01 Aug 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH
1. NBRC researchers decipher how Zika virus causes microcephaly
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Improving state finances by reducing power losses
2. Centre imposes 25% safeguard duty on import of solar cells
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Biggest king penguin colony shrinks by 90%
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
1. Cities at Crossroads: Managing the run-off
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Friends or Seoul-mates?
GOVERNANCE
1. The Srikrishna report and the Supreme Court’s right to privacy judgment
F. Tidbits
1. States told to count Rohingya
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related 

Category: HEALTH

1. NBRC researchers decipher how Zika virus causes microcephaly

National Brain Research Centre-led team of researchers has successfully identified the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which Zika virus causes microcephaly.

  • Babies born with microcephaly have significantly smaller head size compared with normal babies.
  • The researchers found the envelop protein (E protein) of the virus, which is responsible for the entry of the virus into brain stem cells, was responsible for arresting the proliferation of human foetal neural stem cells and also killing the cells that were becoming neuron-like. The combined effect reduces the pool of foetal brain cells leading to smaller size of the brain.
  • It was found that neutralising the E protein of the virus can help prevent or reduce the harmful effects of the virus in a developing foetus.
  • The E protein in Zika virus is mutated and very different from the envelop protein of other flaviviruses such as dengue, West Nilevirus, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis.
  • The E protein is unable to kill the stem cells as they are lot more resilient, it would be able to kill the neurons. Neurons are more susceptible to neurotoxin and don’t divide. So there are fewer brain cells leading to smaller size of the brain.

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is the virus that causes the infection known as zika fever or zika virus disease. The virus is a member of the Flaviviridae virus family and the genus Flavivirus.

  • It was named ‘zika’ because the virus was isolated for the first time in the Zika Forest which is in Uganda.
  • The zika virus is related to the yellow fever, dengue, West Nile and the Japanese encephalitis viruses.
  • The zika virus, because it is a Flavivirus, is icosahedral and enveloped.
  • It has a single-stranded and non-segmented, positive-sense RNA genome.
  • It belongs to the Spondweni serogroup.

Microcephaly:

Microcephaly is a medical condition which results in the brain not developing properly and the patient having a smaller than usual head. This could either be present congenitally or could develop in the initial years of life. People with this condition often have intellectual disability, poor speech, poor motor functions, seizures, abnormal features of the face, and dwarfism. This can be caused by several conditions which lead to abnormal brain growth, or could also be caused by syndromes related to chromosomal abnormalities. In one of the microcephalin genes, (a gene that is expressed during fetal brain development) homozygous mutation can take place which results in primary microcephaly.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Improving state finances by reducing power losses

Context:

Tata Trusts and the Copenhagen Consensus for the India Consensus project commissioned a group to look at state-level solutions for Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. They found that India’s total energy losses are significantly more than international norms.

The research is part of the proposition that no state has resources to do everything. It is crucial to identify where decision makers can achieve the most good, in policy areas ranging from education to agricultural performance and power sector reform. Inadequate and poor-quality power supply means frequent interruptions, poor voltage levels, and dissatisfied consumers across much of the country.

Details:

  • Adding up all the losses in the system—including the losses due to energy dissipated in conductors, transformers and other equipment, along with pilferage by those who bypass meters, and losses from failure to recover the amount billed to consumers—India’s total energy losses came to 24% in 2015-16, significantly more than international norms.
  • This, however, is an improvement on 2003-04 when the losses were 38%. Progress was made because of national- and state-level reforms.
  • The researchers looking at power distribution zeroed in on the agriculture sector, one of the most inefficient electricity users.
  • In the 1960s, the rural electrification programme was introduced to enhance agricultural output using groundwater for irrigation.
  • Due to un-metered supply and the flat-rate electricity tariff provided for irrigation, the number of pump sets increased substantially—and unregulated and free water has contributed to over-exploitation of groundwater resources.
  • Subsidized power intended to benefit farmers allowed problems such as pilferage and theft, and disguised losses from the utilities, which degraded their finances.
  • One of the major reasons for the high losses was the adoption of a low tension (LT) distribution network spread over long distances to serve dispersed, small, individual agriculture connections. This resulted not only in high technical losses, but also in theft facilitated by un-metered supply and the flat tariff.
  • The degradation of the utilities’ finances has adversely affected farmers by making the supply and quality of power unpredictable and by providing it mainly during the night hours, resulting in frequent failure of pump sets, forcing farmers to use inefficient motors, and keep the pump sets constantly on, wasting energy and causing overexploitation of groundwater. This is a vicious cycle in which farmers, distribution companies and state governments alike face ever-increasing losses.

