17 Jun 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis


A. GS1 Related
1. Time to shift focus from land to water productivity in farming
B. GS2 Related
1. U.K. not to ease rules for Indian students
2. India’s proposed Assumption Island deal drifts
C. GS3 Related
1. Handling a threat
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
F. Tidbits
1. A Himalayan campaign against plastic
2. China hits back with tariffs on U.S. goods
3. City hospitals see surge in patients with respiratory ailments
4. Chlorophyll-f
5. Fossil frog
6. Why Modi should visit Costa Rica
7. In Telangana, finetuning a scheme for farmers
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related


1. Time to shift focus from land to water productivity in farming

  • Indian agriculture needs to stop being obsessed with land productivity and instead start worrying about water productivity, says a report released by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

The report

  • Titled Water Productivity Mapping of Major Indian Crops, the report is part of a research project with ICRIER, mapping a water atlas for 10 major crops — rice, wheat, maize, red gram or tur, chickpea or channa, sugarcane, cotton, groundnut, rapeseed-mustard and potato.
  • These together occupy more than 60% of the country’s gross cropped area.
  • Given that Indian agriculture uses almost 80% of all the country’s water resources, which are increasingly under stress, changing the objective of agriculture development to increasing productivity per unit of water, especially irrigation water, is crucial.
  • The stark differences between land and water productivity are seen in rice and sugarcane cultivation.
  • Punjab reports the highest land productivity for rice, producing four tonnes per hectare. However, it only produces 0.22 kg of rice for every metre cube of irrigation water.
  • Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, on the other hand, produce 0.75 and 0.68 kg for the same amount of water. However, low irrigation coverage results in low land productivity in these States. Jharkhand has only 3% of its land under irrigation.
  • For sugarcane, another water-guzzling crop, Tamil Nadu reports the highest land productivity, producing 105 tonnes per hectare. Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh also have high rates of land productivity.
  • However, all four States in the water-stressed sub-tropical belt have an irrigation water productivity of less than 5 kg/m3. In fact, an average of 40 rounds of irrigation are needed in Tamil Nadu.
  • The Gangetic Plain States of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, need five and eight rounds of irrigation respectively.


  • The report recommends that cropping patterns be re-aligned to water availability, using both demand and supply side interventions.
  • With water and power subsidies skewing cropping patterns, it also recommends reform in these areas, with a shift from the price policy approach of heavily subsidising inputs to an income policy approach of directly giving money to farmers on per hectare basis. The prices will then be determined by market forces.

B. GS2 Related


1. U.K. not to ease rules for Indian students

  • Britain’s efforts to reform the visa application process for international students from a number of countries will not extend to India — a development that highlights recent strains in the bilateral relations between the two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to London earlier this year.
  • Announcing a wider overhaul of the U.K. immigration regime, the British government said it would be expanding the list of countries from which students would be able to provide reduced documentation when applying for Tier 4 student visas to include China and other countries, including Bahrain, Indonesia, and the Maldives.
  • However, India was not on the list.
  • While India remains the third largest country for whom student visas were granted in 2017 — an increase of 27% on the year before — the numbers remain sharply down on a longer-term perspective.
  • The British perspective on Indian students was simply based on the fact that Indian students represented one of the largest groups.
  • The exclusion of Indian students from the reforms has to be seen in the context of the recent heightening of tensions and India’s decision — at Sushma Swaraj’ behest — not to sign an MoU on the return of illegal migrants that Britain had sought, during Mr. Modi’s April trip.
  • India has in the past repeatedly raised the issue of visas for students, as well as those for professionals, with U.K. authorities.

2. India’s proposed Assumption Island deal drifts

  • An official announcement by Seychelles President Danny Faure cancelled the agreement with India for the development of Assumption Island (a single coral island in the Outer Islands of Seychelles) in the Indian Ocean.
  • Faure made it clear that he would have no further discussions on the subject with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Security setback

  • The decision by the Seychelles President to drop the deal in the face of protests over a perceived loss of sovereignty is a blow to the government’s “SAGAR” (Security and Growth for All in the Region) programme, announced by Mr. Modi during a visit to Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) countries in March 2015.
  • It also comes amid India’s troubles with another IOR country, the Maldives, where the government has demanded that India withdraw two helicopters, pilots and personnel from its atolls that had been sent there to help with maritime patrols.

Assumption Island deal

  • Discussions regarding development of Assumption Island began in 2003 but were formalised in 2015 during Mr. Modi’s visit.
  • The deal was to include a 20-year access to the base, as well as permission to station some military personnel on ground with facilities on the island funded by India, owned by the Seychelles and jointly managed by both sides.
  • India’s defence maritime cooperation with the Seychelles is long-standing and some of the upgrade work on Assumption Island was already under way.
  • The cancellation of the agreement in a strategically important island could have far-reaching implications.

