23 Feb 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMICS
1. Labour Bureau files MUDRA job report
INTERNAL SECURITY
1. Terror monitor keeps Pak. on grey list, seeks action
2. Home Ministry puts Assam Rifles notification on hold
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Travel on a jet plane, using a little cooking oil
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE     
1. Without land or recourse
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 
1. Mixed optics (India- Saudi Relations) 
2. Missed target (International Olympic Committee (IOC) to revoke Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualification status)
F. Tidbits
1. India to have own DNS for safe browsing
2. Ensure safety of Kashmiris, orders SC
3. What pushed dinosaurs to extinction?
4. Railways plan to issue linked PNRs
5. Olympic dream under threat as visa is denied to 2 Pak. shooters
G. Prelims Facts
1. ‘Flying bulldog’: world’s largest bee spotted again
2. India, Russia close to inking multi-billion agreement for AK-103 assault rifles
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

B. GS2 Related

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMICS

 

1. Labour Bureau files MUDRA job report

Context

  • The Labour Bureau has completed its survey on employment generated by the MUDRA loan scheme, giving the Centre a potential data tool to combat other reports showing a dismal scenario on jobs.

Details of the issue

  • Before stepping down as vice chairman of Niti Aayog in August 2017, Arvind Panagariya, had submitted a report on the recommendations of a task force he had chaired on improving jobs data. One recommendation was to analyse the extent of employment and self-employment generated by MUDRA loans.
  • In December 2017, faced with mounting criticism on the failure to create job opportunities, the Labour Ministry had asked the Labour Bureau to initiate the survey on jobs created through the MUDRA scheme.
  • According to reports, a leaked copy of the NSSO’s findings showed that unemployment hit a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-18.
  • Central government ministers and officials have already attempted to use the MUDRA scheme’s performance to combat criticism based on the leaked NSSO job survey report.
  • Some economists, however, have advised caution in the interpretation of MUDRA data, especially as it relates to jobs. “Every new loan certainly doesn’t imply creation of a new job,” ICRIER fellow Radhicka Kapoor, wrote in a working paper titled ‘Waiting for Jobs’.

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) Scheme

  • The PMMY Scheme was launched in April, 2015. The scheme’s objective is to refinance collateral-free loans given by the lenders to small borrowers.
  • The scheme, which has a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, can lend between Rs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh to small entrepreneurs.
  • Banks and MFIs can draw refinance under the MUDRA Scheme after becoming member-lending institutions of MUDRA.
  • Mudra Loans are available for non-agricultural activities upto Rs. 10 lakh and activities allied to agriculture such as Dairy, Poultry, Bee Keeping etc, are also covered.
  • Mudra’s unique features include a Mudra Card which permits access to Working Capital through ATMs and Card Machines.
  • There are three types of loans under PMMY: Shishu (up to Rs.50,000); Kishore (from Rs.50,001 to Rs.5 lakh); Tarun (from Rs.500,001 to Rs.10,00,000).

Objectives of the scheme:

  • Fund the unfunded: Those who have a business plan to generate income from a non-farm activity like manufacturing, processing, trading or service sector but don’t have enough capital to invest can take loans up to Rs 10 lakh.
  • Micro finance institutions (MFI) monitoring and regulation: With the help of MUDRA bank, the network of microfinance institutions will be monitored. New registration will also be done.
  • Promote financial inclusion: With the aim to reach Last mile credit delivery to micro businesses taking help of technology solutions, it further adds to the vision of financial inclusion.
  • Reduce jobless economic growth: Providing micro enterprises with credit facility will help generate employment sources and an overall increase in GDP.
  • Integration of Informal economy into Formal sector: It will help India also grow its tax base as incomes from the informal sector are non-taxed.

