27 Apr 2022: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

Rabindranath Tagore Quote

CNA 27th April 2022:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India’s designation by the USCIRF
2. ‘China has no easy exit strategy from zero-COVID’
C. GS 3 Related
SECURITY CHALLENGES
1. For free speech through paid subscriptions: Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. ‘Mission Antyodaya’ should not fall by the wayside
GOVERNANCE
1. A splintered ‘nerve centre’
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India as a democratic superpower
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. Indianness the only caste: PM
2. Worship takes a digital turn with temples going e-way
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine

2. ‘China has no easy exit strategy from zero-COVID’

Syllabus: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Prelims: ‘Zero-Covid Policy’

Mains: Concerns with ‘Zero-Covid Policy’ and its impact on India

Context: This article talks about the zero Covid policy of China and its implications.

What is China’s ‘Zero-Covid Policy’?

  • Contact monitoring, border restrictions, mass screening, and periodic lockdowns are all part of the Zero-COVID strategy to effectively close down all avenues for a virus like COVID to spread.
  • It’s an “elimination” method, not a “mitigation” strategy like COVID management. The goal is to get as close to zero active cases as possible.

Concerns with China’s Zero-Covid Policy:

  • For weeks, China’s financial capital has been under a ruthless lockdown, exacerbating global supply-chain disruptions.
  • China is also moving swiftly to prop up its economy. The yuan has already depreciated significantly against the dollar, prompting the central bank to reduce its reserve ratio, allowing banks to hold less foreign currency and thus strengthening the currency.
  • In the coming months, China will be dealing with its own inflation problem, and exports are likely to be lower than expected. The government has already taken steps to halt the export of fertilizer and steel.
  • Food, medical care, and supplies have all been reported to be in short supply in communities that have been locked down. 
  • In the meantime, migrants have been separated from their families for months due to onerous travel rules and restrictions.

Impact on India:

  • Everything from automobile parts to chemicals, textiles, and fertilizer inputs is imported by Indian companies. 
  • Already, industries ranging from automobiles to drones are reporting difficulty obtaining critical components.
  • Many international business people, whether they admit it or not, have long believed that autocratic regimes are more stable and resistant to social change. 
  • Many people are now realizing that doing business in China can be extremely unpredictable. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been taken out of Chinese stocks and bonds by international investors.
  • In India, which has been dealing with double-digit wholesale price inflation for a year, this is already a problem.

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The zero-COVID policy and widespread lockdowns have had a significant impact on the Chinese economy. This will also have a serious impact on Indian exports from China. China must look to move towards an effective management strategy rather than a strict elimination strategy.
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E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. ‘Mission Antyodaya’ should not fall by the wayside

Syllabus: GS-2, Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

Prelims: Mission Antyodaya – features

Mains: Significance of the mission and challenges

Background:

Failure of decentralization reforms:

  • Envisaged as a major democratic reform, India implemented the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, 1992 to provide constitutional status to Panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) and urban local bodies (ULBs) respectively. It sought greater decentralisation and increase the involvement of the community in the planning and implementation of schemes to increase accountability and effectiveness.
  • Some of the major measures taken include:
    • Powers to the gram sabha
    • Explicit constitutional provisions (Articles 243G and 243W) allow local governments to prepare and implement plans for ‘economic development and social justice’.
    • District Planning Committee preparing bottom-up and spatial development plans
    • State Finance Commissions have been established to improve the financial condition of the local bodies such as Panchayati raj institutions in the states. They help ensure vertical and horizontal equity in fiscal allocations.
    • Reservation for women and population-based representation to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities.
  • However, India’s decentralization reforms and processes have failed to deliver the envisaged goals of development and social justice in rural India.

Poverty and deprivation in India:

  • In India, more than 8.5 crore households are found to be deprived and poor households as per the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) of 2011 from the perspective of multi-dimensional deprivations such as shelterlessness, landlessness, households headed by single women, SC/ST household or disabled member in the family.
  • Notably, this state of poverty and deprivation exists in India despite India spending more than ₹3 trillion every year on the rural poor from the Central and State Budgets and bank-credit linked self-help programmes.

Article context:

  • The article argues in favour of strengthening the Mission Antyodaya programme to envisage the constitutional goal of decentralization of planning and realization of economic development and social justice in rural India.

