06 Jan 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. In a first, Mallya declared a ‘fugitive economic offender’
2. Intellectually challenged persons have right to live with dignity, says SC judge
3. MGNREGA scheme faces fund shortage
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Barred at the border: record arrests of Rohingya in 2018
C. GS3 Related
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
HEALTH
1. The lowdown on blood transfusions
INDIAN ART AND CULTURE
1. A testimony to broken dreams (Phuti Masjid)
F. Tidbits
1. Scientists unearth Asia's first fossil Dioscorea yam leaf
G. Prelims Fact
1. Important International Organisation - G20
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. In a first, Mallya declared a ‘fugitive economic offender’

Context

  • Absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Saturday became the first person to be declared a fugitive economic offender by the special court hearing cases under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA).
  • Mallya, who left the country in March 2016, was arrested by the U.K. Metropolitan Police’s extradition unit on April 18, 2017. On December 10, 2018, a U.K. court ordered that Mr. Mallya could be extradited.

Fugitive economic offender

  • A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person who has an arrest warrant issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
  • The FEOA, which became a law on July 31, 2018, allows for declaring a person as an offender after an arrest warrant has been issued against the individual and the value of offences exceeds ₹100 crore.
  • Another condition for declaring a person a fugitive economic offender (FEO) is when the individual refuses to return to the country to face prosecution.
  • As per the new law, a special FEOA court can order the confiscation of a FEO’s properties, including those which are benami, and the proceeds of crime in and outside India. Once properties are confiscated, the Union government has the right over them, and it can dispose them after 90 days.

Highlights of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA) 2018

  • The act aims to curb the practice of evading the criminal prosecution by the economic offenders who flee from the country to stay out of the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
  • The act will give the right to the government to confiscate the property of such economic offenders in India and abroad. The act will also be applicable on the proxy-owned properties of the economic offenders.
  • The act defines the economic offenders as those against whom a legal warrant has been issued, but they refuse to adhere to the summons of the legal authorities.
  • The law balances itself with a provision that allows the accused to file an appeal in the High Court to state their case.
  • The act keeps the banks and other financial institutions at the Centre and seeks to help them recover the amount. The act will only be used for economic offences over Rs 100 crores.
  • The act makes provisions for a Court (‘Special Court’ under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002) to declare a person as a Fugitive Economic Offender.

 Significance of the act

  • There have been several instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency, of criminal proceedings.
  • The absence of such offenders from Indian courts has several deleterious consequences— first, it hampers investigation in criminal cases; second, it wastes precious time of courts of law; third, it undermines the rule of law in India.
  • The act is expected to re-establish the rule of law with respect to the fugitive economic offenders as they would be forced to return to India to face trial for scheduled offences.
  • This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.
  • It is expected that the special forum to be created for expeditious confiscation of the proceeds of crime, in India or abroad, would coerce the fugitive to return to India to submit to the jurisdiction of Courts in India to face the law in respect of scheduled offences.

2. Intellectually challenged persons have right to live with dignity, says SC judge

Context

  • Supreme Court judge Justice A. K. Sikri on Saturday raised concerns about the rights of persons with mental illness citing an incident of an asylum in Uttar Pradesh where many intellectually challenged persons were chained.
  • Indian Council of Medical Research’s research shows that in Delhi 8%-10% of population suffers from illnesses like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia among others, with only 10-20% getting treatment

Mental health and mental Illness

  • WHO defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his/her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her/his community.”
  • The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 defines “mental illness” as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behaviour, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.
  • However, it does not include mental retardation which is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of mind of a person, specially characterised by sub-normality of intelligence.

Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

  • The Act seeks to ensure rights of the person with mental illness to receive care and to live a life with dignity. The key features of the Act are:
  • Rights of Persons with Mental Illness – Right to Access to Healthcare– Every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. It also assures free treatment to those who are homeless or below the poverty line. The Act also requires insurance policies to place mental health treatment at par with physical health.
  • Right to live with dignity – Every person with mental illness shall have a right to live with dignity
  • Right to Confidentiality – A person with mental illness shall have the right to confidentiality in respect of his mental health, mental healthcare, treatment and physical healthcare
  • Advance Directive – The Act empowers person with mental illness to make an advance directive that states how he/she wants to be treated for the illness and who his/her nominated representative shall be.
  • The Act mandates the government to set up Central Mental Health Authority at national-level and State Mental Health Authority in every State.
  • Further, every mental health institute and mental health practitioners including clinical psychologists, mental health nurses and psychiatric social workers will have to be registered with the Authority.
  • A mentally ill person shall not be subjected to electro-convulsive therapy without the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia. Further, electroconvulsive therapy cannot be used on minors. Sterilisation will not be performed on such persons.
  • They shall not be chained in any manner or under any circumstances. They shall not be subjected to seclusion or solitary confinement.
  • Decriminalization of Suicide: Until recently suicide was a punishable offence under IPC Section 309. The Act decriminalizes suicide stating whoever attempts suicide will be presumed to be under severe stress, and shall not be punished for it.

3. MGNREGA scheme faces fund shortage

Context

  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme is facing a severe fund crunch, with 99% of money allocated already exhausted three months before the end of the financial year, and 11 States and Union Territories having a negative net balance.
  • Studies analysing government data show that the scheme faces difficulties in meeting the demand for work and paying wages on time. These issues are likely to be exacerbated by the current fund crisis, according to worried economists, researchers and workers on the ground.

MGNREGA

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is the largest social security scheme in the world that guarantees 100 days of unskilled manual work to all rural households in India.
  • The MGNREGA actually gives rural households the right to work. It makes obligatory for the State to give them work on demand. Household could actually sue the states for not doing so.
  • The work is usually on projects to build durable assets like roads, canals, ponds, wells etc.,
  • MGNREGA creates livelihood opportunities for our fellow citizens and sets a minimum wage threshold for low income earners.
  • It has changed the nature of the rural labour market. It gave opportunity to rural households to earn minimum income.
  • While the poor have used it to climb out of poverty, the not-so-poor used it as a measure to supplement their income by working during lean agriculture periods.
  • With higher participation of women and SC and ST individuals, the scheme is inclusive. About one in two jobs created under the scheme is for women and about 40 per cent for SC/ST.
  • Today, payments under the scheme are mostly done by way of direct transfer into beneficiary accounts, which in turn forced people to open new bank or post office accounts.

Some concerns with the scheme

  • The scheme forces the Government to offer work, but so far does not measure productivity or durability of the work done. One of the complaints is about the slow pace of work.
  • While there is incentive for workers to turn out as much as is needed to earn the wage rate, there is no incentive to expedite the process.
  • Then, there are some administrative glitches. Panchayat Samitis don’t meet for months. It results in work sanctioning getting delayed.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Barred at the border: record arrests of Rohingya in 2018

Context

  • Between 2015 and 2018, the Border Security Force (BSF) arrested around 478 Rohingya along the India-Bangladesh border, with 230 held in 2018 alone. While the number of arrests in 2015 and 2016 were 54 and 71, respectively, it rose to 123 in 2017.
  • The figures were tabled in the Lok Sabha on January 1 by the Union Home Ministry in response to a question by K. Gopal, AIADMK MP.
  • Of the 478 Rohingyas, who have been apprehended, some have been arrested not for trying to enter the country but while attempting to leave, BSF officials said. Home Ministry estimates say there are around 40,000 Rohingya in India, of whom only 16,000 are said to be registered with the United Nations.

Rohingyas

  • Rohingya Muslims comprise one million out of the 53 million people that live in Myanmar, forming the world’s largest stateless population in a single country.
  • Universally reviled by the country’s Buddhist majority, they have been oppressed by the government since the late 1970s when the government launched a campaign to identify ‘illegal immigrants’.
  • Serious abuses were committed, forcing as many as 250,000 Rohingya refugees to flee to Bangladesh.
  • The 1982 Citizenship Law in former Burma made the Rohingyas stateless people.
  • They have often been called the most persecuted minority in the world.
  • The 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims squeezed precariously into the north-west state of Rakhine, in mainly Buddhist Burma, bordering majority Muslim Bangladesh, are stateless and unwanted.

C. GS3 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: HEALTH

1. The lowdown on blood transfusions

What’s in the news?

