UPSC Exam: Comprehensive News Analysis – January 02

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
HISTORY
1. Clash mars bicentenary of Bhima-Koregaon battle
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. 1.9 cr. names in first draft of Assam NRC
2. IPFT team to meet Rajnath over separate State demand
3. Nagaland declared as ‘disturbed area’ for 6 more months
4. One register to count them all — how the NRC fares
5. Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Globalisation in Emerging Economies
MISCELLANEOUS
1. Kerala to preserve DNA samples of Ockhi victims
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
1. Chillai Kalan
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

 

A. GS1 Related

 Category: HISTORY

1. Clash mars bicentenary of Bhima-Koregaon battle

 Bhima-Koregaon battle:

  • The Battle of Koregaon was fought on 1 January 1818 between the British East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy, at Koregaon Bhima.
  • The 28,000-strong Marathas, led by Peshwa Baji Rao II intended to attack Pune. On their way, they were met by an 800-strong Company force that was on its way to reinforce the British troops in Pune.
  • The Peshwa dispatched around 2,000 soldiers to attack the Company force stationed in Koregaon.
  • Led by Captain Francis Staunton, the Company troops defended their position for nearly 12 hours.
  • The Marathas ultimately withdrew, fearing the arrival of a larger British force led by General Joseph Smith.
  • The Company troops of Indian origin included predominantly Mahar Dalit soldiers belonging to the Bombay Native Infantry, and therefore Dalit activists regard the battle as a heroic episode in Dalit history.

Significance to Mahars

  • The Koregaon pillar inscription features the names of the 49 Company soldiers killed in the battle. 22 of these names end with the suffix -nac (or -nak), which was used exclusively by the people of Mahar caste. The obelisk was featured on the Mahar Regiment’s crest until Indian Independence. While it was built by the British as a symbol of their own power, today it serves as a memorial of the Mahars.
  • The Mahars were considered untouchable in the contemporary caste-based society. The Peshwas, who were high-caste Brahmins, were notorious for their mistreatment and persecution of the untouchables. Because of this, the Dalits (former untouchables) now see the Koregaon obelisk as a symbol of their victory over the high-caste oppression. The Dalit Buddhist leader B. R. Ambedkar visited the site on 1 January 1927. To commemorate his visit to the site, now thousands of his followers visit the site every New Year’s Day. A number of Mahar gatherings have also been held at the place.
  • Although it is currently portrayed as victory of lower caste over upper caste Peshwas, the Mahars had fought for the Peshwa rulers.

B. GS2 Related

 Category: POLITY

1. 1.9 cr. names in first draft of Assam NRC

 In news:

  • Nearly 32 years after the Assam Accord was signed, the first draft of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the State listed 1.90 crore names out of the 3.29 crore applicants.
  • Assam is the only State in the country that prepared an NRC in 1951 following the census of that year and has become the first State to get the first draft of its own updated NRC.
  • The time frame for the publication of the NRC draft was set by the Supreme Court which has been monitoring the entire process of updating the 1951 NRC in Assam.

About National Register of Citizens:

  • The National Register of Citizens (NRC) contains names of Indian citizens.
  • The NRC was prepared in 1951, after the Census of 1951.
  • It was prepared by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during that Census and was further kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951.
  • Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s.

2. IPFT team to meet Rajnath over separate State demand

 In news:

  • Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) demands:
  • Convert the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) into Tipraland – a separate State for indigenous people.
  • One-third population in Tripura is tribal and the TTAADC consists of three-fourth geographical area of the State.

About Autonomous district council:

  • As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas.
  • Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers.
  • Each district is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification. Currently, there are ten such Councils in the region as listed below

Assam

  • Bodoland Territorial Council
  • Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council
  • Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council

Meghalaya

  • Garo Hills Autonomous District Council
  • Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council
  • Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council

Tripura

  • Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council

Mizoram

  • Chakma Autonomous District Council
  • Lai Autonomous District Council
  • Mara Autonomous District Council

West Bengal

  • Gorkhaland Territorial Administration

Manipur

  • Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council

Jammu and Kashmir

  • Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil
  • Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh

3. Nagaland declared as ‘disturbed area’ for 6 more months

 In news:

  • Union Home Ministry declares entire Nagaland as “disturbed area” for six more months, till June- end, under the controversial AFSPA.
  • AFSPA empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without any prior notice.

