01 Mar 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India backs Kabul’s peace offer
C. GS3 Related
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
1. CAG report unearths rampant illegal mining
2. Remove plants from Bengaluru lakes: NGT
3. Global fossil fuel emissions underestimated
DEFENCE
1. Defence Acquisition Council gives its approval for the procurement proposals for the three services
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. India is doing well on financial inclusion
POLITY
1. The 1947 singularity
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India backs Kabul’s peace offer

In news

  • India welcomed Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s outreach to the Taliban at the Second Kabul Conference.
  • The Foreign Secretary conveyed that India welcomed the Afghan government’s call to armed groups to cease violence and join national peace and reconciliation process that would protect the rights of all Afghans, including the women, children and the minorities.
  • India backs the peace talks, but wants action against any members of the Taliban and their sponsors who don’t join the process.
  • The government’s position is consistent with India’s support to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled reconciliation process, within the framework of the Afghan Constitution and the internationally accepted red lines.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. CAG report unearths rampant illegal mining

 

  • The State has vast reserves of minerals such as copper, lead, zinc, rock phosphate, soapstone, silica sand, limestone, marble and gypsum. Most of the mineral wealth is found in the Aravalli mountain range.
  • The CAG officials undertook joint physical inspection of 136 of the selected 288 mining leases, along with the Mines Department’s representatives, to assess the extent of compliance with environmental provisions during operation of leases and after closure of mines.
  • The CAG said that the illegal mining operations had made an adverse impact on natural resources such as forests, rivers, flora and fauna as well as public health.
  • The mining had not only violated the rules and regulations but also flouted the Supreme Court’s direction to stop the degradation of environment in the Aravalli hills.
  • In its report on the economic sector for the financial year ended March 31, 2017, tabled in the Assembly, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had pulled up the State government for the illegal mining.

What was the issue with State government?

  • There were inadequacies in preventive measures as well as in the follow-up of the illegal cases detected, while the delay in issuing notices for recovery of penal amount removed the scope for deterrence, said the CAG.
  • Besides, the policy measures framed in 2011 for curbing illegal mining were not implemented.

Serious violations

  • Serious violations of the Supreme Court’s orders, as mining leases falling in the Aravalli mountain range were granted, renewed and extended.
  • Besides, the Ministry of Environment and Forest also granted environment clearance for mining lease despite the area falling in Aravalli hills.
  • The districts where illegal mining took place during five years were Alwar, Jaipur, Sikar, Rajsamand and Udaipur.
  • The CAG said that though nine mining engineers’ offices in these districts had registered 4,072 cases of illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals, they could make a negligible recovery.

2. Remove plants from Bengaluru lakes: NGT

 

  • The Karnataka government submitted an action plan before the National Green Tribunal on ways to achieve a holistic rejuvenation of the three lakes in Bengaluru including the Bellandur lake, in which there had been recurrent cases of fire. This was in pursuance of a previous order of the NGT.
  • A bench further directed the State government to file a report on the physical removal of macrophytes (aquatic plants) from the lakes to prevent the fires. The authorities have been asked to file the report within a week.

What has NGT suggested?

  • On January 29, the green panel had directed the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru to carry out a pilot study on the visible aquatic plants.
  • Considering the role of macrophytes in rendering the quality of water in lakes below acceptable levels, it is necessary that the macrophytes menace is terminated.
  • It further directed that a pilot study be carried out on the life cycle of these plants. At the same time, physical removal of this vegetation from the lakes should be carried out at regular intervals and compliance report placed before the Tribunal every month.
  • Earlier, the green panel came down heavily on the Karnataka government for not taking active measures to prevent the recurring incidents of fires at the severely polluted Bellandur lake.

What are Macrophytes?

  • A macrophyte is an aquatic plant that grows in or near water and is either emergent, submergent, or floating, and includes helophytes (a plant that grows in marsh, partly submerged in water, so that it regrows from buds below the water surface).
  • In lakes and rivers macrophytes provide cover for fish and substrate for aquatic invertebrates, produce oxygen, and act as food for some fish and wildlife.

Role of Macrophytes

  • A decline in a macrophyte community may indicate water quality problems and changes in the ecological status of the water body.
  • Such problems may be the result of excessive turbidity, herbicides, or salinization.
  • Conversely, overly high nutrient levels may create an overabundance of macrophytes, which may in turn interfere with lake processing.

What are the functions in ecology?

  • Macrophytes perform many ecosystem functions in aquatic ecosystems and provide services to human society.
  • One of the important functions performed by macrophyte is uptake of dissolve nutrients (N and P) from water.
  • Macrophytes are widely used in constructed wetlands around the world to remove excess N and P from polluted water.
  • Beside direct nutrient uptake, macrophytes indirectly influence nutrient cycling, especially N cycling through influencing the denitrifying bacterial functional groups that are inhabiting on roots and shoots of macrophytes. 
  • Macrophytes promote the sedimentation of suspended solids by reducing the current velocities, impede erosion by stabilising soil surfaces. 
  • Macrophytes also provide spatial heterogeneity in otherwise unstructured water column.
  • Habitat complexity provided by macrophytes like to increase the richness of taxonomy and density of both fish and invertebrates.

