UPSC 2017: Comprehensive News Analysis - December 19

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. Trial Courts and Speedy Justice
2. Plea in SC seeks OBC status for farmers
3. Bill to amend Indian Forest Act tabled in Lok Sabha
4. Govt. plans to dispose of enemy properties soon
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS
1. Trump to unveil ‘America First’ plan
2. U.S. vetoes UN call on Jerusalem’s status
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. RERA's administration under Urban Affairs Ministry's domain
2. ‘Out of pocket spend makes up 62% of health care costs’
3. World Inequality Report 2018
INDIGENIZATION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Scientific Research in India
CYBER SECURITY
1. Cyber Security in India
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY
1. Urbanization and temperatures
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Trial Courts and Speedy Justice

 

  • Trial courts appear to be under pressure to be seen as ruthless and unwavering, resulting in their reflexively awarding the death penalty.
  • In two latest cases, the superior courts may well reduce the sentences on a balance of mitigating and aggravating circumstances. But one cannot ignore the core message that efficient investigation and speedy trials help foster trust in the justice system.
  • Two crimes ended in death sentences for the principal perpetrators last week — one emblematic in the way it sought to uphold caste pride and the other an abominable instance of sexual violence against women.
  • The High Courts of Madras and Kerala would decide later whether to confirm the death penalty, but the trial courts have sent out a significant message that one need not always be cynical about the country’s criminal justice system; that there are times when it responds well, and responds quickly, to the cry for justice.
  • In these cases, one involved the murder of Shankar, a Dalit youth, for marrying Kausalya, who is from an intermediate caste, and incurring her family’s wrath. The other related to the rape and murder of a Dalit law student by a migrant worker.

Swift Justice in India

  • Both crimes took place in the first half of 2016. For Indian courts to render a final verdict within two years is unusual, therefore probably deserving of praise.
  • That the Sessions Court in Tirupur and the one in Ernakulam both imposed the maximum punishment speaks of a commitment to rendering justice.
  • This is a noteworthy and welcome departure from the uninspiring record of tardy trials and perfunctory orders.
  • The Tirupur trial will be remembered for Ms. Kausalya’s courageous deposition, as an eyewitness and the survivor of a murderous attack, and as one with an intimate knowledge of her family’s antipathy towards her slain husband.
  • That she testified against her parents as well as the dangerous gangsters hired by her father to commit the crime is a commentary on her fortitude.
  • It is perhaps a sign of the times that both State governments bestowed considerable attention on securing justice in these cases, getting the investigation supervised at a high level and appointing special prosecutors.
  • Given the public outcry over the two crimes, any other course would have been unacceptable. In recent years, quick trials and condign punishment have become the order of the day.
  • Besides the ‘Nirbhaya’ gangrape and murder in Delhi, the Shakti Mills gang rape case in Mumbai and the rape of a passenger by a Delhi taxi driver are significant instances.
  • However, it is odd and discomfiting that all such cases end in condemning the convicts to death.

2. Plea in SC seeks OBC status for farmers

 In news:

Petition:

  • A petition filed before the Supreme Court has questioned the validity of the office memorandum of the Gujarat government issued on September 13.
  • This particular memorandum increased the slab of income to Rs.8 lakh to raise the number of the OBC classes.

Supreme Court to hear the petition:

  • The Supreme Court has decided to entertain a writ petition seeking ‘farmers’ who do not fall within the creamy layer to be recognised as Other Backward Classes (OBC) as an occupational group irrespective of their caste and religion.
  • The inclusion would arm the ryots with constitutional rights to protect their livelihood.
  • The court asked the Centre, the Gujarat government and the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to respond to the petition.

3. Bill to amend Indian Forest Act tabled in Lok Sabha

 In news:

  • The Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017 amends the Indian Forest Act to exempt felling and transportation of bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the state permit
  • It would omit bamboos growing in non-forest areas from the definition of trees

Background

  • Last month, the government had come out with an ordinance to amend the Indian Forest Act, 1927 in this regard
  • Prior to issuance of the ordinance, the definition of tree in the Act included palm, bamboo, brushwood and cane

Why such a move?

