UPSC Exam: Comprehensive News Analysis - January 16

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. Operation Digital Board in the offing
2. Face recognition option soon for Aadhaar
3. Historians oppose Monuments Bill
4. AIIMS doctors invite Nadda for open debate on NMC bill
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS
1. India assures Israeli firms of easier environment to do business
2. Israel seeks ‘big data’ from India, signs 4 agreements
3. Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk renamed Teen Murti Haifa Chowk for Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit
SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. World Social Protection Report 2017-19
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. First labour code on wages likely to be passed in budget session
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY
1. Soil Sequestration and Climate change
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

 Nothing here for today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Operation Digital Board in the offing

 In news:

  • The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) passed a resolution to take steps towards Operation Digital Board on the lines of Operation Blackboard of 1987.
  • Operation Blackboard was started with the purpose of providing minimum basic facilities to all primary schools.

Idea behind operation Digital Board:

  • The idea of Operation Digital Board is aimed at providing better digital education in all schools.
  • This will offer new opportunities and new ways of teaching and learning to schools.

About Operation Blackboard:

  • Operation Blackboard is a centrally sponsored programme which was started in 1987 immediately after the Rajiv Gandhi NPE of 1986 was released to supply the bare minimum crucial facilities to all primary schools in the country.
  • The objective of the scheme is providing students studying in primary settings with the necessary institutional equipment and instructional material to facilitate their education.
  • There is a provision to provide salary for an additional teacher to those primary schools that have an enrolment of more 100 students or for a consecutive period of two years.
  • In the ninth five year plan the scheme was extended to all upper primary schools as well.

2. Face recognition option soon for Aadhaar

 New features:

  • The Unique Identification Authority of India has decided to enable Face Authentication by July 1 this year for validating Aadhaar
  • Face authentication will only be allowed on a “need” basis.

Why new recognition?

  • This move comes on the back of reports that beneficiaries of government schemes were not able to avail themselves of their entitlements in the absence of Aadhaar authentication.
  • This facility will help in inclusive authentication of those who are not able to biometrically authenticate their Aadhaar numbers because their fingerprints are worn out owing to old age or hard working conditions

3. Historians oppose Monuments Bill

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • Lok Sabha passes a bill to build public projects in protected monuments
  • Rajyasabha is yet to clear the bill.

Urbanization and its impact on the monuments:

  • The pressures of urban development have meant that more and more historical monuments are coming under threat due to development activities around them
  • Rapid urbanisation has threatened many sites of historical importance, for example, megalithic sites (Iron Age burials) en route Chengalpattu from Chennai

Concerns:

  • Some historians and archaeologists have expressed concern over amendments proposed to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958)
  • The Act is sought to be amended so that public works could be allowed within the 100 m prohibited zone
  • The act originally instituted conservation measures and banned construction activities near protected monuments

The CAG report on missing monuments

  • In 2013, CAG report raised an alarm that 92 historical monuments had gone “missing” due to development activities around them.
  • After the report, the ASI started a ground survey to verify them, and found that 21 had indeed become untraceable.

4. AIIMS doctors invite Nadda for open debate on NMC bill

Concerns raised by the Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS against the NMC bill:

  • The bill is anti-people, anti-poor and puts medical education into the hands of the rich and powerful.
  • Issues like nomination of majority of members of NMC by bureaucrats and politicians, full control of corporate sector to decide fees of more than 60 per cent of seats, National Licentiate Exam(NLE), no provision of grievances redressal for students, bridge course, registration, among others — the issues are serious enough to destroy the future of medical education in this country.
Basic Information:

The National Medical Commission Bill, 2017

The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and provide for a medical education system which ensures: (i) availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals, (ii) adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals, (iii) periodic assessment of medical institutions, and (iv) an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

Key features of the Bill include:

Constitution of the National Medical Commission:  The Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC).  Within three years of the passage of the Bill, state governments will establish State Medical Councils at the state level.  The NMC will consist of 25 members, appointed by the central government.  A Search Committee will recommend names to the central government for the post of Chairperson, and the part time members.  These posts will have a maximum term of four years.  The Search Committee will consist of seven members including the Cabinet Secretary and three experts nominated by the central government (of which two will have experience in the medical field).

Members of the NMC will include: (i) the Chairperson, (ii) the President of the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board, (iii) the President of the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board, (iv) the Director General of Health Services, Directorate General of Health Services, (v) the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, and (vi) five members (part-time) to be elected by the registered medical practitioners from amongst themselves from the prescribed regional constituencies under the Bill.