C. GS3 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. Handling a threat

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is in the process of finalising an Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF).
  • Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), a mosquito-borne parasitic disease, has been endemic in India since antiquity.
  • In 1955, the government launched the National Filaria Control Programme to eliminate LF.
  • Of the 256 districts in the country where it is endemic, 99 have successfully tackled filariasis.


  • However, till 2016, 8.7 million cases of LF were reported, with 29.4 million recorded as suffering from disability associated with the disease.
  • In addition, 650 million people across 256 districts in 21 States and Union Territories still face a risk.
  • Therefore, India needs to up its game if it is to meet the global LF elimination target of 2020.
  • India’s mass drug administration (MDA) strategy has been successful in consistently reaching more than 80% of the population under risk.
  • However, there are still a number of challenges in more than half the number of LF endemic districts in the country despite observing a regimen that involves distributing at least 10 rounds of the two drugs (Diethylcarbamazine citrate and Albendazole, or DA).

Sri Lankan example

  • Sri Lanka — which was certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as having eliminated LF as a public health problem in 2016 — has shown that coverage and compliance of services during the MDA campaign is boosted if there is strong commitment to the social and communication sciences, including substantial investments in evidence-based social-mobilisation campaigns.

Measures to eliminate LF

  • A rapid scale-up of MDA that has focus on coverage and compliance is essential to decrease the number of rounds required to attain LF elimination.
  • In future rounds of MDA, high community demand and compliance will be the critical indicators of success.
  • The WHO’s recent recommendation of adopting the triple drug therapy or IDA (a combination of Ivermectin along with Diethylcarbamazine citrate and Albendazole) has shown encouraging results in clinical trials across the globe and in India.
  • IDA has the potential to rapidly shorten the number of rounds of MDA required in the community, which can be particularly promising for high-burden countries such as India where compliance to treatment has been a challenge.
  • Like any other vector-borne disease, management of the environment is an important aspect of prevention.
  • While the use of insecticide-treated bed nets or larval control to check the breeding of vectors or mosquitoes that spread the disease can be valuable tools, an integrated approach could be particularly beneficial.
  • Collaborating across government departments to build cross-linkages with other national programmes such as the Swachh Bharat Mission or malaria prevention efforts could help rein in disease transmission.
  • The presence of high levels of infection and clinical cases even after several rounds of effective MDA is referred to as persistent foci.
  • These hot spots need to be looked into from the point of operational issues and parasite genetic variations.
  • The re-emergence of infection in non-endemic areas due to migration of people from areas with ongoing transmission needs to be tackled.
  • For example, in Surat city (Gujarat), a high microfilaria rate was noticed in the north zone of the city where the migrant population influx is high.
  • Elimination efforts do not end with achieving the desired results in MDA.
  • The most traumatic impact of the disease is the suffering caused by the full-blown manifestation of filariasis in those who are infected.
  • Morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP) of lymphedema and hydrocele must assume greater importance so that the quality of life of affected individuals can be improved.
  • Roping in the Indian Medical Association, which has a vast network of private practitioners, to help support awareness drives and participate in MMDP activities in endemic districts has the potential to rapidly increase access to services to those who still cannot access the public health system.
  • It will be important to adopt innovative strategies that can be scaled up for India to create history and achieve another milestone by eliminating LF.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Nothing here for today!!!

F. Tidbits

1. A Himalayan campaign against plastic

  • The hill economy is largely dependent on tourists that leave the trash on the mountains. But now, 12 Himalayan States are jointly tackling the menace.
  • The drive, initiated by two NGOs, Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI) and Zero Waste Himalayas had twin objectives on World Environment Day: collecting as much waste as possible in a single day in the Himalayan foothills and analysing the trash.
  • Over 15,000 people were mobilised to collect waste from nearly 300 points in the 12 States. From across the borders, Nepal and Bhutan sent observers.
  • IMI and Zero Waste found that 97% of it was plastic.

2. China hits back with tariffs on U.S. goods

  • In tit-for-tat action, China imposed additional duties on $50 billion worth of American products, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump slapped a stiff 25% tariff on Chinese goods worth a similar amount, triggering a full-fledged trade war between the world’s largest economies.
  • Trump accused China of intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices as he announced the tariff on Chinese goods.
  • The Chinese government has decided to impose additional duties of 25% on 659 items worth about $50 billion.
  • The government also unveiled a list of U.S. products which will be subjected to additional tariffs.
  • The Chinese side said that the U.S. move violates the rules of the WTO, goes against the consensus reached in bilateral economic and trade consultations, seriously infringes upon the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese side and undermines the interests of China.