Labour Bureau

  • The Labour Bureau is an attached office of Ministry of Labour and Employment
  • Labour Bureau is responsible for collection and publication of statistics and related information on wages, earnings, productivity, absenteeism, labour turnover, industrial relations, working and living conditions and evaluation of working of various labour enactments etc.
  • It is a storehouse of important economic indicators like Consumer Price Index Number for Industrial, Agricultural and Rural Labourers;
  • Wage rate indices and data on industrial relations, social economic conditions in the organized and unorganized sector of industry etc.

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

 

1. Terror monitor keeps Pak. on grey list, seeks action

Context

  • Condemning the Pulwama February 14 attack, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), issued a stern statement to Pakistan to comply with an action plan on terror financing or face further action, according to a decision taken at its plenary session in Paris.

Details of the issue

  • The week-long deliberations of the 37-member group decided not to remove Pakistan from the ‘grey list’, as Islamabad had lobbied for, but also did not accept an Indian demand to move Pakistan to the ‘black list’ yet.
  • Pakistan was put on the ‘grey list’ or watch list of the FATF in June 2018 after a proposal moved by the U.S., the U.K., Germany and France was passed.
  • ‘Grey list’ comprises nations that are not doing enough to combat terrorism financing. Blacklist of the FATF that currently features Iran and North Korea – non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, calling them “Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories” (NCCTs).
  • The ‘grey-listing’ continued despite a last-minute decision by the Pakistan government to put the Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e Insaniat Foundation (FIF), two offshoots of the Hafiz Saeed-led Lashkar-e-Taiba on its ‘schedule-1’ list of banned organisations.
  • The FATF criticised Pakistan for not demonstrating “a proper understanding” of the terror financing risks posed by “Da’esh (Islamic State), al Qaeda, Jamaat-ud Dawa, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Haqqani Network, and persons affiliated with the Taliban.”

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.
  • It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas.
  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
  • The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.
  • In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.
 

2. Home Ministry puts Assam Rifles notification on hold

Context

  • The Home Ministry has kept “in abeyance” its order that empowered the Assam Rifles, deployed along the Myanmar border, to arrest anyone and search a place without a warrant in the border districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
  • The notification was withheld after Opposition parties moved an adjournment motion against the order in the Assam Assembly. The Ministry said the matter would be “revisited in consultation with the State governments”.

Background

  • Recently Assam Rifles, deployed along the Myanmar border, had empowered by the Centre to arrest anyone and search a place without warrant in the border districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
  • According to a Home Ministry notification, “an officer of the rank corresponding to that of the lowest rank of members of the Assam Rifles” has been given these powers under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Earlier, Assam Rifles was making arrests only in areas where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was in effect. They were finding it difficult to make seizures and arrest in Mizoram, which doesn’t have AFSPA. This is to basically correct that anomaly. As per law, they have to hand over the suspects to the local police within 24 hours.
  • The MHA had lifted AFSPA from some areas of Arunachal Pradesh last year.

Assam Rifles

  • Assam Rifles is the oldest of the Central Para Military Forces. Though the organisation has a cadre of its own officers, most senior positions are filled by taking officers on deputation from the Army.
  • The Force functioned under the control of the Ministry of External Affairs till 1965. Its control was then transferred to the Ministry of Home Affairs and has since been functioning under that Ministry.

The Assam Rifles Act, 1941, presently governs the Force. Its charter of functions include –

  • Maintaining security of the North Eastern sector of the international border;
  • Helping states in the North East to maintain law and order and other states as and when needed; and
  • Taking counter insurgency measures in states of the North East.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

 

1. Travel on a jet plane, using a little cooking oil

Context

  • Your used cooking oil could help fly a jet in the near future. The Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum has successfully finished a pilot test to convert used cooking oil into bio-aviation turbine fuel (Bio-ATF), which can be blended with conventional ATF and used as aircraft fuel.
  • The Institute collected used cooking oil from caterers and hotels in Dehradun for the pilot, which has now set the platform for commercial use of the technology.
  • The test assumes importance as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched the Repurpose Cooking Oil (RUCO) initiative to collect and convert used cooking oil into bio-fuel.

Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO)

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil), an initiative that will enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to bio-diesel.
  • The initiative has been launched nearly a month after the food safety regulator notified standards for used cooking oil.
  • FSSAI may also look at introducing regulations to ensure that companies that use large quantities of cooking oil hand it over to registered collecting agencies to convert it into biofuel.
  • Under this initiative, 64 companies at 101 locations have been identified to enable collection of used cooking oil.
  • For instance: McDonald’s has already started converting used cooking oil to biodiesel from 100 outlets in Mumbai and Pune.
  • The food safety body says that by 2020, it should be possible to recover about 220 crore litres of used cooking oil for conversion into bio-fuel.
  • Reducing the re-use of cooking oil in the food industry will have positive public health outcomes and its conversion into Bio-ATF will help the aviation sector reduce its carbon footprint

D. GS4 Related

 Nothing here today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

 

1. Without land or recourse

Larger Background:

The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006  

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 is a result of the protracted struggle by the marginal and tribal communities of our country to assert their rights over the forestland over which they were traditionally dependent. This Act is crucial to the rights of millions of tribals and other forest dwellers in different parts of our country as it provides for the restitution of deprived forest rights across India, including both individual rights to cultivated land in forestland and community rights over common property resources. The notification of Rules for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 on 1st Jan 2008, has finally paved the way to undo the ‘historic injustice’ done to the tribals and other forest dwellers.
  • The livelihood of perhaps 100 million poorest of the poor (The Indian Forest Rights Act 2006: Communing Enclosures) stands to improve if implementation can succeed. The Act is significant as it provides scope and historic opportunity of integrating conservation and livelihood rights of the people.

This Act is a potential tool for the following:

  • To empower and strengthen the local self governance
  • To address the livelihood security of the people, leading to poverty alleviation and pro poor growth
  • To address the issues of Conservation and management of the Natural Resources and conservation governance of India.

Significance of the Act:

  • For the first time Forest Rights Act recognises and secures
  • Community Rights or rights over common property resources of the communities in addition to their individual rights
  • Rights in and over disputed land Rights of settlement and conversion of all forest villages, old habitation, un-surveyed villages and other villages in forests into revenue villages
  • Right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which the communities have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.
  • Right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge related to biodiversity and cultural diversity
  • Rights of displaced communities
  • Rights over developmental activities

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts have opined that the order of the Supreme Court issued on February 13, 2019 with respect to the claims of forest-dwelling peoples in India — the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers — is a case of the Supreme Court speaking against itself.
  • In effect, the court has ordered the eviction of lakhs of people whose claims as forest dwellers have been rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, or FRA.
  • As a matter of fact, this order negates the claims of citizens under special protection of the Constitution, viz. the Scheduled Tribes and other vulnerable communities, who are already pushed by neglect precariously to the edge.
  • An important question before us today centres on the responsibility of the Supreme Court in upholding constitutional claims and equal citizenship.

The background:

  • The order in question was issued in the case of Wildlife First & Ors v. Ministry of Forest and Environment & Ors.
  • The question before the court as stated in the order of 2016 when the matter was last heard related to “the constitutional validity of the [FRA] and also the questions pertaining to the preservation of forests in the context of the above-mentioned Act.”
  • The details regarding claims made under the FRA that were placed before the court by the petitioner in 2016 showed that of the 44 lakh claims filed before appropriate authorities in the different States, 20.5 lakh claims (46.5%) were rejected.
  • The order of 2016 went on to observe: “Obviously, a claim in the context of the above-mentioned Act is based on an assertion that a claimant has been in possession of a certain parcel of land located in the forest areas.” This is true. A claim is made either for individual or community rights by the people/communities covered by the FRA. This is a plain reading of the Act, which is unambiguous on this score.
  • However from here, the order observed, “If the claim is found to be not tenable by the competent authority, the result would be that the claimant is not entitled for the grant of any Patta or any other right under the Act but such a claimant is also either required to be evicted from that parcel of land or some other action is to be taken in accordance with law” (emphasis added). Experts have opined that this was the material part of the order.
  • In other words, the claimant cannot contest the decision of the authority, said the court.
  • Further, with respect to action to be taken against those “unauthorisedly in possession of forest land”, the States were then asked by the Supreme Court to report on concrete measures taken to evict the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers from the forest.
  • In the very next paragraph, which pertained to the State of Tamil Nadu, the order referred to action against those people whose claims had been rejected as “eviction of encroachers”.

