17 Apr 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. PM Modi arrives in Sweden
C. GS3 Related
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. China develops 3D conic device to increase solar-thermal conversion
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
1. Electric vehicles charging stations need no license
ECONOMY
1. India must create 8.1 million jobs annually, says World Bank report
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Towards a regional reset?
AGRICULTURE
1. From Plate to Plough: Freeing the farm
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. PM Modi arrives in Sweden

 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the capital of Sweden, the first bilateral visit by an Indian premier .
  • Modi is on the first leg of his five-day foreign tour which will also take him to the UK where he will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
  • Earlier, ahead of his visit, Mr. Modi said in New Delhi that he was looking forward to deepening bilateral engagement with both countries in a number of areas including trade, investment and clean energy.
  • Modi said he and Mr. Lofven would also interact with top business leaders of both countries and chart out a future roadmap of cooperation in sectors such as trade and investment, science and technology, clean energy and smart cities.
  • The prime minister said he would also call on King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf.

India and Sweden will also jointly organize the India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm tomorrow. The summit will also be attended by the prime ministers of Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

 

C. GS3 Related

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. China develops 3D conic device to increase solar-thermal conversion

 

  • Chinese scientists have developed a new device of 3D hollow-cone structure that can greatly increase the solar-thermal conversion efficiency.
  • The device, named ‘Artificial Transpiration’ by Zhu Jia and his team from the Nanjing University, is inspired by the transpiration process of trees.

    Performs better outside the lab

  • The cone structure, based on a graphene film, can collect more sunlight throughout the day when compared with a flat device, as about 10 per cent to 50 per cent of sunlight is diffusive. Thus it performs even better in the real world than in the laboratory.
  • As a result, the device can enhance the solar-thermal conversion rate to 85 per cent, which is much higher than the 40 per cent rate of common devices.
  • Many sectors have refrained from using solar power because of its low conversion rate caused by losses in radiation, convection and conduction. The device will open new possibilities in utilisation of solar energy.
  • This team first applied this structure to solar waste-water treatment, and the test showed that it could not only retrieve clean water but also recycle heavy metals such as copper and cadmium.
  • In the future, the structure can be further optimised to have a longer life and recycle more heavy metals.

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. Electric vehicles charging stations need no license

 

  • The Power Ministry has categorised charging batteries of electric vehicles as a service, a move which will help such stations operate without licence and encourage the use of e-vehicles.
  • Transmission, distribution and trading of electricity need licences under the Electricity Act. Therefore, all utilities have to seek licences for sale of power to consumers.
  • The Ministry said in a clarification that during the charing of e-vehicles, a station does not perform any activity related to the transmission, distribution or trading of electricity.
  • Hence charging of batteries of electric vehicles through charging station does not any require licence under the provision of the Electricity Act 2003
  • The clarification, however, does not provide more details like average cost of supply of power.
  • An official had earlier said the policy on charging stations on points along identified corridors — draft of which has been finalised by the Central Electricity Authority — would provide that the price of power for charging e-vehicles be capped at the average cost of supply in the State, excluding discom transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, plus 15%.
  • The policy is expected to help the tariff for charging at an economical level of below Rs.6 per unit.
  • In the present scenario, the EVs make economic sense as their per km running cost is less than a rupee, whereas the same cost for petrol and diesel works out to an average of Rs.6.50.
  • The government’s National Electric Mobility Mission Plan launched in 2013 aims at ensuring 6-7 million electric and hybrid vehicles in India by 2020.
  • The vision enunciated two years ago is for India to have 100% EVs by 2030.

