08 Jul 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
GOVERNANCE
1. Farm policies off target: study
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The low-down on India-Iran oil trade
C. GS3 Related
HEALTH
1. Getting the generic drug plan right
2. Effects of vitamin D deficiency on pregnant women
ECOLOGY
1. Quarrying doom foreseen in Kaziranga
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
F. Tidbits
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Farm policies off target: study

 

  • Despite the general perception that Indian farmers are beneficiaries of major subsidies, a new report says the overall effect of policy interventions between 2014 and 2016 is, in fact, a 6% annual reduction of gross farm revenues.
  • Consumers, on the other hand, pay an average 25% less for commodities as a result of policy interventions.

The report

  • According to researchers at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — an intergovernmental body of 36 developed countries — and the Indian think tank ICRIER, who analysed policies that affected the agricultural sector over the two-year period, government interventions were more consumer-centric than producer-centric.
  • The report “Agriculture Policies in India” points out that Indian farmers face regulations and restrictions — both in the domestic market and also when they attempt to export their produce — which often lead to producer prices that are lower than comparable international levels.
  • The researchers argue that despite large subsidies for fertilizers, power and irrigation, which offset somewhat the price-depressing effect of market interventions, the overall effect of policy intervention over the 2014-16 period is a 6% annual reduction of gross farm revenues.
  • While consumers have benefited from the government’s efforts to keep prices low, a poorly targeted, inefficient and wasteful public distribution system means that malnutrition and food insecurity continue to persist.

Recommendations

  • The report has several suggestions for policymakers, including reform of market regulations, strengthening initiatives such as e-NAM and allowing private players to play a larger role in the sector.
  • It also recommends a strengthening of the regulatory environment governing land issues, strengthening access to credit, especially long-term loans, and developing collective-action groundwater and watershed management and correcting measures — including electricity pricing — which incentivise the overuse of water.
  • With regard to the PDS, the report suggests gradual reduction and a move towards cash transfers and allowing the private sector to manage remaining stock operations.
  • To make trade work for Indian agriculture, import tariffs must be reduced and export restrictions relaxed to create a more stable and predictable market environment.

 

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. The low-down on India-Iran oil trade

 

  • Iran has always been one of India’s main suppliers of oil, second only to Iraq and Saudi Arabia, with exports that totalled more than 27 million tonnes last year.

Background

  • In 2012, when the Obama administration wanted to maximise pressure on Iran in order to secure the nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it had sent a similar tough message to New Delhi, albeit more discreetly than the Trump administration has.
  • India agreed to cut oil imports by 15% subsequently but asserted its autonomy.
  • Three months later, the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, even visited Tehran to attend the Non-Alignment Summit, despite U.S. objections.
  • Eventually, New Delhi operationalised a ‘rupee-rial’ mechanism, under which half of what it owed Tehran for oil imports would be held in a UCO Bank account and made available to Iranian companies to use for any imports from India, an arrangement the Narendra Modi government is seeking to re-energise.
  • India is Iran’s biggest buyer after China, and as a result, a target for the U.S. which has declared a campaign to isolate Iran after the Trump administration withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal.
  • For India, which has been told along with other buyers to take oil imports to zero by the cut-off date of November 4, its decisions on procuring Iran oil this point onwards is not so much about securing energy as it is about securing India’s standing in the world.

Challenges

  • If it rejects U.S. pressure, it risks sanctions as well as incurring the displeasure of its all-powerful friend and defence partner.
  • If it yields, it risks its relationship with traditional partner Iran, access to important trade routes through Chabahar and the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), as well as its international reputation.
  • Ties with the U.S. are under strain over several issues, including U.S. trade tariffs and India’s defence procurement from Russia, and a major divergence on Iran will exacerbate the problem with India’s biggest trading partner and fastest growing defence partnership.
  • Moreover, in an increasingly globalised world, where Indian companies compete, any U.S. sanctions will make it hard for refiners, insurers and transport companies to facilitate oil trade, even if India wishes to continue it.
  • On the other hand, India’s investment in the Iranian relationship has increased, making a turnaround much more difficult.
  • Just five months ago, New Delhi rolled out the red carpet for Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and committed itself to increasing its oil off-take by 25% this year, as part of easing negotiations for the Farzad-B gas fields India is keen to buy a stake in.
  • India has also committed itself to investing $500 million to build berths at Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port, and $2 billion to build a rail line through the Zahedan province to Afghanistan, in an effort to circumvent trade restrictions by Pakistan.
  • Iran’s other oil importers, China and Turkey, have said they will not accept the U.S.’s diktat.
  • While India’s oil supplies are diversified, its options in this game of diplomatic brinkmanship are narrowing.

C. GS3 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. Getting the generic drug plan right

 

Generic Drugs

  • The brand producing a new molecule gets a patent to be able to have selling rights.
  • Once a drug loses its patent protection, it can then be produced by several other drug manufacturers and is called a ‘generic’.
  • A generic drug is defined as a drug product that is comparable to a brand/reference-listed drug product in dosage, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics and intended use.
  • Branded generics are those that are given a unique name by their marketers to enable doctors and patients to identify a product they can trust from the ocean of numerous alternatives.