Current Situation: A Perspective

  • In the present order of February 2019, the Supreme Court specifically directs governments in 21 States by name to carry out evictions of rejected claimants without further delay and report on or before July 12, 2019.
  • There are several questions that must be foregrounded for immediate attention.
  • The most obvious one has to do with the meanings attached to the rejection of claims.
  • According to the 2014 report of the High-Level Committee on Socio-Economic, Health and Educational Status of Tribal Communities in India, constituted by the Government of India (Xaxa Committee), 60% of the forest area in the country is in tribal areas — protected by Article 19(5) and Schedules V and VI of the Constitution.
  • With specific reference to claims under the FRA, reiterating the finding of several other studies that have documented the deep procedural flaws in processing claims, the Xaxa Committee observed that “claims are being rejected without assigning reasons, or based on wrong interpretation of the ‘OTFD’ definition and the ‘dependence’ clause, or simply for lack of evidence or ‘absence of GPS survey’ (lacunae which only require the claim to be referred back to the lower-level body), or because the land is wrongly considered as ‘not forest land’, or because only forest offence receipts are considered as adequate evidence.
  • The rejections are not being communicated to the claimants, and their right to appeal is not being explained to them nor its exercise facilitated.”
  • It is important to note that the mere rejection of claims by the state therefore does not add up to a finding of the crime of “encroachment”; as a matter of fact, some experts opine that the sheer volume of rejections should instead set alarm bells ringing in the court of procedural improprieties.
  • Interestingly, in this case, it appears as if a private party, named Wildlife First, is pitted against the state.
  • A closer examination reveals that it is, in fact, Wildlife First and the state together which have joined forces against the most vulnerable communities in the country living in areas constitutionally protected from encroachment even by the state — an important aspect to keep in mind would be the Samata judgment of the Supreme Court in 1997.
  • Samata Judgement of the Supreme Court (1997)

    In 1987, Samata, a non-governmental organisation closely associated with 10 community-based institutions in 300 villages of Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts, began to work for the rights of the tribal people as it found them being alienated from their lands and exploited by non-tribal people and the state, in contravention of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and various Central and State government laws.
  • After a protracted struggle – in the form of dharnas, rallies, picketings and meetings – and several rounds of petitions to various Central and State departments, Samata decided to approach the courts.
  • It first filed a case in the local courts and later in the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 1993 against the State government’s move to lease tribal land to mining companies. When the High Court dismissed the case, Samata filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. After a four-year legal battle, it won a historic judgment, which declared null and void the transfer of land in the Scheduled Areas for private mining and upheld the Forest Protection Act of 1980, which prohibits mining in reserved areas.
  • The main issue in the Samata case was whether or not the word `person’ in Section (3)(a) of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act included the government.
  • The Supreme Court held that indeed it did, and that the state should adhere to the laws and principles governing the tribal areas, as any other person.

Significance of the Samata judgment:

