08 May 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH
1. India gets $200 million loan for nutrition mission
2. New guidelines for labelling food planned
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Putin sworn in for fourth term
C. GS3 Related
SECURITY
1. Separate NIA unit all set to probe funding pattern of Naxalites
2. Naval commanders’ conference
ECONOMY
1. Hot-money risks seen rising as India courts ‘bond tourists’
2. Flipkart deal unhealthy: CAIT
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. A paper law
INFRASTRUCTURE
1. Unmanned Rail Crossing
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Problems with a DNA registry
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. India gets $200 million loan for nutrition mission

Why in news?

  • India signed an agreement with the World Bank for a $200 million loan for implementing the National Nutrition Mission across 315 districts of the country.
  • Approved by the Union Cabinet last year, the mission aims at reaching 10 crore beneficiaries, mainly children up to the age of six years, pregnant women and lactating mothers and adolescent girls.
  • The programme will be implemented in three phases between 2017 and 2020 across all districts of the country.

Targeted reductions

  • The mission targets a 2% reduction in both under-nutrition and low birth weight per annum. It also aims to bring down anaemia among young children, women and adolescent girls by 3% per year until 2020.
  • The government will also strive to reduce the prevalence of stunting from the current level of 38.4% (as per the National Family Health Survey 4) to 25% by 2022.
  • The National Nutrition Mission has an approved budget of Rs.9,046.17 crore. The total contribution of the Centre will be Rs.2,849.54 crore and nearly Rs.1,700 crore will be contributed by the States.
  • The remaining will be funded through the government’s tie-up with multilateral agencies such as the World Bank.
  • The project will include investments in improving the skills and capacities of ICDS staff and community workers.

2. New guidelines for labelling food planned

Context

  • Seeking to introduce GMO labelling for the first time in India, the country’s food regulator has proposed all packaged food products containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients must clearly state it on their labels.

What is the need?

  • Since the country has no provision for GM labelling in its regulatory mechanism presently, consumers are clueless whether packaged food items they buy have genetically engineered (GE) ingredients amid ‘unproven’ concerns in certain quarters about adverse affects such transgenic food can have on human health.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) also suggests mandatory declaration by packaged food manufacturers about nutritional information such as calories, total fat, trans fat, sugar and salt per serve on the front of the pack.
  • All packaged food with at least 5% content from genetically engineered sources need to be labelled so.
  • Pitching for a colour code, the draft proposes that the high fat, sugar and salt will be coloured ‘red’ in case the value of energy from total sugar is more than 10% of the total energy provided by the 100 grams or 100 ml of the product. It has similar provisions for trans-fat and sodium content.
  • Draft says that the nutritional information may additionally be provided in the form of bar code. The colour coding will make it easier for consumers to know about the nutritional value of food products and help them make choices as per their requirements.
  • This is the first time that the Centre has laid down guidelines for labelling genetically modified food.

Previous attempts

  • The government has been contemplating a system for labelling genetically modified foods for at least 2 years. Current laws, however, prohibit any GM food — unless cleared by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, a Union Environment Ministry body — from being sold in India.
  • Through a 2007 notification, the Environment Ministry had exempted processed foods from this requirement. This has been stayed by the courts.
  • There was also a dispute between the FSSAI, a Union Health Ministry body, and the Environment Ministry on who checks if a particular food had a GE provenance. The draft also defines safe levels of fat, sugar and salt in processed food.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Putin sworn in for fourth term

 

  • Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russia’s President for a fourth term, extending his almost two-decade rule by another six years at a time of high tension with his Western rivals.
  • The 65-year-old, in power since 1999, is on course to become the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin after his victory in March’s elections.
  • Putin won nearly 77% of the vote in polls in which his most vocal opponent was banned from running. He has promised to use his fourth term to revitalise the country’s economy. But he also faces a host of delicate international disputes.

