24 Jun 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
1. Jami Masjid in Gulbarga in Karnataka
B. GS2 Related
GOVERNANCE
1. Democracy and why we treasure it?
2. Health care Dilemmas
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Is external debt a cause for worry?
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Huntington’s disease (HD) 
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Maharashtra government ban on plastic
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
1. Suryashakti Kishan Yojana 
F. Prelims Fact
1. A chorus against U.K.’s ‘hostile policy’ on visas for Indian students
2. Police link rape to Pathalgadi drive
3. Why we treasure democracy
4. The features of a nationalist
5. ‘Rhino habitat under threat of mining’
6. ‘Animals, birds will be affected: experts’
7. Karnataka opposes guidelines for Cauvery authority, panel
8. Kerala acquires over 55% land for NH 66 widening

G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Category: ART AND CULTURE

1. Jami Masjid in Gulbarga in Karnataka

  • The uniqueness of the mosque is that it has no open courtyard and the entire structure is covered by a roof.
  • It was produced under the direction of a hereditary architect named Rafi, not of India, but from the distant town of Kazvin in northern Persia.
  • They have interiors similar to the Great Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba in Spain

Tughlaq and Bahmani Kingdom

  • Mohammad bin Tughlaq, who ruled from 1321 to 1351 as the Delhi Sultan, captured large parts of the Deccan including Gulbarga.
  • In 1347, a Tughlaq officer named Alauddin Hasan revolted against Tughlaq and declared his independence by establishing the Bahmani kingdom (1347-1527) with Gulbarga as its capital.
  • Hasan built Gulbarga as a fortress city. The Bahmani Sultans ruled from here till the capital of the kingdom was shifted to Bidar in 1424.

Inspiration for Architecture

  • When Mohammad bin Tughlaq shifted his capital to Daulatabad in the Deccan, he took artisans and architects with him. However, the Bahmani Sultans chose to look towards Persia as a source of inspiration
  • this was combined with existing and developing local styles and at other times the architecture of the Tughlaq style remained, as seen in the tombs of the Bahmani kings in Gulbarga.

B. GS2 Related

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. democracy and why we treasure it?

Peace, Freedom, Well-Being

  • The attractiveness of democracy lies in its ability to give us a peaceful transfer of power.
    • it frees us from the bloody battles and gory coup d’états through which wealthy and powerful super elites conventionally settled their conflicts.
    • It is a non-violent substitute for the marauding warrior ethic.
  • Second, it eliminates the most basic fears and anxieties to which social and political life is prone — the fear of being killed, beaten or humiliated for doing or saying what we want or for challenging the powerful.
    • It promotes the maximum possible openness in our lives — in how and what we think, speak, behave.
  • Third, no other system — a monarchy, dictatorship or an empire — takes seriously a people’s own view of its needs, wants and goals, giving the best possible shot at satisfying them.

difficulties of democracy

  • A culture of equality is believed to be crucial to democracy but India inherited a social structure replete with hardened gender and caste inequalities.
  • A democracy’s success depends on fairly high levels of growth, but India’s rate of growth in 1947 was virtually zero, with 65-70% of its population trapped in extreme poverty.
  • Successful democracies need a fair degree of cultural, linguistic and religious homogeneity but India has deep cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.
  • Most Western democracies have high levels of literacy and education but a substantial section of the Indian population was illiterate, with virtually no formal education.

How democracy has to be transformed?

  • The colonial state apparatus inherited by us was insensitive to the needs of the people, working almost entirely for the British Empire.
    • A number of colonial laws were repressive and excessively regulatory. Their primary objective was the creation of a ‘nuisance-free’ public order, controlling a defiant population and exploiting them for the benefit of the empire.
    • The colonial state was built to resist democracy, not facilitate it. This repressive apparatus, a permanent threat to our democracy, always comes in handy for authoritarian officials/leaders, as it did during the Emergency.
    • So, democracy needs a competent state, but one that is tamed to work for it.
  • Second, to be democratic, the state must be relatively independent of classes and ethnic groups in society. No class or ethnic group (religious or linguistic community) must completely control state power or use it to push its own agenda in its entirety.
    • Therefore, each class and ethnic group must learn to live with this fact — that all its objectives cannot be met.
    • This realization occurs either when each class or ethnic group has enough power to prevent inter-group domination or when, for the sake of a more inclusive moral vision, every group forsakes part of its interests and achieves a principled compromise.
    • By curbing the inclination to impose our agenda on others, and instead arriving at negotiated settlements, we produce stable democracies. This precisely is achieved in the Indian Constitution.