  • Bamboo, though taxonomically a grass, is treated as tree under the Act and attracts the requirement of permit for transit
  • While many states have exempted felling and transit of various species of bamboos within the states, the interstate movement of bamboos require permit
  • The farmers are facing hardships in getting the permits for felling and transit of bamboos which acts as a major impediment to the cultivation of bamboos by farmers on their land

4. Govt. plans to dispose of enemy properties soon

 In news:

  • Home Minister has given nod for the disposal of the properties belonging to people who had left for countries like Pakistan after Partition and which are free from any legal tangle.
  • The Minister directed that considering the importance of the new provisions in the Enemy Property Act, 2017, which was amended recently to include disposal/transfer of enemy properties, the rules may be notified expeditiously.

Category: INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. Trump to unveil ‘America First’ plan

 In news:

  • President Donald Trump is all set to outline a new national security strategy.
  • The new strategy envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and de-emphasises multinational agreements that have dominated the U.S.’s foreign policy since the Cold War.

 “America First” plan:

  • If fully implemented could sharply alter the U.S.’s relationships with the rest of the world.
  • The plan focuses on four main themes — protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.
  • The U.S. will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.

2. U.S. vetoes UN call on Jerusalem’s status

 In news:

  • The U.S. President Donald Trump had declared to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
  • United Nations Security Council: called for the declaration to be withdrawn.
  • Egyptian-drafted resolution: The resolution expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.
  • The U.S has vetoed the resolution where as all the other remaining 14 members voted in favour of the Egyptian-drafted resolution.
  • The draft UN resolution had also called upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.
Basic Information:
  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security as well as accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its United Nations Charter.
  • Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • The Security Council consists of fifteen members. The great powers that were the victors of World War II—the Soviet Union (now represented by the Russian Federation), the United Kingdom, France, Republic of China (now represented by the People’s Republic of China), and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members.
  • These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
  • The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. RERA’s administration under Urban Affairs Ministry’s domain

 In news:

  • The matters related to the administration of the RERA for regulation of the real estate sector and to protect the interest of consumers will be dealt by the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry
  • The central government has amended the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, in this regard

Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016

  • It mandates the establishment of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA)
  • The RERA is for regulation and promotion of the real estate sector
  • It will ensure sale of plot, apartment or building in an efficient and transparent manner and protect the interest of consumers in the real estate sector
  • The law also has provisions for the establishment of an adjudicating mechanism for speedy dispute redressal related to the real estate sector

Other responsibilities:

  • The administration of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, will also be done by the same ministry
  • The Act is to protect the rights of urban street vendors and to regulate street vending activities
  • The development, operation and maintenance of the National Public Procurement Portal Government e-Marketplace has been brought under the commerce ministry
  • The government had last year launched an e-market platform for public procurement of goods and services
  • The online platform followed the Centre’s decision to close the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), the procurement arm of the Centre

2. ‘Out of pocket spend makes up 62% of health care costs’

 In news:

  • Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) chairman said: Out of pocket medical expenses make up about 62% of all healthcare costs in India.

Need to reduce’

  • There is a need to bring down out of pocket expenses of patients.
  • This is extremely high and leads to impoverishment of patients.
  • Around the World: In comparison, out of pocket hospital expenses in developed countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. is 20% and in BRICS countries about 20-25%.
  • There is an urgent need to create health insurance products that are simple and intelligible to customers, provide coverage to the aged and infirm and those suffering from chronic ailments.

3. World Inequality Report 2018

 

