20 Apr 2022: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 20 April 2022:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Danger of electoral sops flagged
2. ‘Star rating’ for packaged food unlikely to help, say experts
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. China, Solomon Islands sign landmark security agreement
C. GS 3 Related
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. Time to set price distortions right
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Demolition drives violate international law
F. Prelims Facts
1. IMF cuts India forecast to 8.2% on war
G. Tidbits
1. Panopticonism
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine

2. ‘Star rating’ for packaged food unlikely to help, say experts

Syllabus: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Prelims: Health star rating system

Mains: Critical analysis of the health star rating system

Context: 

  • Experts have argued that the “health star rating” system is “not evidence-based” and has failed to alter buyer behaviour.

What is a Health Star Rating System (HSR)?

  • As recommended by the private institution IIM Ahmedabad, the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) proposed a plan to introduce Health Star Rating (HSR) for packaged food products.
  • These are similar to the star ratings for electrical appliances given by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
  • According to draught regulations for front of package labelling, the “health-star rating system” assigns a product a rating of 1/2 to 5 stars (FOPL – Front of package labelling).
  • Aim:
    • HRS aims to provide a visual comparison of similar products to help consumers distinguish and choose healthier alternatives.
    • It intends to implement it in order to assist consumers in reducing their consumption of unhealthy foods.
  • Process of Rating:
    • Packaged foods will display the number of stars on the front of the pack, according to the ‘Health Star’ rating system.
    • Depending on the amount of salt, sugar, and fat in it, the stars will indicate how healthy or unhealthy it is.
    • One of five types of labels considered were health star ratings, as well as traffic light signs, a nutrition score, and warning symbols.
    • For a four-year period, the FOPL implementation could be voluntary.

Benefits of Health Star Rating System:

  • The Health Star Rating is a simple, straightforward method of comparing similar packaged foods.
  • It makes it simple to compare the nutritional profiles of similar packaged foods, allowing you to make more informed and healthier decisions.

Concerns raised by Experts: 

  • Nutritionists and academics argue that the HSR system misrepresents nutrition science, potentially affecting vulnerable populations’ nutritional intake.
  • Industry can easily manipulate the system as food products high in sugar or fat that deserve a low rating (1 star) could get a moderate rating (3 or even 4 stars) only because they contain some positive nutrients. 
  • The HSR’s underlying premise is that positive ingredients like fruits and nuts can be used to offset negative nutrients like calories, saturated fat, total sugar, and sodium when determining a product’s star rating. This opens the door to deception and adulteration.
  • The nutrient addition and subtraction algorithm does not correspond to our understanding of biology. The presence of fruit in a fruit drink juice, for example, has no effect on the body’s response to added sugar. There is no evidence that adding these ingredients to these foods will reduce their negative effects on the body.
  • There is still no evidence that HSRs have a significant impact on people’s food and beverage purchases in terms of nutritional quality.
Experiences from Australia and New Zealand:

  • To help consumers make healthier choices, Australia and New Zealand had introduced the voluntary HSR system in 2014.
  • But recent studies have shown that their system is highly flawed as unhealthy food products are still able to get a high score as the rating is based on the overall nutritional value. Any inclusion of healthy ingredients like fibre and protein to an otherwise unhealthy product could easily cancel out its unhealthy ingredients.
  • Thus, the health star rating (HSR) system adopted in countries like Australia and New Zealand has not resulted in any meaningful behaviour change.
Nut Graf

While taking a decision that each food should be rated from one to five stars, the FSSAI has chosen to ignore consumer interest and has given undue importance to the opinion of large food processing industries. When the food regulatory body is taking a decision in this regard, the health of the people of the country should be its first priority.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. China, Solomon Islands sign landmark security agreement

Syllabus: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Prelims: China-Solomon Island Deal; Soloman Islands location

Mains: China-Solomon Island Deal and implications on India

Context:

Foreign ministers of China and the Solomon Islands signed the framework agreement on security cooperation recently.

China-Solomon Island Deal: 

  • China has signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, which could pave the way for more Chinese security agreements with other countries.
  • Under the terms of the agreement, the two parties will cooperate in areas such as social order and humanitarian aid in order to assist the Solomon Islands in strengthening its capacity to protect its own security.
Solomon Islands:

The Solomons are an archipelago of hundreds of small islands in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean. 

There are six big islands – the largest, Guadalcanal, is home to the capital Honiara. The others are New Georgia, Santa Isabel, Choiseul, Malaita, and San Cristobal. 

The Solomon Islands are well over 9,000 km from India.

