13 Feb 2022: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 13 Feb 2022:-Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Dhami’s push for uniform code stirs debate
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Amidst a wave of coups and a pandemic
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Sinking Sundarbans
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. When will India’s mRNA vaccine be out?
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. What is the essential practice test?
ECONOMY
1. Eye on deficit
F. Prelims Facts
1. WFP to allot Indian wheat in Afghanistan
2. U.S. to open Solomon Islands embassy to counter China
3. SCS figures in dispute resolution panel agenda; removed later
4. A metamaterial that can make use of origami to reduce shock
G. Tidbits
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Amidst a wave of coups and a pandemic

Syllabus: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains: Increasing military coups in Africa and its impact on India.

Context:

Concerns are rising over the increasing frequency of military coups in the African continent.

What do you mean by a coup?

Coup can be simply defined as an illegal and overt attempt by the military to unseat sitting leaders.

Recent Military Coups in Africa: –

  • A study by US researchers has identified over 200 such attempts in Africa since the 1950s.
  • In 2020, armed forces staged a mutiny and captured power from the President in Mali.
  • In 2021, the Guinean coup d’état occurred when forces led by the military captured the President and announced the dissolution of the government and the Constitution.
  • In 2022, the military takeover took place due to protests demanding the resignation of the President in Burkina Faso.
Countries in Africa with highest number of coups

Source: BBC

Reasons for increased Military coups: –

  • Local Circumstances in the particular country harbor the ground for a military coup. Such as
    • In Mali, it stemmed from frustration at the former president’s weak leadership and resentment over his corruption and manipulation of parliamentary election results.
  • Significant discontent has arisen amongst the people due to different ways of deciphering and implementing democracy according to the wishes of politicians and the ruling elite.
  • The proliferation of insurgents and extremist violence coupled with weak democracies have provided fertile grounds for military intervention in civilian and political matters across Africa.
  • In addition, the decadence of the socio-political and economic environment is the justification for coups in many cases.
  • Poorly-funded and under-resourced militaries are another reason why coups have been a recurring event in Africa, especially in the Sahelian region.

Concerns Associated with Increasing Military Coups in Africa: –

  • Failure of regional bodies:
    • All attempts by regional bodies like ECOWAS and the African Union were focused on punishing the militaries rather than attempting to help fix the underlying causes that led to civilian populations supporting their actions.
    • The influence of Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) has been hampered by eroding credibility and increasing sanctions.
  • Failure of Democratic Institutions:
    • The masses’ lack of faith in the state of democratic politics in their countries has significant consequences not only for Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, but the wider region.
  • No long-Lasting Penalties:
    • he punitive measures against military coups usually are lifted quickly.
    • This leniency has enabled coup leaders to make minimal concessions while preparing for longer stays in power.
  • Widespread civilian support for military coups:
    • Citizens appear to believe that the military may be a credible alternative to the band of corrupt and unrepentant political elites that have betrayed their confidence.
    • This led to the legitimisation of attempts to reintegrate militaries into politics across the continent.
  • Continued Military Support from other countries:
    • Other countries, including France and European allies, have maintained a military presence in the region, and partner local armed forces to fight radical groups.
  • Futile Sanctions:
    • Sanctions have not been able to create the necessary political outcomes that the AU and ECOWAS desire.
    • The sanctions on Mali and Guinea in 2021 have backfired and have driven popular support towards military leadership.

Implications on India: –

  • The rise in military coups in the African continent is a cause of concern for India and Africa who have common positions and interests in global platforms.
  • It will also hamper several areas of cooperation such as
    • techno-economic capacity building.
    • Skill development featured prominently in all the India-Africa Forum Summits.
  • India’s model of development cooperation in Africa lacks a clear strategy and the consequences of military coup will worsen the developmental efforts.
  • Besides, it will also erode the progress of ‘Ten Guiding Principles for India-Africa Engagement’ which have defined India-Africa engagement.
  • The military takeovers in Africa will reduce the pace of synchronization between different development instruments.
  • India must chart out a roadmap for its development cooperation programme in Africa that outlines a long-term strategy and delineates how it will deploy state capacity to pursue common development goals.

