28 May 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

28th May 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Governor modifies law on forest rights
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India should pull out forces from Kalapani
2. ‘Hong Kong body will play an advisory role’
3. U.S. strips Hong Kong of special trading status
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Locust threat is bigger this year, warns monitor
2. Invasive mussel is spreading rapidly in Kerala’s backwaters
ECONOMY
1. Loans to MSMEs may get ‘risk-free’ tag
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. Locust Swarms
2. Enjoying the fruits of their labour
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Hong Kong Protests
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. Google faces antitrust case in India
2. Trump offers to mediate between India and China
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India should pull out forces from Kalapani

Context:

  • Nepalese Foreign Minister has said that India should withdraw security forces from the Kalapani region and restore status quo.
  • He said a solution to the border dispute should be found urgently, even as Indian sources confirmed that they were closely monitoring the debates in Nepal’s Parliament to provide a constitutional guarantee to the new map that shows the disputed region as part of Nepal’s sovereign territory.

The Kalapani Issue has been covered in 21st May 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

2. ‘Hong Kong body will play an advisory role’

Context:

  • China’s Parliament is expected to approve a proposal to draft a national security law for the semi-autonomous city, which has sparked fresh protests over fears the financial hub will lose its unique freedoms.
  • According to a member of China’s top political advisory body, the proposed security law could allow Chinese mainland authorities to set up shop in Hong Kong, but their powers would likely be restricted to intelligence gathering and an advisory role.

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

3. U.S. strips Hong Kong of special trading status

Context:

U.S. Secretary of State stripped Hong Kong of its special status under U.S. law, under the pretext that the financial hub no longer enjoys the autonomy promised by Beijing.

Details:

  • A notice was sent by the U.S. Secretary of State to Congress, that China was not living up to obligations from before it regained control of the territory from Britain in 1997.
  • The Secretary of State said in a statement, “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.”
  • Under a law passed in 2019 by Congress aimed at supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, the administration has to certify that the territory is still autonomous to enjoy its separate status with the U.S. for trading purposes.

2. Invasive mussel is spreading rapidly in Kerala’s backwaters

Context:

An invasive mussel native to the South and Central American coasts – the Charru mussel (Mytella strigata) is spreading quickly in the backwaters of Kerala.

Details:

  • The rapid spread of the Charru mussel (Mytella strigata) may have been triggered by Cyclone Ockhi which struck the region in 2017.
  • Surveys show the presence of the Charru mussel in the Kadinamkulam, Paravur, Edava-Nadayara, Ashtamudi, Kayamkulam, Vembanad, Chettuva and Ponnani estuaries/backwaters.
  • Ashtamudi Lake, a Ramsar site in Kollam district, remains the worst-hit.
    • With a population as high as 11,384 per sq metre here, it has replaced the Asian green mussel (Perna viridis) and the edible oyster Magallana bilineata (known locally as muringa).

Charru Mussel:

  • The Charru mussel resembles the green and brown mussels but is much smaller in size.
  • Its colour varies from black to brown, purple or dark green.
  • In many areas, this invasive species has smothered beds of the short-neck clam.
    • The short-necked clam fisheries in the lake had obtained an eco-label from the Marine Stewardship Council and about 3,000 people are dependent on fisheries here.
    • In such a scenario, the fast-breeding Charru mussel could be seen as a ‘pest,’ the authors state.

Concerns:

  • The Charru mussel is elbowing out other mussel and clam species.
  • It is threatening the livelihoods of fishermen engaged in molluscan fisheries.
  • The potential of Charru mussel to outcompete the lucrative clam fishery is a serious concern that urgently needs to be addressed
  • Though this smaller mussel is edible, the overall economic loss and impact on biodiversity is much bigger.

Read more about Alien Invasive Species.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Loans to MSMEs may get ‘risk-free’ tag

Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to allow banks to assign zero risk weight for loans that will be extended to the micro, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs) under the ₹20 lakh crore economic package announced by the government.

