13 Jul 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

13 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

 
TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
GEOGRAPHY
1. Mizoram quake zone caught between two geological faults
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Disabled are entitled to same benefits of SC/ST quota: SC
HEALTH
1. Experts question basis of COVID-19 drug
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. China, Iran close to reaching trade and military partnership
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Punjab farmers find a better way to grow paddy
SECURITY
1. NATGRID gets access to data from 14,000 police stations
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The sum and substance of the EU’s China dilemma
ECONOMY
1. Sure power
F. Prelims Facts
1. Hardly smart about urban health care
2. Nurturing citizens in social studies
G. Tidbits
1. Amid deluge, Assam farmer stands out with flood-resistant paddy
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: HEALTH

1. Experts question basis of COVID-19 drug

Context:

Biocon Ltd’s psoriasis drug, Itolizumab, re-purposed for COVID-19 and headlined as a breakthrough drug for treating the moderately sick and the severely ill, appears to have been tested on too few patients to reliably conclude on its benefits.

Issue:

  • To test the drug’s efficacy at preventing deaths or improving health outcomes, the company recruited 30 patients across four hospitals.

Details:

  • Biocon announced that it had received the Drug Controller General’s approval to use the drug for emergency use in cases where the infection caused a cytokine storm.
    • Cytokine storm is an uncontrolled attempt by the immune system to neutralise the virus that often ended up damaging the lungs and other organs and even death.
    • When the cytokines that raise immune activity become too abundant, the immune system may not be able to stop itself.
    • It implies that the levels of released cytokines are injurious to host cells.
  • According to the company officials, that nobody on the drug died was significant proof of its success.
  • They asserted that, given that the drug had been in use since 2013 and tested on at least 500 for psoriasis, its safety was not in doubt.
  • The evaluation also rests on Itolizumab being added to the “best standard of care”. In general, this consisted of hydroxychloroquine, ritonavir (antivirals), oxygen therapy, antibiotics, heparin [to avoid clotting] and methylpredisarone [a corticosteroid].

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. China, Iran close to reaching trade and military partnership

Context:

Iran and China have quietly drafted a sweeping economic and security partnership that would clear the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors.

Details:

  • The partnership would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects.
  • In exchange, China would receive a regular and heavily discounted supply of Iranian oil over the next 25 years.
  • The proposed agreement also describes deepening military cooperation, potentially giving China a foothold in a region that has been a strategic preoccupation of the United States for decades.
  • It calls for joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development and intelligence sharing — all to fight “the lopsided battle with terrorism, drug and human trafficking and cross-border crimes.”

Issues:

  • The partnership undercuts U.S. efforts to isolate the Tehran government because of its nuclear and military ambitions.
  • It represents a major blow to the Trump administration’s aggressive policy toward Iran since abandoning the nuclear deal reached in 2015 (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
    • Renewed U.S. sanctions, including the threat to cut off access to the international banking system for any company that does business in Iran, have succeeded in suffocating the Iranian economy by scaring away badly needed foreign trade and investment.
    • But Tehran’s desperation has pushed it into the arms of China, which has the technology and appetite for oil that Iran needs.
    • Iran has been one of the world’s largest oil producers, but its exports, Tehran’s largest source of revenue, have plunged since the Trump administration began imposing sanctions in 2018; China gets about 75% of its oil from abroad and is the world’s largest importer, at more than 10 million barrels a day in 2019.
  • It would create new and potentially dangerous flashpoints in the deteriorating relationship between China and the U.S.

Category: SECURITY

1. NATGRID gets access to data from 14,000 police stations

Context:

The National Intelligence Grid has signed an MoU with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to access the centralised online database on FIRs and stolen vehicles.

NATGRID:
  • First conceptualised in 2009, NATGRID seeks to become the one-stop destination for security and intelligence agencies to access databases related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details of a suspect on a “secured platform”.
  • The data will be procured by NATGRID from 21 organisations such as telecom, tax records, bank, immigration, etc.
  • NATGRID will act as a link between intelligence and investigation agencies.
  • The project aims to go live by December 31, 2020.

