UPSC Exam: Comprehensive News Analysis - January 18

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH ISSUES
1. Taxation policy on Tobacco Products
2. Early menopause results in higher risk of heart disease: study
EDUCATION
1. Revamping RTE
POLITY
1. Can govt. mandate sharing of biometric data, asks SC
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India-Israel’s USD 500 mn Spike missile deal ‘back on table’: Netanyahu
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Thinking of organising mini-ministerial of WTO members, says Suresh Prabhu
CYBER-SECURITY
1. Home Ministry pitches for Budapest Convention on cyber security
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY
1. West Bengal rivers are not fit even for bathing, says report
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: HEALTH ISSUES

1. Taxation policy on Tobacco Products

 What is the existing policy on Tobacco products?

  • Tobacco products are categorised as sin goods or demerit goods .Therefore, it has become imperative for policymakers to devise measures to effectively curb their use.
  • Over the years, governments have resorted to a mix of policies which range from monitoring the pricing and taxation regime of these products to the focus gradually shifting towards awareness campaigns highlighting the deadly effects of tobacco use, regulatory control laws pertaining to packaging and labelling as well as shaming and prohibiting its use in public places.

What is the stand of Judiciary?

  • The Supreme Court recently stayed a Karnataka High Court order setting aside the 2014 amendment rules to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 that prescribed tobacco packages having pictorial warnings covering 85% of the package space.
  • This is in contrast to the High Court order that viewed the 2014 rules violating constitutional norms as being an unreasonable restriction on the right to do business and earn a livelihood.
  • The High Court also held that there seemed to be no connection between the images and the warnings. The Supreme Court observed that the health of a citizen has primacy.

What is unique about India’s Tobacco consumption?

  • India is the second largest consumer and producer of tobacco-based products
  • The World Health Organisation’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2016-17) highlights India’s distinct pattern of tobacco consumption in multiple forms such as cigarettes, bidis, chewing tobacco and khaini (smokeless tobacco) — in contrast to the global trend of cigarettes being the primary source of consumption.
  • In India, bidis, chewing tobacco and khaini form 89% of consumption as against 11% for cigarettes.

What is the reason for such a skewed pattern in India?

  • If we look at the competitive dynamics and pricing, a key reason for such disparity is because it is based on the unit-level pricing of multiple forms of tobacco.
  • The average unit price of a bidi or smokeless tobacco is significantly lower than of a cigarette. Therefore, the former is a cheaper source for consumers who are mostly from the low-income segment of society.

What is the impact of GST on Tobacco Products

  • The nationwide implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) has not improved the situation.
  • All tobacco-related products have been placed in the 28% tax slab. Additionally, a National Calamity Contingent Duty (NCCD) and a cess charge have been imposed on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
  • The pre- and post-GST impact on prices of tobacco-related products is useful in the context of pricing multiple forms of tobacco products in India.
  • Except for a price drop in the smallest pack size of bidi, there has only been a marginal rise in the price of bidi for other pack sizes after the roll-out of the GST. Further, the price of an average bidi pack has been increased by 20 paise.
  • In comparison, the price rise post-GST is much higher for cigarettes. The average increase in pack price has been the highest for the economy pack followed by the premium and mid-priced packs.
  • If we consider other tobacco-related variants such as smokeless tobacco and pan masala, their pricing trends move in the opposite direction with respect to pack sizes.
  • In the case of smokeless tobacco, the maximum price increase has been in the smallest pouch size category (less than 2 grams) whereas an increase of only 10-20 paise per pack has been observed across other pouch sizes.
  • Pan masala, on the other hand, has shown a decline in post-GST prices for smaller pouch sizes and a rise for larger pouch sizes.
  • Therefore, one may be able to postulate that the GST roll-out has not had much of an impact either on the pricing of various tobacco products or in reduction of the vast disparity between its different variants. The impact has been negligible in the case of bidis.

What are changes required in the future policy?

  • The revisions in the taxation policy concerning tobacco products should ideally have a mix: of a removal of all excise and other tax exemptions irrespective of the size of the unit, restrictions on sales of loose sticks and raising taxes/duties on bidis and smokeless tobacco by a significantly higher level to narrow the gap between the price of bidis and smokeless tobacco vis-à-vis cigarettes keeping in mind the increased probability of health-related issues among low-income poor households and the health-care burden.

