20 Feb 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH ISSUES
1. Newborn mortality: India 12th worst among low-income countries
2. TB vaccination: New study rekindles hope to prevent sustained infections
WELFARE SCHEMES
1. Cabinet to clear biggest financing plan for houses for poor in urban areas
GOVERNANCE
1. Centre: States misusing order on DGP appointment
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. How results of local elections have triggered political crisis in Colombo
2. Khalistan casts shadow over Trudeau visit
3. New Zealand seeks clarity on India’s military ambitions
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Bill to ban unregulated deposit schemes could get Cabinet nod
2. Centre looks for paradigm shift in its farm policy under seven-point strategy; PM to review the plan today
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
HEALTH ISSUES
1. Quest for innovation
ECONOMY
1. From Plate To Plough: A vision coloured green
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: HEALTH ISSUES

1. Newborn mortality: India 12th worst among low-income countries

 

  • India has been ranked 12th-worst among 52 low-middle income countries based on the number of children dying within the first month of their birth, which is 25.4 per 1,000 live births.
  • Pakistan is the worst with 45.6 newborn deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) which has, for the first time, come out with rankings based on their newborn mortality rate (the number of deaths per 1,000 live births).
  • Japan, with an NMR of 0.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, has been ranked the world’s safest country in which to be born followed by Iceland (1) and Singapore (1.1).
  • The US’s NMR stands at 3.7, only slightly better than lower-middle income countries like Sri Lanka and Ukraine, and is ranked 15 among high-income countries.
  • Unicef says newborn survival is closely linked to a country’s income level. High-income countries have an average NMR of just 3. In comparison, low income countries have an NMR of 27. This gap is significant. If every country brought its NMR to the high-income average, or below, by 2030, 16 million newborn lives could be saved.
  • It adds that more than 80% of newborn deaths are the result of premature birth, complications during labour and delivery and infections such as sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia.
  • Babies born to mothers with no education face almost twice the risk of dying during the newborn period as compared to babies born to mothers with at least secondary education.

2. TB vaccination: New study rekindles hope to prevent sustained infections

 

  • The new research is being considered as a significant leap in controlling tuberculosis (TB), which kills around 4.8 lakh Indians every year and more than 1,400 every day.
  • Repeat vaccination with the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine significantly reduces sustained TB infections in adolescents, results of a clinical trial in South Africa have shown. Introduced in 1921, BCG is the only vaccine currently licensed to prevent TB.
  • The results of the phase II clinical trial will be presented at the 5th Global Forum on TB Vaccines that starts in Delhi tomorrow and will be inaugurated by science and technology minister Dr Harshvardhan in present of WHO DDG Soumya Swaminathan and others.
  • In the prevention-of-infection Phase 2 trial conducted in Western Cape province of South Africa, the experimental vaccine candidate, H4:IC31, also reduced sustained infections, although not at statistically significant levels.
  • However, the trend observed for H4:IC31 is the first time a vaccine candidate has shown efficacy in protection against TB infection or disease in humans.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about one-third of the world’s population has what is called a latent TB infection, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.
  • People infected with TB bacteria have a lifetime risk of falling ill with TB of 10 percent. People ill with TB can infect 10–15 other people through close contact over the course of a year.
  • Earlier studies have indicated that there may be possible benefits of re-vaccination with BCG but this is the first proof of concept trial.
  • The study involved 990 HIV-negative, healthy adolescents (12 to 17 years of age) who had been vaccinated as infants with BCG.
  • All participants were randomized evenly into three study arms: placebo, H4:IC31, or BCG revaccination.
  • All participants were screened to ensure they were not infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) prior to vaccination in the study.
  • The data showed that both vaccines appeared to be safe and produced an immune response in the adolescents studied.
  • No vaccine-related serious adverse events were reported in the study, and the most common vaccine-related adverse event was injection site swelling in BCG revaccinated participants, typical for BCG vaccination.