This topic has been covered in the 20th November 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

Details:

  • The MoU will give NATGRID access to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems database, a platform that links around 14,000 police stations.
  • At present, security agencies directly contact an airline or a telephone company if they are on a suspect’s trail. The data is shared through international servers. The NATGRID will ensure that such information is shared through a secure platform.
  • Once NATGRID is operational, all agencies will have to route their requests through the secured platform. However, the State police will not be part of NATGRID and they could directly contact the airlines or railways for information.

Issues:

  • On the concern raised of the MoU that it would infringe on the federal system of the Constitution, an official said that since the NCRB under the Union government is only a repository and the data pertaining to FIRs of a particular police station are a State subject, it does not violate any legal provisions as FIRs are shared with all the police stations.
  • Earlier the Civil Aviation Ministry and airline companies had raised concerns in providing information to yet another agency — NATGRID.
  • The airlines contended that they already provide information to the Bureau of Immigration and the Customs authorities. The deliberations with the airlines are still on.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Sure power

Context:

  • Inauguration of the 750 MW photovoltaic project at Rewa, in Madhya Pradesh.

For more information on this, refer to:

CNA dated July 11, 2020

Significance of solar power for India:

  • The current administration’s resolve to tap solar energy to substantially power the economy and everyday life is to be welcomed because it could help chart a green deal for the future.
    • The green deal envisages that future growth and employment should align itself to environmental and sustainability objectives, particularly in energy production, away from polluting energy sources.
  • The increasing share of solar energy in India’s power output could reduce air pollution in India and avoid the premature deaths attributed to air pollution.
  • Increased adoption of solar energy is inevitable to meet India’s commitments under the Paris climate deal.
  • There is the case for greater reliance on solar power, even as a path for self-reliant industrialisation.

Concerns:

  • India’s installed base of this green power source is about 35 gigawatts (GW), and its projected addition of capacity until 2024 is estimated to be of the order of 50 GW. Viewed against the stated goal of installing 100 GW of solar power by 2022, there could be a sharp deficit in solar power.
  • There is a lack of a domestic solar manufacturing sector that can deliver increasing volumes of quality photovoltaic cells, modules and associated equipment.
  • Experts have raised concerns over the lack of appropriate official policies to meet the high ambitions set for the solar energy sector.
  • The low domestic cell manufacturing capacity at 3.1 GW/year (for 2019) has resulted in heavy reliance on China for solar energy-related equipment.

Way forward:

Strategic status:

  • India should consider making solar energy a strategic sector, giving it as much importance as defence. This would ensure appropriate policy measures for the growth of this critical sector.

Appropriate policy measures:

  • There is a need for integrated policies for the sector fully supported by States.
  • India’s solar strategy should look at tapping the best available technology and resources globally and providing impetus to domestic manufacturing.
  • The government should introduce measures to aid competitive domestic manufacturing. The industry must get help to set up facilities and avail low-cost financing and be able to invest in intellectual property.

Chinese model:
  • The Chinese have been able to register a steady rise from insignificant manufacturing capability in the 1990s, to virtual dominance in the solar energy sector.
  • The solar energy sector was able to register notable growth through active government support in identifying and acquiring top technologies globally, importing critical raw materials such as polysilicon, acquiring solar manufacturers abroad, and investing in third countries with ready capability. The domestic market was treated with great importance even while promoting exports.

Innovation:

  • A forward-looking programme should also look at emerging trends in deploying solar innovatively. These include newer technologies such as aesthetic photovoltaic window and roof tiles for buildings, multi-role urban structures, and greater use of residential and commercial buildings to deploy more panels.
  • This would open up new avenues for growth in the sector, which would facilitate employment and growth opportunities in India.