Way Forward:

The researchers who studied the state of Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan propose the following solutions:

  1. Introducing a high-voltage distribution system (HVDS), by upgrading the network and replacing transformers.

Andhra Pradesh (AP), which has already made a strong start on conversion of its LT network to HVDS, managing to reduce losses to 12%, has demonstrated that this approach works. The biggest saving would come from the fact that pump sets wouldn’t fail so often.  Factoring in carbon savings, energy savings and the reduction in transformer failure, the states would still benefit. In short, each rupee invested would generate a return worth more than rs. 2.

  1. Replacing inefficient pump sets with energy efficient ones—further enhances the return on investment.

The total costs would be almost twice as high, because we would need not only the high-voltage distribution system to be set up, but also to replace all existing pumps. Yet, the total benefits would grow even more, allowing each rupee to generate Rs. 3 worth of social benefits through lower pump breakage along with energy savings and carbon savings. These interventions will enable reduction in the subsidy by governments for irrigation which could be redirected to other spending.

  1. Benefits could be derived from of using water- or salt-based thermal energy storage in buildings, and find the investment would have a return worth more than ₹2 for every rupee spent in each of the states studied.

This research highlights the lasting challenges that can result from well-meaning decisions such as the low-tension distribution network. But it also highlights the opportunities that exist to reduce losses in India’s power sector.

2. Centre imposes 25% safeguard duty on import of solar cells

Context:

A notification was issued by the centre putting into effect a safeguard duty of 25% on import of solar cells from China and Malaysia between July 30, 2018, and July 29, 2019. The duty reduces to 20% for six months from July 30, 2019, and further to 15% in the subsequent half year.

Why was the decision taken?

The decision by the government follows a long deliberation by the Directorate General of Trade Remedies, which recommended the safeguard duty structure after considering an application by Indian solar cell manufacturers.

What could be the effects?

  • While the move is aimed at helping the domestic solar cell manufacturing sector, it could affect existing projects dependent on cheap imports.
  • The imposition of safeguard duty is likely to increase the bid tariffs for the upcoming bids.

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Biggest king penguin colony shrinks by 90%

The researchers have warned that the planet’s largest colony of king penguins has declined by nearly 90% in three decades. The last time scientists set foot on France’s remote Ile aux Cochons — roughly halfway between the tip of Africa and Antarctica — the island was blanketed by two million of Penguins, which stand about a metre tall. But recent satellite images show the population has collapsed, with barely 2,00,000 remaining.

  • The adults set to sea for days at a time foraging for food.
  • The species does not migrate.
  • This colony represented nearly one-third of the king penguins in the world

 

Reasons:

  • Though the reasons for the shrink in number are still a mystery, it is believed that the Climate change might have played a role.
  • In 1997, a particularly strong El Nino weather event warmed the southern Indian Ocean, temporarily pushing the fish and squid on which king penguins depend south, beyond their foraging range. This resulted in population decline and poor breeding success for the entire king penguin colonies in the region.
  • Migration is not an option because there are no other suitable islands within striking range.
  • Overcrowding could be another reason for the decline.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

1. Cities at Crossroads: Managing the run-off

Context:

  • A hotly anticipated report on ‘How to Make Drainage Work in the National Capital Territory of Delhi’, prepared by Professor A K Gosain and his group from IIT Delhi, has recently been submitted to the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control of the administration of Delhi.