Soloman Islands

Image source: The Economist

Concerns with China-Solomon Island Deal: 

  • The pact is being seen as a major shift in local geopolitics since it gives China direct access to the South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.
  • Among the principal concerns are that China will build a military base in the Solomon Islands.
  • United States’ concerns are over the deployment of police, armed police, and military personnel on the Solomon Islands.
  • The Solomon Islands has great strategic significance, as was evident during WWII when it served as a bulwark for Australia against the advancing Japanese. 
  • There are also fears it could fall into China’s debt trap amid promises to funnel billions in mega infrastructure projects by Chinese firms. 
  • Finally, the Solomon Islands also sits on critical shipping routes, meaning China could potentially control maritime traffic in and around the region.

Impact of the China-Solomon Islands pact on India:

  • The islands are a significant distance from mainland India and even the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 
  • However, China’s advances in the region will be a cause for concern even for India as the agreement could give China a military foothold in the South Pacific. 

Know more about the China-Solomon Islands security cooperation agreement.

Nut Graf

The China-Solomon Islands pact is a cause of concern for the AUKUS – Australia, the United Kingdom and the US – partnership, since the Solomon Islands has moved towards China rather than Australia. The agreement also raises doubts for India as it can have larger geopolitical implications over other Pacific island nations’ future steps.

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Demolition drives violate international law

Syllabus: Indian Constitution—Features, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

Mains: Right to housing- Related Indian and international laws

 Background:

  • Recently, the Madhya Pradesh government bulldozed the houses of those who were allegedly involved in communal rioting in Khargone.

Concerns:

  • Though the state government claimed the demolitions were in response to illegal encroachments, these arbitrary demolitions have raised several concerns.

Against Rule of Law and Constitutional Rights:

  • The demolition drive without due process and legal sanction was tantamount to the use of brute state power and goes against the rule of law and the constitutional order of India.
    • The right to housing is a fundamental right recognised under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Violation of international law obligations:

  • The bulldozing of the houses by the Madhya Pradesh government of the alleged rioters amounts to forced eviction and arbitrary interference with an individual’s home. This, according to the article, amounts to a breach of India’s international law obligations.
    • The right to housing recognized under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…”. Article 12 of the UDHR states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation”.
    • Article 11.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises “the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions”. Article 5 of ICESCR explicitly states any limitation imposed on the rights given in the Covenant such as the right to adequate housing cannot lead to the destruction of these rights.
    • Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
    • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) commonly known as the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office —notes that an integral element of the right to adequate housing is ‘protection against forced evictions’.

Conclusion:

  • The Supreme Court in cases like Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab, Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan, and the recent Puttaswamy vs Union of India has laid down the principle that the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution must be read and interpreted in a manner that would enhance their conformity with international human rights law.
  • In line with this observation, the judiciary should step in to curtail the unrestrained exercise of power by the executive in carrying out the demolitions.
Nut Graf

The demolition of houses by the Madhya Pradesh government of those who were allegedly involved in communal rioting in Khargone amounts to a violation of not just the rule of law and the constitutional order of India but also of important related international laws.

F. Prelims Facts

1. IMF cuts India forecast to 8.2% on war

Syllabus: GS3: Economy: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 

Prelims: World Economic Outlook Report

Mains: Findings of World Economic Outlook 2022

Context: The International Monetary Fund released the latest World Economic Outlook.

Findings of World Economic Outlook Report 2022:

  • The IMF cut its forecast for India’s GDP growth in the current fiscal year to 8.2%.
  • It also projected India’s economy to expand by 6.9% next year, putting it on course to be the fastest-growing large economy over the two years.
  • World output is now projected to grow by 3.6% for the next two years.
  • Japan and India were seeing “notable” growth forecast downgrades in the Asia region.
  • China is projected to slow to 4.4% growth in 2022.

Know more about World Economic Outlook Report.

G. Tidbits

1. Panopticonism

  • Panopticonism was a theory introduced by Michel Foucault in one of his most influential books, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. 
  • It is a concept that explains a new model of surveillance in society. It helps us understand how surveillance has changed the power relationship between individuals and systems of social control.
  • The present-day CCTV camera is a candid example of how the theory works with people being cautious about how they behave irrespective of whether the camera is functional or not.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with regards to the Nutrient Based Subsidy 
Program for Fertilizers in India:
  1. Under the scheme, a fixed amount of subsidy decided on an annual basis is provided on each grade of subsidized Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers, including Urea, based on the nutrient content present in them.
  2. The domestic and international cost of P&K fertilizers is considered along with the country’s inventory levels and the currency exchange rate in order to decide the MRP.
  3. NBS policy intends to increase the consumption of P&K fertilizers so that optimum balance (N:P:K=4:2:1) of NPK fertilization is achieved.