Russia’s post-Soviet tsar

  • A KGB officer-turned world leader, Vladimir Putin has stamped his total authority on Russia, silencing opposition and reasserting ’s lost might abroad while building a strongman image through macho stunts.
  • Putin has reimposed the Kremlin’s grip on society since taking power 18 years ago after a lawless but relatively free decade following the demise of the Soveit Union.
  • On the international stage, he has dealt with three U.S. Presidents, thrust Moscow into a new rivalry with the West by snatching Crimea from Ukraine and launched a pivotal intervention in Syria.

Powerful leader

  • Supporters laud him as a saviour who restored pride and traditional values to a humiliated nation.
  • To foes, however argued, Mr. Putin has dragged his homeland further from democracy, presided over a seizure of the state by a new elite of former secret police cronies and stoked nationalism in a bid to restore Moscow’s lost empire.

Implications for India

  • First-ever six-nation Speaker’s Conference in Islamabad held in December supported the Pakistani line on Kashmir.
    • This was aimed at enabling the participating countries to engage in meaningful discussions to explore common means of combating terrorism, maintaining peace and enhancing connectivity of people and states.
    • The conference will also involve interaction among peace activists, representatives of business and trade community, professionals, academia and experts from the six countries.
    • This declaration signed by Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey underscored that “for ensuring global and regional peace and stability, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir needs peaceful resolution by Pakistan and India in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.”
    • Pakistan’s Kashmir fixation meant that it forced other interlocutors to bring the Kashmir issue to the declaration.
  • During his visit to New Delhi in December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly called on India to join China’s Belt and Road initiative and hoped that New Delhi will find a way out to benefit from the mega connectivity project without sacrificing its position on the issues flagged by it.
  • Lavrov also made his displeasure clear over New Delhi’s warming up to the idea of a quadrilateral engagement involving the United States, India, Japan, and Australia in the Indo-Pacific.

West vs Russia

  • The West views Russia as one of the most disruptive forces in global politics, even more so than China in many ways.
  • For Russia, the U.S.-led West presents its biggest challenge and its foreign policy priorities increasingly revolve around pushing back against the West at every level
  • Britain and Russia are entangled these days in a dispute pertaining to an attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on U.K. soil using a deadly nerve agent.
  • And the West has united behind the U.K. in responding to Russia.

Chinese act of dominance

  • As a result, while Russia may find cooperation with China as a perfectly legitimate response to its problems with the West, India does not have that luxury.
  • New Delhi has to therefore find like-minded countries to build alternative platforms and narratives so as to preclude Chinese hegemony in the wider Indo-Pacific.

C. GS3 Related

Category: SECURITY

1. Separate NIA unit all set to probe funding pattern of Naxalites

Why in news?

  • The Centre said a separate unit will be created in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for investigating important cases of Left Wing Extremism. This was amidst the reports of Maoist leaders having amassed huge assets in property and cash.

Multi-agency group

  • A senior Home Ministry official said the government has also set up a multi-disciplinary group to initiate action to choke funding sources of Maoists and to seize assets of their leaders.
  • The group comprises officers from various central agencies and the State police departments.
  • It is headed by an additional secretary and has representatives from the Intelligence Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, NIA and the CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) and the CBI, as also State intelligence departments and CID, the official added.
  • The move follows information about a large part of extortion money allegedly collected by Maoists getting diverted towards the personal wealth of their leaders.

Tracking money

  • According to the official, the LWE movement in the country is financed through a large network of dubious activities, which include illegal levy collected from private contractors including those involved in execution of government works and schemes, mining contractors, transporters and owners of small and medium industries.
  • Similarly, funds are said to be garnered through collections from illegal stone crushing and distribution of Maoist ideology papers.