  • Recently, a young pregnant woman in a government hospital at a rural centre in south Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district made an explosive revelation mid-December 2018.
  • Expecting her second child, she heard from doctors, after she was admitted following a spell of sickness, that she had tested positive for HIV.
  • Later on, as the story unravelled, in the full media glare, it turned out that she had acquired the virus after a blood transfusion in a district hospital following a diagnosis of anaemia.

Larger Background:

A brief note on The Human Immunodeficiency Virus And Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention And Control) Bill, 2014

  • The Bill seeks to:
  1. prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS,
  2. prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS,
  3. provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment,
  4. places obligations on establishments to safeguard their rights, and
  5. creates mechanisms for redressing their complaints.
  • Prohibition of discrimination against HIV positive persons: The Bill lists the various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.  These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to: (i) employment, (ii) educational establishments, (iii) health care services, (iv) residing or renting property, (v) standing for public or private office, and (vi) provision of insurance (unless based on actuarial studies).  The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.
  • Every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household.  
  • The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.

  • Informed consent and disclosure of HIV status: The Bill requires that no HIV test, medical treatment, or research will be conducted on a person without his informed consent.  No person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order.
  • Informed consent for an HIV test will not be required in case of screening by any licensed blood bank, a court order, medical research, and epidemiological purposes where the HIV test is anonymous and not meant to determine the HIV status of a person.  Establishments keeping records of information of HIV positive persons shall adopt data protection measures.
  • Role of the central and state governments: The central and state governments shall take measures to: (i) prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS, (ii) provide anti-retroviral therapy and infection management for persons with HIV or AIDS, (iii) facilitate their access to welfare schemes especially for women and children, (iv) formulate HIV or AIDS education communication programmes that are age appropriate, gender sensitive, and non stigmatizing, and (v) lay guidelines for the care and treatment of children with HIV or AIDS.  Every person in the care and custody of the state shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counselling services.
  • Role of the Ombudsman: An ombudsman shall be appointed by each state government to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and the provision of health care services.  The Ombudsman shall submit a report to the state government every six months stating the number and nature of complaints received, the actions taken and orders passed.
  • Guardianship: A person between the age of 12 to 18 years who has sufficient maturity in understanding and managing the affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family shall be competent to act as a guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age.  The guardianship will be apply in matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment, amongst others.
  • Court proceedings: Cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed off by the court on a priority basis.  In any legal proceeding, if an HIV infected or affected person is a party, the court may pass orders that the proceedings be conducted (a) by suppressing the identity of the person, (b) in camera, and (c) to restrain any person from publishing information that discloses the identity of the applicant.  When passing any order with regard to a maintenance application filed by an HIV infected or affected person, the court shall take into account the medical expenses incurred by the applicant.

Editorial Analysis:

  • This unfortunate development opened up a Pandora’s box, and fear and distrust pervaded the community.
  • Further, besides flagging the issue of the availability of safe blood in the State, it set in motion a sequence of events, mostly tragic, introspection, and some corrective action.
  • However, the story did not end, or even begin, there.
  • The blood donor, who had donated as a replacement donor when a pregnant relative required a transfusion, only discovered his HIV positive status after a test for a job interview. He rushed back to the hospital, laden with guilt, to inform authorities. By then, his blood had been transfused to the pregnant woman, and she had tested positive.
  • It is important to note that his blood donation history retrospectively exposed chinks in the blood donation and transfusion cycle in at least two instances. He had already donated blood in 2016, but his blood was discarded after he tested positive for HIV.
  • However, though the HIV law mandates that the patient be informed with counselling about his/her status, in this case, the donor remained in the dark.
  • In the second instance, when he donated his blood in November 2018, two years after the first, the lab failed to test and/or detect his infection, which was clearly not in the ‘window period’ where the virus may avoid detection. The donor was distraught, and attempted suicide, and died in hospital later.
  • A few days later, another pregnant woman claimed she had been transfused with HIV-infected blood at Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital in Chennai. While her claim has been contested stoutly, the two incidents have, nevertheless, rocked the State that once won plaudits for its prevention of transmission programmes.