Why this report?

  • A typical pattern seems to be to by all accounts first utilize the open deplete as a junk dump and afterward, with the progression of time, clear the landfill, cover the deplete and utilize the territory to build a market, a transport warehouse or some other urban comfort — along these lines relinquishing the strength of the city. A considerable measure of wrongs that have been done should be fixed.
  • The report explains what is expected to guarantee that the drainage system in Delhi to work productively.
  • This is the season when Delhites endure surges and frequently don’t comprehend what to do and who to fault, in light of the fact that the various government authorities are caught up with pointing fingers at each other.

Contributors to the study:

  • People from municipal corporations, Public Works Department (PWD), Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

Geography of Delhi and its importance:

  • There are three noteworthy major drainage basins in the NCT of Delhi — Najafgarh, Barapullah and Trans-Yamuna bowls — and, there are 22 common seepage frameworks in these basins which outfall into the Yamuna some place amid its 46 km-go through Delhi. There are 201 sub-sections of the natural drains in these systems.
  • These “channels” are really the conduits that convey the run-offs from the plains to the waterway Yamuna and furthermore energize groundwater, other than supporting biodiversity.
  • Calling them natural drains that provide safe exit to storm water including floodwaters, understates their ecological significance.

Threat to these drains:

  • Huge numbers of these channel channels have been infringed and are vanishing: 19 out of the 201 characteristic channels specified can’t be followed today.
  • Of the rest, some are loaded with strong waste and, now and again, development debris; others convey sewage and thus work as sewers.

Detailed recommendations on how to make Delhi’s drainage work:

  • City directors need to assess the street framework in the city for design flaws that may be aggravating the waterlogging issues.
  • No infringement of any storm-water drain ought to be permitted.
  • Extraordinary drives must be led to expel existing infringements.
  • General society and the media should highlight infringements when they start, to keep their fulfilment.
  • No development ought to be permitted inside any storm water channels.
  • The sewerage system ought to be completely isolated from the waste system. Just storm water and regarded sewage of satisfactory quality according to the standards of the Central Pollution Control Board ought to be permitted in the storm water channels.

On account of a decision by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2015, the Delhi Jal Board has thought of a Master Plan for interceptor sewers to trap the sewage leaving unsewered and unapproved settlements, and to take the same to the closest sewer line as opposed to dumping it in the closest storm water deplete. They are attempting to actualize the arrangement by December 2018.

Be that as it may, in the zones which are associated with a sewerage organize, the DJB has, for a considerable length of time, been following a routine with regards to puncturing sewer lines and depleting sewage into storm water depletes in case of blockage. The suggestion of the IIT group is this must be unequivocally prohibited and the DJB should utilize other accessible hardware for de-stopping up the sewer lines.

 

  • No solid waste or refuse is to be dumped into stormwater channels.

The NGT Order of March 2014 on Yamuna restoration and a policy statement by the Delhi government in light of bearings from the High Court of Delhi, particularly forbid covering any regular stormwater deplete in the city.

  • No residue from the street (previously or after street clearing — manual or something else) ought to be permitted to be dumped into chime mouths that prompt drains in favour of the street.
  • No Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste ought to be permitted to be dumped into stormwater depletes and, further, that the measure of waste from a building site ought to be evaluated ahead of time and lifted by government-delegated temporary workers for dumping at C&D handling locales.
  • At long last, passages for secured channels must be given at a suitable separation with the goal that desilting of channels can be done frequently. The greater part of the secured depletes right now don’t approach for desilting.

