the global leadership initiative from China.
- South Korea is technical and economical super power and US is committed to defending it against any foly.
- Australia is a natural ally for the US in the South Pacific, a region where China has been expanding its influence.
- Russia also shares a large border with China.
- On the whole, its USA new agenda to counterattack China from its trading partners from all sides and this current American push for a new organisation is an attempt to isolate China at global level.
- India has no objection in joining the new club.
- The proposed G-11 grouping would recognise India’s place amongst the world’s richest nations, and acknowledge its global voice.
- Even though changes have been proposed its unclear when the summit will actually be held, given the November elections in the US.
- An evaluation of the G-7 effectiveness as a multilateral forum is also needed.
Example: In France, last year , the grouping was unable to issue joint communique due to these differences in its 45 year old history.
- India should , therefore, interpret Trump’s comments on the expansion of G7 as an opportunity , not as a curveball that should be best avoided.
- Despite India’s border tensions with Beijing, India must also consider its objectives in attending a grouping that appears aimed at fuelling a new cold war between US and China.
QUESTION: Discuss the efficacy of DBT in power supply for farmers.
TIME TO DISCONTINUE FREE POWER FOR FARMERS
Free power supply and widespread wastage of water and electricity.
WHY IN NEWS?
The Central Govt. wants to reform in the agricultural sector by replacing the free power supply for farmers with an idea of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
OVERVIEW OF DBT:
(DBT – part of India’s govt.s anti-poverty prog. launched in 2013).
- Tamil Nadu was the first state to introduce free power in Sep.1984.
- DBT implementation could help targeted subsidies, incentivise behavioural change and reduce wastage of scarce public funds.
- In this, farmers will have to pay the bill for the power consumption for agricultural purposes. After that, they will get the subsidy in their bank accounts through DBT.
ARGUMENTS FOR FREE POWER:
- Apart from ensuring food security, free power provides livelihood opportunities to landless workers.
- When farmers depends on supplies through canals get water almost free of cost, it is but fair that those not covered by canal irrigation should be given free electricity.
- Small and marginal farmers are those who are outside the canal supply deserve free power with some valid restrictions.
CONCERNS WITH FREE POWER SUPPLY:
- Absence of electricity meters for connections means no accurate measurement of consumption.
- Scheme of free power supply has led to widespread wastage of water and electricity.
- As India is largest user of groundwater at 251 billion cubic metres = burden on groundwater table to be recharged.
- Extension of scheme to different states has only encouraged installations of more pumps this leads to groundwater over exploitation and some farmers are misusing water by over-irrigating their crops due to free power. KARNATAKA is a classical example we have.
- As resource-rich farmers enjoy greater power subsidy benefits than the poor ones due to pol. connections.
- Increasing carbon emissions from electricity overuse is the reason for environmental degradation.
SUBSIDIES TRANSFERS THROUGH DBT IS THE NEW PROBLEM:
- Farmers will have to pay first from their own pockets, after which they will get subsidies.
- Big question is – are our farmers in a position to pay 4,000-5,000 in advance and wait for the transfer from the govt.?
- Delivery mechanisms often fail to account for beneficiaries choice and preferences because farmers don’t participate in the planning process.
- Lack of empirical research on the implementation of DBT programs.
- Farmers are reluctant to relinquish access to subsidized power.
- Tamil Nadu govt. is resisting this Centre’s proposal and take into account this many other states may do so.
- There is a need for third-party audits authorised by regulatory commissions to check if consumers are aware of these provided subsidies , if easy and affordable access should be need of the hour so that no any farmer seems to be decepted.
- Discoms, electricity regulatory commissions and state govts. Should allow different kinds of strong monitoring , evaluation and learning mechanisms.
QUESTION: In current times , man-animal conflict is a reality we have to deal with and thus proactive measures are required for a healthy human animal interface. Examine.
Killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala.
WHY IN NEWS?
Number of elephants are killed knowingly or unknowingly every year in India and this pregnant elephant’s death is due to consumption of pineapple laden with fire-crackers.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE ALL ABOUT:
- An elephant wandered out of Silent Valley National Park(SVNP) in Palakkad, Kerala, in search of food and finally killed by the consumption of pineapple.
RISING MAN-ANIMAL CONFLICT:
This tragic accident is a reminder of rising conflicts between humans and animals.
- Reports say that every year about 2% of wild elephant die and a post modem is done.
- Shrinking of natural habitats of wild animals , as farmers extending their cultivation closer to buffer zones.
- Encroachment are increasing.
- Official date show that man-animal conflict increased in Kerala from 6022 to 7229 between 2016 and 2018.
- People are getting into conflicts and they resort to different mitigation methods – they put up electric fences, build trenches, or become more brutal and use of a crude bomb.
Better implementation of Gadgil Report 2011 and Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
- Lack of scientific culture and the readiness to spare forested lands from commercial exploitation that is eviscerating(deprivation) nature.
- Shrinking ranges and feeding grounds for elephants is a cause of worry.
- Human-dominated landscapes.
- Lack of pol. Will to support Gadgil like reports.
- Destructive development.
- Intrusion into protected habitat.
- Draw up better compensation schemes for farmers who lose crops to animals.
- Ending all intrusions and encroachments into protected wildlife habitats in India.
- We have to find a way to co-exist ,as animals too have a right to live.
- Consideration for wildlife planning and infra. Projects, financial allocations for mitigation measures are needed to address the issue.
There is a need to cultural shift protecting and saving biodiversity and better implementation of available Wildlife Protection laws.
QUESTION: How will economic nationalism take lead in the post COVID-19 Asia? Discuss in context to the rising tensions between US and China.
Rising tensions between US and China.
WHY IN NEWS?
The US govt’s decision to bar passenger planes from China June 16 onwards.
BONE OF CONTENTION:
- Tensions soar amid coronavirus pandemic.
- The administration of Donald Trump said it would revoke Hongkong’s special trade status under the US law.
- The US govt. has decided to bar passenger planes from China.
- The US has also passed an order limiting the entry of certain Chinese graduate students.
- Financial regulators ordered by US President to closely examine Chinese firms listed in stock markets.
- Trump launched a trade war in 2018 is yet to be resolved completely.
These above retaliatory moves prove that the world’s largest economies have entered into a new cold war era.
- Since 1949 , US-China relations have evolved from tense stand offs to a complex mix of intensifying diplomacy.
- US-China partnership since President Richard Nixon’s reset in 1970 seems to have made a way for an aggressive leadership contest and deepening mutual mistrust.
- After 1980 the economic ties grew rapidly.
- The relationship have been complex, and vary from positive to highly negative.
- As of 2019, US has the world’s largest economy and China has 2nd largest .
- In June 2019, the US increased tariffs furthur , to 25%. China responded by raising the tariffs.
- In Sept. 2019, US imposed 15% tariffs on a large subset of the remaining $300 billion worth of imports from China
OPPORTUNITIES FOR INDIA:
- India may be able to increase its exports in textile, garments, and gems and jewellery to US if Chinese exports to the US slow down.
- India has an increasingly widening trade gap with China. Ongoing trade war may be an opportunity for India to reduce it significantly.
- “Make in India” like start-ups will get some boost and will be encouraged at large.
INDIRECT CONFRONTATION OF CHINA WITH USA:
- China’s own GPS(Beidou);
- Digital payment platforms (we chat Pay and Alipay);
- A multilateral banking system such as AIIB, NDB;
- Alternate Trading System i.e. “One Belt One Road” initiative (OBOR);
- Digital network (Huawei 5G) ; cutting edge technological processes in sunrise industries and modern weapons equipped military froce.
RESPONSE FROM USA:
- US is already at war with China, by few officials from Trump side .
- On the other side, a few have also cautioned that this should not escalate into cold war as USA is still entangled to China’s supply chains.
AMERICA’S INTERESTS IN HONGKONG:
A few days ago, US Secretary Mike Pompeo “slammed” China over the arrest of Hongkong protesters.
- It is true that US holds tremendous interests in Hongkong with different purposes such as – Special trade and economic , financial and commercial ties.
- Hongkong is an active member of global coalition against terrorism and money laundering.
Unless the leaders of both countries change their course and re-build the lost mutual confidence, a new kind of cold war would be forced upon the world.
QUESTION: Do you think that creation of health impact fund would ensure the right incentives for the pharmaceutical innovators? Comment.
A RIGHT TIME TO SHIFT PHARMA GEARS
Health Impact Fund (HIF) and Research and Development in pharmaceuticals.
WHY IN NEWS?
Commercial pharmaceuticals research and development efforts are encouraged and rewarded through the earnings and Health Impact Fund(HIF) can become an alternative track for pharmaceutical innovators.
PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY IN INDIA:
- This industry in India was valued at US $33 billion in 2017 and generic drugs account for 20% of global exports in terms of volume.
- Trying to make the country largest provider of generic medicines globally.
- The govt. started to encourage the growth of drug manufacturing by Indian companies in early 1960s, and with the Patents Act in 1970.
- In India, the profit-maximising monopoly price of a new medicine is much lower, but similarly unaffordable for most citizens.
- The cost of clinical trials needed to demonstrate safety and efficacy.
CURRENT SCENARIO OF GLOBAL MARKET FOR PHARMACEUTICALS:
- The current worth of global pharma market is Rs.110 lakh crore annually, i.e. 7% of the gross world product .
- Their Research and Devt. Efforts are encouraged and rewarded through the earnings.
- These earnings mostly depend on 20 year product patents as they are entitled for and such patents give a temporary monopoly and as a result they charge higher cost above manufacture and distribution costs.
CONCERNS WITH RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT:
There are 3 main concerns-
(1) Innovators motivated by the prospect of large mark-ups tend to neglect diseases suffered mainly by poor people, who can’t afford expansive medicines.
(2) The profit-maximising price of a new medicine tends to be quite high.
(3) Rewards for developing and then providing pharmaceutical products are poorly correlated with therapeutic value.
WHAT IS HEALTH IMPACT FUND?
- HIF is a proposed pay-for-performance mechanism that would provide a market based solution to problems concerning the devt. and distribution of medicines globally.
- HIF by coined by Yale Philosopher Thomas Pogge.
- To address the concerns, the HIF as an alternative track on which pharma. Innovators may choose to be rewarded.
- The fund would make an important difference by rewarding for health outcomes rather than sales.
- Such projects would address communicable diseases.
ISSUE OF STATE RISK:
- Participation of commercial pharmaceutical firms is crucial for tackling global pandemics .
- HIF registration would remove the risk.
- States would have no reason to interfere with innovators.
- At present such firms face discouraging business risks from govt. who may use compulsory licences to divest them.
- Innovators need new strategies to achieve health gains with their product.
- They must think about therapies and diagnostics together.
- There should be a reward mechanism towards health gains would lead to a sustainable research and marketing system.
Developing effective product so as to help in reducing the overall disease and pharmaceutical innovators should be guided would get right incentives.
QUESTION: Discuss the impact of Global warming on the Himalayan ecology.
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY 2020: TIME FOR NATURE
World Environment Day.
WHY IN NEWS?
- The World Environment Day is observed on 5th of June every year for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our envt.
- This day has been celebrated since 1974 by engaging governments, businesses ,celebrities and citizens focusing their efforts.
- Indian Navy has also marked the day through various initiatives which are intended to reduce environmental footprint.
- India will be focusing on NAGAR VAN (Urban forests).
- The theme is ‘Celebrating Biodiversity a concern that is both urgent and existential’.
- Almost 1 million species are facing extinction worldwide.
- This day will be hosted in Columbia in partnership with Germany.
- Lack of appropriate tree planting spaces due to increased urbanisation.
- Lack of awareness among people.
- Invasive non-native plant species threatening urban forest ecosystem.
- The increased awareness about the urban forestry and management of the same would help to increase the urban forest cover with increasing urbanisation.
- New and innovative methods like that of the Japanese “Miyawaki” method of afforestation can be used to grow urban forests and expand the green cover in these areas.
IMPORTANCE OF BIODIVERSITY:
- Biodiversity is the variety and variability of life on earth. It is typically a measure of variation at the genetic, species , and ecosystem level.
- Biodiversity loss can have significant direct human health impacts if ecosystem services are no longer adequate to meet social needs.
- Changes in ecosystem services affect livelihoods, income, local migration etc.
BIODIVERSITY IN INDIA:
- India has nearly 8% of the global biodiversity.
- 4 of the 35 global bio. Hotspots-
1) HIMALAYA – including Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.
2) INDO-BURMA- entire north – eastern India, except Assam and Andaman group of islands.
3) SUNDALANDS- Nicobar group of islands ( Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines)
4) WESTERN GHATS AND SRILANKA – entire w-ghats and sl.
As per ‘State of India’ Envt. 2020 report, for the first time in the decade (2010-20) the top five global ecological risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental including extreme weather, climate action failure, natural disaster and biodiversity loss.
- Intact and preserved structures of the environmental ecosystem is the only way to maintain the resilience of nature.
- It is necessary to address the environmental issues like deforestation, increasing global warming , wastage and losses of food, pollution etc.
- Some important campaigns (Fridays for Future movement) can be initiated as GRETA THUNBERG , a Swedish environmental activist opened the eyes of whole world about crisis arising from climate change .
QUESTION: Discuss the impact of rising US-Iran conflict on India and its international relations.
IN PERSIAN GULF LITTORAL , COOPERATIVE SECURITY IS KEY
Persian Gulf Region
WHY IN NEWS?
Because this Persian Gulf region has the presence of major producers of crude oil and natural gas, and thereby contributing to the global economy.
Thus, maintaining peace through cooperative security by regional members is one of the best solutions to stabilize the region politically and economically.
PERSIAN GULF REGION:
The land is shared by 8 countries namely- BAHRAIN, IRAN, IRAQ , KUWAIT, OMAN, QATAR , SAUDI ARABIA and the UAE.
- UAE , Bahrain , Saudi , Oman , Qatar and Kuwait are the member countries of Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC).
- Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi are OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) members.
- For eight decades prior to 1978, this gulf was guarded as ‘ British Lake’.
- Events like Muscat Conference (1975) , Iranian Revolution(1979) and Iraq-Iran war (1980) increased the political tensions.
Subsequently, it enhanced USA’s interests and roles in the region.
- Later, the UNSC Resolution 598 (1987) was adopted to ensure a ceasefire between Iran and Iraq specifically and to explore measures to enhance the security and stability in the region.
- RISING CONFLICTS IN THE REGION: i.e. Yemen , Syria, Libya , aggravated global and regional relationships.
- USA’S ROLE IS DECLINING: as conflicts have hampered USA -Iran relations.
- Declining USA’s commitment to sub-regional security has raised more issues among GCC members due to political and ideological disagreement with Iran.
- SPLIT WITHIN GCC: due to following reasons-
- Global Eco. Crisis,
- Immediate and longer term impact of COVID-19 on regional economies.
- Decline in oil prices.
Problems in OPEC.
INDIA AND PERSIAN GULF REGION:
- The friendly relation has been reflected in bilateral trade of around $121 billion and remittances of $49 billion.