Details:

  • As part of the package, a ₹3 lakh crore loan for the MSME sector was announced.
  • This will be guaranteed by the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Limited (NCGTC) in the form of a Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line (GECL) facility.
  • However, such loans would attract a risk weight of a minimum 20% since these don’t come with direct government guarantee.
  • The Finance Ministry had requested the central bank to make these loans risk free, following an interaction with banks.
  • This facility is similar to the loans that are guaranteed by the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).
  • After banks highlighted the issue with the government, the Finance Ministry asked the RBI to waive the requirement of assigning a risk weight to the loans.
    • The RBI is likely to waive the requirement of risk weight.
    • The Finance Ministry is expected to issue detailed guidelines on this credit guarantee loan issue.
  • Sources said that the government had factored in less than 15% non-performing assets from this ₹3 lakh crore of loans.
  • Though primarily meant for the MSME sector, other small borrowers including non-banking financial companies can also avail themselves of the scheme.
  • The scheme will be applicable till October 31 2020, or till an amount of ₹3 lakh crore is sanctioned, whichever is earlier.
  • Zero risk would mean that banks will not have to set aside additional capital for these loans. The move is aimed at encouraging lenders to extend credit, as banks have turned risk averse and have been reluctant to lend.
  • The banks had been asked to extend loans automatically to eligible borrowers without fear of the ‘3Cs’ — CBI, CVC and CAG.
  • The tenure of loan under this scheme will be four years, with a moratorium period of one year on the principal amount. The NCGTC will not charge any guarantee fee.
  • The interest rate under the scheme is 9.25% if the loan is extended by banks and financial institutions, and 14% if by NBFCs.

E. Editorials

Category: ECONOMY

1. Locust Swarms

  • Locusts are a group of short-horned grasshoppers that multiply in numbers as they migrate long distances in destructive swarms.
  • Locusts need moist, sandy soil in which they lay eggs and fresh vegetation for hoppers to grow into adults.
    • A good monsoon is, therefore, always cause for concern to locust authorities and farmers.
    • Under suitable conditions, they start to breed abundantly, and become nomadic (loosely described as migratory) when their populations become dense enough.

What is the difference between locusts and grasshoppers?

  • Locusts are part of a large group of insects commonly called grasshoppers which have big hind legs for jumping. Locusts belong to the family called Acrididae.
  • Locusts differ from grasshoppers in that they have the ability to change their behaviour and habits and can migrate over large distances.

How many species of locusts are there in the world and India?

  • There are 10 important species of locusts in the world:
    • The Desert Locust, the Bombay Locust, the Migratory Locust, the Italian Locust, the Moroccan Locust, the Red Locust, the Brown Locust, the South American Locust, the Australian Locust & the Tree Locust.
  • Only four types of locusts in India-
    • Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria),
    • Migratory locust (Locusta migratoria)
    • Bombay Locust (Nomadacris succincta)
    • Tree locust (Anacridium sp.) are reported.
  • India is most at risk of a swarm invasion just before the onset of the monsoon.
    • The swarms usually originate in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

How far and how fast can Desert Locusts migrate?

  • Desert Locusts usually fly with the wind at a speed of about 16-19 km/h depending on the wind. Swarms can travel about 5-130 km or more in a day.
  • Locusts can stay in the air for long periods of time. For example, locusts regularly cross the Red Sea, a distance of 300 km.

Can locusts hurt humans?

  • Locusts do not attack people or animals. There is no evidence that suggests that locusts carry diseases that could harm humans.

Economic Impact

  • The swarms devour leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, bark and growing points, and also destroy plants by their sheer weight as they descend on them in massive numbers.
  • The adults are powerful fliers; they can travel great distances, consuming most of the green vegetation wherever the swarm settles.
  • Adult locusts can eat their own weight every day and a swarm can consume vast quantities of food. They thus, pose a threat to human food security.

Institutional Setup

  • India has a locust control and research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), established in 1939 and amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The LWO’s responsibility is monitoring and control of the locust situation in Scheduled Desert Areas, mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and partly in Punjab and Haryana.

Different control measures of locusts

  • Mechanical methods – digging trenches, beating and burning
  • Baiting – scattering locust food impregnated with insecticide
  • Dusting – applying a fine dust impregnated with insecticide
  • Spraying liquid insecticides

How can locusts be controlled?

  • At present, the primary method of controlling Desert Locust swarms is with mainly organophosphate chemicals applied in small concentrated doses (referred to as Ultra-Low Volume (ULV) formulation) by vehicle-mounted and aerial sprayers and to a lesser extent by knapsack and hand-held sprayers.

Other measures include

  • The spray of high-intensity Malathion insecticide helps in killing them.
  • The government also plans to deploy drones for spraying pesticides.