Conclusion

  • Any attempt to subordinate the state to the whims of a powerful individual or to use it disproportionately in favour of one group disturbs this delicate consensus, destabilises Indian democracy and wrecks the collective future of its citizens.
  • The nasty experience of our own Emergency and the unsavoury condition of societies plagued with attempts at domination (by the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka or Sunnis in Pakistan) teach us to treasure democracy.
  • Forgetting this lesson is disastrous.

2. Health care Dilemmas

  • On the eve of Independence, the founding principles of health care for India were established through the Bhore Committee.
  • Here, health care was envisaged as comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery, based on a government-led service, and to be paid from tax-funded revenues.
  • These policies, which were adopted from the National Health Service (NHS), a major social reform in the U.K. following the Second World War, have stood the test of time and remain a source of pride for the U.K.
  • But for India, it is an embarrassment that this health model has declined because of chaotic, mismanaged, unregulated and discriminatory policies and the priorities of successive governments.
  • This has created a second system (supposedly more efficient) in the form of the urban private sector, which is responsible for most health care in India.

Issues

  • The private sector over-medicalises: over-promises, over-investigates, over-treats and overcharges to meet management targets, creating needless fear and paranoia.
  • There has been a paradigm shift from a service to a fee-for-service model of health care.
  • Medicine has changed from ‘doctor-patient-treatment’ to ‘customer-provider-delivery’.
  • All this disorganisation has led to a trust deficit between patient and doctor.
  • The decline of a universal, social health system has led to the cost of treatment becoming astronomical.
  • Health care in India is changing from a conservative, clinical, affordable, accountable, patient-centric British model to a more investigative, aggressive, expensive, commercial and insurance-driven American system, without the safety mechanisms of either.
  • India still faces many communicable diseases (malaria, dengue and tuberculosis) which require a robust public health system.
  • Along with non-communicable diseases (diabetes, heart disease and cancer) also on the rise, this is a double burden.
  • This mismatch is further compounded with only 4% of GDP allocated to health.
  • India has one of the highest (86%) out-of-pocket (private) expenditures on health care in the world.
  • With little or no health insurance, this leads to approximately 40 million people falling below the poverty line every year.
  • Let’s draw an analogy with the organised, Western health system (public and private care), taking the example of any international university.
  • There are two kinds of fees — one for national students and usually a slightly higher one for international students, which is akin to treatment costs in a hospital where there are higher private fees.
  • At the end of the course, all students are awarded the same degree much like patients who get the same level of care in a public or private hospital in the West.
  • Private care in the West exists to streamline routine services and possibly reduce waiting times.
  • In an ideal world we would want an egalitarian health-care model.
  • However, misuse of private health care at the patient’s expense leads to a breakdown of the whole model.
  • Compare it to transport, where there are buses and taxis, representing public and private health care, respectively. An imbalance (with taxi overuse) can induce chaos.

Way forward

  • A balance between the two health systems is required, where there is no compromise made on the quality of care delivered.
  • Expensive treatments and interventions with marginal benefits should be realistically considered to treat frail, futile, terminal patients and relatives should be explained the outcomes.
  • It is for the society to decide the ceiling of treatment.
  • We need to strengthen our public health-care system based on the pillars of trust, accountability and efficiency.
  • A balance needs to be made between public and private health care.
  • This balance will only be restored by the mutual respect and belief between a doctor and patient.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Is external debt a cause for worry?

 What is external debt?

  • External debt is the money that borrowers in a country owe to foreign lenders.
  • India’s external debt was $513.4 billion at the end of December 2017, an increase of 8.8% since March 2017.
  • Most of it was owed by private businesses which borrowed at attractive rates from foreign lenders.
  • To be precise, 78.8% of the total external debt ($404.5 billion) was owed by non-governmental entities like private companies.
  • The size of external commercial borrowings and foreign currency convertible bonds, which represents Indian companies’ foreign borrowings, has risen from ₹99,490 crore at the end of December 2015 to ₹1,72,872 crore at the end of December 2017.
  • While external debt may be denominated in either the rupee or a foreign currency like the U.S. dollar, most of India’s external debt is linked to the dollar.
  • This means Indian borrowers will have to pay back their lenders by first converting their rupees into dollars.