- GCC suppliers account for around 34% of India’s crude imports.
- The eco. and pol. relationship of India with GCC has blossomed in recent years.
India has always shared a friendly relationship with Iran. But both faces one of the most complex phases at all times due to USA’s pressure which has politico-economic impacts.
- In May 2018, USA abandoned the nuclear deal and reinstated eco. sanctions against Iran.
INDIA’S OVERALL ROLE IN THE REGION:
- India has avoided an involvement in local or regional disputes in region.
- Indian interests do not entail power projection but necessitate peace and regional stability.
THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOR ENSURING SECURITY-
- Prevention of conflict that may impinge on the freedom of trade and shipping.
- Freedom of access to Gulf waters through the Strait of Hormuz.
- Freedom of commercial shipping in international waters of the Persian Gulf.
- Conditions of peace and stability in individual littoral states.
- Indian interests would be best served if this stability is ensured through cooperative security options.
- It has been assessed that the Saudi is a fading power whereas UAE, Qatar and Iran are emerging as the new regional leaders. Oman and Iraq will have to struggle to retain their sovereign identities.
QUESTION: Poaching is one of the major issues in the protection of wild animals . Discuss how can real-time monitoring of animals help in tackling poaching as well as reduce instances of man-animal conflict?
POACHING DOUBLED DURING COVID-19 LOCKDOWN!!
Indian Wildlife amidst COVID-19 crisis.
WHY IN NEWS?
Recently, a report titled “Indian wildlife during Covid-19 crisis: An analysis of the states of poaching and illegal wildlife trade was released by TRAFFIC.
KNOW ABOUT TRAFFIC( THE WILDLIFE TRADE MONITORING NETWORK):
- It is a leading non-governmental Org. working on wildlife trade in context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
- It is a join program of WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).
- Estd. In 1976 having HQs in Cambridge, UK.
- It played key role in bringing together the South Asian countries to form South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network(SAWEN).
- The main aim of this initiative is to have the countries collaborate and cooperate to fight wildlife crime in the region.
- The report has recorded a significant increase in poaching in India during the over two month long lockdown period.
- It points out that reports of poaching for consumption and local trade have more than doubled during Covid-19 lockdown.
- Report has found that incidences rose from 35 to 88 and added that it remains unknown how reporting rates in the media have changed because of the lockdown.
SMALL MAMMAL CATEGORY:
- Includes hares, pangolins , giant squirrels , monkeys etc. Cases against this group 17 to 25% between the pre and lockdown periods.
- There was a slight decrease in the incidences, which dropped from 14% to 7% between the analysis period.
- There was less reporting of poaching and illegal trade in tortoises and freshwater turtles.
- The outcome of this report indicates that “despite efforts by law-enforcement agencies, wild animal populations in India are being subjected to additional threats during the lockdown period”.
- More than doubling of reported poaching cases will place additional burden on wildlife law enforcement agencies.
QUESTION: Independence of local level institutions in a democracy is the barometer of governance . Discuss.
THE CRITICAL ROLE OF DECENTRALISED RESPONSES
Role of local governments and decentralised response.
WHY IN NEWS?
COVID-19 has brought four major challenges: Economic, Health, Welfare/livelihood and resource mobilisation and these have to be addressed by all tiers of govt. in the federal polity , jointly and independently.
- COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the critical role of local governments and decentralised responses.
- This critical role of local govt’s will have to be recognised by all.
- Local govts are at an advantage in terms of infra., monitoring and immediate action and so are better equipped to meet the challenges posed by disasters such as coronavirus.
(1) GOVERNANCE RELATED ISSUES:
- There is a lack of clarity in the assignment of functions , functionaries and financial responsibilities to local govts.
- The bodies that came up after 73rd and 74th Const. amendments have distorted the functions of fund flow at the lower level of governance.
(2). WEAK LOCAL FINANCES:
- A recent study shows that the share of property tax in GDP has been declining since 2002-03. This gives wrong signal.
- In states such as UP, Bihar and Jharkhand, local tax collection at the panchayat level is next to nil.
- The Eco. Survey 2017-18 points out that Urban local govts generate about 44% of their revenue from own sources as against only 5% by rural local govts.
- Per capita own revenue collected by urban local govts is about 3% of urban per capita income. There is a gap between tax potential and actual collection , resulting in gross underperformance of these institutions.
(3). INADEQUATE GRANTS FROM FINANCE COMMISSION;
- There is only an increase of RS.63 crore for panchayats.
- Local govt. grant of RS.90,000 crore for 2020-21 by 15th Fin. Commission is only 3% higher than that recommended by 14th FC.
CURRENT MEASURES BY GOVT.:
- Imposition of restrictive conditionalities on states availing themselves of the enhanced borrowing limits (3.5% to 5% of GSDP) for 2020-21 would impair state’s abilities to finance their plans.
- Well-equipped and fiscally empowered local govts strategies can tackle COVID-19 crises.
- LOCAL RESOURCE MOBILISATION: own revenue is the critical lever of local govt. empowerment.
- PROPERTY TAX: Indian states should take necessary steps to enhance and rationalise property tax regime.
- INNOVATIVE POLICIES: land monetisation and betterment levy may be tried in the context of COVID-19 in India.
- MPLADS SCHEME: funds for local area devt. must be assigned to local govts
- A special covid-19 containment grant to local govt. by 15th FC to be distributed.
- There should be focus on basic infra. Such as HEALTH and Disease control strategies at local level.
- There is a need for better functional mapping among the different organs of governance.
QUESTION: The covid-19 crisis has made e-diplomacy a new way of conducting international affairs . Elaborate on the benefits and disadvantages.
THE E-DIPLOMACY/DIGITAL DIPLOMACY EXPERIMENT
India-Australia ties and e-diplomacy .
WHY IN NEWS?
Recently, the first Indo-Australia virtual leaders’ summit held and India has engaged through video-conference.
E-diplomacy / digital dip. is the use of digital tools of communication (social media) by diplomats to communicate with each other. Leaders are using the digital space to spread awareness of govt. campaigns through hashtags and to disseminate info. and analyses during covid-19 like crises. Hence India is no stranger to this.
PM Modi has engaged in a few multinational e-diplomacy rounds since covid-19 outbreak like the SAARC leader video conference, G-20 leaders’ summit via Video link and the NAM virtual summit.
- Both nations have upgraded their relations to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’.
- E-Summits are physically safer for leaders and also are time saving and economical.
- Dangers by covid-19 have compelled the traditional art of summit diplomacy to adapt. Educational institutions are teaching online and are left with no other choice but to do the same.
CHALLENGES BEFORE E-DIPLOMACY:
- There is a fear that digital diplomacy will be less productive in terms of deliverables.
- Online summits may not be able to satisfy the broader political goals and bigger objectives.
- Major threat to virtual summits is of CYBER INSECURITY . Hence e-dip. is riskier and could be subjected to hacking of classified content.
Sustaining balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region will strengthen diplomatic ties between both nations and gaps in diplomatic summits can be cemented with collective resolve. Hence, having online summit is better than no summit at all.
QUESTION: How climate change and refugee crisis are interlinked. Discuss collective efforts to reduce global warming by global leaders.
FLATTENING THE CLIMATE CURVE
WHY IN NEWS?
The atmospheric concentration of CO2 and other Green House Gases(GHGs) and the average global temperatures have shown an upward trend with the advent of the industrial age.
TWO INTER-RELATED CURVES ASSOCIATED WITH CLIMATE CHANGE:
(1). CO2 CURVE-
- This curve began its upward march about 18000 years ago when it was a little under 200 ppm and earth was much colder
- However with the beginning of the mid-19th century, they began to rise again as humans burnt coal and oil to fuel the Industrial Revolution, and burnt forests to expand agriculture and settlements.
- Ultimately, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 407 ppm in 2018, a level last experienced by earth some million years ago.
(2). GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE CURVE-
- From 1850 onwards, for over a century, the global temp. showed a slight warming trend.
- But from 1975 onwards, the temp. graph has shown a distinct , upward trend.
- By 2015, the globe has heated by a full degree Celsius relative to a 100 years previously. Under the current trends of emissions the globe will heat up by 4 degree Celsius by the end of the century.
CHALLENGES RELATED TO CLIMATE CHANGE:
- The Global Warming has led to reducing sea ice cover and melting of glaciers. This led to rising sea levels and water security challenges. The higher temp. will also have an effect on agricultural production.
- Climate Change scenario involves not just a change in temp. but every other component of weather, including rainfall, humidity and wind speed.
RECENT TEMPERATURE TRENDS:
- The 2003 European heatwaves killed over 70000 people. The years 2015-19 have globally been the warmest years on record.
- The current estimates note that the world is far away from fulfilling their commitments under Paris Agreement, 2015 , that would keep average global temp. rise below 2 degree Celsius compare to pre -industrial levels.
COVID-19 AND CLIMATE CHANGE CURVES:
- COVID-19 has unintentionally given humanity a brief respite from climate change curve. Carbon emissions from fossil fuels have reduced.
- This is also a make-or-break moment for the climate trajectory.
- Experts are already talking about a paradigm shift in structure and functioning of societies once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.
GLOBAL EFFORTS TO REDUCE GLOBAL WARMING
- SDG-13 (Climate Action) : Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
- Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 aims to strengthen the global response to threat of CC by keeping global temp. rise below 2 degree Celsius.
- Climate Action Summit 2019 , COP-25,Madrid 2019.
- India has set an ambitious goal of setting 20 GW of solar power online by 2022.
- India is an active participant in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
- A carbon offset plan set up under Kyoto Protocol .
- It needs to be realised that there is no substitute for reducing Green House Gases emissions.
- Technologists, economists, and social scientists must plan for a sustainable planet based on the principles of equity and climate justice.
- It is the responsibility of leaders to alter the mindset and act on the looming climate crisis with the same alacrity they have shown on covide-19 .
QUESTION: “The policy of Panchsheel should remain the pivot of India-China relations”. Analyse the statement in light of recent stand-offs b/w India and China in the Ladakh region.
Security threat in the Kashmir-Ladakh region.
WHY IN NEWS?
China and Pak. are making coordinated efforts to challenge India’s presence in the Kashmir’s Ladakh region.
Pak. has intensified its efforts to infiltrate terrorists into the Kashmir valley and China has undertaken provocative measures on the Ladakh front to control around LAC(Line of Actual Control).
- China seems to have calculated that the division of Ladakh from J&K delinks Ladakh from the Kashmir problem.
- In Pakistan’s case the intensification in its terrorist activities is related to part to the dilution of Art.370 that it perceives as undercutting its claims on Kashmir with finality.
- Increasing road -building activity on India’s part close to the LAC augments this perception.
- Ladakh also borders on China’s most restive provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet.
- Ladakh is contiguous to PoK , Gilgit and Baltistan , where the Chinese have invested hugely under the CPEC (China Pakistan Eco. Corrridor) project.
- There are major differences in Pakistani and Chinese objectives regarding India that are related to their divergent perceptions of their disputes, and their different force equations with India.
- Pak. , realising that is the weaker power in conventional terms, has resorted to using conventional means, primarily terrorist infiltration.
- China also believes it is superior to the Indian military and , therefore , can afford to push India around within limits as it has been attempting to do in the recent confrontation.
- India should, therefore , distinguish the different objectives on the part of Beijing and Islamabad and tailor its responses accordingly without threatening its security.
- It is possible to negotiate the territorial dispute with China on a give-and-take basis.
QUESTION: The Health care system in India requires major improvements to make it universal. Discuss the major challenges being faced by the Healthcare system in India?
NEEDED , A TRANSFUSION FOR PUBLIC HEALTHCARE
Health services can’t be left to private medicine in a developing country.
WHY IN NEWS?
Excessive charges being levied by the private hospitals amidst Covid-19 pandemic.
PRIVATE HOSPITALS IN INDIA:
- We have more hospital beds in the pvt. Sector than in public .
- It is estimated that there are 19 lakh hospital beds, 95,000 ICU beds and 48,000 ventilators in India.
- These concentration is high in UP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, karnataka, Telangana and West Bengal.
FACT CHECK WHY PUBLIC CARE IS LEGGING BEHIND ?
- The reason is obviously the lack of adequate public health care.
- Not enough hospital beds and specialised facilities were provided by the public sector during this time.
- Private medicine was quick to capitalise on this demand.
- Majority of population is living under poverty , so they directly approach public hospitals in large numbers and result is shortage of facilities.
- Lack of adequate investment in public health sector by govt.
- The Indian govt. spends just 1.3% of the GDP on public health care which is inadequate.
EXAMPLES OF OTHER COUNTRIES:
- The US spends more than 15% of its GDP on health care
- European countries are also classical example of this in spending higher amount on primary health services.
RURAL -URBAN DIVIDE:
- RURAL INDIA- estimate that there are more than 1 million unqualified medical practitioners.
- URBAN INDIA- hospitals are well-equipped and well staffed which provide excellent service at high cost.
“ DOCTOR POPULATION RATIO FOR INDIA- THE REALITY”
- Currently shortage of 600,000 doctors in India.
- Doctor -patient ratio in India is less than WHO -prescribed norm of 1:1000. There is only one doctor for every 1,445 Indians as per population of 135 crore
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
- The public health-care system needs higher government spending. Health care cannot be left to private medicine in a developing country or in any country.
- The United States, despite spending more than 15% of its enormous GDP on health care in the form of largely insurance-based private medicine, has poorer health-care indices than Europe, where government-funded universal health care (e.g. The National Health Service of the United Kingdom) is available, though the per capita health-care expenditure in Europe is substantially less than in the U.S.
- Health-care spending by the government must be appropriate, based on evidence, and transparent and accountable.
- Training of doctors and health-care workers also need to be the responsibility of the government mainly.
- Recent reforms in the selection of medical students need to be scrutinised to see if they are having the desired result.
- Private hospitals and institutions will need to be regulated. Costing and auditing of care and procedures need to be done by independent bodies.
- This will not only ensure appropriate care at the right cost but also prevent unreasonable demands of suspicious patients and family.
- Hospitals, like any other institution, have a social responsibility to provide care in times of need.
- “Capping costs may necessitate sacrificing sense of these experience options.
- Pvt. Hospitals should, and will, be prepared to forego profits and even suffer losses during a national disaster.
- If losses become unsustainable , they may be forced to lay off employees, close beds or even entire hospital ,like any other business.
QUESTION: Genetically Crops in India and its challenges before farmers and how these are significant in view of food security. Critically Examine.
Genetically Modified Crops.
WHY IN NEWS ?
Recently, Shetkari Sanghatana, a Maharashtra based farmers’ union body has announced agitation for use of unapproved genetically modified seeds of cotton, maize, rice, mustard, soybean and brinjal.
KEY POINTS TO BE NOTED:
Genetically Modified Seeds:
- Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.
- Genus is a class of items such as a group of animals or plants with similar traits, qualities or features.
- Genetic modification aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.
- Bt cotton is the only Genetically Modified (GM) crop that is allowed in India. It has alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
- Herbicide Tolerant Bt (Ht Bt) cotton, on the other hand is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.
