UPSC 2017: Comprehensive News Analysis – December 26

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
CULTURE
1. Udvada festival celebrates Parsi tradition, religion
B. GS2 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Role of SHGs in Domestic Violence
2. Concerns of Trans-genders in India
BILATERAL RELATIONS/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India-China Border Meet
POLITY
1. Parliament panel questions Centre on ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy
2. Centre moves SC against fixed term for police chiefs
3. Skewed outlay for defence: panel
C. GS3 Related
INTERNAL SECURITY
1. Tackling Maoism
ECONOMY
1. PSBs asked to rationalise overseas, domestic branches
AGRICULTURE
1. Why are farmers distressed across India?
2. Modi govt plans bold move to fix rural distress
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. A new LIGO gravitational wave detector to be built in India by 2025
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

 

A. GS1 Related

Category: CULTURE

1. Udvada festival celebrates Parsi tradition, religion

 In news:

  • Nearly 2,000 people from around the world had gathered in Udvada, a town in Gujarat, to celebrate the three-day Iranshah Udvada Utsav.

The Udvada Atash Behram:

  • The Udvada Atash Behram, also known as the Iran Shah, “King of Iran”, is a temple in Udvada, Gujarat on the west coast of India.
  • It is one of the eight fire temples (holy place of worship) of the Zoroastrian religion in the country.
  • The Atash Bahram, meaning “Victorious Fire”, is one of the oldest fire temples in India, dated to the eight century, and represents the historical cultural and religious links with Iran.
  • The current temple was built in 1742 by Dinshaw Dorabjee Mistry from Bombay. The temple structure, built spaciously, is well decorated and contains the Dasturji Koyaji Mirza hall and a museum. The main hall of the temple is accessed through a two-stage staircase. The temple attracts Zoroastrian pilgrims from all parts of India, Pakistan and from around the world.

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Role of SHGs in Domestic Violence

 

  • Violent acts, at the hands of a husband or a partner (intimate partner violence, or IPV), are distressingly common worldwide. These stem from the belief that women who don’t obey or don’t perform their set gender roles deserve to be beaten.
  • Intimate relationships are important sites where violence against women is used to perpetuate patriarchy.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that almost one-third of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner, which affects their physical and mental well-being.
  • Boys who witness parental violence are more likely to use it in their adult relationships; girls are more likely to justify it.
  • Strategies to address IPV have included legal reforms, awareness creation drives, and strengthening of women’s civil rights.
  • As criminal justice solutions have largely been inaccessible to socially precarious women, a more inclusive alternative is to have collective-based resolution mechanisms.
  • The potential of large-scale groups of women, such as self-help groups (SHGs), becomes critical in the Indian context.
  • India has experimented with many models of community dispute resolution mechanisms — the Nari Adalats (women courts) in various States, Women’s Resource Centres (Rajasthan), Shalishi (West Bengal), and Mahila Panchayats (Delhi) — which have seen IPV as a public issue rather than a personal problem.
  • Several NGOs have co-opted these models so that women can resolve cases of violence without getting entangled in tedious legal processes.
  • SHGs are the most widely present collectives across regions. The experiences of large-scale programmes offer valuable insights into action for IPV redressal within SHG-led development models.
  • These, as well as previous models, provide two key lessons — one, collectives of women need adequate investment for building their capacities; and two, mediation of IPV requires specialized structures to avoid manipulation by kinship relations and political affinities.
  • Not all groups of women become safe spaces to discuss violence. SHGs must first become enabling spaces where the economic and social concerns of women are stated as priorities.
  • Freedom from violence must be stated as a necessary component of empowerment. It takes time for most women to recognize that violence is unacceptable.
  • To enable them to understand this, there must be investment in specific training, and gender analysis processes. SHGs are mostly seen as administrative entities. Their social role can be enhanced to tackle the widespread problem of IPV.

