10 Jul 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

10 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
HEALTH
1. Govt. ‘watching’ WHO alert on airborne spread of virus
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. PM CARES is separate from NDRF: govt
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India to take call on Australia’s inclusion in Malabar exercises
2. Australia ends HK extradition treaty
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Country of origin tag a must
2. Govt. notifies draft rules on wages Act
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. None gains: On U.S. withdrawal from WHO
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Owning up to criminalisation in politics
EDUCATION
1. Invisible loads, arbitrary deletions
F. Prelims Facts
1. Rajnath Singh inaugurates 6 bridges in J&K
G. Tidbits
1. Army personnel told to delete 89 apps by July 15
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. PM CARES is separate from NDRF: govt

Context:

  • The government, in responding to a writ petition filed by an NGO that said contributions to PM CARES should be transferred entirely to the NDRF, said that funds like PM CARES were “separate, different, distinct” from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
  • The Ministry also outrightly rejected a plea to credit the amounts received by PM CARES for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic into the NDRF.

This topic has been covered in the 31st March 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India to take call on Australia’s inclusion in Malabar exercises

Context:

India will take a decision on whether to include Australia in the Malabar exercises with Japan and the U.S.

Details:

  • After years of reluctance, India said it was open to Australia’s inclusion in the Malabar as an observer.
  • Japan and the U.S. have been keen on Canberra’s inclusion and have been pushing India to consider it.
  • Australia’s inclusion would be seen as a possible first step towards the militarisation of the Quad coalition, something Beijing has opposed in the past.
    • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad is an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
  • The move comes in the midst of the ongoing stand-off with China on the border.

Malabar Exercise:

  • Malabar began as a bilateral naval exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992.
  • It was expanded into a trilateral format with the inclusion of Japan in 2015.

2. Australia ends HK extradition treaty

Context:

Australia said that it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to a new security law imposed there and announced measures to attract businesses from the Asian financial hub.

Details:

  • Australia’s Prime Minister has said that the law introduced in Hong Kong was a fundamental change of circumstances and Australia would suspend the extradition agreement.
  • By doing so, Australia has offered an immigration pathway for residents fleeing Hong Kong, after several Western countries aligned with the US, including Canada and Britain, introduced similar measures to confront China’s security crackdown in the city.
  • Notably, incentives have been offered to businesses in Hong Kong to relocate to Australia.
  • Western countries have condemned China’s new security law for Hong Kong as a violation of the agreement under which the city was handed over.
  • The development has provoked an angry response from Beijing.
    • China, the biggest customer for Australian exports has reserved the right to take retaliatory action.
    • Two-way trade between the countries was worth A$235 billion in 2019.

What’s in News?

The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs has sent out a reminder to all e-commerce portals to ensure that the “country of origin” of the products being sold by them should be mentioned as part of mandatory declarations.

Background:

  • The Government of India is pushing for ‘Made in India’ products and Atmanirbhar Bharat in making India a self-reliant nation.
  • There is a clamour to ban China-made goods, in the backdrop of the India-China standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Details:

  • It is a part of a concerted effort by the government to have ‘country of origin’ declarations for products on e-commerce portals.
  • The Ministry in its reminder invoked the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.
    • These rules make it mandatory for all manufacturers to declare the package name and address of the manufacturer, common and generic name of the commodity, net quantity, month and year of manufacturing, MRP and consumer care details.
  • In addition to these, in 2017, new provisions were added for e-commerce websites, making it compulsory for them to display this information along with “declaration of country of origin or manufacture or assembly” and a clear mention of the expiry date.
    • There are punitive provisions in the law including fines and also a jail term of one year.

2. Govt. notifies draft rules on wages Act

Context:

The Union Labour and Employment Ministry has published the draft rules framed for the implementation of the Code on Wages Act, 2019, that guarantees minimum wages to all and defines how the wages will be calculated.

Details:

  • The Code on Wages is the first of the four codes proposed by the government, as a part of its labour law reforms, that was passed by Parliament in August 2019; Code on Industrial Relations, Social Security and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions being the other three.
  • In the new draft rules, the Centre has reduced normal working hours in a day to eight hours from nine proposed in the earlier version released in November 2019.
  • Net intake of 2,700 calories per day, 66 metres cloth per year per standard working-class family, housing rent expenditure as 10 percent of food and clothing expenditure, three adult consumption units are some of the factors that would determine the fixation of the national minimum wage.
  • The draft rules state that the Centre shall constitute a technical committee which would advise on the skill categories, while an advisory board may recommend the minimum wage.

Read more about Code on Wages Act, 2019 and Protection of Worker’s Wages in India.