Basics of AFSPA :

  • Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), are Acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what each act terms “disturbed areas”. According to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976 once declared ‘disturbed’, the area has to maintain status quo for a minimum of 3 months.
  • The AFSPA gives powers to the Army and Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant.
  • It provides cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Centre’s sanction.

Active AFSPA:

  • Whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding the seven Assembly constituencies of Imphal).
  • In Arunachal Pradesh, it is in force in 16 police stations and in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts bordering Assam.
  • Tripura withdrew AFSPA in 2015.
  • It is not in force in Meghalaya (except 20 kilometre area along Assam border) and Mizoram.

Supreme Court ruling:

  • On July 8, 2016, in a landmark ruling, The Supreme Court of India ended the immunity of the armed forces from prosecution under AFSPA, saying,“It does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the state. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both… This is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of the rule of law and the preservation of individual liberties.”
  • Supreme Court said that any encounter carried out by armed forces in the garb of AFSPA should be subjected to thorough inquiry.

4. One register to count them all — how the NRC fares

 Why update NRC in Assam?

  • The NRC is being updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals, who may have illegally entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date
  • This date was originally agreed to in the 1985 Assam Accord, signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU)
  • In 2005, another agreement was signed between the Centre, the then Tarun Gogoi government in Assam and the AASU where it was decided to update the NRC that was first published after the Census data of 1951 in post-Partition India

Is the NRC a court-mandated exercise?

  • The publication of the first draft of the NRC by December 31, 2017, was ordered by the Supreme Court
  • The top court has been hearing this case since July 2009 when Assam Public Works moved court to intervene in detecting and deporting Bangladeshis

Violence expected

  • The security challenge will emerge only when the process of updating the NRC gets completed and a large number of people are left out

5. Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill

 

  • On December 28, the Lok Sabha passed the ‘triple talaq’ Bill — the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill — following a day of engaging discussion.
  • It will soon be tabled in the Rajya Sabha. The legislation was mooted in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment in August declaring that the practice of instant triple talaq was not constitutionally protected and would have no legal effect.
  • At first glance, these developments come across as a classic example of collaboration the between the branches of government. The Supreme Court made a decision, the government conceptualised a Bill to reinforce the court’s decision, and Parliament is now in the process of enacting that Bill into law.
  • However, this narrative collapses when the issue is considered more closely, as the Bill is at odds with the very judgment that it purports to reinforce.

Many contradictions

  • The statement of objects and reasons accompanying the Bill indicates that it is meant to give effect to the court’s judgment, which it claims had failed to produce any deterrent effect in reducing the practice of triple talaq across the country.
  • The purpose of the court’s judgment was disarmingly simple: to deprive talaq-e-biddat of recognition in the eyes of the law. That remains the case irrespective of the frequency with which it is exercised. To speak of “illegal divorce”, as the statement does, is therefore a contradiction in terms – triple talaq is simply not a divorce in the first place.
  • The Bill then proceeds based on this mistaken premise. Although it confirms that pronouncements of triple talaq are void, it goes further by criminalising the utterance of triple talaq. A victim of triple talaq, the Bill says, is entitled to a subsistence allowance and custody of minor children.
  • These provisions belong to a Bill that regulates divorce, not marriage. A victim of triple talaq remains married to her husband. As a wife (rather than an ex-wife), she should be entitled to far more than mere subsistence. The question of custody does not arise where the couple remains married.
  • The linchpin of the Bill is the criminalisation of triple talaq with a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years. This also undercuts one of the important effects of the Supreme Court’s judgment.
  • Until the judgment, there was an asymmetry between the authority conferred upon the words of a Muslim man as opposed to a Muslim woman.
  • By indicating that Muslim men lacked the power to divorce their wives through triple talaq, the Court diminished that asymmetry. This Bill accentuates it once again and puts men at the centre of legislative policy, by triggering a number of legal consequences upon the utterance of those words.
  • The alacrity and speed of Parliament’s response to the Supreme Court’s judgment is remarkable. One of the significant questions that arose before the Court was whether it would be appropriate to defer to Parliament on this issue.
  • While the two judges in the minority favoured imposing a six-month injunction to enable Parliament to enact legislation on the subject, the judges in the majority specifically chose not to do so. As one of the judges in the majority noted, “it is not for the courts to direct” the enactment of any legislation.

