4 Apr 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

4 April 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Lockdown halts harvesting season in forests
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Google publishes data on people’s movements
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Foreign investors sell over 1 lakh-cr. securities in a month, for first time in history
2. Rice exports halted on supply chain disruption due to virus
3. Brent surges past $33 on output deal hope
INFRASTRUCTURE
1. After PM’s call, energy authorities make plans
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The spectre of a post-COVID-19 world
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. In lockdown, the laws that come into play
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. NSA to be filed against 6 for harassing nurses
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. Rice exports halted on supply chain disruption due to virus

Context:

  • Indian rice traders have stopped signing new export contracts amid the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Background:

  • India is currently the world’s largest exporter of rice.
  • India mainly exports non-basmati rice to Bangladesh, Nepal, Benin and Senegal, and premium basmati rice to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Details:

  • The nationwide lockdown has resulted in labour shortages and transport has become very difficult. The logistics disruptions have hampered the delivery of even existing contracts and hence the rice traders have stopped signing new export contracts.
  • India’s export volumes have fallen by four to five times.

Concerns:

Long term impact on market for Indian rice:

  • The halt in exports is allowing other competitors such as Thailand to raise shipments. This might reduce the market for Indian rice in the long term.

Nutritional security:

  • Thailand is the only key exporter to offer rice currently. Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar have curbed their rice exports.
  • The shortage of supply in the global market has resulted in higher global prices, forcing millions of poor consumers in Africa to pay high prices and affecting their nutritional security.

3. Brent surges past $33 on output deal hope

Context:

  • Crude oil futures have registered an increase after a continuous decrease over the last few months.

Background:

  • Oil prices had slumped 65% in the first quarter of the year owing to the following factors:
    • Demand slump caused by the global COVID-19 outbreak.
    • Failure of the OPEC+ talks. Failure to cut supply in the global markets and decisions by Russia and Saudi Arabia to increase their crude production.
      • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies such as Russia, is known as OPEC+.

Details:

  • OPEC and its allies are working on a deal for a production cut of about 10% of global supply.
  • In light of the rising hopes of a new global deal to cut global crude supply, the benchmark Brent crude oil futures has climbed to as high as $34.91 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude has also marked an impressive rise.
  • Though there is agreement on the need for a reduction in global supply on crude, there are differences over the distribution of such production cuts among the producer countries.

Additional Information:

  • The United States is not part of the OPEC+ though it is a major producer of crude.
  • The U.S. anti-trust legislation, does not allow U.S. to agree or implement production cuts to artificially increase the prices.

Category: INFRASTRUCTURE

1. After PM’s call, energy authorities make plans

Context:

  • The Prime Minister, in a call to demonstrate a collective will to fight the COVID-19 pandemic has called for switching off electric lights at homes across the nation for nine minutes at 9 p.m. on April 5, 2020.

Concerns:

  • The PM’s call had raised concerns about the possibility of a grid breakdown owing to the sudden surge in electricity demand.
    • The concern is that the collective switching off would lead to drops in electricity demands, after which there would likely be a surge in demand when the lights are switched back on. The grid might not be able to sustain such a huge fluctuation and might breakdown.

Assessment:

  • The energy industry officials have stated that the move is not likely to cause any major disruption in the power distribution system.

Pertains to only domestic lighting load:

  • The PM’s call pertains only to the domestic lighting load and does not cover electricity consumption by the domestic category on account of use of refrigerators or air-conditioners or television sets.
  • At the all-India level, the share of domestic consumers in overall electricity consumption is about 24%, according to ‘Energy Statistics 2019’.
    • The Energy Statistics 2019 document is published by the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  • The lighting constitutes around 50% of the domestic sector’s overall load.
  • Since lighting demand constitutes only around 12% of the total electricity demand, the experts have stated that the situation would be manageable.

Management of reduced peak loads:

  • Even currently, the ongoing 21-day lockdown has resulted in a noticeable reduction in peak demand.
    • As against the country’s evening peak demand of about 1.56 lakh megawatt (MW) a month ago, the present demand is about 1.2 lakh MW.
  • The grids have been able to adjust to the changed demand patterns.

National grid:

  • One more reason for the assessment of the experts is the presence of an all-India grid, which aids in transferring power seamlessly from one region to another and maintaining the frequency of the country’s power network at about 50 Hz.

Measures being taken:

  • The concerned energy authorities are planning for the necessary measures.
    • The Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), which runs the national load despatch centre, has got in touch with all the regional load despatch centres and constituent-States to prepare plans for managing the power supply position in their respective States.
    • The energy authorities are also regulating the operation of several distribution feeders and keeping ready hydel reservoirs (which can generate 650 MW almost instantaneously) and gas-powered stations to meet the surge in electricity demand.

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. The spectre of a post-COVID-19 world

Context:

As COVID-19 spreads exponentially across the world, it would be wise to start thinking of what next, in order to try and handle the situation created by the most serious pandemic in recent centuries. The editorial talks about the possible major changes that could be expected in the post-pandemic global order.

