# 8 Apr 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

8 April 2020 CNA:-

A. GS 1 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Gender violence is a shadow pandemic: UN
B. GS 2 Related
HEALTH
1. India lifts ban on export of hydroxychloroquine
C. GS 3 Related
SECURITY
1. Hospitals warned of Cyberattacks
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. A different economic approach
HEALTH
1. Preparing for exit
ETHICS
1. Ten questions posed by the virus
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. Delhi’s ‘5T’ war against virus
2. WhatsApp puts strict limit on forwards
3. RBI eases overdraft rules for States
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions


E. Editorials

1. A different economic approach

Context:

• The article evaluates the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and suggests correction in the present policy approaches to ensure a balance between public health and economic health during the pandemic.

Background:

• Given the large population in India and the comparatively meagre healthcare resources, India chose to go for an unprecedented 21-day national lockdown.
• This move has brought the economy to a near halt and would entail huge economic costs for India.
• The lockdown will reduce the gross value added (GVA) during this period to near zero.
• The unorganized sector accounts for more than 50% of the GVA and will bear a disproportionate burden of the economic costs of the lockdown. The suffering of the stranded migrant labourers is a strong indication of the higher burden shared by the unorganized sector.

Details:

Policy dilemma:

• There have been questions on whether the economic costs due to the lockdown are justified to save human lives. The core policy dilemma which needs to be addressed is should public health matter more than economic health.
• Given the fact that a prolonged lockdown will extract a huge economic cost, the economy cannot remain shut until a vaccine or drug becomes available.
• Therefore, the policy objective must be to find ways of ensuring that the lockdown ends early without compromising on public health. The author of the article discusses a few policy measures in this direction.

Aggressive testing and isolation:

• Combining large scale testing for people and isolating the people tested positive will make it unnecessary for the rest of the population to stay home and it will allow the economy to restart without the risk of large scale spread of the disease.
• However, for this strategy to work there are certain preconditions which must be satisfied.
• People must be tested in large numbers. Even after ending the lockdown, testing of randomly selected people must go on in large numbers.
• The success of this approach will also depend on eliminating the fears associated with isolation so that people obey strict quarantine. Such fears can be reduced only if isolation facilities are good.
• The strategy calls for fully operational hospitals to be constructed in every district of the country in a matter of weeks.
• This strategy will also require huge funding from the governments. Given the public health crisis, all resources must be used to ramp up healthcare capacities.

Concerns:

• There have been some questions regarding India’s economic policies for fighting COVID-19. There are concerns that apart from being mostly ineffective they might also be severely hampering economic opportunities.

Economic package and policy measures by RBI:

• The government and RBI have taken several policy measures to reduce the economic impact of the lockdown.
• However, it should be noted that given the fact that lockdown is not a normal condition, the usual policy levers may not be effective in the current situation.
• The loan moratoriums and cash transfers can help prevent bankruptcy and defaults for a few months and buy time on non-performing assets in banks. But they cannot compensate for the GDP lost due to the economic shutdown.
• The liquidity and cash released by monetary and fiscal policies cannot get transmitted to the real sector during an economic shutdown.

Strict economic regulation:

• Given the reports of overpricing of essentials due to the sudden spike in demand and fears of shortage in the domestic market, the state has put several restrictions in place.
• Several essential items like masks, sanitizers have been placed under price controls.
• Though testing has been opened up even for the private labs, there are caps on the pricing of the tests.
• There have been restrictions placed on export of medicines and medical equipment to other countries.
• Such regulations, though well intended, have removed the incentive for private players to ramp up their capacities. This might only lead to lack of sufficient supply in the times of heightened demand.

Way forward:

Healthcare sector as the engine of economic growth:

• A more effective approach for economic revival would be to funnel money into the healthcare sector. If the public health sector can be the economy’s main engine for six months, the public health versus economic health trade-off can be resolved.
• This would entail several advantages.
• In the short term, it would help prepare for higher number of cases of COVID-19. The spread of COVID-19 will slow down.
• Given the fact that it is currently the only sector that is still active, funnelling more resources here would help create jobs, including for low-skilled construction labourers. This will help ensure that the economic pain of combating the virus will reduce.
• In the long term, if planned and executed smartly, this move can help address the severe health infrastructure deficit in India.