Category: WELFARE SCHEMES

1. Cabinet to clear biggest financing plan for houses for poor in urban areas

  •  The Cabinet is set to approve the biggest ever financing plan for PM Awas Yojna (PMAY) to meet the fund requirement for building 1.2 crore affordable houses in urban areas.
  • Sources said the central share for building houses under this scheme in the next two financial year is estimated around Rs 60,000 crore.
  • This amount will be raised from non-budgetary resources, meaning the housing ministry will borrow it from funding raising entities such as HUDCO or can tap from the National Small Savings Fund (NSSF), which has deposits of about Rs 1.2 lakh crore.
  • Finance minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech had announced to establish Affordable Housing Fund, which will be anchored in the National Housing Bank (NHB) to raise Rs 25,000 crore from non-budgetary resources. The urban component of PMAY is in 4,320 cities and towns.
  • So far the housing ministry has approved 39.25 lakh houses under the housing scheme. The housing ministry provides Rs 1.5 lakh financial assistance under its affordable housing scheme for the poor to each beneficiary. Rs 1 lakh financial help is provided to each beneficiary in case of in-situ development of houses replacing the slums.
  • The government has also launched the scheme to provide Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 2.7 lakh as interest subsidy to the middle income groups.

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Centre: States misusing order on DGP appointment

Why in news?

  • Seeking modification of an 11-year-old judgment on police reforms, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that states were misusing the SC direction to give two-year tenures to directors general of police and were appointing officers nearing retirement to the posts to give them two additional years in service.

Prakash Singh Case 2006

  • The SC, in its 2006 judgment in Prakash Singh case, had ordered the Centre and states to implement reforms in the police structure, including fixed tenure to police chiefs and separation of investigating wing from those tasked with maintaining law and order.
  • However, most states have not implemented the reforms as directed by the SC, leading to filing of three contempt petitions by Singh’s counsel Prashant Bhushan.
  • Attorney general K K Venugopal told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud that the modus operandi adopted by states on the basis of the Prakash Singh judgment was interfering with the directive issued in another case relating to police reforms.
  • Bhushan objected to it and said the other judgment in T S R Subramaniam’s case did not deal with police reforms at all and that it was a ploy by the Centre to stall police reforms as the SC had already dismissed petitions seeking review of the 2006 judgment.
  • The bench told the AG that if the SC had already dismissed the Centre’s review petition, the court could not entertain a modification application.
  • The AG said the court should consider directing states not to appoint officers on the verge of retirement as head of the police department to give them an additional two years. The SC postponed hearing on the matter to April 2.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. How results of local elections have triggered political crisis in Colombo

Why in news?

  • A shock sweep by a party backed by former President Mahinda Rajapakse has raised the spectre of the Sri Lankan government collapsing.

Why is India watching the situation with concern?

  • Former President Mahinda Rajapakse was close to China. He also nurses a grudge against India. And it now seems possible that he might return to power.

What has triggered the sudden political turmoil in Sri Lanka?

On February 10, Sri Lanka held elections to 24 municipal councils, 41 urban councils and 275 pradeshiya sabhas or divisional councils (equivalent of zilla parishads).

  • In the run-up to the election, the constituents of the National Unity government formed after the 2015 parliamentary elections decided to contest independently.
  • The main parties in the ruling combine — United National Party, United People’s Freedom Alliance (minus a faction owing allegiance to former President Mahinda Rajapakse), and the UPFA’s main constituent, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party — all contested separately, and against each other.
  • The pro-Rajapakse faction in the UPFA migrated to the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) or Sri Lanka People’s Front, a party that is backed by the former President.The results were a shocker for the ruling combine.
  • Rajapakse, who had decisively lost the presidential election in January 2015, and the parliamentary election in August that year, with voters having punished him for his authoritarian and nepotistic ways, made a startling comeback.
  • The SLPP swept the election, winning 231 of the councils; the UNP, led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, won only 34; SLFP and UPFA, both led by President Maithripala Sirisena, won 7 and 2 respectively.
  • The results were immediately interpreted as a verdict against the central government.
  • Sirisena, who campaigned for both UPFA and SLFP, and against the UNP, asked Wickremesinghe, who heads the UNP, to resign.
  • Nervous parliamentarians of the UPFA, SLFP and UNP, as well as the newly assertive pro-Rajapakse MPs, have been pushing for a new Prime Minister, a cabinet reshuffle, dissolution of Parliament, or a realignment of parties to form a new government from the existing Parliament.