What are the risks?

  • There are two major risks involved in foreign borrowings.
  • One is that, like in the case of domestic borrowings, there could be unexpected changes in the interest rates charged on these loans.
  • This can, for instance, cause widespread default when rates rise as borrowers may not be able to make higher interest payments, thus raising the risks of a systemic crisis.
  • The raising of interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve has already caused borrowing rates to rise in various countries, including in India where bond yields have shot up sharply.
  • The yield on the 10-year government bond, for instance, has risen to about 8% from around 6.5% at the end of June last year.
  • Another major risk is unexpected changes in the exchange rates of currencies.
  • An unexpected fall in the value of the rupee, for instance, can cause severe difficulties for Indian companies that need to pay back dollar-denominated loans as they will now have to shell out more rupees than they had previously estimated to buy the necessary dollars.
  • Lenders generally take possible fluctuations in the value of currencies into account when determining their lending rates.
  • But such forecasts are not always perfect.
  • Unexpected changes in exchange rates could still impose surprise gains or losses on them.
  • Various emerging market currencies have seen a sharp fall in value this year against the dollar.
  • The rupee, in particular, has fallen about 7% since the beginning of the year.
  • The fall in the value of the emerging market currencies is due to increasing demand for dollars from investors, who wish to sell their assets in the emerging markets and invest them in the U.S. where yields have been rising quite rapidly.

What happens next?

  • The U.S. central bank, which has already raised its benchmark interest rate twice this year, is expected to raise rates two more times in the rest of 2018.
  • Further interest rate hikes could cause more outflow of capital from the emerging markets, thus causing unexpected changes in borrowing rates and the value of the rupee.
  • Both government and non-government borrowers in India, who are exposed to foreign debt, could be in trouble in such a scenario.
  • The foreign exchange reserves, held by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), were around $425 billion as on March 2018.
  • This is the firepower that the RBI can use to support the rupee and bail out borrowers who get into trouble.
  • The RBI, which raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than four years this month, may also decide to raise domestic interest rates further.
  • While such a step could help to stem the capital outflow from the country and support the rupee, it could lead to further uncertainty about borrowing rates in the domestic economy.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. New clue to Huntington’s disease

  • A study by researchers at the Department of Genetics, Delhi University, has shown that it is possible to restrict the progression of Huntington’s disease by increasing insulin signalling in the brain’s neuronal cells.
  • The enhanced level of insulin signalling rejuvenates the neuronal cells which are otherwise stressed during disease condition.

Huntington disease

  • It is an inherited disorder that results in death of brain cells.
  • Afflicted individuals lose their ability to walk, talk, think and reason.
  • The earliest symptoms are often subtle problems with mood or mental abilities.
  • This disease begins between ages 30 and 45, and every individual with the gene for the disease will eventually develop the disease.
  • It is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder, which means that even if one parent carries the defective Huntington’s gene, their offspring has a 50:50 chance of inheriting the disease.
  • There is no treatment or cure for Huntington’s at present.
  • But there are treatments available to reduce the severity of some of its symptoms

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Plastic ban kicks off in Mumbai, but penalties put off till Monday

  • The country’s commercial capital on Saturday became the first major city to embrace a tough plastic-free regime, even as the rains made the transition from the ubiquitous polythene carry-bag a tricky affair.
  • The municipal authorities, meanwhile, decided to defer penal action against users and small traders till Monday, and said the weekend would be used to generate awareness.
  • However, not everyone got off lightly. Some big eateries in the tony suburb of Bandra, including a Starbucks and McDonald’s outlet, faced action for plastic articles found on their premises.
  • The highest number of violations were found around the main markets and railway station.
  • A lot of vegetable vendors and hawkers were let off with warnings as it was only the first day of the ban.