2. Concerns of Trans-genders in India

 

  • The community has laid stress on the point that for them, dignity, respect, and access to health care are non-negotiable basic rights.
  • Self-identification should be the sole criterion for gender recognition legally without the need of any other psychological, medical, or “expert” intervention.
  • Self-declared identity should also form the basis for access to social security benefits and entitlements.
  • The community maintains that the basic principle of “nothing about us, without us” must be applied for all trans and hijra rights, health and welfare activities.
  • The community has rejected the setting up of district screening committees to recognize transgender persons as they say they are not objects or people with a contagious disease who need to be medically screened.
  • Their argument, and rightly so, is that a medical assessment violates their right to self-identification and gender autonomy which are protected under the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.
  • Many do not want to be labeled as transgender or third gender but instead recognized legally by their self-identified gender of “male” or “female”.

The Kochi Metro example

  • Will the Bill have provisions to protect them from discrimination? The experience so far has been that many who struggle to access jobs are discriminated against, forcing them to drop out.
  • For example, in May, when the Kochi Metro Rail Limited formally employed 23 transgender persons, eight of them dropped out after being unable to find suitable accommodation based on the monthly wages they drew (between Rs. 9,000 and Rs. 15,000). Many households were unwilling to let out their houses to them. They faced other forms of discrimination too.
  • Therefore, an effective enforcement mechanism is vital for the adjudication of anti-discrimination claims brought forward by transgender persons.
  • While in 2014, based on the Census, five million acknowledged their transgender status, activists say their number could be much higher.
  • Over 66% of them live in the rural areas. The Census data also highlighted the low literacy level in the community, just 46% in comparison to the general population’s 74%.
  • In fact there should be reservation to facilitate their admission to schools and appointment in public offices. In 2014, the Supreme Court in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India pointed out that reservation is one of the time-tested ways of enabling historically disadvantaged populations to join the mainstream.

Stigma and discrimination

  • But accessing even the rights they already have is not easy. For example, even in an enlightened city such as Mumbai, young transgender persons seeking admission to college approach the transgender group leader, normally a person with clout, who then meets the college principal and, in most cases, secures their admission. Thereafter, the transgender person has to be on “best behaviour” and not stand out as that could compromise the admission.
  • Hopefully the Bill will provide protection to transgender persons from violence and stigma which is a major factor. Often they are denied passage in public spaces and harmed or injured.
  • The hijra community, especially those who are a part of the ‘guru-chela’ structure in Hijra gharanas and practise the traditions of “mangti” and “badhai”, are often harassed, detained under begging prohibition laws, and forced into begging homes.
  • In the case of transgender children, their families, unable to accept their status, subject them to domestic violence, which often compels these children to leave home.
  • Though several transgender persons have made a mark in the beauty and fashion industry, joined the police force, the academic world and even the Indian Navy, there is need for a comprehensive survey on the socio-economic status of the community.
  • Transgender welfare boards are needed in different States. Transgender persons should take part in the national Census to generate accurate data.

Recognizing their Identity

  • Transgender identity is not yet recognised in criminal law, whether as the third gender or as a self-identified male or female.
  • There is also no clarity on the application of gender-specific laws to transgender persons. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is applicable to transgender persons (i.e., those who were male at birth). This amounts to double persecution.
  • Finally, the community wants mental health counselling support and free gender transition surgery facilities in government hospitals.
  • There are other issues that worry transgender persons such as their right to property, adoption, marriage, pension, and care for the old and the disabled.
  • Some of these issues may be resolved when the Bill, taking note of their concerns, is passed. The Bill could be the first big step towards equality and their recognition in the mainstream.

Category: BILATERAL RELATIONS/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India-China Border Meet

 

  • The meeting between the Special Representatives of India and China — National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and State Councillor Yang Jiechi — on the boundary question on December 22, the 20th so far, was unique for a number of reasons.
  • The talks came more than 20 months after the last round, reflecting a period of extreme strain in India-China ties, including the 70-day troop stand-off at Doklam this year.
  • Previous meetings had followed each other within a year. Also, at the recent Communist Party Congress, Mr. Yang was elevated to the Political Bureau, and this is the first time the Chinese side has been represented by an SR of such seniority.
  • As a result, the two sides were best poised to move ahead in the three-step process that was part of the Agreement on ‘Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question’ in 2005 — that is, defining the guidelines for the settlement of border disputes, formulating a framework agreement on the implementation of the guidelines, and completing border demarcation.
  • The SRs were given an extended mandate after meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping this year, and thus went well beyond the remit of discussing the resolution of boundary issues.
  • Above all, they were guided by the Modi-Xi agreements of 2017, including the ‘Astana consensus’ that “differences must not be allowed to become disputes”, and the understanding at Xiamen that India-China relations “are a factor of stability” in an increasingly unstable world.

