09 May 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS 1 Related B. GS 2 Related POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Aarogya Setu app: HC seeks Centre’s response INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. U.S. special envoy urges India to talk to Taliban C. GS 3 Related ECONOMY 1. Moody’s warns of downgrade 2. Ration card portability usage low: Paswan DISASTER MANAGEMENT 1. Green tribunal directs LG Polymers to deposit 50 cr rupees. D. GS 4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Shaping India’s response in a global hinge moment SOCIAL ISSUES 1. Contempt for labour ECONOMY 1. Eradicate it F. Tidbits 1. GoI borrows $500 million from AIIB 2. Govt. raises borrowings to 12 lakh crore in FY21 3. Pharma exports grow 7.57% in FY20 G. Prelims Facts 1. ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to cover more European nations 2. U.S. pulls out Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia 3. Rajnath opens new road to Kailash Mansarovar 4. HC declines plea by animal rights activist H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS 1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS 2 Related
- A Bench of the Kerala High Court has asked the Centre to respond to a writ petition challenging its directive on the Aarogya Setu app.
- The Centre had issued a directive making the Aarogya Setu app mandatory for all employees, including those in the private sector.
- The directive, issued as part of COVID-19 management, said it should be the responsibility of the head of the respective organisation to ensure 100% use of the app among the employees.
- The directive also stated that prosecution would be launched against those who did not comply with the directive, under Section 58 of the Disaster Management Act 2005.
Concerns raised in the petition:
- The petition seeks the court to strike down the directive of the Center as unconstitutional on the following grounds:
- The petition claims that the directive violated the fundamental rights of the citizen as it takes away the right of a person to decide on the use and control of information about him/her.
- The petition claims that an employer who has only a work relationship with an employee could not compel him/her to install a mobile app and use it diligently.
- The petition also claims a possibility of misuse of the personal information and raises concerns of surveillance by the Centre.
For more information on this issue refer CNA 26th April 2020- Aarogya Setu.
- U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation – Zalmay Khalilzad, has urged India to discuss its concerns on terrorism directly with the Taliban.
- The U.S.–Taliban agreement was signed in Doha in February 2020.
- The agreement paves the way for withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Afghanistan based on the Commitment from Taliban that the territory of Afghanistan would not be used against the United States or its allies.
- Part of the agreement also involves intra-Afghan negotiations for a political roadmap for Afghanistan to ensure lasting peace in the region.
- Peace for Afghanistan, and security for the world from Afghanistan, are the two goals of the agreement.
For more information read: The U.S. Taliban agreement- 1st May 2020
India’s take on the Afghan peace deal:
- India presently is not involved in any of the regional formats that are currently discussing Afghanistan’s future.
- India has so far limited itself to humanitarian assistance, economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. It has stayed away from security related assistance and from mediation in the Afghan talks.
- India has so far declined from opening direct, public talks with the Taliban as it considers the Taliban a terror group allied to Pakistan. The groups based in Afghanistan and backed by Pakistan have targeted India and the U.S.–Taliban agreement doesn’t uphold India’s interest.
- India views the U.S.-Taliban deal as a deal for withdrawal and not a peace deal. There are concerns that this is not an Afghan owned and led agreement, there is no ceasefire, no Taliban commitment to the constitution which have been India’s core demands.
For more information on India’s concerns over the deal refer: 2nd May 2020
- Despite India having a significant role in Afghanistan’s development and India – Afghanistan having had historic ties, India still doesn’t play a role in the international peace efforts for Afghanistan.
- U.S. Special Representative has called for more active involvement of India in the Afghan reconciliation process.
- Engagement between India and all the key players in Afghanistan, not only in terms of the government but also in terms of political forces, society and the Afghan body politic, is appropriate given India’s regional and global position.
- U.S. Special Representative has opined that it would be appropriate for an India-Taliban engagement to take place. This is the first time the U.S. has publicly suggested an engagement between India and the Taliban.
- International support for peace in Afghanistan is important and Indian support in particular is important given the fact that it is a significant power in the region. For peace to come to Afghanistan there is a need for good relations amongst the neighbours and support for peace.
- Given the fact that India has good relations with several leaders in Afghanistan, it can play a crucial role in solving the political crisis in Afghanistan.
- India’s core concerns like terrorism emanating from Afghanistan could be taken up directly with the Taliban.