  • The World Inequality Report 2018 released by the World Inequality Lab last week says that income inequality in India has increased since economic liberalisation.
  • As expected, the finding has been used by many to argue that the rich should be taxed more to help the poor. The logic is that the rich get richer at the expense of the poor, so taxes that redistribute wealth are only a rational response to inequality.
  • It is true that the rich and the middle class control a major share of the world’s resources, which consequently is not available to the poor. They enjoy higher incomes from better jobs and investments, which allows them to outbid the poor to purchase various goods.
  • What is not true, however, is that the poor will get to enjoy many luxuries if only the rich were taxed more and the money was used to write welfare cheques to the poor, thus boosting their purchasing power.
  • Instead, when taxes are high, people who help produce the goods that the rich and the middle class enjoy today will have less of an incentive to do their jobs as before.
  • Workers, for instance, may no longer be attracted towards high-skill jobs when their income from such jobs is taxed at high rates. Investors too will have lesser reason to put in their money in crucial projects when their profits are taxed at high rates.
  • In fact, India before economic liberalisation faced this problem when it tried to tax its way to prosperity.
  • Income inequality will always exist in a market economy where people are allowed to engage in free exchange and earn incomes according to their personal capabilities.
  • Doctors, for instance, earn many more times than plumbers and carpenters because they offer rare services. At the same time, however, the higher incomes of the rich and the middle class do not last forever in a marketplace that is free of legal entry barriers.
  • More people will be attracted towards professions and businesses that offer higher returns, which in turn will drive up the incomes of the new entrants while driving down the returns of incumbents.
  • This is why we must look at income mobility, which reflects the number of people moving up and down the economic ladder, and ways to foster it rather than inequality.
  • In fact, income inequality might even widen during times when there is a lot of economic mobility.
  • To enable mobility, however, the government needs to look beyond taxes and handouts, and ensure social goods — education and healthcare — for all in order to level the playing field.

Category: INDIGENIZATION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Scientific Research in India

 

  • Many of the greatest scientists that independent India has produced are little known, like hidden figures in their own homeland.
  • Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri in cosmology, G.N. Ramachandran in protein crystal structures, and C.K. Majumdar and Dipan Ghosh who extended the quantum Heisenberg spin model.
  • These are household names in the international scientific field, but are little promoted by the Indian scientific establishment, even neglected in graduate teaching.
  • This oversight reflects a serious problem for the sciences in India. India has numerous well-funded institutions designed to produce high-quality scientific research, but many eminent Indian scientists think the resulting research is mostly mediocre.
  • What is worse is that the relatively small amount of world-class research produced emerges despite the national scientific establishment, and not because of it.
  • However, the resistance to a U.S.-returned scientist who was from outside the corridors of power ensured that the system remained largely unchanged.
  • The system is run by scientists-turned-bureaucrats, who have absorbed the culture of government.
  • Independent India’s project of building a national science establishment has led to internal standards of judgment: the scientists in power certify each other’s work.
  • Dependent on political patronage for continued funding, these leaders groom loyalists and yes-men rather than cutting-edge researchers (and women are scarce).
  • In a culture where people tend to get perceived as “smart” or not, labels can stick for life: hard work yields no rewards unless one is already defined as smart. This has led to an insider culture, reproducing privileges rather than promoting excellence.
  • It is the little-recognised lone rangers who usually produce the best work in such a system, and not the research groups that get the major share of resources.
  • By contrast, the Indian scientists in question were usually upper-caste Hindu men who suffered no discrimination on account of their identity. But they were not insiders close to political power.
  • India’s scientific institutions are a blind spot in the state’s modernisation project. They symbolise reason and are immune to criticism.
  • Owing to a conscious decision at the time of independence, research institutions, which house a numerically small elite, get most of the funding while universities focus mainly on teaching and get very little.
  • Research and teaching are segregated, and both suffer as a result.
  • For Indian scientists, success has meant becoming a bureaucrat, rather than advancing research.
  • First, all the significant work produced in India is theoretical work. At least in the theoretical sciences, money is not that much of a requirement. If you have some contacts and can do things at the international level, nobody is going to go after you.
  • Second, experimental science is very poor in India. To succeed, experiments require at least two conditions: guarantees of long-term funding and scientists’ collaboration with each other.
  • Funding varies with the political climate: there will be money to buy equipment but no certainty that resources will flow for all the years needed to ensure significant results.
  • Third, far from creating a positive influence on society, Indian scientific institutions reflect the existing social make-up and even reinforce it.
  • Bureaucrats no longer active in cutting-edge research regard themselves as capable of judging working scientists, dispensing with principles of peer review.
  • And instead of creating a scientific esprit de corps and contributing to social debates, Indian scientists tend to shun public commentary, unless it is to serve as government spokespersons.
  • Thus claims recycling popular myths can be made by the Prime Minister or by participants at the Indian Science Congress — while leaders of the scientific establishment keep mum.
  • Not long ago, a news release announced a high-level scientific panel headed by the Science and Technology Minister to study the therapeutic benefits of cow urine and cow dung, which ancient Indian science has long venerated.
  • The existence of well-funded institutions that foster group-think, marginalise talent and generate little real innovation might not be news.
  • But with globalisation, it is easier to notice the growing contrast between the fame diaspora scientists achieve in the West, and the challenges their counterparts face in their own countries.
  • India’s problem is hardly unique. Durable institutions and cultures of innovation are not widespread in the Global South. But India is the most successful of all the nations in the Global South, with a more affluent diaspora than virtually any other country.
  • Bringing to light the “hidden figures” in Indian science — without the help of a major motion picture this time — should lead to a wider discussion about the strange career of Indian science.
  • Acknowledging internationally celebrated scientific accomplishments, and asking why they were ignored for so long, can start a useful discussion