Are there any non-chemical ways to kill locusts?

  • Extensive research is in progress on biological control and other means of non-chemical control of locusts.
  • Thus far, control by natural predators and parasites is limited since locusts can quickly migrate away from most natural enemies.

What is the relationship between locusts and climate change?

  • During quiet periods—known as recessions—desert locusts are usually restricted to the semi-arid and arid deserts of Africa, the Near East and South-West Asia that receive less than 200 mm of rain annually.
    • In normal conditions, locust numbers decrease either by natural mortality or through migration.
  • However, the last five years have been hotter than any other since the industrial revolution, and since 2009. Studies have linked a hotter climate to more damaging locust swarms.
  • Wet weather also favours multiplication of locusts. Widespread, above average rain that pounded the Horn of Africa from October to December 2019 were up to 400 per cent above the normal rainfall amount.
    • These abnormal rains were caused by the Indian Ocean dipole, a phenomenon accentuated by climate change.

Context

  • Locust swarm in Rajasthan, Gujarat and even parts of Madhya Pradesh.

2. Enjoying the fruits of their labour

Context

  • This article discusses various issues surrounding farming, farmers not getting a fair price for their produce and measures taken by the government.

Problems faced by the farmers

  • In industrial products and consumer-based goods, prices are decided by the manufacturers and producers, but in the agricultural sector, the farmers have no say in it. The intermediaries and market forces decide.
    • Both farmers and consumers are the sufferers of the exploitative procurement and marketing of farm produce.
    • Despite increasing public investments in irrigation and other infrastructure, the steadily rising institutional credit given to farmers, and minimum support price due to the efforts of various governments over the years, farmers are shackled when it comes to selling their produce.
  • This exploitation has its roots in the Bengal famine of 1943, World War II, and the droughts and food shortages of the 1960s.
    • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts of the States are the principle sources of violation of the rights of farmers to sell their produce at a price of their choice.
    • These two laws severely restrict the options of farmers to sell their produce. Farmers continue to be the victims of a buyers’ market.
  • Farmers also face significant issues like high transportation cost, lack of knowledge about prices prevailing in the regulated market, lack of storage facilities in the market, delay in auction, delay in payment, and we are still far from ensuring efficient value chains.

Given the economic disparities in the country, the interests of consumers need to be protected. But should that be at the cost of the producers? Thus, a balance in this regard is the key.

Steps taken by the Govt.

  • Approximately ₹4 lakh crore support package was sanctioned for the farming and allied sectors.
    • It was aimed at improving infrastructure and enhancing credit support.
  • The most welcome feature of this package is the firm commitment to rewriting the Essential Commodities Act and the APMC laws.
    • It will remove the hurdles that farmers face in getting a remunerative price for their produce by giving them more options to sell.

Key Recommendation

  • For buyers to directly access the produce from the farmers, a strong and effective network of Farmer Producers’ Organisations should be created to enhance the bargaining power of farmers. This will ensure that individual farmers are not exploited.

Conclusion

  • These measures thus allow our farmers to sell their produce anywhere for their benefit.

Also Read:

CNA dated 25 May, 2020

CNA dated 18 May, 2020

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Hong Kong Protests

Context

  • China has started pushing for an “improvement” in the Basic Law — the mini-constitution that defines ties between Hong Kong and Beijing — signalling a fundamental change in the way the highly autonomous city-state is run.

Hong Kong’s ‘Basic Law’

  • A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed over to mainland China in 1997, becoming one of its Special Administrative Regions (SAR).
  • It is governed by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law — which affirms the principle of “one country, two systems”.
  • The constitutional document is a product of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration– under which China promised to honour Hong Kong’s liberal policies, system of governance, independent judiciary, and individual freedoms for a period of 50 years from 1997.
  • Under the Basic Law that has governed Hong Kong since 1997, SAR has a high degree of autonomy “to enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication”; only defence and foreign affairs are to be handled by Beijing under Article 18.
  • Article 23 of the law requires Hong Kong to pass national security legislation, but the law makes clear it is Hong Kong’s legislature that enjoys the power to make and repeal laws — the bedrock of the “one country, two systems” model.