Issues:

  • The problem with the novel Coronavirus is that with the exception of China, which battled another Coronavirus epidemic in 2003 — the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic — there is little available for most nations on which to base their assessment of what next.
  • What is known is that China’s growth rate has further dropped, even as it was confronting an economic slowdown for some time.
    • There are considerable consequences for the global economy, of China ceasing to be the world’s biggest exporter of manufactured goods.
    • With no country in a position to replace China, this development will precipitate a further economic downturn internationally.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has come at a difficult time where the world already has to contend with an uncertain economic environment, with industries in turn facing newer challenges such as having to adjust to a shift from cost efficiencies to innovation and breakthrough improvements.
    • Added to this are: a global slowdown, increasing political and policy uncertainties, alterations in social behaviour, new environmental norms, etc.
  • Newly emerging economies, such as India, are even more affected by all this, than some of the older established ones.

Pandemic as a Disrupter of Global Order:

  • COVID-19 is, in turn, expected to bring about major changes in the global order.
  • As of now, though the S. is no longer the global power that it once was, it is hardly in retreat.
  • It is, without doubt, increasingly disinclined to act as the world’s military force, as instanced by its retreat from Afghanistan after a dubious accord with the Afghan Taliban, but this was not the end of the road as far as U.S. power was concerned.
  • Post COVID-19, however, and given that the S. is among the countries badly affected by this pandemic, together with existing uncertainties affecting its financial markets, the U.S. can be expected to step back even further — from one of assertion to neutrality in global affairs.
  • Already, S. command of the global commons has weakened. Meantime, China and Russia have strengthened their relationship, and improved their asymmetric capabilities.
  • The challenge from China is becoming more obvious by the day — measured by purchasing power parity, the U.S. is not the largest economy in the world as of now.
  • Even more daunting from a U.S. standpoint, and also representing a sea-change from the recent past, Russia has become far more economically and politically stable and an important power broker in West Asia.
  • These shifts are likely to, have a direct impact on the liberal international order.
  • It could, in turn, give a boost to authoritarian regimes and authoritarian trends.

Social concerns:

  • Moving away from the political and economic consequences of COVID-19 are other concerns arising from an extended lockdown, social distancing and isolation.
  • Psychologists point to an ‘epidemic of despair’ arising from a fear of unknown causes, resulting in serious anxiety and mental problems.
    • Extended isolation, according to psychologists, can trigger a different kind of pandemic even leading to possible suicidal tendencies, fits of anger, depression, alcoholism and eccentric behavioural patterns.
  • Another fallout from the current epidemic might be the extent to which inequality in incomes impact segments of the population.
    • As the economy weakens, accompanied by job losses, those without high levels of skills would fall further behind.

Digital factor – Digital Authoritarianism:

  • One possible, and unexpected, aspect of the COVID-19 epidemic could be the thrust it could provide to ‘digital authoritarianism’.
  • China’s authoritarian methods seem to have helped it to contain the spread of the virus — at least for the time being.
  • In turn, leaders across many nations may find China’s methods, and the embracing of technology to refashion authoritarianism for the modern age irresistible, and a standard to be adapted, even if they profess to be democratic.
  • The rise of digital autocracies could lead to digital repression, and in the age of AI-powered surveillance, could create a capacity for predictive control, or what is often referred to as ‘social management’.

Indian Scenario:

  • At one point, India was estimated to be among the 15 most affected economies by the COVID-19 epidemic, but as the pandemic has raged unchecked, the outcomes are unpredictable.
    • An early estimate by the Asian Development Bank, soon after the epidemic was declared, was that it would cost the Indian economy $29.9 billion.
    • A recent industry estimate pegs the cost of the lockdown at around $120 billion or 4% of India’s GDP.
    • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) had at one point warned that the COVID-19 impact, and the existing stress in the financial sector, meant that India would require up to six months even after the entire course of the COVID-19 epidemic is over to restore normalcy and business continuity.
  • India has acted with speed in the wake of the pandemic and declared a lockdown early on.
  • Prime Minister declared the pandemic as a serious global crisis, and announced a series of steps such as:
    • One day ‘peoples curfew’.
    • Social distancing.
    • The setting up of a COVID-19 Taskforce under the Finance Minister to come up with measures to mitigate the economic hardship engendered by the pandemic.
    • Finally a three-week-long lockdown.
    • Several precautionary measures for preventing pandemics of this kind, have also been introduced including ‘home isolation’, ‘home quarantine’, etc.

Projections for India:

  • The prognosis as to what lies ahead for India is indeed bleak.
  • On the economic plane, according to most experts, a global recession seems inevitable.
  • Uncertainty, panic and lockdown policies are expected to cause demand worldwide to decline in a hasty way. This will inevitably lead to a vicious downward cycle, where companies close down, resulting in more lay-offs and a further drop in consumption.
  • A precipitous decline in GDP would follow.
  • Inequality in incomes impacting segments of the population is evident to some extent already given recent reports of mass migration across the Indian landmass.
  • Out of work migrant labour, unable to find new jobs since they lack the necessary skills, are attempting to return to their normal habitat, bringing in their wake untold suffering and, perhaps even the spread of the virus.
  • This has all the makings of a huge human tragedy.
  • Existing curbs on their movement would further exacerbate the problem, and could even lead to a major law and order situation.