Mission Antyodaya:

  • Adopted in Union Budget 2017-18, Mission Antyodaya is a convergence framework aiming to bring optimum use and management of resources allocated by 27 Ministries/Departments of the Government of India under various programmes for the development of rural areas.
  • The Mission seeks to eradicate poverty in its multiple dimensions among rural households. It strives to realize the vision of a Poverty-free India by 2022.
  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Ministry of Rural Development act as the nodal agents for the mission.
  • Mission Antyodaya is envisaged as a state-led initiative with Gram Panchayats as focal points of convergence efforts. It envisages Gram Panchayats as the basic unit of developmental planning.
  • The planning process is supported by an annual survey that helps to assess the various development gaps and also monitor the progress in the development process at the gram panchayat level, by collecting data regarding the 29 subjects assigned to panchayats by the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution. The annual survey is carried out coterminous with the People’s Plan Campaign (PPC) of the Ministry of Panchayat Raj and its purpose is to lend support to the process of participatory planning for the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).

Significance of Mission Antyodaya:

  • The Mission will ensure effective use of the scarce resources by ensuring convergence among the multitude of schemes and programmes.
  • The support for the process of participatory planning for the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) will help improve service delivery and improve governance at the local level.
  • The data generated by the annual surveys have opened a wide platform for ‘big data analysis’ and will provide for evidence-based policy planning and implementation.
  • The multidimensional interventions to address multiple deprivations of poverty will help accelerate the transformation of rural livelihoods.

Lacunae:

  • Despite the potential of Mission Antyodaya, rural areas continue to remain plagued by numerous challenges.
    • The rural areas continue to face large infrastructural gaps. The ‘Mission Antyodaya’ survey in 2019-20 shed light on the infrastructural gaps from 2.67 lakh gram panchayats, comprising 6.48 lakh villages with a 1.03 billion population.
    • A large number of gram panchayats continue to fare poorly in the Composite Index of Gram Panchayat.
  • The article attributes this to the following reasons.

Lack of convergence:

  • There has been no serious effort to converge resources (the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the National Rural Livelihood Mission, National Social Assistance Programme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, etc.) and save administrative expenses.

Poor fiscal federalism:

There continues to be poor fiscal federalism in terms of the fiscal transfer system at the sub-State level. The third tier of governance continues to remain plagued by poor financial resources and a high level of dependency on fund transfers from above. This severely curtails their independence and effectiveness.

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Mission Antyodaya remains a critical intervention which can help realize the constitutional goals of economic development and social justice in rural India through participatory localized planning and a convergence framework approach.
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Category: GOVERNANCE

1. A splintered ‘nerve centre’

Syllabus: GS-2, Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Prelims: Smart City Mission and Integrated Command and Control Centres

Mains: Significance and concerns with the functioning of ICCCs

Context:

  • The Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs recently announced that Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) have been established in 80 cities selected as part of the Smart Cities Mission.
    • The Smart Cities Mission, a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, envisages the application of selected Smart Solutions to the existing city-wide infrastructure. The Smart Cities Mission includes setting up ICCCs for each such city as a vital step.

Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs):

  • The ICCCs are designed to enable authorities to monitor the status of various amenities in real-time.
  • Initially aimed at controlling and monitoring water and power supply, sanitation, traffic movement, integrated building management, city connectivity and Internet infrastructure, these centres have since evolved to monitor various other parameters.
  • An ICCC has the following basic pillars:
    • Sensors and edge devices which record and generate real-time data
    • Bandwidth for exchange of data between the end devices and the ICCC
    • Data storage
    • Analytics software that draws on data captured by end devices to generate “intelligence”.

Significance of ICCCs:

  • The ICCCs have been described as the “brain” of the city as they remain the nodal point of availability of data and information relating to smart services included in a smart city, such as LED street lighting, CCTV surveillance cameras, air quality sensors, smart parking system, WiFi, electricity and water supply and billing, GIS, e-hospitals, property tax management, estate management, engineering systems, asset management systems, and other services.
  • The ICCC acts as a “nerve centre” for operations management for the cities. For example, it is now the go-to source for integrated traffic management monitoring.
  • The ICCC processes a complex and large pool of data sets at an aggregated level and provides valuable information. This information remains central to “Predictive modelling” which uses data to generate inputs on not just how the city is but also how it can be. It could help identify future real estate hot spots; identify and predict all accident-prone spots in the city, and it could predict the bus routes prone to crowding. This will allow the urban administration to adopt a more proactive governance approach.
  • The ICCCs played a critical role in the management of COVID-19. The government used the ICCCs as war rooms for managing the outbreak, with real-time surveillance and monitoring of districts across the country that were affected by the coronavirus disease. It provided information about the status of Covid-positive cases in various administrative zones of these cities

Concerns with implementation:

  • The fact that the ICCCs are being executed under the aegis of the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) can lead to the emergence of splintered systems which can cause tension between the SPVs and the Urban Local Bodies.
  • Also, the splintered system does not augur well for the effectiveness of ICCCs. The poor integration with ULB services in terms of software, workflows and SOPs will severely curtail the functional capability of the ICCCs. This gives rise to the risk of permanent underutilization of the system.
  • The creation of the ICCC framework in cities requires sizeable investments. This leads to a dilemma on whether such high investments are required given that some cities are still struggling for funds to upgrade their basic infrastructure and services. The reliance on devolution funds to set up and run the ICCCs is not a good sign for their sustainability.
  • Despite the best efforts, some segments of ICCC are still dominated by select industry players who may dictate terms to the city or engage in arm-twisting for payments.

