16 Dec 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

16 Dec 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.S. imposes CAATSA sanctions on Turkey over S-400 purchase
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. SC collegium moots transfer of HC judges
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Govt. must unveil stimulus to spur demand: MPs’ panel
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
JUDICIARY
1. Law and disorder
HEALTH
1. Vaccine drive
GOVERNANCE
1. From a digital India to digital Bharat
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. Law Ministry nod sought on postal ballots for NRIs
2. British PM to be chief guest at Republic Day celebration
3. Spike in return of people to Bangladesh
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. SC collegium moots transfer of HC judges

Context:

The Supreme Court collegium has recommended the transfer of judges of several High Courts. The top court’s recommendations are yet to be sent to the Law Ministry.

Collegium System:

  • The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and the apex court are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • Note that there is no mention of the Collegium System in the Constitution of India.
  • The recommendations of the names of lawyers or judges are sent by the Collegium to the Central Government. The Central Government does the fact-checking and investigates the names and resends the file to the Collegium.
  • The Collegium considers the names or suggestions made by the Central Government and resends the file to the government for final approval.
  • If the Collegium resends the same name again then the government has to give its assent to the names.
  • However, there is no time limit to reply.

Read more about the Supreme Court Collegium System

Category: HEALTH

1. Vaccine drive

Context:

  • The disclosure of India’s COVID-19 vaccine policy.

Details:

  • The COVID-19 vaccine policy announced by the Government will be at the forefront of tackling the virus.
  • The vaccine drive will hope to diminish the pace at which the virus spreads as there is no conclusive cure available as of today.
  • The vaccine strategy has to be reinforced by a robust mechanism to deliver and also adequate manpower to carry out the vaccination drive.

The blueprint of COVID-19 vaccine policy

  • The scale of vaccination is in gradual steps, with identified beneficiaries to be given preference.
  • The health care workers have been given the first priority as they are the frontline personnel and are exposed to the virus on a very frequent basis and at a proximate distance.
  • The elderly population follows the health care workers, people above the age of 50 are considered under this, with preference being given to those that are aged 60 and above.
  • This first phase of vaccination is expected to cover up to 30 crore people.
  • The electoral roll will be used for identification and verification of the beneficiaries.
  • The COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system — a digitalized platform, will be used to track enlisted beneficiaries for the vaccination and anti-coronavirus vaccines on a real-time basis.
  • The 1.54 lakh Auxillary Nurse Midwives, currently part of the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), will be roped in to be part of the COVID-19 vaccine drive.
  • The vaccination team will consist of five members, each session should be planned for 100 beneficiaries per day.
  • If the session site has adequate logistics and space available for waiting room and observation room along with arrangement for crowd management, one more vaccinator officer can be added to create a session for 200 beneficiaries, the guidelines stated.

Prerequisites to make the policy taste success

  • First and foremost, there has to be confidence and a feeling of assurance towards vaccine safety and efficacy among the people.
  • The summoning of phase-3 data of clinical trials by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) from Bharath Biotech and Serum Institute will help in fighting doubts over the hasty nature of vaccine development.
  • Vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccine services and this can be a major impediment to the success of the vaccine drive. Thus the regulator needs to ensure that all the safety benchmarks are met before approval.
  • The Government will also have to come up with a roadmap to immunize children.
  • A clear demarcation of roles of the personnel along with a detailed chain of command is quintessential for the success of the programme. Since it is a large scale exercise it will require close coordination with the states.

Way forward

  • There is a need to ensure people receive factual and timely information and updates on vaccine rollout progress and benefits.
  • A mechanism will have to be set up to deal with the public’s anxiety and queries regarding government’s decision for prioritization of vaccine administration and the apprehension about the vaccines introduced after a short trial raising safety concerns.
  • The fear of adverse events, misconception about vaccine efficacy, rumours and negative narrative in media/social media space will have to be managed sensitively to ensure the vaccination drive finds success.

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. From a digital India to digital Bharat

Context:

  • The Prime Minister’s Wi-Fi Access Network Initiative (PM-WANI) was announced. This initiative will go a long way in democratizing internet access.

Details:

  • The PM-WANI provides for public Wi-Fi networks by Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOA) extending across the length and breadth of the country.
  • PM-WANI will thus accelerate the widespread use of broadband internet services via public W-Fi networks.

Significance

  1. Digital divide
    1. The ‘digital divide’ is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don’t or have restricted access. This technology can include telephone, television, personal computers and the Internet.
    2. India’s digital divide remains huge as only 54% of Indians have access to the internet as per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
    3. Also, the spatial digital divide is huge (internet density in rural areas is lower than in urban areas) with The India Internet Report 2019 stating that rural India has half the internet penetration as urban India and also there is a gender digital divide (far fewer women have access to smartphones than men).
    4. The 75th National Statistical Organisation survey says that only one-fifth of the population has the skills to operate the internet.
    5. PM-WANI can help bridge the digital divide in terms of access to the internet on multiple fronts.
  2. Last-mile delivery
    1. PM-WANI has been compared with the public call office model of yesteryears. This initiative will widen the internet coverage with anyone within the range of a public Wi-Fi hotspot being able to access it.
  3. Decongestion of mobile internet network
    1. India Internet Report shows nearly 99% of all users in India access the internet on mobile and about 88% of them are connected to 4G network. This places tremendous load resulting in bad speed and quality of internet access.