  • The Samata judgment nullified all mining leases granted by the State government in the Scheduled areas and asked it to stop all mining operations.
  • Only the State Mineral Development Corporation or a cooperative of the tribal people, it ruled, could take up mining activity and that too in compliance with the Forest Conservation Act and the Environment Protection Act.
  • It also recognised the Constitution (73rd) Amendment and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, under which gram sabhas are competent to preserve and safeguard community resources, and reiterated the right of self-governance of Adivasis.
  • The judgement also observed that where similar Acts in other States do not prohibit the grant of mining leases in the Scheduled areas, a committee of Secretaries and State Cabinet sub-committees should be constituted and a decision taken.
  • Further, it also said that before granting leases, it is obligatory for the State government to obtain the concurrence of the Centre, which would, for this purpose, constitute a sub-committee consisting of the Prime Minister and the Union Ministers for Welfare and Environment so that the State’s policy is consistent with that of the nation.
  • The judgment also noted that at least 20 per cent of the net profits should be set apart as a permanent fund for the establishment and provision of basic facilities in the areas of health, education, roads and other public amenities.
  • The judgment said: “It would also be open to the appropriate legislature, preferably after a debate/conference of all Chief Ministers and Ministers concerned, to take a policy decision so as to bring about a suitable enactment in the light of these guidelines so that there emerges a consistent scheme throughout the country in respect of tribal land under which national wealth, in the form of minerals, is located.”

Significance of the 2019 order by the Supreme Court:

  • As has been widely reported, the immediate result will be the forced eviction of over one million people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and other forest communities.
  • Importantly, the area marked for eviction falls under areas designated under Schedule V and Schedule VI of the Constitution — there is no reference to the implications for governance in the Scheduled Areas and whether the Supreme Court, in fact, has the authority to order evictions of Scheduled Tribes from Scheduled Areas.
  • Some experts take the view that in a democratic country with citizens (not subjects) and a written Constitution which is affirmed by the people who are sovereign, how can we countenance the dismantling of an entire constitutional apparatus that prescribes the non-derogable boundaries to Adivasi homelands and institutional mechanisms that promote autonomy and restrain interference in self-governance?

Against the safeguards? A Perspective:

  • At an even more fundamental level, we are speaking of special protections under the Constitution — even more today than ever before.
  • The presence of Article 19(5) in the Fundamental Rights chapter of the Constitution, which specifically enjoins the state to make laws “for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe”, is vital.
  • Some experts take the view that the order given by the Supreme Court runs contrary to the core and express fundamental right protection to Adivasis (as distinct from legal/statutory protection), which protects them from a range of state and non-state intrusions in Scheduled Areas as well as from the perennial threat of eviction from their homelands?
  • A question arises: Is it not the obligation of the Court to protect the Scheduled Tribes and other vulnerable communities from the grave harms of violent dispossession?

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

 

1. Mixed optics (India- Saudi Relations)

Editorial Analysis:

  • As a standalone visit, the day-long trip of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (MBS) to New Delhi will be regarded as a diplomatic success, given the numerous outcomes.
  • After talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two sides announced measures to upgrade the defence partnership, create a “Strategic Partnership Council” to coordinate on security issues, and institute regular talks between the two national security advisers to discuss counter-terrorism, intelligence-sharing and maritime security.

Saudi Arabian Investments in India:

  • Saudi Arabia has also expressed its interest in investing in infrastructure projects worth about $26 billion.
  • This is beyond its already committed investments in India of $44 billion for the existing joint venture with the public sector oil undertakings and public fund investments of $10 billion.
  • The language on terrorism in the joint statement was something of a dampener for those who would have hoped there would be stronger condemnation of the terror attack in Pulwama.
  • However, it was significant that the Saudi government agreed to insert an extra clause calling on states to renounce the “use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy”.
  • It also acknowledged that disputes between India and Pakistan must be resolved bilaterally.
  • At the leadership level, Mr. Modi extended more than a personal touch to the visit by going to the airport and embracing the Crown Prince on landing.
  • The prince repaid the compliment, agreeing to increase Haj quotas and release 850 Indians from Saudi jails after a plea from Mr. Modi.
  • These announcements and gestures would have been far more significant had it not been for the fact that MBS’s trip came on the heels of his visit to Pakistan just after the Pulwama attack.