Background

  • On World Environment Day, June 5, India was the host nation, with the theme for this year being ‘Beat plastic pollution.’
  • On March 23, the government issued a notification banning the manufacture, use, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale, storage and import of plastic bags with and without handle.
  • The ban also covers disposable products, made from plastic and thermocol (polystyrene), such as single-use disposable dishes, cups, plates, glasses, fork, bowl, container, disposable dish/bowl used for packaging food in hotels, spoon, straw, non-woven polypropylene bags, cups/pouches to store liquid, packaging with plastic to wrap or store the products and packaging of food items and grain material.
  • The ban is not applicable to PET bottles, irrespective of capacity. These bottles, however, should have predefined buyback price ranging from ₹1 to ₹2, depending on the size, printed on them.
  • Plastic used for packaging of medicines, compostable plastic bags or material used for plant nurseries, handling of solid waste, plastic bags not less than 50 micron thickness used for packaging of milk (with the specific purpose printed on it), plastic manufactured for export in SEZs and plastic to wrap the material at the manufacturing stage are excluded from the ban.
  • The ban is applicable to manufacturers and consumers as well as the chain in between, which includes shops, hawkers, vendors and offices.

What is the penalty?

  • Urban and rural civic bodies, Collectors, forest officers, police authorities and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board officials have been empowered to implement the ban and take legal action.
  • The penalty for violating the ban starts from ₹5,000 (first offence), ₹10,000 (second time) and ₹25,000 (third time) with three months in jail.
  • In case one fails to pay the minimum penalty, the civic body can file a prosecution complaint before the court, which will decide the amount to be paid.

Why was this necessary?

  • Environment experts have been blaming plastic for choking of nullahs in Mumbai and the flooding in parts of the city during monsoons.
  • Plastic bag manufacturers approached the Bombay High Court against the decision, but their appeal was turned down.
  • The State has 2,500 units making plastic bags, employing 56,000 people.
  • They owe nearly ₹11,000 crore to banks as of March 31.
  • The Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India has spoken out against the ban, saying the apparel trade employs 30 lakh people in the country and depends on polypropylene for packaging.

What is the alternative?

  • The State is not directly providing alternatives to banned items and has relied on people for solutions.
  • Urban local bodies, like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), have invited manufacturers of alternative products to showcase their wares at a three-day exhibition.

What lies in store?

  • The BMC has trained 250 inspectors for levying penalties. Their list is available on its website, along with that of its 37 collection centres where people can dispose of plastic.
  • While levying penalty, they will be registering the offender’s Aadhaar number, PAN number or driver licence number.
  • It has also started a dedicated helpline for door-to-door collection.
  • As on June 21, the BMC has collected 145 tonnes of banned plastic from Mumbai.
  • However, most of this was plastic segregated from regular waste and only a fraction is from the 24 dedicated bins for dumping plastic. This underlines the need for more awareness.
  • Not surprisingly, sellers of alternative material like jute and cloth bags have made a killing, as everyone from retailers to citizens flocked to their stores.

E. Editorials

Category: AGRICULTURE

1. Suryashakti Kishan Yojana

Why in news?                                                                                                   

  • The Gujarat govt today launched a pilot project for the Suryashakti Kishan Yojana (SKY) which aims to cover 33 districts by setting up 137 feeders, covering 12,400 farmers.

Context

  • Gujarat farmers can now produce, sell solar power under Suryashakti Kishan Yojana
  • Ahmedabad, Gujarat is poised to become the first state in the country to roll out a scheme where farmers can generate electricity using solar energy and sell the surplus to the electric grid.

Characteristics

  • Suryashakti Kishan Yojana or SKY as it’s called as per which farmers, besides producing electricity for farm and irrigation purposes, can also sell surplus power to the state owned power companies at Rs7 per unit for a period of seven years under this scheme.
  • The state government today launched a pilot project for the scheme which aims to cover 33 districts by setting up 137 feeders, covering 12,400 farmers. The cost of the pilot project is estimated to be about Rs870 crore, according to a state government statement.
  • To produce 1,42,000 horse power of energy for irrigation through water pumps will require 177 megawatts of solar power generation in the pilot stage.

Steps taken by govt?