 How is India viewing these developments?

  • New Delhi is known to have backed Sirsena’s rebellion against Rajapakse, and his candidature.
  • In fact, Rajapakse holds India responsible for engineering the surprise Sirisena rebellion against him in November-December 2014, along with the United States.
  • India saw Rajapakse as being too cosy with China, and too dismissive of its concerns on devolution to the Tamil minority.
  • In New Delhi, there was hope that the UNP would put up a stronger fight in the local body elections.
  • However, Sirisena’s tirade against his own government, as he sought to pin the blame for all the failures of the last three years on the UNP, and his campaign for the SLFP and UPFA, damaged the UNP’s prospects, while doing nothing for the President’s own party and coalition.
  • For now, the best outcome for India would be if Wickremesinghe and Sirisena patched up, and rededicated themselves to the 2015 mandate, which included an investigation into allegations of corruption against Rajapakse. New Delhi is said to be counselling both leaders against any precipitate action.

And where is China in all of this?                                 

  • Despite India’s hopes that Wickremesinghe would correct the previous pro-China tilt of the Rajapakse government, the National Unity government eventually gave the go-ahead to a Chinese project for an offshore city, and also handed over the Hambantota port to the Chinese in a debt-swap arrangement.
  • Rajapakse flaunted his proximity to China’s who’s who, but ironically, protested against plans to hand over the port and land to the Chinese for a special economic zone.

2. Khalistan casts shadow over Trudeau visit

 

  • Canadian PM is perceived as going soft on extremist Sikh elements and failing to consider India’s sensitivities
  • The Khalistan issue, which kept India-Canada ties on ice through three decades from 1980, has resurfaced, taking away much of the warmth that was expected during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ongoing visit to India.
  • Former diplomats say the seeds for the current tensions have been sown since Mr. Trudeau came to power in 2015, receiving widespread support from some of the most extreme Khalistani political groups, and has repeatedly failed to take into account the sensitivities in India over the past when Sikh terror groups received support from elements in Canada.

Khalsa Day parade

  • A major breaking point came last April when Mr. Trudeau attended a “Khalsa day” parade organised by one of the more radical gurudwaras in Toronto.
  • At the time, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) made it clear that India’s protest had been taken up with the Canadian government.
  • Among other disturbing issues was the felicitation at the parade of a politician responsible for a resolution in the Ontario assembly that accused India of genocide during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a vote that India had also protested strongly.
  • In addition, floats at the parade depicted Sikh militant leaders Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Amreek Singh and former General Shahbeg Singh — who were killed in the siege of the Golden Temple and Operation Bluestar in June 1984 — as heroes.
  • Issues over the growth of Sikh extremist groups, especially those seeking a referendum 2020 for the worldwide Sikh diaspora to vote on an Independent Khalistan, have been raised several times in the past few years.
  • Modi is understood to have spoken to Mr. Trudeau on the issue when the leaders met at the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017, and in Manila on the sidelines of the East Asia summit.
  • To add to the tensions, 16 Canadian gurudwaras announced a ban last month on the entry of Indian elected officials, consular officials, RSS and Shiv Sena members. The Trudeau government took no action in response to the decision. When asked, officials cited freedom of expression issues.

3. New Zealand seeks clarity on India’s military ambitions

 

  • As India expands its influence in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force Lt. Gen. Tim Keating has sought clarity on a probable military component to New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ policy.

