16 Apr 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 16th April 2021:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. UNFPA’s population report launched
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russia
2. Sri Lanka Opposition challenges Bill on Chinese-backed Port City
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Bond yield spikes as RBI’s purchase disappoints
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. A multipolarity, scripted by the middle powers
ECONOMY
1. Lessons from the first wave
F. Prelims Facts
1. RBI sets up authority to review regulations
2. CoWIN
3. India restores e¬-visa for 156 countries
4. Centre eases guidelines for OCI cardholders
5. National task force to combat air pollution, monitor remedial steps
G. Tidbits
1. Annuity clause goes for NPS subscribers
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. Sri Lanka Opposition challenges Bill on Chinese-backed Port City

Context:

Opposition parties, civil society groups, and labour unions have challenged a recently-gazetted Bill on the Chinese-backed Port City in capital Colombo, in Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court.

Issue:

  • The ruling Rajapaksa administration tabled a Bill, titled ‘Colombo Port City Economic Commission’, in Parliament, outlining proposed laws for the $1.4 billion-Port City being built on reclaimed land at Colombo’s seafront.
  • It is touted by the government as an investment hub for foreign capital.
  • However, opposition argues that it directly affects Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.
    • They have challenged the constitutional validity of the proposed legislation for the Port City.
    • The clauses prohibit investment in the Port City in Sri Lankan rupees, which will keep out Sri Lankans.
  • In addition to the legal challenge, the government also faces sharp criticism from some of its backers, including sections of Sri Lanka’s influential Buddhist clergy.
  • They fiercely opposed Indian involvement at the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port.
    • Sri Lanka then backed out of an agreement with India and Japan to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port.

This topic has been covered in 3rd February 2021 Comprehensive News Analysis.

Note:

  • The Port City was launched by President Xi Jinping during his state visit to the island nation in September 2014.
  • The successor government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena vowed to develop the site into an Indian Ocean financial hub, despite an election promise to scrap it, and amid protests from environmentalists and fisherfolk.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Lessons from the first wave

Context:

  • Second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Given the fact that India’s second COVID-19 wave is more virulent than the first, many States have restarted enforcing shutdowns of various scales.

Details:

  • The article analyzes the social and economic impact of the first wave of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown that were imposed. It also suggests suitable actions to be taken in the face of the ongoing second wave of the pandemic.

Socio-economic impact of the pandemic:

Uneven impact and recovery:

  • Even though India’s overall economic trajectory had been on the upswing after the first phase of the pandemic, the growth during these times has not been inclusive.
    • While sectors, including the technological, pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, saw record growth, sectors including travel and tourism and wellness and hospitality receded to historic lows. While the wealth of India’s billionaires increased by 35% even during COVID-19 times, the pandemic decimated the informal and MSME sector and pushed 75 million Indians into poverty.
    • While the migrant workers faced innumerable miseries during the lockdown workers in white collar sectors like IT, consulting and financial services, were minimally affected. COVID-19 has affected the least affluent the most.
  • The economic experts have noted that India’s revival from the COVID-19-induced downturn would be a ‘K-shaped’ curve where only a segment of our population recovers.

Concerns with regard to new lockdown:

  • Introducing even partial lockdowns again will constrain the movement of goods and labourers. It will significantly bring down our industrial productivity and create avenues that will widen our economic and social inequalities.

Recommendations:

Regulation:

  • Stringent health and safety regulations should be formulated and implemented. Non-essential gatherings should be restricted or banned.

Ensuring economic activity:

  • Industries should be allowed to function at maximum possible capacity in multiple shifts.

Preventing distress:

  • Given the fact that demand contraction has been the biggest contributor towards the economic downturn during the pandemic, governments can focus on ensuring cash stimulus packages at both individual and institutional levels. This will boost consumption and investments. Government must emphasize direct cash transfer and employment guarantee schemes.
  • The government will have to focus on industries and sectors most affected by the pandemic.

Vaccine roll-out:

  • India will have to accelerate vaccine production, procurement and distribution. Vaccination should be opened up for all age groups.

Conclusion:

  • Given the fact that introducing even partial lockdowns again will widen economic and social inequalities, India should work towards saving lives without compromising on our population’s livelihood, or without letting people fall into poverty.

F. Prelims Facts

1. RBI sets up authority to review regulations

What’s in News?

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up the Regulations Review Authority 2.0.

Details:

  • Considering the developments in regulatory functions of the Reserve Bank over the past two decades, it is proposed to undertake a review of the Reserve Bank’s regulations and compliance procedures with a view to streamlining/rationalising them and making them more effective.
  • The authority will review regulatory prescriptions internally as well as by seeking suggestions from RBI-regulated entities for simplification and ease of implementation.
  • Deputy Governor Rajeshwar Rao has been appointed as the Regulations Review Authority.
  • The authority would have validity for a period of one year from May 1, 2021.

Note:

  • The RBI had set up a similar authority in 1999 for reviewing regulations, circulars, reporting systems.
  • The recommendations enabled streamlining and increasing the effectiveness of several procedures, paving the way for issuance of master circular and reducing reporting burden on regulated entities.