Category: POLITY

1. Parliament panel questions Centre on ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy

 In news:

Proceedings of the Consultative Committee of the Parliament on External Affairs:

  • Meeting examined ties with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan
  • Contention from MP’s belonging to different political parties:
    • India’s ties with several South Asian neighbours faced challenges, with particular mentions of Maldives and Nepal.
    • Why is India unable to address concerns of an island nation whose size is equal to that of [the Delhi neighbourhood of] Maharani Bagh?”
  • Government response:
    • It remains firmly committed to its “Neighbours First” policy and has bolstered defence cooperation with Male in the past year.
    • India’s commitment to Maldives is “serious” and relations were “close, cordial and multi-dimensional.”
  • India and Male:
    • India’s tie with Maldives has turned cold since the first week of December when Male signed a Free Trade Agreement with China after rushing it through parliament.
  • India-Nepal:
    • Return of K.P. Sharma Oli as the newly elected leader of Nepal.
    • Mr Oli is known to be a critic of India’s policies towards Nepal.

2. Centre moves SC against fixed term for police chiefs

 In news:

  • The Union government has filed an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court to amend a 2006 order of the court that is being used by the States to appoint “favourites” as Directors-General of Police for two-year fixed term.
  • Misuse of the power: some States were misusing the order and appointing officers about to retire, giving them a fixed term of two years, irrespective of the superannuation date.
  • The implementation of the order was not monitored effectively.

What does the law say?

  • The All India Services Act, 1951, bars any officer from remaining in office after retirement, unless cleared by the Centre.
  • The Home Ministry is the cadre-controlling authority for IPS officers, and the Supreme Court order is being increasingly misused by the States to appoint officers close to the regime.

Ministry to frame norms

 
  • Home Ministry to frame guidelines: ensure that only those who had a minimum of one-and-a-half to two years to retire were included in the panel. 

3. Skewed outlay for defence: panel

 Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence report:

  • Decreasing share of capital allocation in the defence budget compared with the revenue component
  • The Defence Ministry should overhaul its planning and budgeting mechanism to ensure “a prudent and equitable distribution of funds to revenue and capital heads”.
  • The ratio of revenue-to-capital outlay is skewed as the budget for capital acquisitions for the services is declining in comparison to revenue allocations, adversely affecting the modernisation process of our forces.
  • Key Fact: The revenue component caters to salary, other recurring expenses, requirement of stores, transportation, revenue works and maintenance and others, while the capital component is for procurement of weapons and systems.

 

C. GS3 Related

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Tackling Maoism

 

  • The Central Reserve Police Force lost 40 personnel in two Maoist attacks in the first half of 2017 in Sukma, the most severely Maoist-affected district of Chhattisgarh.
  • Though the forces were jolted by these attacks, their spirit to fight back has not dampened. Rather, they continue to undertake challenging development work in these areas.
  • This shows how the paradigm on tackling Maoism has changed over time. The government’s response has matured in terms of deliverance — from reactive it has become proactive, and from localised it has become holistic.