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Owning up to criminalisation in politics

  • Criminalization of politics implies criminals entering the election fray and contesting elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislatures.
  • Criminals need the patronage of politicians to continue their criminal activities and politicians need the money and muscle power of the criminals in their elections. In course of time, this nexus led the criminals themselves to contest elections.

A look at stats

  • In 2004, 24% of the Members of Parliament had criminal cases pending against them.
  • In 2009, that number went up to 30%.
  • In 2014 it further rose to 34% and in 2019 as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them.
    • Worryingly, 13% of the candidates who contested the election in 2019 are accused of heinous crimes that include murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, rape and other crimes against women.

Previous attempts to cleanse the electoral system:

Supreme Court Judgments:

The Supreme Court has come up with a series of landmark judgments to address the issue of criminalization of politics.

  • In 2002, Supreme Court ruled in the Union of India (UOI) vs. Association for Democratic Reforms case, that every candidate, contesting an election to the Parliament, State Legislatures or Municipal Corporation, has to declare their criminal records, financial records and educational qualifications.
  • Under Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951, lawmakers cannot contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case.
    • SC removed this statutory protection of convicted legislators from immediate disqualification via the Lily Thomas v. Union of India case in 2013.
  • The incorporation of the ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option in the voting machines was a landmark step in empowering the voters to force the political parties to field better candidates, even though there are associated concerns with NOTA.
    • This was done via the 2013 judgment in People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs. Union of India case.
    • Supreme Court asked the Election Commission to provide ‘none of the above’ choice to voters to exercise their right to express no confidence against all candidates in the fray.
  • Observing the long delays in the cases involving politicians, the SC in 2014 directed the completion of trials involving elected representatives within a year.
  • In 2017, the SC asked the Centre to frame a scheme to appoint Special Courts to exclusively try cases against politicians, which would ensure speedy justice.
  • In 2018, the SC directed the political parties to publicize pending criminal cases faced by their candidates. This was considered necessary in the light of the right of the voters to know any criminal antecedents of the candidates.

The Supreme Court, in spite of its long list of judgments, has still not been able to avoid criminalization of politics.

Election Commission Efforts:

The Election Commission too has tried several measures to curb criminalization of politics but to no avail.

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has always voiced the need for a legislation that excludes candidates against whom charges had been framed by a court of law for heinous offences punishable by imprisonment of five years and more.
  • However, the Parliamentary Committee that had been set up to examine the proposal unanimously ruled against the ECI recommendation. Political parties and candidates have often voiced their concern that cases tend to be foisted on them by political opponents.
  • It has achieved considerable success in containing the role of muscle power through measures such as the effective implementation of the model code of conduct and the setting up of the expense monitoring cell.
  • Mandatory declaration of assets and existing criminal charges in self-sworn affidavits to the ECI prior to elections has brought in some transparency.

Public Interest Foundation & Others Vs Union of India case:

  • Given the fact that previous attempts by the SC and the ECI had no effect on reducing the criminalization of politics, a petition was filed in the SC asking the apex court whether disqualification for membership of candidates with criminal antecedents can be laid down by the Court.
  • In 2018, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court directed political parties to publish online the pending criminal cases against their candidates. The Court sought to enforce greater disclosure norms about electoral candidates.
  • The five-judge Bench had held that the rapid criminalization of politics cannot be arrested by merely disqualifying tainted legislators but should also involve the cleansing of political parties.
  • The judgment had also urged Parliament to bring a strong law to cleanse political parties of leaders facing trial for serious crimes.
  • A contempt petition has been filed in the SC, seeking action against the authorities and political parties for not complying fully with the September 2018 judgment.

Criminalization of Politics continues to haunt India as it is a structural problem in Indian democracy:

The voters, political parties and the law and order machinery of the state are all equally responsible for this.

  1. Lack of intent on the part of political parties:
  • Researchers have found that candidates with criminal records seem to do well despite their public image, largely due to their ability to finance their own elections and bring substantive resources to their respective parties. This tends to give rise to a patronage system.
  • The ADR analysis shows that candidates facing criminal charges had double the chances of winning as compared to those with a clean record. The winnability of candidates is an important factor for the political parties in choosing their candidates.
  • Hence, political parties that ought to be cleansing the system with legislation and internal organizational reforms have done little.
  1. Lack of interest among the voters:
  • Given the relatively weak state institutions and the lackadaisical attitude in governance and delivery of public goods, cynical voters tend to elect candidates with criminal antecedents, as the voters tend to view such candidates as being able to represent their interests better and getting work done.
  • Voter behaviour is most often conditioned by their own immediate needs.
  • These unhealthy tendencies in the democratic system reflect a poor image of the nature of India’s state institutions and the quality of its elected representatives.

