13 May 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

13 May 2020 CNA:- Download DF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Do numbers matter in Rajya Sabha?
2. Aarogya Setu app mandatory for returning NRIs, migrants
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India caught in U.S.-China spat over Taiwan’s status at WHO
2. No air space violation at Pangong Tso
HEALTH
1. India may miss nutrition targets
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. PM announces ₹20 lakh crore economic stimulus package
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Riding roughshod over State governments
2. Reaffirm cooperative federalism
ECONOMY
1. Perilous state
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. China waives tariffs on more U.S. imports
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. Aarogya Setu app mandatory for returning NRIs, migrants

Context:

Expanding the ambit of the Aarogya Setu app, the Union Health Ministry has directed that downloading it be made compulsory for all returnees (migrant labourers and those coming from abroad) for better contact surveillance and suitable medical intervention.

Details:

  • The Health Ministry has directed the States to focus on more effective surveillance, contact tracing, adequate testing and timely treatment of all the returnees, including testing at the point of disembarking, quarantining and offering further treatment.
  • It has also asked the States to ramp up surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) or Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) to detect any possible hidden infection at an early stage to ensure timely containment.

For more details on the Aarogya Setu app and the concerns associated with it, read 26th April 2020 CNA.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India caught in U.S.-China spat over Taiwan’s status at WHO

Context:

The External Affairs Minister attended a seven-nation virtual meeting of Foreign Ministers, convened by the U.S. Secretary of State.

Details:

  • The meeting was held on the same day the U.S. Senate passed an Act to direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization, beginning with its decision-making body, the World Health Agency (WHA).
  • The meeting appeared to be part of the U.S’s efforts to gain support for its move to effect changes at the WHO. The meeting also discussed “strengthening and reforming” the WHO.
  • Meanwhile, China has also stepped up warnings on any attempt to include or support Taiwan’s role at the WHA, referring to the “One-China” principle as a widely accepted universal consensus of the international community including the Indian government.
  • The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Australia, Brazil, India, Israel, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
    • Significantly, all invitees other than India are major non-NATO allies of the United States, who would be expected to support Washington’s call.
  • The U.S. has, in the recent past, accused WHO of acting as a PR agency for China during the pandemic.

Concerns:

  • India is set to take over as the next Chairperson of the World Health Organization’s decision-making executive body in May 2020.
  • India is likely to hold the post for the next three years.
  • The timing of the appointment is crucial, given the worldwide debate on the role of the WHO during the pandemic, and criticism of the WHO Director.
  • As tensions between the U.S. and China rise over the novel coronavirus pandemic, India is faced with a major choice on whether to support a U.S. move to reinstate Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) or to China’s opposition to it.

2. No air space violation at Pangong Tso

Context:

The government sources have clarified that there was no airspace violation by China in Ladakh.

Background:

  • It was reported that Chinese helicopters were spotted flying close to the un-demarcated border between India and China in Eastern Ladakh after which Su-30 fighters of the Indian Air Force too carried out sorties in the area.
  • Around 250 soldiers of both sides were engaged in a fierce face-off near Pangong Lake.
  • Stating that incidents of face-off and aggressive behaviour occur on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), it is said that the patrols disengaged after local-level interaction and dialogue.

Details:

  • There were two incidents of face-off between Indian and Chinese troops recently which resulted in injuries to several soldiers on both sides.
  • The first incident occurred near Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh while the second face-off occurred at Naku La in Sikkim.
  • Pangong Tso has seen such several incidents in the past including in 2017 and in 2019.
  • In September 2019, a scuffle broke out between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the bank of the Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh but the matter was resolved through talks between the two militaries.
  • In one of the longest confrontations between the two sides, troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day face-off in Doklam from June 16, 2017, after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army.
  • As per existing agreements between India and China, operation of fighter aircraft and armed helicopters is restricted to a distance from the LAC.
  • According to the ‘Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the LAC in India-China Border Area’ of 1996, “combat aircraft (to include fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, military trainer, armed helicopter and other armed aircraft) shall not fly within 10 km of the LAC.”

The Doklam issue has been covered in 17th June 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

Category: HEALTH

1. India may miss nutrition targets

Context:

Global Nutrition Report 2020 has been released.