Concerns

  • Though efforts have been made to draw the government’s attention to the substandard quality of some generic drugs floating across the country there is still no clarity on the definitions of all three categories.
  • The confusion is not just limited to laypersons but is prevalent among doctors too.
  • The government’s decision to ask doctors to prescribe a generic name has made things complicated.
  • Current regulations allow doctors to prescribe branded as well as generic drugs but generic drugs can also be produced by brands (branded generic).
  • Even the chemists do not have a way to know about the differences in quality as patients do not come back and inform them about their recovery.

Way forward

  • There is a need to have in place stringent criteria for government agencies to ensure that there is no difference in the dose, efficacy, potency and side-effects between generics and the branded ones.
  • The government should ensure that all pharmacies have qualified pharmacists and that basic quality is maintained for all generics produced in India.
  • In short, there should be a sort of star-rating for quality certification, helping people to understand the quality of the generic.
  • The government’s intention to promote generics will reach its goal only if these three important factors (clarity in definition, safe quality and standardised quality certifications along with qualification of pharmacists) are considered.

2. Effects of vitamin D deficiency on pregnant women

 

  • One in three pregnant women in Norway has a vitamin D deficiency at the end of her pregnancy, a study has shown.
  • In Norway’s dark winter months, the percentage of pregnant women with a vitamin D deficiency rose to 50%.

Effects of deficiency

  • Low vitamin D levels can have serious repercussions for the bone health of both mother and child.
  • Vitamin D is necessary for calcium to be taken up by the intestine.
  • Low levels of the vitamin have also been linked to an increased risk of premature birth as well as asthma in the child.
  • The risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes may also increase.

Project Dhoop

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched a nationwide campaign to spread awareness about availing Vitamin D through natural sunlight and consuming fortified food among school-going children.
  • The project was implemented in collaboration with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), North MCD and several private schools through a Joint Noon Assembly.
  • Project Dhoop urges schools to shift their morning assembly to noon time, mainly between 11am and 1pm to ensure maximum absorption of Vitamin D in students through natural sunlight.

Category: ECOLOGY

1. Quarrying doom foreseen in Kaziranga

 

  • A report by the divisional forest officer has underlined the imminent threat that Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and prime one-horned rhino habitat, faces from unscientific stone quarrying in its vicinity.

Background

  • The 884 sq. km. Kaziranga is also a tiger reserve with one of the highest population densities of the striped cat.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority had asked the Assam government to immediately stop all mining, quarrying and stone crushing activities in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape.
  • The southern edge of Kaziranga adjoins the hilly Karbi Anglong — the park’s animals flee there during high floods.
  • There are numerous waterbodies and streams flowing down the Karbi Anglong hills and joining larger streams, including the Diffolu river, to flow into the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve area.

Issues

  • The stone quarrying process is affecting the water quality and thereby affecting the wildlife habitat in and around Kaziranga, and the environment as a whole.
  • The stone quarrying process will also affect soil quality and will have an impact on the vegetation and agricultural fields downstream and around the area.
  • The report further said the unscientific quarries were blocking natural springs originating from the hills and physically changing the course of water flow.
  • There is also a higher degree of siltation and increase in turbidity of water due to the carrying of unfertile soil from the quarrying sites by the rains during monsoon season.
  • The quarrying process is also causing noise pollution in and around the southern boundary of the Bagori, Kohora and Burapahar ranges of the Kaziranga National Park.
  • Noise pollution is adversely affecting animal behaviour and their movement in these areas.

Nothing here for today!!!

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

 

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements 
  1. Tides are the response to the gravitational pull of the sun, the rotation of the earth and the moon.

  2. In the open ocean tidal currents are relatively weak.

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

Options:

  1. i) only
  2. ii) only
  3. Both i) and ii)
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
 
Question 2. Which of the following places is/are known for mural paintings
  1. Ajanta caves

  2. Bagh caves

  3.  Badami Caves

  4. Ellora caves

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

Options:

  1. I, IV only

  2. II, III only
  3. II, III, IV
  4. I, II, IV

See

Answer
 
Question 3. Which of the following can be the problem of developed countries?
  1. Low population levels

  2. High proportion of old age population

  3. Inefficient agricultural sector

  4. Congestion in towns

  5. Growth of slums.

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

Options:

    1. All 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    2. Only 2, 4, 5
    3. Only 1, 3, 4, 5
    4. Only 1, 2, 3,4

See

Answer
 
Question 4.Consider the statements:
  1. The Aligarh Movement was started by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan for the social and educational advancement of the Muslims in India.

  2. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan fought against the medieval backwardness and advocated a rational approach towards religion.

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

Options:

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

 

See

Answer
 

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

 
  1. Transparency and accountability can play an important role in addressing both developmental failures and democratic deficits. Illustrate with examples.

  2. Explain in detail how Judiciary can be restructured by taking examples from other countries.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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