UPSC Exam: Comprehensive News Analysis - February 05

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
HISTORY
1. Alam Beg - Colonial Master’s Inhumanity
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. Paucity of judges in Calcutta HC
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS
1. Crisis in Male
EDUCATION
1. ‘Beyond Basics’ study
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Investment Meet
2. Outward Direct Investment (ODI) policy
3. SEBI gets teeth to act against exchanges
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. WhatsApp conundrum
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Category: HISTORY

1. Alam Beg – Colonial Master’s Inhumanity

 

  • Alam Beg, also known as Alum Bheg, was a soldier with the 46th Bengal Native Infantry, an arm of the East India Company.
  • The Mutiny in 1857, after having covered north Indian heartland, spread to Sialkot (now in Pakistan), where Alam Beg and his companions tried to follow their fellow soldiers and attacked the Europeans posted there. On July 9, 1857, they killed seven Europeans, including an entire Scottish family.
  • Alam Beg, along with his comrades, left Sialkot and trekked all the way to the Tibetan frontier only to be turned away by the guards on the Tibetan side. He was reportedly arrested from Madhopur.
  • He was tried for the brutal killing of the Scottish family and blown up from the mouth of a cannon.

Some disturbing Facts

  • The Mutiny of 1857 was crushed mercilessly and many gruesome incidents of that era find mention in official records.
  • Ajnala (in Punjab’s Amritsar) Soldiers had surrendered hoping for a fair trial, but the Deputy Commissioner of the district Frederick Henry Cooper ordered execution of the rebels.
  • They were buried with medals and even money of the East India Company that many of them had in their pockets.

The grisly discovery is yet to receive a closure as the family members of those soldiers remain untraced.

Arthur Robert George Costello’s Presence

  • The Irishman was a captain in the 7th Dragoon Guards, dispatched to India after the Mutiny had shaken the bonds between the East India Company and the native soldiers
  • Costello had not seen any episodes of the Mutiny but was present at the execution, said historian Kim Wagner, who possesses the skull now.

Details

  • The skull of Alam Beg ended up in the Victorian-era pub.
  • In 2014, the owners of the pub contacted Kim Wagner who has been writing about South Asian history for years. They urged him to take the skull and return it to the descendants of Alam Beg. Mr. Wagner brought it home and the skull finally added to his research on South Asia which was published late last year as “The Skull of Alum Bheg: The Life and Death of a Rebel of 1857.”

Headhunting by colonial rulers from Europe was a rampant practice in the 19th century and activists worldwide have been vocal in demanding human remains from Western museums and collectors should be returned to their countries of origin.

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Paucity of judges in Calcutta HC

 

  • Courts and tribunals in West Bengal are experiencing a severe paucity of judges. Calcutta High Court, the oldest in the country, may soon function with only 29 judges against a sanctioned strength of 72.
  • The severity of the crisis becomes evident as, out of the 33 judges, three will retire by February-end while one will be elevated to the post of Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.
  • The condition of the West Bengal Land Tribunal is even worse. The Tribunal, which has a sanctioned strength of eight members, currently has only two members. Out of the eight members, four are judicial members and others are administrative members.

Category: INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. Crisis in Male

Context

  • Supreme Court cancelled Nasheed’s imprisonment term and that of eight other political leaders, reinstated 12 parliamentarians who had been disqualified, and ordered Mr. Yameen to allow the Maldivian parliament, or Majlis, to convene.
  • Yameen has thus far failed to comply with any of these orders, despite an official statement about his government’s “commitment to uphold and abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court”.
  • The most egregious failure is the government’s refusal to cancel the imprisonment of the nine leaders, amongst whom is Mr. Yameen’s former vice president and his former defence minister, members of parliament and leaders of major opposition parties, apart from Mr. Nasheed himself.

Status after SC Judgement

  • Government sent in the army to stop lawmakers from entering the premises, besides arresting two parliamentarians at the airport.
  • Several officials, including two police chiefs and the prison chief have resigned or been sacked, reportedly for seeking to implement the Supreme Court’s orders.
  • The Attorney General has now announced that only the Constitution matters, not “illegal orders” from the court. In short, the Maldives is in the midst of a constitutional crisis.

How have countries reacted?

  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked the Maldivian government to respect the Supreme Court’s order
  • India said it was imperative for “all organs” of the Maldivian government to abide by the order “in the spirit of democracy”.
  • The US welcomed the decision by the Maldives’ Supreme Court to order the release of political prisoners and to reinstate elected members of parliament

India losing its Sheen?