2. CoWIN

  • COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoWIN) system is a digitalised platform to be used to effectively roll out and scale up the mechanism for COVID Vaccine Distribution System, nationally.
  • It was launched by MoHFW to help agencies keep a track of Covid-19 vaccination and allow Indians to apply for the vaccine.
  • It is a repurposed version of Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN).
  • It is a 100% government-run system.

3. India restores e¬-visa for 156 countries

What’s in News?

The Union Home Ministry has restored the electronic visa (e-visa) facility for foreigners from 156 countries who intend to visit India for business, conferences and medical reasons, including for medical attendants.

E-visa:

  • An e-visa is provided in five categories — tourist, business, conference, medical, and medical attendant.
  • Under the arrangement, a foreigner can apply online four days prior to travel.
  • Entry through e-visas is allowed only at 28 designated international airports and five major seaports in India.

Also read on air bubble agreements.

4. Centre eases guidelines for OCI cardholders

What’s in News?

The Home Ministry has announced that the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) will not be required to register for a fresh OCI card every time a new passport is issued in their name.

  • At present, the OCI card is required to be reissued each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 in view of biological changes in the face of the applicant.
  • Going forward, if a person has obtained registration as OCI cardholder after attaining the age of 20 years, there will be no requirement of reissue of the OCI card.

5. National task force to combat air pollution, monitor remedial steps

What’s in News?

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has constituted an eight-member National Task Force to combat air pollution and monitor remedial steps to improve air quality.

  • The NTF will comprise senior officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministries of Housing and Urban Affairs, Petroleum, Transport, Power, Agriculture, Health and the Central Pollution Control Board.
  • The NTF may also monitor enforcement of laid down air quality standards beyond non-attainment cities in other identified air polluted areas where air quality is poor and above.
  • The Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories will continue to monitor progress in execution of action plans at the State-level with the assistance of monitoring cells in their offices and the Air Quality Monitoring Committee.

G. Tidbits

1. Annuity clause goes for NPS subscribers

What’s in News?

The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Chairman has said that the National Pension System (NPS) will no longer compel investors to convert 40% of their accumulated retirement corpus into an annuity.

  • The decision comes as poor yields and high inflation are translating into negative returns.
    • Since annuities are taxable, deducting the tax and factoring in inflation means annuities are yielding negative returns.
  • The regulator will soon allow those saving up to ₹5 lakh to take the whole amount at retirement, up from ₹2 lakh at present.
  • It is also hoping to launch the first guaranteed return NPS scheme.
  • The Finance Ministry has announced plans to amend the PFRDA law since Budget 2019-20 and to make legislative changes to override the statutory annuitisation provision.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. State of World Population Report is published by:
  1. United Nations Population Fund
  2. World Bank
  3. UN-Habitat
  4. United Nations Development Programme
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a
Explanation:

  • State of World Population Report is the annual flagship report of the United Nations Population Fund.
  • United Nations Population Fund is a UN agency aimed at improving reproductive and maternal health worldwide.
Q2. Consider the following statements: 
  1. Bond yields are directly proportional to the interest rates in the economy.
  2. Rising bond yields lower equity valuations.
  3. A bond’s price moves inversely with its yield or interest rate of such bond.

Which of the given statement/s is/are INCORRECT?

  1. 3 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. None of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • All the statements are correct.
  • Bond yields are directly proportional to the interest rates in the economy.
  • Rising bond yields imply a rise in the risk-free interest rate and hence lower equity valuations.
  • A bond’s price moves inversely with its yield or interest rate; the higher the price of a bond, the lower its yield.
  • The reason for the inverse relationship between price and yield is due, in part, to bonds being fixed-rate investments.
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to National Internet Exchange of 
India (NIXI):
  1. It was set up for peering of internet service providers among themselves for the purpose of routing the domestic traffic within the country.
  2. It is statutory body functioning under the Ministry of Communications.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • NIXI is a not-for-profit organization under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013, formed in 2003.
  • It was set up for peering of internet service providers among themselves for the purpose of routing the domestic traffic within the country, instead of taking it all the way to US/abroad.
Q4. Consider the following statements:
  1. Tangkhuls are a major ethnic group living in the Indo-Burma border area occupying the Ukhrul and Kamjong districts in Manipur.
  2. Highest number of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups are found in Manipur.

Which of the given statement/s is/are INCORRECT?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Tangkhuls are a major ethnic group living in the Indo-Burma border area occupying the Ukhrul and Kamjong districts in Manipur.
  • Among the 75 listed Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).
  • Maram Naga Tribe of Manipur is listed as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG).

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. In the light of the Cold war like situation between The U.S. and China, analyze the critical role that could be played by the so called middle powers- India, Japan, Turkey and Iran in the evolving global geopolitical scenario. (15 marks, 250 words)[GS-2,International Relations]
  2. Given the socio-economic impact of the first wave of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown that was imposed, suggest what measures may be required in the face of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. (10 marks, 150 words)[GS-3,Economy]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 16th April 2021:- Download PDF Here

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