13 May 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 13th May 2021:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. ‘Child marriages may go unnoticed amid lockdown’
B. GS 2 Related
HEALTH
1. COVID-19 catastrophe could have been avoided, says report
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. WTO chief targets waivers for COVID vaccines in Dec.
C. GS 3 Related
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
POVERTY AND HUNGER
1. A bullet train to hunger
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. A hundred days after the coup
F. Prelims Facts
1. Protecting prisoners
G. Tidbits
1. Inflation eases to 4.29%; base lifts IIP
2. ‘Remote working spurs demand for cyber experts’
3. EdTech needs an ethics policy
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. WTO chief targets waivers for COVID vaccines in Dec.

Context:

  • World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s statements.

Details:

IP waiver issue:

  • The WTO DG has said that given the urgent need to vaccinate the world faster, she was pushing for member-nations to reach some agreement by July and deliver a final outcome on the intellectual property (IP) waivers for COVID-19 vaccines at the next WTO ministerial conference scheduled in Geneva in December.
  • The WTO DG appreciated the fact that India has exported more than 40% of the vaccines and do so despite some countries’ refusal to share their domestic production with other countries in dire need.

Package on agriculture:

  • She has expressed hope that WTO could come up with a package on agriculture that would ensure a balance between the interests of both the developed and developing countries.
  • The package on agriculture would include the following aspects.
    • Addressing the issue of public stockholdings and making these provisions permanent, while ensuring appropriate transparency in its functioning. This would help meet food security concerns on a permanent basis.
      • Public stockholding (PSH) is a policy tool used by governments to procure, stockpile and distribute food when needed. Governments purchasing at prices higher than market prices are considered to be subsidising their farmers, under WTO rules.
      • The stockholding programmes are considered to distort trade when they involve purchases from farmers at prices fixed by the governments.
      • The Bali peace clause stipulates that no country would be legally barred from food security programs for its own people even if the subsidy breached the limits specified in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.
    • Domestic support to agriculture also needs review.
      • Under the Agreement on Agriculture, all domestic support in favour of agricultural producers is subject to rules. In addition, the aggregate monetary value of Amber Box measures is, with certain exceptions, subject to reduction commitments as specified in the schedule of each WTO Member providing such support.

Issues related to industries:

  • Industrial subsidies need to be reviewed.
    • The WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (also known as the Subsidies Agreement or the SCM Agreement) establishes multilateral disciplines on the use of subsidies and provides mechanisms for challenging government measures that contravene these rules.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. A hundred days after the coup

Context:

  • ASEAN leaders’ summit in Jakarta.
    • The single most important agenda of the summit was to devise a way to defuse the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.

Background:

Military coup in Myanmar and associated violence:

  • On February 1, the military overthrew the elected government of Myanmar after the landslide victory of the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) in the November 2020 elections.
  • Civilians have clashed with police and army units wielding batons, rubber bullets and live ammunition. The military leadership has been brutal in the suppression of the protests. 750 were killed, thousands injured, and over 2,500 detained.
  • There has been a stalemate given the differing solutions being offered by the army on the one hand and the opposition on the other.

ASEAN mediation:

  • Given the deep concerns over the coup’s adverse regional impact, the ASEAN group, despite its central concept of non-interference in internal affairs of its member states, followed its activist tradition to assist Myanmar in exiting from this complex situation.
  • It was in this direction that it has resisted efforts by other organizations or nations to interfere in the ongoing crisis and organized an emergency summit at Jakarta and invited the military leadership of Myanmar for the talks.

For more information on this development, refer to:

CNA dated April 25, 2021: ASEAN leaders urge junta to end killings

Important outcomes of the Jakarta summit:

  • Five-Point Consensus including the immediate cessation of violence; supply of humanitarian assistance; constructive dialogue; and ASEAN’s mediation through the visit by a special envoy of ASEAN’s Chair and the ASEAN Secretary-General has been accepted by the military.
  • Though not included in the five-point consensus, calls for release of all political prisoners including foreigners were also heard by the army.
  • International reactions to the Jakarta summit outcome have largely been positive. The UN and other global stakeholders appreciate Southeast Asia’s willingness to resolve its problems in its ‘family way’.

Challenges for ASEAN in its efforts:

Bridge internal differences:

  • Members like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam inclined to be sympathetic to the military and others like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are keen to mediate in the Myanmar crisis for the region’s larger good.

Chasm within the international community:

  • The U.S., the U.K. and the European Union have advocated a policy of condemnation and strong sanctions against the military regime, while China and Russia have argued against excessive censure and opposition.

India’s role:

  • As a neighbour with vital stakes, India has welcomed the ASEAN initiative.
    • India and Japan have preferred to support reconciliation.
  • India should unreservedly back ASEAN’s endeavours, helping it further by extending requisite support to the member nations.

Conclusion:

  • ASEAN has created a rare pathway to help Myanmar move forward.
    • Despite its initial opposition to the Jakarta agreement, the opposition in Myanmar would need to internalise the utility of a helping hand extended by the region.
    • Myanmar’s leaders should work for a lasting reconciliation, deriving inspiration from Lord Buddha’s ‘Middle Path’.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Protecting prisoners

  • The Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar (2014) judgment of the S.C. dealing with the process of arrest, directs the police not to effect unnecessary arrests, especially in cases that involve jail terms less than seven years.
  • Section 436A of the Cr.P.C., allows undertrials who have completed half of the maximum prison term prescribed for the offence to be released on personal bond.