Challenges involved in the implementation:

  • The issue emerges in light of the fact that there are numerous government departments involved, with overlapping responsibility and no clear accountability.  
  • The stormwater channels are under the purview of the diverse Municipal Corporations, Public Works Department or the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, contingent upon their size. The sewerage organizes, then again, is the obligation of DJB.

Conclusion:

  • Regardless of whether there is a solitary organization mindful and responsible for seepage administration as prescribed by the report, plainly there is a critical requirement for solid co-appointment crosswise over offices and settling responsibility at each level.
  • We likewise require a component for open oversight and incite medicinal development.
  • At long last, as weights of urbanization prompt more concretisation in our urban communities, we have to work harder to revive our urban water bodies, utilize stops and green spaces for water reaping, and furthermore utilize bioswales to oversee and channel the tempest water spillover.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Friends or Seoul-mates?

Context:

With the U.S. and China playing power politics, South Korea looks to India as a viable alternative partner, Mr. Moon launched a foreign initiative called New Southern Policy last year that he had decided to step up Seoul’s engagement with India and the ASEAN countries.

What lies behind Seoul’s reimagined diplomatic posture towards India?

  • In recent times, South Korea has been heavily impacted by power politics between the U.S. and China. The clash between the two countries over the deployment of the U.S. Thaad missile defence system in the Korean Peninsula set off an economic retaliation by China against South Korea, whose economy is highly dependent on the Chinese market.
  • The ongoing U.S.-China trade war has heightened uncertainty surrounding South Korea’s core economic interests. This has led to Seoul reassessing risks associated with economic turbulence stemming from Chinese policies, which is a threat to the national security of South Korea in some cases.
  • To escape the power politics in Northeast Asia, South Korean policymakers believe that Seoul should diversify its relations with other major powers in the region, including India which they see as a viable alternative partner.
  • It was pointed out by South Korea that the government wished to elevate relations with India to the same level as with other major powers in the world — namely, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

The multiple dimensions that could strengthen India-South Korea strategic ties are:

  • Working together on ensuring freedom of navigation,
  • Over flight and unimpeded lawful commerce in the Indo-Pacific region
  • South Korea backing India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership, especially when New Delhi has faced sustained opposition from China
  • Both nations working with third countries on a tripartite basis for regional development, exemplified by plans for capacity-building programmes in Afghanistan.
  • Given the immense potential for cooperation to bring about real change that could benefit India, South Korea and the broader region, Mr. Moon’s visit signals a deepening of bilateral ties driven by mutual strategic interest.
  • India has asserted its place as a “stakeholder” in the Korean peace process, while South Korea has for the first time shown an interest in talking about an Indo-Pacific policy.
  • In the short term, a symbolic token towards shared interests will be seen in a joint “capacity-building” programme in Afghanistan.
  • At a time when U.S. foreign policy is capricious and unpredictable, and China’s is making purposeful moves towards global domination, it is important that the South Korea-India partnership grows and consolidates, to contribute to stability in the region.

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. The Srikrishna report and the Supreme Court’s right to privacy judgment

Context

  • Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology accepted the finalised result of the deliberations of an expert committee on data protection chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice BN Srikrishna.
  • Now there are two documents: a draft bill on personal data protection and the full report of the expert committee.
  • One Year ago on August 24, the nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court gave a unanimous affirmation of the right to privacy.
  • The court imposed upon the government a clear obligation to make a law safeguarding a person’s informational privacy, commonly referred to as data protection.
  • The right to privacy judgment noted that the Union government had tasked a committee headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna to formulate such a law in July last year.
  • This committee has produced a set of recommendations that includes a draft law titled the “The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018”.