- In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borers.
- In DMH-11 mustard, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.
Legal Position of GM crops in India
- In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
- In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton. More than 95% of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton.
- Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Farmers Demand for GM Seeds:
- GM seeds reduce the production cost and increase productivity.
- Ht Bt cotton reduces the high cost of weeding.
- Bt brinjal reduces the use of pesticides.
- Genetic modification brings about changes that can be harmful to humans in the long run. The long-lasting effect of GM crops is yet to be studied. Some of the issues involved are:
Threat to Biodiversity:
- Cross-pollination in GM crops paves the way for herbicide-resistant superweeds that can further threaten the sustenance of other crops and pests because of their uncontrolled growth. In short, biodiversity gets threatened.
GM crops because of their pest resistance characteristics could eliminate important species of pests that are responsible for sustaining domestic varieties and can pose serious threats to biodiversity. They Can affect the food chain also.
- Bt brinjal poses risks to human health as its resistance to antibiotics can turn medicines ineffective and may result in the formation of new toxins and allergens.
- Implications for consumers and farmers.
- Environmental impact assessment should be carried out by independent environmentalists.
- Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) should:
- Collaborate with state governments and launch a nation-wide investigation drive.
- Take action on threats of deliberate GM crop cultivation.
- Investigate and prosecute those involved in the illegal supply of GM Seeds.
- Encourage organic farming.
- The government should go for commercialization of GM seeds only after the core and deep research on the long term prospects and benefits of commercialization of GM seeds in India.
QUESTION: Changing dynamics in India-China relations along LAC . Examine with recent situation.
BACK FROM THE BRINK
India-China border talks
WHY IN NEWS ?
In an agreement on June 6 for a partial disengagement of troops from some of the points of stand-off along the LAC is a step in the right direction.
- India has been upgrading its infrastructure along the border, thereby allowing troops to patrol with greater depth and frequency into areas where the Chinese had advantage.
- People’s Liberation Army was “tightening control” in one of the flashpoints in Galwan Valley in the western sector, after it accused India of “unilaterally” changing the status quo by “illegal construction”.
- A build-up has also been reported in Demchok in Ladakh.
- Troops from both sides were involved in fisticuffs that led to injuries following stand-off incidents on May 5 near the Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh and on May 9 in Naku La in North Sikkim.
TAKEAWAYS FROM AGREEMENT :
- Both sides identified five locations of conflict in the western sector in Ladakh — a separate ongoing stand-off in Naku La in Sikkim was not on the agenda.
- Serious differences on Pangong Lake, which may require another round of higher level talks at the Corps Commander level.
- India’s condition for de-escalation:
India has made clear it will accept nothing less than restoring the status quo ante.
- It will not dilute its build-up in the area until and unless China draws down the artillery, bombers, rocket forces, air defence radars and jammers that it has amassed behind the frontlines on its side of the LAC
- India is not alone in having a domestic debate about managing China’s rise. A combination of approaches will remain in the policy mix of every country.
- New Delhi must logically accelerate its efforts at external balancing to deal with a more powerful China.
QUESTION: Discuss the problems in wildlife conservation in India and give suggestive measures given by the govt.
ESTIMATION EXERCISE OF INDIAN GAUR
Animals in conflict-prone areas
WHY IN NEWS ?
Recently, the first population estimation exercise of the Indian Gaur (Bison) was carried out in the Nilgiris Forest Division, Tamil Nadu and the World Wide Fund for Nature India assisted the exercise and highlighted that there are estimated 2,000 Indian gaurs across the division.
- Majority of the animals in conflict-prone areas in the division live dangerously close to human habitations due to their habitat loss and fragmentation.
- Due to easy availability of food and lack of threat from predators.
- The spread of invasive species of plants in reserve forest have further degraded the Gaur’s natural habitat.
- The changing land-use patterns like converting tea estates into resorts and buildings has led to erection of more fences limiting the traditional pathways used by the gaurs to move between habitats.
- In areas except for Nilgiri Forest Division, there are sizable populations of gaurs but interactions with humans were comparatively less due to native forests being largely free of invasive flora and land-use patterns also remaining relatively stable.
INDIAN GAUR :
- The Indian Gaur or Bison is the largest and the tallest in the family of wild cattle and is a grazing animal.
- THREATS :
- The destruction in the grasslands has led to the decline in availability of food for these animals.
- lush grassland has diminished which is the prime source of fodder for this wild cattle due to planting of commercial trees.
- Indiscriminate grazing of domestic animals in the areas and for that they have to fight.
- The illegal hunting of the Indian bison is done for their commercial value as well as due to the high demand of gaur meat in the illegal market of India-Nepal border.
- Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.
- Nowadays, this animal is kept well and protected in some of the famous national parks of India like Nagarhole, Bandipur, Kabini and Masinagudi (Mudumalai).
World Wide Fund for Nature India
- It was established as a charitable trust on 27th November, 1969 and today it is one of the leading conservation organizations in the country.
- In 1987, it changed its name from the World Wildlife Fund to World Wide Fund for Nature India.
- It is a science-based organization which addresses issues such as the conservation of species and its habitats, climate change, water and environmental education, among many others.
WAY FORWARD AS PER MISSION STATEMENT :
To stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by:
- Conserving the world’s biological diversity.
- Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable.
- Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
QUESTION: The role of higher education institutes to provide quality in the field of research to empoweryouth. Discuss
STREAMED EDUCATION IS DILUTED EDUCATION
The circular on online education.
WHY IN NEWS ?
Recently, the University Grants Commission(UGC) had issued a circular to universities encouraging them to adopt massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered on its SWAYAM platform for credit transfers in the coming semesters.
- Online system of education leads to dilution of the meaning of education and expresses several concerns regarding the same.
POLICY PROVISIONS :
- The policymakers behind the SWAYAM platform have left out courses in engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, agriculture, and physiotherapy.
- Pure sciences, the arts, the social sciences, and humanities curricula are largely lecture- and theory-based, and, therefore, readily adaptable to the online platform. This amounts to a gross misconception of the idea of education.
GROSS ENROLMENT RATIO TARGET :
- The author’s view ,country’s target Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education (envisioned to be 30% by 2021; it was 25.8% in 2017–18).
- The government plans to make online degree programmes available for students to enrol and graduate from and add to GER.
- In education, the classroom acts as a space where skills such as dialogue, debate, disagreement, and friendship are learnt and practised.
- A diverse and inclusive classroom exposes to the actual world a child would be exposed to when he/she grows up.
EDUCATION AS AN ECONOMIC GOOD :
- The online education model envisages education as a combination of content and consumption model
- In the absence of the physical space of a classroom, teaching and learning would give way to mere content and its consumption.
- Without a shared space to discuss and contest ideas, learning dilutes to just gathering more information.
- This goes against the very idea of education and can also lead to low learning outcomes in the students.
MOOC-BASED E-LEARNING PLATFORMS
- These platforms tend to reinforce a top-down teacher-to-student directionality of learning.
- The teacher is “an intellectual midwife” who facilitates in the birth of students’ ideas and insights through engaging in critical dialogue.
- In a conducive classroom environment, this role is often switched and the student plays intellectual midwife to the teacher’s ideas.
WAY FORWARD :
- The malpractice of the dilution of education must be resisted.
- The online education systems must be seen only as stop-gap variants .
- Need to think of greater value-sensitive and socially just architectures and technologies that further foster classroom engagement and make it accessible for students.
QUESTION: Racial discrimination is assuming new identities and associated forms. Describe the need for an anti-discrimination law in India.
THE NEED FOR AN ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW
Anti-discrimination law in India
WHY IN NEWS ?
Recent revelations made by the former West Indies cricket captain Darren Sammy, that he was discriminated in India, must be awaken us to a problem that goes far beyond the cricket field and its narrow confines, of a society replete(filled) with racism.
DISCRIMINATION AND CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION IN INDIA :
- In India, discrimination pervades every aspect of life in India, from access to basic goods, to education and employment. But, on other occasions, the discrimination is indirect and even unintended.
- Both direct and indirect forms of discrimination is against India’s constitutional vision of equality.
- Article 15(2) stipulates that citizens shall not on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth be denied access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment.
- Sometimes, this right comes into conflict with the rights of persons to associate with others, often to the exclusion of certain groups.
JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS :
- The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Griggs vs. Duke Power Co. (1971): The court held that an energy company had fallen foul of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 (made racial discrimination in private workplaces illegal) by insisting on a superfluous written test by applicants for its better entry-level jobs.
- Although this requirement was race-neutral, in practice it allowed the company to victimise African-Americans.
- These practices are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation.
- Madhu vs. Northern Railway(2018): The Delhi High Court applied judgement in Griggs, when denied free medical treatment to the wife and daughter of an employee which they would otherwise have been entitled to under the rules.
- The court held that to make essential benefits such as medical services subject to a declaration by an employee might be “facially neutral”, but it produced a disparate impact, particularly on women and children.
- However, the critics point out that the spirit of the Transformative Constitution, enshrined in Article 15(2) has been overlooked altogether in the judgement.
- In South Africa, for example, a constitutional guarantee is augmented by an law which prohibits unfair discrimination not only by the government but also by private organisations and individuals.
CHANGING ATTEMPTS :
- In India, there have been a few efforts to this end in recent times. For instance, a private member’s bill in 2017, while the Centre for Law & Policy Research drafted and released an Equality Bill in 2019.
- In 2017, Maharashtra became the first state in India to introduce the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott Act, 2016, which prohibits social boycott of a person or a group of people by panchayats.
WAY AHEAD :
- A re-dedication to our original constitutional commitment could be worthwhile for societal arrangements, especially when the nation is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic .
- The idea of enacting a anti-discrimination law that will help ameliorate the ways of life and help reverse our deep-rooted culture of discrimination.
The civil liberties guaranteed by Indian Constitution are just as capable of being threatened by acts of private individuals as they are by the state. Therefore, rule of law must subsume an understanding that discrimination partakes different forms.
QUESTION : Highlight shortcomings in the GST and how it reformed system of taxation in India.
BEHIND THE CURVE
GST(Goods and Services Tax) compensation to states.
WHY IN NEWS ?
- GST Council, last Friday, decided to relax late fees and interest payable for those taxpayers failing to file returns on time in its second meeting.
- For businesses with no tax liabilities under the indirect tax regime, the late fees were completely waived.
ALL ABOUT GST :
- GST is a comprehensive, multi-stage, destination-based tax that is levied on every value addition.
- GST is a comprehensive Indirect Tax which has replaced many Indirect Taxes in India.
- The Goods and Service Tax Act was passed in the Parliament on 29th March 2017 and came into effect on 1st July 2017
- Under the GST council and 101st constitutional amendment, the tax is levied at every point of sale.
- GST is categorized into CGST, SGST or IGST depending on whether the transaction is Intra-State or Inter-State.
Central Goods and Services Tax and State Goods and Services Tax
- CGST is a tax levied on Intra State supplies of both goods and services by the Central Government and is governed by the CGST Act. SGST is also be levied on the same Intra State supply but will be governed by the State Government.
- This implies that both the Central and the State governments agree on combining their levies with an appropriate proportion for revenue sharing between them.
- However, it is clearly mentioned in Section 8 of the GST Act that the taxes be levied on all Intra-State supplies of goods and/or services but the rate of tax shall not be exceeding 14%, each.
Integrated Goods and Services Tax
- IGST is a tax levied on all Inter-State supplies of goods and/or services and is governed by the IGST Act.
- IGST is applicable on any supply of goods and/or services in both cases of import into India and export from India.
DECLINING GST COLLECTIONS :
- In March, GST collections had slipped to ₹97,597 crore after surpassing the ₹1-lakh crore mark over the previous four months.
- FM N.Sitharaman has told State representatives in the Council that just 45% of the indirect tax target had been met in the past two months.
EMERGENCY FISCAL SUPPORT:
- These reforms may be long-pursued ideals, but whether this is the right time for prioritising them .
- GST compensation due to States for December 2019 to February 2020 was only released on June 4.
- Perhaps, it was timed to pre-empt discontent in the Council’s meeting.
- Yet, Centre-State ties could turn more fractious.
- Any decision on this front, along with proposed GST rate rationalisations in the textiles, footwear and fertilizers sectors that were on the Council’s agenda.
- Postponing is not an appropriate response at this arc of the curve — be it the pandemic or the economy.
- The Centre must help States tide over the pandemic crisis by giving GST dues.
QUESTION : Despite of differences at various levels India-China relations are critical to realise Asian century. Discuss.
REMAINING NON-ALIGNED IS GOOD ADVICE
WHY IN NEWS ?
India-China stand-off along LAC in Ladakh and Sikkim sectors, threatens to result in a major conflict .
- The Non-Aligned Movement was formed during the Cold War as an organization of States that did not seek to formally align themselves with either the United States or the Soviet Union, but sought to remain independent or neutral.
- The basic concept for the group originated in 1955 during discussions that took place at the Asia-Africa Bandung Conference held in Indonesia.
- The first NAM Summit Conference took place in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in September 1961
- It has 120 members as on April 2018 comprising 53 countries from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 2 from Europe (Belarus, Azerbaijan). There are 17 countries and 10 international organizations that are Observers at NAM.
- The Non-Aligned Movement was founded and held its first conference (the Belgrade Conference) in 1961 under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Sukarno of Indonesia
WHAT EXACTLY HAPPPENED ?
- During May 2020, Chinese forces came in sizeable numbers and crossed the undemarcated LAC at quite a few points in the Ladakh and Sikkim sectors.
- These were in the vicinity of Pangong Tso (Lake), the Galwan Valley, the Hot Springs-Gogra area (all in Ladakh), and at Naku La in the Sikkim sector.
- This led to physical engagement with Indian soldiers who opposed Chinese activities.
- Chinese action is primarily to oppose India’s efforts to bridge the infrastructural gap at the border areas i.e. at Line of Actual Control (LAC)
- China has sizeable military presence along the LAC, comprising armoured vehicles, artillery units and infantry combat vehicles in far larger numbers than that of India.
- China also insists that India stop road construction in the border area on the ground that it is taking place in Chinese territory, which India contests, insisting that it is taking place within Indian territory.
- Due to diplomatic efforts, both sides agreed for partial disengagement and to handle the situation in line with the agreement that had been reached.
POSSIBLE REASONS FOR CHINA’S ACTIONS :
- Chinese President Xi Jinping disdains Deng Xiaoping’s policy “to keep your head low and bide your time”
- India’s increasing shift towards US and emergence of Quad (the U.S., Japan, Australia and India) has a definite anti-china stance. China thus views India as being in opposite camps in the wider geopolitical game.
- Despite public bonhomie at the level of Mr. Xi and PM Modi, relations between the two countries have been steadily deteriorating. India opposes China’s Belt & Road Initiative. China views India’s assertions regarding Gilgit-Baltistan.
CHINA’S INTERNAL DYNAMICS :
- Criticism of China’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic, growing opposition within party ranks to some of Xi’s policies and Chinese economic miracle losing steam has put pressure on Mr. Xi to deflect attention & showcase the strongman image (through border clashes with India)
LESSONS FROM THE HISTORY :
- There were similar circumstances that led to the India-China war of 1962.