  • As per the new scheme, a farmer signing up for it will have to spend only 5 % amount of the total expenditure for installing the solar project (including solar panels and inverters).
  • The central and state governments would pay 60 % amount as a subsidy. While remaining 35% amount would be a loan to farmer, interest on which would be paid by the state government. The duration for repayment of the loan amount has been fixed for seven years.
  • Farmers in Gujarat get about 8 hours of power supply for irrigation purpose and with implementation of SKY they can avail this for up to 12 hours.
  • With over 300 sunny days and high solar radiation, coupled with low prices of solar panels, this new initiative by the Gujarat government offers a powerful clean energy solution to power irrigation pumps and connect them to the grid.
  • The extra electricity given to grid would be purchased at a rate of Rs7 per unit. Of this, Rs3.50 would be paid by Electricity Distribution Company and Rs3.50 per unit (maximum limit of 1,000 units every year) by state government as a subsidy.
  • Of this amount, after deducting the loan installment, the remaining money will be deposited directly into the bank account of the farmers.
  • The investment by the farmers for availing the benefits of the SKY would be recovered within 8 to 18 months through selling of extra electricity generated.

The advantages

  • After the pilot, if the scheme is launched successfully across the state, it can benefit the state government financially as it will save a lot of expenditure that goes in providing subsidized power to the farmers. Currently farmers in Gujarat pay about 50 paise per unit for using power for irrigation.
  • “The state government spends about Rs4,500- 5,000 crore every year for the subsidy given to farmers for using electricity for irrigation purpose. With SKY, this will come down immensely in due course. The government can achieve a break even in about 5-7 years for the investment it has to make in setting up the solar infrastructure,” said a senior state government official on conditions of anonymity.
  • The present power demand of the state is about 14,000 MW and with some of the private companies unable to keep their commitment to supply power due to a change of law by the Indonesian government from where they source coal, Gujarat government is forced to buy about 3,000 MW of costly power from other sources.
  • If farmers in Gujarat start generating their own power as in this case, the state government will not have to look for other sources, said a second government official in the know of the development.
  • A solar project developer who has been shortlisted by the state government for supplying panels and inverters for SKY is hopeful that more farmers would join the project once it is rolled out across the state.
  • Also, if a farmer has to purchase electricity when it’s cloudy and generating electricity using the solar energy gets difficult, he will have to buy it at market rates which is about Rs3.50 per unit currently.

The challenges

  • However, the going may not be that easy for the government when it launches on a larger scale. According to an industry expert, it will not be an easy task to convince a farmer to give up the subsidized power that he is getting currently and invest in a solar project.
  • The farmers joining the SKY must form a committee per feeder.
  • “There are challenges of making everyone in the area agree to set up solar projects. While a farmer may recover the 5% that he has paid initially in about 2 years, it will take 7 years or more to achieve a breakeven on the total cost of the project for which he has taken a loan. If a farmer has a 5 horse power motor for irrigating his field and he is required to install solar panels that can generate 4-5 KW that will keep them running, he can sell about 500 units per year to the state electricity company. Also, there is a risk that some large farmers may move away from farming and try to make money by selling solar power,”

Way forward

  • The central government has been aggressively promoting clean and renewable energy initiatives with an ambitious target to install 100 giga watts (GW) of energy capacity from solar power by 2022
  • “SKY would be an able element in fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to double the income of farmers by year-2022,”

F. Prelims Facts

1. A chorus against U.K.’s ‘hostile policy’ on visas for Indian students

  • Pressure has continued to build on the British government to reassess its approach to Indian students, following a political outcry — both domestically and in India — over their exclusion from a relaxation of visa documentation requirements that was last week extended to those from China, the Maldives and other countries.
  • The exclusion of Indian students has been condemned by senior figures in both the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties, with politicians linking it to wider issues around the treatment of students, including the end of the post-study work visa, and the harsh treatment of students who had been victimised by bogus colleges.
  • It’s barriers like these that are blocking the way forward for India-U.K. relations, particularly when we look for a free trade agreement after Brexit.
  • While the British High Commission sought to emphasise that the decision to revise the country list was based on risk criteria, which India fell below, India’s High Commissioner to London questioned the British narrative on Indian overstayers

2. Police link rape to Pathalgadi drive

3. Why we treasure democracy

  • Politics anywhere, any time is messy, and democratic politics is messier, if only because its dirt is in full public view.
  • It has the appearance of perpetual chaos, continual disorder.

Why do so many prefer it to other political orders?