Issue areas in the Report

  • Despite being formed within the ambit of, and even being bound by, the Right to Privacy judgment, the recommendations undermine the legal principles and also re-interprets them.
  • Any bill, or other legislative recommendations, should ideally go through pre-legislative consultation as per the 2015 Pre-legislative Consultation Policy, followed by Union Cabinet review before being submitted to Parliament.
  • Srikrishna Committee’s end product is worth deeper review. Both documents are worth detailed review, particularly given that there are things written in the report which have not been included in the draft data protection bill.
  • The expert committee appears to make no mention of the history and previous work of earlier attempts to create privacy and data protection frameworks in India.
  • There appears to be no formal referencing to :
    • The recommendations issued in 2012 by the Justice AP Shah chaired expert committee on privacy to the erstwhile Planning Commission
    • The 2010 approach paper on a privacy law for India published by the Department of Personnel and Training or the draft Privacy Bill developed by them interdepartmentally across 2011-15 for the Union Government.
  • The bulk of the Srikrishna Committee report is on specifying the extent of a legal framework for data protection in India, how it can be claimed, a regulatory structure in the form of a Data Protection Authority, and the several exceptions it suggests to these rules in certain cases.

Structure of Data Protection

  • The education, policy setting, investigation, enforcement, and adjudication functions for data protection are nearly all provided to one single national regulatory agency , the Data Protection Authority of India.
  • Established by the Central Government, the DPA would be managed by a Chairperson and six members, selected by a committee composed of the Chief Justice or another Supreme Court Justice nominated by him, the Cabinet Secretary, and one “expert of repute” appointed by the judicial member of the committee in consultation with the Cabinet Secretary.

Some controversial areas of the Report

  1. Judicial members left out
  • There is no requirement in either the report or the draft bill of judicial members. This is in violation of existing Indian case law from the High Courts and Supreme Courts on the functioning of tribunals,
  • This would also likely in conflict with the Puttaswamy ruling, since in that judgment indicated that making decisions on intrusion into privacy is one that involves a judicial role.
  1. Surveillance and Communications
  • The draft bill does not propose any specific measures to more directly consolidate or update Indian law regarding surveillance and communications interception by law enforcement and intelligence organisations.
  • The expert committee report is interesting in this regard, because it acknowledges that post the Puttaswamy ruling, many existing practices and legal measures regarding surveillance in India may not match the constitutional tests outlined by the Supreme Court to protect the fundamental right to privacy.
  • The expert committee even lists the Telegraph Act, Telegraph Rules, Information Technology Act, and several criminal procedure related statutes as likely needed changes.
  1. On Aadhaar
  • The expert committee report did chose to provide detailed recommendations on Aadhaar.
  • Its section on Aadhaar acknowledges that several existing provisions of the Aadhaar Act required fixes and reform, ranging from legal recognition of virtual tokenised IDs in place of Aadhaar numbers to drastically reducing the legality of online authentication of Aadhaar by private players and others.

Two key points of Supreme Court Judgment

  • First, it expressly stated the primacy of the individual as the beneficiary of fundamental rights.
  • Second, it rejected the argument that the right to privacy dissolves in the face of collective notions of economic development.
  • The priorities of the Srikrishna committee stray from these two basic points.
  • Its report, titled “A Free and Fair Digital Economy: Protecting Privacy, Empowering Indians”, keeps to the apparent pecking order that its title signals: the common good and the economy come first and individuals second.

How the Report varies from Supreme Court judgement?

