21 May 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 21st May 2021:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India in touch with Iran over Farzad B, says govt.
2. China completes Tibet highway
3. U.S., Russia at odds over military activity in the Arctic
4. Sri Lanka Parliament passes Bill on China­-backed Port City
HEALTH
1. Declare mucormycosis an epidemic: Centre to States
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. World’s largest iceberg breaks off
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. Can the economy survive the second COVID-19 wave?
GOVERNANCE
1. The outdated nature of bureaucracy
HEALTH
1. The fault line of poor health infrastructure
F. Prelims Facts
1. Delhi HC asks hospitals to install oxygen plants
G. Tidbits
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. China completes Tibet highway

Context:

China has completed the construction of a strategic highway through the Brahmaputra Canyon.

China’s Border Infrastructure push – Strategic significance:

  • The strategically significant highway through the world’s deepest canyon is in Tibet along the Brahmaputra river.
    • It passes through the Grand Canyon of the Yarlung Zangbo river, as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet.
    • It enables greater access to remote areas along the disputed border with Arunachal Pradesh in India.
    • The construction began in 2014 and is part of a wider infrastructure push in border areas in Tibet.
  • In November 2020, China began work on a strategically important railway line — its second major rail link to Tibet that will link Sichuan province with Nyingchi.
    • The first one was the Qinghai-Tibet railway that opened in 2006.
    • The Chinese President called it a major step in safeguarding national unity and a significant move in promoting the economic and social development of the western region.
    • The railway would act as a ‘fast track’ for the delivery of strategic materials in the time of crisis.
  • Another part of the border infrastructure push is the construction of new civilian settlements, along with the expansion of existing smaller hamlets, along border areas, some of which lie in disputed territories claimed by India and Bhutan, to strengthen China’s control over the land.
  • In 2017, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government launched a plan to build moderately well-off villages along China’s borders with India, Bhutan and Nepal.

Concerns:

  • In 2020, satellite images emerged showing a new village called Pangda built 2-3 km into what Bhutan sees as its land.
  • In 2021, a village built 4-5 km into what India sees as its territory in Arunachal was seen via satellite images.
    • Indian officials said this land has been under China’s effective control since 1959 and there were military barracks there earlier.

Conclusion:

  • The civilian settlements, along with the new infrastructure connectivity, are seen as aimed at bolstering China’s control over the areas.

3. U.S., Russia at odds over military activity in the Arctic

Context:

A campaign is being led by the Biden administration against Russian attempts to assert authority over Arctic shipping.

Details:

  • Russia assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May 2021.
  • Following this, the U.S. rallied members to oppose Moscow’s plans to set maritime rules in the Northern Sea Route and its desire to resume military talks within the council.
    • Those talks were suspended in 2014 over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
  • The US Secretary of State stressed the importance of upholding effective governance and the rule of law to ensure that the “Arctic remains a region free of conflict where countries act responsibly.”

Concerns:

  • Russia has become active in the region due to the effects of climate change.
  • The effort reflects growing concerns in Washington and among some NATO allies about a surge in Russian military and commercial activity in the region.

Northern Sea Route:

Northern Sea Route

Image source: https://www.economist.com/

  • The Northern Sea Route is one of several Arctic shipping routes.
  • The Northern Sea Route runs from Norway to Alaska.
    • It runs from the Barents Sea, near Russia’s border with Norway, to the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska.
  • The entire route lies in Arctic waters and within Russia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

4. Sri Lanka Parliament passes Bill on China­-backed Port City

Context:

The Sri Lankan Parliament passed a controversial bill on laws governing the China-backed Colombo Port City.

Details:

  • The $1.4-billion Colombo Port City was launched in 2014 during the previous term of the Rajapaksa government, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the nation.
  • It is currently being built on land reclaimed alongside Colombo’s iconic seafront.
  • Environmentalists and fisherfolk have opposed the move.

This issue has been covered in UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis. May 19th, 2021 CNA.
Category: HEALTH

1. Declare mucormycosis an epidemic: Centre to States

Context:

The Union government has asked the States to declare mucormycosis an epidemic.

  • Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have already declared the fungal infection being reported in COVID-19 patients an epidemic.