Global Nutrition Report:

  • In 2012, the World Health Assembly identified six nutrition targets for maternal, infant and young child nutrition to be met by 2025. These require governments to:
    1. Reduce stunting by 40% in children under five
    2. Reduce prevalence of anaemia by 50% among women in the age group of 19-49
    3. Ensure 30% reduction in low-birth weight
    4. Ensure no increase in childhood overweight
    5. Increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50%
    6. Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.
  • The Global Nutrition Report was conceived following the first Nutrition for Growth Initiative Summit (N4G) in 2013. The first report was published in 2014.
  • This report is produced by the Independent Expert Group of the Global Nutrition Report, supported by the Global Nutrition Report Stakeholder Group.
  • The Report acts as a report card on the world’s nutrition—globally, regionally, and country by country—and on efforts to improve it.
  • It assesses progress in meeting Global Nutrition Targets established by the World Health Assembly.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a Global Nutrition Report Partner.

Issue:

  • According to the Global Nutrition Report 2020, India is among 88 countries that are likely to miss global nutrition targets by 2025.
  • It states that India will miss targets for all four nutritional indicators for which there are data available — stunting among under-five children, anaemia among women of reproductive age, childhood overweight and exclusive breastfeeding.

Details:

  • Between 2000 and 2016, underweight rates have decreased from 66.0% to 58.1% for boys and 54.2% to 50.1% in girls. However, this is still high compared with the average of 35.6% for boys and 31.8% for girls in Asia.
  • 37.9% of children under five are stunted and 20.8% are wasted, compared with the Asia average of 22.7% and 9.4% respectively.
  • India is identified as among the three worst countries, along with Nigeria and Indonesia, for steep within-country disparities on stunting, where the levels varied four-fold across communities.
  • Stunting level in Uttar Pradesh is over 40% and the rate among individuals in the lowest income group is more than double those in the highest income group at 22.0% and 50.7%, respectively.
  • In addition, stunting prevalence is 10.1% higher in rural areas compared with urban areas.
  • One in two women of reproductive age is anaemic, while at the same time, the rate of overweight and obesity continues to rise, affecting almost a fifth of the adults, at 21.6% of women and 17.8% of men.

2. Reaffirm cooperative federalism

Context:

  • The article examines the strain on the principle of federalism due to the current circumstances in India.

Background:

Cooperative federalism:

  • In a traditional sense, federalism signifies the independence of the Union and State governments of a country, in their own spheres.
  • However, while framing the Indian Constitution, the Constituent Assembly carefully studied the constitutions of other federations like the U.S., Canada, Australia and Switzerland and adopted a ‘pick and choose’ policy to formulate a system suited uniquely to India’s need.
  • As a result, India’s Constituent Assembly became the first-ever constituent body in the world to embrace what has been referred to as ‘cooperative federalism’.
    • Cooperative federalism essentially is defined as the administrative cooperation between the Centre and the States, and a partial dependence of the States upon payments from the Centre.
    • Despite a strong Centre, cooperative federalism doesn’t necessarily result in weaker States.

Concerns:

  • The current circumstances under the pandemic crisis have severely strained the principle of federalism in India.

Fissures in cooperation:

  • The central government’s zone classifications into ‘red’ and ‘orange’ zones have evoked sharp criticisms from several States. The States have demanded more autonomy in making such classifications.

Lack of consultation:

  • Despite State consultation being a legislative mandate cast upon the Centre under the Disaster Management Act of 2005, there has been minimal consultation with the states and the guidelines issued so far have been mostly based on a top down approach.
    • The Disaster Management Act of 2005 envisages the creation of a ‘National Plan’ as well as issuance of binding guidelines by the Centre to States in furtherance of the ‘National Plan’. The Act mandates State consultations before formulating a ‘National Plan’, so that the binding guidelines issued under it, also represent the views of the States.
  • The Centre has not formulated a ‘National Plan’, and has chosen instead to respond to COVID-19 through ad hoc binding guidelines issued to States, thereby circumventing the legislative mandate of State consultations.

Centralized decision making:

  • The Centre has directed the State governments to strictly enforce the set of guidelines, prohibiting the States from lowering the Centre’s classifications. The selective application of the Act serves to concentrate all decision-making powers with the Centre.

Lack of funds:

  • The states are facing a huge financial burden:
    • Corporations donating to PM-CARES can avail CSR exemptions, whereas such provisions are not available for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. This disincentivizes donations to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and diverts crores in potential State revenues to PM-CARES and thus, makes the States largely dependent upon the Centre.
    • The revenue streams of several States have dried up because of the liquor sale ban, negligible sale of petrol/diesel, temporary halt of land dealings and registration of agreements.
    • States’ GST collections have been severely affected with their dues still not disbursed by the Centre.
  • This is a major concern given the fact that States act as the first responders to the pandemic, and supplying them with adequate funds is essential for effectively tackling the crisis.

