23 May 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis


A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
1. India to join anti-terror meet in Pak.
2. U.S. may sell armed UAVs to India
1. Sharma to visit J&K for ceasefire review
C. GS3 Related
1. Model law for contract farming
2. Small farmers get a raw deal
1. Air quality causes premature deaths
2. Trade in tokay geckos continues in Bengal
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
1. The Nipah test
1. Keeping each other on edge
1. The fading appeal of soft power
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related


1. India to join anti-terror meet in Pak.

  • India is likely to send senior representatives to discuss legal modalities of counter-terrorism for a meeting that Pakistan will host along with the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
  • The consultations in Islamabad is part of India’s commitment to fight international terrorism along with the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). India will make a powerful case on fighting terrorism in the world.
  • The confirmation came after Pakistan welcomed legal experts from India, China and other member countries who will participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) that will be meeting in Islamabad.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) 

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai, China by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS)

  • The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
  • The Head of RATS is elected to a three-year term. Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS.

2. U.S. may sell armed UAVs to India

  • The U.S. is close to selling armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to India and the legislative process for that is underway.
  • India has long sought the capability which could be used to target terrorist camps and launchpads across the border.
  • A waiver is required to enable the sale of armed UAVs to India and the legislative process is underway. It is likely to be the big outcome of the India-U.S. two-plus-two dialogue to be held in July in Washington.
  • If the proposed sale of armed UAVs goes through, India would be among the rare few countries to be sold the high-end U.S. technology, even among closest US allies.

Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

  • Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), often referred to as drones, are defined as aircraft designed to operate without a pilot on board. Armed UAVs carry ordnance and are remotely controlled by a human from the ground and are not fully autonomous.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are not regulated by specific international treaties that relate to their use, production, or trade. To determine the legality of the use of UAVs in warfare, there must be an examination of current treaty law as well as its application and regulation to conventional weapons.
  • Armed UAVs are conventional weapons and are therefore regulated under the many treaties which regulate such weapons, including the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions, and the Arms Trade Treaty.


1. Sharma to visit J&K for ceasefire review

  • The Centre’s Special Representative, Dineshwar Sharma, will visit the Kashmir Valley for the first time since the Centre announced suspension of operations.
  • Sharma’s visit is significant as it was on the basis of a report compiled by him with the Intelligence Bureau and the J&K police that the suspension of operations was announced ahead of the month of Ramzan on May 16.
  • A senior government official said it was too early to make an assessment on the suspension, but various reports from the Valley suggested that it was holding.
  • Quoting a report from the J&K police, a senior government official said only five incidents of stone throwing were reported in the State from May 17 to 21, the first five days of suspension.
  • To put it in perspective, 92 incidents of stone throwing were witnessed in the first five days of April this year when operations against militants by security forces were in full swing.
  • Sharma is expected to visit parts of north Kashmir in his fifth visit since his appointment last year. An official said that in the past Mr. Sharma’s visits were overshadowed by operations of security forces and he had little to offer to Kashmiris whenever he met them.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Model law for contract farming

In news

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Sharma released the model law.

Objectives of the Model Law

  • It is aimed at reducing farmers’ risks by creating an assured market for their produce at a pre-agreed price, while encouraging investment from agribusiness and food processing industries by enhancing productivity and cost efficiency.
  • It provides for State-level boards to be set-up to promote and facilitate — rather than regulate — contract farming, and sets out a framework for registering and recording agreements.
  • It also provides for a dispute settlement authority. The model law stipulates that the sponsor will not be allowed to build any permanent structure on the farmers’ land.
  • Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority chaired the committee that drafted the model law.
  • In India, 86% of farmers fall into the small and marginal category. The average farm size is 1.15 hectares, so there is no efficiency of scale. While collectivisation would improve efficiency, consolidation of farmlands is not possible under the Indian system. Instead, the produce of farmers needs to be aggregated.

2. Small farmers get a raw deal

  • The small and marginal farmers are missing out on the bulk of agricultural credit, as per information provided by the Reserve Bank of India, which showed they are receiving only 30-40% of loans meant for the sector.
  • As per a report submitted by the RBI to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in response to its queries, only 42.2% of agricultural credit disbursed in 2016-17 went to small and marginal farmers.
  • There are two ways of seeing this. One is that it is not equitable, where some farmers, the larger ones and the ones closer to urban areas, are over-represented in terms of access to credit.

