29 Jul 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

29 JULY 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Invoke NSA in abduction, murder case, says Yogi
2. Centre unable to pay States’ GST dues: official
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Working with India to make clean power accessible: U.K. Minister
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. At 2,967 tigers, India’s capacity at peak
2. Baghjan blowout: panel faults OIL on safety
DEFENCE
1.  ‘Notification on 74% FDI in defence soon’
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. RIC, a triangle that is still important
2. The South Asian migrant crisis
F. Prelims Facts
1. States leverage digital resources as pandemic keeps schools shut
G. Tidbits
1. ‘COVID-19 will lead to rise in child wasting’
2. 3 bn animals affected by Australia bushfires: WWF
3. China halts HK extradition pacts with Canada, Australia and U.K.
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. Centre unable to pay States’ GST dues: official

Context:

Finance Secretary has informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that the government is in no position to pay the GST share of States as per the current revenue sharing formula.

Details:

  • The Finance Ministry recently said that the Centre had released the final instalment of ₹13,806 crore of GST compensation for the financial year 2019-20.

Read more about this topic covered in 28th July 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis.

Way forward:

  • In its stimulus package, in May 2020, the Centre enhanced States’ power to borrow, but only part of that was completely unconditional, and a large chunk was contingent on States undertaking specified reforms. These reforms may be long-pursued ideals, but whether this is the right time for prioritising them has been questioned.
  • Considering the extent of economic damage as well as the States’ fiscal positions, there is an urgent need to finalise the way forward for paying States the compensation.
  • With any further delay in arriving at a plan, the Centre-State ties could turn more fractious, especially in the GST Council where things have usually evolved with consensus so far.
  • One of the ideas on the table is to raise loans against future GST cess accruals in order to recompense States.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Working with India to make clean power accessible: U.K. Minister

Context:

U.K. Minister of State (Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth) was on a virtual visit to India.

India – UK partnership:

  • The U.K. had recently contributed analysis and market simulations for India’s Real-Time Power Market which was launched on June 1 2020, to get more renewables on the national grid at more competitive rates.
  • It has been announced that the U.K. would strengthen its collaboration, in areas such as increased use of renewable energy by Indian Railways to help it become a net-zero carbon emitter by 2030.
  • Britain is also working with Indian partners on a clean energy transition.
    • UKRI research partnerships would help develop the next generation of solar buildings and through the Newton–Bhabha Fund, Catapult innovation centres are partnering institutions in Bangalore to develop electric mobility and air pollution solutions.
  • UK is working together with India through the MGNREGA to build climate-resilient livelihoods.
    • This focused on drought-proofing, flood defences and river structures for aquifer replenishment.
    • The Infrastructure for Climate Resilient Growth (ICRG) has invested in climate-resilient livelihood strategies in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.
    • Also, India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences was collaborating to harness land, sea and atmospheric data to aid monsoon forecasting.
  • The Green Growth Equity Fund’s (GGEF) first investment in India had gone to Ayana Renewable Power, with a target of 6 GW in 5 years.
    • It aims to leverage private sector investment from the City of London to invest in Green Infrastructure Projects in India.
    • The Fund has also invested in e-mobility and integrated waste management.
  • India is demonstrating leadership with the International Solar Alliance and the U.K. is working with it and other countries to mobilise more than $1 trillion of investments in solar energy by 2030.
  • Separately, the U.K. is supporting a £40 million programme for technology advancement and market development of electric cooking, using solar and other energy sources.
    • This programme, in operation in 15 ISA member-countries, is now establishing itself in India.
  • The minister opined that India has a lot of expertise on solar energy and the UK on wind energy and that the relationship with India is a pivotal one.

Note:

  • The United Kingdom holds the Presidency of the next UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, that is planned for 2020.

2. Baghjan blowout: panel faults OIL on safety

Context:

A committee that was formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has noted that there was a mismatch between planning and execution by Oil India Limited (OIL), leading to a well blowout in eastern Assam’s Baghjan.

This topic has been covered in 23rd July 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis.
Category: DEFENCE

1. ‘Notification on 74% FDI in defence soon’

Context:

The government is soon going to come out with a notification on 74% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence.

