18 Apr 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH
1. Breakthrough in cancer detection?
GOVERNANCE
1. Nod awaited to induct jurist into Lokpal panel
2. Centre to rank States on startup ecosystem
POLITY
1. Law Commission favours simultaneous elections
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.S. keen on signing nuclear reactor deal
2. India, Sweden agree upon ‘win-win’ joint action plan
C. GS3 Related
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
1. NGT asks Ministry to finalise national policy on forest fires
2. Solution for plastic pollution?
ECONOMY
1. Corporate debt, a drag on investment
2. Sooner or later, there will be a new financial crisis’
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
GOVERNANCE
1. Clamour for death: On hanging rapists of minors
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. Breakthrough in cancer detection?

 

  • A Japanese firm is poised to carry out what it hailed as the world’s first experiment to test for cancer using urine samples, which would greatly facilitate screening for the deadly disease.
  • Engineering and IT conglomerate Hitachi developed the basic technology to detect breast or colon cancer from urine samples two years ago.
  • It will now begin testing the method using some 250 urine samples, to see if samples at room temperature are suitable for analysis.It is also intended to be used to detect paediatric cancers.
  • Research published earlier this year demonstrated that a new blood test has shown promise towards detecting eight different kinds of tumours before they spread elsewhere in the body.
  • Usual diagnostic methods for breast cancer consist of a mammogram followed by a biopsy if a risk is detected.For colon cancer, screening is generally conducted via a stool test and a colonoscopy for patients at high risk.
  • The Hitachi technology centres around detecting waste materials inside urine samples that act as a biomarker — a naturally occurring substance by which a particular disease can be identified, the company said in a statement.
  • The procedure aims to improve the early detection of cancer, saving lives and reducing the medical and social cost to the country.The experiment will start this month until through September in cooperation with Nagoya University in central Japan.

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Nod awaited to induct jurist into Lokpal panel

 

  • The high-profile Lokpal selection committee, led by the Prime Minister, met on April 10 and the recommendations for the induction of an eminent jurist in the panel is awaiting approval, the government informed the Supreme Court.
  • K. Venugopal, Attorney General, has made a statement that in the meeting of the Selection Committee held on April 10, 2018 recommendations for induction/appointment of an eminent jurist in the Committee has been made and approval of the recommendation is presently pending.
  • Besides the Prime Minister, the selection committee is composed of Chief Justice of India and Lok Sabha Speaker.
  • Though passed in 2014, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 was not implemented all these years because there was no Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the 16th Lok Sabha.

LoP row

  • The 2013 statute includes the LoP as a member of the selection committee. The Act intends the LoP to be the part of the selection committee of the PM, the CJI and the Speaker, which has to first appoint an eminent jurist among their ranks.
  • However, on April 27 last year, the Supreme Court, in a judgment, clarified that the Lokpal appointment process need not be stalled merely due to the absence of the LoP.
  • The judgment dismissed the government’s reasoning that the Lokpal appointment process should wait till the 2013 Act was amended to replace the LoP with the single largest opposition party leader.
  • The present hearing before Justice Gogoi’s Bench is based on a contempt petition filed by Common Cause, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, for not implementing the April 2017 judgment of the Supreme Court.

2. Centre to rank States on startup ecosystem

 

  • On the lines of Ease of Doing Business (EDB) ranking, the Centre will rate the State/Union Territories by finalising a Startup Ranking Framework from this year based on the scores obtained in various parameters.
  • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has asked the States/UTs to upload the required documents on or before April 30.
  • After thorough evaluation, rating will be given through a public announcement in June.
  • The ranking, as part of the Startup India initiative aimed at ensuring a healthy competition.

Category: POLITY

1. Law Commission favours simultaneous elections

 

  • A draft white paper released by the Law Commission of India recommends holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies, possibly in 2019.It suggests amending the Constitution to realise this objective.
  • In a public notice annexed to the draft, the commission, which is the government’s highest law advisory body, said the white paper would be circulated to constitutional experts, academia, political parties, bureaucrats, students, etc
  • The commission says simultaneous elections were held in the country during the first two decades after Independence up to 1967.
  • Dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha led to the disruption of the conduct of simultaneous elections.
  • The panel refers to a January 2017 working paper of the NITI Aayog on simultaneous elections.The white paper contains a series of possible recommendations of the commission.