Issues with PSL

  • Insofar as the priority sector lending mandates are concerned, the mandate is not to reach a particular type of farmer. So, the programme itself is not targeted.
  • The RBI’s rules are that 18% of a bank’s Adjusted Net Bank Credit must go to the agricultural sector and within this, 8% must go to small and marginal farmers. While the banking sector has overall met this limit, there is still an inherent targeting problem arising out of the costs of lending to the sector.
  • The priority sector lending mandate is in place because it is felt that banks would not otherwise lend as much to this sector. So, there are some costs of lending to this sector, and if they are not given this mandate, because of this cost they would not lend as much to the agricultural sector as the government would like them to.
  • What then happens, he explained, is that banks choose to lend to those areas where the cost of lending is lower, such as those close to urban areas, or to those farmers who are more credit-worthy. That is, the medium and large farmers.
  • The RBI data backs up this assertion, showing that only 34.5% of agricultural credit outstanding as of 2017 has gone to rural farmers.
  • The remaining has gone to semi-urban, urban, and metropolitan farmers.
  • The point is that these farmers would get credit even without the priority sector lending mandate. It tells you that this calls for a deeper examination of the priority sector lending mandates.
  • The data also shows that the onus of providing agricultural credit is falling on the public sector banks, with 12 out of 23 of the private sector banks for which data is available having failed to meet the 18% lending target for the agricultural sector in 2017.


1. Air quality causes premature deaths

In news

  • Worsening air quality in the last two decades has emerged as one of the major reasons for high numbers of premature deaths, says a new study conducted in 11 north Indian cities.
  • The findings titled ‘Know what you breathe’, released here on Tuesday, were researched by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi in collaboration with environmental NGO Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED).

Highlights of the Study

  • The report found annual mortality linked to air pollution to be in the range of 150-300 persons per 1 lakh population.
  • The study was conducted in seven cities of Uttar Pradesh (Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Varanasi and Gorakhpur), three cities of Bihar (Patna, Gaya and Muzaffarpur), and the capital of Jharkhand, Ranchi.
  • Kanpur recorded the highest number of premature deaths per year (4,173) due to chronic exposure to air pollution, followed by Lucknow (4,127), Agra (2,421), Meerut (2,044), Varanasi (1,581), Allahabad (1,443) and Gorakhpur (914).

Causes of Death

  • The study calculated the annual mortality burden through averages of recorded deaths caused due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Acute Lower Respiratory Infection (ALRI), coronary disease, stroke, and lung cancer, in these cities. COPD was the largest cause of the deaths (at 29.7%) and lung cancer the lowest (0.6%).
  • The largest share in total burden was attributed to ALRI in Agra and Meerut, and to COPD in Allahabad, Gaya, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Patna, Muzaffarpur and Varanasi.
  • The estimates should not be perceived as instant deaths clarifying that they represent premature earlier than the expected lifetime of the Indian population deaths due to chronic exposure from pollution.
  • However, it isn’t possible to validate these estimates, as cause-specific mortality data do not exist in India. Premature mortality burden would reduce by 14%-28% annually with the achievement of Indian air quality standards in these cities, the report said.
  • Using satellite-based high-resolution PM2.5 database to generate particulate matter statistics for the past 17 years, the report concludes that the mean annual ambient fine particulate matter concentration was 75-120% higher than the Indian annual air quality standard in the 10 of the 11 cities.
  • The study has attributed residential (cooking, heating and lighting) sources as the largest contributors to annual ambient PM2.5 concentration (73.8%).
  • The analysis of aerosol composition indicates a higher percentage of sulphates, organic carbons and black carbon emitted primarily from anthropogenic sources.