Recommendations: –

  • Bolstering the roles and capacities of regional bodies such as ECOWAS. Peer influence among any group of neighboring nations will always be vital.
  • Focus more support on strengthening civil society and democracy in each country.
  • Be consistent by offering the incentives of partnership to governments and civil societies in strengthening democratic governance.
  • Support broad national dialogues to address the root causes of each country’s instability.
  • Strategic Measures must include groups that historically have been marginalized, such as ethnic minorities, women, youth and grassroots groups.

[su_box title=”Nut Graf” box_color=”#7960a0″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
In the 35th African Union Summit, the key concern is the rising wave of military coups in the continent. The future of Africa is uncertain as military intervention can subvert the democratic progress.

[/su_box]

E. Editorials

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. When will India’s mRNA vaccine be out?

Syllabus: Development and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Prelims: mRNA vaccine

Mains: India’s progress in the field of vaccine research and development

Context: India’s first indigenously developed mRNA vaccine is expected to be released by the Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals in order to broaden the scope of RNA therapy making its use much beyond COVID-19.

About mRNA vaccine:

  • mRNA (messenger Ribonucleic Acid) vaccines pave a new era in the realm of vaccine research and development.
  • Traditionally, vaccines incorporate a part of a harmless pathogen in the body against which the antibodies are targeted.
  • In case of mRNA vaccines, the mRNA molecules of the pathogen (SARS-CoV-2 mRNA in case of the COVID-19 virus) are used to activate the immune system to combat the virus and other infectious agents.
  • This vaccine has been developed with an approach that ensures a significant immune response along with safety.
  • The researchers emphasised on the fact that minimising the injection of a foreing body results in reduced possibility of adverse reactions.
  • Therefore in mRNA vaccines, a piece of genetic code is introduced into the body of the individuals to trigger immune responsesThe genetic code corresponds to the viral protein present on the outer membrane of the virus.
mRNA covid vaccine

Image Source: cdc.gov

The Present Status of the Vaccine:

  • The mRNA vaccine in India is currently in phase 2 and 3 trials to examine the immunogenicity, safety and tolerability.
  • The study has been carried out across various sites in Phase-2 and 3 using Covishield for comparison as the placebo trials have been prohibited by the regulatory authorities.
  • The results from the Phase-1 study are anticipated to be published soon.

Advantages:

  • Evidence reveals that mRNA Vaccine shows robust immune response in the trials and enhanced protection against infections.
  • As it employs only the genetic code, it is easily updated in response to the emergence of variants.

Where lies the Challenge?

  • The major challenge with mRNA vaccines is with respect to its storage which mandates temperature spanning from -90 degree Celsius to -50 degree Celsius.
  • Such stringent freezing conditions are expensive to be maintained.
  • There is a wide gap between vaccine preparation and its supply due to challenges in scaling up production.

Hope for the future:

The mRNA vaccines, with its entry into the market, will expand India’s vaccination drive and offer resilience towards a pandemic-like situation in the upcoming days.
[su_box title=”Nut Graf” box_color=”#7960a0″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
mRNA vaccines will play a revolutionary role in the treatment of various infectious diseases transforming vaccine research in the country.

[/su_box]

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. What is the essential practice test?

Syllabus: Indian Constitution Significant provisions

Prelims: Essential religious practises

Mains: Impact of religious practises on the secular framework of the country

Context: The Karnataka High Court is hearing a petition that claims wearing hijab to be an essential religious practice. The court released an interim order directing the students not to wear any attire which is associated with any particular religion.