Alternatives to economic regulation:

• Though some of the economic regulations currently in place like price caps, export restrictions are well intended; the government should also consider alternatives.
• In case of testing, the government should fully subsidize testing instead of price capping which entail several advantages.
• At low prices, more people with symptoms will come forward to get tested.
• Private labs will quickly ramp up their capacities if they don’t have to worry about losses due to price capping.
• Similarly, planned and phased removal of restrictions on export of essential medicines and PPEs can be beneficial for India’s interest.
• Given the higher prices being offered by the foreign importers, there would be incentives for the private sector enterprises to ramp up their capacities. This will help cover up for the loss of exports due to the economic lockdown.
• This would incentivize the entry of new players into the market. The increased manufacturing, apart from helping meet the domestic demands, will also help create employment opportunities in India.
• Private enterprise and technological innovations will come up with innovation and improvements which augurs well for the Indian manufacturing sector.
• It will help earn goodwill for India in the international community.

1. Preparing for exit

Context:

• The article discusses the strategies for the post lockdown phase.

Background:

• India had imposed an aggressive lockdown for 21 days to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
• 284 districts have so far been affected by the COVID-19 in India.

Details:

• With only a week left for the end of the lockdown period, there is a need for planning for the post lockdown phase.
• The Prime Minister has sought the views of the States on the way forward beyond the 21-day lockdown, and mandated his ministers to come up with a set of priority actions.
• The government faces the challenge of normalizing the economic activity without causing a surge in cases.
• India must plan its strategy for a calibrated exit from the national lockdown.

Health policy:

Scaling up testing:

• China, South Korea and Singapore, who have been relatively successful in containing the spread of the pandemic, employed enhanced testing, isolation of the infected, tracing of patient contacts and strict quarantine. This will enable better targeting and containment to specific areas.
• The States must scale up testing.
• India should institute a system of testing that includes not just indicative cases but surveillance samples to determine the extent of spread.
• Free and widely available testing, and support systems for those infected, will encourage universal adoption.
• There should be incentivization for the private sector to ramp up their testing facilities with proper guidelines in place.

Identifying clusters:

• States should continue monitoring those under isolation or in quarantine. There are a few clusters of infection which have been identified and these should receive increased focus from the state.
• The identification of hotspots would enable strict control on the spread even if the nationwide curbs are relaxed.
• The latest ICMR advisory for clusters and migration centres suggests increased testing.
• The state should ensure availability of food, other essentials and medicines in such hotspots to ensure strict adherence to lockdowns.

Continued emphasis on social distancing:

• The emphasis on social distancing, universal mask use and hand washing should continue.
• Mass gatherings, long-distance travel and leisure activity should be curbed.
• Work from home facilities for urban workers could continue wherever viable.
• Urban mobility for workers in the absence of public transport should be planned for.

Economic policy:

• There is a need for priority actions to ensure business continuity.
• The strategy will have to take into account the exodus of migrant labour from cities to their home towns or to camps set up along inter-State corridors.  The lack of migrant labourers might impact agricultural production triggering food deficits and high prices.

1. Ten questions posed by the virus

Context:

• The article discusses the possible impact of the pandemic on some basic principles which have defined humankind in the recent past.

Details:

• The COVID-19 pandemic is reopening several questions that were considered resolved by the end of the last century.
• Human beings’ life after the pandemic will be defined by questions on the prevailing organizing principles of humankind.

Utilitarian question:

• The pandemic has resurrected the classic utilitarian question. The debate over the importance of economic health over public health is an indication of the utilitarian approach.
• Utilitarianism is a family of consequentialist ethical theories that promotes actions that maximize happiness and well-being for the affected individuals.
• Accepting the death of a few for the revival of economic activity is a recurring theme in the western countries, given the large unemployment created due to the restrictions and lockdowns in place.
• COVID-19 has been more fatal for the aged population and also people with health conditions. In some countries, the acceptance of their death is based on the principle of social Darwinism which propounds the survival of the fittest principle.