2. Trade in tokay geckos continues in Bengal

In news

  • Even as the International Day for Biological Diversity was celebrated, the Border Security Force (BSF) seized three tokay geckos from West Bengal’s Malda and Murshidabad districts.
  • The smugglers were carrying the geckos in wire mesh cages concealed in nylon carry bags when they were intercepted by a BSF patrol party and handed over to the Divisional Forest Officer, Malda.
  • While six tokay geckos have been seized by the South Bengal Frontier of the BSF in 2018, the Siliguri Frontier of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in north Bengal seized 24 tokay geckos between November 2017 and April 2018

Reason for smuggling

  • The tokay gecko or Gekko gecko, a lizard species with orange-spotted blue-grey skin, is protected under the Schedule III of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. Data made available by the SSB says more than 100 tokay geckos were seized between 2014 and 2017 across its different frontiers.
  • Seizures at border checkpoints would yield no results unless there was some intervention at the forests and habitats from where the animal was seized.
  • Smugglers raised false hype about the medicinal value of these wildlife species to create a demand for them both within and outside India.
  • It was because of the spurt in smuggling that tokay geckos were brought under the Schedule III. Geckos above 13 cm in length and over 350 grams in weight fetch exorbitantly high prices in China and parts of South Asia.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: HEALTH

1. The Nipah test

Why in news

  • Age-old practices of infection control are crucial to limit the deadly outbreak
  • The outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus around Kozhikode, Kerala, is a test of India’s capacity to respond to public health emergencies.


  • In 2018, the World Health Organisation listed Nipah as one of the 10 priority pathogens needing urgent research, given its ability to trigger lethal outbreaks and the lack of drugs available against it.
  • As an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus, Nipah has an exceptional rate of mutation — that is, it can easily adapt to spread more efficiently among humans than it does now.
  • Such an adaptation would result in a truly dangerous microbe.
  • Nipah already kills up to 70% of those it infects, through a mix of symptoms that include encephalitis, a brain inflammation marked by a coma state, disorientation, and long-lasting after-effects, such as convulsions, in those who survive.
  • Thankfully, in most outbreaks in South Asia so far the virus has displayed a “stuttering chain of transmission”.
  • This means that once the virus spreads from fruit bats, its natural reservoir, to humans, it moves mainly to people in close contact with patients, such as hospital staff and family caregivers.
  • But these caregivers are at high risk, because the sicker the patients become, the more virus they secrete.
  • Preliminary reports suggest that the Kozhikode outbreak is also displaying a stuttering chain of transmission.
  • Of the 11 confirmed Nipah fatalities, three were from the same family. While researchers are still investigating how they were exposed, a bat colony living in a well in the family’s yard is a strong suspect.

Early Outbreak

  • This fits in with how outbreaks have historically begun in the subcontinent.
  • In a 2007 outbreak in Nadia, West Bengal, for example, patient zero is believed to have acquired the virus from palm liquor contaminated by bat droppings.
  • The next wave of infections have historically occurred among close contacts and caregivers, such as nurses; the same pattern has been detected in Kozhikode as well.
  • But these are preliminary reports, and new information may change what we know about the present virus.
  • Several patients with symptoms of infection are under observation.
  • Only when clinical investigations are complete can it be determined how contagious the virus really is.
  • If it is found travelling over long distances, the authorities will have to be ready with strategies to combat its spread.
  • The good news is that Kerala’s public health systems have acted with extraordinary efficiency so far.
  • Doctors identified the virus in the very second patient, a diagnostic speed unrivalled in developing countries.
  • This must be commended.


  • The death of a nurse shows that health-care workers may not be taking adequate precautions when dealing with patients, by using masks and following a strict hand-wash regimen.
  • The virus has no specific treatment.
  • The best defences against it are the age-old principles of infection control, which Indian hospitals have not mastered as yet.
  • Kerala’s health authorities must ensure these principles are widely adopted, and no preventable transmission takes place.


1. Keeping each other on edge

Why in news

  • Anguish about the tussles between the executive and the judiciary is misplaced
  • A series of stormy issues between the executive, the powers that be and the judiciary has had the common man clutching his head in despair.
  • The shrillness in public discussions leaves him with an uncomfortably distinct impression that this is the end of the road for an independent judiciary.
  • Such anguish, however, exposes a poor understanding of the complex web that constitutional relations between the three organs of the state — the executive, the judiciary and the legislature — inevitably are.

Brief overview

  • Every developed constitutional democracy in the world has had its share of such showdowns. But at the end of the day, such tussles have only strengthened democracy and not weakened its structure as the history of constitutional governance the world over would attest.
  • In England, in 2003, the then government announced the abolition of the office of the Lord Chancellor (who traditionally also headed the judiciary) and further declared that a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was to be established without so much as consulting or informing the judiciary. This resulted in huge public outcry.
  • Perhaps it is high time India takes a serious look at an option such as this.