- A novel economic strategy, for trade and development and for Afghanistan to become a platform for regional cooperation and connectivity could help support and sustain the peace process in Afghanistan.
C. GS 3 Related
- Rating agency Moody has projected a negative economic outlook of India.
Negative outlook of Indian economy:
- The negative outlook of India reflects increasing risks that the economic growth will remain significantly lower than in the past.
- Major factors for the negative outlook include:
- The COVID-19 outbreak has triggered a deep economic shock both on the demand as well as supply sides.
- Government policies and actions have not been effective in addressing long-standing economic and institutional weaknesses of the Indian economy.
- There has been a gradual rise in the debt burden from the already high levels.
Ratings for India:
- The negative outlook indicates that a rating upgrade is unlikely in the near term.
- A prolonged or deep slowdown in growth would lead to a weakening of the fiscal metrics.
- Moody has cautioned that there would also be a rating downgrade of India if fiscal metrics deteriorate further.
- Given the fact that economic slowdown is inevitable under the current circumstances, the government’s measures to support the economy should help reduce the depth and duration of India’s growth slowdown.
- Major interventions are required to address the underlying structural challenges. The government should be able to restore stronger output through economic and institutional reforms.
- Government should address the issue of prolonged financial stress among rural households, weak job creation and credit crunch among non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs).
- The government should ensure that the important fiscal metrics like fiscal deficit, Debt to GDP ratio stabilize and strengthen over time.
- Concerns over low usage of One Nation, One Ration Card scheme.
One Nation, One Ration Card scheme:
- Around 60 crore people are covered under the Centre’s ration card portability scheme referred to as the One Nation, One Ration Card scheme.
- So far, 17 States and Union Territories have joined the portability scheme, and another three states are likely to join by June 2020.
For more information refer: CNA 2nd May 2020
- If utilised properly, the One Nation, One Ration Card scheme could allow migrant workers to access free foodgrains wherever they are, providing a lifeline for desperate migrants during the COVID-19 lockdown.
- The inter-State usage of the scheme has been very low because of lack of awareness as well as the fact that most States have suspended biometric authentication at ration shops due to fear of coronavirus infection.
- The portability scheme can not work without biometric authentication using electronic point of sale machines.
- Despite several States suggesting allowing distribution using just ration cards, the central government has not considered such requests due to the fear that it might lead to large leakage losses under the scheme.
- Procurement of wheat from farmers during the ongoing rabi marketing season has been lagging behind by 18.35% following the shortage of jute gunny bags due to the lockdown.
- In order to ensure adequate procurement, the government has taken the following measures:
- The government has given permission for the re-use of jute bags and also for a 30% use of plastic bags.
- Wheat procurement has been extended until mid-June, as the lockdown had caused labour and transport shortages.
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken suo motu cognisance of the gas leak at the LG polymer plant in Vishakhapatnam.
- The gas leak in LG Polymer India’s Vishakhapatnam plant has led to the death of at least 11 people and affected several others.
Read more about the Vizag Gas Leak: 8th May 2020.
- Styrene gas is defined as a hazardous chemical under relevant rules and the rules require on-site and off-site emergency plans to ensure prevention of damage. The current incident appears to be due to the failure to comply with rules and other statutory provisions.
- Leakage of hazardous gas on a large scale, adversely affecting public health and environment, attracts the principle of ‘strict liability’, against the enterprise concerned. Such an entity is liable to restore the damage caused under the Environment Law, apart from other statutory liability.
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed LG Polymers India to deposit an initial amount of 50 crore rupees for the damage caused by the gas leak.
- The statutory authorities responsible for authorising and regulating such activities may also be held accountable for their lapses, if any, in dealing with the matter and in this regard NGT has issued notice to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Union Ministry of Environment, seeking their response.
- The NGT has also constituted a five-member fact-finding committee to probe the incident and submit a report. The committee has been directed to inspect the site at the earliest.
- The Committee has been directed to investigate the causes of failure and the persons and authorities responsible, measure the extent of damage to life, human and non-human, public health and the environment, including water, suggest steps to be taken for compensation of victims and restitution of the damaged property and environment and the cost involved.
- The National Green Tribunal order’s reference to the archaic law principle of “strict liability” has been questioned.
- Under the strict liability principle, a party is not liable and need not pay compensation if a hazardous substance escapes his premises by accident or by an “act of God’” among other circumstances.