Category: ECONOMY

1. India must create 8.1 million jobs annually, says World Bank report

 

  • India needs to create 8.1 million jobs a year to maintain its employment rate, said a World Bank report which projected the country’s growth to accelerate to 7.3% in the current financial year.
  • It has projected the growth rate to increase further to 7.5% in the following two years.
  • The report also said that India has recovered from the withdrawal of large denomination bank notes in November 2016, and the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 2017.
  • In its twice-a-year South Asia Economic Focus (SAEF) titled ‘Jobless Growth?’, the bank also said that the area has regained its lead as the fastest growing region in the world, supported by recovery in India.
  • “Growth is expected to accelerate from 6.7% in 2017 to 7.3% in 2018 and to subsequently stabilise supported by a sustained recovery in private investment and private consumption,” it said, referreing to India.
  • The report projected the country’s growth to further accelerate to 7.5% in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and suggested that New Delhi should strive to accelerate investments and exports to take advantage of the recovery in global growth.
  • “Every month, the working age increases by 1.3 million people and India must create 8.1 million jobs a year to maintain its employment rate, which has been declining based on employment data analysed from 2005 to 2015, largely due to women leaving the job market,” it said.
  • SAEF finds that the South Asia region could even extend its lead over East Asia and the Pacific.
  • Much of the progress, however, is driven by India’s growth rebound and is not consistent across countries. Despite accelerating global growth and trade, exports remain weak. Progress on fiscal consolidation is slow, and deficits are high.
  • The report argues that growth alone will not be enough to attain the higher employment rates enjoyed by other developing countries, especially among women.
  • More than 1.8 million young people will reach working age every month in South Asia through 2025 and the good news is that economic growth is creating jobs in the region, said Martin Rama, World Bank South Asia Region Chief Economist.
  • But providing opportunities to these young entrants while attracting more women into the labour market will require generating even more jobs for every point of economic growth, Rama added.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Towards a regional reset?

Context:

  • Bold moves to normalise ties with China and Pakistan will enhance India’s standing.
  • The shift has given rise to speculation that the two sides are intent on making significant progress in smoothening ties on outstanding issues such as boundary negotiations and also narrowing the trade deficit.

 Highlights:

  • The most obvious in this is what is now being called the “reset” with China.
  • While the trigger for the rapprochement between the two neighbours was the peaceful resolution of the Doklam standoff and Mr. Modi’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xiamen last year.

Indian response to Chinese issues:

  • The government has taken care not to respond with any heat to reports of the Chinese build-up at Doklam.
  • Construction by the People’s Liberation Army of new bases, bunkers and helipads, as well its troops staying in the erstwhile grazing grounds there through the winter is far from normal activity.
  • Keeping its responses cool, New Delhi has been repeating that the Doklam standoff point is untouched and Chinese construction on their side of the boundary is “not a threat” to India.
  • The government has also gone to some lengths to tone down planned celebrations marking the anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s arrival from Tibet. New Delhi and Beijing have now embarked on a flurry of high-level visits that are meant to lead up to a summit meeting between the two leaders; they may even meet more than once.
  • The shift has given rise to speculation that the two sides are intent on making significant progress in smoothening ties on outstanding issues such as boundary negotiations and also narrowing the trade deficit.

Neighborhood policy of India

  1. Indo-Maldives
  • Despite several appeals by the Maldivian opposition, and nudges from the U.S., the Modi government decided not to exert hard power in bringing Maldives President Abdulla Yameen around after he declared a state of emergency in the country.
  • Nor did it engage China in a confrontation when Mr. Yameen sought Beijing’s support in this regard.
  • The government remained silent as Male went a step further and held discussions with Pakistan’s Army Chief, on joint patrolling of its Exclusive Economic Zone, an area of operation in the Indian Ocean considered to be India’s domain.
  1. Indo-Nepal
  • With Nepal, instead of seeing red when a victorious Prime Minister K.P. Oli made it clear that he would step up engagement with China in infrastructure development, India rolled out the red carpet for him earlier this month.
  • Nor did India raise concern over Nepal’s Constitution, which had sparked the confrontation between India and Nepal in 2015-16.
  1. With respect to Bangladesh and Bhutan
  • Both Bhutan and Bangladesh are to hold elections this year, and with incumbent governments more favourably disposed to New Delhi than their challengers in the opposition.
  • The results will have an impact on India’s influence in these countries as well.