The chain

  • The three organs of the state are like three chains that hold the structure of the state together. “If one chain slackens, then another needs to take the strain.
  • However, so long as there is no danger of the chain breaking, the fact that this happens is not a manifestation of weakness but strength.”

Historical Background

  • In India, even when there was no strict separation of powers, we had the remarkable case of John Peter Grant who was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bombay in 1829.
  • He asserted his judicial powers in a striking manner in the celebrated case of Moro Raghunath. Raghunath was orphaned at the age of 14. The British placed him in the guardianship of a person called Pandurang Ram who was related to the Peshwas.
  • The Bombay government was committed to treat him as a privileged ward.
  • The guardianship was contested by Raghunath’s father-in-law who filed a habeas corpus before the Supreme Court of Bombay contending that Raghunath had been illegally detained by Pandurang Ram.
  • A writ was issued, but the government of the day headed by John Malcom as Governor refused to obey it.
  • Instead the Governor wrote to the judges to refrain from any conduct which would have, “the effect of producing open collision between our authority and yours” Grant, responded to this by simply shutting down all the courts in Bombay contending, “I have therefore to announce that the court has ceased on all its sides, and that I shall perform none of the functions of a Judge of the Supreme Court until the court received an assurance that its authority will be respected and its process obeyed and respected and rendered effectual by the Government of this Presidency.”
  • This raging struggle between the government and the judiciary ultimately was resolved with the intervention of the Privy Council on a technical issue relating to jurisdiction.
  • However, it serves to remind us that the judiciary versus executive conflict in this country has a long history and with the coming of the doctrine of separation of powers, tensions are inevitable.

Judicial independence

  • The tensions that ran high during the Emergency between the executive and the judiciary are too well known and documented to merit repetition here.
  • Catastrophic as each of these instances was considered when it occurred, judicial independence remains unaffected and firm in these countries even today.
  • Constitutional principles such as the independence of the judiciary in a well-established system of democratic governance are tall towers built on the sure foundations of tried and tested principles. They do not come apart at the trace of a slight tempest.


  • In a bygone era, authority was accepted on principles set by a culture of reverence.
  • Today none of the three organs of the state is inclined to extend this privilege to the other.
  • Therefore, every constitutional authority can seek to validate its action only on the touchstone of reason and conformity to the constitutional ethos.
  • Concerns about the independence of the judiciary being in peril have set alarm bells ringing.
  • However, these are neither meant to escalate tensions nor to confound the common man but are to be treated as a wake-up call to the constitutional authorities concerned to get their act together and resolve issues amicably within the larger constitutional framework.


1. The fading appeal of soft power

Why in news

  • Recent strategic decisions indicate a post-normative turn in India’s foreign policy
  • In India’s evolving foreign policy imagination, the pursuit of power and influence seems to eclipse the country’s traditions of normative behaviour and principled positions.
  • The jury is still out on whether by shedding its normative shibboleths New Delhi is finally doing what states typically do, and whether or not its post-normative turn will negatively impact its national interests.

The rise of realpolitik

  • The Central government frankly told the Supreme Court, “we don’t want India to become a refugee capital,” even as the Border Security Force (BSF) had been pushing back Rohingya refugees from the eastern borders.
  • India’s stand vis-à-vis Rohingya refugees is an indication of how new India proposes to deal with humanitarian issues in its neighbourhood.
  • Its approach to the Rohingya crisis (i.e. its refusal to admit people fleeing for their lives into the country or to ask Myanmar to address the human rights violations against its Rohingya population) is informed by several realpolitik considerations.
  • At the domestic political level, there is a religious rationale for pushing back Muslim Rohingya, and an electoral calculation vis-à-vis the Northeast and West Bengal.
  • At a broader level, with the Chinese charm offensive in the region putting India on the defensive, it does not want to alienate Myanmar.
  • And yet, in its enthusiasm to please Myanmar by not nudging it to resolve the refugee issue lest it warm up to China, India actually ended up ceding ground to China when Beijing began negotiations between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

India’s  response to the Rohingya crisis

  • It is in stark contrast to its long tradition of offering refuge to the region’s homeless.
  • What makes this policy even more petty-minded is the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which empowers the government to offer citizenship to migrants hailing from minority communities in the neighbourhood, except Muslims.
  • It is clear then that the government’s position on refugees is anything but principled.