The first among these is that simultaneous elections may be restored in the nation by amending the Constitution, Representation of the People Act of 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. U.S. keen on signing nuclear reactor deal

 

  • The U.S. is keen on seeing the completion of the long-pending Westinghouse nuclear reactor deal for Andhra Pradesh.However, Mr. Perry clarified it would be a new deal in which the U.S. manufacturer would be involved only in the supply of reactors, and not in the construction of the power plants.
  • After launching the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership did not commit to a timeline for the completion of the techno-commercial contract for 6 AP 1000 Westinghouse reactors, which has been in negotiations for nearly a decade.
  • The deal for the reactors was one of two MoUs India signed in 2009 after the completion of the civilian nuclear deals. An early works agreement was signed between the NPCIL and Westinghouse in 2013.

Bouncing back

  • However, while one MoU with GE-Hitachi was abandoned over insurance liability issues, the Westinghouse deal faced its biggest problems from a near-bankruptcy last year, after which its parent company, Toshiba, sold it to a Canadian consortium.
  • According to officials, Mr. Perry’s entourage had senior executives from Westinghouse, and his pitch for the company is part of a more aggressive push by the U.S. to increase exports to India to address the trade deficit.

2. India, Sweden agree upon ‘win-win’ joint action plan

 

  • After a hectic day of bilateral parleys here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven, on Tuesday agreed upon a joint action plan (JAP) for both countries to take forward a wide range of initiatives in defence, trade and investment, counterterrorism, renewable energy, smart cities, women’s skill development, space and science and healthcare.
  • Characterising the JAP as a win-win partnership for New Delhi and Stockholm, Mr. Modi underscored the critical role of the defence sector and security initiatives as a pillar of the bilateral relationship.
  • The bilateral summit here was additionally significant for the opportunity it afforded both sides to discuss Sweden’s interest in proposing the Saab Group’s Gripen-E single-engine jet fighter for the Indian Air Force, as a Request for Information had been issued earlier this month to Stockholm.
  • On counterterrorism, Mr. Modi and Mr. Löfven emphasised that the global counterterrorism legal framework should be regularly updated to address the changing threat of terrorism with strength.
  • Innovation was front and centre in the bilateral summit today, with a separate discussion focused entirely on this area, and the outcome being a joint declaration on a Sweden-India Innovation Partnership for a Sustainable Future, which built upon the joint statement between the two Prime Ministers in Mumbai in 2016.
  • The Swedish government will kick-start the Innovation Partnership by providing up to 50 million Swedish kronor (over $59 million) for innovation cooperation in the field of smart cities and sustainability.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. NGT asks Ministry to finalise national policy on forest fires

 

  • The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to finalise the National Policy on Forest Fire within two weeks, after noting that forest fires generally occur in the month of April.
  • The green panel had earlier come down heavily on the Centre for remaining a “mute spectator” to the recurring forest fires in the hill States and asked the Environment Ministry to formulate a national policy.
  • The directions came while the Bench was hearing a plea filed by senior advocate Rajiv Dutta who had claimed that if no urgent steps are taken, further devastation would be caused to a huge chunk of flora and fauna which are considered wealth of the nation.

2. Solution for plastic pollution?

 

  • Researchers in the US and Britain have accidentally engineered an enzyme which eats plastic and may eventually help solve the growing problem of plastic pollution, a study said.
  • More than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year, and concern is mounting over this petroleum-derived product’s toxic legacy on human health and the environment.
  • Despite recycling efforts, most plastic can persist for hundreds of years in the environment, so researchers are searching for better ways to eliminate it.
  • Scientists at the University of Portsmouth and the US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory decided to focus on a naturally occurring bacterium discovered in Japan a few years ago.
  • Japanese researchers believe the bacterium evolved fairly recently in a waste recycling center, since plastics were not invented until the 1940s.
  • Known as Ideonella sakaiensis, it appears to feed exclusively on a type of plastic known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), used widely in plastic bottles.

A useful mutation

  • The researchers’ goal was to understand how one of its enzymes – called PETase – worked, by figuring out its structure.But they ended up going a step further and accidentally engineered an enzyme which was even better at breaking down PET plastics.
  • Using a super-powerful X-ray, 10 billion times brighter than the Sun, they were able to make an ultra-high-resolution three-dimensional model of the enzyme.
  • Scientists from the University of South Florida and the University of Campinas in Brazil did computer modeling which showed PETase looked similar to another enzyme, cutinase, found in fungus and bacteria. One area of the PETase was a bit different, though, and researchers hypothesized that this was the part that allowed it to degrade man-made plastic.
  • So they mutated the PETase active site to make it more like cutinase, and unexpectedly found that this mutant enzyme was even better than the natural PETase at breaking down PET.
  • Researchers say they are now working on further improvements to the enzyme, with the hope of eventually scaling it up for industrial use in breaking down plastics. Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research, and our discovery here is no exception.
  • Although the improvement is modest, this unanticipated discovery suggests that there is room to further improve these enzymes, moving us closer to a recycling solution for the ever-growing mountain of discarded plastics.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Corporate debt, a drag on investment