Way forward:

  • To compensate for this loss due to global recession, massive inflows of government funds would be needed, but most governments, India included, might find it difficult to find adequate resources for this purpose.
  • Equally important is that such massive inflows of funds (if they are to be effective) should be here and now, and not later, by which time the situation may well have spiralled out of control.
  • Global coordination is a must in the extant situation.

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. In lockdown, the laws that come into play

Note: This Editorial is from “The Indian Express”.

The editorial talks about the laws that come into play during a lockdown situation (Currently the lockdown due to COVI-19 Pandemic situation).

For disobedience:

  • During the lockdown, Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been widely invoked against those not following it.
  • In a communication to the states, the Home Ministry said persons violating the containment measures will be liable to be punished under provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005, besides Section 188 IPC.
  • Section 188 IPC deals with those disobeying an order passed by a public servant, and provides for imprisonment ranging from one to six months.
  • Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 provides for punishment for two kinds of offences:
    1. Obstructing any officer or employee of the government or person authorised by any disaster management authority for discharge of a function.
    2. Refusing to comply with any direction given by the authorities under the Act.
  • Punishment can extend to one year on conviction, or two years if the refusal leads to loss of lives or any imminent danger.

For spreading fear:

  • Section 505 of IPC provides for imprisonment of three years or fine, or both, for those who publish or circulate anything which is likely to cause fear or alarm.
  • Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act provides for imprisonment, extending to one year, of those who make or circulate a false alarm or warning regarding a disaster or its severity or magnitude.

For false claim to aid:

  • Under Section 52, Disaster Management Act, whoever makes a false claim for obtaining “any relief, assistance, repair, reconstruction or other benefits” from any official authority can be sentenced to a maximum of two years imprisonment and a fine will be imposed on the person.

For refusing to do duties:

  • In case of refusal or withdrawal of any officer who has been tasked with any duty under the Act, the officer can be sentenced to imprisonment extending to one year.
  • However, those who have written permission of the superior or any lawful ground are exempt from such punishment.
  • A case cannot be initiated without the explicit sanction from the state or central government.

For refusing to help:

  • Any authorised authority under the Act can requisite resources like persons and material resources, premises like land or building, or sheds and vehicles for rescue operations.
  • Though there is a provision for compensation under the Act, any person who disobeys such an order can be sentenced to imprisonment up to one year.

Legal shield:

  • For any offence under the Disaster Management Act, a court will take cognisance only if the complaint is filed by the national or state or district authority, or the central or state government.
  • However, there is another provision: if a person has given notice of 30 days or more about an alleged offence, and about his intention to file a complaint, he or she can approach the court which can then take cognisance.
  • The Act protects government officers and employees from any legal process for actions they took “in good faith”.
  • Under the Epidemic Diseases Act too, no suit or other legal proceedings can lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done under good faith.

F. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Tidbits

1. NSA to be filed against 6 for harassing nurses

  • The National Security Act (NSA) of 1980 is an act of the Indian Parliament, whose purpose is to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith.
  • This act empowers the Central Government and State Governments to detain a person to prevent him/her from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of India, the relations of India with foreign countries, the maintenance of public order, or the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
  • The maximum period of detention is 12 months.

National Security Act has been covered in 17th February 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following statement/s is/are correct with respect to ‘Voluntary Retention Route’
  1. It deals with Foreign Investments in India.
  2. It is applicable to both equities and debt market transactions.

Options:

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

See
Answer

 

Q2. In which of the following agricultural products, is India both the largest producer and the largest exporter in the world?
  1. Rice
  2. Cotton
  3. Mango

Options:

a. 1 only
b. 1 and 2
c. 1, 2 and 3
d. None of the above

See
Answer

 

Q3. The Energy Statistics 2019 document is published by:

a. Ministry of Power
b. Ministry of New and renewable energy
c. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
d. Ministry of Commerce and industry

See
Answer
Q4. Which of the following statement/s is/are incorrect with respect to Minimum support price Based procurement for Minor Forest Produce?
  1. The Scheme has been implemented in eight States having Schedules Areas as listed in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
  2. The Ministry of Tribal affairs will directly undertake the purchasing of Minor Forest Produce at Minimum Support Price.

Options:

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

See
Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The recognition of tribal rights over non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and the MSP based procurement of these would aid the empowerment of forest-dependent communities. Analyze. Enumerate government measures in this direction. (15 marks, 250 words)
  2. Discuss the significance of foreign investment in the development of India. Also analyze the concerns associated with foreign investments and suggest remedial measures. (10 marks,150 words)

Read the previous CNA here.

4 April 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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