Functions of the National Medical Commission:  Functions of the NMC include: (i) framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals, (ii) assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure, (iii) ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of the regulations made under the Bill, (iv) framing guidelines for determination of fees for up to 40% of the seats in the private medical institutions and deemed universities which are regulated as per the Bill.

Medical Advisory Council:  Under the Bill, the central government will constitute a Medical Advisory Council.  The Council will be the primary platform through which the states/union territories can put forth their views and concerns before the NMC.  Further, the Council will advise the NMC on measures to enable equitable access to medical education.

Autonomous boards:  The Bill sets up certain autonomous boards under the supervision of the NMC.  Each autonomous board will consist of a President and two members, appointed by the central government.  These boards are: (i) the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB) and the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board (PGMEB):  These Boards will be responsible for formulating standards, curriculum, guidelines, and granting recognition to medical qualifications at the undergraduate and post graduate levels respectively, (ii) the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB):  The MARB will have the power to levy monetary penalties on medical institutions which fail to maintain the minimum standards as laid down by the UGMEB and the PGMEB.  The MARB will also grant permission for establishing a new medical college, and (iii) the Ethics and Medical Registration Board:  This Board will maintain a National Register of all licensed medical practitioners, and regulate professional conduct.  Only those included in the Register will be allowed to practice medicine.

Entrance examinations:  There will be a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate medical education in all medical institutions regulated by the Bill.  The NMC will specify the manner of conducting common counselling for admission in all such medical institutions.

There will be a National Licentiate Examination for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice.  The National Licentiate Examination will also serve as the basis for admission into post-graduate courses at medical institutions.

Category: INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. India assures Israeli firms of easier environment to do business

 Key Points:

  • Israel is very much keen on the relaunch of the negotiations on the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India to boost ties.
  • New Delhi promised Israeli companies that it would address their concerns and make it easier for them to do business in India.
  • The FTA talks had begun a decade ago and missed the 2014 deadline.

2. Israel seeks ‘big data’ from India, signs 4 agreements

Bilateral discussions between Israel and India:

Highlights:

  • Israel has proposed to access India’s “big data”.
  • Israel and India have proposed a data driven method to counter cyber-threats
  • Israel has proposed a Precision agriculture methodology to revolutionise Indian farm production.
  • The idea of big data was brought into the discussion by the Israeli side in the context of emphasising how technology can now be used to agglomerate vast amounts of information and then bear on individual field and individual [Indian] farmer’s efforts, to improve the yield.
  • Data under consideration would be of a magnitude to facilitate monitoring of individual farmers and water utilisation, cutting of crop, plantation, soil condition.

Agreements signed:

  • MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation between India and Israel
  • MoU between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Ministry of Energy on Cooperation inOil and Gas Sector
  • Protocol between India and Israel on Amendments to the Air Transport Agreement
  • Agreement on Film-co-production between India and Israel
  • MoU between the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH and the Centre for Integrative Complementary Medicine, Shaare Zedek
  • Medical Center on Cooperation in the field of Research in homeopathic Medicine
  • MoU between Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology for cooperation in the field of space
  • Memorandum of Intent between Invest India and Invest in Israel
  • Letter of Intent between IOCL and Phinergy Ltd. For cooperation in the area of metal-air batteries
  • Letter of Intent between IOCL and Yeda Research and Development Co Ltd for cooperation in the area of concentrated solar thermal technologies

‘Precision agricuture’

  • Precision agriculture (PA), satellite farming or site specific crop management (SSCM) is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops.
  • The goal of precision agriculture research is to define a decision support system (DSS) for whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources.
  • The practice of precision agriculture has been enabled by the advent of GPS and GNSS. The farmer’s and/or researcher’s ability to locate their precise position in a field allows for the creation of maps of the spatial variability of as many variables as can be measured (e.g. crop yield, terrain features/topography, organic matter content, moisture levels, nitrogen levels, pH, EC, Mg, K, and others).Similar data is collected by sensor arrays mounted on GPS-equipped combine harvesters. These arrays consist of real-time sensors that measure everything from chlorophyll levels to plant water status, along with multispectral imagery. This data is used in conjunction with satellite imagery by variable rate technology (VRT) including seeders, sprayers, etc. to optimally distribute resources.

3. Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk renamed Teen Murti Haifa Chowk for Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit

In news:

  • India renamed the iconic Teen Murti Chowk, a war memorial as Teen Murti Haifa Chowk
  • This was done as a symbolic gesture of friendship with Israel

Battle of Haifa:

  • 2018 marks a centenary of the end of the World War I and the Battle of Haifa
  • The victorious operation by the Indian soldiers carried out on 23 September 1918 targeted the fortification of the city of Haifa which was then controlled by a joint Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian force
  • The Indian soldiers fighting for the Allied Powers captured Haifa and cleared a crucial route for the Allies
  • The liberation of Haifa cleared a supply route for the Allies to the city through the sea

Category: SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. World Social Protection Report 2017-19

What is Social protection?

  • Social protection is concerned with preventing, managing, and overcoming situations that adversely affect people’s well being.
  • Social protection consists of policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labour markets, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to manage economic and social risks, such as unemployment, exclusion, sickness, disability and old age.
  • The World Social Protection Report 2017-19 is released by the International Labour Organisation.

What are the major highlights of the report?

The goal of comprehensive coverage evidently remains a mere slogan in several parts of the world.

  • A vast majority of people (4 billion) live without any safeguard against the normal contingencies of life. Less than half (45.2%) have guaranteed access to only one social protection benefit in the face of a whole gamut of risks such as ill health, unemployment, occupational injuries, disability, and old age.
  • More than half the population in rural areas are not covered by universal health programmes, as compared to less than a quarter in urban locations.
  • Nearly two-thirds of children are not covered by any form of social protection, meaning that their education is unlikely to rank as a priority among households. Furthermore, 41% of mothers of newborns receive no maternity benefits.
  • Only 27.8% of persons with severe disabilities worldwide receive appropriate support. The expansion of old-age pensions to include 68% of people in the retirement age is a move in the right direction.

There is growing political support for the idea that public investment in social security is critical to eradicate poverty, boost economic growth, and reduce inequality.

  • About 29% of the population enjoy comprehensive social protection.
  • There has been a 2% increase in coverage in the last two years.

What are the challenges and how can they be addressed?

  • Major obstacles in this regard are fiscal austerity measures. The report reinforces the alternative approach, of economic stimulus and productivity-enhancing growth.
  • Targets under the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals lay out the framework for concerted efforts in this respect. An earlier ILO study documented the challenges facing countries, at their current rate of progress, to meet the 2025 target of eradicating child labour.
  • However, the levels of support are not adequate enough even to lift people out of poverty. A trend away from the privatisation of pension protection in Poland, Argentina, Hungary, among others, is a moment for other countries to rethink.
  • A highlight in the report is the practical tools and guidance on calculating the cost of different social benefits. It dispels the notion that universal coverage is beyond the reach of poor countries.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. First labour code on wages likely to be passed in budget session

 In news:

  • The government will push its first labour code – Wage Code Bill – in the forthcoming budget session. This would enable government to set benchmark minimum wage for different regions.
  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment aims to combine over 44 labour laws into four broad codes in wages, industrial relations, social security, and occupational safety, health and working conditions.

Wages Bill 2017:

  • The draft Code on Wages Bill 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2017
  • The bill seeks to combine Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1949, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 into one code

Important provisions of the bill:

  • The new Code on Wages will ensure minimum wages to all and timely payment to employees irrespective of the sector without any wage ceiling
  • The bill proposes a concept of statutory National Minimum Wage for different geographical areas
  • It will ensure that no state fixes the minimum wage below the benchmark decided by the Centre for that particular area
  • It also provides for an appellate authority between the claimed authority and the judicial forum which will lead to speedy, cheaper and efficient redressal of grievances and settlement of claims

Category: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY

1. Soil Sequestration and Climate change

 What is the relation between Soils and Climate change?

  • Soils can serve as a sink for carbon dioxide since atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have crossed 410 parts per million and oceans are already turning acidic.
  • Carbon sequestration in soils has the potential to offset GHG emissions from fossil fuels by up to 15% annually.
  • Increasing soil carbon offers a range of co-benefits and this would buy us time before other technologies can help us transition to a zero-carbon lifestyle.
  • Significant carbon pools on earth are found in the earth’s crust, oceans, atmosphere and land-based ecosystems.

What is Soil Organic Carbon?

  • Soils contain roughly 2,344 Gt (1 gigatonne = 1 billion tonnes) of organic carbon, making this the largest terrestrial pool.
  • Soil organic carbon (SOC) comes from plants, animals, microbes, leaves and wood, mostly found in the first metre or so.
  • There are many conditions and processes that determine changes to SOC content including temperature, rainfall, vegetation, soil management and land-use change.

What are the benefits of increasing Soil Organic Carbon?

