23 Jul 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

23 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Case of custodial death registered in A.P.
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Salt-loving bacteria turned Lonar lake pink: report
2. NGT questions Ministry, OIL on drilling in national park
3. Punjab’s law plays ‘minimal role’ in spiking Delhi’s pollution: study
ECONOMY
1. ‘E-commerce sites must state country of origin’
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Set up a High Court for Puducherry
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Another front
EDUCATION
1. Transforming higher education
F. Prelims Facts
1. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure
G. Tidbits
1. U.S. needs to ‘go beyond’ alliances, says Jaishankar
2. ‘India, U.S. should work together to face China’
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. NGT questions Ministry, OIL on drilling in national park

Context:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Environment Ministry, Oil India Limited (OIL) and two other entities (Assam State Pollution Control Board and the Assam State Biodiversity Board) to explain how the proposed drilling of seven oil wells in Dibru-Saikhowa National Park was permitted.

Background:

Recently, there was a continuous flow out of gas in Baghjan gas well in Tinsukia district of Assam, following a blowout.

This topic has been covered in 18th June 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

Details:

  • OIL India said that it had obtained permission for the seven wells in 2016 on the basis of the sophisticated ERD [extended reach drilling] technology.
  • The Extended Reach Drilling Technology was extensively used to intersect hydrocarbon targets far from the surface or areas of the reservoir that otherwise were difficult to access.
  • This technology enabled drilling of wells up to a depth of approximately 4 km from an existing well plinth without entering the protected area.
  • According to OIL, drilling will take place at an average of more than 1.5 km outside the demarcated area of the national park where OIL already is carrying out hydrocarbon exploration since the last 15 years.

Extended Reach Drilling (ERD) technology

  • The Extended Reach Drilling Technology is directional drilling beneath the earth.
  • The technology aims to reach larger areas and longer distances.
  • It enables exploration of hydrocarbon deposits horizontally.
  • It is done to maximize productivity and drainage capability.

3. Punjab’s law plays ‘minimal role’ in spiking Delhi’s pollution: study

Context:

A study argues that Delhi’s meteorology and the quantity of chaff burnt play a greater role in worsening air quality than the time chosen by farmers in Punjab to start crop burning.

Background:

  • Crop burning is a traditional practice in Punjab and Haryana of razing fields off rice chaff to prepare it for winter sowing.
  • It begins around October and peaks in November, coinciding with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon.

Details:

  • Subsidies and assured procurement of rice have led to a rise in the rice acreage in these States.
  • Coupled with increased farm mechanization, large quantities of rice stubble have increased over the years.
  • However, it has been pointed out that a change in Punjab’s water policy in 2009 that mandated farmers to delay sowing to late June (to discourage groundwater extraction), led to sowing being delayed by an average of 10 days compared to 2002-2008.
  • This, consequently, delayed harvesting and rice chaff burning.
  • As a result, the pollutants and the particulate matter from chaff, along with other sources of pollution in Delhi, which stuck in the lower atmosphere of the Indo-Gangetic plain, exacerbated winter pollution.

The study states that the role of legislation appears to be minimal, and indeed can sometimes decrease as well as increase air quality problems depending on the meteorological conditions of the time.

Conclusion:

  • According to the study, ultimately, the halting of crop residue burning would greatly aid the newly established National Clean Air Programme [NCAP], which aims to reduce emissions from various sectors including agricultural residue burning.
  • The NCAP proposes to reduce pollution by 20-30% in annual PM concentration by 2024.

Category: ECONOMY

1. ‘E-commerce sites must state country of origin’

What’s in News?

The Centre told the Delhi High Court that all e-commerce entities, including Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal, have to ensure the mandatory declaration of country of origin of imported products sold on their respective sites.

  • The law relating to the issue has been enacted under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.
  • The enforcement of the provisions of the Act and Rules rests with the State and Union Territory governments.
    • Whenever violations are observed, action is taken by the legal metrology officials of the State/UT governments in accordance with the law.
  • The Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020, under the Consumer Protection Act prescribes that the E-commerce portals would mandatorily 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.