Category: CYBER SECURITY

1. Cyber Security in India

 

  • India is one of the key players in the digital and knowledge-based economy, holding more than a 50% share of the world’s outsourcing market.
  • Pioneering and technology-inspired programmes such as Aadhaar, MyGov, Government e-Market, DigiLocker, Bharat Net, Startup India, Skill India and Smart Cities are propelling India towards technological competence and transformation.
  • India is already the third largest hub for technology-driven startups in the world and its Information and Communications Technology sector is estimated to reach the $225 billion landmark by 2020.

Problems in cyberspace:

  1. innovation in technology,
  2. enhanced connectivity,
  3. increasing integration in commerce and governance
  • All these make India the fifth most vulnerable country in the world in terms of cyber security breaches, according to the Internal Security Threat Report of 2017 by Symantec.
  • Till June 2017, 27,482 cybersecurity threats had been reported in the country, according to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team’s report. As this is a 23% increase from 2014 figures, it coincides with rapid growth and innovation in the ICT sector.
  • The second Global Cybersecurity Index, released by the International Telecommunication Union in July, which measured the commitment of nations to cybersecurity, found that India ranked 23 out of 165 nations.

Types of attacks

  • Of the cyber security attacks, Ransom ware attacks have been the most common in the last few years (Ransom ware is a type of software that threatens to publish a person’s data or block it unless a ransom is paid).
  • Apart from Wanna Cry and Petya, other Ransomware attacks that made news globally were Locky, Cerber, Bucbi, SharkRaaS, CryptXXX and SamSam.
  • The success of each of these inspired new attacks. The ransom demands also increased the average mean ransom demand rose from $294 in 2015 to $1077 in 2016, according to Symantec.

Some recent cyber attacks

  • In India, in May 2017, a data breach at the food delivery App, Zomato, led to personal information of about 17 million users being stolen and put for sale on the Darknet. The company had to negotiate with the hacker in order to get it taken down. Similarly, hackers stole data from 57 million Uber riders and drivers. Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to keep the data breach a secret.
  • While Windows operating systems were the most vulnerable to cyberattacks, a number of Android threats have been reported in the last couple of years, including potent crypto-ransomware attacks on Android devices.
  • The attacks aren’t limited to mobile phones and e-Pads. All devices, including televisions that use Android, are also potentially vulnerable. In 2016, the first known Ransomware, named KeRanger, targeting Mac users was also reported. The Mirai botnet malware affected 2.5 million home router users and other Internet of Things devices.
  • A number of viruses, malware and cryptoworms are also being developed in the JavaScript, which gives the attackers cross-platform options.

Tackling Cyberthreats

  • Given the huge number of online users and continued efforts on affordable access, cybersecurity needs to be integrated in every aspect of policy and planning.
  • At the 15th Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team conference in Delhi, Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad highlighted the need for robust cybersecurity policies and frameworks.
  • The government is keen to fund cybersecurity research. It announced that it will award a grant worth Rs. 5 crore to startups working on innovations in the field of cybersecurity.
  • India needs to quickly frame an appropriate and updated cybersecurity policy, create adequate infrastructure, and foster closer collaboration between all those involved to ensure a safe cyberspace.
  • Minister of Communications Manoj Sinha said at the Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017 that there must be enhanced cooperation among nations and reaffirmed a global call to action for all United Nations member nations to not attack the core of the Internet even when in a state of war.
  • This also clearly emphasises the fact that more than ever before, there is a need for a Geneva-like Convention to agree on some high-level recommendations among nations to keep the Internet safe, open, universal and interoperable.