- Faced with the disaster of the Great Leap Forward (internal pressure), and increasing isolation globally (even from USSR), China under Mao chose to strike at India rather than confront Russia or the West.
WAY AHEAD :
- A single misstep from either of the two countries could lead to a wider conflagration, which both sides must avoid.
- India has consistently followed a different policy in the past, and it is advisable that it remains truly non-aligned.
QUESTION : What importance does the West Asian region hold for India’s economic and strategic interests? Critically analyse.
IN PANDEMIC CRISIS , BRIDGING THE GULF WITH WEST ASIA
COVID-19 and its impact on West Asian Countries with India
WHY IN NEWS ?
The pandemic has initiated a reverse migration of Indian blue-collar workers as projects in oil-rich States stall, and infrastructure development halts amidst a contracting global economy.
- For India and its foreign policy, the West Asia/Gulf region holds a significant court for strategic, economic and even domestic political agendas, ranging from migration to energy security.
- West Asian economy: The pandemic has shattered lives, economies and, arguably, even political and global institutions, the post-pandemic architecture may look drastically different from what we have been used to.
- For the first time since the first Gulf War in 1991. The oil price crash, triggered by expectations of oversupply following a dispute on output caps between Saudi Arabia and Russia, exacerbated by the crash in demand due to COVID-19, will carry massive costs to the West Asian economies.
- According to a Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry survey, more than 70% of businesses classified as small and medium-sized enterprises in Dubai, many owned by Indian nationals, may not survive over the months to come as labour critical industries such as tourism, conventions, hospitality and airlines bear the immediate brunt.
- The major sovereign wealth funds and other financial institutions in West Asia have been hit hard by COVID-19 as well.
- In Saudi Arabia, consumer spending for April 2020, compared to the same time last year, was reportedly down by 34.6%.
- India’s Minister of External Affairs has said that India would repatriate more than 100,000 of its citizens between May 17 and June 13 from 60 countries, a majority of whom are expected to be from the West Asia region.
- Overall, an estimated figure of close to nine million Indians work in West Asia, responsible for sending back more than 56% of India’s annual infusion of $80 billion in remittances.
Oil and investment :
- India gets around 60% of its hydrocarbon requirements from West Asia. On an annualised basis, India saves up to $1.35 billion for each $1 drop in oil prices. With Brent still hovering under $40, the softening oil prices have helped cushion the impact of the national lockdown on the balance of payments.
- India has also taken advantage of the low prices to build up its strategic reserves and is looking at offshore storage options.
What is needed?
- Fast-track resolution of endless litigation.
- Expedite land acquisition.
- Reverse migration and jobs.
India and West Asia :
- India’s relations with the West Asian countries are historical since independence.
- Energy security: 70 per cent of India’s imported energy needs come from West Asia and this dependence will only increase as the Indian economy continues to grow at 8 per cent or more.
- Security of Indian community : India is the largest recipient of foreign remittances from west Asia, 11 million Indians working in West Asia. Therefore, stability in the region is high on India’s core agenda.
- Gateway to central Asia : West Asia is gateway to land locked and energy rich central Asia .
- Multipolarity: The rise of regional powers such as Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and India, and Increased multipolarity has enhanced India’s ability .
- Geostrategic importance: To reduce the influence of China in west Asia and in Arabian Sea.
Much more needs to be done with regard to reversemigra- tion and the economics attached to it, as globally, bilateral and mul-
tilateral tradediplomacy is set to witness a tectonic shift towards
QUESTION : The rural-urban divide in India is stark when it comes to standards of living such as education, healthcare, sanitation and drinking water. To what extent, the anomaly in distribution of powers between centre and states is responsible for this? Analyze
RURAL INDIA , THE NEW VIRAL FLASH POINT
Urban-Rural divide in healthcare
WHY IN NEWS ?
The initial misplaced optimism that India is somehow protected from the COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be illusory, with rapidly escalating numbers of cases and deaths in urban India.
REVERSE QUARANTINE :
It is the practice of detaching the most vulnerable people from general public to protect them from contracting the virus.
- Reverse quarantine is exactly the opposite. When a person is vulnerable and there is imminent danger of his getting infection from other sick people, he is kept away until the danger passes
CURRENT SCENARIO :
- The urban blight(something has a harmful impact) is so intense that it occupies the entire attention of the health-care workforce, planners and policy makers.
- The medical services in these urban areas — Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai (the three major epicentres of the epidemic) — have been overwhelmed.
However 65% of the country’s population is rural and they have been relatively underexposed, with very few cases and deaths. Thus, the large, vulnerable majority in rural India is yet to feel the heat of this epidemic.
- The recent (limited) restoration of public transport and a relaxation of restrictions on the movement of people have set the stage for the inevitable and even more dangerous wave of this epidemic.
- Rural wave is just beginning while the urban wave is about to peak.
CONTRASTS IN HEALTHCARE :
The lockdown of the entire country led to a paralysis of urban and rural life synchronously while the urban and rural waves of this epidemic are clearly asynchronous.
TWO IMPORTANT INDICES OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT :
- This deficiency has been very costly not only in terms of rural lives and livelihoods but also overall national wealth creation.
- If the first urban wave of the COVID-19 tsunami is overwhelming our relatively better urban health-care resources, one can imagine the predicament of rural India with its already deficient health-care resources when it faces the rural epidemic tidal wave.
WAY AHEAD :
- Administer the social vaccine:
o A decentralised approach with participation of all stakeholders in each village, taluk and district is the need and potential of the day.
o The most important step would be to educate rural people with all the tools at our disposal — print, radio, the electronic media, and messages through mobile phones.
- Need to give them accurate information in simple language to make them clearly understand that their self-protection and the protection of their families are entirely in their hands.
- Two behavioural changes are critical — every man, woman and child must wear a cotton cloth mask when out of the home, and observe strict hand hygiene. All elders and any person with a co-morbidity should be cocooned (by reverse quarantine- practice of detaching most vulnerable people from general people).
- Proceeding step by step: At the State and district levels, we need a systematic approach.
o At the same time, we need to protect and sustain existing hospitals and primary health centres not to be frequented by COVID-19 patients.
- Mildly and moderately symptomatic COVID-19 patients should be managed by home isolation, delivering essential and medical supplies at home, and home monitoring of oxygen saturation by readily available portable finger pulse oximeters.
o Each such patient should be followed up daily by a designated medical professional.
o Non-communicable diseases and other common diseases should be handled on a tele-medicine platform manned by experienced and older (age more than 55 years) medical personnel.
QUESTION : Why is it important to India for having a permanent member in UNSC and examine by giving some restraints ?
ELECTIONS FOR NON-PERMANENT MEMBERSHIP OF THE UNSC
India and its non-permanent seat in UNSC
WHY IN NEWS ?
Election for five non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is being held on 17th June, 2020.
United Nation Security Council :
- The United Nations Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including UNSC.
- The UNSC has been given primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council.
- While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.
Permanent and Non-Permanent Members :
The UNSC is composed of 15 Members –
- Five permanent members: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- Ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
Selection of Non-permanent Members of Security Council :
- Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members for a two-year term. The ten non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis:
- Five for African and Asian countries.
- One for Eastern European countries.
- Two for Latin American and Caribbean countries.
- Two for Western European and other countries
IMPORTANT POINTS :
o India is standing unopposed as the nominee for the Asia-Pacific seat, for the 2021-22 term and needs the vote of two-thirds of UNGA members (129 votes) to be confirmed.
o In 2019, the candidature of India was unanimously endorsed by the 55-member Asia-Pacific grouping, which also included China and Pakistan.
o This would be India’s eighth term in the UNSC which will begin from January 2021.
Contenders for Other Seats:
- Mexico is expected to be elected unopposed for the Latin American group.
- Canada, Ireland and Norway will contend for two seats of the West Europe
India’s Commitment at UNSC:
- India’s objective will be the achievement of N.O.R.M.S: a New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.
- Demand for transparency in mandates for UN peacekeeping missions.
- Push for the Indian-led Comprehensive Convention for International Terrorism (CCIT). CCIT includes the following major objectives:
- To have a universal definition of terrorism that all 193-members of the UNGA will adopt into their own criminal law.
- To ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps.
- To prosecute all terrorists under special laws.
- To make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offense worldwide.
- Joint efforts for UN reform and the expansion of the UNSC.
- India has been at the forefront to reform the UNSC, saying it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member of the UNSC, which in its current form does not represent the geo-political realities of the 21st century.
Benefits of India’s Membership at UNSC :
- India’s presence in the UNSC will ensure that the voice of the largest democracy in the world will be heard in an important organ of the United Nations.
- India has always had a global voice and this will give India a greater opportunity to participate actively and shape the Covid-19 and post-Covid scenario.
- Its presence in the UNSC will help bring to the world its ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’-the world is one family.
Winning the maximum votes at the General Assembly this time will be a little hard for India due to:
- Rising tensions in relations with both Pakistan and China.
- Criticism from Turkey, Malaysia and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over the government’s decision on scrapping Article 370 as well as CAA 2019.
- The decision for India and other countries will be made by balancing “favours” each country does for others with-
in the UN system.
QUESTION : Define multilateralism and How India should balance its strategic interests in a multi-polar world ?
MULTILATERALISM POST COVID-19
MULTILATERALISM AND THE DIVIDING WORLD ORDER
WHY IN NEWS ?
The COVID-19 outbreak has placed all international institutions under a magnifying glass. By any measure, most have performed below par.
Multilateralism is the process of organizing relations between groups of three or more states. Beyond that basic quantitative aspect, multilateralism is generally considered to comprise certain qualitative elements or principles that shape the character of the arrangement or institution.
Brief History of Multilateralism :
- Concert of Europe: The end of the Napoleonic wars in Europe saw the establishment of the Concert of Europe, with the great powers redrawing European borders peacefully at the Congress of Vienna.
- League of Nations: The First World War destroyed the European Concert and replaced it with League of Nations.
- UN, IMF & IB: The post-World War II world saw the creation of a new world order sustained by multilateral and supranational institutions such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
CONCERNS FOR MULTILATERALISM :
DELAYED REFORMS :
When there was great power cooperation rather than great power rivalry like now, multilateralism has failed to bring cooperative action.
REVERTING TO MULTILATERALISM 1.0 :
- Multilateralism today seems to have reverted to its version 0.1. The General Assembly now passes resolutions through no objection procedure.
- The 75th session’s ‘leaders week’ runs the risk of being reduced to a video playback session.
NEED FOR REFORMS :
- They need to adapt to new realities, just as their headquarters staff have quickly adopted the new normal of ‘work from home’.
DEPARTURE OF COUNTRIES :
The post Second World War multilateral institutions have survived such departures. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris and the Human Rights Council in Geneva have survived the departure of the U.S.
- The World Health Organization (WHO), notwithstanding its visible shortcomings, will survive U.S. threats.
- Multilateral organisations serve desperately felt global needs of the vast membership. The pandemic has reinforced the desire for greater global cooperation amongst most states.
- Despite contributing nearly 10% of the UN’s budget, Chinese nationals are not exactly overrepresented in terms of staff positions, unlike many other countries whose personnel occupy more than half of the percentage of their financial contribution.
Chinese language interpreters:
Chinese voluntary contribution has increased:
However, They usually encompass all contributions — bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral — on a specific theme. By those indices, many contribute much more.
- China has certainly risen up the multilateral pantheon and is able to better promote its interests.
- However, it is yet to display an ability to set the multilateral agenda and dominate the discourse on an array of issues, in the manner that the U.S. once indispensably did. China’s flagship venture, the Belt and Road Initiative, remains only on the fringes of multilateral fora.
- Multilateral bodies are populated by a plethora of small and middle states quietly working to restore equilibrium, when the balance tends to shift.
Capture of the existing multilateral order by a new hegemon(supreme leader) is antithetical to the ethos of multilateralism. Multilateralism thrives on the notion of the Lilliputians tying up Gulliver.
QUESTION : China’s actions on dormant areas mask a hidden agenda of broader assertiveness in the entire Asia-Pacific. Comment.
HISTORY, THE STAND-OFF, AND POLICY WORTH REREADING
India-China border dispute
WHY IN NEWS ?
The deadly clashes at Galwan which resulted in the killing of 20 Indian soldiers and the ongoing standoff between India and China on the ridges or “fingers” around the Pangong Tso are a metaphor for the wider conflict between the two countries.
Five fingers of the Tibetan palm:
- According to the construct, attributed to Mao – Xizang (Tibet) was China’s right palm, and it was its responsibility to “liberate” the fingers, defined as Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, or Arunachal Pradesh).
- Sixty years ago, India began to set about ensuring that all five fingers were more closely attached to India, not China.
- As the government of India grapples with its next steps at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), it must cast a similarly grand strategy, to renew its compact with each of those areas today.
- India and China share a border that is more than 3,440km long and have overlapping territorial claims.
- From past one month, Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in a tense stand-off at three points along the Line of Actual Control — the Galwan River Valley, Hot Springs area and the Pangong Lake — since early May.
THE STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF GALWAN VALLEY :
- The Galwan river is the highest ridgeline and it allows the Chinese to dominate the Shyok route passes, which is close to the river.
- It lies along the western sector of the LAC and close to Aksai Chin, a disputed area claimed by India but controlled by China.
- Why tensions are suddenly on rise in this area?
- India is trying to construct a feeder road emanating from Darbuk-Shyok Village – Daulat Beg Oldi road (DS-DBO road).
- This road runs along the Shyok River and is the most critical line of communications close to LAC.
PANCHSHEEL AGREEMENT AND AFTERMATH :
- India and China signed the Panchsheel agreement in 1954, but the Nehru government had begun to worry about some of China’s proclamations before the 1962 China-India war.
- Especially after the flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959, China began to demand self-determination in Kashmir and allowing Naga and Mizo dissidents into China for refuge and training.
INDIA’S COUNTER MOVE :
- While India’s military miscalculations and defeat in the 1962 war have been studied in great detail, what is perhaps not so well understood is the three-pronged foreign policy New Delhi set into motion at the time, that provided an effective counter to Mao’s five finger policy over the course of the century.
India’s 3 pronged policy to counter Mao’s 5 finger policy:
- Push for building border infrastructure and governance:
- In the mid-1950s the government piloted a project to build the Indian Frontier Administrative Services (IFAS) for overseeing NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) and other areas along the India-China frontier.
- While India’s border infrastructure is only now catching up with the infrastructure China built in the course of the next few decades, its base was made during the brief period the IFAS existed, before it was wound up in 1968.
- The IFAS’s role has since been transferred to the Indian Army and the Border Roads Organisation, but it is an idea worth revisiting, especially as areas along the frontier continue to complain of neglect and a lack of focus from the Centre.
- Series of treaties with neighbours such as Nepal and Bhutan:
- This resulted in the consolidation of control, militarily and administratively, of other territories that acceded to India, including Ladakh as a part of Jammu and Kashmir (1947), and NEFA (1951).
