14 Jan 2022: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 14 Jan 2022:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The Lithuania-China kerfuffle
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Forest, tree cover in India up by 2,261 sq. km in two years
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
1. The controversy over inclusion of the mmWave band in 5G auctions
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
HEALTH
1. An Epidemiologically sound testing strategy
F. Prelims Facts
1. Tools to test ties with the past
G. Tidbits
1. India, U.K. kick off talks for free trade agreement
2. India extends $900 mn aid to Sri Lanka
3. U.S. denounces China’s maritime claims
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine

Category: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

1. The controversy over inclusion of the mmWave band in 5G auctions

Syllabus: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, and nano-technology

Mains: Issues with respect to the mmWave Band in the 5G spectrum auctions.

Context

The Satcom Industry Association-India (SIA), an industry body that represents the interests of the communication satellite ecosystem in India has voiced concerns over the Government’s plan to include the mmWave bands in the spectrum auction.

Background

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had sought industries’ views on topics related to the quantum of the spectrum before it submits 5G pricing recommendations to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
  • It had also asked for views on band plan, block size, and conditions for auction of spectrum in new bands, which includes millimetre (mm) Wave band of 24.25-28.5 GHz.
  • mmWave band is a segment of the radio frequency spectrum with a short wavelength, which can deliver greater speeds and lower latencies.
  • The band has been the subject of controversy due to out-of-band emissions into the passive satellite band.
  • SIA argued that providing excess spectrum could pose a risk of the bands going unsold at the expense of satellite-based service providers.

millimetre Wave band (mmWave band)

  • The Millimetre Wave band or mmWave is a particular segment of the radio frequency spectrum that ranges between 24 GHz to 100 GHz. 
  • This spectrum has a short wavelength and is suitable to deliver greater speeds and lower latencies. 
  • This makes data transfer efficient and seamless as the currently available networks work optimally only on lower frequency bandwidths. 
  • They can cover greater distances and are proven to work efficiently even in urban environments, which are prone to interference. 
  • In terms of data speed, the mmWave has very high potential and hence has become an important part of the 5G spectrum.

Key Concerns

  • The satellite-based communication service providers are a new class of Internet vendors. For example, SpaceX’s Starlink and Bharti Airtel’s OneWeb.
    • This segment uses Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to provide broadband to both urban and rural users. 
    • Their service could also be used for weather predictions.
  • The SIA, in its report to TRAI, has urged the regulator to limit the inclusion of mmWave spectrum in the 5G auction as 27.5 – 31 GHz and 17.7 – 21.2 GHz bands have been preserved for satellite-based broadband services as per the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
    • SIA pointed to Europe’s “5G Roadmap”, which is built on the ITU’s decision to hold these bands for satellite-based broadband services. 
  • The SIA also said that offering excessive spectrum resources in the upcoming 5G auction will result in denying the benefits of advanced satellite broadband services to Indian citizens. 
  • It will also result in a massive loss to the Indian economy of up to $184.6 billion by 2030, along with the loss of foreign direct investment (FDI) and employment generation benefits.
  • According to IEEE Wireless Communications paper on Spectrum Policy, “the 24.25-27.5 GHz band had been the subject of controversy due to out-of-band emissions into the passive satellite band used for weather satellites at 23.6-24 GHz.” 
    • The issue was resolved by setting a limit for base station emissions into the satellite band. 
    • The limit would become more restrictive in 2027, and any equipment installed prior to that date will be acceptable.
  • The satellite communication industry is looking to prevent the mobile telephony companies’ move by ensuring that the bands don’t go to them in the first place. But, until 2027, these bands can be auctioned off to mobile Internet service providers. 

The SIA’s suggestions

  • SIA-India has noted that the 330 MHz of spectrum in the 3.3-3.67 GHz band is enough to satisfy India’s mid-band 5G needs while ensuring a competitive auction. 
  • India has three private mobile network operators holding 90% of the total market share and these will be able to secure the available spectrum, roughly 80- 90 MHz each, while leaving the remaining 10% to state-owned enterprises. 
  • The industry body also noted that providing excess spectrum could pose a downside risk of the bands going unsold, or underutilised by the players at the expense of satellite-based service providers. 

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Decisions regarding the mmWave band inclusion in the 5G auction spectrum should be made taking into consideration the concerns of all the stakeholders including the satellite communication industry. Seamless digital connectivity can be enhanced through the satellite communication industry and unless strong policy support is present, India can lose out on the benefits the industry can offer.
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E. Editorials

Category: HEALTH

1. An Epidemiologically sound testing strategy

Syllabus: Issues relating to health

Mains: Effectiveness of the new strategy to tackle the pandemic

Context: India’s response to deal with the pandemic undergoes a shift from treatment-oriented to one that focuses on public health. 

The perspective:

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research released an Advisory on Purposive Testing Strategy for COVID-19 in India. 
  • The advisory provides insights on the individuals who can be tested or who needs to be tested.
  • It is proposed in the report that the asymptomatic individuals and those with confirmed cases of COVID-19 among others, need not be tested unless they are at high risk. 
  • This marks a considerable shift in the testing strategy which was earlier carried out on demand of the individuals who wished to get tested. 
  • The new approach attracted opinions of diverse nature with the biggest question raised on its effectiveness.

