UPSC 2017: Comprehensive News Analysis - July 21

TABLE OF CONTENT

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
Polity
1. Ram Nath Kovind enters Rashtrapati Bhavan with big win
International Relations
1. Let’s both pull back troops from Doklam, says Sushma Swaraj
2. BITs and pieces of trade with Israel
C. GS3 Related
Economics
1. Think beyond loan waivers
Science and Technology
1. Human waste can fuel farming
2. Humans First Arrived in Australia 65,000 Years Ago, Study Suggests
3. ‘Antibiotics in poultry making humans resistant'
4. 50% of HIV-infected get treatment now: UNAIDS
D. GS4 Related
E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
F. Bills/Acts/Schemes/Orgs in News
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

 

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UPSC Current Affairs 2017: News Analysis

 

A. GS1 Related


Nothing here for Today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related


Category: POLITY

1. Ram Nath Kovind enters Rashtrapati Bhavan with big win

In news: 

  • India’s 14th President gets 65.6% of votes to beat joint Opposition candidate Meira Kumar
  • Kovind will be the second Dalit President of In
  • dia after late President K.R. Narayanan but, more significantly, the first from politically significant Uttar Pradesh and the first person from the BJP to hold the office of President since Independence.
  • The total number of MPs and MLAs who cast their votes was 4851, bearing a combined value of 1090300. However, with 77 votes being declared invalid — 21 from Parliament alone — the total number of valid votes was 4774, bearing a combined value of 1069358. Mr. Kovind polled 2930 of these votes — bearing a value of 702044 — and Ms. Kumar 1844 votes — with a value of 367314.

Highest vote value: The value of each vote of an MP was 708. Among the States, each vote in Uttar Pradesh had the highest value of 208, while each vote from Sikkim had the lowest value of seven.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Let’s both pull back troops from Doklam, says Sushma Swaraj

Context:

  • The ongoing border standoff with China.
  • Region: Doklam plateau- constitutes the triangular area where borders of India, Bhutan and China meet.

Possible solution mooted by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj:

  • Both Indian and Chinese soldiers should withdraw from the Doklam region in the tri-junction with Bhutan.
  • The Minister said Panchsheel, the Nehruvian principle of peaceful mutual co-existence, is on track but any unilateral altering of the border by China will amount to a “direct threat” to India’s security concerns.

Basic Information:

Panchsheel Treaty:

  • The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known in India as the Panchsheel , Treaty are a set of principles to govern relations between states.
  • Their first formal codification in treaty form was in an agreement between China and India in 1954.
  • This agreement stated the five principles as:
  • Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  • Mutual non-aggression.
  • Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
  • Equality and cooperation for mutual benefit.
  • Peaceful co-existence.

2. BITs and pieces of trade with Israel

Trade Potential between India and Israel:

  • There is enormous potential for Israeli investment in fields such as renewable energy and water management (drip irrigation and desalination)
  • Defence production is an area with significant potential for Israeli investment through ‘make in India’ route
  • This can help India save billions of dollars it currently spends on importing weapons from Israel

Bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the two countries

  • In 1996, India and Israel signed a BIT
  • However, this was reportedly terminated by India when it unilaterally discontinued 58 BITs recently

Negotiations for a new bilateral investment treaty (BIT)

There are some challenges

(1). ISDS

  • ISDS: The first challange is on the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS)
  • ISDS allows foreign investors to bring claims against a host state for alleged treaty breaches at international arbitral forums
  • Israel trade model on ISDS: The Israeli model gives an investor the choice to submit any investment dispute with a state to international arbitration if not resolved within six months through negotiations
  • India’s stand on ISDS: The Indian model imposes many procedural and jurisdictional restrictions on an investor’s right to bring an ISDS claim
  • These include a foreign investor having to litigate in domestic courts for five years before pursuing a claim under international law
  • These requirements make it very difficult for a foreign investor to make efficient use of the ISDS provision.

(2). FDI and portfolio investment issues

  • Israel’s model provides a broad asset-based definition of foreign investment that covers both FDI and portfolio investment
  • The Indian model of 2016 defines investment as an enterprise (with its assets) that has to possess certain characteristics of investment including the investment having ‘significance for the development’

(3). Most favoured nation (MFN) provision

  • The Israeli model contains a broad most favoured nation (MFN) provision
  • MFN is a cornerstone of non-discrimination in international economic relations, which is missing in the Indian model

(4). Taxation issue

  • The Indian model excludes taxation altogether from the purview of the BIT
  • Thus, the foreign investor cannot bring an ISDS claim even if taxes imposed are confiscatory, discriminatory or unfair
  • Israeli investors will not be comfortable if taxation is completely outside BIT’s purview

The Way forward

  • The Indian position on BITs is very pro-state, offering limited rights and protection to foreign investors
  • An India-Israel BIT looks difficult till both sides move away from their stated positions
  • Both sides should work towards having a BIT that reconciles investment protection

 

C. GS3 Related


Category: ECONOMICS

1. Think beyond loan waivers

Current scenario of Indian Agriculture

  • Indian agriculture is characterised by low scale and low productivity.
  • About 85% of the operational landholdings in the country are below 5 acres and 67% farm households survive on an average landholding of one acre.
  • More than 50% of area under cultivation does not have access to irrigation.
  • Agriculture income generated is not adequate to meet farmers’ needs.

