01 Dec 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 01 Dec 2021:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The Iran-US deadlock over nuclear capability
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. GDP grew 8.4% in Q2, but recovery appears patchy
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
SECURITY CHALLENGES
1. Afghanistan, the rise of a Narco-terrorist State
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Small grant but a big opportunity for local bodies
2. Protect, don’t pander
ECONOMY
1. India’s informal economy has not shrunk
F. Prelims Facts
1. Fiscal deficit was 36.3% of estimate at end-October
2. 6 lakh Indians renounced citizenship
G. Tidbits
1. Pentagon reviews U.S. posture towards China
2. Farm fires added 14.6% to city’s PM2.5 in Nov.
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Small grant but a big opportunity for local bodies

Topic: Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein

Prelims: Finance Commission

Mains: Recommendations of Fifteenth Finance Commission for local bodies on Health

Context

The Ministry of Finance released health grants to rural and urban local bodies (ULBs) as recommended by the Fifteenth Finance Commission

Fifteenth Finance Commission Recommendations on Health:

  • States’ health spending should be boosted to more than 8% of their budgets by 2022, according to the XVFC.
  • Given the imbalance in medical practitioner availability between states, an All-India Medical and Health Service, as intended under Section 2A of the All-India Services Act, 1951, is required.
  • The entire grants-in-aid support to the health sector for the award period is 10.3% of the total grants-in-aid proposed by XVFC. The funding for the health sector will be provided on a no-strings-attached basis.
  • The XVFC has recommended health grants for urban health and wellness centres (HWCs), building-less sub centres, block level public health units, support for diagnostic infrastructure for primary healthcare activities, and the conversion of rural sub-centres and PHCs to HWCs. These funds will be distributed to local governments.

What is the Significance of the Grant?

  • The money will be used to fix gaps in basic healthcare infrastructure in both rural and urban areas.
  • This award covers 18.5% of the budget for FY 2021-22 and around 55% of COVID-19’s second emergency response package.
  • In the years ahead, it has the potential to have a significantly bigger influence on India’s health services.

Focus on Local Bodies

  • The duty for delivering primary care and public health services was shifted to local bodies (LBs) in the rural (Panchayati raj institutions) and urban (corporations and councils) regions as part of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1992. The expectation was that this would lead to more attention to and funding for healthcare in the geographic authority of local governments.
  • In addition, rural areas received support for primary healthcare institutions as part of continuing national programmes.
  • However, the judgement was a setback, particularly for urban healthcare.

Government Measures:

  1. National Rural Health Mission (NRHM): The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was established in 2005 with the goal of providing rural populations, particularly vulnerable groups, with accessible, cheap, and high-quality healthcare. NRHM aims to offer rural residents, particularly disadvantaged populations, with equitable, inexpensive, and high-quality healthcare.
  2. National Urban Health Mission (NUHM): NUHM strives to enhance the health of the urban population in general, especially the poor and other marginalised groups, by ensuring equal access to high-quality healthcare.

Challenges before Urban Healthcare in comparison to Rural Healthcare

  • The government’s funding for urban primary healthcare was not routed via the State Health Department, and the ULBs’ health budgets were not increased in proportion.
  • A lack of resources, a lack of clarity on responsibilities connected to healthcare, or altogether different spending priorities were among the explanations given.
  • Inadvertently, the well-intentioned legislative measure weakened healthcare in urban regions more than in rural areas.
  • Both urban and rural India require additional health services; however, the problem in rural regions is the ineffectiveness of present primary healthcare facilities, whereas the problem in urban areas is a lack of primary healthcare infrastructure and services.
  • According to the author of this editorial, primary healthcare services in cities are inferior to those in rural India as the maximum attention is given to improving rural services. Regular dengue and chikungunya outbreaks, as well as the difficulties individuals had in two waves of the emerging coronavirus pandemic to obtain COVID-19 consulting and testing services, are just a few instances.
  • Health is given a low priority and receives limited financing, which is exacerbated by a lack of coordination among a variety of entities responsible for various sorts of health services (by areas of their jurisdiction).