Proactive policing

  • Security forces are no longer reactive. When the Maoists decided to deepen their roots into Gariaband, the State government notified this division as a new district, which gave a fillip to development work.
  • Many new police stations and security camps were set up to prevent any major Maoist attack. The cadre strength of the Maoists has consequently reduced.
  • Similarly, a police action in Raigarh district eventually forced the Maoists to abandon their plan of expansion. The Ministry of Home Affairs, too, subsequently removed Raigarh from its Security Related Expenditure scheme.
  • When the Maoists decided to create a new zone in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, the target districts were immediately put on alert, so as not to allow them to gain ground.
  • Security forces were redeployed to ensure better territorial command. As the Chhattisgarh police have experience in tackling Maoists in Bastar, they are now coordinating with the bordering States to strengthen intelligence and ground presence. Such coordinated proactive policing will dampen the Maoists’ plans.

Development problem

  • The Maoist problem is not merely a law and order issue. A permanent solution lies in eliminating the root cause of the problem that led to the alienation of tribals in this area.
  • The focus now is to build roads and install communication towers to increase administrative and political access of the tribals, and improve the reach of government schemes.
  • The government has enhanced the support price of minor forest produce like imli(tamarind). More bank branches have been opened to ensure financial inclusion.
  • All India Radio stations in the three southern districts of Bastar will now broadcast regional programmes to increase entertainment options. And a new rail service in Bastar is set to throw open a new market for wooden artefacts and bell metal.
  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said in the latest annual report report on ‘Children in Armed Conflict’ that the Maoists are providing combat training to children in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
  • Despite the Maoists not wanting their children to study and get government jobs, remarkable work has been done in the field of school education and skill development.
  • Earlier, the hostel of the Ramakrishna Mission in Narainpur was the only place where children could get quality education. Then, an educational hub and a livelihood centre in Dantewada district sprang up.
  • Seeing its success, the government has now opened up livelihood centres, known as Livelihood Colleges, in all the districts. If the youth are constructively engaged by the government, the recruitment of youth by the Maoists will slowly stop.

Role of civil society

  • However, winning a psychological war against the Maoists remains an unfinished task. Though the government’s rehabilitation policies have helped the surrendered cadres turn their lives around, security personnel are still accused of being informers and are killed.
  • To end this, civil society must join hands with the government in realising the villagers’ right to development. Loopholes in implementing government schemes must not be used as a tool to strengthen the hands of the Maoists. Indian democracy is strong enough to absorb even its adversaries if they abjure violence.
  • The last two major attacks call for some serious introspection on the tactics used by the forces and their fitness to prevent any future attacks.
  • The two-pronged policy of direct action by the security forces combined with development is showing results — the government has already made a dent in most of the affected districts and is determined to check the expansion of Maoists. The paradigm of proactive policing and holistic development should ensure more such significant results in the future.

Category: ECONOMY

1. PSBs asked to rationalise overseas, domestic branches

 In news:

  • The finance ministry has asked public sector banks to look at rationalising their domestic and overseas branches as part of the reform process to strengthen their financials.
  • The banks have been advised to pursue closure of loss-making domestic and international branches as part of a capital-saving exercise.
  • The Ministry is of the view that there is no need for multiple banks in a single country, adding that banks can explore a single subsidiary formed with 5-6 banks coming together for conserving capital and realising economies of scale.

Category: AGRICULTURE

1. Why are farmers distressed across India?

 In news:

  • The year 2017 was marked by several farmers’ protests nationwide, with a few turning violent
  • The protests highlighted the plight of farmers and the extent of agrarian distress

Reasons for the crisis:

  • The main reason for farm crises is the rising pressure of population on farming and land assets
  • Government data show the average farm size in India is small, at 1.15 hectare
  • The small and marginal land holdings (less than 2 hectares) account for 72% of land holdings
  • This predominance of small operational holdings is a major limitation to reaping the benefits of economies of scale

Other factors

  • Crop production is always at risk because of pests, diseases, shortage of inputs like seeds and irrigation, which could result in low productivity and declining yield
  • The lower than the remunerative price in the absence of marketing infrastructure and profiteering by middlemen adds to the financial distress of farmers
  • The predominance of informal sources of credit, mainly through moneylenders, and lack of capital for short term and long term loans have resulted in the absence of stable incomes and profits
  • Uncertain policies and regulations such as those of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC Act), besides low irrigation coverage, drought, flooding and unseasonal rains, are some other factors that hit farmers hard