  • In justifying this framework, the report runs into tremendous difficulties as it attempts to put together a regulatory agenda that reconciles the expansion of the digital economy and state control with the principles of the right to privacy judgment.
  • These difficulties reveal themselves in a misunderstanding of the fundamentals of constitutional law.
  • The trouble begins with the report’s conception of the state. The state’s purpose under the Constitution, says the report, is “based on two planks”.
  • First and foremost, “the state is a facilitator of human progress” and is “commanded” by the Directive Principles of State Policy “to serve the common good”.
  • Here, Fundamental Rights, which help protect against a state “prone to excess”, come “second”.
  • This ignores the very structure of the Constitution in which the chapter guaranteeing enforceable Fundamental Rights stands on its own, preceding the one setting out unenforceable Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • In doing so, the report attempts to open the right to privacy to allow the state the most convenient means by which to realise its regulatory agenda.
  • Enabling the government’s convenience is not an objective laid out by the right to privacy judgment. Constitutional guarantees of rights do not automatically bend even to the pursuit of constitutionally legitimate aims.
  • Instead, a rigorous three-part test set out in the right to privacy judgment makes clear that it is for the government to measure and justify its actions at every point that it seeks to make inroads into our privacy.
  • To justify its priorities, the report proceeds on the premise that upends the historical consensus of what Constitutions and rights exist to do: protect every citizen of the republic against incursions into the vast repository of freedoms that exist naturally.
  • The report says that “to see the individual as an atomised unit, standing apart from the collective, neither flows from our constitutional framework nor accurately grasps the true nature of rights litigations.
  • Rights (of which the right to privacy is an example) are not deontological categories that protect interests of atomised individuals.”
  • Then, it proceeds to conclude, “Thus the construction of a right itself is not because it translates into an individual good, be it autonomy, speech, etc. but because such good creates a collective culture where certain reasons for state action are unacceptable.”
  • To the report’s view that the individual ought not to be the spotlighted while making a law, the right to privacy judgment is in stark contrast.
  • In Justice S.A. Bobde’s words, “Constitutions like our own are means by which individuals – the Preambular ‘people of India’ – create ‘the state’, a new entity to serve their interests and be accountable to them.”
  • Moreover, in Justice Chandrachud’s words: “The individual is the focal point of the Constitution because it is in the realisation of individual rights that the collective well being of the community is determined.”
  • In stating that rights are not things which are essential in themselves is an unacceptable position to take under our Constitution.
  • In fact, in the right to privacy judgment, Justice J. Chelameswar approves of the principle that liberty — which is the family to which the right to privacy belongs — is valuable in a democracy not only as a means but as an end in itself.

 

  • This is why the right to privacy judgment was celebrated last year. It signified hope that things could get better, that values of freedom, autonomy and dignity would be realised.
  • However, the Srikrishna Report shows that the danger to a high constitutional principle may more often be that it is disregarded, rather than that it is disobeyed.
  • By re-framing and re-interpreting the right to privacy, the report entrenches the positions of the two entities which already wield the most power over ordinary Indians: corporations and the government.

F. Tidbits

1. States told to count Rohingya

 

  • The Union Home Ministry has sent an advisory to State governments to enumerate, observe and collect biometric data of Rohingya migrants living in India since the government has received reports of their involvement in illegal activities.

Steps taken by the government to check the migration of Rohingyas into India:

  • An advisory for enumeration has been sent.
  • The Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Rifles have been sensitised over not allowing in more illegal immigrants.
  • On deporting the migrants, once the enumeration process is completed and sent to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), it would be taken to the government of Myanmar.

Facts:

  • It was clarified by the government that Rohingya were “illegal migrants” and not “refugees.”
  • India is not a signatory to UN Convention on Refugees.

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Zika Virus is related to which of the following virus/es
  1. Yellow fever
  2. Dengue
  3. Japanese encephalitis

Options:

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. None of the above

 

See

Answer
Question 2. New Southern Policy, recently seen in news is the policy adopted by
  1. India
  2. USA
  3. South Korea
  4. China

 

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. India is a signatory to UN Convention on Refugees.
  2. Rohingyas as classified as Refugees by the Indian Government.
  3. Government of India launched “Operation Insaniyat” to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. 3 only

 

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. The parliament is empowered to make  laws to affect the Fundamental Rights, even if the matter is classified under the State List

  2. The State Legislatures cannot make laws to affect the Fundamental Rights

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2  only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. 3 only

 

See

Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Discuss the challenges associated with drain water management in urban areas.
     
  2. The Srikrishna committee report on Data protection contradicts the Supreme Court’s judgement on Right to privacy. Critically analyse.

     

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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