Downplaying non-alignment

  • Non-alignment once used to be the cornerstone of India’s foreign policy, and even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, New Delhi continued to pay lip service to it.
  • In 2016, only for the second time ever, India’s Prime Minister was not present at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit.
  • NAM stood for several important global movements: decolonisation, disarmament, correcting the inherent ills of the global economic order, etc.
  • For sure, some of the founding ideals of NAM may have lost their relevance today, but the grouping can help rising powers such as India to enhance their global standing and influence.
  • But then, solidarity with other developing countries is no more a foreign policy priority for New Delhi, nor is it greatly invested in strategic autonomy.

US-India relations

  • With the U.S. designating India as a “Major Defence Partner”, it is one India’s closest strategic partners today.
  • In 2016, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. which gives both sides access to designated military facilities for refuelling and replenishment.
  • Clearly, this is far more useful to the U.S. than to India. Several such agreements are in the pipeline.
  • In 2014, the U.S. replaced Russia as India’s largest defence supplier, and the Russians started negotiating arms sales with Pakistan that same year.

Relations with Neighbouring countries

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) seems to be consigned to the dustbin of history as for some reason New Delhi sees no future for it.
  • Is the ‘mistreatment’ of SAARC in our best interest.
  • It is ironic that SAARC and NAM, both India-centric institutions, have been sidelined by our own conscious efforts.
  • Non-alignment is passé, ‘neighbourhood first’, despite the recent overtures, is falling apart, and multi-alignment is increasingly looking like a fantasy: India’s post-normative foreign policy is in a shambles.


  • Thinking beyond normative strictures has both positive and negative implications.
  • When free from ideological constraints and legacy dilemmas, states can pursue their self-interest with a free hand.
  • There will be lot more flexibility to determine the demands of national interest, for national interest is itself not static, only the idea of it is.
  • India’s post-normative approach to external behaviour also is a recognition of the importance of the pursuit of power in the contemporary international system.
  • In that sense then, the new foreign policy thinking in the country has some merits.


  • The post-normative turn also comes with its challenges and complications.
  • For one, the soft power persuasiveness of a country is also the product of its political ideals, civilisational values and its cultural resonance.
  • Choosing to exclusively focus on hard power for foreign policy outcomes sidelines our rich soft power attributes.
  • Second, new India’s foreign policy choices also indicate the company it wishes to keep in the comity of nations and what it wants from the international system.
  • It seeks hard power, great power status and the company of great powers — not an equitable international order and the company of developing nations.
  • If so, we must also ask how steadfast are our current great power partnerships.
  • Will they stand the test of time well beyond the attraction of India’s growing defence budgets and expanding consumer markets
  • Post-normative India is also an aggressive India, and even the hollow invocations to Gandhian non-violence have become less than routine.
  • Worryingly, the reliance on aggression as a foreign policy tool seems to have strong domestic political origins, premised on a mistaken belief that force can overcome resistance.
  • Some Ministers openly threaten neighbours of military strikes, and military leaders display a growing fondness for making domestic political statements.
  • Confrontation seems to have displaced quiet diplomacy as our favoured tool for conflict resolution.
  • And, as a society, we seem to be emotionally invested in coercive solutions to political questions both within and outside the country. Yet, India is more insecure today than it was four years ago.
  • The pursuit of national interest is a complex affair, and norms, values and soft power should co-exist with the pursuit of hard power.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is a permanent organ of the SCO.
  2. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation.

Which of the following statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above


Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. The overall objective of priority sector lending programme is to ensure that adequate institutional credit flows into some of the vulnerable sectors of the economy.
  2. There are eight broad categories of the Priority Sector Lending Agriculture; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; Export Credit; Education ; Housing ; Social Infrastructure ; Renewable Energy ; Others.

Which of the following statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above


Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are not fully autonomous.
  2. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are regulated by specific international treaties that relate to their use, production, or trade.

Which of the following statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above


Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. Gekko gecko, a lizard species with orange-spotted blue-grey skin, is protected under the Schedule III of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act.
  2. Schedule III and Schedule IV are protected with high penalties for violation.

Which of the following statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above



H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

 General Studies II
  1. The outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus is a test of India’s capacity to respond to public health emergencies. Comment.

General Studies III

  1. The Priority Sector Lending norms have not helped the agriculture sector in giving access to credit to the deserving sections of farmers. Discuss.


Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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