Telling comparisons

  • The fact that the Supreme Court did not direct Parliament to enact legislation does not preclude it from doing so. However, it is interesting that Parliament and the government have responded in a matter of months in the context of a conscious decision not to direct any legislative response.
  • A similarly swift response followed the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shah Bano case over 30 years ago. In contrast, governments have failed to respond — or have taken an agonisingly long period of time to respond — to judgments recommending legislative action.
  • The best example is the Vishakha case, where legislation on sexual harassment at the workplace was enacted no less than 16 years after the Court’s advice to Parliament.
  • A recommendation from the Court in 1995 to amend the rules of evidence to better address cases involving custodial deaths has still to be implemented.
  • Overall, the attempt to ride on the coattails of the Supreme Court’s judgment is misplaced.
  • A further round of litigation seems inevitable if this Bill were to be enacted, and there is an even chance that the court may decide that a law criminalising the use of three words violates the right to equality under the Constitution.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Globalisation in Emerging Economies

 

  • Last month, at the dusk of 2017, a ministerial meeting of the WTO in Buenos Aires, Argentina ended in a whimper with the U.S. leading a general apathy towards free trade and globalisation.
  • Perhaps 2017 will be remembered as the year when the liberal economic consensus on free markets and globalisation was finally buried in its homelands, the U.S. and U.K.

Scenario in Developing Countries

  • For ordinary citizens of the world, the ideological and policy shifts in the advanced economies, particularly post-Trump America and post-Brexit Britain, are likely to be more bitter than sweet.
  • Consider the view from emerging economies. No other period in human history has seen as many people lifted out of absolute poverty as in the three decades since the mid-1980s. That is largely because the world’s two most populous nations, China and India, made rapid strides in terms of economic growth in this period.
  • China, which embraced openness and internal reform more vigorously than India, has been the bigger beneficiary. India, with its limited openness and gradual internal reform process, registered lower growth than China but higher growth rates than any other point in its history.
  • It would be cynical to say that the forces of globalisation and free markets have only enriched a minority in these countries. The fact is that more than half a billion people have been lifted out of poverty in a single generation by the very forces that are now being buried in the countries of their origin.
  • This is not to argue that there were no flaws in the system. The role of Wall Street and global finance in bringing disrepute to the system is well known.
  • That is what precipitated the 2008 financial crisis which sowed the seeds for a backlash. But curiously, politics has chosen to target free trade and free (only relatively) movement of labour, soft targets compared to the powerful world of finance. There is a grave danger for both emerging economies and advanced economies with this form of backlash.
  • In the advanced economies, it is convenient to blame free trade for job losses in manufacturing, without commenting on the huge benefits such trade has brought for consumers who are clearly better off as a result of cheaper products and services.
  • It is easy to target immigrants without acknowledging the huge value-add they bring to the host economies. Think of the number of foreign-born persons in top positions in American or British academia or in Silicon Valley.
  • Without them, the U.S. (even the U.K.) would not be so wealthy. Any sustained backlash against free trade and immigration will ultimately hurt the economic and geo-political interests of the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Still, the advanced economies may be wealthy enough to delay the day of reckoning. For countries like India and several other emerging and developing economies, a closed world means missed opportunities and a longer journey out of poverty for those who continue to remain poor. They have the most important stake in ensuring that the world doesn’t return to wealth-destroying autarky.