National priorities:

• Though the U.S. is the pre-eminent military and economic superpower, it remains the most affected country in the world and continues to struggle in its fight against the pandemic.
• The present crisis might push the countries to recognize the need for enhanced attention on social infrastructure apart from the emphasis on security and weaponry.
• There could be a new understanding of power and security.

Globalization:

• All countries have tried to enforce border controls to stop the virus. There has been very limited cooperation among the countries given the fact that most of them are concentrating on catering to the domestic needs.
• However, global cooperation and multinational governance continue to remain very important in the fight against the Pandemic. The supply of necessary equipment and products from the recovering countries can help control the situation in the affected countries.
• There is a need for a new globalization where humanity takes precedence over economic benefits.

Political system:

• China and Singapore showed that authoritarian measures worked well in limiting the spread of the pandemic. Germany showed that democratic and inclusive methods work too.
• Italy and the U.S. showed that individualism and markets can impede collective goals.
• There are questions regarding whether democratic or authoritarian systems would find increasing acceptance.

Market economy:

• The last few decades have witnessed an increasing role for market economy and decreasing role for the public sector in the economy. This was based on the assumption that a market economy improves efficiency and brings progress.
• However, the pandemic has resulted in many reverses. There has been the nationalization of all hospitals in Spain and there is the increasing call for nationalization of companies to meet the public health demands.
• The uneven impact of the restriction on the rich and poor also pose questions to the negative impact of the market economy.
• The pandemic might indicate the risk involved in the competition principle of market economy and may emphasize the need for collectivization and cooperation.

Idea of community:

• The COVID-19 crisis has urged humans for community action.
• The idea of community and national priorities would have to change. A sustainable organizing principle of humanity will require a conception of self-interest that is not immediate in terms of time or geography, rather should work for the interest of all humanity not just for the present but also future generations.

F. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Tidbits

1. Delhi’s ‘5T’ war against virus

• Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced a “5T plan” created by his government to contain the COVID-19 spread in Delhi.
• These five Ts are testing, tracing, treatment, teamwork and tracking-monitoring.
• Like South Korea, Delhi will resort to testing on a large scale.

2. WhatsApp puts strict limit on forwards

What’s in News?

• To slow the spread of misinformation via its platform, WhatsApp has announced a new stricter limit on forwarding messages.
• Now, frequently forwarded messages — those which have been previously forwarded five times or more, can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.

Details:

• There has been a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which could contribute to the spread of misinformation.
• The new development comes in a bid to slow the spread of these messages to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.
• WhatsApp said that its previous move to place limits led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time.
• The company had, in 2018, started testing the forwarding limit of five chats at once in India, where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world.
• The limit was later introduced around the world in 2019.
• The company had also started labelling messages that have been forwarded many times with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact.

3. RBI eases overdraft rules for States

• In order to provide greater flexibility to the State governments to tide over their cash flow mismatches due to the lockdown, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to increase the number of days for which a State or a union territory can be in overdraft continuously to 21 working days from the current stipulation of 14 working days.
• The RBI has also increased the number of days for which a State/UT can be in overdraft in a quarter to 50 working days from the current stipulation of 36 working days.
• This arrangement will come into force with immediate effect and will remain valid till September 30, 2020.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to Interpol:
1. Interpol is global police co-operation agency and a non-governmental organization (NGO).
2. It is headquartered at Geneva, Switzerland.
3. Interpol Purple Notice is issued to locate, identify or obtain information on a person of interest in a criminal investigation.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

a. 1 and 2 only
b. 1 and 3 only
c. 1, 2 and 3 only
d. 1 only

See
Q2. Which of these South Indian state/s share boundaries with the maximum number of states?
1. Karnataka only
3. Karnataka and Telangana
See
Q3. Consider the following statements:
1. Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) is a public platform started by India in 2008.
2. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.

Which of the given statement/s is/are incorrect?

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

See

Q4. Consider the following statements:
1. Gaganyaan is an Indian human space flight programme.
2. GSLV Mk III will be used to launch Gaganyaan.
3. India has its own Cryogenic engine technology.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

a. 1 and 2 only
b. 2 only
c. 1 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3

See