20 Aug 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

August 20th, 2021, CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.S. not interested in trade pact: Goyal
VULNERABLE SECTIONS
1. Activists flay exemption to disability quota rule
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. CM to inaugurate city’s first smog tower
ECONOMY
1. Record sugar exports help reduce cane dues
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The Abraham Accords as India’s West Asia bridge
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Arms and the women
EDUCATION
1. Back to basics
F. Prelims Facts
1. Rajnath opens Defence Startup Challenge 5.0
2. DRDO’s chaff technology to safeguard jets
G. Tidbits
1. Ind-Ra raises growth forecast to 9.4%, flags rising inequality
2. ‘Terror groups continue to work with impunity’
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: VULNERABLE SECTIONS

1. Activists flay exemption to disability quota rule

Context:

  • Social Justice Ministry’s recent notification.

Details:

  • The notification states that Section 34 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which provides for 4% reservation in jobs for persons with disabilities (PwD) in government establishments, would not apply to all categories of posts of IPS, the Indian Railway Protection Force Service and the police forces of Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
  • Another notification from the Ministry has also exempted all combat posts in the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Sashastra Seema Bal and the Assam Rifles from the reservation provisions of the RPD Act.

Concerns:

  • Various rights groups have argued that the notification in question goes against the spirit of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which calls for non–discrimination against the PwD and the safeguarding of their rights and their empowerment.
  • Their line of argument has been that exemptions should be granted only in cases of combat roles and have called for a withdrawal of the notification regarding the police forces.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Record sugar exports help reduce cane dues

Context:

  • The article analyzes the impact of allowing sugar exports from India.

Governmental measures to enhance sugar exports:

  • The Union government had set an export target of 60 lakh tonnes of sugar for the current year.
  • The Union government also provides assistance to the tune of 6,000 per tonne to facilitate sugar exports.

Record sugar exports from India:

  • Sugar mills have surpassed their 60 lakh tonne export target.
  • Sugar exports have increased more than 10 times compared to 2017-18.
  • Forward contracts of about 70 lakh tonnes have been signed for sugar exports.

Positive impact of high volume of sugar exports:

  • The allowing of exports has let the sugar mills realize better price discovery in the international markets. The export revenue has allowed mills to partially pay off their dues to cane farmers and reduce arrears to less than Rs. 9,000 crore.
    • Given the sugar surplus status of India, the sugar mills experience very low prices in the domestic markets. This in turn has an adverse impact on their revenues and their ability to pay the sugarcane farmers.
    • Pending payments to sugarcane farmers from sugarcane mills remain a thorny issue in several States, provoking protests in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra – the major sugarcane growing states in India.

Additional information:

  • Along with encouraging exports, the government has also been encouraging the diversion of sugarcane for ethanol production, which the government sees as a more permanent solution to the problem of surplus stocks in India.

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Arms and the women

The article talks about gender parity in Army.

Supreme Court Judgement on Ensuring Gender Parity in the Indian Army:

  • In a landmark judgment in February 2020, the Supreme Court asked the Government to abide by its own policy and
    • Grant permanent commission to women in the Short Service Commission and
    • Give them command postings in all services other than combat.
  • In the Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs Babita Puniya & Others, the SC pointed out that women had played a significant role in the army since their induction in 1992 and extending permanent commission to women SSC officers is a step forward in recognising and realising the right of women to equality of opportunity in the Army.
  • When the Court was told that it was a policy decision not to allow women to take the NDA exam, the SC Bench directed the Centre and the Army to take a constructive view.
    • The writ petition had argued that Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution, which uphold the values of equality and allow equal, non-discriminatory opportunities at work, were being violated by denying eligible women the opportunity.
    • The Bench pointed out that closing a route of entry for women to join the Army was discriminatory.
  • The Court has now passed an interim order allowing women to appear for the National Defence Academy entrance exam.
    • So far, women could join the Army through the Indian Military Academy and the Officers Training Academy.
    • The directive allows girls who clear the exam to study at the NDA and then at the IMA or the naval and air force academies and become commissioned officers.
    • This is another step towards ensuring that women get an equal opportunity, as laid down by the Constitution.

Issue:

  • In India, women have been struggling for equal opportunities in the Army.
  • Despite the stringent verdict, systemic issues remain in the Army, and women have gone back to court to sort out the issues.
  • Continued instances of women being denied equality of opportunity in the Indian Army is glaring.