Recommendations:

  • Services of urban local bodies have to be integrated with the ICCC for improving amenities for people.
    • The core staff of ULB working across departments such as health, town planning, water supply, etc., have to move towards adopting the ICCC systems. Similarly, there should be efforts to build a team in the SPV that can act as a bridge between the ICCCs and ULBs.

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The Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) serve a critical role in operations management for the cities. However, their current governance framework and operations risk giving rise to the emergence of splintered systems in urban areas which can reduce their effectiveness. In this direction integration of the services of urban local bodies with the ICCC should be the way forward.
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Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India as a democratic superpower

Syllabus: GS-2, Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Mains: India’s rise in global stature and the corresponding responsibilities

Details:

  • The article written by the former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, praises India’s rise in global stature and asks India to take up more responsibility with this rising stature.

India’s rise:

  • India is the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power terms. With a vibrant free market, large demographic dividend and supportive government policies, India is poised to attain greater economic growth.
  • Also, the large diaspora in almost every part of the world gives India some much needed soft power in global affairs.
  • Noting these developments, the author refers to India as a democratic superpower.

India’s responsibility in the global affairs:

  • With power comes responsibility and in this direction, the author calls for India to take up more responsibilities, especially amidst the ongoing churn in global geopolitics.

Russia-Ukraine conflict:

  • Keeping in line with India’s rich traditions based on the principles of non-violence, the author calls on India to use its good offices with Russia and its goodwill to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • This would also help enhance India’s standing in the world.

Tackling Chinese assertiveness:

  • Given the increasing Chinese assertiveness both in the Indo-Pacific region as well as globally, India should play a more proactive role in tackling China. In this direction, the author calls for greater collaboration and cooperation under the Quad framework.
  • Also given previous Chinese moves to using arm twisting techniques on nations dependent on Chinese imports, India should try and substitute for China in fellow democracies’ supply chains requiring manufacturing at scale, quality and price.

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India has witnessed a significant rise in its global power and in line with the saying, ‘with power comes responsibility’, India needs to take up greater responsibility especially amidst the ongoing churn in global geopolitics by trying to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and playing a proactive role in tackling the increasing assertiveness of the Chinese both regionally and globally.
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F. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Tidbits

1. Indianness the only caste: PM

  • The Prime Minister said that as Indians, the people of the country had only one caste: Indianness.
  • Sree Narayana Guru’s exhortation of ‘One caste, one religion, one god’ gives a spiritual dimension to our patriotism.

2. Worship takes a digital turn with temples going e-way

  • Worship is also going the digital way, going by the QR Code stickers of a mobile wallet stuck on a few hundis at a major temple in Kochi for the devotees to make offerings.
  • The tech-driven method of offerings was introduced at the Sree Maha Ganapathi Temple in Edappally, coinciding with the outbreak of the pandemic.
  • That most devotees do not prefer to take mobile phones inside temples and that some temples explicitly prohibit carrying phones seem to be the obvious hurdles.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with regards to the famous social reformer Sree 
Narayana Guru:
  1. He gave the famous slogan “One Caste, One Religion, One God for All” (Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam, Manushyanu).
  2. In 1888, he built a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at Aruvippuram which was against the caste-based restrictions of the time.
  3. Sree Narayana Guru became one of the greatest proponents and re-evaluators of Advaita Vedanta, the principle of non-duality put forward by Adi Shankara.

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:

  • Sree Narayana Guru was born on August 22, 1856, in Chempazhanthy, a tiny village in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to Madan Asan and his wife, Kuttiyamma. 
  • According to societal mores of the period, he originally belonged to the Ezhava caste and also was deemed ‘avarna’.
  • He coined the slogan “One Caste, One Religion, One God for All” to combat caste injustice (Oru Jathi, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam, Manushyanu).
  • In 1888, he constructed a temple in Aruvippuram devoted to Lord Shiva, defying the caste-based norms of the time.
  • He became one of the most ardent supporters and re-evaluators of Advaita Vedanta, Adi Shankara’s non-duality concept.
  • Sree Narayana Guru wrote several books in a variety of languages, Advaitha Deepika, Asrama, Thevarappathinkangal, and a few others.
  • Hence all the statements are correct.
  • Know more about Sree Narayana Guru.
Q2. Consider the following statements:
  1. The drug Montelukast is an oral treatment given to prevent wheezing, difficult breathing and chest tightness caused by asthma.
  2. When it infects the human cell, the coronavirus releases a protein called Nsp1, which is the key to its replication.
  3. Nsp1’s mutation rate is much higher as compared to the other viral proteins.