Way forward:

  1. Amending the Representation of the People Act, 1951:
  • There is the need for a rule that disallows candidates facing charges for serious offences from contesting in elections. The Parliament needs to consider such an amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  1. General citizenry’s role:
  • While several Supreme Court judgments make it difficult for criminal candidates to contest, only enhanced awareness among the citizens and increased democratic participation could create the right conditions for the decriminalization of politics.
  • The electors have to take up a greater responsibility by resisting the lure of money for votes, pushing aside the caste as well as religious factors, increasing the participation with higher turn-out at the polling stations, and thereby exert enormous pressure on the political parties to field candidates with a clean image.
  1. Political party’s role:
  • It must be underscored that the decriminalization of politics cannot be achieved by judicial fiat alone. The political class has to respond to the challenge. A more effective option would be for parties to refrain from giving tickets to such candidates.
  1. Role of the judiciary:
  • Given the fact that undue delay in the criminal justice system is helping candidates with criminal antecedents with a longer time frame to establish themselves electorally, there is the need to address this lacuna. It takes on an average 15 years for a criminal case to be finally disposed of by the courts.
  • Notably, not more than 6 percent of the criminal cases against Indian MPs and MLAs ended in a conviction, as per the data submitted by the Centre to the Supreme Court. This, when compared with the conviction rate of crimes under the Indian Penal Code in the country which stands at 46% at the national level, points to the possibility of the elected representatives misusing their positions.
  • Fast-track courts should decide the cases of tainted legislators faster within set deadlines.
  1. Broader reforms:
  • Ensuring greater transparency in election funding will make it less attractive for political parties to encourage candidates with criminal antecedents.
  • Broader governance reforms should be targeted to ensure lesser reliance of voters on criminal politicians.

Context:

  • February 2020 Supreme Court judgment on criminalization in politics.
  • It will first be implemented in the coming Bihar elections in October 2020.

Details:

  • Noting the increasing criminalization of politics, the SC invoking Article 129 and Article 142 of the Indian Constitution has come out with some mandatory guidelines for the political parties.
    • Under the stated guidelines, it shall be mandatory for political parties [at the Central and State election levels] to upload on their website detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases (including the nature of the offences, and relevant particulars such as whether charges have been framed, the concerned Court, the case number, etc.) who have been selected as candidates.
    • The political party will also have to state the reasons for the selection of such a candidate and also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.
  • The reasons as to selection shall be with reference to the qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned, and not mere winnability at the polls.
    • This information should be published in a local and a national newspaper as well as the party’s social media handles.
    • These details shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate or not less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.
    • The political party concerned shall then submit a report of compliance with these directions with the Election Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the said candidate.
    • If a political party fails to submit such a compliance report with the Election Commission, the Election Commission shall bring such non-compliance by the political party concerned to the notice of the Supreme Court as being in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.
  • The Election Commission of India proposes to implement the guidelines issued by the SC with suitable modifications in its processes.

Concerns:

  • Several laws and court judgments have not helped much, as the data show. One reason is the lack of enforcement of laws and judgments. It is also not clear what penalty would be imposed if the recent orders are not followed.
  • Although the recent judgment has decreed that political parties will give much wider publicity to the criminal antecedents of their candidates, it is possible that this alone may not suffice.

Being vigilant

Therefore, in the coming Bihar elections, we need to be far more vigilant.

  • This includes monitoring the affidavits of candidates, working with the Election Commission to ensure that information is promptly available on their websites, and widely circulating this information to voters using all the social media tools available.
  • It also includes monitoring compliance with the Supreme Court judgment to see if details of tainted candidates are promptly put up on their websites, and on their social media handles, along with proper reasons for giving them tickets.
  • Voters also need to be vigilant about the misuse of money, gifts and other inducements during elections.

Conclusion:

  • All the dozen and more Supreme Court judgments on electoral reforms since 2002 are in fact responses to citizen initiatives.
  • It remains to be seen how the recent judgment will affect the choices of the political establishment and whether it will have the desired effect in eliminating or significantly purging criminality from future legislatures.

Category: EDUCATION

1. Invisible loads, arbitrary deletions

Context

  • The Central Board of Secondary Education syllabus for classes 9 to 12 has been reduced by 30%.
  • The Board stated that the objective behind the cut in the syllabus is in order to reduce the examination stress of the students due to the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic leading to health emergency circumstances as well as to “prevent learning gaps.”

Details

  • Class 11 students of political science will not study about federalism in the Constitution during the academic year of 2020-21.
    • Political theory sections on citizenship, secularism and nationalism have also been removed.
  • In Class 12, the topic of India’s relations with its neighbours has been deleted, along with sections on social movements, regional aspirations, the changing nature of India’s economic development, and the Planning Commission.
  • Business Studies students will not study the concept of demonetization, Goods and Services Tax, or the impact of government policy changes on business with special reference to liberalization, privatization and globalization in India.
  • In History classes, students will not study chapters on understanding partition, or on peasants, zamindars and the State.
  • The education board also clarified that no question shall be asked from the reduced syllabus in the Board Exams for 2020-2021 only.

