15 Feb 2022: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 15 Feb 2022:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The Palk Bay fisheries Conflict: A tale of competing livelihoods and a depleted catch
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. NHA to integrate caste census databases
2. There is Constitutional impropriety, Says NC
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. LIC’s Road to the IPO
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Zooming in on the potential of India’s geospatial sector
GOVERNANCE
1. Incorrect Diagnosis, Correct Remedy
F. Prelims Facts
1. ISRO puts 3 satellites into orbit aboard PSLV C-52
G. Tidbits
1. Inflation edges past 6% in January
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. NHA to integrate caste census databases

Syllabus: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Prelims:  Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011

Mains: Integration of beneficiary database for effective implementation

Context: The National Health Authority (NHA) said that it has undertaken an exercise to integrate beneficiary databases under different schemes to upgrade its own database.

What is the Issue?

  • The Union Health Ministry said the National Health Authority (NHA) is working to integrate the database of Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011 beneficiaries with the National Food Security Act (NFSA) portal.
  • This is being done so that beneficiaries can seek information regarding their entitlements under the AB PM-JAY using their ration card number.
  • The NHA is mandated with the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri–Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY). 
    • The scheme provides health assurance of up to ₹5 lakh for a family a year, for secondary and tertiary care-related hospitalisations.
  • The NHA is also working on a proposal to use fair price shops or ration shops for providing information related to the scheme and entitlement under the scheme to eligible beneficiaries.
Nut Graf
The majority of beneficiaries from SECC, 2011 are also eligible for benefits under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The integration of databases will enable beneficiaries to seek information regarding their entitlement under different schemes.

2. There is Constitutional impropriety, Says NC

Syllabus: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Prelims: J&K Delimitation Commission

Mains: Issues with J&K Delimitation

Context: The National Conference (NC) has mainly highlighted issues with the second draft of the J&K Delimitation Commission.

Description: It is argued that “constitutional impropriety, lack of implementation of laid-down guidelines and irrational distribution of geography and population” are the issues in the proposals in the second draft of the J&K Delimitation Commission. 

Know about more Delimitation Commission.

Nut Graf

It is necessary that the Delimitation Exercise is carried out in a manner that results in equal distribution of seats to the constituencies for the better representation of the people. The Delimitation Commission ought to uphold the practice of free and fair elections.

C. GS 3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. LIC’s Road to the IPO

Syllabus: Issues relating to mobilization of resources, growth, development. 

Prelims: Life Insurance Corporation (LIC)

Mains: Functioning of LIC and Consequences of LIC IPO on Economy

Context: The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) filed its draft red herring prospectus to kick-start the IPO process. 

Background: 

  • Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has filed its draft share sale prospectus with the capital markets regulator SEBI.
  • The Government, which owns 100% of LIC, will be offloading 5% of its stake through the IPO. 
  • All the proceeds from the IPO will go towards meeting the Government’s disinvestment target for FY22.

What does the LIC do?

  • LIC makes money by selling various kinds of life insurance products. 
  • The company collects premiums from customers promising to pay a certain amount as insurance cover in the case of death, disability due to accident, etc. 
  • When LIC annually pays out less against individual claims than what it collects as premiums from all its policyholders, it makes a profit.
  • The company also invests some of the premium it collects and other surplus money into stocks, government bonds and other investment products.
  • LIC also redistributes most of its profits back to policyholders in the form of bonuses. 
  • In fact, LIC currently pays out just 5% of its profits to the sole shareholder, the Government. 
  • The remaining 95% of the profits are either reinvested back into the company or distributed to policyholders as bonuses. 
  • This allows LIC to market its insurance policies to its policyholders as investment products besides the element of risk coverage.

Why are policyholders worried about the IPO?

  • The Government has recognised that the way LIC distributes its profits can turn out to be a problem in attracting a lot of investors. 
  • Investors who buy shares of LIC would want a larger share of the profits earned by LIC each year. After all, the price that investors are willing to pay for the shares of any company depends on the future cash flow that they expect from owning the shares. 
  • All this means that the share of profits that are distributed to policyholders is likely to drop as the Government tries to sell its stake in LIC at the best price.
  • Going forward, the returns that policyholders could expect from their policies could diminish if the Government tries hard to make its stake sale attractive to investors participating in the IPO.