Increasing trends of debt burden

  • The share of institutional loans disbursed to agriculture and allied sectors has risen from 9% in 2000-01 to 31.4% in 2015-16.
  • The amount of short-term institutional loans for agriculture exceeds the total cost of inputs including hired labour. This indicates that a part of crop loans is spent on non-agricultural purposes.
  • According to NSS surveys on Investment and Debt (NSS-I&D), loans taken by cultivators from non-institutional sources is rising faster than from institutional sources.
  • Much of the growth in household demand in rural India has been debt-ridden and not supported by growth in income.

 Reasons:

  • Modern agriculture requires investment in farm machinery and inputs like seed, fertiliser, agri-chemicals, diesel and hired labour.
  • Savings generated from unremunerative crop enterprise are inadequate for such investments.
  • Rising expenses on health, education, social ceremonies and non-food items put additional financial demand on farm families.

Loan waiver scheme

  • States like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka have rolled out farm loan waiver schemes for immediate relief to farmers.
  • The demand for such measures is spreading to other States too.
  • Ultimate goal is to lessen the debt burden of distressed and vulnerable farmers and help them qualify for fresh loans.
  • The success of the loan waiver lies on the extent to which the benefits reach the needy farmers.

Drawbacks of loan waiver scheme

  • It covers only a tiny fraction of farmers. According to 2012-13 NSS-SAS, 48% of the agricultural households did not have any outstanding loan.
  • Out of the indebted agricultural households, about 39% borrowed only from non-institutional sources.
  • The farmers investing from their own savings and borrowing from non-institutional sources are equally vulnerable, but are outside the purview of loan waiver.
  • Provides only a partial relief because half of the institutional borrowing of a cultivator is for non-farm purposes.
  • Many household has multiple loans either from different sources or in the name of different family members, which entitles it to multiple loan waiving.
  • Loan waiving excludes agricultural labourers who are weaker than cultivators in bearing the economic distress.
  • It severely erodes the credit culture, with dire long-run consequences to the banking business.
  • Scheme is prone to serious exclusion and inclusion errors, as evidenced by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s findings in the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008.

Implementation errors

  • According to the CAG report, 13.46% of the accounts, eligible for the benefits under the scheme were not considered by the lending institutes while preparing the list of eligible farmers.
  • In 8.5% of the cases, the beneficiaries were not eligible for either debt waiver or debt relief but were granted the benefits.
  • Around 28% of the beneficiaries were not issued debt relief certificates which would have entitled them to fresh loans.

Other issues with loan waiver scheme:

  • Implications for other developmental expenditure, having a much larger multiplier effect on the economy.
  • A similar amount spent on improvement of agriculture infrastructure and other developmental activities would create a base for future growth and development of the sector.
  • Loan waiving can provide a short-term relief to a limited section of farmers;
  • It has a meagre chance of bringing farmers out of the vicious cycle of indebtedness.
  • There is no concrete evidence on reduction in agrarian distress following the first spell of all-India farm loan waiver in 2008.

Sustainable solutions

  • More inclusive alternative approach is to identify the vulnerable farmers based on certain criteria and give an equal amount as financial relief to the vulnerable and distressed families.
  • Raise income from agricultural activities and enhance access to non-farm sources of income
  • Strengthen the repayment capacity of the farmers by improving and stabilising their income.
  • Improved technology, expansion of irrigation coverage, and crop diversification towards high-value crops are appropriate measures for raising productivity and farmers’ income.
  • Another major source of increase in farmers’ income is remunerative prices for farm produce.
  • More public funding and support
  • Removal of old regulations and restrictions on agriculture to enable creation of a liberalised environment for investment, trading and marketing.
  • States must undertake and sincerely implement long-pending reforms in the agriculture sector with urgency.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Human waste can fuel farming

In news:

  • A faecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP), started in Devanahalli in 2015 and now handles waste from 20,000 residences, could be a model for similar small-scale treatment plants across the country.
  • The treated waste from the plant is being used to make manure for farmers in the neighbourhood.
  • Many parts of India had phosphorous-deficient soil.
  • Direct use of the waste could lead to contamination of crops, but if the sludge is treated and reused in poor peri-urban regions, it will help solve the waste management problem as well as provide nutrients to the soil