Details:

  • In May 2020, as a part of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan economic stimulus package, the government announced a series of measures to promote domestic defence manufacturing. These include:
    • A negative import list
    • Separate budgetary allocation for domestic procurements
    • Indigenisation of spares and components
    • Raising the FDI cap through automatic route from 49% to 74%
  • Also, the second draft of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2020, now renamed as the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 has been put out in the public domain for comments.

Read more about the change in FDI limit in the Defence Sector as a part of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan economic stimulus package, covered in 17th May 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis.

2. The South Asian migrant crisis

Context:

  • The pandemic crisis has further deteriorated the condition of South Asian migrants in the GCC countries and poses new challenges for the countries of their origin.

Background:

  • The South Asia-Gulf migration corridor is among the largest in the world. South Asians account for nearly 15 million in the Gulf. Indians constitute the largest segment of the South Asian workforce.

Details:

  • The precarious situation of the migrant labourers in West Asia forced the Indian government to repatriate the NRIs through the Vande Bharat Mission. The Indian government has repatriated over 7.88 lakh NRIs from various destinations.
  • An increasing number of NRIs who have lost their jobs abroad have returned to India and have been seeking Government aid.

Concerns:

Challenges faced by the migrant labourers:

  • Though the South Asian labour force forms the backbone of the Gulf economies, it has no social security protection or labour rights.

Pandemic crisis:

  • The pandemic, the shutdown of companies, the tightening of borders, and the exploitative nature of the Kafala sponsorship system have aggravated the miseries of South Asian migrant workers.
  • The South Asian labour force found it hard to ensure the availability of basic necessities like food and medicines during the pandemic.
    • Since medicines are expensive in GCC countries, migrants often procure medicines for lifestyle diseases from India. However, the suspension of flights caused an acute shortage of medicines for these workers.
  • The migrants living in the labour camps (mostly characterised by overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions) were vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Employers, particularly construction companies, have used the crisis as an opportunity to retrench masses of migrant labourers without paying them wages or allowances.

Anti-migrant sentiments:

  • The movement for nationalisation of labour and the anti-migrant sentiment have peaked in GCC countries.

Way forward:

Rehabilitate, reintegrate, and resettle:

  • India will need to rehabilitate, reintegrate, and resettle these migrant workers.
  • This could involve providing money on arrival, money to launch self-employment projects, and compensation for the families of those who died abroad from COVID-19 apart from upgrading the skills of returnees.
  • The Indian government’s ‘SWADES’ scheme aims at skill mapping of citizens returning from abroad. Kerala’s ‘Dream Kerala’ scheme aims to utilise the multifaceted resources of the migrants.

Migration policy:

  • The need of the hour is a comprehensive migration management system. No South Asian country except Sri Lanka has an adequate migration policy.
  • The pandemic provides an opportunity to voice the rights of South Asian migrants and to bring the South Asia-Gulf migration corridor within the ambit of SAARC, the ILO, and UN conventions.

For more information on this issue, refer to:

CNA dated April 17, 2020

F. Prelims Facts

1. States leverage digital resources as pandemic keeps schools shut

What’s in News?

The Human Resource Development Ministry has released a State-wise report documenting the spread of digital classrooms, e-textbooks and mobile learning apps.

  • With schools closed across the country, all the states are taking to the digital platform to ensure continuous learning.
  • Digital classrooms are being tried in 25 States and Union Territories, although the extent of their reach in each State is unclear.
  • States are dependent on broadcast classes via television (where digital technology is completely absent) in at least 25 states and Union Territories, and radio is being used in 18 states and Union Territories.
  • The most common type of distance learning seems to be asynchronous digital education.
    • This form does not require the level of connectivity needed for live online classes as it uses already prepared digital content hosted on platforms, to be accessed at one’s own comfort.
  • Centre’s DIKSHA portal has had 200 crore page hits and 60 lakh course completions since the lockdown.

DIKSHA Portal:

  • DIKSHA is a National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers.
  • It is an initiative of the Human Resource Development Ministry for providing a digital platform to teachers to make their lifestyle more digital.
  • The portal consists of the whole teacher’s life cycle – from the time they were enrolled as student teachers in Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) to after they retire as teachers.
  • Teachers can learn and train themselves for which assessment resources will be available helping them boost their skills.