National Investigation Agency (NIA)

  • National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India. It acts as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. The agency is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
  • The Agency has been empowered to conduct investigation and prosecution of offences under the Acts specified in the Schedule of the NIA Act. A State Government may request the Central Government to hand over the investigation of a case to the NIA, provided the case has been registered for the offences as contained in the schedule to the NIA Act.
  • Central Government can also order NIA to take over the investigation of any scheduled offense anywhere in India. Officers of the NIA who are drawn from the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Police Service, state police, Income Tax as well as officers from the Central Armed Police Forces, have all powers, privileges and liabilities which the police officers have in connection with investigation of any offense.

2. Naval commanders’ conference

Category: ECONOMY

1. Hot-money risks seen rising as India courts ‘bond tourists’

 

  • A series of measures from the central bank to lure foreign buyers into the country’s short-term debt market could easily backfire, investors fear, exposing the economy to volatile hot money flows.

Why in news?

  • The Reserve Bank of India lifted (RBI) a restriction limiting foreign investors to buying bonds with three years or more to maturity and also gave them access to short-term sovereign treasury bills.
  • The RBI’s lifting of the maturity restriction came after government bonds tanked when sovereign bond auctions failed to attract many buyers, followed by a spike in yields when surprisingly hawkish minutes of a monetary policy meeting raised fears of the RBI hiking interest rates.

What is the issue?

  • The new rules have stoked fears of an influx of bond tourists and the associated rapid-fire switching in and out of short-term debt by foreign traders.
  • Such volatile flows could make India’s financial markets more vulnerable at a time when the rupee has been the worst performer in the region, high oil prices are driving up the current account deficit, and interest rates could soon rise on heightened inflation risks, investors said.
  • It encourages more short-term inflows and therefore exposes India to more hot money flows and volatility in the long run. The RBI did not have an immediate response when asked to comment on the traders’ remarks.
  • The immediate reaction to the lifting of maturity curbs on overseas buyers was less than inspirational, with foreigners selling a net $240.92 million of bonds on May 2 – a day after the RBI’s announcement.

Hot Money Flows

  • In economics, hot money is the flow of funds (or capital) from one country to another in order to earn a short-term profit on interest rate differences and/or anticipated exchange rate These speculative capital flows are called ‘hot money’ because they can move very quickly in and out of markets, potentially leading to market instability

2. Flipkart deal unhealthy: CAIT

 

  • The Confederation of All India Traders or CAIT has sought “immediate intervention” by the government in the proposed acquisition of Flipkart by U.S.-based Walmart, claiming that the deal would encourage predatory pricing and malpractices in the e-commerce sector.
  • In a letter to Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, the industry body said that the deal should not be allowed till India finalises a policy for the e-commerce sector.

Concerns raised by the trade body

  • The scenario after the Walmart-Flipkart deal will be worse than ever for both offline and online traders.
  • The deal would further create an uneven level-playing field, giving rise to unhealthy competition where traders — both online and offline — would not be able to compete.
  • The traders’ body demanded that the government make it mandatory that such deals take place only when 75% of the sellers on an e-platform give their assent since they would be the worst sufferers.
  • In spite of having a clear FDI policy, foreign companies are finding an escape route whether in retail or e-commerce.
  • Walmart, after failing to enter India in retail sector through FDI, has chosen the e-commerce route, which will be quite harmful for the trading community.
  • A regulatory authority should be set up for the sector and all deals should be approved by such an authority.
  • Since there is no policy or rule for e-commerce as of now, such deals will run contrary to the interests of India’s retail trade. e-commerce business is already gripped with predatory pricing, loss of funding.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. A paper law

Why in news?

  • In July last year, four workers died after inhaling poisonous gases while cleaning a water harvesting tank in Ghitorni in south-west Delhi.
  • A month later, the toxic gases claimed another three workers who were cleaning a sewer in Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi.
  • These deaths led the Delhi Jal Board to institute preventive measures.
  • “No manual entry into sewerage systems will be permitted. No human contact will be allowed without prescribed protective gear,” a circular issued by the board on August 14, last year, laid down.
  • But two more deaths in the city’s septic pits in the last week of April point to the fact that unsafe conditions continue to stalk sanitation workers. The problem is not limited to Delhi.
  • According to a reply by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to the Lok Sabha in December last year, more than 300 people were asphyxiated while working in septic tanks in 2017 alone.