Process to be followed:

  • There is a chain of approved processes to be followed in blood donation, aimed at quality control and negating the possibility of transmitting infections.
  • Every qualified donor is put through a basic clinical evaluation (blood pressure and pulse).
  • If normal, a sample of the blood donated is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted diseases and malaria.
  • Meanwhile, the donated blood is stored separately in an ‘unscreened refrigerator.’ If the sample clears these tests, or if the tests turn negative, the blood will then be moved to the ‘screened refrigerator.’
  • If it tests positive for any of the infections, another sample from the same blood bag is tested again. If positive, the bag is discarded. The HIV Act mandates that the blood bank inform the positive donor, besides referring to the appropriate department for further treatment. When a requirement crops up, the blood bank does a grouping to confirm that the group is the same, does a cross-match with the recipient and releases it to the ward.

Concluding Remarks:

    • Currently, the Madras High Court has sought a report from the Health Department.
    • The National and State Human Rights Commissions have taken suo motu cognisance of the issue and asked for the State’s response.
  • The need, however, is to build confidence in the community that the most exacting standards are followed in collecting, testing and storing blood, and then in transfusing it.
  • Even if this calls for a re-look at the entire process, it must be done. It is as crucial as making sure no one dies because they could not get blood in time.

Category: INDIAN ART AND CULTURE

1. A testimony to broken dreams (Phuti Masjid)

A Brief Note on the Fauti Masjid

    • Fauti Masjid (also Phuti Masjid) is a mosque in the city of Kumarpur, India which was built by Nawab Sarfaraz Khan in 1740 AD.
    • The old Fauti Masjid is one of the largest mosques in the town of Kumarpur and Murshidabad. It is about 3 quarters of a mile away from the grand and famous Hazarduari Palace.
    • The mosque is quite large: 135 ft. long and 38 ft. wide with four cupolas at the corners. Only two of its five planned domes were completed. Dangerous looking spiral staircases lead up to the cupolas.
    • As the builder died soon after construction began, the mosque was never completed. And so the name Phuti Masjid, or broken mosque. It is also known rather morbidly as Fouti Masjid. ‘Fout’ means death, and the name was apparently given after the builder’s death.
  • One legend goes that this mosque was built in one night by Sarfaraz Khan.
  • Another says that a number of workers toiled for several months to construct it. During roll call one day, it was found that one worker was not present.
  • This happened a number of times and as the story became famous, the mysterious workman disappeared leaving his work incomplete and no one could match his skill. Both stories point to the hand of Djinns.
  • Whatever be the truth, this broken structure is still standing despite all the odds, surrounded by houses, fields and hostile elements, a mute testimony to broken dreams.

Editorial Analysis:

  • Murshidabad, now a small, sleepy town in West Bengal, was among the richest courts of the 18th and 19th century.
  • It was Nawab Murshid Quli Khan who had appointed Sarfaraz Khan as his successor before his death in 1727 as there was no direct heir to the throne.
  • However, his son-in-law (Sarfaraz’s father) Shuja Khan frustrated Sarfaraz’s dreams.
  • He felt that he had a bigger claim to the musnad, or the throne, of Murshidabad. Sarfaraz could only ascend the throne in 1739 with the title Alauddin Haider Jung.

A troubled and short-lived reign

    • The newly crowned Nawab (Sarfaraz) fell out with his Wazir, Haji Ahmed.
    • The Wazir won over the rich banker Jagat Seth Fateh Chand and Rai Rayan Chand and started plotting against the Nawab.
    • Haji Ahmed invited Ali Vardi Khan, the Nawab Nazim of Bihar, to seek someone from the Mughal empire to replace Sarfaraz Khan.
  • In the battle of Giria, Ali Vardi Khan defeated Sarfaraz Khan.
  • The Musnad of Murshidabad, compiled by Purna Chandra Majumdar, mentions that the Jagat Seths suborned the Nawab’s men to place bricks and clods instead of cannon balls and fodder in Sarfaraz Khan’s magazine. Though the Nawab found out and gave charge of his artillery to a Portuguese, he was killed by a bullet as he rode out to battle on his elephant. Nawab Sarfaraz Khan ruled only for a year.