  • But currently, Delhi’s leverage in the Maldives is less than it has ever been.
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to cancel his visit to Male three years ago, has singled Maldives out as the only country in the South Asian and Indian Ocean Region that he hasn’t visited.
    • Maldives has pulled out of the Commonwealth, and there is little semblance of a SAARC process at present, India’s influence in Male is further limited.

So it will require concerted action from the international community to persuade Mr. Yameen to steer the Maldives out of this crisis, without taking recourse to coercive means.

Background

  • Maldives became a multiparty democracy 10 years ago after decades of autocratic rule by the current president’s half-brother, strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
  • Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, was toppled in 2012. He was barred from contesting elections after his 2015 terrorism conviction, which was internationally criticised as politically motivated.
  • He has been in exile since 2016, when he left on prison leave for medical treatment. He is currently in Colombo, meeting Maldivian dissidents based in Sri Lanka.
  • But the nation lost much of its democratic gains after Yameen was elected in 2013. He has maintained a tight grip on power, controlling institutions such as the judiciary and the police. Yameen had been set to run for re-election this year virtually unopposed, with all of his opponents either jailed or exiled.

Category: EDUCATION

1. ‘Beyond Basics’ study

 What is ‘Beyond Basics’?

  • The Annual Status of Education Report: ‘Beyond Basics’ is a citizen-led household survey covering rural Indian youth in the age group of 14-18 years. It looks into four main domains: activity, ability, awareness and aspirations.

Context

  • Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2017, published by a non-governmental organisation and contains data from 26 districts in 24 States

Details

  • Focusing on the 14-18 years age group, the ‘Beyond Basics’ study has tried to assess, inter alia, whether this cohort of young people is enrolled in any educational institution, whether they are both enrolled and pursuing work, how well they have been prepared in previous schooling, their access to technology, and what occupies their time.
  • A national-level finding is that as a group, 14.4% of youth aged 14 to 18 years are not enrolled in school or college.
    • Variations by age: while it is 5.3% for 14-year-olds, it rises to 30.2% at age 18.
  • The imperative clearly is to look at factors that prevent them from being part of formal higher secondary education, of which availability and affordability of schools would be important.

Agriculture as a provider of jobs

  • Among those who are already working in the 14-18 age group, 79% are engaged in farming, and that too in their family farms.
  • As agriculture was ranked very low as an aspiration among the youth, so useful education in agriculture, coupled with access to the formal economy for finance and marketing, could raise the quality of life.
  • In fact, the ability of farmers to adopt technology, avail benefits offered by the government and demand stronger institutions would be enhanced, if elementary education is improved.

What should be done?

  • Evidently, a large-scale vocational education system on the lines of the “dual” German model — classroom instruction plus apprentice training — would help raise the productivity of both individuals and the economy.
  • ASER’s statistics indicate that overall, only 5.3% of the age group is enrolled in a vocational course, while 60.2% of out-of-school youth are engaged in some form of work.
  • These trends underscore the need to scale up substantive skill-building programmes, making them free or highly subsidised.
  • At the moment, though, the education tests administered to them seem to show that they can read text, but feel challenged when it comes to solving a simple mathematical problem. They will do better if the teaching-learning process becomes engaging and effective.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Investment Meet

 

  • The 3rd Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Investment Meet provides an excellent platform for the business community to interact with government on exploring investment opportunities in the state
  • Theme; Charting New India’s Global Integration Strategy
  • The Meet will be hosted in Visakhapatnam

Key Objectives

Key Outcomes

 

2. Outward Direct Investment (ODI) policy

 

An outward direct investment (ODI) is a business strategy in which a domestic firm expands its operations to a foreign country. This can take the form of a green field investment, a merger/acquisition or expansion of an existing foreign facility.

  • The proposed ODI policy may contain provisions to make it easy for many Indian firms, envisioning ambitious plans to transform themselves into Multi-National Companies (MNC), to go global and expand.
  • The ODI policy is expected to tighten regulations to prevent round-tripping structures, where funds are routed by India-based companies into a newly formed or existing overseas subsidiary and then brought back to India to circumvent regulations here.
  • Currently, the jurisdiction over ODI is mainly with the RBI, and the concerned law here is the Foreign Exchange Management Act.

How is this going to help?

  • Indian firms invest in foreign shores primarily through Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) transactions.
  • With rising M&A activity, companies will get direct access to newer and more extensive markets, and better technologies, which would enable them to increase their customer base and achieve a global reach.