Highlights of the Constitutional grounds:

  • Questions have been raised on the constitutionality of disallowing students from entering the educational institutions merely because they were wearing a piece of clothing indicating their religion. This is inferred as the violation of the Right to Freedom of Religion.
  • The government argues with the support of bringing up reasonable restrictions to which Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and freedom to practice any religion) can be subjected.
  • According to the government’s view, head scarves (hijab) can create a possibility to disturb law and order and that is why the provision under Article 25 has been overlooked.
  • The act of prohibiting the students from entering the educational institution for wearing hijab has been perceived as a violation of Article 21A that guarantees Right to Education.

The Essential Practice test

  • The doctrine of essential practice originated in 1954 wherein the Supreme Court propounded it in the famous Sri Shirur Mutt case.
  • The court demarcated a clear distinction between matters of religion and matters other than religion.
  • In order to draw such distinction, the Supreme Court ascertained the constituent essential part of a religion with respect to the doctrines of the religion.
  • As a consequence, some religious acts have been declared as “essential” to the practice of that religion and were constitutionally protected. Whereas, some acts were denied protection on the grounds that they were not essential to the religion.
  • In 1983, the Supreme Court disallowed tandava ritual dance at public places to be a part of essential religious practice.
  • In Sardar Syedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb vs Bombay 1962, the apex court prohibited the head of the Dawoodi Bohra community from excommunicating members. This invited huge disagreement within the community. However, the then Chief Justice upheld the freedom of conscience of individual members as well as their civil rights.
  • Some critics point out that the essential religious practice test never had intentions to actually examine the nature of an essential practice, instead it focused on differentiating matters of religion and matters other than religion. This makes the test ambiguous.

Way Forward:

  • The entire issue awaits a reasonable approach that upholds the provisions of the constitution instead of extensive theoretical analysis.
  • The application of principles of equality, dignity and civil rights to a particular practice is recommended as a better way to reach a just conclusion of the sensitive matters surrounding religious practises.

Read more about the issue in CNA dated 7th Feb 2022
[su_box title=”Nut Graf” box_color=”#7960a0″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
The constitutionality of a practice in terms of morality and legitimacy needs to be considered over enquiries based on theories and documents. The question that emerges is whether students can be deprived from access to education on the grounds of following a particular religious practice, needs to be answered to resolve the ongoing issue.

[/su_box]
Category: ECONOMY

1. Eye on deficit

Syllabus: Issues relating to growth, development

Prelims: Fiscal deficit, Credit Rating Agencies

Mains: Requirement of a meticulous roadmap to assess India’s fiscal deficit.

Context:

Union Budget 2022-23 has announced an ambitious target of reducing the fiscal deficit to 6.4%. This has been looked upon by the credit rating agencies with scepticism.

Details of the matter:

  • The pandemic resulted in a huge gap between the expenses and earnings that reached 9.2% of the GDP in 2020-21.
  • With the efforts of the government, it has been corrected to 6.8% in 2021-22.
  • The 15th Finance Commission recommended that the deficit target should be set at 5.5% of the GDP under a slow recovery scenario.
  • The ambitious target as an outcome of a smooth economic recovery has been set at 4.5% of GDP by 2025-26.

Assertion by the Credit Rating Agencies:

  • The credit rating agencies like Moody’s Investor Service termed the medium term deficit target as undefined and predicted an increase of general government debt to 91% of GDP next year.
  • Fitch Ratings has offered a negative outlook on India’s sovereign rating calling the budget full of shortcomings on growth promoting structural reforms lacking revenue generation ideas.
  • The fiscal deficit targets were higher than the estimates put forth by the rating agencies.
  • Experts opine that India’s debt to tax ratio is significantly high.

The future assessment:

  • The economists advocate debt to taxes ratio to be a more appropriate metric to assess the implications of the deficit in the Indian economy. It is estimated to be considerably high and needs to be addressed.
  • The high rate of borrowing to finance the recovery from the pandemic has to be considered at the same time acts as a matter of concern as it burdens the future generations who may be left with inadequate resources for new investments.