Choose the correct code:

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • The drug, montelukast is an oral treatment given to prevent wheezing, difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, and coughing caused by asthma, and is also used to prevent breathing difficulties during exercise, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
  • Montelukast is used to prevent the symptoms of asthma. It’s usually prescribed when asthma is mild and can stop it from getting worse. Hence statement 1 is correct. 
  • When it infects the human cell, the coronavirus releases a protein called Nsp1, which is key to its replication. The viral protein binds to the host cell’s protein-making machinery, called the ribosome. Targeting Nsp1, therefore, can reduce the damage inflicted by the virus. And the IISc researchers found that montelukast binds strongly to Nsp1, blocking its access to the ribosome. Hence statement 2 is correct. 
  • Nsp1’s mutation rate is very low compared to other viral proteins, which means Nsp1 is likely to remain largely unchanged in any virus variants that emerge. Hence drugs targeting this region are expected to work against all such variants. Hence statement 3 is not correct.
Q3. Consider the following statements with regards to wheat:
  1. Wheat is a Rabi crop that requires a cool growing season and bright sunshine at the time of ripening.
  2. Wheat requires well-drained fertile loamy and clayey loamy soil.
  3. India is the 2nd largest producer of wheat in the world, after Russia.

Choose the correct code:

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Wheat is India’s second-most important cereal crop. It is the primary food crop in the country’s north and north-western regions. This rabi crop necessitates a cool growing season as well as bright sunlight during ripening. It necessitates 50 to 75 cm of annual rainfall spread evenly throughout the growing season. Hence statement 1 is correct.
  • Wheat is grown in a variety of soil types, including desert soil and heavy clay soil. Wheat grows best in well-drained, fertile clayey loamy soils with a moderate water holding capacity. Hence statement 2 is correct. 
  • India is the world’s second-largest wheat producer after China (not Russia), but a high consumption base has seldom allowed it to be a big exporter. Hence statement 3 is not correct. 
Q4. Consider the following statements with regards to the United Nations Security 
Council:
  1. The veto power originates in Article 24 of the United Nations Charter.
  2. A permanent member that abstains or is absent from the vote will not block a resolution from being passed in the UNSC.
  3. The first veto ever recorded was in 1946, when the Soviet Union blocked a draft resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon and Syria.

Choose the correct code:

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Although the “power of veto” is not mentioned by name in the UN Charter, Article 27 requires concurring votes from the permanent members. Hence statement 1 is not correct.
  • A permanent member that abstains or is absent from the vote will not block a resolution from being passed. Hence statement 2 is correct.
  • The first veto ever recorded was in 1946, when the Soviet Union blocked a draft resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon and Syria. Hence statement 3 is correct.
Q5. In the context of Indian history, the Rakhmabai case of 1884 revolved around
  1. women’s right to gain education
  2. age of consent
  3. restitution of conjugal rights

Select the correct answer using the code given below: [UPSC 2020]

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Rukhmabai was the first practising female doctor in colonial India. Rukhmabai also made her mark in history due to the legal case she was involved in, which contributed to the enactment of the Age of Consent Act, 1891. 
  • She was married off at the young age of eleven, while her husband, Dadaji Bhikaji was nineteen years old. He later got in touch with her, perhaps interested in the money she had inherited after her mother passed away. 
  • She refused to go, continued to live with her stepfather and pursued her education, going against the norms of society. In 1885, after 12 years of marriage, Bhikaji sought “restitution of conjugal rights”. 
  • In March 1887, Rukhmabai was ordered to go live with her husband or spend six months in jail. Determined about her decision not to return to Dadaji and to continue her education, Rukhmabai bravely said that she would rather face the maximum penalty than accept the verdict given. 
  • Subsequently, after numerous hearings, the marriage was affirmed, and Rukhmabai wrote to Queen Victoria. The Queen overruled the court’s verdict and dissolved the marriage.
  • Hence option B is correct.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. List down the objectives of Mission Antyodaya and assess the progress made by the mission since its launch. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS-2, Governance]
  2. Elaborate on the major areas of cooperation between India and Australia over the past three decades and the future potential of the bilateral ties. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS-2, IR]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 27th April 2022:- Download PDF Here

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