3. City hospitals see surge in patients with respiratory ailments

  • Doctors across New Delhi have reported an increase in the number of patients complaining of respiratory ailments.
  • A thick blanket of dust and haze has enveloped Delhi’s skyline since last week.
  • The average PM10 level in Delhi was 830 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3), which is categorised as beyond ‘severe’. The safe limit for PM10 is 100 ug/m3.
  • The average PM2.5 level was 320 ug/m3, which falls in the ‘very unhealthy’ category. PM2.5 can lodge deep inside the lungs and cause the most respiratory harm. The safe limit for PM2.5 is 60 ug/m3.
  • Pollution is a burning issue today and has become a major public health problem because of its impact on human health.
  • Everything from breathlessness to burning sensation in the eyes have come to the fore. The current level of pollution in Delhi can affect even an unborn child in the womb.

Safety measures                  

  • The best thing in the current situation would be to stay indoors and away from the dust as much as possible.
  • Use air purifiers inside the house.
  • Those who go for work or people who cannot avoid venturing out must use masks.
  • In the Capital, several measures have been taken to improve air quality, including stopping all construction activities, sprinkling water on roads, and using mechanised vacuum sweepers the clean the streets.

4. Chlorophyll-f

  • Textbook wisdom says that plants use chlorophyll, technically chlorophyll-a, that is sensitive to visible red light from the sun.
  • It turns out there is another type of chlorophyll that uses near-infrared light instead.
  • Called chlorophyll-f, it is found in a wide range of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) when they grow in near-infrared light.
  • It is also found in shaded conditions such as bacterial mats in Yellowstone and in beach rock in Australia.
  • It also occurs in a cupboard fitted with infrared LEDs, as was recently done by researchers at the Imperial College London.
  • These insights could be useful for researchers trying to engineer crops to perform more efficient photosynthesis by using a wider range of light.

5. Fossil frog

  • A 99-million-year-old fossil of an extinct frog species, Electorana limoae, has been identified from amber deposits of northern Myanmar.
  • While Electorana lived in the tropics, species resembling it now inhabit temperate zones.
  • This throws open a puzzle of how the species fits into the frog family tree.

6. Why Modi should visit Costa Rica

  • There’s one country Mr. Modi should plan on visiting soon, particularly if he wants to see his vision of a clean energy-driven India become a reality. And that country is Costa Rica.

Costa Rica

  • The Republic of Costa Rica is just a tiny dot on the map, sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua, with a population of less than half of that of Bengaluru and a GDP less than half the current market value of the Indian tech giant TCS.

Small nation, big achievements

  • But a tiny country such as this has some remarkable achievements to its credit.
  • In 1949, after a bloody coup in which 2,000 people died, it decided to abolish its army altogether and remains one of the few countries in the world without one.
  • Its citizens receive free education and healthcare (it spends 6.9% of its GDP on education, more than double of India’s measly 2.7%).
  • It ranks 66 in the United Nations’ Human Development Index (India ranks 131).
  • It was one of the first countries in the world to implement a green tax, which helped reverse deforestation.
  • And has actually managed to implement a ban on single-use plastics.
  • And it is one of the greenest countries on earth.
  • Last year, the entire Costa Rican grid ran on renewable power for a record 300 days.
  • Besides hydro, wind and solar, it is a world leader in geothermal energy.
  • It plans to move from a staggering 98.6% renewable power base to 100% this year.
  • By 2020 it will become carbon neutral, matching its greenhouse emissions with the carbon emissions it saves.

Why Costa Rica?

  • But the real reason Mr. Modi should visit Costa Rica is to meet its 38-year-old President, Carlos Alvarado.
  • One of the first things the former journalist did on assuming office was to declare that Costa Rica would become the world’s first ‘zero carbon’ economy in two decades, starting with the initial goal of eliminating fossil fuels from the transportation sector by 2021.
  • Even for a very small country, that’s a very ambitious goal. And like all such goals, it is unlikely to be achieved in that time frame.
  • Costa Rica has one of the fastest-growing car markets in the world (around 25% per year), and nearly half its carbon emissions come from the transport sector.
  • Besides, it is bang in the middle of the Pan American Highway and banning petrol and diesel within its borders would pretty much kill most of its foreign trade.
  • But the important thing is that if the messaging is strong enough and is backed by a proper plan, and if the right people champion it, this can become reality.
  • Earlier this year, it eliminated taxes on electric vehicles.
  • More importantly, the government, partnering with civil society groups, has been preaching to the people the benefits of going electric — demonstrating that it is possible to drive to the beach and back from the capital in an electric car and working with fishermen on electrifying fishing vessels.
  • The President too used a hydrogen fuel bus to the venue to sign the proclamation on eliminating fossil fuels.

