31 July 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 31st July 2021:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India and China to hold 12th round of talks today
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Govt. introduces Bill on insurance firms
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Ozone levels exceeding permitted levels: study
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Visualising the Himalaya with other coordinates
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Law and lawmakers
ECONOMY
1. Patchwork progress
F. Prelims Facts
1. Shaheed Udham Singh
G. Tidbits
1. BRICS plan to counter terror finalised: govt.
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Ozone levels exceeding permitted levels: study

Context:

  • A Centre for Science and Environment study on ozone levels in Delhi-NCR.

Ozone:

  • While stratospheric ozone protects living things from ultraviolet radiation from the sun, ground-level ozone is considered a pollutant given the adverse health problems it gives rise to.

Ozone formation:

  • Ozone is a secondary pollutant. Tropospheric, or ground-level ozone, is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight (photochemical reaction).
    • Emissions from cars, power plants, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources are the major sources of NOx and VOC.
  • Ozone is most likely to reach unhealthy levels on hot sunny days in urban environments.

Harmful effects:

  • Ozone is a highly reactive gas and when inhaled it can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and, throat irritation. It may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections.
  • Elevated exposure to ozone can affect sensitive vegetation and ecosystems. In particular, ozone can harm sensitive vegetation during the growing season.

Details:

  • Contrary to the notion that ozone is predominantly a summer phenomenon, the study found ozone levels exceeding the permitted levels even during winter in Delhi-NCR.
  • The study notes that despite the lockdown, more days and locations witnessed a higher and longer duration of ozone spells.

Concerns:

  • Ozone is becoming more widespread in Delhi and NCR across all seasons.
  • The presence of Ozone in large quantities in the winter season is all the more concerning because it makes the smog in winter seasons more toxic.

Recommendations:

  • There needs to be a refinement of clean air action plan to add strategies for ozone mitigation, with strong action on vehicles, industry and waste burning which constitute the major sources of NOx and VOC.
  • Some of the strategies could involve the following:
    • Vapour recovery nozzles at the petrol pumps to reduce refuelling emissions
    • Cleaner burning fuels reformulated to reduce VOC, NOx and other pollutants
    • Strict NOx emission limits for power plants and industrial combustion sources
    • Enhanced vehicle inspection programs and
    • Strict limitations on solvent usage in factories.

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Law and lawmakers

Context:

Supreme Court ruling that legislative privilege cannot be extended to provide legal immunity to criminal acts committed by lawmakers.

This issue has been comprehensively covered in July 29th, 2021 CNA.

Details:

  • The LDF government in Kerala has suffered a setback because it strongly favoured the withdrawal of cases against six members who were sought to be prosecuted for creating a ruckus in the Assembly in 2015.
  • Their action resulted in destruction or damage to some items, amounting to a loss of ₹2.20 lakh.
  • Based on the Assembly Secretary’s complaint, the police registered a case and later filed a charge sheet against them for committing mischief and trespass under the IPC and destroying public property under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
  • Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan maintains that the matter should have been seen as a political protest and should not have been taken into the domain of criminal prosecution.
  • In 2021 the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram, had rejected the application by the public prosecutor for withdrawal from prosecution. Later, Kerala HC also affirmed that order.
  • Additionally, the SC also did not accept the argument that the alleged vandalism took place as part of the legislators’ right to protest on the floor of the House.
Privileges and immunities of MPs and MLAs:
  • Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution deal with the privileges and immunities of members of parliament and legislative assemblies.
  • A member of the legislature, the opposition included, has a right to protest on the floor of the legislature. The right to do so is implicit in Article 105(1) in its application to Parliament and Article 194(1) in its application to the State Legislatures.

Conclusion:

Legislators should act within the parameters of the public trust imposed on them to do their duty. Legislative privilege and parliamentary free speech are necessary elements of a lawmaker’s freedom to function, but the Court’s conclusion is that an alleged act of destroying public property within the House cannot be considered “essential” for their legislative functions.

The Supreme Court ruling is welcomed for two reasons:

  1. It lays down that legislators charged with unruly behaviour that results in offences under penal laws cannot be protected either by their privilege or their free speech rights.
  2. The decision strengthens the law relating to a prosecutor’s role in withdrawing an ongoing criminal case.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Patchwork progress

Context:

The Union Cabinet has cleared changes to the deposit insurance laws.

What is deposit insurance?

  • In India, in the event a bank fails, a depositor has a claim to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh per account as insurance cover.
  • The cover of Rs 5 lakh per depositor is provided by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), which is a fully owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India.
  • If a customer’s deposit amount crosses Rs 5 lakh in a single bank, only up to Rs 5 lakh, including the principal and interest, will be paid by the DICGC if the bank turns bankrupt.
  • Depositors having more than Rs 5 lakh in their account have no legal recourse to recover funds in case a bank collapses.
  • While the depositors enjoy the highest safety on their funds parked with banks, unlike the equity and bond investors in the banks, however, an element of risk exists in case a bank collapses.

Who pays for this insurance?

  • Deposits in public and private sector banks, local area banks, small finance banks, regional rural banks, cooperative banks, Indian branches of foreign banks and payments banks are all insured by the DICGC.
  • The premium for this insurance is paid by banks to the DICGC, and not passed on to depositors.
  • Banks currently pay a minimum of 10 paise on every Rs 100 worth of deposits to the DICGC as a premium for the insurance cover, which is now being raised to a minimum of 12 paise.
  • In 2020, the government raised the insurance amount to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh.
    • Prior to that, the DICGC had revised the deposit insurance cover to Rs 1 lakh on May 1, 1993 — raising it from Rs 30,000, which had been the cover from 1980 onward.