Essential Steps

  1. First, The grant should be used to educate key stakeholders in local governments about their roles and responsibilities in primary care and public health service delivery.
  2. Second, Citizens’ understanding of local government’s duties in healthcare services should be increased. Such a strategy might serve as an empowering instrument for system accountability.
  3. Third, Civil society organisations could play a larger role in promoting awareness of the role of Local Bodies in health, as well as maybe building local dashboards to assess success on health programmes.
  4. Fourth, The health grants from the Fifteenth Finance Commission should not be used as a “replacement” for local government health expenditure; instead, local governments should boost their own health spending on a regular basis to have a real impact. 
  5. Fifth, Institutionalise systems for greater cooperation among different agencies working in rural and urban regions. It is necessary to build time-bound and coordinated action plans with quantitative indicators and road maps.
  6. Sixth, Local governments are still considered “healthy greenfield” places. Young administrators in charge of such Rural Local Bodies and Urban Local Bodies, as well as enthusiastic councillors and members of Panchayati raj institutions, must use this chance to establish novel health models.
  7. Seventh, A number of state governments and cities had planned to build various sorts of community clinics in rural and urban regions before the new coronavirus pandemic began. All of these initiatives should be revived with the funds.

Way Forward

  • India’s healthcare system needs additional government support. 
  • When it comes to local governments, however, incremental financial allocations must be supplemented by elected officials demonstrating health leadership, multiple agencies coordinating with one another, increased citizen engagement in health, the establishment of accountability mechanisms, and the process must be guided by a multidisciplinary group of technical and health experts. 
  • The health grant from the Fifteenth Finance Commission has the potential to develop a health ecosystem that can serve as a long-awaited springboard for mainstreaming health in rural and urban local government activity. 
  • This is an opportunity that the Indian healthcare system cannot afford to forego.

2. Protect, don’t pander

Topic: Constitution of India – significant provisions and basic structure

Prelims: Heckler’s Veto, Freedom of Speech and Expression

Mains:  Role of State in ensuring the freedom of expression and the provision dealing with “reasonable restraints.”

Context

This editorial describes how ‘heckler’s veto’ seems to be winning repeatedly in the cases against comedians such as Munawar Faruqui.

What is ‘heckler’s veto’? 

  • A notion known as a heckler’s veto exists in free speech law. It refers to a private actor’s capacity, but not right, to be loud and annoying enough to obstruct others’ free speech. 
  • A heckler, by definition, is someone who is unable to explain his position using genuine facts, logic, and reason. 
  • The term “heckler’s veto” refers to the belief that those who disagree with a concept can prevent it from being spoken by endangering public safety. 
  • When the government approves speech limits due to the expected or actual reactions of opponents of the speech, this is known as a heckler’s veto.

Recent Case Studies:

  1. Munawar Faruqui, a stand-up comedian, was unjustly imprisoned after a BJP functionary’s son claimed that he was preparing to mock Hindu gods in a planned event. For the same reason, he was prevented from performing in a number of events.
  2. After being suppressed by conservative and religious organisations, Tamil writer Perumal Murugan announced his own “death” in a literary sense.

Against Freedom of Speech and Expression:

  • When such matters are brought before a court of law, the ensuing decisions are speech-protective, but the authorities’ inclination to pander to chauvinist organisations poses a severe threat to society’s free expression.
  • Instead of appeasing individuals who threaten to take the law into their own hands, it is necessary to emphasise the state’s responsibility to safeguard free expression and maintain peace and order. 
  • It’s a shame that police officers urge authors, lecturers, and artists to be quiet rather than taking proactive actions to preserve their fundamental rights.

Supreme Court Observation:

  1. Suppression of free speech in response to a threat of demonstration or protest “would be tantamount to negation of the rule of law and a surrender to blackmail and intimidation,” as the Supreme Court stated in S. Rangarajan etc. vs P. Jagjivan Ram (1989), appears to have few takers among those in positions of power.

Get detailed information on Freedom of Speech and Expression here.

Category: ECONOMY

1. India’s informal economy has not shrunk

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

Prelims: Informal Sector

Mains:  Significance and Challenges of Informal Sector in Indian Economy.

Context

According to a recent State Bank of India (SBI) research report, the informal economy in India has been shrinking since 2018. 

What does the State Bank of India (SBI) Research report say?

  • The gross value-added (GVA) method was used to formalise the process.
  • Increased digital payments and the job path are two ways to increase consumption.
  • According to the research, the informal sector would account for just 15-20% of GDP in 2021, down from 52.4 percent in 2018.

What is Informal Economy?

  • Household enterprises that are not formed as distinct legal organisations and for which no comprehensive records are available are classified as informal enterprises by the International Labour Organization’s 15th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (1993).
  • Informal employees were classified as individuals who did not have access to social security during the 17th Conference (2003). 
  • Internationally comparable estimates of both forms of informality (given above) are available based on these criteria. 
  • India has a rate of 80% and 91%, respectively. The latter is greater since formal businesses use both formal and informal personnel.

Why is this a Misleading Claim?