Global leadership:

  • As the architect of the International Solar Alliance, India needs to show leadership to advance the manufacture and absorption of solar photovoltaic infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Hardly smart about urban health care

Smart Cities Mission:

  • The ‘Smart Cities Mission’ sought to make 100 selected cities “smart”, primarily through an “Area-Based Development” model under which a portion of the city would be upgraded by retrofitting or redevelopment.
  • The ‘Smart Cities Mission’ involves the creation of Special Purpose Vehicles for the implementation of the projects under the mission.

Public health:

  • Public health is an essential local government function in India’s constitutional scheme. As per the 12th Schedule of the Constitution, introduced by the 74th Amendment, “public health” is one of the 18 functions that are to be devolved to the municipalities.

2. Nurturing citizens in social studies

Fundamental duty:

  • Fundamental Duties are dealt with in Article 51A of the Indian Constitution.
  • Some of the major duties mentioned in the Indian Constitution are:
    • To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
    • To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform.
  • Read more on Fundamental Duties at the linked article.

61st Constitutional Amendment:

  • India’s system of democratic governance is based on the Constitution that prescribes universal adult suffrage with the minimum voting age now being 18, after the 61st Amendment of 1988.
    • The Sixty-first Amendment of the Constitution of India, officially known as The Constitution (Sixty-first Amendment) Act, 1988, lowered the voting age of elections to the Lok Sabha and to the Legislative Assemblies of States from 21 years to 18 years.
  • Read more about this amendment on This Day in History dated Dec 20.

G. Tidbits

1. Amid deluge, Assam farmer stands out with flood-resistant paddy

  • The new variety of paddy sown in 2019 has inspired a majority of cultivators in Golaghat district, Assam to shift over from traditional ones.
  • Farmers in the flood-prone areas of Assam have been harvesting the water-resistant Swarna Sub1, developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute, since 2009.
    • The water-resistant Swarna Sub1, developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute, since 2009
    • The Sub in its name means submergence.
  • According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, floods in 2020 have affected crops, mainly paddy. The switchover to the flood-tolerant paddy could prove to be beneficial for the farmers in flood-prone areas.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to Fundamental Duties:
  1. The concept of Fundamental Duties has been borrowed from the Irish Constitution.
  2. Fundamental Duties were added to the Indian Constitution on the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee.
  3. While the 42nd Amendment added 8 Fundamental Duties to the Indian Constitution, the rest were added through the 86th Amendment.

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

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

Answer: b

Explanation:

The concept of Fundamental Duties has been borrowed from the Russian Constitution. The 42nd Amendment added 10 fundamental duties. The 11th was added by the 86th Amendment.

Q2. Which of the following chillies have been granted the GI Tag in India?
  1. Bydagi Chilli
  2. Guntur Sannam Chilli
  3. Mizo Chilli
  4. Bhiwapur Chilli

Options:

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

Answer: d

Explanation:

All four chilli varieties from India have been granted GI tag status.

Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to faults:
  1. Faults are discontinuities or cracks that are the result of differential motion within the earth’s crust.
  2. While a downthrown block between two normal faults is called graben, upthrown block between two normal faults is called horst.

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

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

Both statements are correct.

Q4. Consider the following statements with respect to NATGRID project:
  1. It is an integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government of India.
  2. The office of NATGRID is attached to the Ministry of Defence.
  3. The intelligence gathering mechanism relates to immigration, banking, individual taxpayers, air and train travels.

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

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is an integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government of India. The intelligence gathering mechanism relates to immigration, banking, individual taxpayers, air and train travels. The office of NATGRID is attached to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The present circumstances provide an opportune time for India and the EU to build a partnership that is both economic and strategic. Comment. Evaluate the challenges for strengthening the India-EU relationship. (15 marks, 250 words)
  2. In the light of India’s commitment to tap solar energy, analyze the significance of solar energy to India. Also examine the concerns associated with the sector in the Indian context and suggest suitable remedial measures. (15 marks, 250 words)

Read the previous CNA here.

13 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

 

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