Way Forward: 

  • Policyholders may likely reconsider their investment in LIC’s products as the percentage of LIC’s profits redistributed to them drops going forward, thus affecting their returns. 
  • Also, the primary appeal of LIC among policyholders has been the implicit sovereign guarantee offered by the Centre which has convinced policyholders to park their money with LIC despite low returns. 
  • Supporters of the IPO argue that the hit to policyholder returns must be weighed against the benefits of greater private participation in the management of LIC’s assets. 
  • LIC parks most of its capital in government bonds and this money can be better used in other ways that yield higher returns and also help the economy. 
  • The higher returns can even trickle down to policyholders if greater competition is encouraged in the insurance industry. With a greater share of profits going to shareholders, returns would also become commensurate with the risk undertaken.
  • There is likely to be greater resistance from shareholders to such non-core use of LIC’s capital when its shares are traded publicly.
Nut Graf

India’s biggest-ever share sale raises a troubling question: Will a cash-strapped state get greedy and end up shaking the money tree so hard that it stops bearing fruit for future policyholders. In a country like India which has no proper safety net for citizens, some have seen LIC as offering low but safe returns to millions of citizens.

E. Editorials

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Zooming in on the potential of India’s geospatial sector

Syllabus: Space Technology

Mains: Impacts of deregulation of the geospatial sector for Indians and the challenges faced by the sector.

Context:

On 15th February 2021, the government decided to completely deregulate the geospatial sector for Indians. The article discusses the impact of this landmark decision and identifies the bottlenecks so that the geospatial sector works at its full potential.

Background:

  • The geospatial ecosystem of India is very strong with the Survey of India (SoI), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), remote sensing application centres (RSACs), the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in particular, and all ministries and departments, in general, using geospatial technology.
  • However, the full benefits of the geospatial sector are yet to be passed on to the general public and the contribution of the geospatial sector to the GDP is not very noticeable.

Major events after the declaration of deregulation:

  • The declaration of deregulation guidelines created a huge hubble-bubble. Many of the media reports projected the growth of the geospatial market to be around Rs. 1 lakh crores by 2029 with a 13% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR).
  • The most remarkable event in 2021 was the oversubscription of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of MapmyIndia.
  • Another important event that took place after the declaration was the launching of a city mapping program by Genesys International in India. 
  • These kinds of energetic actions by investors for the geospatial sector were not experienced before the introduction of new guidelines. Hence, the new guidelines played an important role.
  • The government has done its part and the industry is functioning positively. But, a question arises whether the geospatial sector is realizing its full potential or not?

Key Issues:

Some of the major issues in the geospatial sector are as follows:

Lack of market: 

  • One of the biggest challenges is the lack of a market for geospatial services in India. There is no demand for geospatial services and products are also not up to India’s potential and size.
  • This is because of the lack of awareness among the potential government as well as private users.

Lack of skilled manpower:

  • The geospatial industry faces the challenge of the lack of skilled manpower.

Lack of data:

  • Another hurdle in the way of the geospatial industry is the lack of foundational data, especially at a high resolution.
  • There is a lack of clarity regarding data sharing and collaboration. This leads to the prevention of co-creation and maximization of assets.

No ready to use solution:

  • There is no ready-to-use solution specifically created to resolve the problems of India.
  • We can say that the restrictive data policies of the previous years were creating major issues but, even as we are celebrating the anniversary of the new guidelines, most people are unaware of them. 
  • There is a lot of confusion across government departments, and private industry. Hence, these issues should be addressed.  

Measures to be taken:

It is a well-known fact that these issues cannot be resolved overnight and formulation of guidelines alone will not solve the problems. But, India needs to take certain measures to address these issues aggressively:

Awareness among the users:

  • There is a need to publish the entire policy document so that the government and private users are aware of the whole thing.

Availability of data:

  • The data available with the government departments should be unlocked and emphasis should be laid on data sharing. 
  • An open data sharing protocol should be established so that data sharing can be encouraged and facilitated.
  • A Geoportal should be established so that all the public-funded data will be made available as a service model with no or minimal charges.
  • There is a need to generate foundation data across the country. This should include the Indian national digital elevation model (InDEM), data layers for cities, and data of natural resources. 

Solution templates:

  • Start-ups and solution developers should be engaged to build solution templates for various business processes across departments. 
  • Technology and solutions at the local level should be promoted and competition should be encouraged to achieve quality output.

Data storage:

  • According to the guidelines, high accuracy data should not be stored in overseas clouds. Hence, there is a need to establish a geospatial data cloud locally. 
  • For example, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change can provide a complete package of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications like the working plan, wildlife corridor mapping, social forestry, etc. 
  • National Organizations such as SOI and ISRO should be delegated with the responsibility of regulation and all the projects concerned with the scientific significance and security of the country.