  1. Lack of Standard Definition: The SBI study uses a number of different definitions of formality (digitisation, GST registration, cashless payments), none of which are widely utilised. These may be useful tools for fostering formality, but they cannot be equated with formality on their own or even in combination.
  2. Impact of Pandemic: The SBI report conflates the decline in the informal sector’s proportion of GDP as a result of COVID-19’s economic impact with formalisation. The lockdowns, as well as the resulting economic slump, had a negative influence on the informal economy. The lockdowns had the greatest impact on industries with a higher level of informality.
  3. Fall in Gross Value Added (GVA): The drop in informal activities might be to blame for the informal sector’s declining percentage of GVA. At best, calling this formalisation is deceptive. We don’t know if the decrease in GVA is temporary or permanent. It has certainly resulted in job losses, particularly in the non-farm sector.
  4. Role of Agriculture: The proportion of agricultural workers in total employment increased dramatically between 2018-19 and 2019-20 (National Statistical Office’s Periodic Labour Force Survey). Agriculture is virtually totally unorganised, both in terms of businesses and employees.
  5. Misconceptions regarding e-Shram portal: The number of employees registered in the new e-Shram site, according to the SBI, is another factor for the reduction in informality. Over 9.9 crore unorganised labourers have enrolled since the portal’s introduction. Registration, on the other hand, refers to the documenting of employees rather than their formalisation. The portal’s goal is not to provide social security benefits.
  6. No Credible Database: There is no reliable database on India’s unorganised employees at the moment. In 2020, the government cried helplessness when asked for figures on how many migrant labourers were injured or killed during the lockdowns. These migratory labourers used to be, and still are, a component of the unorganised sector.
  7. Homogeneous Entity: In the research, the formal sector was regarded as a single unit. In actuality, the formal sector is divided into several tiers.
  8. Informalisation of the formal sector: Contractualization and outsourcing of labour have resulted in a large-scale informalisation of the official sector during the last three decades. The pandemic boosted the share of non-permanent, casual, and contract employees in the organised sector. As a result, a large amount of the formal sector’s production is really generated by informal labour within the official sector.

Way Forward

  • The continuous demolition of employer-employee relationships in the labour market has blurred the line between formal and informal employment relationships. 
  • The formal sector’s whole structure is built on the backs of informal employees. 
  • There are layers of mediators between employers and employees, resulting in a separation. This is a purposeful rather than natural separation.
  • As a result, contrary to what the research claims, the formal sector’s contribution has been exaggerated while the informal sector’s participation has been undervalued.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Fiscal deficit was 36.3% of estimate at end-October

  • According to data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), the Union government’s fiscal deficit stood at ₹5.47 lakh crore or 36.3% of budget estimates (BE) at end-October.
    • The difference between total revenue and total expenditure of the government is termed as fiscal deficit. It is an indication of the total borrowings needed by the government.
  • For FY22, the Centre expects the deficit at 6.8% of GDP or ₹15.06 lakh crore.
  • India recorded a fiscal deficit of 9.3% of GDP in 2020-21.

2. 6 lakh Indians renounced citizenship

  • Article 5 to 11 in Part II of the Constitution deals with citizenship. The provisions of citizenship in the Constitution are applicable only up to the commencement of the Constitution, after that parliament can make laws regarding citizenship. In this regard, the government of the day had passed the Citizenship Act in 1955. This Act deals with matters of Citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution and are revised as per changing needs.
  • Citizenship is listed in the Union List under the Constitution and thus is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.
  • The Constitution of India provides single citizenship. It means an Indian person can only be a citizen of one country at a time. It does not recognize dual citizenship.
  • There are five ways in which Indian citizenship can be acquired: birth, descent, registration, naturalization and acquisition. 
  • There are three ways to renounce Citizenship in India – Voluntary Renunciation, Termination and Deprivation by Government.

Context:

  • As per data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), more than six lakh Indians renounced citizenship in the past five years, while 10,645 foreigners applied for Indian citizenship from 2016 to 2020.

Additional information:

  • According to a Global Wealth Migration Review report, in 2019, India stands second in terms of number of high net worth individuals (HNIs) leaving the country.

G. Tidbits

1. Pentagon reviews U.S. posture towards China

  • The “global posture review,” commissioned by U.S. President, has highlighted Indo-Pacific region as the priority region for the U.S. military and the focus is on China as the U.S.’s leading defence rival.
  • The U.S. military will reinforce deployments and bases directed at China and Russia, while maintaining adequate forces in West Asia to deter Iran and jihadist groups. As part of these measures the U.S. will be upgrading and expanding military facilities in Guam and Australia.
  • The review suggests additional cooperation with allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific region to advance initiatives to deter potential military aggression from China. This is a notable aspect of the review for India given that it has had to face increasing pressure from an assertive China along its northern borders and India has been seeking closer defense co0operation with the U.S. in a bid to balance out China’s threat to India.
    • Recently the U.S. had formed a new defence alliance with Britain and Australia — AUKUS — to counter a rising China.