Pegged to reforms

  • However, before batting for openness abroad, emerging economies need to put their houses in order. For many emerging economies, particularly China and India, the backlash against free markets isn’t likely to stem from external considerations (free trade or free movement of labour), but from a free market system at home that has been vitiated by crony capitalism.
  • It isn’t surprising that the leaders of both China and India, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have devoted a considerable amount of political capital to combat corruption and root out entrenched vested interests.
  • It isn’t an easy task and it won’t happen overnight but the battle against corruption and cronyism is a critical element in retaining the legitimacy of an open market economy which has delivered more prosperity than any alternative system in the last hundred years.
  • In India, the battle against graft has to be accompanied by an attempt to improve state capacity, because there are certain critical functions which only the state can perform.
  • Reform at home must be accompanied by a willingness to open up to the rest of the world. China has been aggressive about exports and about attracting foreign investment but has been more protectionist about imports (particularly services and agricultural goods) and its state-owned enterprises.
  • India has never quite embraced an export-oriented development strategy. Somehow the point that the domestic market is large enough has won the argument even when it is apparent that the global market is several times that size.
  • Just the global market for merchandise trade is $18 trillion, almost nine times the size of India’s total GDP. India needs to capture a much larger share of that market than its present 1.6% share. India also needs to capture a greater share of foreign investment. But for that to happen, it needs to give up its traditionally defensive posture on trade in particular. The opportunity has never been better as China’s wages rise and it reorients its economic strategy from primarily an export-led growth to a more consumption-driven economy.
  • India and China hold the key to the emerging global political economy. Joining the U.S. and other advanced economies in closing up will only lead to slower growth.
  • The challenge for India and China, as the two fastest growing major economies, is to engage with each other and with other willing partner nations, particularly in the East Asia and the Pacific region (including advanced economies like Japan and Australia), to maintain openness and embrace globalisation.
  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is one forum where this engagement can happen. India can engage on free trade and free investment in other groups like the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) and BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Bhutan) and via these groups with the entire ASEAN region.
  • The scenario is set for an Asian century. But for it to materialise India, China and the rest of the region need to look beyond rivalry and defensiveness to explore the possibilities of economic integration as the West, so dominant for the last two hundred years, marginalises and isolates itself.

 Category: MISCELLANEOUS

1. Kerala to preserve DNA samples of Ockhi victims

 In news:

  • Kerala government has started preserving the DNA samples of those killed in Cyclone Ockhi as samples.
  • Preserving the DNA samples would help the government in extending financial benefits and compensation to the family members as there were chances of the money being cornered by touts and middlemen.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

E. Prelims Fact

Chillai Kalan:

  • Chillai Kalan is a period of forty extremely cold days starting from 21st of December, the date on which Winter Solstice is observed in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • The temperatures during this period remain generally very low, often near or below zero degrees Celsius. Chillai Kalan is followed by a period of another 20 days of Chillai Khurd and 10 days of Chillai Bacha.
  • As for its impact on J&K, the period of Chillai Kalan is accompanied (but independent of it) by temperate cyclonic conditions of Western Disturbances. These disturbances originate near the Mediterranean and are responsible for much of winter precipitation in J&K during winters.
  • Collectively, Chillai Kalan and Western Disturbances render J&K both cold and wet (snowy) during winters

 

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Bhitarkanika National Park is located in the state of West Bengal.
  2. The Bhitarkanika National Park is located in the delta of rivers Brahmani, Baitarani and Dhamara.

Identify the correct statements from the options given below

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

 

Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) is the regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings
  2. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India also oversees entities like Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA), Insolvency Professionals (IP) and Information Utilities (IU) in India.
  3. IBBI handles the cases using two tribunals like NCLT(National company law tribunal) and Debt recovery tribunal.

Identify the correct statements from the options given below

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3

See

Answer

 

Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. Symbiodinium is a unicellular algae that provides its host with photosynthetic products in return for nutrients and shelter.
  2. These unicellular algae reside in the endoderm of tropical cnidarians such as corals, sea anemones, and jellyfish.

Identify the correct statements from the options given below

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

 

Question 4. Autonomous district councils are mentioned in which schedule of the constitution?
  1. Sixth Schedule
  2. Fifth Schedule
  3. Eleventh Schedule
  4. Tenth Schedule

See

Answer

 

Question 5. Consider the following statements:
  1. The government fixes ceiling prices of all drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
  2. Price fixation of drugs in NLEM is carried out by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

Identify the correct statements from the options given below

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

 

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper I

Topic: Women’s Issues

  1. Discuss the merits and demerits of the proposed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017.
GS Paper IV

Topic: Case Studies

  1. Explain how ethics contributes to social and human well-being.

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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