3. Global fossil fuel emissions underestimated

Why in news?

  • Global levels of fossil fuels ethane and propane in the atmosphere have been underestimated by more than 50 per cent.
  • These hydrocarbons are particularly harmful in large cities where, through chemical reactions with emissions from cars, they form ozone – a greenhouse gas which is a key component of smog and directly linked to increases in mortality.
  • The new study involving scientists at the University of York in the UK shows that global fossil fuel emissions of these hydrocarbons have been underestimated and are a factor of 2-3 times higher than previously thought.
  • The researchers are now calling for further investigation into fossil fuel emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas which is emitted along with ethane and propane from natural gas sources.
  • A major source of ethane and propane in the atmosphere is from fugitive or unintentional escaping emissions during fossil fuel extraction and distribution.
  • If ethane and propane are being released at greater rates than we thought, then we also need to carefully re-evaluate how much of the recent growth of methane in the atmosphere may also have come from oil and natural gas development.
  • The current policy case for fracking is partly based on the belief that it is less polluting that coal.
  • The study used data collected from 20 observatories world-wide.
  • The researchers from the University of York provided high-resolution data from a monitoring station in Cape Verde – a crucial location in the Atlantic which captures air blown over the Sahara, from North America, the Middle East and North Africa.

Category: DEFENCE

1. Defence Acquisition Council gives its approval for the procurement proposals for the three services

In news

  • The Defence Acquisition council (DAC) gave approval for various procurement proposals at an estimated cost of about Rs. 9,435 crore.
  • This includes purchases of 41,000 light machine guns (LMG) and over 3.5 lakh close quarter battle (CQB) carbines for the three services.
  • The DAC approval is the first step in the long-drawn defence procurement procedure and will take several years for the final deals to be concluded. In the past all these deals have been repeatedly cancelled.

Why is it needed?

  • The vintage personal weapons, assault rifles, carbines and LMGs being operated by the troops of the three services, especially by soldiers positioned on the borders and in areas affected by militancy has been a cause of concern for over a decade.
  • With the approval of these two proposals, the Government has cleared procurement of the entire range of personal weapons for the three Services, the Ministry said in a statement.

Make in India in Small arms manufacturing

  • These small arms would be procured under the Buy and Make (Indian) category and of the total quantities envisaged, 75% will be through Indian industry under “Buy and Make (Indian)” category and balance through Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
  • The reservation for the OFB has been kept to optimally utilise their infrastructure and capacity, as well as provide a window for assimilation of critical technologies towards building indigenous capability in small arms manufacturing.

What are the new features?

  • The DAC also approved the procurement of essential quantity of High Capacity Radio Relay (HCRR) for the Army and Air Force at a cost of over Rs. 1092 crore and the Coast Guard will get two Pollution Control Vessels (PCV) at an approximate cost of Rs. 673 crore.
  • The HCRRs would provide fail-safe and reliable communication along with increased bandwidth in the Tactical Battle Area.
  • The PCVs in addition to carrying out pollution control would also be capable of undertaking patrolling, search and rescue and limited salvage and fire-fighting operations at sea.
  • In the last two months, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had accorded approval for procurement of a series of small arms.

Largest deal

  • The largest deal is for the procurement of 7.4 lakh assault rifles from both OFB and Private Industry at an estimated cost of Rs. 12,280 crore.
  • Other approved small arms proposals include 5,917 sniper rifles for the Army and Indian Air Force for about Rs. 982 crore, 17,000 Light Machine Guns (LMG) for the three Services at an estimated cost of over Rs. 1,819 crore, and another proposal for 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 Carbines at a combined cost of Rs. 3,547 crore.
  • Of the various small arms, immediate operational requirement for the soldiers deployed on the borders will be procured through fast track route and for the balance production lines will be set up in India.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: ECONOMY

1. India is doing well on financial inclusion

 