Key elements of the initiative

  1. Public Data Office (PDO)
    1. PDO can be anyone, which means there is a possibility that in future this can be a means to generate revenue for individuals.
    2. There is also no regulatory burden on them, they need not undergo the cumbersome process of registration.
    3. The PDOA who is central to this exercise will basically be an aggregator who will purchase bandwidth from the Internet Service Provider (ISPs) and telecom companies and sell it to PDOs.
    4. The last-mile delivery will be facilitated by an app where the users can access and discover the Wi-Fi access points.
  2. Convenience
    1. Interoperability – The user has to log in only once and can stay connected across access points.
    2. Multiple payment options – Both online and offline options would end up providing flexibility to users.
    3. Economical – Products worth as low as Rs.2 is on the cards, thus making the internet affordable.

What does it mean to Rural India?

  • PM-WANI can reinvigorate Bharat Net programme. Bharat Net which envisages broadband connectivity across all villages in the country has been found to have missed several deadlines and has failed to convince the ISPs to use the infrastructure in place to provide internet services.
  • The last mile internet availability and digital literacy are intertwined with internet accessibility. A decentralized internet facility like the one envisaged in PM-WANI can be a game-changer in the rural areas.
  • The accessibility to the internet under PM-WANI will be as simple as buying a good over the counter from a shop.

Concerns

  • Security and privacy concerns are known to be an issue common with Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Experiences of Wi-Fi hotspots in airports in Germany, US, Australia and India have shown that around 66% of the users leak personal information while accessing the internet.
  • TRAI in its report suggests the local storage of ‘community interest’ data, this raises concerns over data protection especially when there is no data protection law in the country.

Conclusion

  • The PM-WANI scheme as such is a game-changer in the context of internet accessibility and can herald a new digital revolution of a scale that has not been witnessed hitherto.

F. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Tidbits

1. Law Ministry nod sought on postal ballots for NRIs

What’s in News?

The Election Commission of India’s (ECI) proposal to extend the postal ballot option to overseas electors is pending with the Law Ministry.

  • The ECI letter stated that the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 would need to be amended to send postal ballots to NRIs electronically and then have them sent back via post.
  • The amendment has been suggested with a view to boosting the image of the country internationally.

The Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS), used to send ballots to Service Electors, would be extended to overseas Indians if the proposal is adopted.

2. British PM to be chief guest at Republic Day celebration

What’s in News?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be the chief guest of India’s Republic Day celebrations.

  • U.K. Foreign Secretary highlighted that the Indo-Pacific region was one of the highest focus areas of the U.K.’s foreign policy.
  • He stated that the U.K. and India were working on an “Enhanced Trade Partnership” that would be a stepping stone for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two sides.
    • The future FTA with India was expected to be a part of the post-Brexit British economic plans.

3. Spike in return of people to Bangladesh

What’s in News?

In the past four years, nearly twice the number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants were caught leaving the country compared to those coming in illegally, according to data available with the Border Security Force (BSF) and the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB).

  • The number of persons leaving the country could be more as there are instructions to avoid paperwork and documentation for out-migrants.
  • It is also due to the lack of work following the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

In 2017, former BSF Director General K.K. Sharma had made it clear that they had instructions to push back the Rohingya to Bangladesh as they become a liability once they are arrested.

Read more on the Rohingya Issue covered in 21st May 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements:
  1. Rakhine State is situated on the western coast of Myanmar.
  2. Sittwe port is located in Rakhine State.
  3. Rakhine state is bordered by Bangladesh and India to the northwest.

Which of the given statement is/are INCORRECT?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. None of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Rakhine State is situated on the western coast of Myanmar.
  • Sittwe port is located in Rakhine State. Sittwe Port is a deepwater port constructed by India in 2016 at Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in Myanmar, on the Bay of Bengal. It is situated at the mouth of the Kaladan River.
  • Rakhine state is bordered by Bangladesh to the northwest. It does not border India.
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to the Collegium System:
  1. It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges as per the provisions of the Constitution.
  2. Collegium is a forum comprising of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  3. There was no mention of the Collegium in the original Constitution of India, it was added in the Constitution through successive amendments.

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

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

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Collegium system is the system of appointment and transfer of judges that has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court, and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.
  • Collegium a forum comprising of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to the Shore Temple:
  1. It was built during the reign of the Pallava dynasty.
  2. The Shore Temple complex is a part of the Mamallapuram monuments, designated a UNESCO World Heritage.
  3. It overlooks the shore of Bay of Bengal.
  4. It has been built in the Dravidian style.

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

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

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • The shore temple is located on the Coromandel Coast of Tamil Nadu. It overlooks the shore of Bay of Bengal.
  • It was built during the reign of the Pallava dynasty.
  • The Mamallapuram monuments and temples, including the Shore Temple complex, were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.
  • It has been built in the Dravidian style.
Q4. Consider the following statements with respect to S-400 Triumf:
  1. It is a modern long-range surface-to-air missile system.
  2. It can engage aerial targets such as aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which are within the range of 400km.
  3. S-400 was designed and developed by France.

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

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. None of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • The S-400 Triumf, (NATO calls it SA-21 Growler), is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.
  • It can engage aerial targets such as aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which are within the range of 400km.
  • The missile system integrates a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control centre. It can provide a layered defence as it is capable of firing three types of missiles.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. “Digital revolution in India has the potential to take governance to the doorsteps of people.” In light of the above statement discuss the initiatives taken by the Government to enhance digital connectivity. (15 marks, 250 words) [GS 2, Governance]
  2. The backlog of cases is an age-old problem haunting Indian judiciary. Suggest steps that can be taken to solve the burden of the backlog. (10 marks, 150 words) [GS 2, Judiciary]

Read the previous CNA here.

16 Dec 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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