National security law for Hong Kong

  • What has concerned pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong is a new provision for China’s national security organs to “set up institutions” in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).
  • A decision from the ruling Communist Party in Beijing is set to authorise Chinese legislators to draft a national security law for Hong Kong.
  • The proposed law will cover four main matters:
    • Subversion – undermining the power of an authority
    • secession – breaking away from the country
    • terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people
    • activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong
  • It also intends to bring ‘Anthem Bill’ that would make it illegal to insult or abuse the Chinese national anthem in the semi-autonomous city.

Why are people against this?

  • This law can be used as a convenient pretext for the political prosecution of dissidents, activists, human rights lawyers and journalists.
  • The opposition to the extradition law has grown into a wider civil movement to protect liberties, bringing all sections of society together.
  • This could be a major blow to Hong Kong’s freedoms, the law could effectively bring the city under full control of mainland China.
  • The move could also undermine Hong Kong’s position as an East Asian trading hub, and invite global disapproval for Beijing, which is already being accused of withholding key information related to the coronavirus pandemic.

China seeks India’s support for its new draconian law to crack down on Hong Kong protesters

  • China has sought the support and understanding of India and other countries for its controversial decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong, saying the new legislation is aimed at containing the “secessionist” forces who have posed a “grave threat” to the country’s national security and sovereignty.
  • It said “upholding national security” in Hong Kong is “purely China’s internal affair and no foreign country may interfere in this matter”.

F. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Tidbits

1. Google faces antitrust case in India

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is looking into allegations that Alphabet Inc’s Google is abusing its market position to unfairly promote its mobile payments app in the country.
  • The complaint alleges the U.S. tech giant more prominently showcases its Google Pay app inside its Android app store in India, giving it an unfair advantage over apps of competitors, which hurts consumers.
  • The case filing is currently being reviewed by senior CCI members. Typically, in such cases, Google will appear before the watchdog, which will then decide on the way forward.
  • The CCI can direct its investigations unit to conduct a wider probe into the allegations, or dismiss the case if it finds no merit in it.
  • This is Google’s third major antitrust challenge in India.
    • In 2018, the CCI fined Google $21 million for search bias, but a company appeal against that is pending.
    • In 2019, the CCI also started probing Google for allegedly misusing its dominant position to reduce the ability of smartphone manufacturers to opt for alternate versions of its Android mobile operating system.

Note:

Google Pay allows users in India to do inter-bank fund transfers and bill payments. It competes with apps such as Softbank-backed Paytm and Walmart’s PhonePe in India’s crowded digital payments market.

2. Trump offers to mediate between India and China

  • U.S. President Donald Trump said that he had offered to help New Delhi and Beijing resolve their tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The offer came as a surprise on a day the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeared to soften its line on the standoff, suggesting the situation was “stable and controllable”.
  • However, Beijing said that the situation is ‘stable’ and both sides will resolve the standoff bilaterally.

Read more about Border standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements:
  1. Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas as well as of Scheduled Tribes residing in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  2. The power to decide whether any central or state legislation implies over the state having scheduled areas, lies in the hands of the Governor.
  3. Governor can also repeal or amend any regulations w.r.t to the state having scheduled areas but only with the assent of the President of India.

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

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1 and 2 only
See
Answer
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park:
  1. It was designated a Biosphere Reserve in 2019.
  2. It is bound by the Brahmaputra and Lohit Rivers in the North.
  3. The National Park is located in Arunachal Pradesh.

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

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
See
Answer
Q3. Consider the following statements w.r.t LCA Tejas:
  1. It is an indigenous aircraft designed and developed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
  2. It is the smallest and lightest Multi-Role Supersonic Fighter Aircraft of its class.
  3. It can carry a range of air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided and standoff weaponry.

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

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
See
Answer
Q4.  Consider the following statements:
  1. Focus on reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality is covered under Sustainable Development Goal 3.
  2. Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn Child plus Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) was launched by India for reducing maternal and child morbidity and mortality.
  3. India’s National Health Policy Target is to reduce Under 5 Mortality Rate to 16 deaths per 1000 live births by 2025.

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

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

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Locust invasion can wreak havoc on the lives of thousands of farmers. Discuss the necessary measures to combat the pest attack to avert losses. (10 Marks, 150 Words)
  2. What are the recent policy changes introduced by the Govt. of India to help farmers get better prices for their agricultural produce? (10 Marks, 150 Words)

28th May 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

Read the previous CNA here.

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