2. Farm fires added 14.6% to city’s PM2.5 in Nov.

  • Delhi usually experiences two spells of high air pollution during winter, one in October-November and the other in December-January.
    • During the October-November spell, one of the main reasons for the high pollution in Delhi and NCR is stubble burning.
    • During the second spell in December-January, the main reason for air pollution is the transport of pollutants from the rest of the Indo-Gangetic Plain to Delhi combined with extreme cold and foggy conditions.
  • The contribution of stubble burning in neighbouring States to the daily levels of PM2.5 in Delhi was as high as 48% in the first week of November and averaged around 14.6% in the month of November, according to data from the government-run monitoring agency SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research). This observation indicates the need to equally focus on other sources of air pollution in Delhi along with stubble burning.
  • The annual contribution is usually far lesser since the burning of stubble is only a seasonal activity and not all year round.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, the Mullaperiyar dam is under the control 
of which of the following states or UTs?
  1. Karnataka
  2. Tamil Nadu
  3. Kerala
  4. Puducherry
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • The dam is at the centre of a decades-long conflict between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, two southern Indian states.
  • The dam, which is located in Kerala, poses a threat to thousands of people who live downstream. 
  • The water provided by the dam, which is controlled by Tamil Nadu, is a lifeline for residents in five districts.
  • Hence Option B is Correct.
Q2. Which amongst the following is not one of the criteria to be eligible for reservation 
under the EWS category?
  1. Your family should not own agricultural land of size 5 acres or more.
  2. Your family should not own a residential flat of area 1000 square feet or more.
  3. Your family should not own a residential plot (in notified municipalities) of an area 100 square yards or more.
  4. Your family should not own a residential plot (other than in notified municipalities) of area 250 square yards or more.
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

Eligibility Criteria for EWS Reservation:

  1. The quota would be available to persons who earn less than Rs 8 lakh per year.
  2. People who own a home on a plot of land larger than 1,000 square feet.
  3. Those who possess a residential parcel of land in a notified municipality that is larger than 100 square yards.
  4. People who possess a residential plot of more than 200 (NOT 250) yards in a non-notified region will be ineligible as well.
  5. Under the social backwardness criteria, those who currently benefit from education and job restrictions.

Hence Option D is Correct.

Q3. Which of the following is incorrect with regards to the voluntary renunciation of 
Indian citizenship?
  1. If an Indian citizen wishes, who is of full age and capacity, he can relinquish citizenship of India by his will.
  2. When a person relinquishes his citizenship, every minor child of that person also loses Indian citizenship.
  3. However, when such a child attains the age of 18, he may resume Indian citizenship.
  4. None of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • If an Indian citizen is of full age and capacity, he can voluntarily resign his Indian citizenship.
  • When a person relinquishes his citizenship, his or her minor children lose their Indian citizenship as well. 
  • When the youngster reaches the age of 18, he may reclaim his Indian citizenship.
  • Hence Option D is Correct.
Q4. Amongst the eight core sectors in the Index of Industrial Production, which sector has 
the lowest weightage?
  1. Cement
  2. Coal
  3. Fertilizers
  4. Steel
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement, and power are among the eight key sector industries. 
  • The eight core industries account for 40.27 percent of the weight of the items in the Industrial Production Index (IIP).
  • In decreasing order of weightage, below are the eight Core Industries: 
    • Refinery Products
    • Electricity
    • Steel
    • Coal
    • Crude Oil
    • Natural Gas
    • Cement
    • Fertilizers

Hence Option C is Correct.

Q.5. Why is there a great concern about the 'microbeads' that are released into the environment?
  1. They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.
  2. They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.
  3. They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fields.
  4. They are often found to be used as food adulterants.
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Microbeads are solid plastic particles with a greatest diameter of less than one millimetre. 
  • Polyethylene is the most common material, however other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene can also be used. 
  • Exfoliating personal care items, toothpastes, and biomedical and health-science studies all employ them. 
  • Microbeads in freshwater and ocean water can produce plastic particle contamination and constitute an environmental concern to aquatic species.
  • Hence Option A is Correct.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Illustrate how the health allocation recommended by the 15th Finance Commission can fulfil a mandate on primary care at the level of local governments. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS II (Polity & Governance)]
  2. Suppression of free speech by yielding to threats has become an unfortunate norm. Discuss. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS II (Polity)]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 01 Dec 2021:- Download PDF Here

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