The aggressive testing approach: 

  • At the very onset of the pandemic, the wave of continuous testing spread not just in India but across the globe. 
  • India augmented its COVID-19 testing capacity by setting up 3100 laboratories with a daily capacity of nearly 2 million RT-PCR tests along with rapid antigen test (RAT) kits.
  • Even though the aggressive testing approach worked so far it cannot be claimed that every infection was tested.
  • According to the fourth round of the COVID-19 National Sero Survey, only one in every 30 infections were detected in India.
  • Therefore the aggressive testing strategy was useful but not enough. 

Emergence of Omicron:

  • The rise of the Omicron variant with a much higher rate of transmission left a large majority of infected individuals asymptomatic.
  • This made countries revise their testing strategies and other public health tools such as contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. 

Arguments supporting aggressive testing:

  • Public health benefits and tackling the spread of infection are the major objectives of diagnostic testing during outbreaks, epidemics or pandemics.
  • It is suggested that at the individual level an early detection will benefit the clinical management.
  • Early detection with the increase in testing capacity will also reduce the transmission of infection.
  • According to many experts, ramping up of tests will generate data on the pandemic scenario. 

Arguments against aggressive testing:

  • It is argued that testing asymptomatic individuals or those with mild symptoms will not bring any alterations and benefits to the treatment. Therefore, testing asymptomatic individuals will increase the burden on the laboratories. 
  • The transmission of the Omicron variant is already widespread with many asymptomatic cases. This makes it absolutely unnecessary to ramp up testing for individuals who are not at high risk. 
  • It has been observed that the RAT (Rapid antigen testing) kits are not accessible to all. As a result, a mere increase in the availability of the testing kits will not serve as an efficient method to detect all infections. 
  • Moreover, in a country like India, there are 800 million beneficiaries of free ration who cannot afford the RAT kits. 
  • The promotion of RAT kits will be sound only if it ensures equitable access to all. 
  • Ramping up tests on the grounds of data collection is not in alignment with the primary objective of public health interventions. 

Walking ahead with the new testing strategy:

  • After a profound analysis, the health experts extended support towards a holistic public health system that offers maximum benefits to most of the citizens. 
  • The efficient, optimal and intelligent use of laboratory and available testing tools is highly recommended as unnecessary testing may lead to the delay in the release of reports for those who are at high risk. 
  • It is a requirement of essence that the public health tools are modified and calibrated at every stage of the pandemic. 
  • The new strategy of testing with a purpose and when needed is anticipated to improve the methods of dealing with the infection with judicious use of healthcare tools. This will also reduce the burden on healthcare professionals and speed up the process of service delivery. 
  • The shift recommended by ICMR will provide a comprehensive approach to respond to the pandemic with an understanding of local epidemiology and the principles of public health. 

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A paradigm shift from a treatment-oriented approach to an approach focused on public health will play a critical role in tackling the ongoing pandemic and the emerging variants of COVID-19. Unless there is a purposeful testing strategy, it is difficult to handle the pandemic and its implications in a pragmatic way.
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F. Prelims Facts

1. Tools to test ties with the past

Context 

Tamil Nadu is using technology for authentication of the findings from the excavations at Keeladi and Sivakalai, besides tapping into literary evidence.

Details

  • Archaeological excavations at Keeladi and carbon dating analysis of rice with soil found in a burial urn at Sivakalai, indicate the Thambirabarani civilisation dates back to 3,200 years, have reignited an interest in the ancientness of Tamil civilisation.
  • The State is now using scientific methodologies, along with literary evidence, to ensure the findings are indisputable and stand intellectual scrutiny globally. 
Ring well

Image Source: The Hindu

Use of Technology

  • An ancient DNA lab is being set up at Madurai Kamaraj University in collaboration with international agencies. Samples are being sent to Florida for carbon dating.
  • A further three sites will be added to the excavation list including Tulukkapatti and Vembakottai to validate the cultural significance of Adichchanallur and Sivakalai; and Perumbalai.
  • Efforts are on to undertake under-sea explorations through a survey at an ancient port Korkai. This will be a multi-modal agency operation involving the National Institute of Ocean Technology and the Indian Maritime University. 
  • Efforts are on to incorporate the findings with much focus on ancient science and technology in the school syllabus.
  • The government has shown interest in multidisciplinary long-term projects that will help to address many aspects of the State’s heritage.
  • Among the major projects are to explore the use of Artificial Intelligence and training people to decipher inscriptions and identify changes that occur over a period of time on the inscriptions.

G. Tidbits

1. India, U.K. kick off talks for free trade agreement

Context

Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and U.K. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan kicked off talks for an ambitious, comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Details

  • India stands to gain from this multi-dimensional economic partnership with its exports growth in leather, textiles, jewellery, processed agri-products.
  • The bilateral trade of $50 billion is expected to double to $100 billion in 10 years.
  • This is the first major negotiation exercise that the U.K. has held with India since Brexit.
  • The U.K. counterparts believe that, by 2050, India will be the world’s third-largest economy with a middle class of almost 250 million shoppers and want to unlock this huge new market for British producers and manufacturers across numerous industries from food and drink to services and automotive.