- In 1950, India signed a treaty with Sikkim that made it a “protectorate”, and by 1975 the Indira Gandhi Government had annexed Sikkim and made it the 22nd State of India.
- The Tibet issue:
- India’s policy towards the “palm” or Tibet, itself should be looked at more closely as well.
- While New Delhi’s decision to shelter the Dala i Lama and lakhs of his followers since 1959.
- At present, the Dalai Lama has the loyalty of Tibetans worldwide, but in the future, the question over who will take up the political leadership of the community looms large.
WAY FORWARD FOR INDIA :
- That China is becoming more belligerent across strategic theatres, challenging the status quo, is supported by multiple examples from the South China Sea.
- For the Government of India, this is a moment to guard against complacency, fostered by decades of nimble diplomacy that led to equilibrium, however precarious, on the border issue with China.
QUESTION : Make in India without skill is an empty agenda. Critically analyse.
CAN INDIA DECOUPLE ITSELF FROM CHINESE MANUFACTURING ?
Assessment of ‘Make in India’ initiative
WHY IN NEWS ?
The border clashes with China and the COVID-19 pandemic have reignited questions about India’s dependence on Chinese manufacturing.
MORE TO KNOW :
- India’s imports from China in 2019-2020 reached $65 billion, out of $81 billion two-way trade.
- On the other hand, It has been more than five years since India launched the Make in India initiative.
Assessment of ‘Make In India’ with respect to India China trade :
- Make in India initiative was a good opportunity for India to get the manufacturing sector back on track.
- India has not taken advantage of what it had actually planned.
- In the past five years, dependency on China has actually gone up.
- There isn’t a very widely diversified source of countries from which India can actually import these.
- It’s going to be a difficult choice for India to get out of this dependence and search for alternative partners.
Concentrations and key sectors where the dependency is acute :
- Indian manufacturing is dependent on supplies from China.
- This includes a wide variety of machineries, including electrical machinery, semiconductor driven machinery and fertilisers etc.
- Value consumer goods – flooded the Indian market.
- Humidifiers, which are being used in the COVID-19 battle and medical masks, are imported from china.
How different is the global environment — and global value chains — from 30 years ago when China was opening up?
- Global value chains are in fact becoming more local. Countries are depending more on their own economies rather than on global markets. This is an impact of the great recession of 2008.
- It was a global market-driven industrialisation strategy, an export-driven strategy, but that is not going to be a reality anymore.
- China’s biggest value comes as a final stage assembler.
- China continues to remain a major source of the final demand market.
India’s policy priorities to attract the industries moving out of China :
- There’s always been a huge gulf between FDI inflows into China and into India.
- The Make in India strategy talked about FDI into manufacturing, but as per the data and service sector have been preferred by the foreign investors.
- The problem of skill set: Foreign investors get into the sectors where there are acknowledged skills, for instance in IT.
- The second issue is infrastructure: It’s not just about having a good policy, but we need to have the infrastructure in place so that the foreign investor can make profits. For example, outdated ports.
- Other economies like Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia or Bangladesh do not have that kind of a market, which India has.
- Cultural commonness in business practices across region that you can find in China, Japan, Korea, and large parts of South-East Asia.
- Unemployment rate has actually gone up.
Is there a contradiction between India aspiring to become a linchpin in global supply chains while being wary about trading agreements?
- There have been issues with the functioning of the WTO and that is why many countries have moved on to pursue regional agreements and bilateral agreements.
- India has gone more protectionist, and the average tariffs have actually gone up.for example, opting out of RCEP.
Way Forward :
- Strategy of increasing the manufacturing sector, allowing the sector to absorb more labour, especially from agriculture, and reducing the dependence on countries like China.
- Create our own market to have enough demand on the ground.
QUESTION : Discuss the significance of RIC grouping and how can it help India in resolving border disputes?
RUSSIA-INDIA- CHINA GROUPING (RIC)
- RIC is a strategic grouping that first took shape in the late 1990s under the leadership of Yevgeny Primakov, a Russian politician as “a counterbalance to the Western alliance.”
- The group was founded on the basis of ending its subservient foreign policy guided by the USA and renewing old ties with India and fostering the newly discovered friendship with China.
- Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19% of the global landmass and contribute to over 33% of global GDP.
Why in News ?
Recently, the Ministry of External Affairs has announced that it will participate in the virtual meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping scheduled to be held on 23rd June, 2020.
KEY POINTS :
- Special Session: This special session of the RIC has been called by the current Chair- Russia to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the victory in the second world war over Nazism and creation of the United Nations (24th October, 2020).
- It will also discuss the current situation of the global pandemic and the challenges of global security.
- The Indian decision to go ahead with the ministerial level exchange has created an opening for de-escalation of tension along the Line of Actual Control.
- While confirming the participation in the meeting, China has also agreed to control the situation in the border areas.
Russia indicated that it would support “constructive dialogue” over the tension in eastern Ladakh as Russia is trusted by both India and China.
- Regional connectivity projects such as the International North South Transport Corridor involving India, Russia and Iran are expected to figure in the agenda.
- This corridor connects India Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via the Islamic Republic of Iran and then is connected to St. Petersburg and North Europe via the Russian Federation.
RELEVANCE OF RIC FOR INDIA :
- Like the Quad and the JAI essentially revolve around the Indo Pacific and will confine India to being only a maritime power when it is actually both a maritime and continental power.
Forum for Cooperation:
- RIC can ensure stable peace in Afghanistan and by extension, in Central Asia.
- Regular RIC interactions could also help the three countries identify other issues.
Creation of New Order:
Contribute to creating a new economic structure for the world ,the RIC could offer some suggestions which could be acceptable to the US.
Governance over Arctic:
- RIC has a common interest in ensuring that it is not left to the West and Russia alone and that India and China also have major say in rules governing the Arctic route.
- India has traditionally avoided taking sides in international politics.
- However, China’s hostile attitude towards India in recent years is increasingly forcing India to confront.
- Even though Russia has remained an old friend for India, it is increasingly under stress to follow China’s dictates. E.g. earlier, it openly opposed the Indo-Pacific concept .
- On issues such as Jammu and Kashmir, which China raised at the UN Security Council, Russia preferred taking a middle position, not supporting India’s stand entirely.
WAY FORWARD :
- RIC would give the platform for resolution of differences (along the Indo-China Border) through dialogue.
- RIC forms the core of both the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the BRICS as greater cooperation between China, India and Russia would lead to strengthening of both SCO and BRICS.
- The RIC is a significant multilateral grouping, because it brings together the three largest Eurasian countries.
QUESTION : Critically examine the implications of Anti-defection law on separation of powers between the legislature and executive in India.
ANTI-DEFECTION LAW AND ITS MISUSE
Anti-defection law misuse in Goa and Manipur legislative Assemblies.
WHY IN NEWS ?
The Supreme Court asked the Goa Assembly Speaker to respond to a disqualification plea filed by the Congress party against 10 legislators who joined the BJP last year.
CONTROVERSY REGARDING THE ROLE OF SPEAKER –
- The Speakers has started taking an active interest in political matters, helping build and break governments.
- For instance in Karnataka, the Speaker kept 17 MLAs at bay for days by refusing to act on their resignations.
- Ultimately, Speaker disqualified all of them and said the disqualification would go on till 2023 — the end of the current Assembly’s term.
- 10th schedule more commonly known as the anti-defection law was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 through 52nd constitutional amendment act.
- It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of the legislature.
- A legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote.
NEED FOR ANTI-DEFECTION LAW :
Law seeks to prevent political defections which may be caused by the lure of office or other similar considerations thus deterrent to reduce political corruption and bribery.
- POLITICAL STABILITY:
Due to the increasing phenomenon of coalition government, the defection of a few individual legislators can cause a collapse of the government. This can give rise to political instability for personal benefits.
- PARTY DISCIPLINE:
When these candidates get elected, political propriety demands that they continue to support the party and its policies, promoting party discipline.
- Against freedom of speech and expression of legislators:
The anti-defection law curbs this right by mandating that all members must vote strictly on party lines, and in complete obedience to party whips. By doing this, it takes away the ability of a legislator to vote according to his conscience.
- Prohibit dissents:
Once a whip is issued by the ruling party in such a House, there can be no dissent or disapproval voiced by any of the members of the party having a majority. This may have a deleterious impact on government accountability.
- No accountability of legislators to people :
Their justification can be that they exercise no control over their vote and therefore ought not to be held accountable for it.
- Role of MP’s diminished in Parliament :
The anti-defection law also considerably diminishes the role of an MP in Parliament to that of a person who only follows orders of the party whip.
WAY FORWARD :
- Apart from fixing a time frame or appointing a permanent tribunal, a non partisan behaviour is desired from the speaker for fulfilling the real objectives behind the Anti Defection law.
QUESTION : Enumerate the significance of the Korean Peninsula as far as India is concerned.
CRISIS IN THE PENINSULA
WHY IN NEWS ?
By blowing up a joint liaison(secret) office on the border with South Korea and threatening to deploy troops along the demilitarised zone, North Korea is back to aggressive posturing with the threat of war.
TROUBLES IN THE PENINSULA :
- Trouble in talking on denuclearisation and North Korea has conducted missile tests and at the same time sending warning signals to Seoul and Washington.
- The latest crisis was triggered by anti-North defector groups.
- South Korea’s Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul resigned.
- Trump & Kim Jong-un met in Singapore to discuss the denuclearisation.
- It put a freeze on nuclear tests and offered to shut its Yongbyon nuclear complex.
- An agreement could have been achieved as a confidence-building measure.
- Mr. Trump is now grappling with many problems at home of coronavirus outbreak and a sagging economy and an anti-racism protests.
India-South korea Relations –
- Political :
- During the Korean War (1950- 53), India has played a major role in cease-fire agreement signed between both the warring sides and the ceasefire was declared on 27 July 1953.
- Relations between India and South Korea were raised to the level of Strategic Partnership in January 2010.
- In May 2015, the bilateral relationship was upgraded to ‘special strategic partnership’.
- India has a major role to play in South Korea’s Southern Policy under which Korea is looking at expanding relations beyond its immediate region.
- Similarly, South Korea is a major player in India’s Act East Policy under which aims to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific.
- The current bilateral trade between India and South Korea is at USD 21 billion and the target that has been set is USD 50 billion by the year 2030.
- India and South Korea have signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), 2010 which has facilitated the growth of trade relations.
- To facilitate investment from Korea, India has launched “Korea Plus” facilitation cell under ‘Invest India’ to guide, assist and handhold investors.
- Cultural :
- Korean Buddhist Monk Hyecho (704–787 CE) or Hong Jiao visited India from 723 to 729 AD and wrote travelogue “Pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of India” which gives a vivid account o Indian culture, politics & society.
- Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore has composed a short but evocative poem – ‘Lamp of the East’ – in 1929 about Korea’s glorious past and its promising bright future.
WAY FORWARD :
- There is a pressing need for peace building in the Korean peninsula .
- The U.S should take measures to revive talks with North Korea and push the peninsula back to normalcy.
QUESTION : Factors attribute to the high incidence of domestic violence in Indian families. Are laws not in force to prevent victimization of women in their own homes? Critically analyse.
FIGHTING A DOUBLE PANDEMIC
Domestic and Gender-based violence and COVID-19
WHY IN NEWS ?
- With the COVID-19 epidemic, there is an escalation in the risk millions face from domestic and gender-based violence.
- The crisis has led to an alarming escalation of violence in the home, with women bearing the brunt of the frustration and anger.
- Surging numbers of emergency calls to helplines with rises of anything between 25% and 300%, dramatic increases in Internet searches for support for those affected by domestic violence, and higher numbers of domestic homicides.
REASONS FOR INCREASE IN GENDER BASED VIOLENCE :
- Experience teaches us that women tend often to be at a disadvantage during crises, epidemics and now this pandemic, and that domestic violence tends to increase.
- This is because gender roles and harmful practices, including customs such as early and forced marriage, limit women’s access to health services.
- Women do three times as much unpaid care work at home compared to men, and make up 70% of workers in the health and social care sectors. They are directly in the infection’s path.
What is Gender-based Violence?
Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence that is directed at an individual based on his or her biological sex OR gender identity. It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation, whether occurring in public or private life.
Why do we talk about GBV?
Gender-based violence is an issue faced by people all over the world. Women are disproportionately harmed by gender-based violence. That is why hundreds of organizations focus on ending violence against women. According to the United Nation’s Population Fund, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexualized violence in their lifetime. That is not including emotional, financial, or verbal abuse. Despite being so prevalent, gender-based violence is largely under reported because of stigma and lack of access to resources and support systems.
- During the present COVID-19 pandemic, mass school closures are tending to entrench learning gaps between girls and boys, and putting many more girls at risk of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy and early or forced marriage.
- Children are unable to report abuse to a trusted teacher.
- Many victims may find themselves trapped and feeling abandoned:
with restrictions on home visits by police and health workers, violence shelters being converted into health facilities, and courts being forced to close.
NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR WOMEN (NCW) ::
The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in January 1992 under the to :
- Review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women ;
- Recommend remedial legislative measures ;
- Facilitate redressal of grievances and
- Advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
The Indian Woman, secure in her home and outside, fully empowered to access all her rights and entitlements, with the opportunity to contribute equally in all walks of life.
WAY FORWARD :
- Dedicated funding and support for micro, small and medium sized businesses and the informal sector, which are predominantly led by women many of whom need the assurance of financial independence to escape from dangerous domestic situations.
- There is a need to implement policy responses and intervention to safeguard victims and those at risk.
- Useful innovations such as virtual hearings and legal advice would allow survivors’ access to justice.
QUESTION : China-India relations transcend the bilateral dimension and assume global and strategic significance.” Discuss.
INDIA’S CONTINUING TWO-FRONT CONUNDRUM
An obsession about Pakistan and a degree of complacency about China since the 1950s
WHY IN NEWS ?
Recently, India’s Chief of the Army Staff said that the Indian Army remains alive to a two-front war.
The lessons of 1962:
- In1962, the People’s Liberation Army struck simultaneously, all along the India-China frontier – a move which depicts long preparation.
- In 1962, India had believed that the threat to India’s security came principally from Pakistan.
- In the India-China interactions leading up to the 1962 China-India war, India had,demonstrated friendliness without reciprocity and firmness without force.
- Despite deteriorating India-China relations in the late-1950s, Indian government was unable to contemplate a war between the two countries.
- The then Prime Minister of India had acknowledged in parliament soon after the 1962 war, India’s defence dispositions “were based on our unfortunate position vis-à-vis Pakistan.”
Lessons from 1971 war: In 1971, on the other hand, India took account of a possible Chinese move in support of Pakistan.
- India, therefore, took out an insurance policy in the form of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation between the Government of India and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
CURRENT SITUATION :
- There has been an obsession concerning the threat from Pakistan, together with a degree of complacency vis-à-vis China, in part because the recent stand-offs in Depsang, Chumar, and Doklam were defused.
- The interactions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at Wuhan and Mamallapuram further blind-sided those involved in foreign and security policy planning in New Delhi regarding the current move by the Chinese.