Need for changes in the deposit insurance laws:

  • In the last two years, Yes Bank, Lakshmi Vilas Bank and the PMC Bank, have faced such a bar on depositors seeking to withdraw.
  • Recent troubles for depositors in getting immediate access to their funds in such banks has put the spotlight on the subject of deposit insurance. 

Details:

  • The government hopes to bring about changes to the 1961 Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation law to provide funds up to Rs 5 lakh to an account holder within 90 days in the event of a bank coming under the moratorium imposed by the RBI.
  • Earlier, account holders had to wait for years till the liquidation or restructuring of a distressed lender to get their deposits that are insured against default.
  • The Centre plans to introduce the Deposit Insurance & Credit Guarantee Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament.

How will it benefit the savers?

  • Depositors normally end up waiting for 8-10 years before they are able to access their deposits in a distressed bank only after its complete liquidation.
  • From savers’ perspective, the most significant modification would be the 90-day deadline for the Corporation (DICGC) to remit the insured deposits of customers in troubled banks.
  • As per the plan, once the RBI imposes curbs on a bank, by the 91st-day account holders will get their outstanding balance back with a cap of ₹5 lakh.
  • It will help especially small depositors meet urgent financial exigencies.
  • This will cover banks already under moratorium and those that could come under moratorium. However, it would not apply retrospectively.
  • Besides, as per RBI data, ₹76.21 lakh crore or almost 51% of deposits are now insured, but 98.3% of all accounts have balances of ₹5 lakh or less so they are fully insured.

Way Forward:

  • This can be a source of renewed comfort for people in the banking system, grappling with bad loans.
  • It is important for financial stability that people feel it is safer to park their money in a bank.
  • But for people with limited financial literacy and access to retirement savings instruments, with lifetime earnings (over ₹5 lakh) parked in a co-operative bank, this would still be a less favourable outcome.
  • Similar to the latest amendments that have an enabling provision to raise the premium paid by banks to the DICGC in future, there should be amendments to raise the insured deposit limit taking into account inflation and per capita income trends.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Shaheed Udham Singh

  • Udham Singh was born in Sunam in Punjab’s Sangrur district in 1899.
  • He was an Indian revolutionary and got associated with the Ghadar Party while in the US.
  • He is best known for his assassination in London of Michael O’Dwyer, the former lieutenant governor of Punjab. The assassination was done in revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919.
    • Troops under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer had opened fire on the crowd, killing several hundred.
  • Udham Singh was given the title of Shaheed-i-Azam (the great martyr).

Read more on Udham Singh in This Day in History dated 31 July.

G. Tidbits

1. BRICS plan to counter terror finalised: govt.

  • The BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan has been finalised at the sixth meeting of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group.
  • The action plan will strengthen counter-terror cooperation among the BRICS member states.
  • The plan is one of the key deliverables during India’s Chairship of BRICS.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to KUSUM Scheme:
  1. The Ministry of Power launched the scheme with the aim of providing additional income to farmers.
  2. The farmers will be provided assistance to install standalone solar pumps or solarise agricultural feeders.
  3. The farmers have the option of selling additional power through solar power projects set up on their barren lands, to the grid.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy launched the scheme with the aim of providing additional income to farmers.
  • The farmers will be provided assistance to install standalone solar pumps or solarise agricultural feeders.
  • The farmers have the option of selling additional power through solar power projects set up on their barren lands, to the grid.

Read more on Kusum Scheme.

Q2. Which of the given statements with respect to tropospheric Ozone is/are correct?
  1. It is a highly reactive oxidant that significantly reduces crop productivity, drastically increases plants’ ability to sequester carbon and aggravates lung diseases.
  2. It is the main ingredient of urban smog.
  3. Most of the ultraviolet radiations from the Sun is absorbed by the tropospheric ozone.

Options:

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Tropospheric Ozone (bad ozone) is a highly reactive oxidant that significantly reduces crop productivity, decreases the plants’ ability to sequester carbon and aggravates lung diseases.
  • It is the main component of urban smog.
  • Most of the ultraviolet radiations from the Sun is absorbed by the stratospheric ozone also known as good ozone.
Q3. Which of these countries share border with the Baltic Sea and lie on its eastern coast?
  1. Lithuania
  2. Belarus
  3. Sweden
  4. Estonia
  5. Latvia

Options:

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

Answer: d

Explanation:

Q4. Consider the following statements:
  1. Zoonotic infections can be bacterial, viral, or parasitic.
  2. Scrub Typhus, Brucellosis, Anthrax are all zoonotic diseases.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Zoonosis is another name for zoonotic disease. This type of disease passes from an animal or insect to a human.
  • Zoonotic infections can be bacterial, viral, or parasitic.
  • Scrub Typhus, Brucellosis, Anthrax are all examples of zoonotic diseases.

Read more on Zoonotic Diseases – Definition, Types. How Zoonotic Diseases Spread?

Q5. In the Constitution of India, promotion of international peace and security is included 
in the:
  1. Preamble to the Constitution
  2. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)
  3. Fundamental Duties
  4. Ninth Schedule
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

Article 51 of the Indian Constitution which is a Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), states the state shall endeavour to :

  1. promote international peace and security and maintain just and honourable relations between nations,
  2. foster respect for international law and treaty obligations,
  3. and to encourage settlements of international disputes by arbitration.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Looking at the Himalayas only through the prism of geopolitics and security concerns ignores its other crucial frameworks. Discuss. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS-2, International Relations]
  2. Examine the recent changes proposed to the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS-3, Economy]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 31st July 2021:- Download PDF Here

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