- The strict liability principle provides companies with several exemptions from assuming liability.
- The Supreme Court in the Oleum gas leak case of Delhi, found strict liability woefully inadequate to protect citizens’ rights in an industrialised economy like India (in the backdrop of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy) and replaced it with the ‘absolute liability principle’.
- The term “absolute liability” should have been used by the NGT.
- Under the absolute liability principle, a company in a hazardous industry cannot claim any exemption. It has to mandatorily pay compensation, whether or not the disaster was caused by its negligence. The Supreme Court has previously held that a hazardous enterprise has an “absolute non-delegable duty to the community”.
- There is a need to quickly ascertain the causes of the gas leak. Appropriate accountability must be fixed accordingly.
- There is a need to put in place, suitable measures to ensure that such untoward incidents do not occur in the future.
D. GS 4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Current Geo-political Scenario:
India finds itself in a world that is fragmenting and slowing down economically. The country is in a new geopolitical situation, caused primarily by the rise of China, India and other powers — Indonesia, South Korea, Iran, Vietnam — in a crowded Asia-Pacific, which is the new economic and political centre of gravity of the world.
- Rapid shifts in the balance of power in the region have led to arms races and to rising uncertainty, also fuelled by the unpredictability, disengagement and the transactional America First attitude of the President of the United States.
- China-U.S. strategic contention is growing, uninhibited so far by their economic co-dependence.
- As China seeks primacy in a world so far dominated by the U.S., the world faces a destabilising power transition which may or may not be completed.
What should India’s response be to the new situation?
- India must maintain its strategic autonomy.
- While many suggest that India must enter into an alliance with the U.S., it is to be understood that a common thread running through the foreign and security policies of successive governments of India irrespective of their various political persuasions has been the pursuit of strategic autonomy for India.
- In the current situation that calls for creative diplomacy and flexibility, adjusting to the fast-changing balance of power and correlation of forces around, India, must maintain its strategic autonomy.
- The Doklam crisis of 2017 is only the most recent example that shows that no one else is ready to deal with India’s greatest strategic challenge — China. It saw a tepid reaction from the rest of the world.
The China question:
- China’s rise is the foremost challenge which could derail India’s quest. But it is also an opportunity.
- One possibility for India is to engage China bilaterally to see whether the two countries can evolve a new Modus vivendi (way of coexistence), to replace the one that was formalised in the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi visit.
- That framework is no longer working and the signs of stress in the relationship are everywhere.
- The India-China relations are more complex than simple narratives suggest, nevertheless, there is room for both sides to seek a new modus vivendi.
- This would require a high-level strategic dialogue between the two sides about their core interests, red lines, differences and areas of convergence.
- The balance will keep shifting between cooperation and competition with China, both of which characterise that relationship. The more India rises, the more it must expect Chinese opposition.
- The U.S. is an essential partner for India’s transformation. However, since it is withdrawing from the world, it will no longer be the upholder of international order, economic or political. It is less certain as to how it will choose to deal with China.
- India must work with other powers to ensure that its region stays multi-polar and that China behaves responsibly. It should also ensure that its interests are protected in the neighbourhood, the region and the world.
- The China, U.S contention is structural and, therefore, likely to continue for some time with a paradigm shift away from cooperation to increasing contention, despite temporary deals and victories declared by one or both, opens up opportunities and space for other powers.
- Both China and the U.S. will look to put other conflicts and tensions on the back burner while they deal with each other (their primary concern).
- Here, India has a moment of double opportunity if it changes its ways.
Other Concerns for India:
- In the present world order, there is a deep sense of strategic confusion. For India, that confusion extends to it being not just about the ultimate goal India’s foreign policy should pursue but also over the best means to achieve them.
- India’s Prime Minister has declared a goal of India to be a ‘Vishwa guru’, or world teacher. This is still a long way away considering the fact that India is an importer of knowledge and technology.
- At present, India is more dependent on the outside world than ever before. It relies on the world for energy, technology, essential goods like fertilizer and coal, commodities, access to markets, and capital.
- When the new security agenda, the contested global commons in outer and cyberspace and the high seas is added to India’s traditional state-centred security concerns, there is greater worry or a sense of insecurity.
- India risks missing the bus to becoming a developed country if it continues business and politics as usual, or tries to imitate China’s experience in the last 40 years, does not adapt, and does not manage its internal social and political churn better.