Way Forward:

  • At present, women in the Army are an integral part of the organisation and are doing an outstanding job, but there are many hurdles to achieving gender integration.
  • The token inclusion of women in various arms will not automatically result in gender equality. There is a need to focus on systems and policies that give rise to disadvantages by treating gender as the reason for various exclusions.
  • The attention must be shifted to gender mainstreaming in the Army.
  • Though the legal route has helped overcome some of the hurdles, many more concrete steps are needed to ensure that gender parity is fully achieved in the Army.
  • The Prime Minister’s Independence Day announcement that girls will be granted admission in the Sainik Schools is a welcome move towards preparing them for an equal role and life in the military.

Category: EDUCATION

1. Back to basics

The article suggests that India must take steps to strengthen the foundational education for children.

Issue:

  • According to various estimates, the pandemic and lockdowns have led to an alarming drop-out rate from schools, migration of children from private to government schools due to inability to pay fees, increased abuse at home, inadequate nutrition, etc.
  • Experts claim that for adults to unlearn and relearn is a very expensive and time-consuming process. Thus, if the foundation of education is weak, any effort at a later stage to strengthen it will only yield sub-optimal results.

Read more on a related issue covered in  Aug 13th, 2021 CNA.

What are the major factors that need to be addressed at the foundational level? 

  • UNICEF has raised the issue of nutrition stating that children, depending on their age group and gender, need to consume 1,000-3,200 calories per day.
    • Through the mid-day meal scheme, India should try to address the nutritional needs of children.
  • Ensuring that the students have acquired foundational skills before being promoted to the next grade is imperative.
    • The issue with India’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is that it proposes pedagogical freedom to the teacher.
    • The content-heavy curriculum forces instructionist rather than constructivist engagements. As a result, students simply consume what they are taught.
    • The focus should be on supporting slower foundational development that allows deeper and more meaningful learning.
  • There is a need for skilled teachers.
  • The status of the teacher reflects the socio-cultural ethos of the society; it is said that “no people can rise above the level of its teachers”.
    • NEP 2020 has entrusted the intellectual development of kindergarten children from underprivileged sections to matriculation-pass Anganwadi teachers and helpers.
    • Anganwadi teachers will not be able to fulfil the task of developing underprivileged kindergarten students into creators simply because they lack the expertise to do so.
    • The proposal to upgrade their skills using online methods is grossly inadequate.
    • More steps are needed to skill the teachers to equip them to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.
  • Ensuring the reach of quality education to rural areas.
    • To fulfil the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for Education, India needs to undertake efficient interventions and work on a war footing.
    • It must be acknowledged that EdTech is a resource of the privileged and learning higher-order cognitive skills calls for personal support.
    • Students in higher education could be mandated to contribute three to six months in government-sponsored programmes by working in the most remote and underdeveloped areas to educate children and teachers.
    • Private companies could also sponsor mentorship programmes where employees spend about a month on the field.
    • This will have a transformative effect.

The ability to successfully achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 will depend on the priority afforded to school education, primarily by strengthening foundational education.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Rajnath opens Defence Startup Challenge 5.0

iDEX:

  • The Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework aims at the creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia.
  • It provides them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.
  • iDEX will be funded and managed by the ‘Defence Innovation Organization (DIO)’.
  • The programme is meant to foster innovation and technology development in the domestic defence and aerospace sectors of India and achieve self-reliance.

Context:

  • Defence Minister launched the 5th edition of the Defence India Start-up Challenge (DISC) under Innovations for Defence Excellence – Defence Innovation Organisation (iDEX-DIO).

Also read: Innovation for Defence Excellence – iDEX

2. DRDO’s chaff technology to safeguard jets

Chaff technology:

  • Chaff are strips of metal foil released in the air.
  • A chaff is primarily an electronic counter-measure technology used by militaries worldwide to protect high-value targets such as fighter jets or naval ships from radars and radio frequency (RF) guiding mechanisms of the enemy missiles.
  • The chaff deployed in the air reflects as multiple targets for the missile guidance systems, thus misleading the enemy radars or deflecting adversary missiles.
  • Chaff is a critical defence technology and its importance lies in the fact that very less quantity of chaff material deployed in the air acts as a decoy to deflect enemy’s missiles for ensuring the safety of the fighter aircraft.

Context:

  • Development of the chaff technology by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

G. Tidbits

1. Ind-Ra raises growth forecast to 9.4%, flags rising inequality

  • India Ratings & Research (Ind-Ra) has revised upwards its GDP growth forecast for India for the current fiscal year.
  • It has attributed the upward revision to the faster recovery after the second wave of COVID-19, relatively good global markets driving higher exports and sufficient southwest monsoon rainfalls.
  • However, it needs to be noted that high growth was driven by a low base and there are concerns over rising inequality as the pandemic had pushed a large number of people into poverty and there is the growing likelihood of a ‘k-shaped’ recovery.
    • A K-shaped recovery is when different communities experience different rates of recovery after a recession.