Let’s not be deluded on RSS

  • Manual scavenging, with its definition limited to cleaning of dry latrines, was outlawed in the country in 1993.
  • But it was only in 2013 that the amended Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act recognised the more hazardous forms of the practice, including the work of sewer and septic tank cleaners.
  • The Act makes it incumbent on municipalities to provide gas masks, safety harness belts and helmets to workers when they enter these cesspools of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulphide.
  • The Act also lays down a prison term and strict fines for those who violate its provisions.
  • But nearly five years after it came into force, bookings under it have been very rare, even though an average of 150 people lose their lives every year while cleaning sewers all over the country.
  • The sewage workers who lost their lives in Delhi in the last week of April were employees of a contractor to whom the municipality had outsourced its work so were the workers who lost their lives last year.
  • In fact, most people who clean septic tanks are casual workers.
  • The 2013 Act applies to them as well. But as an analysis by this paper shows, it’s easy for the municipal authorities or contractors to disclaim any association with the deceased.
  • And after every such incident, the authorities concerned the Delhi Jal Board in case of last week’s incident issue statements replete with homilies about safe conditions for sewage workers. Putting them into practice seems another matter altogether.

Category: INFRASTRUCTURE

1. Unmanned Rail Crossing

Laws and Rules for claiming of damages

  • A claim for damages for negligence of the defendant falls in the arena of a civil wrong called a tort action.
    • In relation to claims for railway accidents, the Railways Act provides for fixed compensation on predetermined scales.
    • It also provides a forum for passengers to make claims in the form of Railway Claims Tribunals situated in different parts of India. But there is a limitation.
    • Only a passenger on a train can make a claim before the Tribunal.
  • Passengers of a bus or motor vehicle who may have been harmed after a collision with a train can only approach the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal.
    • However, this tribunal can entertain the claim against the Railways also as a joint tortfeasor if the negligence of the Railways is established.

Supreme Court judgment (Union of India v. United India Insurance)

  • It said that the duty of care for the Railways extends not only to those who use the Railways’ services but also to people who are “neighbours” — namely, users of vehicles on roads that intersect with tracks.
  • Consequently, there is a common law liability for the railway administration for an accident at an unmanned crossing, even in the absence of specific provisions in the Railways Act, where the Central government can direct the administration to lay manned crossings.
  • An action at common law can be filed for nonfeasance because the Railways was involved in what are recognised as dangerous operations and hence is bound to take care of road users.

Precedents from England

  • It took up the issue of whether there could be any breach or a common law duty on the part of the Railways if it does not take notice of the increase in the volume of rail and motor traffic at the unmanned crossing, and if it does not take adequate steps such as putting up gates with a watchman to prevent accidents at such a point.
  • It said that there existed a precedent from England that was examined by the House of Lords — that the Railways should take all precautions that will reduce danger to the minimum.
  • It approved the estimate made in Lloyds Bank Ltd. v. Railway Executive (1952) that if 75 to 100 vehicles crossed the level crossing per day, the Railways owed a duty of care at common law to provide for a gate with a watchman.
  • non-exercise of the power of the government to direct the Railways to lay gates shall be construed as irrational.

Need for continuous audit

  • The railway administration should have continuous audit of tracks; when new roads come on either side, traffic must be calibrated, adequate infrastructure built, and safety measures put in place.
  • The Railways Act 1989 (through Section 124) provides compensation on strict liability basis. This means that “when an accident occurs in the course of working a railway” (a collision between trains, or when one is a train carrying passengers, or derailment, or any other accident with a train or any part of a train carrying passengers), then whether or not there has been any wrongful act, neglect or default on the part of the railway administration, an injured passenger or one who has suffered a loss can lawfully maintain an action and recover damages.

What should be done?