RBI’s Comments

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had pointed out that some Indian companies were raising funds under the FDI route through issue of hybrid instruments such as optionally convertible/ partially convertible debentures which are intrinsically debt-like instruments.
  • The RBI clarified that only instruments that are fully and mandatorily convertible into equity, within a specified time, would be reckoned as part of equity under the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy and eligible to be issued to persons residing outside India under the FDI scheme in terms of Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer and Issue of shares by a Person Resident outside India) Regulations.

A hybrid security is a single financial security that combines two or more different financial instruments. Hybrid securities, often referred to as “hybrids,” generally combine both debt and equity characteristics. The most common type of hybrid security is a convertible bond that has features of an ordinary bond but is heavily influenced by the price movements of the stock into which it is convertible.

Reform Push

  • Scheme of Investment Promotion (SIP): The SIP aims to make India among the top 10 most preferred FDI destinations in the world and among the top 50 in the ranking of countries by the World Bank on ‘Ease of Doing Business Index.’ Its objective is also to improve investor confidence to boost investment and economic growth.

ODI in different countries

  • Top ten ODI destination countries in FY’15, FY’16 and FY’17 included Mauritius, Singapore, the U.S., the UAE, the Netherlands, the U.K, Switzerland, Russia, Jersey and British Virgin Islands. Cumulatively, these nations were the beneficiaries of 84% or more of India’s ODI during each of those financial years.
  • The IBEF said ODI is being channeled into Mauritius, Singapore, British Virgin Islands, and the Netherlands mainly because these countries provide higher tax benefits.
  • Interestingly, this composition of ODI destination countries more or less mirrored the top sources of foreign direct investment inflows into India in the same period including, Mauritius, Singapore, Japan, the U.S., U.K., the UAE, the Netherlands, Germany, Cyprus and France.

Some irritants in present ODI

  • If a holding company is used to make an investment, it may qualify as a core investment company/ non-banking financial company, and therefore, not allowed to invest in non-financial services outside India
  • Also, if the overseas business goes bankrupt, approvals are required for depletion in value of more than 25%

Way forward

  • Approval requirements and other norms should be simplified in a manner that would encourage ‘internationalization’ of Indian companies.

3. SEBI gets teeth to act against exchanges

 

  • As part of the proposed amendments in the Finance Bill 2018, the government has given more power to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to impose monetary penalties on important market intermediaries such as stock exchanges and clearing corporations and also act against newer categories of participants likes investment advisers, research analysts, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs).
  • The proposed amendments to the SEBI Act and the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act now allow the capital markets regulator to impose a monetary penalty of at least ₹5 crore on stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depositories for non-compliance with regulatory norms.
  • The penalty can go up to ₹25 crore or three times the amount of gains made out of such failure or non-compliance. Hitherto, SEBI only had the power to censure or warn against any form of failure.
  • The amendments also allow SEBI to act against entities that furnish false or incomplete information to the regulator. Earlier, it could act only if the entity did not furnish any information.

How will this help Market?

  • It will increase the quality of disclosure rather than just tick-the-box approach. Twin-fold penalty powers with the wholetime member and adjudicating officer (AO) is welcome for efficient use of human resources
  • REITs and InvITs along with research analysts and investment advisers, will have to be more careful now as the Finance Bill allows SEBI to impose a penalty of up to ₹1 lakh per day for the period of non-compliance.
  • The government has also allowed the regulator to pursue cases against the legal representatives of defaulters if in case a defaulter passes away during the course of regulatory proceedings.
    • Provided that, in case of any penalty payable under this Act, a legal representative shall be liable only in case the penalty has been imposed before the death of the deceased person

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. WhatsApp conundrum

Communal Twist and Paranoia

  • The recent violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj displayed, once again, the threat WhatsApp can pose in fragile times. After the death of a youth, Chandan Gupta, in the violence, rumours were spread claiming the death of another person — Rahul Upadhyay. These rumours were circulated on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp groups, among other social media platforms.
  • Upadhyay later clarified to the media that the rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated, and were being used by people spreading hate and paranoia on social media.

So how can WhatsApp help in addressing sensitive issues?

  • WhatsApp works in a way that is fundamentally different from Facebook and Twitter. In the latter, it is comparatively easier to check fake news and prevent the spread of misinformation.
  • Posts on Facebook can be viewed by the friends of a user, whereas WhatsApp (the app is owned by Facebook) messages are encrypted end-to-end — a feature that is great from the perspective of privacy of users.
  • Facebook newsfeeds are regulated by algorithms, which can be tweaked by the social media platform. WhatsApp’s rationale for its security is a viable one: The encryption helps messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, status updates etc from falling into the wrong hands and can be controlled by users. There is no way to turn off the end-to-end encryption.