2. ‘Terror groups continue to work with impunity’

  • The Indian External Affairs Minister while chairing a high-level United Nations Security Council meeting on ‘Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts’, has expressed concerns over the terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed operating with impunity and receiving support from countries like Pakistan.
  • The minister has also warned of the events unfolding in Afghanistan having implications for both regional and international security.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. In India, sugarcane is grown as a Kharif Crop.
  2. Sugarcane prices are determined by both the Centre as well as States.
  3. The Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane is approved by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
  4. India produces more sugar than it consumes.

Options:

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • In India, sugarcane is grown as a Kharif Crop. A hot and humid climate is favourable for sugarcane cultivation.
  • Sugarcane prices are determined by the Centre as well as States.
    • The Centre announces Fair and Remunerative Prices (FRP) which are determined on the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and are announced by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.
    • The State Advised Prices (SAP) are announced by key sugarcane producing states which are generally higher than FRP.
  • India is a sugar surplus nation i.e., it produces more sugar than it consumes.
Q2. Which of the following is/are the schemes launched under National Mission for Enhanced 
Energy Efficiency (NMEEE)?
  1. Energy Efficiency Financing Platform (EEFP)
  2. Perform Achieve and Trade Scheme (PAT)
  3. Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY)
  4. Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency (MTEE)
  5. Framework for Energy Efficient Economic Development (FEEED)

Options:

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

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan for Climate Change taken by the Indian government to promote the market for energy efficiency by fostering innovative policies and effective market instruments.
  • NMEEE includes the following four specific energy efficiency initiatives.
    • Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT): Assigning energy reduction targets to large energy-intensive industries and distributing Energy Saving Certificates (ESCerts) on achievement of the targets. These ESCerts can then be traded.
    • Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency (MTEE): Promoting the adoption of energy-efficient equipment and appliances through innovative business models.
    • Energy Efficiency Financing Platform (EEFP): Increasing the confidence of financial institutions and investors to support energy efficiency initiatives.
    • Framework for Energy Efficiency Economic Development (FEEED): Promoting energy efficiency initiatives by hedging against investment risks.
Q3. The Indian Navy undertook bilateral exercise ‘Zayed Talwar 2021’ with  
  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. United Arab Emirates
  3. Qatar
  4. Bahrain
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Indian Navy recently undertook bilateral exercise ‘Zayed Talwar 2021’ with UAE Navy off the coast of Abu Dhabi.
Q4. This port is strategically located on South Eastern coastline of Oman. It straddles along 
critical sea lanes in Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden. In 2018, India secured access to this 
Port for military use and logistical support. 

The port being talked about is:

  1. Port of Khasab
  2. Chabahar Port
  3. Duqm Port
  4. Bandar Abbas Port
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Al Duqm Port is a seaport located in Oman. The Port of Duqm is situated on the southeastern seaboard of Oman, overlooking the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Dugm Port

  • In a strategic move to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean region, India has secured access to the key Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support. This is part of India’s maritime strategy to counter Chinese influence and activities in the region.
  • With the Assumption Island being developed in Seychelles and Agalega in Mauritius, Duqm fits into India’s proactive maritime security roadmap.
Q5. Which of the following is/are famous for Sun temples?
  1. Arasavalli
  2. Amarakantak
  3. Omkareshwar

Select the correct answer using the code given below: [UPSC 2017]

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Arasavalli in the Srikakulam district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is famous for its Suryanarayana temple dedicated to Lord Surya (sun god).
  • Amarkantak is a well-frequented Hindu pilgrimage centre that is popularly known as “Teerthraj” – “the king of pilgrimages”. It is popular for its ancient temples of Kalachuri and the Sarvodaya Jain temple. Three rivers – the holy Narmada, the Sone and the Johila emerge here from the womb of Amarkantak. A rising stream of Narmada can be seen at the Narmada Udgam Temple which is the most visited place in Amarkantak.
  • Omkareshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to God Shiva.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The signing of the Abraham Accords has helped India remove strategic obstacles and has aided defence cooperation. Analyse. (10 Marks, 150 Words)[GS-2, International Relations]
  2. Gender parity in the Army is happening at a slow pace, and is mostly led by the courts. Explain the statement with the help of relevant examples. (10 Marks, 150 Words)[GS-1, Social issues]

Read the previous CNA here.

August 20th, 2021, CNA:- Download PDF Here

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