India’s case

  • This is the kind of symbolism and social movement that Mr. Modi is actually good at.
  • He is driving the growth of solar power in India and has already declared that he wants all transport vehicles to be electric by 2030.
  • That is unlikely to happen without the other ingredients- a clear vision of desired outcomes, a sustainable road map to reach there and, most importantly, a coalition to drive the idea forward among all stakeholders — people, business and the government.
  • India is one of the world’s largest car markets and the second biggest two-wheeler market.
  • Explosive urbanisation is also driving demand for public transportation, while 7%-plus GDP growth and heavy dependence on road transport mean that our problems are likely to get worse faster.
  • We are the world’s third biggest energy importer, spending roughly $12 billion a month on crude oil alone.
  • We are also home to 13 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities.

7. In Telangana, finetuning a scheme for farmers

  • Rythu Bandhu, a farmers’ investment support scheme announced with much fanfare by the Telangana government, has divided farmers.
  • Those left out, including estimated 14 lakh tenant farmers, have taken to the streets.

What is the scheme?

  • The scheme, conceived as an investment support for farmers to buy seeds, fertilizer and other inputs, allows distribution of ₹4,000 per acre each for two crops (kharif and rabi).
  • This is considered an important link to a series of pro-farmer measures initiated by the government, including land records update and extending health insurance cover to every beneficiary for ₹5 lakh.
  • The announcement was preceded by an update of land records of 1.43 crore acres, something which the government said was done only during the Nizam’s rule prior to independence.

How many farmers will benefit?

  • The programme is targeted to benefit 57.40 lakh farmers, who were identified on the basis of updated land records.
  • Of them, 40.92 lakh are marginal farmers, with a holding of less than 2.5 acres, 11.02 lakh small farmers having 2.5-5 acres, 4.44 lakh semi-medium farmers having 5-10 acres, 94,500 medium farmers with 10-25 acres and 6,500 large farmers with more than 25 acres.
  • The government allotted ₹12,000 crore in the budget presented to the Assembly within days of the announcement.

Why was such a step necessary?

  • The government felt input assistance was crucial to bailing out farmers from distress.
  • It was aimed at ensuring everyone who had land, whether it was tilled or not, was given the benefit.
  • But tenants were excluded as the government felt that it might cause legal disputes since tenancy was an informal arrangement.
  • Apart from tenant farmers, the government omitted from the scheme a few lakh farmers tilling land distributed by the Bhoodan Yagna Board.

Where will the funds come from?

  • To meet the kharif requirement of ₹6,000 crore, the government has mobilised three instalments of ₹2,000 crore each from State Development Loans auctioned by the Reserve Bank of India at an interest ranging from 8.05% to 8.15%, with a repayment tenure of 25 years.
  • About 41 lakh farmers have encashed cheques worth ₹4,400 crore since May 10.
  • Of the 58 lakh cheques printed for distribution, officials have distributed cheques to 46 lakh farmers.
  • The other 12 lakh cheques could not be distributed as beneficiaries were not available in villages owing to either migration to other States and countries or errors in the printing of names or multiple accounts.
  • Aadhaar linkage issues also affected distribution. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao had said those who refused to give Aadhaar numbers should not be extended the benefit.
  • The banks initially expressed apprehension that they might not have enough cash in their treasuries.
  • Moreover, the disbursal coincided with a critical time when banks were starved of cash, and ATMs had run dry.
  • The Opposition parties claimed that it was a stunt ahead of the 2019 general election.
  • The government selected eight banks, led by the State Bank of India, which serviced a majority of farmers to implement the programme through their branches in villages.

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Which of the following is not a feature of the Nehru Report, 1928?
  1. It declared Poorna Swaraj to be the objective.
  2. It rejected the principle of separate electorates.
  3. It recommended Universal Adult Suffrage.
  4. All of the above



Question 2. Which of the following can be stated as the reasons for the peasants’ and workers’ 
movements in the 1930s?
  1. Impact of the economic depression of 1929.
  2. Civil Disobedience Movement.
  3. Rise of the left parties.

Choose the correct option:

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above



Question 3. Consider the following statements regarding the revolutionary movements in India:
  1. They contributed in the propagation of modern political ideas like federalism, democracy etc.
  2. They tried to provide an alternative to mainstream politics.
  3. Although in early phase they had religious influence, their approach was mostly secular in nature.

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

  1. 2 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. All of the above



Question 4. Consider the following statements regarding Indian Republican Army:
  1. This revolutionary Hindu group from Bengal was responsible for armory raid in Chittagong under the leadership of ‘Masterda’.
  2. Participation of young women was a unique feature of this group.
  3. They proclaimed a Provisional Revolutionary Government after capturing the armory.

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

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of the above




H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The socio-cultural awakening in Indian society in the 19th century was a result of interaction with the West. In light of the above statement, discuss the trends that emerged in Indian socio-cultural discourse.
  1. The issues pertaining to the status of women in India is a consequence of inadequacy of the legal system to keep pace with dynamics of the society. Discuss.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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