Choose the correct code.

  1. 1 & 2 only
  2. 2 & 3 only
  3. 1 & 3 only
  4. All of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation: 

  • Under the scheme, a fixed amount of subsidy decided on an annual basis is provided on each grade of subsidized Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers, except for Urea, based on the nutrient content present in them. Hence statement 1 is not correct.
  • The domestic and international cost of P&K fertilizers is considered along with the country’s inventory levels and the currency exchange rate in order to decide the MRP. Hence statement 2 is correct. 
  • The NBS policy aims to increase the use of P&K fertilizers in order to achieve an optimal NPK fertilization balance (N:P:K= 4:2:1). Hence statement 3 is correct.
Q2. Which amongst the followings nations is/are not a member of OPEC (Organization of 
Petroleum Exporting Countries)?
  1. Russia
  2. Gabon
  3. Venezuela
  4. Nigeria
  5. USA
  6. Brunei

Choose the correct option:

  1. 1 & 5 only
  2. 2, 5 & 6 only
  3. 2, 3 & 4 only
  4. 1, 5 & 6 only
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation: 

  • OPEC is an acronym for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. It is a permanent, intergovernmental organization, created at the Baghdad Conference in September 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Currently, it has 13 members. 
  • OPEC – Current Members
    • Algeria
    • Angola
    • UAE
    • Venezuela
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Republic of Congo
    • Libya
    • Nigeria
    • Kuwait
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Gabon
    • Equatorial Guinea
  • Russia, the USA and Brunei are not members of OPEC.
  • Hence option D is correct.
Q3. The ‘Bru agreement’ has been signed between which of the following two states in India?
  1. Nagaland & Mizoram
  2. Assam & Meghalaya
  3. Mizoram & Tripura
  4. Manipur & Tripura
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation: 

  • The Bru-Reang agreement is signed in New Delhi by representatives from the Indian government, led by the Home Minister for Home Affairs, the governments of Tripura and Mizoram, and Bru-Reang.
  • Hence option C is correct.
Q4. Consider the following statements with regards to the Dairy Sector in India:
  1. There is no official MSP for milk in India.
  2. Operation Flood helped to unlock India’s milk production potential.
  3. India is the largest producer of milk globally.

Choose the correct code:

  1. 1 & 2 only
  2. 2 & 3 only
  3. 1 & 3 only
  4. All of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation: 

  • There is no MSP for milk in India. Recently, dairy farmers have urged the government to set a minimum support price (MSP) for milk. 
  • The world’s largest dairy development programme, Operation Flood, began in 1970 and was a landmark project of India’s National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). It established a national milk grid that connects farmers across India with consumers in over 700 towns and cities, reducing seasonal and regional price differences.
  • India is the world’s largest milk producer, with 22 percent of global production, followed by the United States of America, China, Pakistan and Brazil. 
  • Hence all the statements are correct.
Q5. If you withdraw Rs. 1,00,000 in cash from your Demand Deposit Account at your bank, 
the immediate effect on aggregate money supply in the economy will be [UPSC 2020]
  1. to reduce it by Rs. 1,00,000
  2. to increase it by Rs. 1,00,000
  3. to increase it by more than Rs. 1,00,000
  4. to leave it unchanged
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation: 

At a very basic level, aggregate money supply (say M) refers to the “total stock of money available for use” in the economy. So, two absolute basic components of money supply are: 

  1. Currency with public (C): This consists of currency notes in circulation issued by RBI, rupee notes & coins in circulation, as well as small coins in circulation. 
  2. Demand Deposits of public with Banks (also called deposit money) (D): These deposits can be withdrawn by the public at any point depending upon need. Without getting into the technicalities of M1, M2 etc, at a very basic level, we can express money supply as: M = C+D 

Now, taking out Rs 1 lakh from “D” would increase “C” with the public. This simply means that “the immediate” effect would be “no change in the aggregate money supply” in the economy. If we carry out the same analysis technically also using measures of money supply like M1, M2, M3 and M4, the result would be the same. 

Therefore, the correct answer is (d).

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Arbitrary demolition of property by the state violates the fundamental right to adequate housing recognised under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Discuss in the context of the international human rights law framework. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS-2, Polity and IR]
  2. Examine India’s dependency on coal and the country’s progress towards shifting to cleaner forms of fuel. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS-3, Economy]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 20 April 2022:- Download PDF Here

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