20 May 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

20 May 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
GEOGRAPHY
1. 3 lakh evacuated as Amphan hurtles towards Bengal coast
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Behind new incidents, a changed dynamic along India-China border
2. ‘India, U.S. to collaborate on vaccine trials’
C. GS 3 Related
SECURITY
1. CBI alerts authorities to malware threat
2. COVID-19 unlikely to affect illicit drug supply
ECONOMY
1. Criteria for ‘medium’ units to be revised
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The changing nature of Chinese diplomacy
2. Pakistan as both terror perpetrator and victim
F. Prelims Facts
1. Hydroxychloroquine
2. A good year for Olive Ridley turtles
G. Tidbits
1. Reform or face fund cuts, Trump tells WHO
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. ‘India, U.S. to collaborate on vaccine trials’

Context:

India and the U.S. plan to work together on vaccine research and testing for COVID-19, U.S. health officials said, listing a number of other ways in which the two countries are working together.

Details:

  • U.S. and Indian scientists have been collaborating on key research questions fostering the development and testing of safe, cost-effective vaccines against a range of infectious diseases that could save innumerable lives in India, the United States, and around the world.
  • In the context of the current pandemic, partners under the Vaccine Action Programme (VAP) are planning to collaborate on the development and testing of vaccine candidates and diagnostics for COVID-19.
  • The U.S announced a donation of 200 ventilators to India. The ventilators, which will be paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), are part of the $5.9 million in funding announced till date for India.
  • The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said it would separately fund the Government of India $3.6 million to support prevention, preparedness, and response activities in India, in collaboration with and concurrence from the GoI.

Vaccine Action Programme (VAP):

  • The VAP is also known as the Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program (VAP).
  • It is a 33-year collaboration between the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) along with other partners.

2. COVID-19 unlikely to affect illicit drug supply

Context:

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released a report titled ‘Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia’.

Details:

  • According to the report, movement restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to an initial statistical reduction in drug seizures, but without a real change in terms of supply in the East and Southeast Asia region.
  • The UNODC said a large proportion of methamphetamine, the main synthetic drug of concern in the region, was manufactured, trafficked and consumed without the need for globalised supply chains.
  • The report states that re-ordering of governments’ priorities and resources towards the pandemic could also jeopardise the efforts to strengthen drug prevention and treatment programmes.
  • Organised crime groups active in the region have shown a high degree of flexibility to respond to shortages of supplies, raising risk levels on certain trafficking routes.
  • It said that not every fluctuation in terms of drug seizures, prices, drug-related arrests or deaths would be a direct or indirect consequence of the outbreak.
  • It warned that the flexibility of the illicit economy, which does not have to wait for new rules and regulations to enter into force, must not be underestimated.
  • Where movements were significantly affected, for instance, couriers and body-packing through airports, methods would change quickly, leading to an initial statistical reduction in seizures, but without a real change in terms of supply.
  • It said that additional efforts would be required at the national, regional and international levels to carefully analyse methods and trends to understand changes to drug markets in the wake of the pandemic.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Criteria for ‘medium’ units to be revised

Context:

The government has decided to further revise the criteria for medium-sized units after changing the definition of MSMEs.

Background:

  • Unveiling the contours of the ₹20-lakh-crore stimulus package, the Finance Minister had announced a change in the definition of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
  • After the revision, the investment limit has been revised upwards and an additional criterion of turnover has been introduced.
  • As per the revised definition:
    • MICRO: Any firm with an investment of up to ₹1 crore and turnover under ₹5 crore will be classified as ‘micro.’
    • SMALL: A company with an investment of up to ₹10 crore and a turnover of up to ₹50 crore will be classified as ‘small’.
    • MEDIUM: A firm with an investment of up to ₹20 crore and a turnover under ₹100 crore will be classified as ‘medium.’

Existing and Revised MSME Classifications

Details:

  • The government has now decided to further revise the criteria for ‘Medium sized units’ by enhancing the investment and turnover limits to up to ₹50 crore and ₹200 crore respectively.
  • The government plans to raise MSMEs’ contribution to India’s exports to 60% from the 48% at present, and also boost the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP from 29% currently to 50%.
  • It is also intended to create five crore new jobs.
  • The government plans to take advantage of the ‘blessing in disguise’ posed by the global ‘hatred against China’.