No competition among entrepreneurs and National Organizations:

  • There should be no competition between the national organizations and the business entrepreneurs as the latter remains in a disadvantaged position.

An Academic Program:

  • India does not have strata of core professionals in geospatial technology although there are many persons who are trained in geospatial either through master’s program or on-the-job training.
  • There should be a bachelor’s program in geospatial in the Indian Institutes of Technology and the National Institutes of Technology. 
  • Apart from that, there should be a separate university for geospatial courses. 
  • Such programs and courses will promote research and development in the country that are important for the development of technologies and solutions at the local level.

Way Forward:

  • The geospatial sector in India is in the right position for investment. The discussion on issues and solutions are required to make the sector realize its true potential.
  • It is expected that by the 10th anniversary of deregulation of the geospatial sector, India should have achieved the projected market size and the Indian entrepreneurs should be competing globally.
Nut Graf

Despite India having a robust ecosystem for geospatial technology, the full benefits of this are yet to fully percolate into the general populace. Unless the right policy framework and regulatory support are provided to remove the existing constraints, the Indian entrepreneurs in this domain will be at a disadvantage in the future when the geospatial technology would pervade various other fields along with other emerging technologies.

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Incorrect Diagnosis, Correct Remedy

Syllabus: Role of civil services in a democracy

Prelims: Article 312 of the Indian Constitution

Mains: Impact of amendments in IAS (Cadre) Rules on Centre-state relations

Context:

The Centre has proposed amendments to 6(1) of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (Cadre) Rules of 1954 in order to exercise greater control in the central deputation of IAS officials.

What are the IAS (Cadre) Rules?

  • A unique feature of All India Services -Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS) — created under the AIS Act, 1951, is that the members of these services are recruited by the Central Government and are placed under various State Cadres. 
  • It is incumbent upon the members of service to serve both under the State and the Centre. To ensure the service of IAS officers at the Centre, suitable provisions have been made under the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954. 
  • The actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central Government shall be decided by the Centre in consultation with the State Government concerned.

Background:

  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has recently proposed changes in the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, which will take away the states’ power to override the Centre’s request for seeking officers on central deputation.
  • This move was taken because the number of officers available under central deputation is not sufficient to meet the Centre’s requirement and there is a shortage of mid-level IAS officers, especially Deputy Secretaries and Directors.
  • States like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal were not forwarding the names of even the willing IAS officers to the centre. But, other states rules including the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states were also not meeting the obligations.
  • There are simpler, more effective solutions to the shortage of officers rather than the proposed amendments that will be discussed.

Causes of Shortage:

The causes of shortage are discussed below:

Reduction in annual recruitment:

  • The first and foremost cause of the shortage is the reduction in the annual recruitment of IAS officers post-1991 (from 140-160 to just 50-80). There was a misguided notion that the government will have a reduced role due to economic liberalization. 
  • This did not happen and it took approximately 20 years for the government to correct this mistake and bring back the annual recruitment to the pre-1991 level. 
  • As of January 1, 2021, the shortage of IAS officers stood at 23%. There should be an increase in the annual recruitment of IAS officers to around 200 for a few years as a short-term solution.

Cadre Review:

  • There is a lack of cadre review. This is the process or exercise through which the centre and states jointly designate certain strategic posts in the states as the Cadre Posts and onboard them exclusively as IAS officers. 
  • It is very shocking that in states such as Tamil Nadu, posts like Commissioner of Disciplinary Proceedings, Commissioner of Archaeology, and Commissioner of Museums have been designated as cadre posts.
  • There is a need for a proper cadre review so that states will release many IAS officers from non-strategic posts and will resolve the issue of shortage.

Direct Recruitment:

  • The third cause is the discontinuance of the direct recruitment of officers to the Central secretariat service group B since 2000, and extreme delay in regular promotions of officers from the ranks in the Central Secretariat due to prolonged litigation since 2011. 
  • These officers used to hold a sizeable number of Deputy Secretary/Director level posts in the Central Secretariat.

Non-utilization of services:

  • The centre is not fully utilizing the services of officers that have been appointed to the IAS by promotion or selection from the State Civil Services.
  • Around 2,250 officers within the age bracket of 35-55 years with immense field experience remain state-bound.
  • The government should make it mandatory for these officers to work for at least 2 years on the central deputation as Deputy Secretary/Directors immediately after their appointment to the IAS and their training at Mussoorie.
  • Their next promotion in their state cadre should be based on completing this mandatory time period of Central deputation.
    • Officers, more than 50 years of age should be exempted from this.
  • This will lead to solving the issue of shortage of Deputy Secretary/Director-level officers at the Centre in one stroke.