  • Hitherto, responses to claims for compensation arising out of accidents have been on an ad hoc basis but it is time the government amends the Railways Act to provide for compensation on a proactive basis without driving victims or their families to file applications in Tribunals.
  • The ex gratia payments will then be substituted by rights-based compensation regimes that will sensitise the Railways to administer their operations with greater focus on public safety.
  • It is also essential to include within Section 124 of the Railways Act a provision for a claim from a “neighbour to a passenger” in the manner that the Supreme Court recognises, namely, a road user of a motor vehicle.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Problems with a DNA registry

Context

  • Despite the spate of violent attacks against women, including rapes, in India, very few of the men implicated have been convicted. The outrage over these attacks has reinforced the belief that India needs a sex offenders’ database or a DNA database of those accused and charged with rape.

Stats

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau, only about a quarter of rape cases ended in conviction in 2016. These rates are low in other countries too.

Issue Area

  • DNA identification technologies have advanced so much that even minor genetic differences, such as those among family members, may be used to distinguish individuals and identify a person from his or her unique DNA.
  • Still, planting of DNA in a crime scene, misinterpretation of tests, and errors in analyses have all taken place in cases where DNA has been used to implicate a suspect, resulting in the miscarriage of justice.
  • Besides, everybody leaves traces of DNA in numerous places, as cells are shed, leading to ridiculous mistakes
  • Protecting innocent people’s privacy and their civil liberties and rights are the main concerns.
  • The police sometimes use DNA dragnets whereby all the people in a community are persuaded to give their saliva or blood in order to identify a possible suspect amongst them.
    • These methods are simply an expansion of the ‘stop and search’ approach to target particular groups of people on the basis of race, ethnicity or class, even though most of their members would be innocent.
    • It was reported that in 2007, close to three-quarters of the young black male population in the U.K. were on the DNA database.

Experience from other countries

  • Experience with the U.K. and U.S. databanks has shown that having more innocent people’s DNA stored increases the chances of a false positive and has not increased the chances of finding a guilty match.

What should be done?

  • One, it is absolutely essential that the people from whom DNA is taken give their informed consent; taking DNA surreptitiously should be prohibited.
  • Two, a court order should be required for obtaining DNA without informed consent and the DNA should only be compared with the crime scene DNA for the suspect.
  • Three, those who are cleared for a crime should not have their DNA information stored, and DNA gathered from offenders should be destroyed after identification so that such information is not used for profiling in future.
  • Four, a court order should be necessary to access medical records for genetic data.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India.

  2. The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.

  3. A State Government may request the Central Government to hand over the investigation of a case to the NIA.

     

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. Hot money is the flow of funds (or capital) from one country to another in order to earn a short-term profit.
  2. These speculative capital flows are called ‘Hot money’ because they can move very quickly in and out of markets.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements about Indian Ocean Rim Countries Cooperation:
  1. The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) was established in March 1997 with a mandate to promote sustainable growth and balanced development in the region.
  2. Historically, IORA focused on issues of maritime security, trade, cultural promotion, tourism and fisheries.
  3. In recent years, new and emerging issues for the better management and governance of Indian Ocean resources have begun taking shape. Such issues include blue economy development and sectoral integration.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements about Project Mausam:
  1. Transnational initiative meant to revive its ancient maritime routes and cultural linkages with countries in the region.
  2. Project focuses on the natural wind phenomenon, especially monsoon winds used by Indian sailors in ancient times for maritime trade, that has shaped interactions between countries and communities connected by the Indian Ocean.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 5. Consider the following statements about National Nutrition Mission (NNM):
  1. It will comprise mapping of various Schemes contributing towards addressing malnutrition.
  2. NNM targets to reduce stunting, under- nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

 
 General Studies II
  1. Why does India not produce many Nobel Prize winners? How much of it can be attributed to state of science education in India? Examine.

  2. The coronation of Xi Jinping as China’s de facto president for life and Putin’s election in Russia brings a new form of authoritarian political order. Discuss the implications for India.  

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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