Significance:

  • Upward revision in their investment limit will help in the seamless expansion of small and medium businesses in the country. A robust MSME sector is key to improving the economic strength and resilience of the country and making it highly self-reliant and globally competitive.
  • There are around 6.3 crore MSME units in the country, with over 99 per cent categorised as small units.
  • The old definition that had a lower threshold prevented the companies to grow, thus, translating into losing out on benefits.
  • The new higher limits in investment and turnover may help companies grow.
  • It will help bring an increased number of MSME units access to institutional working capital.
  • This change matters for enterprises because there are benefits linked to it. These benefits range from loans under the priority sector lending scheme, a 25 per cent share in procurement by government and government-owned companies, promoters being allowed to bid for stressed assets under insolvency law as well as relief from the government and regulators from time to time.

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. The changing nature of Chinese diplomacy

Context:

  • The author of the article, Vijay Gokhale, a former Foreign Secretary of India, analyzes the changes in Chinese diplomacy over the years.

Zhou Enlai Era:

Strategy:

  • As against the charismatic Mao Zedong who had famously stated that “power flows out of the barrel of a gun”, Zhou Enlai opted for a more refined approach. Zhou Enlai adopted the strategy of persuasion and compromise to seduce his opponents and challengers both domestically and internationally.
  • The use of force was rare and only when all other means of persuasion failed.
  • The Chinese diplomatic strategy was consistent: avoid isolation, build solidarity with non-aligned countries, divide the West. The tactics were called ‘united front’ which involved isolating the main threat by building unity with all other forces.

Significant events:

War in Korean peninsula:

  • During the war in the Korean peninsula, Zhou Enlai first tried to convey Chinese concerns to the advancing U.S. forces against further advancement. This he tried to convey through diplomatic channels rather than choosing to do so in the public domain. This shows that Zhou Enlai always chose to give diplomacy a chance.
  • When, however, the U.S., regardless of Chinese concerns, crossed the 38th Parallel, the Chinese attacked and brought the U.S. forces to a standstill.

Indochina War:

  • In 1954, the Vietnamese were winning against the French in the First Indochina War, and the Americans were preparing to intervene on the side of the French, fearing an increasing spread of communism.
  • China’s self-interest lay in ending the war while denying the U.S. a foothold in its backyard.
  • Instead of direct confrontation, Zhou’s strategy was to undermine western unity. Zhou’s tactful intervention in placating French concerns played an important role in de-escalating tensions.

Bandung Conference:

  • At the Afro-Asian Conference of 1955 in Bandung, Zhou Enlai deliberately kept a low profile, allowing India and Indonesia to take the lead. This allowed China to create conducive conditions for establishing diplomatic work or diplomatic relations between China and a number of Afro-Asian countries.

Cold war era:

  • Despite being ideologically similar to Soviet Union, China navigated the Cold War deftly by playing the Soviets and Americans against each other.
  • China maintained ties with both blocs.

Taiwan issue:

  • In February 1972, Zhou Enlai persuaded U.S. President Richard Nixon to abandon Taiwan ties and adopt a one China policy, despite the fact that the communists had not exercised actual sovereignty over that island even for a single day since 1949. It was a staggering act of diplomacy.

Significance:

  • Zhou’s style of diplomacy came to define Chinese foreign policy over the next half-century.
  • This helped China expand its global presence and gain international acceptability.

Deng Xiaoping era:

  • Deng Xiaoping took over the Chinese premiership in the 1980s in the early days of China’s opening up to the outside world.

Strategy:

  • Deng supplemented Zhou’s strategy with a “24-Character Strategy” involving significant aspects like measured response to changes, securing gradually Chinese position in the global order, while hiding its capacities and maintaining a low profile and not claiming leadership.
  • The same strategy was employed by Chinese diplomats who measured their words and kept their dignity even while projecting power.
    • They built relationships by making it a point to engage the less-friendly interlocutors with greater courtesies than friends.
    • They resorted to extensive negotiations to understand the other side better.
    • Though occasionally and subtly they would hold out a veiled threat, their actions rarely offended any country.

Significant events:

  • China played host to many significant global leaders in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • China normalised relations with many nations and won over many nations through general financial help.
    • The successful Chinese diplomacy led to Americans breaking their own sanctions imposed after the 1989 ‘Tian An Men Incident’.
  • Based on Chinese assurances that it would soon transition to a market economy, the U.S. and the European Union helped steer China into the World Trade Organization.