Concerns:

  • E-commerce portals assert that the law does not mandate a disclosure of the country of origin/manufacture/assembly separately, in case of India-manufactured goods.
  • They have argued that, in many cases, finished goods sourced from different countries are packed together or assembled in a third country, prior to their shipment to India. It could not be simply presumed that the Rules intended that the last country of export alone be declared as the “country of origin”, unless the law was amended or clarified to expressly state so.

Read more about the E-commerce Rules covered in the 21st July 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Another front

Context:

  • For the third time since early June 2020, China has repeated its claim that Bhutan’s eastern boundary was a “disputed” area.

Background:

  • China’s claims were first made at a UNDP-led Global Environment Facility conference, when the Chinese representative tried to stop funding for the Sakteng forest reserve in Bhutan’s eastern district of Trashigang, which abuts Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district.

For more information on this issue, refer to:

CNA dated July 6, 2020

  • Chinese claims in eastern Bhutan come as a surprise for several reasons.
    • The Trashigang area being claimed as disputed by the Chinese does not share a boundary with China.
    • Chinese officials have not raised the eastern boundary in 24 rounds of talks with Bhutan, that began in 1984. Thus far, talks have been only about the Pasamlung and Jakarlung valleys in Bhutan’s north, and Doklam and other pasturelands to the west, that come up to the trijunction point with India.
  • Recently China has referred to a package solution to its boundary dispute with Bhutan.
    • The “package solution” for the dispute involves the swapping of the northern and western areas. Under this territory swap, Bhutan would be given the disputed areas in its north in exchange for the disputed western areas, including Doklam.
    • Bhutan has previously rejected this package solution, given India’s concerns.

For more information on this, refer to:

CNA dated July 22, 2020

Concerns:

For Bhutan

  • For Bhutan, the Chinese claim may be seen as a pressure tactic and as an attempt to hurry the scheduling of the next meeting, or to gain leverage in the boundary talks.

For India:

  • The Sakteng claim may be aimed at driving a wedge between India and Bhutan.
  • By claiming Bhutan’s eastern boundary, China is attempting to double down on its claims over Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The repetition of its “package” offer is worrying as it implies that China is not giving up its push for the Doklam plateau, where it has consolidated its military infrastructure and would like to inch towards India’s Chumbi valley, a strategically sensitive location.

Way forward:

  • India and Bhutan must stay the course on their border claims, with the close cooperation and complete understanding they have shared for decades, in order to respond to the Chinese claims purposively.

Category: EDUCATION

1. Transforming higher education

Context:

  • The article evaluates the condition of higher education in India and suggests possible reforms for the higher educational sector in India.

Background:

  • The requirement for social distancing during the pandemic has led to educational institutes remaining closed despite the phased unlocking in India. There has been a sense of heightened anxiousness and urgency to find solutions to tide over the pandemic-induced crisis in the education sector.
  • Much of the discourse on resuming higher education during the pandemic revolves around home-based learning.
  • The article argues that apart from finding solutions to provide an inclusive and affordable home-based education, there is also the need to overhaul the educational system.

Details:

Ideal learning outcomes:

  • There are three ideal learning outcomes of higher education.
    • Providing knowledge in the relevant discipline to the students.
    • The education imparted to the students will need to be supplemented with the skills needed for their jobs/enterprises.
    • The teaching-learning process is expected to mould their character in such a way that they would be able to play a constructive role in shaping the society and the world at large using the values and ideals of a modern, progressive society.

Concerns:

  • Apart from a handful of institutions and a small number of extremely self-motivated students, a vast majority of other students are unable to fulfil the ideal learning outcomes as discussed earlier.
  • There seems to be a huge gulf between the curriculum taught in the colleges and actual job requirements.
    • Although India is uniquely positioned in the world to benefit from its demographic dividend, this dividend can actually turn into a liability since those in the population bracket that are ready to join the workforce have practically no skills or knowledge that add to their employability.
  • There seems to be disproportionate importance being bestowed on completion of the vast syllabus within a prescribed time. There is also the undue emphasis on examinations to evaluate students’ knowledge.