2. India extends $900 mn aid to Sri Lanka

Context

India confirmed a $400 million currency swap with Sri Lanka while deferring another $500 million due for settlement to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), as a move aimed at helping Sri Lanka that is witnessing an unprecedented economic crisis.

Read more about Sri Lanka’s Crisis in CNA dated Jan 7, 2022.

Details

  • The RBI had extended a similar swap facility of $400 million to help Sri Lanka cope with the impact of the first wave of the pandemic.
  • The recent announcement of RBI assistance includes deferring the payment of $500 that Sri Lanka owes to the ACU, a regional initiative with the Central Banks and Monetary Authorities of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Read more about India’s Assistance to Sri Lanka in CNA dated Dec 3, 2021.

3. U.S. denounces China’s maritime claims

Context

The U.S. laid out its most detailed case yet against Beijing’s “unlawful” claims in the South China Sea, rejecting both the geographic and historic bases for its vast, divisive map.

Details

  • The South China Sea is home to valuable oil and gas deposits and shipping lanes, and China’s neighbours have frequently voiced their concern that their giant neighbour was seeking to expand its reach.
  • In the research paper, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs said China had no basis under international law for claims that have put Beijing on a collision course with the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations.

Also read: South China Sea Dispute

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. The post of Lt. Governor can be found in which of these Union Territories? 
  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Chandigarh
  3. Delhi
  4. Lakshadweep
  5. Puducherry

Options:

  1. 1, 2, 3 and 5 only
  2. 3 and 5 only
  3. 1, 3 and 5 only
  4. 1, 2 and 4 only
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

Q2. Consider the following statements:
  1. The proposal for appointment of Administrator/Lt. Governor in the UTs is initiated by the Home Ministry. 
  2. The concurrence of the Cabinet committee on appointments is obtained for appointment to the post of the administrator.
  3. As per the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 only an IAS officer can be appointed as an Administrator.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Statement 1 is correct. The proposal for appointment of Administrator/Lt. Governor in the UTs is initiated by the Home Ministry and approval of the President of India is obtained through the Prime Minister of India.
  • Statement 2 is not correct. As per Article 239, President appoints the administrator of a Union Territory. Hence, the concurrence of the Cabinet committee on appointments or the cabinet is not required.
  • Statement 3 is not correct. People other than IAS officers can also be appointed as Administrators of Union Territories.
Q3. With respect to India State of Forest Report, which of the following statements is/are 
correct?
  1. It is published every two years by the Forest Survey of India under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  2. The first survey was published in 1987. 

Options:

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • India State of Forest Report (ISFR) is a biennial publication of the Forest Survey of India (FSI), an organization under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021 is the 17th report in the series, and this report was first published in the year 1987. 
Q4. Which of the following statements is/are correct with respect to Forest Survey Report 
2021?
  1. As compared to the assessment of 2019, there is a decrease in the total forest and tree cover of the country.
  2. Area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country.
  3. Mangroves have shown an increase of 17 sq km.

Options:

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

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Statement 1 is not correct. The forest and the tree cover has increased by 2,261 square kilometres in India since its last assessment conducted in 2019.
  • Statement 2 is correct. Area-wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country.
    • Top 5 states in terms of area:
      • Madhya Pradesh
      • Arunachal Pradesh
      • Chhattisgarh
      • Odisha
      • Maharashtra
  • Statement 3 is correct. The total mangrove cover in the country has increased by 17 sq. km, to reach 4,992 sq. km. Top states showing mangrove cover increase are,
    • Odisha (8 sq km)
    • Maharashtra (4 sq km) 
    • Karnataka (3 sq km) 
Q5. With respect to Asian Clearing Union (ACU), which of the following statements is/are 
correct?
  1. The Asian Clearing Union (ACU) was established at the initiative of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). 
  2. It is headquartered in Manila, Philippines.

Options:

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

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • Asian Clearing Union (ACU) is a payment settlement forum whereby the participants settle payments for transactions that take place within the regions and this is facilitated through the participating central banks on a wider basis.
  • Statement 1 is not correct. The Asian Clearing Union (ACU) was established at the initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). 
  • Statement 2 is not correct. The foundation of the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), with headquarters in Tehran, Iran, was laid on December 9, 1974.

Read more about Asian Clearing Union.

Q6. Siachen Glacier is situated to the (UPSC CSE 2020)
  1. East of Aksai Chin
  2. East of Leh
  3. North of Gilgit
  4. North of Nubra Valley
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

Image source: https://www.spslandforces.com/

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Discuss the role played by ISRO in making India a global space power. Also throw light on some of the challenges faced by ISRO in the present times. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-3, Science & Tech]
  2. Is it time to go back to the ‘Gandhian’ version of socialism to propel India’s development in the next few decades? Give supporting arguments. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-3, Economic Development]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 14 Jan 2022:- Download PDF Here

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