Category: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY

1. Urbanization and temperatures

  • Rapid and unplanned urbanisation of cities and concomitant reduction in vegetation results in increased rise in temperature compared to non-urban areas.
  • To explain how this happens, a team of researchers from IIT-Bhubaneswar studied the warming of Bhubaneswar, a tier-2 city, due to rapid urbanisation compared to non-urban areas that surround it. The study was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India Section A: Physical Sciences.
  • Rapid urbanisation combined with changes in land use pattern between 2000 and 2014 led to about 1.8°C warming of Bhubaneswar compared with surrounding non-urban areas (called the urban heat island effect), the researchers say. 
  • The team, which was led by Debadatta Swain from the School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Sciences at IIT-Bhubaneswar, found that increase in urbanisation has been rapid at 83% in the last 15 years.
  • This has led to about 89% decrease in dense vegetation, about 2% decrease in water bodies and nearly 83% decrease in crop fields during the same period.
  • Decrease in crop areas could either be due to urbanisation or fields remaining fallow. These changes have led to increase in the urban heat island effect.
  • The central part of the city has not witnessed much change in land cover, while the adjoining areas have witnessed major changes due to expansion of the city, leading to the warming of the city.
  • Bhubaneswar was once well covered by three forests. The 1999 Odisha super cyclone destroyed many trees, and many trees have been cut for road expansion. Today, only a very small percentage of forest cover is remaining
  • All the losses mentioned negatively impact the thermal and radiative properties of the surface and make cities hotter than surrounding non-urban areas.
  • With heavily built-up areas and concrete structures, most cities in India and in the world are warmer than surrounding non-urban areas due to the urban heat island effect. For instance, Delhi is 4-12°C warmer due to the urban heat island effect.
  • With proper planning we can minimise the impacts. So urban dwellers may not suffer from excessive changes to heat and rainfall patterns.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

E. PRELIMS FACT

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. With reference to the scientific progress of ancient India, which of the statements 
given below are correct?
  1. Different kinds of specialized surgical instruments were in common use by 1st century AD.
  2. Transplant of internal organs in the human body had begun by the beginning of 3rd century AD.
  3. The concept of sine of an angle was known in 5th century AD.
  4. The concept of cyclic quadrilaterals was known in 7th century AD.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 3 and 4 only
  3. 1, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

See

Answer

Question 2. The Rowlatt Act aimed at
  1. Compulsory economic support to war efforts
  2. Imprisonment without trial and summary procedures for trial
  3. Suppression of the Khilafat Movement
  4. Imposition of restrictions on freedom of the press

See

Answer

Question 3. Electrically charged particles from space travelling at speeds of several hundred km/sec
can severely harm living beings if they reach the surface of the Earth. What prevents them from 
reaching the surface of the Earth? 
  1. The Earth’s magnetic field diverts them towards its poles
  2. Ozone layer around the Earth reflects them back to outer space
  3. Moisture in the upper layers of atmosphere prevents them from reaching the surface of the Earth
  4. None of the statements (a), (b) and (c) given above is correct

See

Answer

Question 4. Consider the following statements:

Chlorofluorocarbons, known as ozone-depleting substances, are used

  1. In the production of plastic foams
  2. In the production of tubeless tyres
  3. In cleaning certain electronic components
  4. As pressurizing agents in aerosol cans

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1, 2 and 3 only
  2. 4 only
  3. 1, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

See

Answer

Question 5. Consider the following protected areas:
  1. Bandipur
  2. Bhitarkanika
  3. Manas
  4. Sunderbans

Which of the above are declared Tiger Reserves?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1, 3 and 4 only
  3. 2, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

See

Answer

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper I
TOPIC: INDIAN SOCIETY 
 
  1. The spirit of tolerance and love is not only an interesting feature of Indian society from very early times, but it is also playing an important part at the present. Elaborate.
GS Paper III
   

TOPIC: CROPPING PATTERN 
 
  1. What are the major reasons for declining rice and wheat yield in the cropping system? How crop diversification is helpful to stabilize the yield of the crop in the system?

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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