How does Security work in the app?

  • WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person or group you’re communicating with can read and see what is sent, and nobody in between — interestingly even WhatsApp does not have access to the media and messages.
  • When a message leaves a person’s phone, it is assigned a cryptographic lock, and only the person receiving the message has the key to this lock. These keys change with every single message that is sent.

Number of People using the app

  • According to Satista, a leading statistics company, the number of monthly active WhatsApp users in India in February 2017 was 200 million — exponentially greater from August 2013, when it was just 20 million.
  • The messaging application is being used more and more by rural and older populations, who are often new to the internet and less tech-savvy.
  • With the prices of smartphones and mobile data falling rapidly, the number of WhatsApp users in the country will only grow.

What can be done?

  • The spread of fake news through WhasApp is something we might not be able to control directly, and its encryption does protect the privacy of its users. This puts the responsibility of stopping this spread of misinformation on citizens and the media.
  • People need to be told that messages on WhatsApp can be dangerous and false information can be spread by people looking to create trouble.
  • Public figures and authorities need to stop sharing messages they receive on WhatsApp and the messaging app should issue disclaimers stating that messages can be false.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

E. Prelims Fact

  1. Mumbai airport jets into the record books
  • With 980 arrivals and take offs in 24 hours, it has become the world’s busiest single runway airport
  • With this, the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji airport bettered its own feat of 974 flights in 24 hours
  • Though India’s second largest airport has the record breaking numbers, Gatwick airport, UK’s second largest airport, is still the most efficient single-runway airport in the world.

Details

  • The Sydney based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), in its 2017 annual report, said the Mumbai airport, which has reached 94% of its maximum passenger handling capacity, would reach saturation point in 2018.
  • In terms of passengers again, Mumbai pips Gatwick with 45.2 million people flying in and out in fiscal 2017 as against 44 million at Gatwick.
  • According the U.K.’s Airport Coordination Ltd, Gatwick’s single runway declared an aircraft handling capacity of 870 flight movements per day for summer 2017.
    • But, unlike the Mumbai airport, which is functional 24 hours a day, Gatwick handles most of its flights between 5 a.m. and midnight because of a night curfew in force since 1971.
    • In terms of numbers, the peak handling capacity of Gatwick’s single runway is 55 air traffic movements an hour, while Mumbai is inching closer with 52 movements.
 
  • This refers to the observation that the difference in living standards across countries is grossly exaggerated by the use of market exchange rates to calculate income.
  • The market exchange rate between currencies is determined by the balance of payment situation between countries, thus reflecting only the cross-border demand for goods and assets.
  • When such exchange rates are used to calculate incomes, the results don’t accurately reflect the ability of people to afford things since a significant share of goods and services are produced and consumed within the borders of countries
 

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Sultan Bin Zayed Heritage Festival is held in which country? 
  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. Iran
  3. United Arab Emirates
  4. Qatar

See

Answer
Question 2. With respect to Akashvani Maitree, consider the following statements 
  1. Akashvani Maitree is AIR’s cross-border Myanmar service
  2. To counter the presence of CRI (Chinese Radio International with its strong programming)

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. All of the above
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. With reference to core of the core Schemes, consider the following statements
  1. The funding is in the ration 75:25
  2. MGNREGA is included in the classification
  3. Development of Backward Classes and other vulnerable groups are not included

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

See

Answer
Question 4. Schizophrenia is related to 
  1. A hereditary disorder which leads to increase in performance of Thyroid glands
  2. A breathing Problem due to increase in Pollution levels
  3. A chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.
  4. a chronic neurodegenerative disease

See

Answer
Question 5. Which of the following statements are correct with reference to SECURE Himalaya? 
  1. It is to ensure conservation of locally and globally significant biodiversity, land and forest resources in the high Himalayan ecosystem
  2. It is launched by the Union environment ministry in association with WWF
  3. Protection of snow leopard and other endangered species and their habitats is one of the key components of the project

 

  1. All of the above
  2. Only 2
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. Only 2 and 3

See

Answer

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper III
  1. Human control over the use of force is a moral imperative and essential for promoting compliance with   International law and ensure accountability. Explain the statement in the light of AI in defence.

  2. Is it time for India to Consider a Special Track for Space Startup Incubation. Justify your View.

GS Paper II
  1. With the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine into trouble once again, Discuss about the effectiveness of Clinical Trails and its implications on India and the world.

 

 

 

 

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