  • The attractiveness of democracy lies in its ability to give us a peaceful transfer of power.
  • To be sure, it is not for those in search of equanimity and inner calm, or for those easily unnerved by disagreements and conflicts.
  • It is for the street-smart, with a flair for some adventure in public life.
  • It draws on our agonistic energies, bringing conflict upfront.
  • But it frees us from the bloody battles and gory coup d’états through which wealthy and powerful super elites conventionally settled their conflicts.
  • It is a non-violent substitute for the marauding warrior ethic.
  • Second, it eliminates the most basic fears and anxieties to which social and political life is prone — the fear of being killed, beaten or humiliated for doing or saying what we want or for challenging the powerful.
  • It promotes the maximum possible openness in our lives — in how and what we think, speak, behave.
  • None of us can survive without some limits on speech and action, but democracy allows us to test and stretch them tantalisingly close to breakdown before deftly pulling back.
  • An extricable link exists between democracy and public freedom.
  • Third, no other system — a monarchy, dictatorship or an empire — takes seriously a people’s own view of its needs, wants and goals, giving the best possible shot at satisfying them.

The difficulties of democracy

  • Alas, democracy does not come easy. And Indian democracy has been built in the most difficult circumstances.
  • Many expected it to fail even after the introduction of universal adult franchise and constitutionally mandated institutions.
  • A culture of equality is believed to be crucial to democracy but India inherited a social structure replete with hardened gender and caste inequalities.
  • A democracy’s success depends on fairly high levels of growth, but India’s rate of growth in 1947 was virtually zero, with 65-70% of its population trapped in extreme poverty.
  • Successful democracies need a fair degree of cultural, linguistic and religious homogeneity but India has deep cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.
  • Most Western democracies have high levels of literacy and education but a substantial section of the Indian population was illiterate, with virtually no formal education.
  • Yet Indian democracy has survived; indeed, democratic mechanisms have been deployed to attack gender and caste inequalities, bring millions out of poverty, and to nurture its famed diversity.
  • Besides, lack of education has not lessened popular enthusiasm in its favour.
  • And this brings us to the most admirable feature of Indian democracy: born amidst forms of social sickness exacerbated by colonialism and new diseases fomented by it, it has had to fight these and incessantly reproduce its own conditions of survival.
  • In the absence of social conditions crucial to its durability, it has had to continually give birth to its own nurturing conditions and heal itself after falling sick.

Helping democracy grow

  • Indian democracy is largely self-sustaining.
  • Largely, not entirely, like other claims of self-creation, this one too is a trifle exaggerated.
  • A stateless society can’t be democratic because the conditions of democracy are not automatically reproduced but need an effective state. But just any state won’t do.
  • Though Indian democracy was preceded by a relatively modern state, the very same state hindered it too. The colonial state apparatus inherited by us was insensitive to the needs of the people, working almost entirely for the British Empire.
  • A number of colonial laws were repressive and excessively regulatory. Their primary objective was the creation of a ‘nuisance-free’ public order, controlling a defiant population and exploiting them for the benefit of the empire.
  • The colonial state was built to resist democracy, not facilitate it. This repressive apparatus, a permanent threat to our democracy, always comes in handy for authoritarian officials/leaders, as it did during the Emergency.
  • So, democracy needs a competent state, but one that is tamed to work for it.
  • To be democratic, the state must be relatively independent of classes and ethnic groups in society. No class or ethnic group (religious or linguistic community) must completely control state power or use it to push its own agenda in its entirety.
  • Therefore, each class and ethnic group must learn to live with this fact — that all its objectives cannot be met. This realisation occurs either when each class or ethnic group has enough power to prevent inter-group domination or when, for the sake of a more inclusive moral vision, every group forsakes part of its interests and achieves a principled compromise.
  • By curbing the inclination to impose our agenda on others, and instead arriving at negotiated settlements, we produce stable democracies. This precisely is achieved in the Indian Constitution.
  • Any attempt to subordinate the state to the whims of a powerful individual or to use it disproportionately in favour of one group disturbs this delicate consensus, destabilises Indian democracy and wrecks the collective future of its citizens.
  • The nasty experience of our own Emergency and the unsavoury condition of societies plagued with attempts at domination (by the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka or Sunnis in Pakistan) teach us to treasure democracy.

4. The features of a nationalist

  • A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige; his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations.
  • He sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens seems to him a demonstration that his own side is on the upgrade and some hated rival is on the downgrade.