Read more about Union Budget 2022-23 in the linked article
[su_box title=”Nut Graf” box_color=”#7960a0″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
It is necessary to address the sharp rise in India’s general government debts with a feasible roadmap in order to correct the fiscal set up in the upcoming years which has an influence on the overall economic growth.

[/su_box]

F. Prelims Facts

1. WFP to allot Indian wheat in Afghanistan

Syllabus: GS2: International Relations: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting  India’s interests.

Prelims: United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Context: India signs agreement with the UN wing to manage the distribution of humanitarian assistance.

Agreement with United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

  • India signed an agreement with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for the distribution of wheat that it has committed to sending to Afghanistan as part of humanitarian assistance.
  • The WFP runs its own logistics network inside Afghanistan, partnering with civil society groups, and has launched a global campaign for enough food and aid.

United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

  • Establishment: World Food Programme (WFP) was established in 1961 by the United Nations (UN) to help alleviate world hunger.
  • Headquarters: Rome, Italy.
  • Nobel Peace Prize 2020:The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
  • Voluntary Contributions: Our operations are entirely funded through the generous voluntary contributions of donor governments, institutions, corporations and individuals.
  • The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization.

2. U.S. to open Solomon Islands embassy to counter China

Syllabus: GS2: International Relations: India and its neighborhood- relations.

Prelims: Solomon Islands

Context: The U.S. says it will open an embassy in the Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands: –

  • Solomon Islands, a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of a double chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in Melanesia.
  • The Solomon Islands consist of six major and approximately 900 smaller volcanic islands, coral atolls and reefs.
  • The archipelago nation consists of several large volcanic islands to the south-east of Papua New Guinea.
  • The U.S. previously operated an embassy in the Solomons for five years before closing it in 1993.
  • Know more about Solomon Islands Issue

3. SCS figures in dispute resolution panel agenda; removed later

Syllabus: GS2: Polity and Governance: Federalism, Center-State Relations

Prelims: Special Category Status

Context:

This article discusses the grant of Special Category Status (SCS) to be given to Andhra Pradesh.

Special Category Status: –

  • Special Category Status used to be granted to some regions that have historically been at a disadvantage compared with the rest of the country.
  • This decision was taken by the National Development Council (NDC),a body of the former Planning Commission, and was based on various parameters such as:
    • Hilly and difficult terrain
    • Low population density
    • Low resource base
    • Strategic location along the borders of the country
    • Economic and infrastructure backwardness
    • Non-viable nature of the state’s finances.
    • Sizable share of tribal population

Benefits under Special Category Status: –

  • Preferential treatment in getting central funds assistance · Concession on excise duty to attract industries to the state
  • A significant 30 percent of the Center’s gross budget goes to the special category states
  • These states can avail the benefit of debt swapping and debt relief schemes
  • In the case of centrally sponsored schemes and external aid, special category states get it in the ratio of 90 per cent grants and 10 per cent loans, while other states get 30 percent of their funds as grants.
  • Tax breaks to attract investment

4. A metamaterial that can make use of origami to reduce shock

Syllabus: GS3: Science and Technology: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Prelims: Metamaterials

Context:

Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology Madras have developed a metamaterial.

Metamaterials: –

  • Metamaterials are artificially structured materials used to control and manipulate light, sound, and many other physical phenomena.
  • The properties of metamaterials are derived both from the inherent properties of their constituent materials, as well as from the geometrical arrangement of those materials.

G. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following statements are correct?
  1. SMILE scheme (Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise) is set to provide welfare and rehabilitation for unemployed youth, widows & the disabled.
  2. It is a Central Sector scheme.
  3. It has been launched by the Ministry for Social Justice & Empowerment.