Conclusion:

  • The progress of the Indian Republic rests upon active cooperation between the states and the centre. Similarly, India’s success in defeating COVID-19 actively rests upon Centre-State collaboration.
  • The Centre needs to view the States as equals, and strengthen their capabilities, instead of increasing their dependence upon itself.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Perilous state

Context:

  • State government’s precarious financial condition.

Causes:

  • The COVID-19-induced lockdown has severely affected State finances in the following ways.
    • The state’s revenue sources from liquor sales, stamp duty from property transactions and sales tax on petroleum products, which account for almost half the total revenues, have collapsed.
    • The state’s expenditure on interest payments, social sector schemes and staff salaries remain unchanged.
    • The states are having to spend more on strengthening their health infrastructure and on COVID-19 measures, including testing, treatment and quarantining.

Worrying developments:

  • Given the state of finances, some States have gone ahead and cut salaries of their employees and pension benefits to rein in expenses.
  • Even the traditionally well performing states such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, are now requesting for funding support from the Centre and relaxation in borrowing rules by the RBI.
  • Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra, looking for revenue sources commenced liquor sales with outlets flouting all physical distancing norms. The fear is that this could seed fresh infections.

Way forward:

Centre’s role:

  • The burden is on the Centre to find the resources to immediately release the dues of the States and also reimburse them for their COVID-19-related expenses.
  • Though the Centre itself is not in a comfortable financial condition, the centre at least has the means to replenish its finances through conventional and unconventional means.
    • The centre has been able to appropriate the benefits of falling oil prices through increase in duties.
    • The centre has also recently announced an increase in its borrowing by half for the current fiscal.

More leeway for states:

  • There is a need to relax the fiscal deficit levels of the States from the current 3% level to at least 4.5%. The States should be allowed to borrow more.
  • The Centre should give States the freedom to restart economic activity based on their own assessment. Greater leeway in restarting economic activity will relieve some of the financial stress, not just on the States but also on the Centre.

F. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Tidbits

1. China waives tariffs on more U.S. imports

What’s in News?

China has suspended punitive tariffs on more U.S. goods, including radar equipment for aviation, amid pressure from President Donald Trump to buy more imports as part of a truce in their trade war.

  • Washington agreed in January 2020 to cancel additional tariff hikes and Beijing committed to buy more American farm exports.
  • Trump threatened to terminate the agreement if China fails to buy more American goods.
    • The two sides have raised duties on tens of billions of dollars of each other’s imports in a dispute over China’s technology ambitions and trade surplus.
  • Fears have been rekindled in the financial markets, of more U.S.-Chinese conflict and potential disruption of global trade even as countries are reeling under the pandemic.
  • Slumping economic activity due to the virus has prompted suggestions that China might be unable to carry out commitments to boost imports.
  • The recent announcement is the third Chinese tariff cut since the January 2020 deal.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Arrange the following from North to South:
  1. Tso Kar
  2. Tso Moriri
  3. Kiagar Tso
  4. Pangong Tso

Choose the correct option:

  1. 4, 1, 3, 2
  2. 4, 3, 1, 2
  3. 1, 2, 3, 4
  4. 2, 3, 1, 4
See
Answer

 

Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to Global Nutrition Survey:
  1. Global Nutrition Survey is published by the World Health Organisation.
  2. It assesses progress in meeting Global Nutrition Targets established by the World Health Assembly.
  3. The first Global Nutrition Survey was published in 1949.

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

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 2 only
  4. 1 and 2 only
See
Answer
Q3. Consider the following statements:
  1. The joint sitting of the Parliament is called and presided over by the Rajya Sabha Chairman.
  2. The Parliament of India has never held Joint Sittings.
  3. Constitution Amendment Bill and Money Bill cannot be referred to a joint sitting of the Parliament.

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

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
See
Answer
Q4. Consider the following statements:
  1. India shares the longest border with China, followed by Bangladesh.
  2. Line of Actual Control (LAC) runs from the eastern limit of Bhutan to a point near the Talu Pass.
  3. Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh touch the Indian boundary with China.

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

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. 3 only
See
Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. In the light of the Central Government issuing guidelines to the state governments over the management of the COVID-19 pandemic under the Disaster management Act, there have been concerns raised over the undermining of the federalism principle. Examine. (10 marks, 150 words)
  2. Evaluate and compare the centralized approach and state-led efforts in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Suggest a suitable way forward for a more effective response. (15 marks, 250 words)
  3. Discuss the reasons for the current precarious condition of the state finances and the concerns associated with it. Suggest suitable measures to reduce the fiscal pressures on the states. (10 marks, 150 words)

Read the previous CNA here.

13 May 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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