Versions of nationalism today

  • Nationalism is not just strong feelings about a real or putative nation state. It can apply to religious groups too, and to some political movements, including those on the Left.
  • Hence, Islamism and Hindutva could both be versions of nationalism, as can be fascism, neoliberalism and, for that matter, Maoism.
  • The concept of nations and various kinds of patriotism had existed before the 19th century all over the world. For instance, gypsies and Jews were considered ‘nations’ in Europe in and before the 19th century.
  • Hence, both Savarkar and Jinnah, following a common colonial discourse, saw ‘Muslims’ and ‘Hindus’ as ‘nations’ in pre-Independent India.
  • However, by the early 20th century, matters — and the meaning of ‘nation’ — had changed. From the 19th century onwards, an equation had started being made between the nation and the state.
  • Not just Hindu and Muslim nationalists in pre-independent India, but almost all other peoples — Turks, Irish, English, Germans, Nazis, Zionists, etc. — had been swept along with this new equation of nation with state, erroneously considering it an age-old inheritance simply because both the terms ‘nation’ and ‘state’ could be traced into the far past.
  • This was the decisive error of the times, because until the 19th century a nation did not need to be a state. Actually, most states, from the Habsburg Empire through the Ottoman Empire to the Mughal Empire (and the British Raj in India), saw themselves as containing various nations.
  • In this sense again, when 18th century European colonisers referred to India as a country of many ‘nations’ (‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ were not the only designations used by them), they did not mean that all these nations should be given their own states.
  • This element was added to the colonial discourse by later colonisers and by Hindu and Muslim nationalists.

Understanding nation and state

  • Hence, nationalism, as we know it today, is the late 19th and early 20th century belief that if you are a nation, you need a state, and if you are a state, you have to be (or become) a nation.
  • When we apply the term ‘nationalism’ to any state or movement before the 19th century, we are basically (and erroneously) talking of patriotism — a very different concept from nationalism — and other forms of hegemony or identity.
  • It can be argue that nationalism always aspires towards a state, but it can exist even without a state.

The way nationalists think

  • No nationalist ever thinks, talks, or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit. The smallest slur upon his unit, or any implied praise of a rival organisation, fills him with uneasiness which he can only relieve by making some sharp retort.
  • Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by own side.
  • The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
  • Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. He spends part of his time in a fantasy world in which things happen as they should and he will transfer fragments of this world into the history books whenever possible.
  • Material facts are suppressed, dates altered, quotations removed from their context and doctored so as to change their meaning.
  • In fact, it can be argued that nationalism and patriotism are basically opposed.
  • After all, if nationalism depends on blindness to justice, lack of self-criticism, obsession with others, and hallucinatory beliefs, surely it would prevent you from doing what is right and good for the people around you.

5. ‘Rhino habitat under threat of mining’

  • Kaziranga National Park is the home to the largest population of one-horned rhinos in the world.
  • Outlining the threat posed to the rhino habitat, also a tiger reserve, environmentalist and RTI activist Rohit Choudhury has complained about the non-implementation of the recommendations of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) by the Assam government for stopping all mining, quarrying and stone crushing activities in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape.
  • These activities are responsible for the destruction of wildlife corridors and vital wildlife habitat essential for long ranging species like Indian elephants and tigers.
  • In addition, these stone mining/quarrying and stone crushers are also responsible for drying up and siltation of several natural streams and rivulets flowing from the Karbi Anglong hills towards Kaziranga.

6. ‘Animals, birds will be affected: experts’

  • As the government’s decision to cut thousands of trees in south Delhi has come under fire from Delhiites and led to a political blame game, experts say the lives of the birds and animals in these areas hangs in the balance too.
  • About 17,000 trees could be cut as a result of the Central government’s plan to redevelop seven staff colonies, leading conservationists to raise concerns over the impact on the birds and animals that call the trees home.

Concerns

  • Housing plans need to be designed in a way to avoid harm to the environment.
  • Species like mongooses and squirrels are at risk because they could lose their place of dwelling. Birds will also lose their nesting locations.
  • Birds protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 are under threat if the trees are cut.

Not convinced

  • The government would plant 1.50 lakh trees to counteract the removal of the green cover, conservationists were not convinced.
  • The young saplings cannot rejuvenate the city because they will take about 10 years to reach the maturation stage of the trees currently being cut.