  • Our policymakers are designing appropriate frameworks
  • And, complementing the focused efforts of the government, the RBI is propagating financial literacy, which lends sustainability to the inclusion process
  • These efforts must be complemented by a dependable yardstick to quantify progress on financial inclusion.
  • This is necessary so that the course corrections needed could be designed and implemented, too
  • CRISIL Inclusix was India’s first financial inclusion index
  • It was launched in 2013 with the objective of becoming that crucial gauge and policy input
  • It is based on four dimensions—branch penetration, deposit penetration, credit penetration and insurance penetration
  • The last dimension was added for the first time this year as data became available
  • CRISIL Inclusix measures progress on financial inclusion down to the level of each of the 666 districts in the country
  • And is based on data provided by the RBI, the MicroFinance Institution Network, and the Insurance Information Bureau of India
  • The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, and the RBI’s steadfast focus on unbanked regions, have really made a difference
  • The index’s readings for fiscal 2016 show financial inclusion has improved significantly in India
  • With all-India score rising to 58.0 in fiscal 2016, compared with 50.1 in fiscal 2013
  • As many as 600 million deposit accounts were opened between fiscals 2013 and 2016, or twice the number between 2010 and 2013. Nearly a third of this was on account of Jan Dhan
  • This gets well reflected in the deposit penetration index of CRISIL Inclusix
  • On the credit side, there was a sharp 31.7 million increase in new credit or loan (banks and microfinance) accounts in the two years up to fiscal 2016, which is the most since fiscal 2013
  • The Digital India initiative, payments banks and small finance banks have all helped improve the reach of formal financial services to economically disadvantaged sections
  • But despite the strong growth, only 200 million borrowers have had access to credit from formal channels
  • This is the reason why the credit penetration index of CRISIL Inclusix remained low at 56.0 compared with 78.3 for deposit penetration
  • Concerted efforts are needed to deepen access to formal credit
  • Among states, Kerala was well ahead with a CRISIL Inclusix score of 90.9, while Rajasthan moved up from “below average” to “above average” and Haryana from “above average” to “high”

Category: POLITY

1. The 1947 singularity

 

  • Constitution marked a moment of discontinuity with the colonial past
  • It is argued that in the thirty years before Independence, there had been a slow and incremental development of representative institutions in India
  • The 1919 and 1935 Government of India Actsestablished a limited franchise and allowed for the functioning of provincial legislative assemblies
  • The new governmental set-up was the final step in the process of evolution towards self-government
  • Elements of this system have been upheld and endorsed by the courts, some quite recently
  • These include the laws of sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and far-reaching Emergency powers
  • All these provisions are based on logic of the colonial imperative of reducing citizens to subjects and placing their liberties at the mercy centralized and unaccountable power
  • In at least four distinct ways, universal suffrage in independent India marked a decisive break from its colonial past
  • Arithmetically: the franchise granted by the British regime in the 1919 and 1935 Government of India Acts was highly restricted, and at the highest (in 1935) no more than 10% of Indians could vote
  • Structurally: voting in British India took place under the regime of separate electorates, divided along class and economic lines
  • The character of the electorate: voting entitlements were based on property and formal literacy-based qualifications, which reproduced existing social and economic hierarchies, and excluded the very people whose interests were most in need of “representation”
  • Fourth, voting was a gift of the colonial government, which could be granted or taken away at its will. It was a privilege accorded to a few Indians, and not a right
  • By doing this, independent India transformed the status of its people from subjects to citizens
  • In the political realm, it was a transformation from hierarchy and subordination to radical equality
  • It democratized the relationship between the individual and the state even after elections, by constraining the amount of centralized power that the state could accumulate
  • Constitution intended to take us from a “culture of authority” to a “culture of justification” – that is, a culture in which every exercise of power and authority must be justified to those who are subject to it
  • There are recent signs that the courts have begun to understand this
  • In early 2017, in a very significant judgment involving the executive’s ordinance-making powers, the Supreme Court expressly departed from colonial precedents on the subject
  • It placed important limits upon the scope of presidential ordinances
  • Later in the year, when the court was hearing the dispute between the elected Delhi government and the Lieutenant-Governor (another colonial holdover), more than one counsel framed the issue in terms of the constitutional commitment to progressively deepening democracy
  • These involve questions of how much power the state can wield over individuals
  • What rights individuals have to decide for themselves
  • How they will define their relationship with the state
  • How the constitutional “culture of justification” holds the state accountable for the uses and abuses of such power
  • Our Constitution is in violent contrast to those of states where the state is everything and the individual but a slave or a serf to serve the will of those who for the time being wield almost absolute power
  • Sanctity of the individual should be recognised and emphasized on

 

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. Ozone is a greenhouse gas which is a key component of smog.

  2. Ethane and propane escape into the air from leaks during natural gas extraction and distribution.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth and fracturing rock to extract shale gas.

  2. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which is emitted from natural gas sources.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. A macrophyte is an aquatic plant that grows in or near water and is only submergent.

  2. In lakes and rivers macrophytes produce oxygen, and act as food for some fish and wildlife.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. A decline in a macrophyte community may indicate water quality problems.

  2. Low nutrient levels may create an overabundance of macrophytes, which may interfere with lake processing.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

 

General Studies II
 
  1. Afghanistan needs to resolve its crisis without letting other countries interfere in its internal matters. Discuss the role played by India in the neighbourhood of Afghanistan.
General Studies III
 
  1. Critically assess India’s progress in making financial inclusion a reality.

 

 
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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