Reason for China’s aggression:
- China’s dream to become world leader:
Chinese acted the way they did principally as they wanted to make a bid for leadership, not just of Asia, but as a first step in their bid for world leadership.
- Forcing India to accept Chinese leadership:
As far as India was concerned, China’s aim was not to acquire territory, but to force on India a political settlement which will involve India re-orienting its policies to suit the pattern of Chinese global policies. This is done by –
o Warning India not to actively oppose Chinese designs to dominate the Indo-Pacific region by aligning with the U.S. and its allies – Japan and Australia, in an attempt to contain China.
- Keeping India preoccupied with problems in its immediate neighbourhood so that it cannot act as an alternative pole of power to China in the broader Asian region.
- Supporting Pakistan economically and militarily, including the sharing of nuclear weapons designs, to neutralise India’s conventional power superiority vis-à-vis that country.
What India should do ?
- An understanding of these objectives is essential to fashioning a realistic Indian response to China’s aggressive policies in Ladakh and elsewhere along the LAC.
- Pakistan can be managed with the use of diplomatic tools:
In fact, the Pakistani challenge to India has become magnified because of its nexus with China.
- Adoption of carefully calculated policies that neutralise China’s diplomatic and military clout in the Asia-Pacific region without making India appear as a surrogate for other powers and without sacrificing India’s autonomy of decision-making in foreign policy.
- India must resist the tempta tion to remedy past errors by pre-cipitate action. These need a longterm vision, executed with patience and perseverance.
QUESTION: Has RTI been successful in bringing transparency into governance? Critically evaluate.
TRANSPARENCY DURING CRISIS
Right to Information (RTI) applications seeking information about the PM CARES Fund have been stonewalled.
WHY IN NEWS ?
The applications were dismissed by the Public Information officer of the PMO on the ground that PM CARES Fund is “not a public authority” under the ambit of the RTI Act, 2005.
Supporting Arguments for not disclosing information under RTI:
- The relevant information in respect of PM CARES Fund may be seen on the website pmcares.gov.in.
- PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under RTI.
- In such a scenario the public scrutiny of government actions is undesirable during the crisis and citizens must unquestioningly trust the state.
Arguments for Disclosing information under RTI:
- As PM CARES includes the name, the composition of the trust, control, usage of the emblem, government domain name, it signifies that it is a public authority.
- The composition of the trust is especially enough to show that the government exercises substantive control over the trust, making it a public authority.
- PM is the ex-officio chairman of the Trust, while three cabinet ministers are ex-officio trustees in the PM CARES fund.
- Further, no information exists on the official website of the Fund regarding the exact amount collected, names of donors, expenditure incurred, or details of beneficiaries.
Consequences of Non Disclosure under RTI:
- It violates Article 19 of the constitution which states access to information is a must for proper exercising of any right including free speech and expression.
- It will generate an environment of Opacity and Secrecy under which arbitrariness and Corruption may thrive.
- If the poor and marginalized affected by the public health emergency are to have any hope of obtaining the benefits of government schemes, they must have access to relevant information.
- It will further undermine the accountability of officials spending money and will abrogate the doctrine of public trust.
- As per the doctrine, the Government is a trustee of resources it uses as real ownership lies with people.
- All the above factors will eventually erode the notion of participatory governance and people would be left with literally no checks over the functioning of the executive.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RTI :
- Some reports suggest that donations of over $1 billion have been made, including contributions from foreign sources.
- The RTI Act, 2005, has empowered citizens to access information from public authorities and hold them accountable.
- During the COVID-19 crisis, proper implementation of the law has assumed greater significance than ever before.
- It is crucial that information related to the implementation of relief measures announced by governments be widely disseminated.
- Greater openness would prevent controversies of the kind exemplified by faulty testing kits and fake ventilators.
- To ensure easy accessibility to those who need it the most, relevant information must be made available in local languages and widely disseminated.
- This is a statutory obligation of public authorities under Section 4 of the RTI Act.
Public Authority under the Right to Information Act, 2005:
- As per Section 2(h), a “public authority” is “any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted —
- by or under the Constitution;
- by any other law made by Parliament;
- by any other law made by State Legislature;
PM Cares Fund:
- It is a PM-Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund set up to support the government in its fight against the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organizations and does not get any budgetary support.
- Nature of Donations: Individual donations are Tax exempted, company’s donations are eligible for Corporate Social responsibility and Foreign Donations are kept out of the purview of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
- It has been set up as a public charitable trust.
- The Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs and Finance are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.
- Such a narrative undermines the basic democratic tenet that citizens’ participation and oversight is necessary to ensure they are able to access their rights. Without information, oversight of government’s action is absent and corruption thrives.
WAY FORWARD :
- It is critical to create a culture of openness to empower people to participate meaningfully in the decisions that have profound effects on their lives and livelihoods.
- Proper implementation of the Right to Information Act is more crucial now than ever before.
- To ensure easy accessibility, relevant information must be made available in local languages and widely disseminated in line with the statutory obligation of public authorities under Section 4 of the RTI Act..
QUESTION : Terrorism is emerging as a competitive industry over the last few decades.” Analyse the above statement.
THE LONE WOLF THREAT
The lone wolf knife attack in the U.K.
WHY IN NEWS ?
Because of the recent knife attack at a park in Reading, a town west of London, which killed three people and injured three others.
This incident is yet another reminder of the threat of lone wolf attacks the U.K. is facing.
Since November 2019, the country has seen three such major incidents.
WHAT IS LONE WOLF ?
- The term “lone wolf” is used by US law enforcement agencies and the media to refer to individuals undertaking violent acts of terrorism outside a command structure.
- A lone actor, lone-actor terrorist, or lone wolf is someone who prepares and commits violent acts alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group. They may be influenced or motivated by the ideology and beliefs of an external group and may act in support of such a group.
- Terrorist organisations have embraced the lone wolf attack strategy to spread violence in countries where coordinated big attacks are impossible.
- When the territories it controlled in Iraq and Syria started shrinking in the wake of counter-attacks, in 2015 and 2016, the Islamic State urged its supporters first to launch attacks in western cities and then declare allegiance to the ‘Caliph’.
NEED OF THE HOUR :
- The government and the security agencies need to adopt a multi-pronged approach towards radicalisation, which is anchored in human intelligence, strong ties with communities and community leaders and de-radicalisation programmes.
- Lone wolf attacks pose a security challenge to the public and the government..
QUESTION: What impact does the change in US immigration policy have on India’s IT sector? Examine.
DOWNING THE SHUTTERS
The US administration recently extended the 60-day ban on immigration and non-immigrant worker visas till the end of 2020.
WHY IN NEWS ?
- the executive order has also made sweeping changes to the H-1B work visa norms, which will no longer be decided by the currently prevalent lottery system.
- The new norms will now favour highly-skilled workers who are paid the highest wages by their respective companies
About H-1B, H-2B, L and other work visas:
- In order to fill a vacuum of highly-skilled low-cost employees in IT and other related domains, the US administration issues a certain number of visas each year which allows companies from outside the US to send employees to work on client sites.
- Of these work visas, the H-1B remains the most popular among Indian IT companies.
- The US government has a cap of 85,000 total H-1B visas for each year – 65,000 H-1B visas are issued to highly skilled foreign workers, while the rest to highly skilled foreign workers who have a higher education or masters degree from an American university.
Person is Specialty Occupation: To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree of its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defence.
- H-1B visas are generally approved for a period of three years for a person, but many visa holders change employers to extend their US stay.
L1 VISAS :
- Allows companies to transfer highly skilled workers to the US for a period of up to seven years.
H-2B VISAS :
- Allow food and agricultural workers to seek employment in the US.
The J-1 VISA :
- Offers cultural and educational exchange opportunities in the United States through a variety of programs overseen by the U.S. State Department.
REASONS FOR SUSPENSION :
- Depends on the economic situation of the US: Since it was started in 1952, the H-1 visa scheme has undergone many changes and revisions to allow or disallow certain categories of skilled workers in the US, depending on the economic situation of the country.
- The technology boom and low cost workforce: Coupled with the arrival of the internet and low-cost computers in developing nations such as India and China saw a large number of graduates willing to work at relatively low costs in the US, a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.
- Hurts domestic workers: However, it has since often been criticised for sending low cost workers to the US at the expense of domestic workers.
- Economic contraction due to Covid-19: Which has resulted in job losses to the tune that some economists compared this slow down with the Great Depression of 1920s.
- America First: Clarion call given by the US president as part of his campaign to the presidential election to be held soon.
- Adversely affect: Those who do not have a valid non-immigrant visa as of now, and are outside of the US, will not be allowed to enter the country until the ban is revoked.
- Workers in essential services: In the food sector have been given some reprieve, and their entry shall be decided by the consular officer of immigration services.
- H-1B, H-2B, J and L visa holders, and their spouse or children already present in the US shall not be impacted by the new worker visa ban.
IMPACT ON INDIAN IT COMPANIES :
- Increase their cost of operations: Though the large Indian IT companies have cut down their dependency on H-1B by hiring as much as 50 per cent of staff locally, they still rely on these visas to keep costs in check.
- Indian IT companies are amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the US H-1B visa regime.
- As of April 1, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received about 2.5 lakh H-1B work visa applications.
- Indian IT companies also offer subcontracts to Indian nationals already present in the US with valid H-1B visas.
WAY FORWARD :
- Immigrants have played a crucial role in making the USA a global leader in cutting edge technology.
- Suspending the visas will only weaken the USA’s economy and its health care workforce at a time when there is a need to strengthen the both.
- Politics should not trump smart policy and the ingenuity of migrant workers should be harnessed to revive an economy in dire straits.
QUESTION : Do you think India’s desire to diversify its defence cooperation wedged India-Russia relations in recent past? Examine.
India’s Defence Minister is on a three-day trip to Russia to attend the 75th Victory Day.
WHY IN NEWS ?
- This year, the celebrations this year were pushed to June because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- In November 2019, Russian President had invited Indian Prime Minister to the Victory Day celebrations which were due to be held on May 9.
ABOUT VICTORY DAY :
- Victory Day marks the end of World War II and the victory of the Allied Forces in 1945.
- Adolf Hitler had shot himself on April 30. On May 7, German troops surrendered, which was formally accepted the next day, and came into effect on May 9.
WORLD WAR II (Second World War) :
- It was the conflict that involved virtually every part of the world during the years 1939–45. The principal belligerents were the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—and the Allies—France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China.
- The war was a result of the disputes left unsettled by World War I.
- Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.
- In 1943, Germany was defeated by the USSR in the Battle of Stalingrad.
- Axis collapse, Allied victory (1944–45): In June 1944, the Western Allied armies landed at Normandy, France, and began systematically to push the Germans back toward Berlin.
- On April 30, 1945, holed up in a bunker under his headquarters in Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces.
SIGNIFICANCE OF WW2:
- It resulted in the extension of the Soviet Union’s power to nations of eastern Europe.
- It enabled a communist movement to eventually achieve power in China.
- It marked the decisive shift of power in the world away from the states of western Europe and toward the United States and the Soviet Union
Objection over India’s joining Victory Day Parade:
Several Indian leaders have attended several Victory Day Parades. At the 70th anniversary Victory Day celebrations in 2015, then President Pranab Mukherjee went to represent India.
British oppression during WW2:
- However, he had objected to India’s participation in Victory Day Parade as the Indian National Army of Subhash Chandra Bose had fought the Allied Forces and that leaders of Congress were jailed during the war for their protests.
Significance of June, 24:
- After winning the war Stalin commemorated the victory over Germany by holding the Victory day parade on June 24, 1945 in Moscow’s Red Square. However, since then, the Victory Day Parades have taken place on May 9.
INDIA-RUSSIA RELATIONS IN A NUTSHELL :
- India-Russia diplomatic relations are now 70-years-old.
- A key pillar of India’s foreign policy has been the cultivation of relations with Russia.
- The substantive relationship was cemented when the two countries signed the Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership in October 2000.
- In December 2010, the Strategic Partnership was elevated to the level of a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.
- India-Russia ties in the post-Soviet era have acquired a qualitatively new character with enhanced levels of cooperation in almost all areas of the bilateral relationship including political, security, trade and economy, defense, science and technology, and culture.
WAY FORWARD :
- The relationship between the two remains generally strong and without significant obstacles, both countries need to critically examine the substance and future of their ties for a more coherent policy outlook.
QUESTION : India’s quest for self-reliance is still a distant dream. Critically comment in light of the popular sentiment against the Chinese imports in India.
Government e-Marketplace (GeM)
WHY IN NEWS?
- GeM has made it mandatory for the sellers to disclose the country of origin on the products they wish to sell over the platform.
- This comes against the backdrop of calls to BOYCOTT CHINESE GOODS following border clashes between India and China in Ladakh.
MORE ABOUT TO KNOW :
- The sellers who have already added their products on the marketplace have been asked to update the country of the origin and a warning has been issued stating that products will be delisted if the country of origin is not updated.
- With this new feature, now, the country of origin, as well as the local content percentage, are visible in the marketplace for all items.
Government e-Marketplace (GeM) :
- GeM is a one-stop National Public Procurement Portal to facilitate online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Central and State Government Departments / Organizations /Public Sector Undertakings ( PSUs).
- It was launched in 2016 to bring transparency and efficiency in the government buying process.
- It operates under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- The procurement of goods and services by Ministries and the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) is mandatory for goods and services available on GeM
- It also provides the tools of e-bidding and reverse e-auction to facilitate the government users achieve the best value for their money.
- At present, GeM has more than 15 lakh products, around 20,000 services, and more than 40,000 Government buyer organizations.
SIGNIFICANCE OF GeM :
- GeM has taken this significant step to promote ‘Make in India’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.
Benefits of GeM to the Government, Sellers and the Indian industry and economy :
- TRANSPARENCY: GeM eliminates human interface in vendor registration, order placement and payment processing, to a great extent.
- EFFICIENCY: Direct purchase on GeM can be done in a matter of minutes and the entire process in online, end to end integrated and with online tools for assessing price reasonability. For procurements of higher value, the bidding/RA facility on GeM is among the most transparent and efficient, in comparison to e-procurement systems in vogue within the Government sector.
- SECURE AND SAFE: GeM is a completely secure platform and all the documents on GeM are e-Signed at various stages by the buyers and sellers. The antecedents of the suppliers are verified online and automatically through MCA21, Aadhar and PAN databases.
- SAVINGS TO THE GOVT.: The transparency, efficiency and ease of use of the GeM portal has resulted in a substantial reduction in prices on GeM, in comparison to the tender, Rate Contract and direct purchase rates.
PHARMA INDUSTRIES :
- India is seen as a pharmacy hub of the world and manufacturers drugs which are affordable. But the Indian pharmacy Industry depends on China for about 70% of their requirements of bulk drugs and intermediates.
- The fact is that enhancing manufacturing capacities with improved efficiency and reduced cost would require an overhaul(repair) of bureaucratic processes.
- Attaining genuine self-reliance is a long and capital intensive process that would require far greater investment in education, skill-building and infrastructure.