Compensatory efforts

  • The compensatory reforestation efforts by the government are also not focused on the areas directly impacted by deforestation.
  • The replanting is taking place 20 km away and there is also no monitoring of the growth of these saplings.

7. Karnataka opposes guidelines for Cauvery authority, panel

  • The Karnataka government said the guidelines drawn up by the Centre while formulating the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) were not acceptable, and they needed to be corrected.
  • Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said the Centre issued a gazette notification on the formation of the authority and the committee and took up its work in accordance with the directions given by the Supreme Court.
  • He said instructions from the CWMA to Karnataka asking for release of water every 10 days and crops to be grown by farmers would go against the interests of the State.
  • The Centre notified the formation of the CWMA and the CWRC, which will include representatives of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry.
  • Members of three States, other than Karnataka, have been finalised.
  • Farmers have also opposed the constitution of the panel.

8. Kerala acquires over 55% land for NH 66 widening

  • The Pinarayi Vijayan government appears well on its way to achieve what used to be considered impossible by acquiring over 55% of the land needed for the four/six-laning of the National Highway 66 from Talapady in Kasaragod district to Kazhakuttam in Thiruvananthapuram district.
  • Overcoming several hurdles, including opposition from locals on the alignment, the Revenue Department could acquire 1,469 of the 2,629 hectares of land (55.87%) needed in 10 districts.
  • The acquisition has come as a big relief for the State that is bracing to meet the September deadline for acquiring the remaining 1,160 hectares.

Fixing compensation

  • The 3(D) notification and procedures to acquire land by removing the houses and other structures on the notified land will follow.
  • This will be followed by the 3(G) notification to estimate the value of the land as per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013.
  • The compensation to those being displaced will be awarded as per the recommendation of the Competent Authority for Land Acquisition (CALA) and will be intimated to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).

9. Centre may offer sops to military

  • The government is actively considering various steps to assuage the palpable discontent in military circles that has recently worsened because of the opening of cantonment roads to civilian traffic.
  • Several possible steps are being discussed, among them restoring rations to military officers in peace areas and easing the opposition to non-functional upgrade for them.
  • Besides, the government may refine the decision to open cantonment roads. The Army is expected to suggest a system of passes for civilians who need to use cantonment areas regularly.

Free rations

  • Free rations for military officers in peace postings was withdrawn last year in the wake of the pay commission recommendations.
  • In recent times, the government has introduced the provision to pay them a sum slightly less than ₹100 a day with retrospective effect.
  • However, even this amount has not really impressed military families, because this rate is based on the wholesale prices and not the retail cost.
  • There has been widespread demand for reintroducing rations.

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Which of the following statement(s) is/ regarding the Preamble 
of the Indian Constitution are incorrect?

i) It contains the basic structure of the Constitution.

ii)It epitomizes the principles of functioning of the Government.

iii) The constitution is based upon the basic elements mentioned in the Preamble.

  1. i) only
  2. iii) only
  3. i) and ii) only
  4. None of the above

 

See

Answer

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 2. Which of the following statements is incorrect?
  1. Directive principles are based on the concept of Welfare state.
  2. It is the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws.
  3.  The Judiciary can compel the Government to perform a duty under these directives.
  4.  Directive principles can be termed as positive rights of the citizens

 

See

Answer

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 3. Consider the following statements with respect to specialised 
agencies of the United Nations.
  1. These are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations.
  2. All these agencies were created by the UN to meet emerging needs.
  3. International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the UN.

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

a) i) only

b) i) and ii) only

c) i) and iii) only

d) i), ii) and iii)

See

Answer

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 4. Consider the following statements regarding 
Hindustan Republican Association (HRA).
  1. It was founded to organize an armed revolution.
  2. Its members, including Ram Prasad Bismil and Bhagat Singh, were tried in Kakori conspiracy case.
  3. Its name was changed to Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) under the leadership of Azad.

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

a) I only

b) II only

c) II and III only

d) I and II only

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. India’s Public Healthcare Sector is grappling with challenges to provide quality service while the private sector booms with skyrocketing revenues. In light of this statement, discuss ways to improve the quality and inclusiveness of healthcare system in India.
  1. Democracy, as a saviour of diversity, faces a longstanding threat to its existence as the various uniting forces wither. In this context, discuss the challenges to democracy in India.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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