Administrative barriers:

  • There are many administrative barriers imposed by the Central government itself such as highly restrictive conditions, perverse incentives, annual lapsing of offer lists, long debarment periods, compulsory cooling-off periods, etc.
  • Expecting directly recruited IAS officers to work for at least two years as Deputy Secretaries/Directors between nine and 16 years of service for empanelment as joint Secretaries at the Centre is unwise because this is precisely the phase when they are working in posts with good job content, power, prestige and perks. 
  • So, a large number of them do not go on Central deputation and fail to get empanelled as Joint Secretaries, which automatically eliminates them from future empanelment as Additional Secretaries and Secretaries.

Proposed Solution:

Mandatory Central Deputation:

  • It is suggested that directly recruited IAS officers should mandatorily serve at least three years on Central Deputation between nine and 25 years of service. 
  • Their promotion to the post of Principal Secretary grade in their respective state cadres should be subjected to completion of this mandatory period.
  • This will lead the IAS officers to opt for the Central deputation at their convenience and the centre will also have the benefit of an adequate supply of Deputionists.

Direct Selection:

  • The centre should directly choose the Joint Secretaries, Additional Secretaries, and Secretaries from among the IAS officers who are at the equivalent level or grades in state governments through a process of selection in the same way it selects Deputy Secretaries/Directors.
  • This will enable the availability of a larger and better pool of talent to the centre and also provide the officers to use their experiences gained at the state level in the services of the Central government.

Way Forward:

  • The shortfall in CDR obligations is not a problem that the Cabinet Secretary cannot solve by having a constructive dialogue with all the Chief Secretaries, or the Prime Minister cannot solve by holding a meeting with all the Chief Ministers. 
  • The Inter-State Council constituted under Article 263 of the Constitution is the institution meant specifically for handling such Centre-State situations.
  • The proposed amendments are not necessary to resolve the problem of shortage. The centre should think about the alternatives.
  • The principle of cooperative federalism and interests of national unity should be promoted and protected.
Nut Graf

The problem of shortage of IAS officers in central deputation can be resolved by keeping cooperative federalism and the interests of national unity and administrative efficiency above anything else. In this light, the Centre should reconsider the amendments to the IAS Cadre Rules.

F. Prelims Facts

1. ISRO puts 3 satellites into orbit aboard PSLV C-52

Syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Prelims:  PSLV-C52/EOS-04 Mission

Context: Indian space scientists successfully launch the PSLV C-52 mission. 

PSLV-C52/EOS-04 Mission: 

  • India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C52 injected Earth Observation Satellite EOS-04 into an intended sun-synchronous polar orbit. Two other small satellites INS-2TD and INSPIREsat-1 were also placed in orbit.
  • EOS-4 is a radar imaging satellite designed to provide high-quality images in all weather conditions for applications such as agriculture, forestry, plantation, flood mapping, soil moisture and hydrology. 
  • The INS-2TD is a precursor to the India-Bhutan joint satellite [INS 2-B] and will assess land and water surface temperatures, delineation of crops and forest and thermal inertia.
  • The INSPIREsat-1 is a student satellite aimed at improving the understanding of ionosphere dynamics and the Sun’s coronal heating processes. 
ISRO launch of EOS-04

Image source: The Hindu

G. Tidbits

1. Inflation edges past 6% in January

  • India’s retail inflation accelerated past the 6% mark in January to hit 6.01%.
  • This has breached the central bank’s tolerance threshold for consumer price inflation for the first time since June 2021. Retail inflation was 5.66% in December 2021.
  • The Consumer Food Price Index spiked significantly from 4.05% in December to 5.43% in January, with rural India again reporting a sharper rise. 

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following statements is/are correct with respect to the Central Bureau 
of Investigation (CBI)?
  1. When a state gives general consent to the CBI for probing a case, the agency is not required to seek fresh permission every time it enters that state in connection with investigation.
  2. Withdrawal of consent, if any, by a State Government can be effected prospectively and retrospectively.