Such a decision will help consumers know their product’s source of origin and gradually help in curbing the huge trade deficit with China. However, a more direct impact may be seen if the proposal to mandate the country of origin for products on private platforms is implemented in future.
QUESTION : How Lal-Bal-Pal changed political discourse of the Indian indep movement ? Discuss.
THE SPIRIT OF ‘LAL-BAL-PAL’ IN INDIAN HISTORY
Swadeshi Movement and its pioneers.
WHY IN NEWS ?
To commemorate the death centenary of Tilak, a Pune based NGO is set to revive the Independence-era spirit of the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’, named after nationalists Lala Lajpat Rai, ‘Lokmanya’ Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal.
ABOUT Lal-Bal-Pal :
- Lal Bal Pal was a triumvirate of assertive nationalists in British-ruled India in the early 20th century, from 1906 to 1918.
- They advocated the Swadeshi movement involving the boycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods in 1907 during the anti-Partition agitation in Bengal which began in 1905.
- The final years of the nineteenth century saw a radical sensibility emerge among some Indian intellectuals.
- This position burst onto the national all-India scene in 1905 with the Swadeshi movement – the term is usually rendered as “self-reliance” or “self-sufficiency”.
THEIR LEGACY :
- Lal-Bal-Pal mobilized Indians across the country against the Bengal partition, and the demonstrations, strikes and boycotts of British goods that began in Bengal soon spread to other regions in a broader protest against the Raj.
- The nationalist movement gradually faded with the arrest of its main leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and retirement of Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh from active politics.
- While Lala Lajpat Rai suffered from injuries, due to British police superintendent, James A. Scott, ordered the British Indian police to lathi charge and personally assaulted Rai; he died on 17 November 1928.
LALA LAJPAT RAI :
- Born in undivided Punjab on 28 January 1865, Lala Lajpat Rai grew up in a family that allowed the freedom of faith.
- Even before he focused his efforts towards a self-sufficient India, Rai believed in the principle.
- In 1895, he started the Punjab National Bank—the first Indian bank to begin solely with Indian capital, and that continues to function till date.
- Rai had travelled to America in 1907 and immediately caught up similarities between the ‘colour-caste’ practised there and the caste system prevalent in India.
- In 1917, he even founded the Indian Home Rule League of America there.
- His proactive, brave participation in the protest earned him the title of the Lion of Punjab or Punjab Kesari.
BAL GANGADHAR TILAK :
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak (23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920) was an Indian nationalist, teacher, and an independence activist.
- In 1884, he founded the Deccan Education Society in Pune, and under the banner, opened the New English School for primary studies and Fergusson College for higher education.
- His involvement in the educational institutions was to emphasise on the cultural revival of young Indian minds.
- For the British, Tilak was the “Father of the Indian Unrest.”
- When the Indian National Congress was divided among moderates and extremes—the stand that each member took against the British government—there was no doubt which side Tilak supported.
- Literary works: Kesari and Maratha newspapers
BIPIN CHANDRA PAL :
- The father of revolutionary thoughts, Bipin Chandra Pal, was born to a wealthy family in Sylhet, Bengal Presidency (now in Bangladesh).
- Pal was a journalist by profession and often contributed to several newspapers.
- He used his literary expertise to write against the use of British goods, advocating Indians to start using Swadeshi goods instead.
- He was of a strong opinion that a mass reliance on Swadeshi goods would help people get rid of their poverty.
The three dynamic leaders, who had been promoting self-reliance and opposing the monopoly of the British goods in India, famously came together as the Lal-Bal-Pal trio. Together, they successfully captured more young minds across India. Even with diverse backgrounds, their cause was the same— to use Swadeshi items in place of ‘Videshi’ items and to replace the British Raj with Swaraj.
QUESTION : Signify socio-cultural relations between India and China and how they are changing at this time ?
WHY CHINA IS BEING AGGRESSIVE ALONG THE LAC
India-China border disputes
WHY IN NEWS ?
The clashes in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh is the first incident of fatalities on the India-China border in 45 years. China has revived its claim on the entire Galwan Valley and has asked India to pull back from the areas.
CURRENT SITUATION :
- Satellite images suggest that China has set up defence positions in the valley as well as the disputed “Fingers” of Pangong Tso.
- Both sides are engaged in a face-off at Hot Springs.
- Despite multiple rounds of military-level talks, tensions are unlikely to ease given the complexity of the ground situation.
- This has led to question the real motive behind China’s aggression.
India’s behaviour not aggressive:
- Doklam standoff: In 2017, India and China agreed to amicably resolve the Doklam standoff that lasted for more than two months. No blood was spilt then, and no shots fired.
- India did not upset China’s domestic and geopolitical sensitivities: India has occasionally issued joint statements with leaders from the U.S. and Asia-Pacific countries, reasserting India’s commitment to “freedom of navigation” (a veiled criticism of China’s claims over the South China Sea).
- India has stayed away from criticising China on controversial topics, whether its “de-radicalisation” camps in Xinjiang, crackdown on protests in Hong Kong, or disputes with Taiwan.
- Superficial local factors: The reasons cited are India’s infrastructure upgrade and its decision to change the status of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
- Driving India deeper into the U.S camp: There is an argument that China’s LAC action will put India into the anti-China camp which belongs to the USA.
Deeper strategic reasons behind chinese action:
- Shift in Chinese foreign policy post the COVID-19 outbreak: The tensions along the LAC are part of this shift. The clear policy shift is seen in
o China’s rising tensions with the U.S.,
o its threats against Taiwan,
o repeated naval incidents in the South China Sea, and
o a new security law for Hong Kong.
- China is an ambitious rising power: It wants to reorient the global order.
- Dissimilarities with Soviet Union: Although China is not an ideological state that intends to export communism to other countries but like the Soviet Union of the post-war world, China is the new superpower on the block.
- Era of peaceful rise is over: When it was rising, China had adopted different tactical positions — “hide your capacity and bide your time”, “peaceful rise” or “peaceful development”.
Broken global order :
- China believes that global order is broken because the global economy is in an irrecoverable crisis given by the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID 19 & geopolitical manoeuvring:
- Weakening global powers: Europe has been devastated by the virus. The U.S. is battling in an election year the COVID-19 outbreak as well as the deepest economic meltdown since the Great Depression.
- Challenges from USA: The U.S. under an isolationist President Trump is taking the most aggressive position towards China.
- Salami slice strategy: It is fighting back its challenges through “salami tactics” — where a dominant power attempts to establish its hegemony piece by piece. India is one slice in this salami slice strategy.
- India is not a ‘swing state’ any more for China.
INDIA’S PROBLEMS ::
- The Indian economy was in trouble even before COVID-19 struck the country, slowing down its rise.
- Social upheaval over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, and the National Register of Citizens had weakened the Indian polity.
- Dipping neighbourhood relations:
Tensions with Pakistan have been high keeping the troops occupied in the border areas.Nepal raised boundary issues with India; Sri Lanka is diversifying its foreign policy and China is making deep inroads into that region; and Bangladesh was deeply miffed with the CAA.
- Strategically disastrous Balakot airstrike: India lost a jet to the neighbour and its pilot was captured and later released by Pakistan.
- A deep embrace of a declining U.S. is a part of the problem. Pakistan embraced a far steadier U.S. during the Cold War to check India. What happened to Pakistan thereafter should be a lesson for India. The USA is a weakening power. It won’t be of much help to India in case of a India-China conflict.
WAY FORWARD :
- A national security strategy should be decoupled from the compulsions of domestic politics and anchored in neighbourhood realism.
- Long-term focus on enhancing capacities and winning back its friendly neighbours.
QUESTION : What is ozone pollution? Why is it still a cause for concern? Examine
INCREASING OZONE POLLUTION
WHY IN NEWS ?
Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has observed an increase in ozone (a harmful pollutant) levels in the several cities of the country.
- The analysis is based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data from 22 cities in 15 States.
- It has also observed that the particulate matter and nitrous oxide levels fell during the lockdown to control Covid-19 outbreak.
IMPORTANT POINTS :
- The ‘good’ ozone present in the earth’s ozone layer protects human beings from harmful Ultraviolet (UV) radiation whereas the ground level ozone is highly reactive and can have adverse impacts on human health.
- Even short-term exposure of an hour is dangerous for those with respiratory conditions and asthma. Thus, an 8-hour average is considered for ozone instead of the 24-hour average for other pollutants.
- Ozone is not directly emitted by any source but is formed by photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx), other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and gases in the air under the influence of sunlight and heat.
- Ozone pollution is thus also a clear indicator of vehicular pollution, which results in higher concentration of NOx.
Concept of Summer Pollution:
`The ozone is primarily a “sunny weather problem” in India as the presence of sunlight has a direct impact on formation of ground level ozone.
- Heat acts as a catalyst, facilitating photochemical reactions. Hence, higher concentrations of ozone are seen during the summer months.
- Additionally, the intense heat waves are one of the factors responsible for increased ozone levels in the country.
- Usually, the ozone levels tend to spike when winter conditions subside, and its presence is felt most during the day. At night, ozone levels tend to deplete, before spiking again during the afternoon, when sunlight is available.
- Thus, the characteristics of summer pollution include high winds, intermittent rains, thunderstorms, high temperature and heat waves.
- It has been observed that the particulate pollution has been dropped dramatically during the lockdown.
- Also, an average PM 2.5 levels during the lockdown for all cities were found to be lower than the average for the same period in 2019.
- However, with lockdown relaxed, pollution started to increase. As soon as lockdown 4.0 came in with more relaxation and traffic returned on roads, the average NO2 levels increased rapidly from the cleanest lockdown phase.
WAY FORWARD :
- The government needs to take active steps to mitigate primary pollutants, which lead to ground ozone formation.
- These steps involved curbing private vehicle usage, increasing electric mobility, scaling up public transport and pedestrian infrastructure, deploying citywide parking management, and aggressively controlling industrial emissions.
QUESTION: Critically analyse how India’s education system can be revamped to address the current demands. (250 words).
THE PANDEMIC IMPOSES A STEEP LEARNING CURB
All over the world the education system has been drastically affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
WHY IN NEWS?
- In the wake of the pandemic, other countries have embraced online education with mixed enthusiasm.
- At the same time, educationists and policymakers advise caution.
- Online education has not lived up to its potential.
- Most instruction in the educational sector has moved online; across the country, schools, colleges, universities, and research establishments have been shut with no surety of when it will be possible to safely reopen.
- Higher education has gone digital where possible; or else it has simply been put on hold.
- Other countries worldwide have embraced online education with mixed enthusiasm.
- Many universities in the United Kingdom and the United States have announced that the coming academic year will be held mainly online.
- However, at the same time, educationists and policymakers advise caution during this move considering that online education has not lived up to its potential.
Response of the Indian education system:
- Considering diversity in institutions of higher education – private and governmental colleges and universities, research institutes, professional colleges, State and central universities, etc — the Indian education system has had a very heterogeneous response to the pandemic.
- These reactions also reflect the contrast in rural versus urban infrastructure, the variable quality of staff, and the diverse types of subjects that are taught.
- Courses that traditionally need a laboratory or practical component
o From a purely pedagogic point of view, it is clear that technology will play a bigger role in education in the future. However, it will be highly subject-specific.
o On the other hand, courses that traditionally need a laboratory or practical component are an obvious example where online classes cannot offer an alternative.
- Huge digital divide :
o The adoption or integration of technology in education also depends on the specific institution and its location.
o Currently, there is a huge digital divide in the country in terms of bandwidth and reliable connectivity, as well as very unequal access to funding.
- Lack of adequate infrastructure especially for certain sections:
o Not all students have equal access to the Internet, and more than half in any class in any institution is simply not able to attend lectures in real-time.
o This is mainly because of the lack of the required combination of hardware and electrical connectivity in their homes.
o This is more pronounced in rural areas and non-metro cities, and for lower-income groups as well.
- Serious impact on academic research
o Beyond classroom lectures and courses, there has been a serious impact on academic research in all disciplines.
o There is a need for close personal interaction and discussion in research supervision, and it is not clear when and how doctoral research and supervision can resume.
o Also, the related economic crisis has consequences for funding, both of research as well as for the maintenance of research infrastructure.
- Lack of quality and quantity of online courses
o The shift to the online system is in response to a crisis and was poorly planned.
o Online teaching is a separate didactic genre in itself and it requires investment of time and resources that very few teachers could come up with in a hurry.
o Many online classes are poorly executed video versions of regular classroom lectures. Across the board, teachers recognize this as unsatisfactory.
- Enhancing the quality of online education using massive open online classrooms(MOOCs).
- However, both the quality and quantity of online courses need to be enhanced.
- Democratisation of knowledge
This is considered as a chance to re-imagine higher education in India.
- Using advanced technologies
o (AI) can be adapted to deliver personalised instruction based o n the learning needs of each student & this can be a boon for teaching students who are differently-abled.
- Decentralisation in education
o The adoption of online education needs to be done with sensitivity.
o Pedagogic material must be made available in our other national languages.
- Implementing a new pedagogical paradigm: an example Gandhi’s “Nai Talim” put a high premium on self study and experiential learning.
- The government will have to bear much of the responsibility, both
To improve digital infrastructure and
o To ensure that every needy student has access to a laptop or smartphone.
- So when these
institutions reopen, they must do so with extreme caution.
- Blended modes of education will be unavoidable: online instruction where possible, and limited contact for laboratory instruction and individual mentoring.
QUESTION: Discuss the impact of Covid-19 on military, health and economy of India.
GETTING OUT OF THE “GUNS,GERMS AND STEEL” CRISIS
Military, health and economic crises of India
WHY IN NEWS?
India faces a “guns, germs and steel” crisis. There are Chinese “guns” on the borders. There are coronavirus “germs” in our bodies. There are “steel” makers and other businesses on the verge of bankruptcy.
Tragedy of military, health and economic crises :
- Military crisis: The Chinese military threat warrants immediate and strategic action by our defence and foreign affairs establishments.
- Health crisis: The COVID-19 health epidemic is going to be a long battle until a vaccine arrives.
- Economic crisis: Even prior to COVID-19, India’s trade levels had fallen from 55% of nominal GDP in 2014 to 40% in 2020.
Extent of Funding Required:
Cost to the military crisis: The Chinese conflict will need central government funds by an additional 1-2% of GDP.
- Kargil parallel: India’s defence expenditure in the Kargil war year increased by nearly 20% from the previous year. It also forced the then government to increase India’s defence budget for the next financial year to 2.7% of nominal GDP.
- Constraints: India’s defence budget is just 2% of GDP for the financial year 2021. China’s defence budget is nearly four times larger.
Cost to the health crisis: The central government will need additional government funds equal to at least 1% of GDP to continue the fight against COVID-19.
- Constraints: The combined public health expenditure of States and the central government in India is a mere 1.5% of GDP, compared to China’s at 3% and America’s at 9%.
Cost to the economic crisis: Based on estimates of loss of consumption, incomes and its multiplier impact, the government will need to inject additional funds of 5% of GDP to absorb the economic shock and kick start the spending cycle again.