Options:

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

Answer: d

Explanation:-

  • SMILE stands for Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise.
  • It to provide welfare and rehabilitation to the transgender community and the people engaged in the act of begging. Hence Statement 1 is not correct
  • It is a Central Sector scheme which focuses on rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, counseling, basic documentation, education, skill development, economic linkages etc. Hence Statement 2 is correct
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated SMILE. Hence Statement 3 is correct
Q2. Which of the following statements are correct?
  1. Forum for India-Pacific Islands cooperation (FIPIC) is a multinational grouping developed in 2014 for cooperation between India and 14 Pacific Islands nations.
  2. India has announced a $150 million worth line of credit to the group of Pacific island nations for undertaking solar, renewable energy and climate-related projects.
  3. Two summits of this forum have been held to further India’s extended Act East policy.

Options:

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

Answer: c

Explanation:-

  • The Forum for India–Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) was launched in 2014.
  • FIPIC includes 14 of the island countries – Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
  • India has announced a $150 million line of credit to the group of Pacific island nations for undertaking solar, renewable energy and climate related projects based on their requirements.
  • The first FIPIC summit was held at the level of Heads of Government in 2014 in Suva, Fiji, followed by the FIPIC-II summit held in August 2015, in Jaipur, India.
  • Hence All the Statements are correct.
Q3. TOR or The Onion Router is often associated with -
  1. Cryptocurrencies
  2. 5G Networks
  3. Darknet 
  4. Internet of Things (IoT)
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:-

  • The Darknet is the hidden collective of internet sites only accessible by a specialized web browser.
  • It is used for keeping internet activity anonymous and private, which can be helpful in both legal and illegal applications.
  • While some use it to evade government censorship, it has also been known to be utilized for highly illegal activity.
  • TOR (“The Onion Router” project) network browser provides users access to visit websites with the “.onion” registry operator.
  • This browser is a service originally developed in the latter part of the 1990s by the United States Naval Research Laboratory.
Q4. Under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution, the ‘state’ comprises -
  1. Government of India
  2. Parliament of India
  3. State Government
  4. State Legislature
  5. Local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.

Options:

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

Answer: d

Explanation:-

  • As per Article 12 of the Indian constitution, the “State” includes 
    • the Government and Parliament of India 
    • the Government and the Legislature of each of the States 
    • all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India
  • Hence Option D is correct
Q5. Consider the following statements:[PYQ 2019]
  1. The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 exempts several posts from disqualification on the grounds of ‘Office of Profit’.
  2. The above-mentioned Act was amended five times.
  3. The term ‘Office of Profit’ is well-defined in the Constitution of India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Answer: a

Explanation:-

  • The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 states that Certain offices of profit not to disqualify. They are: –
    • any office held by a Minister, Minister of State or Deputy Minister for the Union or for any State
    • the office of Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip or Whip in Parliament or of a Parliamentary Secretary
    • the office of member of any force raised or maintained under the National Cadet Corps Act, 1948 (31 of 1948), the Territorial Army Act, 1948 (56 of 1948), or the Reserve and Auxiliary Air Forces Act, 1952 (62 of 1952);
    • the office of a member of a Home Guard constituted under any law for the time being in force in any State;
    • the office of sheriff in the city of Bombay, Calcutta or Madras;
    • the office of chairman or member of the syndicate, senate, executive committee, council or court of a university or any other body connected with a university;
    • the office of a member of any delegation or mission sent outside India by the Government for any special purpose;
    • the office of chairman or member of a committee, set up temporarily for the purpose of advising the Government
    • Hence Statement 1 is correct
  • Parliament has amended the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, five times to expand the exempted list. Hence Statement 2 is correct
  • Article 102(1) states that a person shall be disqualified for being a member of either House of Parliament if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State. But it is not defined in the constitution. Hence Statement 3 is correct

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Special category status as an instrument has outlived its relevance and utility. Discuss.(10 Marks, 150 Words)[GS-2, Polity and Governance]
  2. Climate change coupled with anthropogenic disturbances poses a serious threat to Sundarbans. Comment. (10 Marks, 150 Words)[GS-3, Environment and Ecology]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 13 Feb 2022:-Download PDF Here

Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.

*

*