2. Humans First Arrived in Australia 65,000 Years Ago, Study Suggests

 In news:

  • Researchers have found evidence that suggests the ancestors of Aboriginal Australians landed in the northern part of Australia at least 65,000 years ago.
  • The finding, which was published in the journal Nature, pushes back the timing of when people first came to the continent by about 5,000 to 18,000 years.
  • It also suggests that humans coexisted with colossal Australian animals like giant wombats and wallabies long before the megafauna went extinct.
  • Previous archaeological digs and dating had suggested people migrated to Australia between 47,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Madjedbebe rock shelter:

  • Human relics in this shelter dates back to 65,000 years.
  • Relics found: Ancient campfire and archaic mortars and pestles, flaked stone tools and painting material, edge-ground axes- which are stone axes that would have had handles, which were 20,000 years older than those found anywhere else in the world.

3. ‘Antibiotics in poultry making humans resistant’

Context:

  • Researchers from the US-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) collected samples from 530 birds in 18 poultry farms in Punjab and tested them for resistance to a range of antibiotic medications critical to human medicine.

Inference:

  • They found high levels of antibiotic resistant pathogens in chickens being raised for eggs and meat in poultry farms in Punjab, posing serious health hazards for humans.
  • Overuse of antibiotics for growth promotion in poultry is leading to development of drug resistance in humans, scientists have warned.
  • Samples from the farms, which reported using antibiotic factors, were three times more likely to be multidrug resistant than samples from farms that did not use antibiotics to promote growth, researchers found.
  • The team found reservoirs of resistance across both types of farms, but meat farms had twice the rates of antimicrobial resistance than egg-producing farms, as well as higher rates of multidrug resistance.

4. 50% of HIV-infected get treatment now: UNAIDS

Highlights of UNAIDS report:

  • For the first time since the global onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the scales have tipped in favour of patients.
  • More than half of all People Living with HIV (PLHIV) now have access to HIV treatment.
  • Globally AIDS-related deaths have almost halved since 2005.

New infections in India: India is the country where most new HIV infections are occurring in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • The bad news is that the majority of the cases — nearly 95 per cent of the cases in 2016 — were concentrated in just 10 countries, India being one of them.
  • India has 2.1 million people living with HIV, with 80,000 new infections annually, as of 2016. In 2005, the annual incidence was 1,50,000 people.
  • Hurdles in India: access to medicines- insufficient availability and poor affordability of essential medicines.

India plays a special role:

  • While the world seems to be on track to reach the global target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020, remains a major barrier and India plays a special role.
  • Indian industries supplied nearly 90% of antiretroviral medicines in low- and middle-income countries in 2015

90-90-90 target:

The idea behind the 90-90-90 target is to diagnose 90% of people who are HIV positive; get 90% of the diagnosed HIV+ people on antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of those on antiretrovirals should be virally suppressed

 

D. GS4 Related


Nothing here for Today!!!

 

PIB Articles                           

 

E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn


 

F. Bills/Acts/Schemes/Orgs in News


Nothing here for Today!!!

 

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam


Question 1. Consider the following statements with reference to North Eastern Regional 
Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMCL):
  1. It facilitates processing of horticulture produce.
  2. It assists processing units to market their products.
  3. It helps in developing linkages of farmers with the market.

Choose the correct statement

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. All are correct
See
Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements with reference to Prime Minister’s Employment 
Generation Programme
  1. It is a major credit-linked subsidy programme.
  2. Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is the nodal implementing agency at the national level

Choose the correct statement

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements with reference to Biotech Kisan and Cattle 
Genomics Schemes:
  1. Biotech Kisan Hub’s will understand problems of farmers related to water, soil, seed and marketing and provide solutions with validated technologies
  2. The main objective of Cattle Genomics Schemes is to predict breeding values of animal, using DNA level information with performance record, more accurately and identify genetic worth of animal (elite animal) at an early age

Choose the correct statement

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. In plants, Phosphorus (P) is considered second to nitrogen as the most essential nutrient to ensure health and function
  2. Phosphorus deficiency can be controlled by applying sources of phosphorus such as bone meal
  3. Many parts of India had phosphorous-deficient soil.

Choose the correct answer

  1. 1 and 3only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 1 only
  4. All are correct

See

Answer
Question 5. Consider the following statements:
  1. Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction summit is being held at Mexico.
  2. Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is global forum for reviewing of progress in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Choose the correct option

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

 

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G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions


GS Paper II
  1. In your opinion, what strategy should India adapt to resolve its boundary stand-off with China at the Doka La tri-junction?
GS Paper III
  1. Overuse of antibiotics in animal farms endangers all of us. Discuss?
  2. “..farm loan waiver undermines an honest credit culture, it impacts credit discipline, it blunts incentives for future borrowers to repay, in other words, waivers engender moral hazard.” Comment.

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