The Pulwama attack: Casting a Shadow

  • MBS’s India visit is being measured against the statements made during his Pakistan visit, where he praised Islamabad for its fight against terrorism.
  • He also announced $20 billion worth of investments, in addition to previously announced aid of $6 billion in cash and reserves.
  • While such comparisons may be unwarranted, the visit to Delhi would have benefited in terms of optics if it hadn’t been preceded so closely by the one to Islamabad.
  • Some experts take the view that the Modi government also overplayed its expectations from the visit by billing it as part of a diplomatic offensive aimed at ‘isolating’ Pakistan in order to hold it to account for Pulwama.

Concluding Remarks:

  • It is important to note that India and Saudi Arabia have steadily built bilateral relations and taken great care over the past two decades to ‘de-hyphenate’ them from ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
  • India-Saudi Arabia ties were strengthened into a strategic partnership announced in 2010 in the Riyadh Declaration when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid a visit, and were bolstered by King Salman’s visit in February 2014 and Mr. Modi’s 2016 trip to Saudi Arabia.
  • Point-scoring with Pakistan, or attempting to compare the outcomes of the two visits, now only undermines the carefully built compact between New Delhi and Riyadh.
 

2. Missed target (International Olympic Committee (IOC) to revoke Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualification status)

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts have opined that the recent decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to revoke Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualification status for the men’s 25-metre rapid fire pistol event from the New Delhi shooting World Cup is a controversy Indian sport could have done without.
  • This has come after India refused visas to two Pakistani competitors, in the backdrop of heightened bilateral tensions after the terror attack in Pulwama.

Position taken up by the IOC:

  • In view of India’s refusal to grant visas to two Pakistani competitors, the IOC has declared that this is against the Olympic Charter’s principles, of which non-discrimination, equal treatment of all athletes and sporting delegations and political non-interference are supreme.

India’s Decision: What the Critics Say?

  • Critics of India’s decision point out that in the clamour to send Pakistan what it perceives to be the right message, India has shot itself in the foot.
  • Further, it is important to note that in the short term, the scrapping of two out of 16 quota places will deny three Indian shooters, including 16-year-old Anish Bhanwala who won the gold in the event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, an opportunity to make the Olympic grade at home.
  • While the National Rifle Association of India has thanked the IOC for sparing the 14 other places by restricting the withdrawal of recognition to just one event, three Indian shooters, for no fault of theirs, have ended up as collateral damage.

What the long-term consequences can be?
The long-term consequences could be more severe.

  • The IOC, in a strongly worded statement, said that it has decided to “suspend all discussions with the Indian National Olympic Committees and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events until clear written guarantees are obtained…to ensure the entry of all participants.”
  • This means negotiations regarding India’s potential bids for the 2026 Youth Olympics, 2030 Asian Games and 2032 Olympics are set to go into cold storage.
  • While it is true that the IOC’s record in dealing with the overlapping worlds of geopolitics and sports is uneven, there have been precedents of strong action in similar cases.
  • Ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Asian Shooting Championship in Kuwait had its qualification status removed after an Israeli delegate wasn’t granted a visa.
  • Recently, Malaysia was stripped of the World Para Swimming Championship for turning down visa requests from Israeli participants.

Concluding Remarks:

  • The entire episode has also played out at a time when sections of the BCCI, egged on by a few yesteryear greats, seemingly mulled over the option of calling for a complete ban on Pakistan from the upcoming ICC World Cup in England.
  • Going by experience, beyond feeding into a certain kind of atmospherics, such bans on sportspersons and interactions in international sports events will have no meaningful effect.
 