Way forward:

  • The article argues that as against in normal times when maintaining the status quo or implementing incremental and marginal reforms was sufficient, the pandemic has opened the doors for ushering in massive, bold and transformational reforms.
  • The article suggests the following reforms in higher education.
    • Need to completely re-evaluate the syllabus every now and then to ensure that the syllabus is in line with the industrial requirements.
    • There should be an emphasis on substantive industrial internships as part of the course work in colleges. This could help bridge the gulf between the university curriculum and actual job requirements.
    • The evaluation of the learning outcomes of the students can be a mix of regular assignments, performance in the internship as rated both by the industry and the college, and a light, home-based proctored exam.
    • The syllabus should involve only a very basic outline of essential concepts. The time saved in attending regular classes in the institutions can be compensated for by spending time on the development of skills and prosocial attitudes and values.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure

  • It is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly which may be an option for those who can’t have open-heart surgery.
  • It is the replacement of the aortic valve of the heart through the blood vessels (as opposed to valve replacement by open heart surgery).
    • Usually, valve replacement requires an open heart procedure with a “sternotomy”, in which the chest is surgically separated (open) for the procedure.
    • The TAVR procedures can be done through very small openings that leave all the chest bones in place.
  • In this procedure, generally, doctors insert a catheter in the patient’s leg or chest and guide it to his/her heart.
  • The replacement valve is delivered via one of several access methods:
    • In the upper leg,
    • Through the wall of the heart, beneath the collar bone,
    • Through a minimally invasive surgical incision into the aorta,
    • From a temporary hole in the aorta near the belly button through a vein in the upper leg, etc.

G. Tidbits

1. U.S. needs to ‘go beyond’ alliances, says Jaishankar

  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has said that the U.S. needs to learn to work with a more multipolar world and go beyond alliances.
  • The comments, made at the U.S. India Business Council’s India Ideas Summit, echoed remarks he made earlier this week that India would never be part of an alliance. Read more.
  • Both India and the U.S. are currently grappling with a more assertive China and tensions in their bilateral relationships with China.
  • He opined that India and the US have the ability, by working together to shape the world.
  • He said that the two countries are working on maritime security, counter-terrorism, connectivity, climate change, the knowledge economy.

2. ‘India, U.S. should work together to face China’

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said countries like India and the U.S. should work together to face the ‘challenge’ of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC).
  • He pointed out that India was key to U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
  • The Secretary listed examples of India and the U.S. working together including the Quad and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following national parks are located in Assam?
  1. Kaziranga National Park
  2. Manas National park
  3. Orang National Park
  4. Dibru-Saikhowa National Park
  5. Nameri National Park

Choose the correct option:

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

Answer: d

Explanation:

Assam has five national parks—Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Nameri National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Orang National Park.

Q2. Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar are distinctive styles of which of 
the following folk paintings?
  1. Madhubani Painting
  2. Warli Painting
  3. Kalamkari Painting
  4. Pattachitra Painting
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Madhubani painting has its origins in Maithili village of Bihar, characterized by line drawings filled in by bright colours and contrasts or patterns.
  • Their various styles include Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar, which would historically be painted only by women from the upper strata in the caste system, who would make them on mud walls on special occasions.
  • The themes & designs widely painted are of Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama, Siva, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Sun and Moon, Tulasi plant, court scenes, wedding scenes, social happenings, etc. Floral, animal and bird motifs, geometrical designs are used to fill up all the gaps.
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to Fishing Cat:
  1. It is the state animal of West Bengal.
  2. It is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List.
  3. Fishing Cats are nocturnal.

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

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is the state animal of West Bengal.
  • It has been downlisted to “Vulnerable” from “Endangered” in the IUCN Red List species assessment.
  • They are nocturnal and prey on frogs, crustaceans, snakes, birds, and scavenges on carcasses of larger animals apart from fish.
Q4. Consider the following statements with respect to “Haloarchaea”:
  1. It is a bacteria culture, which produces pink pigment.
  2. They are found in water saturated with salt.

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:

  • Haloarchaea or halophilic archaea is a bacteria culture, which produces pink pigment.
  • It is found in water saturated with salt.
  • Haloarchaea requires salt concentrations in excess of 2 M (or about 10%) to grow, and optimal growth usually occurs at much higher concentrations, typically 20–25%.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Discuss the concerns associated with higher education in India and suggest possible reforms to address such challenges. (10 marks, 150 words)(GS paper 2/Education)
  2. China’s claims in eastern Bhutan are a cause of concern not just for Bhutan but also for India. Comment. (10 marks, 150 words)(GS paper 2/International Relations)

Read the previous CNA here.

23 July 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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