F. Tidbits

1. Scientists unearth Asia’s first fossil Dioscorea yam leaf

Context

  • When scientists R. C. Mehrotra and Anumeha Shukla from Lucknow’s Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences were leading a dig in the Eocene-era (38-56 million years ago) Gurha lignite mine in Bikaner in western Rajasthan, they obtained two well-preserved fossils of large leaves.

Details of the study

  • A quaint fossilised leaf is one of the most recent finds throwing light on India’s past. The leaf fossil is the first of Dioscorea yams from Asia and hints at a Gondwanan origin to these plants, claim scientists.
  • Referring to herbarium sheets available at Dehradun’s Forest Research Institute, the team identified it as a species of Dioscorea, a kind of yam that grows as a herbaceous vine in the humid tropics of India and other countries.
  • They also used the morphological features of the leaves — venation and leaf shape — to rule out other plants that look very similar to it. When they compared it to the other Dioscorea fossils obtained from Europe, Africa and America, they found it to be very distinct.
  • The team named their new find Dioscorea eocenicus: the first ever Dioscorea fossil recorded from Asia. Currently, species of Dioscorea in India are found in the humid, tropical forests of the country.
  • Based on this, the team infer that such tropical forests must have flourished in this part of Rajasthan during early Eocene. Other fossil plants observed in the mine also suggest this historical climate in the area, which is now dry and consists of desert vegetation.

So what caused such a drastic change in climate?

  • As the Indian subcontinent broke away from the supercontinent Gondwanaland many millions of years ago and drifted towards the Equator, the resulting tropical weather created lush tropical forests here.
  • As the landmass moved further north and away from the equator, dry vegetation replaced these forests, write the authors.
  • Further, based on the location of other Dioscorea fossils across the world (from continents that used to be part of Gondwanaland) and the current pan-tropical distribution of Dioscorea species across the world, the scientists suggest in their study published in Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology that Dioscorea plants could be of Gondwanan origin. However, more fossil records would be required to confirm this.

G. Prelims Fact

1. Important International Organisation – G20

 

  • Formed in 1999, the G20 is an international forum of the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.
  • Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85 percent of the Gross World Product (GWP), 80 percent of world trade.
  • To tackle the problems or the address issues that plague the world, the heads of governments of the G20 nations periodically participate in summits. In addition to it, the group also hosts separate meetings of the finance ministers and foreign ministers.
  • The G20 has no permanent staff of its own and its chairmanship rotates annually between nations divided into regional groupings.
  • The first G20 Summit was held in Berlin in December 1999 and was hosted by the finance ministers of Germany and Canada.
  • 2018 Summit will be the 13th meeting of Group of Twenty (G20) and the first G20 summit to be hosted in South America.

Member Countries

  • The members of the G20 consist of 19 individual countries plus the European Union (EU).
  • The 19 member countries of the forum are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The European Union is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.

Objectives

  • The Group was formed with an aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
  • The forum aims to pre-empt balance of payments problems and turmoil on financial markets by improved coordination of monetary, fiscal, and financial policies.
  • The forum seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organisation.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. With reference to Dam Rehabilitation Improvement Project (DRIP), which of the 
following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. The project aims to improve safety and operational performance of the Dams.
  2. The funds for the project will be shared by New Development Bank.

Select the correct answer code:

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

See

Answer
Question 2. With reference to Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) 
for Africa and Asia, consider the following statements:
  1. It is an Intergovernmental body, registered with the United Nations.
  2. South Africa is the chairman of the body.
  3. It was created after 2004 Tsunami which bought together countries of Asian-Africa.

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

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

See

Answer
Question 3. With reference to the Finance Commission, select the correct statements:
  1. The Commission submits its recommendations to the Parliament.
  2. The first Finance Commission was set up under the chairmanship of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in 1951.

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
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. The tax imposed on the stock market and futures market belong to the Union List.
  2. The tax imposed on the stock market and futures market is collected and appropriated by the States.

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. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Recently Chinese spacecraft Chang’e-4, successfully made a landing on the dark side of the moon. Write a note on the importance of this mission. (10 Marks; 150 words)
  2. Examine the series of steps taken by the government to address the woes faced by MSME sector due to demonetization and GST introduction. (10 Marks; 150 words)

See previous CNA