21 Jul 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

21 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.K. to suspend extradition treaty with Hong Kong
2. Iran to continue work with India on Chabahar line: Railway chief
C. GS 3 Related
DEFENCE
1. IAF to induct five Rafales on July 29
2. Warships meet U.S. strike group
ECONOMY
1. Tough, new e-commerce rules kick in next week
2. India aims to pare PSU bank count to just five: sources
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Arab ‘Hope’ to Mars takes off from Japan
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. Big reform on the wrong track
GOVERNMENT SCHEMES
1. Community canteens 2.0
F. Prelims Facts
1. Pakistan resumes anti-polio drive
G. Tidbits
1. India will never be a part of an alliance system: Jaishankar
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. Iran to continue work with India on Chabahar line: Railway chief

Context:

In the latest twist to Iran’s Chabahar-Zahedan railway project, Iran’s Railway Minister has said that Iran and India are determined to continue cooperation on the railway line.

Details:

  • “Considering the history of cooperation between the two countries and the existing potentials and capacities, Iran and India are determined to continue their cooperation in the field of rail transport, especially the Zahedan-Chabahar railway, because of the development of cooperation between the two countries in this area,” said the Iranian Railways head, after a meeting with Indian Ambassador to Iran.
  • The remarks contradict Iranian officials who had previously said India was not a part of the project.

This topic has been covered in the 14th July 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

2. Warships meet U.S. strike group

Context:

  • Naval ships conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the U.S. Navy’s USS Nimitz carrier strike group near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The exercise comes amid a high alert by the Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) due to the stand-off with China along the border in Ladakh.

PASSEX:

  • PASSEX is a passage exercise.
  • A passage exercise is normally conducted when there is an opportunity in contrast to pre-planned maritime drills.

Details:

  • As part of this, four frontline naval ships, Shivalik, Sahyadri, Kamorta and Rana including a stealth corvette, teamed up with carrier USS Nimitz and three other U.S. ships in the eastern Indian Ocean near the islands.
    • USS Nimitz is the U.S. Navy’s largest aircraft carrier.
    • It is returning from the South China Sea through the Malacca Straits.
  • The PASSEX was conducted even while the Malabar exercise is fast approaching.
  • The Indian Navy had conducted similar PASSEXs with the Japanese Navy and the French Navy in the recent past.
    • With regular large-scale exercises deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navy has undertaken several PASSEXs, which is described as an opportunity to improve interoperability on the high seas.
  • The Navy is keeping a close watch on the movement in the IOR of Chinese naval ships, whose presence has gone up considerably over the years in the name of anti-piracy patrols.
  • In 2017, China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Tough, new e-commerce rules kick in next week

Context:

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 came into force on 20th July 2020.

Details:

The Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020, which fall under the Consumer Protection Act, will be notified within a few days.

Read more about the salient features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

The Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020, under the Consumer Protection Act:

  • The e-commerce portals will have to set up a robust consumer redressal mechanism as part of the rules under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019
  • The e-commerce entities will have to provide every detail relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, security of payment methods, charge-back options and so on.
  • They will also have to mention the country of origin which is necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.
  • The rules also prohibit the e-commerce companies from manipulating the price of the goods or services to gain unreasonable profit through unjustified prices.
  • The sellers cannot refuse to take back goods or withdraw services or refuse refunds, if such goods or services are defective, deficient, delivered late, or if they do not meet the description on the platform.
  • The e-commerce platforms also have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within 48 hours and redress the complaint within one month from the date of receipt under this Act and will also have to appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal.

These rules are mandatory and not merely advisories as issued earlier. This is the first time that such detailed rules have been published by the Government of India for e-commerce entities.

2. India aims to pare PSU bank count to just five: sources

Context:

India is looking to privatise more than half of its state-owned banks to reduce the number of government-owned lenders to just five as part of an overhaul of the banking industry.

Details:

  • The Centre is working on a privatisation plan to help raise money by selling assets in non-core companies and sectors when the country is strapped for funds due to lack of economic growth caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • India expects bad loans at its banks to double after the crisis brought the economy to a standstill.
  • According to officials, the first part of the plan would be to sell majority stakes in Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, UCO Bank, Bank of Maharashtra and Punjab & Sind Bank, leading to an effective privatisation of these state-owned lenders.
  • Several government panels and the RBI have recommended a maximum of five state-owned banks.
  • At present, India has 12 state-owned banks.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Arab ‘Hope’ to Mars takes off from Japan

Context:

The first Arab space mission to Mars, an unmanned probe called Al-Amal, or Hope blasted off from Japan.

Details:

  • The project is one of three racing to Mars, including Tianwen-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest.
    • According to NASA, in October 2020, Mars will be a comparatively short 38.6m miles (62m km) from Earth.
  • It is expected to enter Mars orbit by February 2021, marking the year of the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE, an alliance of seven emirates.
  • It is on a mission to reveal more about the atmosphere of Mars.
  • While the objective of the Mars mission is to provide a comprehensive image of the weather dynamics in the red planet’s atmosphere, the probe is a foundation for a much bigger goal – building a human settlement on Mars within the next 100 years.
  • It will not land on the planet, but instead orbit it for a whole Martian year, or 687 days.

Note:

Only the United States, India, the former Soviet Union, and the European Space Agency have successfully sent missions to orbit Mars – the fourth planet from the sun, while China is preparing to launch its first Mars rover in 2020.

Category: GOVERNMENT SCHEMES

1. Community canteens 2.0

Context:

  • The article analyzes the potential benefits of introducing a community canteen scheme.