Current era:

  • China has begun to occupy centre stage in world diplomacy, but there have been significant changes in the Chinese Diplomatic efforts.

Strategy:

  • The most distinctive aspects of current Chinese diplomacy are:
    • More assertive approach.
    • Lesser emphasis on persuasion and negotiations and increasing unilateralism.
    • Lesser tolerance of countries taking actions contrary to Chinese wishes.
    • Adoption of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Recent events:

  • The Chinese have pursued unilateralism instead of negotiations in the South China Sea.
  • China has resorted to repeated border skirmishes with neighbouring countries.
  • China has not been accepting blame for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concerns:

  • Unilateralism and a one-size-fits-all approach have replaced the Zhou and Deng strategy of persuasion and compromise.
  • The reserves of goodwill earned by China over years are fast depleting.
  • Post-COVID-19, China would be operating in a very difficult external environment.

Quotes:

  • U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt on diplomacy- “If you can speak softly and carry a big stick: you will go far”.

2. Pakistan as both terror perpetrator and victim

Context:

  • The author of the article analyses how Pakistan is both possibly the leading perpetrator of terrorism and also a victim of terrorism.

Terrorism as a policy:

  • Many of the current terrorist groups were deliberately created by the Pakistani state to serve its purposes.
  • The Pakistani state has involved itself in a deliberate policy of creating and fostering terrorist groups in order to engage in low intensity warfare with its neighbours.

Afghanistan:

  • Pakistan first operationalized this strategy in Afghanistan following the overthrow of Zahir Shah by his cousin Daud Khan in 1973, and intensified it with the cooperation of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia after the Marxist coup of 1978.
  • It continues to provide support to forces which are fighting against the democratically elected government in Afghanistan.
  • Also read: Saur Revolution

India:

  • The Soviet withdrawal in 1989 left the Pakistani military with a large surplus of trained fighters that it had funded and armed. Pakistan, by pushing these fighting groups into Kashmir, has tried intensifying the insurgency in the Kashmir Valley.

Threat by terrorism to Pakistan:

Radicalization:

  • The Afghan episode radicalised a substantial segment of the Pakistani population, especially in the North-West Frontier Province and Punjab.

Deepened sectarian divisions:

  • The Afghan episode also augmented sectarian divisions, not only between Sunnis and Shias, but also among various Sunni sects, especially between the puritanical Deobandis and the more syncretic and Sufi-oriented Barelvis.

Attacks within Pakistan:

  • With changed positions, wherein the Pakistan government, under American pressure, decided to collaborate with the US in the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, there have been increased terrorist attacks against the Pakistani establishment.
    • Terrorist organizations, like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has ideological affinity with the Afghan Taliban, has fought pitched battles with the Pakistan Army in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and parts of the NWFP (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa).
    • Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) given its ideological and sectarian inclinations has been engaged in launching terrorist attacks on targets within Pakistan as well, especially against the Shias and Sufi shrines.

Fallacy of categorizing terrorists:

  • The Pakistani efforts to support organizations allied with the Pakistani establishment’s interests, while curtailing other terrorist organizations seem to have backfired.
    • Pakistani establishments’ ability to control the various terrorist outfits is uneven and some of them have turned against the Pakistani establishment.
    • The use of terrorist outfits for state objectives involves huge risks given the potential blowback and negative consequences for the stability of the Pakistani state itself.

India’s concerns:

  • A number of terrorist groups have emerged inside Pakistan, which the Pakistan Army has co-opted for its use in Kashmir and the rest of India.

Terrorist attacks on India:

  • Apart from the Mumbai attack of 2008, the attack on the Indian Parliament and other high profile attacks on India, terrorist attacks continue unabated in Kashmir.

Continued support for terrorist organizations:

  • The evidence in the Mumbai attack of 2008 clearly indicates terrorist organizations’ operations are coordinated with the Inter-Services Intelligence, that provides it with intelligence and logistical support in addition to identifying specific targets.
  • The Lashkar-e-Taiba  (LeT) and its front organisations responsible for various attacks in India have continued to receive the Pakistani military’s patronage and support.
  • Hafiz Saeed was, until recently, provided protection by the Pakistani state despite being designated an international terrorist by the UN and the U.S. putting a $10 million bounty on his head.

Non sincere measures against terrorist organizations:

  • The recent sentencing of Saeed to 11 years for terror financing activities seems to be a move to stave off the global anti-terror watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), blacklisting Pakistan as a terror financing state.