Read more on this topic covered in the 20th May 2021 Comprehensive News Analysis.

Details:

  • A new challenge in the form of a fungal infection, namely mucormycosis, has emerged and is reported from many States amongst COVID-19 patients, especially those on steroid therapy and deranged sugar control.
  • This infection is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality amongst COVID-19 patients.
  • The main line of treatment is an anti-fungal drug called Amphotericin B, which is given over an extended period of time. Surgery might also be warranted.

Read more on Mucormycosis [Black Fungus]

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. The outdated nature of bureaucracy

Background:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major challenge to public administration and has tested the resilience of all public institutions.
  • The bureaucracy is being blamed for its ineffective response to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Academicians and public administration experts have pointed out the outdated nature of public bureaucracy for its ineffectiveness.

Concerns:

Continued reliance on traditional bureaucratic structures:

  • The article laments the fact that even in this 21st century, democratic countries are still relying on traditional bureaucracies (Weberian bureaucracy model) to perform public policy formulation and implementation roles despite such structures having outlived their relevance.
  • Some of the major lacunae with respect to the Weberian bureaucratic approach are as follows:
    • Continued preference for generalists over specialists
      • In such a system, specialists in every government department have to remain subordinate to the generalist officers despite their superior domain knowledge.
      • The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weakness of such an approach. The lack of authority to healthcare professionals who are specialists to carry out policy formulation can be counted as one of the major lacunae in our policy response to the pandemic.
    • Weberian bureaucracy prefers leadership of position over leadership of function.
      • Leadership of function is when a person has expert knowledge of a particular responsibility in a particular situation and is capable of and authorized to respond to evolving situations rather than relying on dictation from someone occupying a particular position.
      • This acts as a major limitation for decentralized governance which is more effective. This has resulted in a situation where the bureaucracy has become an end in itself rather than a means to an end, which is, improved governance and socio-economic development of the society.
    • The rigid adherence to rules in the traditional bureaucratic structure has been an area of major concern.
      • The strict adherence to process and rules has resulted in COVID-19 aid getting stuck in cumbersome clearance processes even during the pandemic.
      • The rigid emphasis on the following of rules and regulations and the fear of official sanctions have resulted in the rejection of innovation from public officials.

Limitations of outright privatization:

  • In the light of the lacunae in the existent bureaucratic structure, there have been growing calls for a new public management in India, which promotes privatisation and managerial techniques of the private sector as an effective tool to seek improvements in public service delivery and governance.
  • However, it should be noted that outright privatization may not be a viable solution in India where there is social inequality and regional variations in development.
  • The private sector is driven by the motive of profits and hence would cater only to people and areas where their operations are financially viable. They would not be able to serve the poor due to his/her inability to pay for the private sector’s work.
  • Such an approach renders the state as a mere bystander among the multiple market players with accountability being constantly shifted, especially during a crisis. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that the private sector has failed in public service delivery.

Recommendations:

Collaborative governance:

  • The most appropriate administrative reform to ensure more effective public governance is aiming for collaborative governance in which the public sector, private players and civil society, especially public service organisations (NGOs), work together for effective public service delivery.
  • Benefits of such a system:
    • Such a system would ensure that there is no domination of public bureaucracy in policy formulation and implementation. This can help change the behaviour of bureaucracy towards governance and also help initiate public service reforms – relook at the generalist versus specialist debate, openness to reforms such as lateral entry and collaboration with a network of social actors.
    • In such a system the existing network of social actors and private players would take responsibility in various aspects of governance with public bureaucracy coordinating the efforts. Such a structure would allow the institutionalization of the critical role being played by civil society. This will help in scaling the impact of effective civil societies.
      • Civil society has been playing a major role during the pandemic.
    • The collaboration of public bureaucracy with the private and social society has had a profound impact on public service delivery as seen in the following cases.
      • Green Revolution (M.S. Swaminathan), the White Revolution (Verghese Kurien), Aadhaar-enabled services (Nandan Nilekani) and the IT revolution (Sam Pitroda).

Conclusion:

  • The public sector, private players and civil society should all work together for public service delivery.
  • Such new public governance which can help address the various lacunae and make public administration more effective is the future of governance, especially public service delivery in India.