G. Tidbits

1. ‘COVID-19 will lead to rise in child wasting’

What’s in News?

The Lancet study titled ‘Impacts of COVID-19 on childhood malnutrition and nutrition-related mortality’ has been published.

  • According to the study, the global prevalence of child wasting in 2020 could rise by 14.3%, translating into an additional 6.7 million children under the age of five suffering from it.
  • This is because the pandemic has resulted in the disruption of food systems and impeded access to healthcare services.
  • Before the pandemic, nearly 47 million children younger than five years were estimated to be affected by wasting globally.
  • According to the study, the total figure for 2020 would be 53.7 million children under five, bringing global wasting to levels not seen this millennium.

Child Wasting and Stunting:

  • Wasting alludes to low weight for height, in children.
  • It is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five.
  • Stunting, or low height for age, is caused by long-term insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections.

2. 3 bn animals affected by Australia bushfires: WWF

  • According to a study by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), nearly 3 billion animals including koalas, kangaroos and other native Australian animals were killed or displaced by bushfires in 2019 and 2020.
  • The total number included animals which were displaced because of destroyed habitats and now faced lack of food and shelter.
  • The fires destroyed more than 11 million hectares across the Australian southeast, equal to about half the area of the United Kingdom, ranking it as one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.

Read more about Bushfires in Australia covered in 12th January 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis.

3. China halts HK extradition pacts with Canada, Australia and U.K.

What’s in News?

China has announced the suspension of Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain.

  • The announcement comes as a tit-for-tat move following similar decisions by those countries as a response to the law imposed on Hong Kong which they see as an erosion of the civil liberties and human rights the city has enjoyed since its handover from Britain in 1997.
  • Canada, Britain and Australia are part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance. The other members are New Zealand, which suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and the United States, which has signalled it is preparing to do the same.

Read more about this topic covered in 21st July 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to River Pampa:
  1. It is the longest river in Kerala.
  2. It originates in the Pulachimalai hill in the Western Ghats.
  3. It flows westwards and drains into the Vembanad Lake.

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

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • The Pamba River (also called Pampa river) is the third-longest river in the South Indian state of Kerala after Periyar and Bharathappuzha.
  • It originates in the Pulachimalai hill in the Western Ghats.
  • It is a west flowing river.
  • It flows westwards and empties into the Vembanad Lake.
Q2. Consider the following statements:
  1. Palamau Tiger Reserve – Jharkhand
  2. Buxa Tiger Reserve – Maharashtra
  3. Dampa Tiger Reserve – Mizoram
  4. Satkosia Tiger Reserve – Odisha

Which of the above is/are correctly matched?

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

Answer: b

Explanation:

Buxa Tiger Reserve is located in West Bengal.

Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to Asian Infrastructure Investment 
Bank (AIIB):
  1. It is headquartered in Beijing, China.
  2. India is a member and has the second-largest shareholding and voting rights.
  3. Membership is open to members of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the Asian Development Bank.
  4. The bank allows non-sovereign entities of member countries to apply for membership.

Choose the correct option:

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

All the statements are correct.

  • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is headquartered in Beijing, China.
  • India is a member and has the second-largest shareholding and voting rights after China.
  • The AIIB allows non-sovereign entities to apply for AIIB membership, assuming their home country is a member. Thus, sovereign wealth funds (such as the China Investment Corporation) or state-owned enterprises of member countries could potentially join the Bank.
  • Its membership is open to members of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the Asian Development Bank.
Q4. The “Five Eyes” alliance comprises of which of the following countries?
  1. Canada
  2. Russia
  3. New Zealand
  4. Australia
  5. India
  6. United Kingdom
  7. United States

Choose the correct option:

  1. 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 only
  2. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 only
  3. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 only
  4. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 only
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • The Five Eyes, often abbreviated as FVEY, is an Anglophone intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Despite the current differences between the three nations, the Russia-India-China engagement still holds significance for India. Analyze. (15 marks, 250 words)(GS paper 2/International Relations)
  2. Discuss the challenges faced by the South Asian labour force in the GCC countries, especially in the current context of the pandemic crisis and suggest suitable policy measures. (10 marks, 150 words)(GS paper 2/Indian Diaspora)

Read the previous CNA here.

29 JULY 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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