- The most important improvement that India needs to make concerns its national security structures and their work — introducing flexibility into India’s thinking and India’s structures. For change is the only certainty in life.
1. Eradicate it
Sudan has criminalized the act of female genital mutilation (FGM).
What is FGM?
- The World Health Organization defines female genital mutilation (FGM) as involving “the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
- The practice has no health benefits for girls and women.
- FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems in urinating, cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
- According to the UN, over 200 million women in several African countries, including Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, Djibouti and Senegal, and some in Asia, have been subject to this brutal social custom.
- Sudan’s decision to outlaw the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is a landmark victory for women’s rights in a country that is still in a transition from dictatorship to democracy.
- The development follows the transitional government’s decision to scrap the repressive social codes and humiliating penalties that targeted women during the nearly 30-year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, which fell last year amid protests.
- Under the law, any offenders will serve a punishable sentence of up to three years in prison.
- It is a historic move in a country where the United Nations says 9 out of 10 women between the ages of 15 to 49 have been subjected to the practice.
- The UN estimates that some 87% of Sudanese women have had their external genitalia removed on non-medical grounds during childhood, leaving them with life-long emotional and physical injuries.
- The new measure, which entails punishment with a fine and a prison sentence, must still be approved by the Supreme Council (made up of civilians and military officials, that oversees the democratic transition). The government’s decision builds on the curbs already in place in a number of provinces, although enforcement has been a concern.
- While the latest measure has been widely welcomed, campaigners remain cautious about a shift in attitude against this custom, as it is regarded as crucial prior to matrimony.
- Even in countries where FGM is outlawed, enforcement remains an issue.
- In Egypt’s first FGM trial in 2014, six years after Cairo clamped a ban, the doctor who had carried out the procedure, as well as the father of the deceased girl, were acquitted, despite incriminating forensic evidence.
- In Somalia, the country with the highest prevalence rate but no legal ban, the death of a girl in 2018 after a similar procedure led to the first prosecution in such incidents.
- In Uganda, reports in 2019 of some 300 cases of mutilation within a month shed light on the government’s uphill task to back existing legislation with vigorous awareness campaigns.
- In Kenya, where the practice was criminalised in 2011, the government strategy requiring girls to be tested for circumcision raised concerns of victimisation and privacy violation.
Practice of FGM in India:
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) is practised in India by the Dawoodi Bohras, a sect of Shia Islam with one million members in India.
- The procedure is generally performed when a girl is seven years old and involves the total or partial removal of the clitoral hood.
- In May 2017 a public interest litigation (PIL) case was raised in India’s Supreme Court, seeking a ban on FGM in India.
- The petition claimed the practice violated children’s rights under Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India.
- The defendants argue that khafz (FGM) is an essential part of the community’s religion, and their right to practise the religion is protected under Articles 25 and 26.
- The community believes that male and female circumcision is required as “acts of religious purity”.
- In September 2018 the Supreme Court referred the PIL to a five-judge constitution bench for further hearing.
- These practices suggest that legislation alone may not stop this practice that has deep cultural roots. The governments must eradicate it.
- While there is ongoing research to rectify the damage, WHO is somewhat sceptical about the effectiveness of recent reconstruction surgeries.
- The prevailing scenario thus underscores the need for stronger campaigns and bold actions to stop this social scourge.
- Sustaining the country’s (Sudan) progressive currents and the democratic transition would be crucial to consolidate the gender reforms it has introduced in recent months.
With the need for revival of business and economic activity after weeks of forced closure, interests of labourers and workers are being sacrificed. Several States across India are ignoring the welfare laws for workers in the name of boosting economic activity.
- Madhya Pradesh has embarked on a plan to give a boost to business and industry by allowing units to be operated without many of the requirements of the Factories Act — working hours may extend to 12 hours, instead of eight, and weekly duty up to 72 hours.
- It appears the State has used Section 5 of the Act, which permits exemption from its provisions for three months, in the hope that the Centre would approve such suspension for at least a thousand days.
- However, this exemption can be given only during a ‘public emergency’, defined in a limited way as a threat to security due to war or external aggression.
- Uttar Pradesh has approved an ordinance suspending for three years all labour laws, except a few relating to the abolition of child and bonded labour, women employees, construction workers and payment of wages, besides compensation to workmen for accidents while on duty.
- Reports suggest that several States are following these examples in the name of boosting economic activity.