Quiet progress with Pakistan

  • Government admitted in Parliament for the first time that National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval had met his Pakistani counterpart, Nasser Khan Janjua, as a part of “established channels of communications at various levels” between the two sides in the past few years, post-Pathankot.
  • Meanwhile, the resolution of the standoff over the treatment of diplomats in Delhi and Islamabad indicates that neither government has the appetite for escalation at this point.

Majorly visible changes in Indian Foreign Policy

  • All around, it would appear that India’s hard power strategy in the region is being replaced with a more conciliatory one.
  • However, the next steps will be defined not by a quiet or defensive approach to redefining India’s foreign policy in the region, but with a more bold and proactive one.

Benefits on change in Indo-China policy

  • The reset with China will work only if there are transactional dividends for both New Delhi and Beijing, in case the two governments go back to the default antagonism of the past after the summit meetings.
  • Two issues on which both governments can show flexibility are
  1. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and
  2. India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership.

Article I.           On the NSG

  • China could remove its block to India’s membership by adopting a more inclusive approach within the nuclear export control organisation.
  • As Indian membership will only strengthen the international nuclear regime.
  • Even if withdrawal of China’s objections does not soften the objections of more hardline “non-proliferationists” or Non-Proliferation Treaty-proponents, the goodwill from such a move would propel India-China relations forward.

Article II.        On the BRI

  • If there is political will on both sides, they needn’t look too far for creative solutions around India’s three concerns:
  1. On territorial integrity,
  2. Transparency of projects and
  3. Sustainability
  • The solution to the first is contained in a proposal under consideration to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.
  • While it may not have been the outcome discussed, the shift from the CPEC to what could be called PACE or the Pakistan-Afghanistan-China Economic corridor would necessitate a shift away from projects in Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Other sovereigns concern over BRI

  • Meanwhile, several countries, from Europe to Central and East Asia, are now echoing India’s concerns about the environmental and debt trap risks that BRI projects pose.
  • India could take the lead in creating an international template for infrastructure and connectivity proposals, one that would seek to engage China and other donor countries in a structured approach towards debt financing.
  • This would win India goodwill in the neighbourhood too, where every other country (apart from Bhutan) has signed on to the BRI, but has felt alienated by India’s rigid opposition to the initiative.

SAARC re-engagement

However, the real tipping point in India’s regional reset will come if the government also decides to reconsider its opposition to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit this year, with Pakistan as the host.

Foreign Secretary repeated India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, saying: “Given the current state of play where there is cross-border terrorism and where this is a disruptive force in the region, it is difficult in such circumstances to proceed with [SAARC].” But the argument is beginning to wear thin.

Responses from other SAARC members

  • Afghanistan, which supported India’s move to pull out of the SAARC summit in Islamabad in 2016 following the Uri attacks, is engaging with Pakistan again.
  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi signed a seven-point Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity early this month.
  • Sri Lanka and Nepal, both sympathetic to India’s outrage over Uri, are pushing for a summit this year.

Way forward:

  • The trick is for Mr. Modi to attend the summit in Pakistan when some of India’s neighbours are still asking “why”, and not when all of its neighbours begin to ask “why not”.
  • While this may require the government’s much touted “Doval Doctrine” to take a leaf out of the much derided “Gujral Doctrine” book, it may be in keeping with a larger desire for a regional reset, bringing Mr. Modi’s last year in this term of office more in line with his first.

Category: AGRICULTURE

1. From Plate to Plough: Freeing the farm

Context

  • Raising agricultural exports requires the government to unburden policy of consumer bias.
  • A balance should be struck between meeting the needs of food-insecure consumers and income-insecure farmers.
  • The Agriculture Minister, Radha Mohan Singh, recently tweeted about the government’s resolve to increase the value of the country’s agricultural exports to $100 billion by 2022-23.