F. Tidbits

 

1. India to have own DNS for safe browsing

  • The government will soon roll out a public Domain Name Server, or DNS, for India aimed at providing a faster and more secure browsing experience for Internet users in the country, while ensuring that citizens’ data is stored locally.
  • A DNS is a like a directory for the Internet. It helps to convert domain names that are easy for people to remember into IP addresses, which are used by computers/machines to communicate. If the DNS is either slow or fails to work, users will not be able to locate web addresses.
  • The main aim of bringing our own public DNS is to ensure availability, particularly for smaller Interest Service Providers (ISPs) who don’t have credible DNS. Bigger ones usually have their own DNS
  • Pointing out that there were other open DNS servers, including Google Public DNS, the official said the government’s system would prevent users from visiting malicious websites.
  • The roll-out, which will be executed by the National Informatics Centre – the technology arm of the government – will be completed in the next four to six months. NIC is already using the public DNS within the government network.
  • Asked if the move would enable the government to block content or help in surveillance, the official said, “If the government wants to block a website, we have a mechanism in place. We can send a list to the ISPs for reasons such as child porn or fake news, and they have to comply with the order.”
  • If you use any public DNS, they access and use all your data. It is not that users will compulsorily need to shift to India public DNS. A user is free to choose any DNS. With the government’s public DNS, Indian users’ data would be stored within the country.
 

2. Ensure safety of Kashmiris, orders SC

  • The Supreme Court firmly directed the Centre, the Chief Secretaries and the police chiefs of several States to ensure that Kashmiris and minority communities, especially students, are protected from any backlash in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
  • A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, issued notice and ordered the Chief Secretaries and police chiefs across several sensitive States to be proactive to nip any efforts by mobs to take the law into their hands. State police chiefs have been asked to direct officers to take prompt action on complaints.
  • The Supreme Court, in its order, also provided the contact details of nodal officers in 35 States and Union Territories. These officers are charged with protecting Kashmiris and minorities in their respective jurisdictions.
  • The petition referred to incidents of violence against these communities in the States of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Two more States — Punjab and Maharashtra — have been added to the watch list. The court has also asked the Delhi Police Commissioner to be alert. The court scheduled the next hearing in the case for February 27.
  • Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, for the Centre, informed the court about an advisory sent out to the States and Union Territories on February 16 to thwart violence against vulnerable groups after the Pulwama incident. Mr. Venugopal said the Centre could only go so far as law and order is a State subject.
 

3. What pushed dinosaurs to extinction?

  • Every school child knows the dinosaurs were killed off by an asteroid smashing into the Earth some 66 million years ago.
  • But scientists say the story may not be quite that simple, and that massive volcanic eruptions over hundreds of thousands of years may have contributed to the dinosaurs’ demise at the end of the Cretaceous period.
  • Two studies published in the journal Science contributed to a longstanding debate on what exactly finished off the mighty reptiles.
  • Before the 1980s, the dominant theory had been that huge and prolonged volcanic eruptions caused a deadly shift in the planet’s climate by sending vast clouds of ash, gas and dust into the atmosphere.
  • Then scientists discovered the huge Chicxulub crater of an ancient asteroid impact off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, which they posited had sent so much debris into the atmosphere that it hampered photosynthesis in plants and killed off three-quarters of life on Earth.
  • The authors of the two reports were able to date massive lava flows with far greater precision, whittling it down from around a million years to a period of tens of thousands of years.
  • The expulsion of lava there over a million years left the Deccan flows more 1,200 meters thick in places today, a volume large enough to cover an area the size of France to a depth of several hundred meters, he said.
  • The new dating made by the two teams match up: one found that a “pulse” of volcanic eruptions occurred just before the mass extinction.
  • The majority of lava flows came after the asteroid hit Earth, backing up the idea that the impact triggered an earthquake so massive it would have registered 11 on the moment magnitude scale, something never witnessed by humans. That in turn set off a wave of volcanic eruptions that lasted some 3,00,000 years.
  • The close correlation of the two events — eruptions and extinction — is unlikely to be a coincidence, the researchers say.
 