2. Early menopause results in higher risk of heart disease: study

Highlights of a recent UK study published in Heart, an international cardiology journal:
  • The study was conducted primarily among white British women.
  • Women who start their menstruation cycle at the age of 11 or earlier, or enter menopause before 47, have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Other factors that were associated with elevated odds of heart problems in later years were miscarriage, stillbirth, undergoing a hysterectomy, and bearing children at a young age.
  • Women who had premature reproductive cycles or a history of adverse events should be screened for heart problems.
  • The study found a strong link between women’s reproductive health and her risk of cardiovascular problems.
  • Cardiovascular disease, a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels, remains the leading cause of death worldwide.
  • Previous research has suggested that the early onset of periods is linked to obesity, a known risk factor for heart disease in later life.
  • However the findings of this study showed that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease increased for women even if they had a healthy weight
  • The researchers also ruled out smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure as possible causes.

What needs to be done?

  • Policymakers should consider implementing more frequent screening for cardiovascular disease among women with one or more of the risk factors highlighted in order to put in place measures that can help delay or prevent the development of heart disease and stroke.

 Category: EDUCATION

1. Revamping RTE

 

  • From the findings of the Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2017, it is clear that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act should cover the entire spectrum of 18 years, and not confine itself to those aged 6 to 14.

What is the need?

  • Guaranteed inclusion will empower those in the 14-18 age group who are not enrolled anywhere, and help them acquire finishing education that is so vital to their participation in the workforce.
  • The ASER sample study estimates that 14% of this age group — a total of 125 million young Indians in this category — are not enrolled.
  • It is absolutely essential for all of them to get an education that equips them with the skills, especially job-oriented vocational capabilities, if the expectation of a demographic dividend is to be meaningful.

What is the status of Elementary education in India?

  • The state of rural elementary education is far from encouraging.
  • Only 5% of the respondents in the survey, which was aided by the NGO Pratham, reported doing any kind of vocational course, and even among this small minority a third were enrolled for three months or less.
  • Moreover, learning outcomes for those who had progressed to higher levels of schooling were shockingly low: only 43% of the youth could solve an arithmetic problem involving division of a three-digit number by a single digit; among those who were no longer in school, the percentage was sharply lower.
  • The insights available from successive studies point to progress being made in raw enrolment of children in school, but miserable failures in achieving learning outcomes.
  • Also, enrolment figures often do not mean high attendance. It is not surprising; therefore, that a significant section of secondary level students find it difficult to read standard texts meant for junior classes or locate their own State on the map.
  • There are also discrete differences among States on the number of youth who are not on the rolls in appropriate levels of schooling, with 29.4% of both boys and girls aged 17-18 not enrolled in a Chhattisgarh district, compared to 4.5% and 3.9%, respectively, in a Kerala district.
  • The ASER data point to a massive digital divide, with 61% of respondents stating they had never used the Internet, and 56% a computer, while mobile telephony was accessible to 73%.
  • Here too, girls were worse off in terms of access to computers and the Internet. Scaling up access to these can be achieved by bringing all children under the umbrella of a school, college or training institution. All expenditure on good education is bound to have a multiplier effect on productivity.
  • We need a vision that will translate the objectives of the RTE Act into a comprehensive guarantee, expanding its scope to cover all levels of education.

Category: POLITY

1. Can govt. mandate sharing of biometric data, asks SC

 Context:

  • Sharing of biometric data.
  • A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began hearing 27 writ petitions filed by people from all walks of life and across the country.

Supreme Court Observations:

  • The Supreme Court asked whether the state could compel citizens, including children, to part with their biometrics in public interest.

Petitioner’s contention:

  • The petitioners described the Aadhaar “project” as a “giant electronic leash,” which reduces individuals to mere numbers.
  • The captured personal data of crores of citizens were transferred from private enrolment agencies to the UIDAI without any legal framework.
  • There was no free consent. There was no ‘opt-out’ option.
  • Can the state’s right of eminent domain extend to the human body?
  • Can the state encroach on personal body autonomy?

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India-Israel’s USD 500 mn Spike missile deal ‘back on table’: Netanyahu

 In news:

  • “India will buy Israel’s Spike anti-tank guided missiles”, Israeli media quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying.
  • The deal was cancelled a few weeks ahead of Netanyahu’s visit to India and its renewal is considered to be a “major strategic achievement“.
  • The final details and scope of the deal are still in the process of being worked out
  • As per the original proposal, India had planned to acquire the ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) for the Army at a cost of USD 500 million.

Why was the deal canceled?