Facts and Figures

  • The different targets also reflect a disconnect within the government and show inter-ministerial coordination in poor light.
  • From $8.7 billion in 2004-05 to $42.6 billion by 2013-14. This was an unprecedented achievement in independent India’s history.
  • Not only this, India’s net agri-export surplus (exports minus imports) increased from $3.7 billion in 2004-05 to about $27 billion in 2013-14; that was a more than a seven-fold increase.
  • However, in 2014-16, India’s agri-exports fell to $32 billion.
  • They rose marginally to $33 billion in 2016-17 (see graph). The net trade surplus fell to $9.5 billion in 2015-16 and further to $7.8 billion in 2016-17.
  • The April-February data for 2017-18 shows agri-exports at $34 billion; this is likely to go up to about $38 billion once we have figures for the entire financial year.

The draft Agri-Exports Policy rightly identifies two steps

  • Identify commodities in which India holds a global comparative advantage and develop clusters in states to create value chains for these commodities.
  • Research conducted at ICRIER can be of help if the government decides to take the first step enunciated in the draft policy.
  • Eleven commodities marine products, rice, meat, spices, cotton, fresh fruits and vegetables, sugar, coffee, groundnut, oilmeals and cashews comprised more than 80 per cent of the country’s agri-export basket in 2016-17.

Possible solution

  1. The first change that is required pertains to mindsets.
  • Instead of suppressing market prices for farmers to support consumers, the government should protect them through targeted unconditional income transfers.
  • Restricting markets and compensating farmers through higher MSPs based on the new formula (cost A2+FL+50 per cent) will be an inflationary and unsustainable solution to the woes of the country’s agriculturists.
  • It is likely to hit agri-exports adversely, especially rice and cotton.
  • The exports will become uncompetitive.
  1. Policymakers should support agri-exports while ensuring environmental sustainability.
  • While marine products, meat, oilmeals, groundnuts, cotton, spices, fruits and vegetables do not pose environmental problems, exports of rice must be properly assessed.
  • Cultivating one kg of rice in Punjab or Haryana needs about 5,000 litres of irrigation water.
  • This is drawn from underground and has led to a drastic fall in the groundwater table by 70 to 110 cms/year.
  • Exporting large quantities of common rice from this region is akin to exporting billions of cubic meters of water.
  • The best way to correct this would be to gradually phase-out power and irrigation subsidies, and replace them with a direct income support to farmers, while letting the prices of power and water reflect its true value.
  1. Government must develop efficient global value chains and liberalise land lease markets across all states.
  • It should encourage contract farming on a medium- to long-term basis.
  • Exporters and processors must be encouraged to buy directly from farmer-producer organisations (FPOs), bypassing the inefficient APMCs.
  • Major investments are needed at the back-end to create infrastructure for global and domestic value chains, ranging from produce aggregation to its sorting and grading, packaging, storing and linking the hinterlands to ports for export markets.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (CHOGM):
  1. It is a biennial (every two years) summit meeting of the heads of government from all Commonwealth nations.

  2. Every two years the meeting is held in a different member state.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements about South Asia Economic Focus (SAEF):
  1. The South Asia Economic Focus is a biannual (twice-a-year) economic update.

  2. It presents recent economic developments and a near-term economic outlook for South Asia.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. Zika is a vector-borne disease spread by the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

  2. Zika virus can be transmitted through body fluids including saliva, urine, seminal fluids, blood.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  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. Antibiotic resistance is when our bodies become resistant to antibiotics.

  2. WHO has declared antibiotic resistance the 2nd biggest public threat currently.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

 
 
 
  1. There is need for replacement of “Doval Doctrine” with “Gujral Doctrine” to reset order and establish stability in regional relationships. Analyze.
  2. The Internal Migration is the cause of worry than the external refugee crisis. Explain about possible ways one can control this issue due to climate change.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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