G. Tidbits

1. Inflation eases to 4.29%; base lifts IIP

Data from the National Statistical Office:

  • India’s retail inflation slowed to a three-month low of 4.29% in April, helped by softer food prices as well as a base effect.
  • The industrial output surged by 22.4% in March, aided by the statistical impact of the year-earlier period’s Index of Industrial Production (IIP) being significantly lower on account of the national lockdown to contain COVID-19 imposed that month.
  • Though some experts have pointed out that the inflation and IIP data provided strong positive signals for the economy, others have pointed out to the fact that these figures are related to the period ‘just prior to the extensive rounds of lockdowns induced by the ongoing second COVID wave’ and have also emphasised that inflation and IIP data over the next three months were likely to be ‘significantly distorted’ by base effects.

2. ‘Remote working spurs demand for cyber experts’

  • Remote working, new ways of managing workflows and efforts to ensure business continuity during the lockdowns have made companies increasingly vulnerable to cyberthreats. This has exponentially increased the risk of cybersecurity failures.
  • To combat this, global enterprises are beefing up their cybersecurity to avoid possible catastrophes.
  • Demand for cybersecurity professionals has more than doubled now from a year earlier after cybersecurity emerged as a key concern following the pandemic.
  • In 2021 alone, India will require some 70,000 people with crucial skills such as application development security, cloud security, risk management, threat intelligence, incident response, data privacy and security strategy.

3. EdTech needs an ethics policy

  • Since the onset of the pandemic, online education has replaced conventional classroom instruction. This has lead to the increasing use of EdTech apps.
  • The EdTech apps collect large quantities of data from the learners through the gadgets that the students use. These provide data about the learner’s surroundings along with intimate data about the students.
  • The privacy of students who use EdTech apps for learning is at risk.
    • The lack of a regulatory framework in India along the lines of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe could impinge on the privacy of students who use educational technology (EdTech) apps for learning. Private data collected by an EdTech company can be misused or sold to other companies with no oversight or protection.
    • Children use these apps without parent or adult supervision. Intrusion of privacy can happen unnoticed.
  • Given these realities, it is necessary to formulate an ethics policy for EdTech companies through the active participation of educators, researchers, parents, learners and industry experts. Issues of fairness, safety, confidentiality and anonymity of the user would have to be dealt with.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q.1 The Bolshevik Party and its revolution was concerned with which country? 
  1. France
  2. Russia
  3. Venezuela
  4. Turkey
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • In 1917, leftist revolutionaries led by Bolshevik Party leader Vladimir Lenin launched a nearly bloodless coup against the Duma’s provisional government and seized power. This is referred to as the October Revolution of Russia or the Bolshevik Revolution.
Q.2 Which states/UTs are involved in the Cauvery river dispute?
  1. Karnataka
  2. Tamil Nadu
  3. Kerala
  4. Puducherry
  5. Andhra Pradesh

Options:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1, 2 and 3 only
  3. 1, 2, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 4 and 5 only
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • The Cauvery river basin is spread across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

Cauvery Basin

Q.3 What is Iron Dome of Israel?
  1. A sacred religious site which is revered by both Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews
  2. An advanced cyber weapon developed by Israeli intelligence to target Iran’s critical infrastructure
  3. A mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells
  4. Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza strip to deny essential supplies to Hamas militants in the Gaza strip
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defense system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells.
Q.4 Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?
  1. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  2. Index of Industrial Production (IIP) represents the status of production in the industrial sector for a given period of time as compared to a reference period of time.
  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period. It shows the growth rates in different industry groups of the economy in a stipulated period of time.
  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO) (formerly known as Central Statistical Organization) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
Q.5 The terms ‘Event Horizon’, ‘Singularity’, 'String Theory’ and ‘Standard Model’ are 
sometimes seen in the news in the context of -
  1. Observation and understanding of the Universe
  2. Study of the solar and the lunar eclipses
  3. Placing satellites in the orbit of the Earth
  4. Origin and evolution of living organisms on the Earth
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Event horizon, boundary marking the limits of a black hole. At the event horizon, the escape velocity is equal to the speed of light. Since general relativity states that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, nothing inside the event horizon can ever cross the boundary and escape beyond it, including light. Thus, nothing that enters a black hole can get out or can be observed from outside the event horizon.
  • A gravitational singularity, spacetime singularity or simply singularity is a location in spacetime where the density and gravitational field of a celestial body is predicted to become infinite by general relativity.
  • In physics, string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. String theory describes how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Imprisonment practices need a relook so that the police do not effect unnecessary arrests. Evaluate the statement in the context of prison reforms. (250 words; 15 marks) [GS-2, Polity and Governance]
  2. ASEAN has created a rare pathway to help Myanmar move forward from its political crisis. Examine. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-2, International Relations]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 13th May 2021:- Download PDF Here

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