 

  • The corporate debt overhang and associated banking sector credit quality concerns exert a drag on investment in India, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said, in an apparent reference to the PNB scam involving diamantaire Nirav Modi.
  • Balance sheet vulnerabilities pose a downside risk to medium-term growth prospects in many emerging market economies, requiring policy action, the IMF said in its annual World Economic Outlook report.
  • According to the fund, the recapitalisation plan for major public-sector banks in India, announced in 2017, will help replenish capital buffers and improve the banking sector’s ability to support growth.
  • However according to IMF, recapitalisation should be part of a broader package of financial reforms to improve the governance of public sector banks, and banks’ debt recovery mechanisms should be further enhanced.
  • According to the IMF, in Turkey, limiting balance sheet currency mismatches and high exposure to foreign exchange risk are urgent priorities, especially with monetary policy normalisation under way in the U.S. and the U.K. (and the resulting possibility of a shift of capital flows away from emerging markets).

Mitigating rollover risk

  • Moreover, given that sudden repricing of term premiums remains a distinct possibility and that portfolio shifts could occur, it is important to mitigate rollover risk by avoiding excessive reliance on short-term borrowing.
  • Regulators in China have taken important measures to rein in shadow banking and bring financial activity back onto bank balance sheets, where capital and provisioning requirements provide greater loss absorption capacity than in opaque off-balance-sheet channels.

2. Sooner or later, there will be a new financial crisis’

 

  • The recent bubbles in the stock exchanges and financial markets foretell an imminent financial crisis that would likely be stronger and more dangerous than in the past, according to Eric Toussaint, historian, political scientist and a spokesman of the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM).
  • Charging regulatory authorities of being very lenient with the banks, he said that governments and regulatory authorities were supposed to moralise the banking system, separate commercial banks from investment banks, end exorbitant salaries and bonuses, and finally finance the real economy.

Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM)

  • The CADTM is an international network of activists working on cancellation of illegitimate debt.
  • Based in Belgium and Morocco, its activists work on developing alternatives to help communities tackle the pile up of debt, with particular focus on the global south.
  • Toussaint’s book ‘Bankocracy’, published in 2015, drew global attention for its analysis of the role of banks and governments in enlarging public debt.Now, he warns of a “new crisis”, consequent to a series of misjudgements in policy in recent years.
  • Central banks — the U.S. Federal reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan — implemented a policy of Quantitative Easing, injecting a lot of liquidity into banks, and buying very toxic products like mortgage-backed securities and asset backed-securities.
  • While the central banks bought such products, giving banks a lot of money in return, the banks did not lend it to producers or households. Instead, they used it for further speculative activities leading to a new bubble in stock markets for about four years.
  • It is absolutely evident that the capitalisation of the stock exchange is totally exaggerated, that it does not correspond with the real value of the assets of the big corporations. Sooner or later, there will be a new financial crisis.

Private debt

  • There is also a big concern with the private debt of big financial and non-financial corporations, with their indebtedness increasing tremendously in recent years.“There is a new bubble in this segment of the financial market and that is another possibility of crisis.
  • On the banking sector crisis in India and the demand from sections for its further privatisation, Mr. Toussaint said the problem does not come from the public character of the banks, but from them having adopted a behaviour similar to the private sector’s.

 Socialisation of banks

  • Toussaint advocated the socialisation of the banks where citizens, the banks’ employees and local authorities control the activities of banks. The public banks should intervene in the local economy and help it develop and coincide with the needs of the people.
  • On microcredit and its presence in Latin America, Africa and Asia, he said there was a huge propaganda campaign and very strong institutional support — right from the World Bank to most national governments — to microfinance.

From his research, he found that there were more than 120 million borrowers of microcredit loans, 81% of whom were women.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Clamour for death: On hanging rapists of minors

Why in news?

  • Each time a horrific sexual crime hits the headlines, there is an uproar for prescribing the death penalty for such offences.
  • Given this, it is perhaps no surprise that the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir has evoked a similar response.
  • The anger is justified, but not the proposal to grant capital punishment for rape of minors

Important points:

Union Minister for Women and Child Development has said her ministry will seek an amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, to provide for death as the maximum punishment for the rape of those below 12.

Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act)
  • With the intent to effectively address the evil of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) was passed by the parliament in the year 2012.

Salient features of the Act

  • “Children” according to the Act are individuals aged below 18 years. The Act is gender neutral.
  • Different forms of sexual abuse including but not limited to sexual harassment, pornography, penetrative & non-penetrative assault are defined in the Act.
  • Sexual assault is deemed to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances such as, when the child is mentally ill. Also when the abuse is committed by the person in a position of trust such as doctor, teacher, policeman, family member.
  • Adequate provisions are made to avoid re-victimization of the Child at the hands of judicial system.
  • The Act assigns a policeman in the role of child protector during the investigation process.
  • The Act stipulates that such steps must be taken which makes the investigation process as child-friendly as possible and the case is disposed off within one year from the date of reporting of the offence.
  • The Act provides for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences and matters related to it.
  • Under section 45 of the Act, the power to make rules lies with the central government.
  • To monitor the implementation of the Act, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have been made the designated authority. Both being statutory bodies.
  • Section 42 A of the Act provides that in case of inconsistency with provisions of any other law, POCSO Act shall override such provisions.
  • The Act calls for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. A false complaint with intent to defame a person is punishable under the Act.
  • An online complaint management system, POCSO e-box was launched in New Delhi by the Union Ministry of Women and Child development in order to facilitate easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely disposal of the cases under POCSO Act 2012.

What is the need of the hour?

  • The last time a ghastly crime led to legislative change was in 2013, following a national outcry over the gang rape and murder of a woman in Delhi in December 2012.
  • That set of amendments to criminal law was a structured response, largely based on the recommendations of a committee of eminent jurists.
  • In its January 2013 report, the committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma, decided against recommending the death penalty for rape, despite demands.
  • It rightly took into account the possibility of awarding life sentences without remission for aggravated sexual assault, as well as “the current thinking in favour of the abolition of the death penalty”.
  • However, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, set the death penalty for rape in the event of it causing the victim’s death or a persistent vegetative state, and for repeat offenders.
  • The anger is understandable but legislation ought to be a well-considered exercise and not a response based on a sense of outrage over particular incidents.

Changes in state laws

  • In recent months, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh have sought to amend the law to prescribe the death penalty for the rape of a minor below the age of 12.
  • Enlightened public opinion would not approve of a vengeful state response to individual brutality, even if outraged public opinion clamoured for it.

Capital punishment

  • Moreover, it should not be forgotten that the death penalty has never been a deterrent against any sort of crime.
  • There is little empirical evidence to show that those about to commit a capital offence would stop themselves merely out of the fear of being hanged.
  • Further, there is a legitimate concern that the country’s judicial system has not been consistent in awarding the death penalty.
  • The Law Commission, while recommending abolition of the death penalty, except in terrorism-related cases, observed that it is difficult to operate the ‘rarest of rare cases’ principle without a hint of arbitrariness.
  • It will be especially wrong to force judges to compare the relative ‘merits’ of rape victims based on their age and choose between death sentence and life.
  • Lengthy prison sentences, constituting both well-deserved consequences for grave crimes and a life-long opportunity for penitence, will adequately meet the ends of justice.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Javan Green Magpie:
  1. It is listed as a critically endangered species by IUCN.

  2. It is endemic to montane forests in Asia and Europe.

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 India - Wiesbaden Conference:
  1. The Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, in cooperation with the Government of Germany and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) is hosting the India-Wiesbaden Conference 2018 in Delhi.

  2. The Wiesbaden Process was initiated by the Government of Germany to strengthen the implementation of UNSC 1540 through Government-Industry partnerships.

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 about UNSCR 1540:
  1. In resolution 1540 (2004), the Security Council decided that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors.

  2. The restriction is with respect to nuclear weapons only.

Which of the above statements are incorrect?

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

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements about Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate 
Debt (CADTM):
  1. The CADTM is an international network of activists working on cancellation of illegitimate debt.

  2. It is based in Vienna, Austria.

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 5. Consider the following statements about NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope:
  1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a type of plastic that is used widely in plastic bottles.

  2. Ideonella sakaiensis is a type of bacteria that feeds on all types of plastics.

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. The call for “One Nation, One Poll” improves governance but compromises on federal Structure. Critically Analyze.
  2. India’s political discovery of the Norden should be the first step towards a more substantive outreach to different sub-regions. Explain.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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