Terrorism as a global threat:

  • The terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan poses risks not only for its immediate neighbourhood and the Pakistani state itself, but the whole world at large.
  • Borrowing from the line,  “poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere”, in the case of terrorism it could be stated that “terrorism anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere”.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Hydroxychloroquine

What’s in News?

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to help ward off the COVID-19 infection.

  • The drug, traditionally used in the treatment of malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, has not been proven to be effective in COVID-19 prevention or treatment.
  • It is a medication used to prevent and treat malaria in areas where malaria remains sensitive to chloroquine.
  • Hydroxychloroquine is found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies.
  • Its use in prophylaxis (treatment given or action taken to prevent disease) is derived from the available evidence of benefit as treatment, and supported by preclinical data.
  • Hydroxychloroquine is an interferon blocker, and works by diminishing the immune system’s response to viral infections.
  • A hyperactive response by the immune system is said to be primarily responsible for pneumonia, also a fallout of a severe COVID-19 infection.
  • Hydroxychloroquine is known to have a variety of side-effects, and can in some cases harm the heart.
  • These dosages are also linked to instances of cardiac arrhythmia and liver damage.
  • Wide usage may handicap people’s ability to fight the infection.

Note:

India, a major producer of HCQ, had sent shipments of the drug to the U.S., days after Mr. Trump had asked India to lift a ban on the drug’s export.

2. A good year for Olive Ridley turtles

What’s in News?

Mass hatching of the Olive Ridley turtle eggs has ended at the Rushikulya rookery on the Odisha coast.

  • Lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic reduced human presence during the mass nesting period, the incubation and the mass hatching along the Rushikulya rookery coast.
  • Following the mass mating that takes place at sea near the coast, male Olive Ridleys begin their return journey to destinations several hundred kilometres away.
  • After the mass nesting, the female turtles do the same.
  • The eggs, laid in nests dug along the beach, incubate on their own with the help of the heat from the sand.
  • Depending on the temperature of the sand, the eggs hatch in about 45 to 60 days.

This topic has been covered in 26th March 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

G. Tidbits

1. Reform or face fund cuts, Trump tells WHO

What’s in News?

The World Health Assembly (WHA) met virtually to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concern:

  • During the virtual meeting, U.S. President Donald Trump told the World Health Organization (WHO) that the U.S. will make permanent its funding cuts to the organisation and consider leaving it, if it did not commit to major substantial reform within the next 30 days.

Details:

  • Trump had temporarily stopped the funding and begun a review of the WHO’s handling of the pandemic, which the President and others in his administration have repeatedly criticised.
  • What is particularly being targeted is the global health body’s relationship to China.
  • Trump’s letter largely consisted of a list of criticism of the WHO’s handling of the pandemic.
  • It also compared Mr. Ghebreyesus’s handling of the situation to former WHO chief Gro Harlem Brundtland’s handling of SARS in 2003.
  • Trump said the only way forward for the WHO would be to demonstrate independence from China.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements:
  1. More cyclones are formed in the Bay of Bengal than in the Arabian Sea.
  2. Tropical cyclones are characterised by a low-pressure centre.
  3. The most dangerous and destructive part of a tropical cyclone is the eyewall.

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

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
See
Answer
Q2. ‘Cerberus’ recently seen in news is a:
  1. Trojan
  2. Ransomware
  3. Spyware
  4. Worm
See
Answer
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to Olive Ridley Turtle:
  1. They are classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.
  2. They are classified under Schedule 1 in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  3. Hope Island of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh is one of the major breeding grounds for these turtles.

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

  1. 1 only
  2. 3 only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. None of the above
See
Answer
Q4. Consider the following pairs:
  1. Hatiya Island : Bangladesh
  2. Sagar Island: India
  3. Bhashan Char Island : Myanmar

Which of these is/are correctly matched?

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

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The Pakistani state’s deliberate policy of creating and fostering terrorist groups in order to engage in low intensity warfare with its neighbours has also created big concerns for itself. Comment. Also evaluate the global risks of such a policy. (15 marks, 250 words)
  2. Given the Pakistani establishment’s doctrine of bleeding India with a thousand cuts by using insurgents and waging a covert war against India, analyze what should be India’s response to effectively counter this threat. (15 marks, 250 words)

Read the previous CNA here.

20 May 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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