Category: HEALTH

1. The fault line of poor health infrastructure

  • The article analyzes some of the major lacunae in India’s public health system. This topic has been previously discussed in the following articles:

UPSC Comprehensive News Analysis of 11th May 2021

UPSC Comprehensive News Analysis of 14th May 2021

F. Prelims Facts

1. Delhi HC asks hospitals to install oxygen plants

What’s in News?

In the backdrop of acute shortage of medical oxygen, the Delhi High Court has asked big hospitals in the capital to install Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants.

Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants
  • Pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen generating plants are a source of medical-grade oxygen.
  • Pressure swing adsorption (PSA) is a technology used to separate some gas species from a mixture of gases under pressure.
  • PSA operates at near-ambient temperatures (temperature relating to the immediate surroundings) and differs significantly from cryogenic distillation techniques of gas separation.
  • Cryogenic separation is a commercial process that takes place at very low temperature.

Also read: Pressure Swing Adsorption Working Technology, Oxygen Concentrators 

G. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following statements about pardoning powers of the Governor is/are correct?
  1. The Governor can pardon, reprieve, respite, remit, suspend or commute a death sentence.
  2. Governor does not have the power to pardon the sentence inflicted by a court-martial on the convict.

Options:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Unlike the President of India, the Governor does not have the power to pardon a death sentence.
  • A governor can reprieve, respite, remit, suspend or commute a death sentence.
  • Governor does not have the power to pardon the sentence inflicted by a court-martial on the convict.
Q2. A-76 recently seen in news is 
  1. A team of research scholars visiting Antarctica in an attempt to measure pollution and climate change
  2. A project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) to understand the pole’s gravity field
  3. A large iceberg that has broken off from the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica
  4. An experiment being conducted in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica, aimed at increasing CO sequestration through ocean iron fertilization
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

A huge ice block has broken off from Ronne Ice Shelf in Western Antarctica into the Weddell Sea, becoming the largest iceberg in the world. This has been named A-76.

Q3. Consider the following statements:
  1. Tropical cyclones have much more intense rainfall than temperate cyclones.
  2. Tropical cyclones are surrounded by closed isobars, the isobars of a temperate cyclone are generally elongated.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Tropical cyclones have much more intense rainfall than temperate cyclones.
  • Tropical cyclones are surrounded by closed isobars, the isobars of a temperate cyclone are generally elongated.
  • While the velocity of wind in a tropical cyclone is much higher and more damaging, the velocity of air in a temperate cyclone is comparatively lower.

Also read: Major Differences between Temperate Cyclone and Tropical Cyclone

Q4. Which of the following is/are the advantages of Northern Sea Route (NSR)?
  1. It could potentially cut the travel distance between East Asia and Western Europe.
  2. Substantial reductions in transportation time.
  3. Increased insurance costs and safety considerations.

Options:

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

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • The Northern Sea Route is one of several Arctic shipping routes along the Siberian coast in Russia.
  • The Northern Sea Route runs from Norway to Alaska.
    • It runs from the Barents Sea, near Russia’s border with Norway, to the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska.
  • It will help reduce the transportation time and cost.
  • It could potentially cut the travel distance between East Asia and Western Europe.
  • However, the disadvantage is that it would increase the insurance costs and safety considerations as the route is open only for 3 months of the year. The region is ice-free only during the summer.
Q5. Recombinant DNA technology (Genetic Engineering) allows genes to be transferred 
  1. across different species of plants
  2. from animals to plants
  3. from microorganisms to higher organisms

Select the correct answer using the codes given below. [UPSC 2013]

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

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • Genetic Engineering or Recombinant DNA technology allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between nonrelated species.
  • It allows genes to be transferred across different species of plants, from animals to plants and from microorganisms to higher organisms.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Despite predictions that ‘New Public Management’ would establish itself as the new paradigm of Public Administration, the future of governance is new public governance. Do you agree? Substantiate. (15 Marks, 250 Marks) [GS-2, Polity and Governance]
  2. The Centre’s attempt to introduce notable reforms in the system should not be at the cost of bypassing the State Governments. In the light of the statement, discuss the significance of cooperative federalism. (10 Marks, 150 Marks) [GS-2, Polity and Governance]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 21st May 2021:- Download PDF Here

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