Background:

Existing schemes:

  • Given the fact that the lack of access to food during the lockdown period caused immense hardship to some sections of the society, the government has recently announced a three-month extension to the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana. The government would provide 5 kg of grains and 1 kg of chickpea monthly to about 800 million beneficiaries across the country.

For more information on Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana, refer to:

CNA dated July 1, 2020

  • The implementation of the ‘One Nation, One Ration’ (ONOR) scheme has also helped improve access to subsidised grains for migrant workers.

For more information on the issue of food security during the pandemic, refer to:

CNA dated June 30, 2020

Details:

Inadequate measures:

  • The article argues that while the existing measures are welcome, they may fall short of reaching all sections of the vulnerable population.
  • Most migrant workers do not live with families and many do not cook their meals and a significant number rely on roadside vendors and dhabas. Without access to cooking arrangement or fuel, only subsidised grains are not a sufficient solution to ensure nourishment.
  • The announced measures would be insufficient to attract the migrant workers back to the urban areas as access to affordable food remains a major concern.

Community Canteens:

  • The article argues for the implementation of the community canteen scheme.
    • More than 10 States have run community canteens. Some notable examples include the Amma Canteens in Tamil Nadu and Indira Canteens in Karnataka. A major drawback of the existing community canteens is that these canteens rely on continuous government support for their sustenance as meals are usually priced unsustainably low at Rs. 5-10 per plate.
  • The Central Government could extend initial capital support while the implementation at the State level should be led by urban local bodies or municipal corporations, in collaboration with private entities as service providers.

Arguments in favour of community canteens:

  • A renewed approach to community canteens would not only help achieve nutritional security for migrant workers but would also create new jobs, save fiscal resources, support economic growth and promote sustainable diets and agriculture.

Nutritional security:

  • Community canteens could be operationally self-sustainable by pricing the nutritious meals at Rs. 15-20 per plate. This would still be lower than what most dhabas and roadside vendors charge for a meal.
  • Hence with an initial social investment of around Rs. 26,500 crore towards existing canteens and kitchens, it would be possible to serve three nourishing meals a day to the 30 million urban poor workers.
  • The community canteens would also help bridge the nourishment gap among poor urban workers.

Saving fiscal resources:

  • If all urban migrant workers rely on community canteens instead of ONOR, the initial investment in the community canteens pays back itself in less than six years, as it helps avoid the potential food subsidy outlay due to ONOR, leading to annual savings of about Rs. 4,500 crore thereafter.

Jobs and growth:

  • Community canteens could also contribute to jobs and growth.
  • The 60,000 canteens, each serving about 500 beneficiaries on average, would generate more than 1.2 million jobs to serve 90 million meals a day.

Sustainability:

  • The government could leverage community canteens to shift diets and agriculture production towards more sustainable and sustainably harvested food crops.
  • These canteens can incorporate low-cost yet nutritious and environmentally sustainable food items in the people’s diet by bringing in coarse grains such as millets and sorghum into the dietary patterns.
  • These canteens would create the demand signals for the farmers to diversify their crops and focus on sustainably harvested produce.

Conclusion:

  • Providing access to nutritious, affordable and safe food for all should be a top priority for the administration and a renewed approach to community canteens could help the administration in this direction.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Pakistan resumes anti-polio drive

What’s in News?

Pakistani vaccinators resumed an anti-polio drive that had been halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • According to official figures, 60 polio cases have been reported in 2020 thus far in Pakistan.
  • Pakistan is just one of two countries in the world where polio remains endemic, along with neighbouring Afghanistan.

G. Tidbits

1. India will never be a part of an alliance system: Jaishankar

  • According to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, India will never be a part of an alliance system.
  • Speaking about the consequences of global shifts, including the United States and the assertiveness of China, he said they were opening spaces for middle powers like India, Japan, the European Union and others.
  • He opined that India must now take more risks, as the world expected it to take a more proactive stance on the big issues of the day, including connectivity, maritime security, terrorism, climate change and terrorism.

Read more about Basic Principles Governing India’s Foreign Policy.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to Maldharis:
  1. They are religious pastoral communities living in Gir forests.
  2. Their settlements are called Nesses.

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: d

Explanation:

Both statements are correct.

Q2. In which of the following country/ies does Polio continue to be endemic?
  1. Pakistan
  2. Iran
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Sri Lanka
  5. Bangladesh
  6. Maldives

Choose the correct option:

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 3 and 6 only
  3. 2, 3, 4 and 5 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Polio does still exist, although polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988.
  • Polio remains endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented.
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to “Al-Amal”:
  1. It is the first Arab space mission to Mars.
  2. Its objective is to land on Mars and provide a comprehensive image of the weather dynamics in the planet’s atmosphere.

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: a

Explanation:

  • While the objective of the Mars mission is to provide a comprehensive image of the weather dynamics in the red planet’s atmosphere, the probe is a foundation for a much bigger goal – building a human settlement on Mars within the next 100 years.
  • It will not land on the planet, but instead orbit it for a whole Martian year, or 687 days.
Q4. IUCN Red List classifies Asiatic Lion as:
  1. Vulnerable
  2. Endangered
  3. Critically Endangered
  4. Near Threatened
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica) is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List.
  • It is listed under Appendix I of CITES and Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The planned privatization of select services of the Indian railways though well-intended, the model envisaged for this privatization is a cause for concern. Comment. (15 marks, 250 words)(GS paper 3/Economy)
  2. Analyze how a renewed approach to community canteens would, apart from helping achieve nutritional security for migrant workers, also help create new jobs, save fiscal resources, support economic growth and promote sustainable diets and agriculture. (10 marks, 150 words) (GS paper 2/Government Schemes)

Read the previous CNA here.

21 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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