Price mechanism

  • Farmers face price uncertainties due to fluctuations in demand and supply owing to bumper or poor crop production and speculation and hoarding by traders
  • The government’s economic survey for 2016-17 points out that the price risks emanating from an inefficient APMC market are severe for farmers in India
  • This is because they have very low resilience because of the perishable nature of produce, inability to hold it, hedge in surplus-shortage scenarios or insure against losses

Way forward

  • Like any other economic activity, the farming sector has its own set of risks
  • To increase and ensure a stable flow of income to farmers it is vital to manage and reduce the risks by analysing, categorising and addressing them

2. Modi govt plans bold move to fix rural distress

 In news:

  • The central government, in consultation with states, proposes to launch a new price support scheme for farmers to prevent distress sales at prices below the minimum support price (MSP)
  • Under the proposed “market assurance scheme”, states will be free to procure all crops from farmers for which MSPs are announced
  • This will be except rice and wheat, which are already being procured by the centre for the public distribution system

Modalities of the scheme:

  • Under the new scheme, the centre will compensate states for any losses capped at 30% of the procurement cost. It will be the states’ responsibility to dispose of the procured crops.
  • The proposed scheme will ensure an assured price for the farmer, mitigating the price risks faced by farmers after harvest.

States have discretion

  • States will take ownership of the scheme, including which crop to procure and in what quantities when wholesale prices drop below MSPs
  • State governments will be free to use the procured crops for targeted nutrition-support programmes such as mid-day meals for schoolchildren or sell them in the open market

Background:

  • The proposed scheme comes against the backdrop of a record harvest of cereals and pulses in 2016-17, which led to wholesale prices plunging below MSPs
  • The price crash has led to protests by farmer groups across the country since June, with demands for remunerative crop prices and loan waivers

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. A new LIGO gravitational wave detector to be built in India by 2025

 In news:

  • A new gravitational wave detector to measure ripples in the fabric of space and time is set to be built in India by 2025
  • World’s third LIGO detector.
  • It will be built in collaboration with universities from across the globe

Project: IndIGO

  • The new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector will add to the two already operational in the US
  • The location for the new detector in India has been selected, and the acquisition has started.However, the site has not been revealed yet
  • IndIGO, the Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations, is an initiative to set up advanced experimental facilities, for a multi-institutional Indian national project in gravitational-wave astronomy
  • The IndIGO Consortium includes

(1) Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT),

(2) Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) and

(3) Delhi University, among others

Importance:

  • A third LIGO detector will help pinpoint the origin of the gravitational waves that are detected in future
  • The LIGO detectors discovered the first gravitational waves produced by two giant merging black holes last year

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

E. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Which of the following are NOT Rabi crops?
  1. Cotton
  2. Gram
  3. Pea
  4. Mustard

Choose the correct answer using the codes below:

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

See

Answer
Question 2. Peer to Peer (P2P) lending is a
  1. Form of crowd-funding
  2. Does not carry any interest rate
  3. Platform that can be used online

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

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

See

Answer
Question 3. ‘B4’ – the ‘Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat’ intends to save which 
of the following islands, that is fast eroding?
  1. Havelock
  2. Barren
  3. Majuli
  4. Katchal

See

Answer
Question 4. Which of the following authorities decides whether a particular bill is a money
bill?
  1. President of India
  2. Chairman, Rajya Sabha
  3. Speaker, Lok Sabha
  4. Ministry of Finance

See

Answer
Question 5. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana focuses on
  1. Distribution of free LED bulbs to households
  2. Providing LPG connections to poor households
  3. Augmentation of power infrastructure in rural areas
  4. Construction of feeder smart grids in smart cities

See

Answer

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper I
 Topic: Location of industries
 
  1. Petroleum refineries are not necessarily located nearer to crude oil producing areas, particularly in many of the developing countries. Explain its implications.
GS Paper III
  Topic: Internal Security
  1. The scourge of terrorism is a grave challenge to national security. What solutions do you suggest to curb this growing menace? What are the major sources of terrorist funding?

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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