- Lockdown effect: The lockdown shut off people from spending for two full months, which will contract India’s economy for the first time in nearly five decades, regardless of a strong agriculture performance.
- Spending by people is the largest contributor to India’s GDP. For every Rs.100 in incremental GDP, Rs. 60 to 70 comes from people’s consumption spending.
- India’s economy has four major drivers
- People’s spending on consumption
- Government spending
- Investment and
- External trade
Incremental funds needed: an additional 8% of GDP while revenues will be lower by 2% of GDP
Potential Sources of Revenue and associated challenges:
- Govt. revenue: Central government revenues for this year were budgeted at 10% of GDP but it will likely fall short by 2% of GDP.
- Trade: Already the global trade has contracted so trade is not a viable alternative to offset the loss from consumption.
- Falling GDP: The government had expected a nominal GDP growth of 10% this year. It is clear now that GDP will not grow but shrink.
- Investment is also not a viable option at this stage since the demand for goods and services has fallen dramatically.
- Wealth tax: Potential new sources of revenue such as a wealth tax or a large capital gains tax can be of help for the medium term but will not be of much immediate help.
- Printing money: The Reserve Bank of India can just create money at will and transfer them to government coffers electronically.
- Borrowings: Whether money is printed or borrowed from others, it will still be counted as government debt.
o Moody’s reduced the long-term foreign-currency credit rating of India to Baa3 from Baa2.
ABOUT BOND RATINGS:
- The bond credit rating represents the creditworthiness of corporate or government bonds.
- Gilt-edged bonds refer to high-grade bonds that some national governments and private organizations issue in an effort to generate revenue.
- Investment grade bonds: Risk-averse investors looking for safe bond investments to avoid the risk of losing their principal investments may opt for government bonds or for investment grade corporate bonds with AAA to Baa3/BBB- ratings
- Government borrowing: A ba lanced course of action for the govt. is to borrow heavily to pull India out of the “guns, germs and steel” crisis and deal with the consequences of a potential “junk” sovereign rating later.
- Direct transfers: Putting money directly in the hands of the needy can stimulate immediate consumption.
- Fiscal stimulus: It should be similar to the “New Deal” which was a series of programmes and projects instituted by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
QUESTION: What is Grey list and Black list, how are countries in the list affected? How does FATF’s latest move affects Pakistan?
Financial Action Task Force(FATF) on Pakistan
WHY IN NEWS ?
As per reports, the Financial Action Task Force has decided to grant Pakistan and other countries on its watch list a three-month extension on certain fulfilling commitments.
- The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF) is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
- The FATF Secretariat is located at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
- As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
- The FATF reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and continuously strengthens its standards to address new risks, such as the regulation of virtual assets, which have spread as cryptocurrencies gain popularity.
- The FATF monitors countries to ensure they implement the FATF Standards fully and effectively, and holds countries to account that do not comply.
- FATF has maintained the FATF blacklist (formally called the “Call for action”) and the FATF greylist (formally called the “Other monitored jurisdictions”).
- A country is put on the grey list when it fails to curb terrorism financing and money laundering.
- Putting a country on the blacklist means shutting all doors to international finance for that country.
- Pakistan was placed on the grey list or “increased monitoring” list in June 2018, and given time until October 2019, in order to complete a 27-point action plan on countering terror finance and anti-money laundering.
- It would be put on the black list of “high-risk jurisdictions” facing severe financial sanctions.
- Orders for Pakistan include:
- Improving mechanisms to curb terror financing,
- Amending laws to curb ‘Hawala’ transactions and placing sanctions against cash couriers who facilitate terror groups,
- Completing the prosecution of groups banned by the UNSC, and converting madrassas run by them into formal schools.
- Despite this being Pakistan’s third stint on the FATF watch list (prior occasions were in 2008 and 2012-2015), there is little evidence that Pakistan has made changes as suggested by FATF.
- Pakistan remains a “safe haven” for most UN proscribed groups.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORT:
- Complex fraud and tax evasion: The “Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade” report said criminals are frequently misusing the legitimate wildlife trade, as well as other import-export type businesses, as a front to move and hide illegal proceeds from wildlife crimes.
- Funds are laundered through cash deposits, under the guise of loans or payments, e-banking platforms, licensed money value transfer systems, and third-party wire transfers via banks.
- The report adds that Pakistan’s steps to prosecute certain leaders of JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) are inadequate.
- The report says a financial probe is key to dismantling the syndicates involved, which can in turn significantly impact the associated criminal activities.
- Findings of the study expressed concern over the lack of focus on the financial aspects of the crime.
- There is a lack of required knowledge, legislative basis and resources to assess and combat the threat posed by the funds generated through the illegal trade. Illegal trade is estimated to generate revenues of up to $23 billion a year.
- Misuse of front companies: Front companies, often linked to import-export industries, and shell firms are used for the movement of goods and trans-border money.
INDIA’S ROLE :
- India is a voting member of the FATF and APG, and co-chair of the Joint Group.
- India was not part of the group that moved the resolution to greylist Pakistan in 2018 in Paris. The movers were the US, UK, France, and Germany and China did not oppose.
- As of now, India is pushing for Pakistan to be blacklisted.
- There is also an opinion that by keeping Pakistan in the grey list one can continue to pressure the country as well as scrutinise its actions.
- Eventually, given the rigorous FATF action plan, and the combined pressure of countries in the group, Pakistan would do well to realise that only clear and consistent actions would free it from the commitments at the FATF.
- Pakistan has bought time, but it cannot back away from its commitments to the FATF
QUESTION : Discuss various peasant movements, and their impact, that took place during Indian freedom struggle.
THE MAPILLAH UPRISING
The Mapillah Rebellion of 1921
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The recent controversy in Kerala over the making of a film on Variyamkunnath Kunhamed Haji, a leading figure of the Mapillah rebellion of 1921.
- The year 2021 will mark the 100th year anniversary of the Malabar/Moplah uprising of 1921.
Malabar/Moplah Rebellion of 1921 :
- The Malabar rebellion, also known as the Moplah rebellion, was an armed revolt staged by the Mappila Muslims of Kerala in 1921.
- In August 1920, Gandhi along with Shaukat Ali (the leader of the Khilafat movement in India) visited Calicut to spread the combined message of non-cooperation and Khilafat among the residents of Malabar.
- In response to Gandhi’s call, a Khilafat committee was formed in Malabar and the Mappilas, under their religious head Mahadum Tangal of Ponnani who pledged support to the non-cooperation movement.
- During the same time, the agrarian situation in Malabar was worsening with the low-class tenants suffering under the oppressive measures of the landlords who were patronised by the British.
- In this situation, the Indian National Congress (INC) reached out to the Mappila cultivators to actively support both the agrarian reforms and independence.
- The Moplah tenants agitated against the Hindu landlords (locally referred to as janmi) and the British government.
- Most of their grievances were related to the security of tenure, high rents, renewal fees and other unfair exactions of the landlords.
- The British government responded with much aggression, bringing in Gurkha regiments to suppress it and imposing martial law.
- Wagon Tragedy: A noteworthy event of the British suppression was the wagon tragedy when approximately 60 Mappila prisoners on their way to prison, were suffocated to death in a closed railway goods wagon.
- The six-month-long rebellion is often perceived to be one of the first cases of nationalist uprisings in Southern India.
- However, the real motive of the revolt still remains a highly debated topic among historians.
- There are some who call it a case of religious fanaticism, there are others who look at it as an instance of struggle against British authority and then there are others who perceive the Malabar rebellion to be a peasant revolt against unfair practices of the landlords.
- Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji was born into an affluent Muslim family sometime in the 1870s (the exact date is not confirmed) and grew up hearing stories of the torture and injustice done by the British.
- His father, Moideenkutty Haji, was deported and jailed in the Andaman Islands for his participation in a rebellion against the British.
DETAILS OF CURRENT ISSUE:
- There have been calls against the making of the film on Variyamkunnath Kunhamed Haji based on the arguments that he was the leader of the Mapillah rebellion which had led to severe atrocities against many Hindu landlords. The detractors have pointed out to the religious undertones of the movement and lamented its consequences.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE REVOLT:
- The author argues that the Mapillah rebellion of 1921 was one the greatest challenges to British rule between the great uprising of 1857 and the Quit India movement of 1942, and contributed to the national resistance to British colonial rule.
- Mapillah rebellion of 1921 would bring to light the multiple factors that contributed to the character of the movement. These included economic distress, anger against foreign rule and the tenancy laws it instituted, and religious zeal.
- Mapillah rebellion as an agrarian revolt that simultaneously took on the garb of anti-colonialism and religious fanaticism.
QUESTION : Discuss how Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and STARS scheme are an improvement over its constituent schemes?
THE STARS PROJECT NEEDS AN OVERHAUL
Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS)
WHY IN NEWS ?
The World Bank board has recently approved a project worth $500 million to improve the learning outcome and governance of government schools through the project STARS.
Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS) :
The project will be implemented through the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, the flagship central scheme of India.
World Bank (a $3 billion project: approved $500 million)
- Six states included in the project are Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
- More than 52% of children in government-run schools in the six project states belong to vulnerable sections, such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and minority communities.
- The project will help improve the learning assessment systems, strengthen classroom instruction, and remediation, facilitate school-to-work transition, and strengthen governance and decentralized management.
- It will also address “the ‘learning outcome’ challenge and help students better prepare for the jobs of the future.
- STARS will aid India’s response by strengthening implementation at the local level, investing in teacher capacity, and ensuring that no child of any background is left behind from the right to education.
- STARS builds on the partnership between India and the World Bank since 1994 for strengthening the school education system and to support the goal of providing education to all.
Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan:
- The scheme was launched in 2018-19.
OBJECTIVES OF SCHEME :
- It aims to improve school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes.
- This sector-wide development programme/scheme would also help harmonize the implementation mechanisms and transaction costs at all levels, particularly in using state, district, and sub-district.
- Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education.
- Universal Access, Equity and Quality, promoting Vocationalisation of Education and strengthening of Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).
Details of the scheme:
- It subsumes the three erstwhile Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), and Teacher Education (TE).
The Scheme will be implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme through a single State Implementation Society (SIS) at the State/UT level.
o At the National level, there would be a Governing Council headed by Minister of Human Resource Development and a Project Approval Board (PAB) headed by Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy.
- The Governing Council will be empowered to modify financial and programmatic norms and approve the detailed guidelines for implementation within the overall framework of the scheme.
- Funding of the scheme:
90:10 – Centre-State ratio for the 8 North-Eastern States and 3 Himalayan States viz. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
60:40 – For all other States and Union Territories with the Legislature.
It is 100?ntrally sponsored for Union Territories without the Legislature.
Problems in the functioning of STARS :
- There are major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, which are not addressed by the program.
- Overburdened bureaucracy
An already overburdened bureaucracy cannot be expected to perform miracles without a substantial increase in trained manpower, support staff, and other forms of institutional support.
- No decentralization
It is being ignored that decentralizing decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power.
Greater decentralization can allow accountability to flow to the people rather than to supervising officers.
- Over-reliance on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Technology has its uses, but its usefulness depends on whether preconditions for an effective use of ICT-systems have been put in place. Otherwise the likelihood of exacerbating, rather than solving, problems increases.
- Measurement of outcomes is seen as a way to improve performance:
Improving the capability of the system needs to be emphasized more than improving learning or in testing infrastructure.
- Outsourcing basic governance functions and the larger role of non-state actors.
Outsourcing of these functions by “expanding private initiatives” and “reducing government tasks” will make it difficult for education to be“more relevant to local needs” or “democratically promote people’s participation by empowering local authorities”
- New private initiatives do not have past experiences, nor do they have a grasp of socio-cultural realities that play an important part in the delivery process.
WAY FORWARD :
- Developing the capability of institutions own capability to reform themselves.
- Need of a critical minimum level of resources
The administration must be equipped with adequate physical, financial, and human resources.
- Address local issues and innovate
Administrative or governance reforms must give greater discretion to the front-line bureaucracy to address local issues and innovate if required.
- Building trust within the administration
There needs to be trust within the administration among peers and across different levels within the administration.
QUESTION : Effect of policies and politics of West Asian countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
IN 24 HOURS, PALESTINE FACES AN EXISTENCIAL THREAT
Israel’s annexation plan
WHY IN NEWS ?
Recently, the Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank have alarmed the Palestinians and the international community and leading to existential threat for Palestine.
- The UN Secretary
General’s alarm has been sounded in the context of the Israeli Prime Minister’s reported plan to annex on July 1 around 30% of the Occupied West Bank.
- This will include annexation of all the existing (post-1967) settlements in addition to areas surrounding them and access roads.
- Ever since the war of June 1967, the Israeli effort has been to procrastinate a settlement and change ground realities.
Violation of International laws:
- Under international law, annexation is forcible acquisition of territory by one state at the expense of another state.
- The UN Secretary General in a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council hels that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at a “watershed moment” and such annexation would be “a most serious violation of international law”.
- The same position has been taken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights).
o It described the annexation of occupied territory as a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions.
o It is also contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly that acquisition of territory war or by force is inadmissible.
o This is a vision of a 21st century apartheid.
- He called upon the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans and asked the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN) to resume its mandated mediatory role.
o Middle East Quartet is a group of four nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. Established in Madrid in 2002, recalling Madrid Conference of 1991, as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East.
Possible consequences of such a move on Palestinians:
- Property rights: Would Palestinians living in annexed areas, and owning around 23% of its land retain their private property?
- Citizenship status: Would they be enshrined in a legal framework of a two-class population divided by ethnicity and given Israeli residency as a category of “subjects” of the annexing entity?
o Would they be on a par with Israeli Arabs of Palestinian origin (Muslim, Christian and Druze) who together constitute about 20% of Israel’s population.
- Right to self-determination: Above all, will it take away from the Palestinians the right to have their own state under the right of national self-determination recognised at times without number by the international community.
ROLE OF INDIA:
- Enjoys good relations with Israel: India has a substantive relationship with Israel, reaching strategic dimensions, which are mutually beneficial.
- Supporting Palestinian cause: India’s amity with the Palestinian people, and its principled support to their cause, predates India’s own independence.
- On the global stage: India has invariably supported the UN Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions supportive of the Palestinians.
- At this critical juncture: India is back on the HorseShoe Table, whether to support an annexation in contraventions of international legality and of our own commitments.
WAY AHEAD :
- Israel needs to behave responsibly: As a member of the international community and contributes to international cooperation, Israel has succeeded in normalising its relations with a wide range of countries.
o Same it needs to observe while conducting its relations with Palestine.
- Injustice and denial of rights has no permanence: The record of Palestinian resistance and of protest movements the world over show that injustice and denial of rights has no permanence.
o Jean Jacques Rousseau said a long time back, “the strongest is never strong enough to be always master unless he transforms his power into right, and obedience into duty”.
- The world at large needs to come together for a peaceful solution but the reluctance of the Israeli government and other involved parties have aggravated the issue more. Thus a balanced approach towards the Israel-Palestine issue would help to maintain favorable relations with Arab countries as well as Israel.