4. Railways plan to issue linked PNRs

  • Just like airlines, railways will now issue linked PNRs for connecting journeys allowing passengers to cancel their onward journey without any cancellation fee, if it is due to delay in the first leg.
  • The facility, which will begin from April 1, will be beneficial for those passengers who are booked on continuous trains for their onward journeys and get delayed due to fog, protests or any other reason during their trip.
  • In case of linked PNRs, if a rail passenger misses connecting train owing to late running of the train by which he had been travelling, the fare for untravelled portion shall be refunded, without levying any cancellation or clerkage charge
  • However, it states that the passenger has to surrender the ticket for such refund within three hours of the actual arrival time of the first train.
  • This facility is applicable for all classes for both e-tickets and counter tickets and even a combination of both. Names of passengers on both the PNRs and the destination station in the main train should be same or in a defined cluster as the boarding station in the connecting train.
  • Passengers travelling by air are given the same PNR for their onward journeys if they are travelling by the same airline or are part of an alliance of airlines.
 

5. Olympic dream under threat as visa is denied to 2 Pak. shooters

  • India’s future as a host for sporting events remained uncertain following a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
  • The issue arose when India refused visa requests from two Pakistani shooters expected to participate in the ongoing ISSF World Cup.

  • In a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the IOC made it clear that all future international sporting events in India would be put on hold unless the host gave a written guarantee that there would be no discrimination on participation of athletes.
  • The IOC Executive Board decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian NOC [National Olympic Committee] and government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic-related events in India, until clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter — and to recommend that the IFs [International Sports Federations] neither award to nor hold sports events in India until the guarantees are obtained
  • The IOC decided to restrict the withdrawal of recognition as an Olympic qualification event to the 25m rapid fire pistol competition in which the two Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate. “This happened in the interest of the other 500 athletes from 61 countries participating in the other events,” the IOC noted.
 

G. Prelims Facts

 

1. ‘Flying bulldog’: world’s largest bee spotted again

  • The world’s largest bee — a giant insect roughly the size of a human thumb — has been rediscovered in a remote part of Indonesia in its first sighting in nearly 40 years.
  • Despite its conspicuous size, no one had observed Wallace’s giant bee — discovered in the 19th century by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and nicknamed the “flying bulldog” — in the wild since 1981.

  • “To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings… was just incredible,” said Clay Bolt, a specialist bee photographer who snapped the enormous insect.
  • The bee (Megachile pluto), which lives in the Indonesian island region of North Moluccas, makes its nest in termite mounds, using its large fang-like mandibles to collect sticky resin to protect its home from the termites.
 

2. India, Russia close to inking multi-billion agreement for AK-103 assault rifles

Context

  • India and Russia are close to concluding an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for a multi-billion deal to locally bulk manufacture AK-103 assault rifles in the next few months. India has signed several multi-billion dollar defence deals with Russia in the last couple of years and more are in the pipeline.
  • The Army is looking to replace the indigenous INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) rifles in use with a modern rifle. The AK-103 will be bulk produced by the India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) with technology transfer.

Details of the AK – 103

  

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Question 1.Consider the following statement regarding Financial Action Task Force (FATF). 
  1. It was established in 1989 during the G-20 Summit in Paris (France) to combat the growing problem of money laundering.
  2. FATF does not deal with terrorism financing.

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2 only
  4. Neither 1 and 2

See

Answer
Question 2. SATAT initiative was recently in news. It is related to which ministry?
  1. Petroleum and Natural Gas
  2. Home Affairs
  3. Defence
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. JIMEX – 18 is a maritime exercise between India and:
  1. Japan
  2. Indonesia
  3. Maldives

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements about Banks Board Bureau
  1. It has its genesis in the recommendations of The Committee to Review Governance of Boards of Banks in India.
  2. It is a statutory body.

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
 

I. UPSC Mains practice Questions

  1. Recently the Shisht Bharat Campaign was launched by a NGO which aims to strengthen the moral character of Indian citizens by sensitizing them about values of morality, civic sense, politeness, decorum and dignity. Discuss the need for such an initiative. (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
  2. In the run-up to centenary year of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the Punjab assembly has sought a formal apology from the British government for the bloodbath in Amritsar on April 13, 1919. In this context, discuss how Jallianwala Bagh massacre was one of the turning points in India’s freedom struggle. (12.5 Marks; 200 words)

See previous CNA

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