Options:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a
Explanation:

  • The CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPEA) which makes the CBI a special wing of Delhi Police and thus its original jurisdiction is limited to Delhi.
  • For other matters, the CBI needs the consent of the state government in whose territorial jurisdiction, the CBI has to conduct an investigation.
  • When a state gives general consent to the CBI for probing a case, the agency is not required to seek fresh permission every time it enters that state in connection with investigation or for every case. Hence Statement 1 is correct.
  • Withdrawal of consent, if any, by a State Government can be effected prospectively and not retrospectively. Further, in the cases which are referred by the Constitutional Courts, the entry of CBI cannot be denied by that State as these do not require the consent of the State. Hence Statement 2 is not correct.
Q2. Consider the following statements:
  1. Gambling and betting is a State subject.
  2. Gambling Legislations can impose a ban on ‘Games of skill’ and not on ‘Games of chance’.

Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Betting and gambling can be found in part II of the State list. They have been mentioned in detail in the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution. In other words, this simply means that the state government can exercise full control over betting and gambling practices in its state. Hence Statement 1 is correct.
  • India mainly puts the games into two broad categories to differentiate them. The two categories are that the game is either a Game of Chance or a Game of Skill. 
    • Game of chance: Games of chance are all those games that are played randomly. These games are based on luck and can be played without prior knowledge or understanding. For instance, dice games, picking a number, etc. Such games are considered illegal in India.
    • Game of skill: Games of skill are all those games that are played based on a person’s prior knowledge or experience of the game. Such games are considered legal by most of the Indian states.
  • The Gambling Legislations exclude ‘games of skill’ from the purview of gambling and hence doesn’t attract the penal provisions. Hence Statement 2 is not correct.
Q3. The festival of Medaram Jatara is celebrated in the State/Union Territory of
  1. Telangana
  2. Kerala
  3. Tamil Nadu
  4. Puducherry
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Medaram Jathara is a festival of tribal origin in Telangana held every two years at Medaram Village of Tadvai Mandal. 
  • This Jathara has been declared as a State Festival in 1998. 
  • It commemorates the fight of a mother and daughter, Sammakka and Saralamma, with the reigning rulers against an unjust law. 
  • It is believed that after Kumbh Mela, the Medaram Jathara attracts the largest number of devotees in the country.
  • Medaram is a remote place in the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dandakaranya, the largest surviving forest belt in the Mulugu.
  • It is a festival with no Vedic or Brahmanic influence.
  • Hence Option A is correct.
Q4. With reference to Lassa fever, which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. The Lassa virus is named after a town in Malaysia where the first case was discovered.
  2. The fever is spread by Bats.
  3. Human-to-human transmission is possible.

Options:

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

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Lassa fever is caused by a virus that is found in West Africa. It was first discovered in 1969 in Lassa. So it is called Lassa fever. Hence Statement 1 is not correct.
  • It is an animal-borne, or zoonotic, acute viral illness. 
  • Lassa fever is caused by infection with the Lassa virus. The virus is spread by a rat that lives in large numbers in west, central, and east Africa. Hence Statement 2 is not correct.
  • The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces. Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevention and control measures. Hence Statement 3 is correct.
Q5. With reference to Chausath Yogini Temple situated near Morena, consider the following
 statements:
  1. It is a circular temple built during the reign of the Kachchhapaghata Dynasty.
  2. It is the only circular temple built in India.
  3. It was meant to promote the Vaishnava cult in the region.
  4. Its design has given rise to a popular belief that it was the inspiration behind the Indian Parliament building.

Which of the statements given above are correct? PYQ (2021)

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

Answer: c
Explanation:

  • The Chausath Yogini temple in Mitaoli village (Madhya Pradesh) was built by the Kachchhapaghata king Devapala. 
  • It is said that the temple was the venue of providing education in astrology and mathematics based on the transit of the Sun.
  • This circular temple is one among the very few such temples in India. It is externally circular in shape with a radius of 170 feet and within its interior part, it has 64 small chambers. Hence Statement 1 is correct.
  • It is not the only circular temple built in India. Hence Statement 2 is not correct.
  • This is a yogini temple dedicated to sixty-four yoginis. Hence Statement 3 is not correct.
  • Many of these curious visitors have compared this temple with the Indian parliament building (Sansad Bhawan) as both are circular in style. Many have drawn conclusions that this temple was the inspiration behind the Sansad Bhawan. Hence Statement 4 is correct.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Discuss the implications of the Government’s decision to sell a stake in the LIC. How would it impact the market? (250 words; 15 marks) GS III (Economic Development)
  2. What potential does India’s geospatial sector hold in invigorating India’s job market? What steps are required to be taken in that direction?. (250 words; 15 marks) GS III (Economic Development)

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 15 Feb 2022:- Download PDF Here

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