Role of the Quad

  • Gen. Keating also queried the objectives of the recently resurrected quadrilateral (Quad) comprising India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. New Zealand has always balanced its relations with the U.S. and China.
  • He observed that the Quad need not necessarily be a military agreement at this stage but four large influential nations developing a common policy framework to various opportunities and potential threats in the region.
  • Last year on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Manila, the Quad countries had discussed reviving the decade-old grouping, seen by China as an attempt to contain it.
  • The developments follow China’s rapidly increasing military presence in the Indian Ocean and the expansion of dual use facilities and infrastructure by Beijing under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Gen. Keating noted that while India and New Zealand are far away geographically, they had common interests.
  • Gen. Keating said New Zealand would like to know how big countries like India and China approached the rules-based global order.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Bill to ban unregulated deposit schemes could get Cabinet nod

 

  • The Union Cabinet is likely to approve a Bill that seeks to ban all unregulated deposit schemes including Ponzi schemes and the ones accepting cryptocurrencies.
  • Officials said the Bill — ‘Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes’ 2018 — was expected to be introduced as soon as the Budget session of Parliament resumed after recess next month.
  • Earlier, the finance ministry had warned investors of investing in cryptocurrencies, saying those were like ponzi schemes. The legislation comes at a time when the financial world has been hit by frauds and misappropriation of funds.
  • Many are reported to have bought cryptocurrencies during the demonetisation period. There are many deposit schemes, which are still unregulated in India, even as the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), regulates what is called the collective investment scheme (CIS).
  • The CIS is an investment scheme or an arrangement by which individuals pool their money for investing in particular assets. Similarly, chit funds are regulated by the Chit Funds Act of the Centre and various state laws.
  • Crypto-currencies are unregulated even as gains made in them are taxed in India.

2. Centre looks for paradigm shift in its farm policy under seven-point strategy; PM to review the plan today

 

  • Realising that the increased production of foodgrains and horticultural produce have, so far, not brought smile on the face of farmers, the Centre has now been looking for paradigm shift where its programmes and policies would now focus more on ‘income’ than on ‘production’ under seven-point strategy.
  • The strategy and need to have this approach was discussed on inaugural day of the two-day national conference “Agriculture 2022 – Doubling Farmers’ Income”.
  • It was noted by participants that though the country had seen all-time high production of foodgrains (275.68 million tonnes) and horticultural produce (300 million tonnes) during 2016-17, the conditions of farmers could not improve much as remunerative price continued to elude them.
  • Non-realisation of better price led to unrest among farming community and its impact was felt by the government even politically when the BJP had seen decline in its vote share in rural Gujarat during the recently held election. It had sent a warning signal to the government which now wants to have a permanent solution to this tricky issue.
  • The government is keen to make agriculture policies and programmes ‘income centric’ instead of production-oriented.
  • Underlining that the Centre is committed to double farmers’ income by 2022, Singh emphasised that the objective would be achieved by adopting a multi-dimensional seven-point strategy.
  • It was noted during the Conference that the government was working towards increasing farmers’ income and that’s why the budget for agriculture had been increased from Rs 51,576 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 58,080 crore for the year 2018-19 while ensuring sufficient funds for each component of the ‘seven-point” strategy devised for doubling farmers’ income.

What is the seven-point strategy?

  • The seven-point strategy include: Emphasis on irrigation along with end to end solution on creation of resources for ‘More crop per drop’; Provision of quality seeds and nutrients according to the soil quality of each farm; Large investments in warehouses and cold chains to prevent post-harvest losses;
  • Promotion of value addition through food processing; Implementation of National Agricultural Markets and e-platforms (e-NAM); Introduction of crop insurance scheme at a lower cost to mitigate risk and promotion of allied activities such as dairy-animal husbandry, poultry, bee-keeping, horticulture and fisheries.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: HEALTH ISSUES

1. Quest for innovation

Background:

  • Nationally representative study of diabetes in India has found that more than 10% of Indians living in urban areas are affected with the disorder.
  • However, the more worrisome fact is that half the population living with diabetes has absolutely no knowledge of it.
  • Health care is one of the few sectors that calls for ongoing investment and persistent research, innovation and development
  • Delivering pioneering medicines to tackle the ever-increasing occurrence of new diseases, is central to health care and pharmaceuticals
  • There is a persistent global drive to invent fresh, life-saving and life-improving treatments to counter diabetes.
  • Our government has a long way to go in order to integrate world innovation with health policies and tackle an epidemic such as diabetes.
  • This is appropriate as the country’s youth populace is increasingly being exposed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
  • Therefore, without a proper policy to integrate global innovation into the India’s health-care dominion, the nation’s development is in peril.
  • People living with diabetes, nearly every aspect of their life gets affected like special dietary concerns and the necessary lifestyle alterations, along with daily medicines and regular check-ups.
  • The clamor for a robust world-class IPR policy is needed in the country, if we are to fortify our efforts to tackle diabetes.

Category: ECONOMY

1. From Plate To Plough: A vision coloured green

 

  • The finance minister in his budget speech announced Operation Greens, on the lines of Operation Flood, with a seed capital of Rs 500 crore.
  • India is the second largest producer of vegetables in the world with about 180 MMT. Operation Greens wants to replicate the success story of the operation flood in fruit and vegetables, starting with tomatoes, onions and potatoes.
  • The main objective of this project is to reduce price volatility in these commodities, thereby helping farmers boost incomes on a sustainable basis.
  • It also aims to provide these vegetables to consumers at affordable prices
  • The litmus test of this scheme would be in containing the explosions and arrests in prices
  • Yields of potatoes, onions and tomatoes have shown a healthy growth by contributing to almost half of the country’s vegetable production.
  • Major hurdle being price collapse when their production rises sharply.
  • Onus lying on country lacks modern storage facilities and the links between processing and organized retailing are very weak.

Operation green

  • Links major consumption centers to major production centers with a minimal number of intermediaries.
  • The APMC Act will have to be changed to allow direct buying from FPOs, and giving incentives to these organisations, private companies and NGOs to build back end infrastructure as was done in the case of milk under operation flood.
  • The announcement of tax concessions to FPOs (farmer producer organisations) for five years is a welcome step, if it encourages building such critical infrastructure
  • Second is the investment in logistics, starting with modern warehouses, that can minimize wastage
  • Third is linking the processing industry with organized retailing.
  • Dehydrated onions, tomato puree and potato chips should become cheap, so that an average household can use them
  • Processing industry adds value and absorbs surpluses. Hence the finance minister’s announcement of increasing the allocation for the food processing industry by 100 per cent is a welcome step.

 

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements with respect to Intermediary Trade:
  1. Merchant is a Person who transfers good from one place to another without any value addition.

  2. Merchanting transaction is one which involves shipment of goods from one foreign country to another foreign country involving an Indian Intermediary.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

Question 2. Consider the following statements with respect to Letter of Credit:
  1. Letter of Credit is an instrument for assured payments.

  2. It is an undertaking of the issuing bank to make payment to the beneficiary.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements with respect to Future Skills:
  1. The platform offers skilling and up-skilling in Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality, robotic process automation, Internet of Things.

  2. It is an initiative of CII.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements with respect to National Nutrition Mission:
  1. It aims to reduce anemia among young children, women and adolescent girls by 3% a year.

  2. Under NNM, the Ministries of Women and Child development, Health and Family welfare, and Water and Sanitation will work together.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 5. Consider the following statements:
  1. Thadous are the largest Tribe in Assam according to Census 2011.

  2. The Thoubal River originates in the hill ranges of Ukhrul and is an important tributary of the Imphal River in the state of Manipur.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. With the number of Scams in Public sector banks on the rise can de-nationalization of PSU banks help in solving the Problem. Justify your view.
  2. New Delhi should ensure mutually beneficial stability and growth in India Nepal Relations. Analyze from the view of increased Chinese presence in the Landlocked country.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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