Issues with removal

The proposed syllabus for Classes XI-XII physics presents quite a shock.

  • While many basic topics such as Newton’s laws; motion along a straight line and basic concepts of heat have been removed, more advanced topics corresponding to these have been retained.
    • For instance, the topic work, power and energy, which uses the concepts of Newton’s laws; motion in a plane, which expands on linear motion; and kinetic theory of gases, which builds on heat, have been retained
  • In basic science topics, it is much better to retain the fundamentals and, if need be, remove the higher application levels. On the contrary, the steps taken by the CBSE are in the opposite direction.
  • At the other end of the spectrum is biology. In the biology syllabus, higher-level topics such as ecology, environmental science and evolution have been arbitrarily removed. It is not just that topics like these connect the student to real-life situations, it is ironic that such a deletion should happen at the time of the pandemic.

The resultant syllabus is twice damaging

  • First, the deletion being only nominal adds an invisible burden on teachers.
  • Second, that it is not going to be used to examine the students may just encourage rote learning.

Conclusion

  • A science curriculum is a holistic entity. The truncations and deletions suggested by the CBSE in the Class XI-XII syllabus violate the cohesiveness and holistic nature of the planned curriculum.
    • It would be far better to allow the students a gap year to pursue their own interests.
  • The alternative, of course, would be to take into account the voices of all stakeholders in the area of education and do a careful job of trimming the syllabus.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Rajnath Singh inaugurates 6 bridges in J&K

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh e-inaugurated six major bridges built by the Border Roads Organisation close to the International Border and the Line of Control in J&K.

This topic has been covered in the 9th July 2020 PIB Summary and Analysis. Click here to read.

G. Tidbits

1. Army personnel told to delete 89 apps by July 15

What’s in News?

The 1.3 million-strong Indian Army has directed all its personnel to remove 89 apps, including Facebook and Instagram, from their mobile phones.

  • The apps also include the 59 Chinese apps banned by the government recently.
  • The order was issued to prevent leakage of sensitive information and also due to security considerations.
    • There have been several cases of personnel being virtually honey-trapped on social media platforms, leading to the sharing of sensitive information.
  • The directive covers a range of apps across domains such as messaging, content sharing, Web browsers, video hosting, gaming, e-commerce, dating, anti-virus, news and music and others.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to Malabar Exercise:
  1. It is a biannual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan and the USA.
  2. It began as a bilateral exercise between India and Japan and included the US in 2015.
  3. Australia has participated in the exercise as a non-permanent member in the past.

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

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

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • It is an annual exercise between the navies of India, Japan and the U.S.
  • It began in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S.
  • Then it got permanently expanded into a trilateral format with the inclusion of Japan in 2015.
  • Past non-permanent participants are Australia and Singapore.
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to Working Mechanism for Consultation 
& Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC):
  1. It was established in 2017 as an institutional mechanism for consultation and coordination for the management of India – China border areas.
  2. It is headed by joint secretary-level officials from India and China.

Which of the given statement/s is/are incorrect?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

The WMCC was established in 2012 as an institutional mechanism for consultation and coordination for management of India – China border areas, as well as to exchange views on strengthening communication and cooperation, including between the border security personnel of the two sides. It is headed by joint secretary-level officials from both sides. They are entrusted to help the special representative for boundary talks, a position currently held by NSA Ajit Doval.

Q3. “Bhashan Char Island” is a part of:
  1. Malaysia
  2. Myanmar
  3. Bangladesh
  4. India
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

Bhashan Char is an island in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh. It is located in the Bay of Bengal.

Q4. “Mongolian Kanjur” recently in the news is:
  1. A Buddhist canonical text which is the most important religious text in Mongolia.
  2. Critically Endangered ground squirrels endemic to Mongolia.
  3. A Mongolian percussion instrument found in Buddhist monasteries.
  4. A form of performing art involving ritual singing, drumming and dancing performed in Buddhist monasteries.
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Mongolian Kanjur, the Buddhist canonical text in 108 volumes, is considered to be the most important religious text in Mongolia.
  • In the Mongolian language ‘Kanjur’ means ‘Concise Orders’- the words of Lord Buddha in particular.

Read more about Mongolian Kanjur.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The US decision to withdraw from the WHO will have dire consequences for global public health. Discuss. (10 Marks, 150 Words)
  2. Money Power, Muscle Power and lack of political will are the major drivers of the Criminalization of Politics. In light of the above statement, elaborate on the various measures taken by the Judiciary and the ECI to cleanse the system.  (15 Marks, 250 Words)

Read the previous CNA here.

10 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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