  • Increasing SOC through various methods can improve soil health, agricultural yield, food security, water quality, and reduce the need for chemicals.
  • An increase of just 1 tonne of soil carbon pool of degraded cropland soils can increase crop yield by several kilograms per hectare.
  • Changing agricultural practices to make them more sustainable would not just address carbon mitigation but also improve other planetary boundaries in peril such as fresh water, biodiversity, land use and nitrogen use.
  • Currently, the world is on a path to be about 3ºC warmer than pre-Industrial times even if there was follow through on all the commitments made at the Paris climate conference in 2015.
  • The aim of the global community is to try and stay below 1.5ºC, which is a very tall order since current average temperatures are already about a degree higher.

How to increase SOC?

  • Approaches to increase SOC include reducing soil erosion, no-till-farming, use of cover crops, nutrient management, applying manure and sludge, water harvesting and conservation, and agro-forestry practices.

Why has crop yield reduced in India?

  • Agricultural yields have begun to drop in many places for a variety of reasons primarily related to degraded soils.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in the use of chemicals — pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
  • Industrial changes to agriculture have led to a range of adverse effects: loss of biodiversity, elimination of beneficial microbes and insects, reduction in yield, contamination of water bodies and soils, and increasing toxicity and deaths from chemical use in farm households.

Is India following sustainable practices?

  • India has a large number of successful sustainable agricultural practices that are consistent with ecological principles.
  • These include natural farming (or as the Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka calls it, ‘do-nothing farming’), permaculture and organic farming.
  • The number of farmers in organic farming has been increasing steadily, but many are simply deploying regular agriculture with natural substitutes for chemicals.
  • Up to a third of rain-fed farmers simply do not have the means to add chemicals, and are organic by default. Many States have some sustainable farming, with Madhya Pradesh reportedly having the highest acreage.
  • Many of these practices have come into their own over several decades — through the efforts of farmers and sometimes with support from local groups — and the time is long past where these are regarded as outlandish alternative methods.

What are the challenges?

  • There is little policy support for natural farming and the alternatives.
  • The fertilizer lobby, extension services, and the many agricultural scientists would oppose changes.

What are the steps that India needs to take?

  • India’s population will continue to increase through at least the middle of the century and we need to be able to grow more food, grown in less land and in more severe weather conditions.
  • State-level policy makers need to understand better the successes on the ground in India’s different agro-climatic zones
  • They also need to identify what kinds of support are needed by farmers with small holdings to transition from existing practices. Not paying attention to the successes of our own farmers has partly contributed to the agrarian crisis the country now faces.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in its 2016 report in fact recommended revision of the existing fertiliser subsidy policy and promotion of organic fertilizers.
  • The government has been promoting a Soil Health Card scheme to measure the health of the soils in different parts of the country and in each farm.
  • The practices that integrate good management of soil, water and land provide a host of benefits.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

E. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for Today!!!

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements with reference to Opertion Blackboard scheme.
  1. It is a centrally sponsored programme.
  2. The programme main aim is to supply the bare minimum crucial facilities to all primary schools in the country.
  3. The programme has a provision to provide salary for an additional teacher to those primary schools that have an enrolment of more 100 students or for a consecutive period of two years.

Identify the correct statements from the options given below

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

See

Answer

 

Question 2. Consider the following statements with reference to The National Medical 
Commission Bill, 2017.
  1. The bill seeks to conduct a National Licentiate Examination for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice
  2. The National Licentiate Examination will also serve as the basis for admission into post-graduate courses at medical institutions.

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 3. Consider the following statements with reference to The Battle of Haifa.
  1. The Indian soldiers on 23 September 1918 targeted the fortification of the city of Haifa which was then controlled by a joint Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian forces.
  2. The liberation of Haifa cleared a supply route for the Allies to the city through the sea.
  3. 2018 marks a centenary of the end of the World War II and the Battle of Haifa.

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 4. Consider the following statements.
  1. Any ordinary law needs to be passed by both the Houses.
  2. Money bills need to be passed only by the Lok Sabha.
  3. In case of a disagreement between the two houses on ordinary bills, a joint sitting is called that is presided by the President.

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

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

See

Answer

 

Question 5. Consider the following about Sodium Nitrite, recently seen in news.
  1. It is both an oxidising and a reducing agent.
  2. It is a food additive to enhance botulism.
  3. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

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

See

Answer

 

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper II
  1. Do you think “The National Medical Commission Bill, 2017” that was introduced in the Lok Sabha is a remedy that can improve quality and quantity of medical education and practice in India? Comment critically.
GS Paper IV
  1. The crisis of ethical values in modern times is traced to a narrow perception of the good life. Discuss.

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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