  • New Delhi had earlier indicated that the proposal to acquire the missile system faced hurdles when Israeli side apparently expressed reservations in ensuring full transfer of technology as per the provisions of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Transfer of technology:

  • The Indian defence ministry has been strongly pushing for transfer of technology in procuring various weapons and other platforms from foreign defence majors as part of its broad policy initiative to encourage domestic defence industry.

C. GS3 Related

 Category: ECONOMY

1. Thinking of organising mini-ministerial of WTO members, says Suresh Prabhu

In news:

  • India is planning to hold a mini-ministerial meeting of about 40 World Trade Organization (WTO) members.
  • Meeting focus:
    • To discuss ways to increase global trade.
    • Deliberate upon ways to “create bigger markets”.

Category: CYBER-SECURITY

1. Home Ministry pitches for Budapest Convention on cyber security

In news:

  • India was reconsidering its position on becoming a member of the Budapest Convention. This was because of the surge in cybercrime, especially after a push for digital India.

Opposition by Intelligence Bureau

  • The move is being opposed by the Intelligence Bureau
  • IB argues that sharing data with foreign law enforcement agencies infringes on national sovereignty and may jeopardize the rights of individuals

Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C):

  • Home ministry has set a deadline of February this year to operationalize the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)
  • The Home Minister had announced the setting up of I4C in 2016 to deal with all types of cyber Crime at the national level
  • I4C will be set up under the newly created Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division of the MHA
  • CIS will have four wings, namely security clearance, cybercrime prevention, cyber security and information security
Basic Information:

Budapest Convention

  • The Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is the first international treaty seeking to address Internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations
  • It was drawn up by the Council of Europe
  • The Convention is the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks, dealing particularly with infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, child pornography, hate crimes, and violations of network security
  • It also provides procedural law tools to make investigation of cybercrime and securing of e-evidence in relation to any crime more effective
  • The convention allows international police and judicial cooperation on cybercrime and e-evidence
  • The Convention has 56 members, including the US and the UK

Category: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY

1. West Bengal rivers are not fit even for bathing, says report

In news:

  • According to the latest State of Environment Report, published by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB), in 17 major rivers of the State, including the Ganges, the levels of coliform bacteria (found mainly in human faeces) are much higher than the permissible limit of MPN (most probable number) per 100 ml.
  • The permissible limit as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guideline is 500.
Basic Information:
  • Coliform bacteria are defined as rod-shaped Gram-negative non-spore forming and motile or non-motile bacteria which can ferment lactose with the production of acid and gas when incubated at 35–37°C.
  • They are a commonly used indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water. Coliforms can be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation; they are universally present in large numbers in the feces of warm-blooded animals.
  • While coliforms themselves are not normally causes of serious illness, they are easy to culture, and their presence is used to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of fecal origin may be present.
  • Such pathogens include disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or protozoa and many multicellular parasites.

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 statement/s with reference to Indian Cyber 
Crime Coordination Centre (I4C).
  1. The Home Minister had announced the setting up of I4C to deal with all types of cyber Crime at the State level
  2. I4C will be set up under the newly created Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division of the Ministry of Home Affairs
  3. CIS will have four wings, namely security clearance, cybercrime prevention, cyber security and information security

Choose the correct statement/s from the codes 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 statement/s with reference to Budapest Convention.
  1. Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is the first international treaty seeking to address Internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations.
  2. Important countries like Brazil and India have declined to adopt the Convention on the grounds that they did not participate in its drafting.

Choose the correct statement/s from the codes 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 statement/s with reference to coliform bacteria.
  1. Coliform bacteria are a commonly used indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water.
  2. The permissible limit of Coliform bacteria as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guideline is 500.

Choose the correct statement/s from the codes given below:

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

See

Answer

 

Question 4. Consider the following statement/s with reference to “The Raisina Dialogue”.
  1. The Raisina Dialogue is a multilateral conference held annually in New Delhi.
  2. The theme for the 2018 Conference is “Managing Disruptive Transitions: Ideas, Institutions and Idioms”.

Choose the correct statement/s from the codes given below:

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

See

Answer

 

Question 5. Doha Development Round is often in news. It relates to which of the following?
  1. Talks regarding international monetary system
  2. Talks regarding refugee crisis
  3. Talks at WTO regarding world trade
  4. None of the above

See

Answer

 

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper II
  1. Critically comment on the objectives and implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in India. In your opinion what needs to be done to address its shortcomings?
  2. Life expectancy in India is on the rise, but the quality of health care services is inadequate. Discuss.

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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