- The country watches with horror the continuance of the collective misery of migrant workers. The attitude of the ruling class towards labour remains one of utter apathy, bordering on contempt.
- India’s inability to protect the most vulnerable sections and its vast underclass of labourers from the impacts of lockdown shows the flaws in the country’s response to the pandemic.
- The emphasis in the initial phase was on dealing with the health crisis, even when the consequence was the creation of an economic crisis.
- It is amoral and perverse on the part of the States to address the need of revival of business and economic activity by granting sweeping exemptions from legal provisions aimed at protecting labourers and employees in factories, industries and other establishments.
- Changes in the manner in which labour laws operate in a State may require the Centre’s assent.
- The factories must in no case be relieved of elementary duties such as providing drinking water, first aid boxes and protective equipment (Or) ensuring requirements such as cleanliness, ventilation, lighting, canteens, restrooms and crèches.
- The Centre, which is pursuing a labour reform agenda through consolidated codes for wages, industrial relations and occupational safety, health and working conditions, must not readily agree to wholesale exemptions from legal safeguards and protections that the law now offers to workers.
- The Government of India has taken a $500 million loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to support its emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of a $1.5 billion project being co-financed by the World Bank.
- The government resorts to market borrowing to make up for mismatch between its revenue and expenditure.
- The government has revised its borrowing estimates considerably.
- The estimated gross market borrowing in FY 2020-21 will be 12 lakh crore rupees as against the initial estimate of 7.80 lakh crore rupee as per BE 2020-21.
- This move will help deal with the expected shortfall in revenue due to the impact of COVID-19 crisis on the economy.
- With the increase in the estimate, the government would have to revise upwards its fiscal deficit target of 3.5% pegged for the current fiscal.
- Pharmaceutical exports from India have grown by 7.57% to $20.58 billion during 2019-20.
- Despite this being a rather subdued performance as against previous performance and estimates, the sector stands out while all other sectors have witnessed a drastic fall in revenues.
- India depends on China for 60-70% of its bulk drug needs.
G. Prelims Facts
- The ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ is meant to evacuate and repatriate Indian citizens stranded in different countries owing to the lockdown.
- Official sources have announced a plan for repatriation of Indians aboard INS Jalashwa and INS Magar from the Maldives.
- Saudi oil installations in Khurais and Abqaiq had been attacked in September 2019 by Tehran and Houthi-backed rebels in Yemen through rocket and drone attacks.
- Following this, the U.S. had deployed its Patriot missile systems in Saudi Arabia.
- Patriot (MIM-104) is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defence system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.
- India is also looking to purchase the Patriot missile system from the U.S.
- The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the border designation for India and China.
- The Lipulekh Pass in the state of Uttarkhand, is part of an alternate route to Kailash Mansarovar.
- Pench Tiger Reserve is one of the premier tiger reserves of India and the first one to straddle across two states – Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Ordinarily, the reference to Pench is mostly to the Tiger Conservation in Madhya Pradesh.
- It is a major Protected Area of Satpura-Maikal ranges of the Central Highlands and is located in the southern reaches of the Satpura range.
- The river Pench divides the National Park into nearly two equal parts.
- Pench Tiger is among the sites notified as important bird areas of India.
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
Q1. Which of the following countries are not members of the Gulf Cooperation Council?
- Saudi Arabia
- 1,3,5,6 and 8
- 1,2,3,5 and 6
- 2,4 and 7
- 2,4,7 and 8
Q2. Which of the following pair is wrongly matched?
- Lopinavir-ritonavir: HIV
- Ribavirin: hepatitis C virus
- Interferon beta-1b: Sclerosis
- BCG: Polio
Q3. Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?
- Schedule 10 of the Indian Constitution deals with Anti-defection provisions.
- The 52nd amendment in 1985 added the tenth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
- The 91st amendment in 2003 strengthened the anti-defection provisions in India by prescribing disqualification of defectors and barring them from being appointed as ministers for a period.
- 1 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 1,2 and 3
- 1 and 3 only
Q4. The Patriot Missile system has been developed by which of the following country?
- United States of America
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- The China, U.S contention has opened up opportunities and space for other powers. Examine the opportunities this geo-political scenario opens up for India. (15 Marks, 250 Words).
- Discuss the implications of practises such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on human rights and dignity of women. Why and how should such practices be prevented? (15 Marks. 250 Words).
09 May 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here