30 May 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Gas trading hub may come up by year-end: petroleum board
2. Bengal’s Chau mask acquires GI fame
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
1. Great Barrier Reef facing its toughest test ever
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. A maritime stretch
ECONOMY
1. Policy on biofuels: Green push?
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Gas trading hub may come up by year-end: petroleum board

 

  • The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) and the Centre are moving ahead to make gas trading hub a reality by the end of this year.
  • The move would ensure that a market-based pricing mechanism is in place for the commodity, as India aims to increase the share of natural gas in its energy mix.

The gas trading hub

  • The gas trading hub, which will function on the lines of the power exchange, has been conceived as part of measures to boost the consumption of natural gas in the country.
  • The hub would serve as an electronic platform, facilitating trade in natural gas.
  • The most important feature would be its role in arriving at the price of the commodity by a market-based mechanism as against the existing multiple formula driven prices.
  • The hub could be a physical or virtual facility.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board

  • Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) was established under The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006 to regulate downstream activities in the petroleum and natural gas sector.
  • It has been constituted to protect the interests of consumers and entities engaged in specified activities relating to petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas and to promote competitive markets and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • The board has also been mandated to regulate the refining, processing, storage, transportation, distribution, marketing and sale of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas excluding production of crude oil and natural gas so as and to ensure uninterrupted and adequate supply of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas in all parts of the country.

2. Bengal’s Chau mask acquires GI fame

 

  • The Chau mask of Purulia, the wooden mask of Kushmandi, the Patachitra, the Dokras of Bengal, and Madhurkathi (a kind of mat) have been presented with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indication Registry and Intellectual Property India.

Geographical Indication Tag

  • A GI tag connects the quality and authenticity of a given product to a particular geographical origin, thereby ensuring that no one other than the authorised user can use the popular product’s name.
  • GI tags are given on the basis of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
  • The first product to be included in the list was Darjeeling Tea.
  • GI tags for these five rural crafts would not only help the artisans create their own brand but would also provide legal protection to artisans practising the crafts against attempts to duplicate them in other regions.
  • Moreover, it will have a direct impact on the occupation of 5,000-6,000 families in the State.
  • they are made by marginalised communities that, until a few years ago, found it hard to sustain themselves by producing these crafts.

Bengal scores

  • In the year 2017-18, GI tags were awarded to 25 products, of which nine were from West Bengal.

Read more on Geographical Indication (GI) Tags in India

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. Great Barrier Reef facing its toughest test ever

 

  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has returned from near-extinction five times in the past 30,000 years under severe stress in a warmer, more acidic ocean.
  • This suggests the reef may be more resilient than once thought.

Concerns

  • But it has likely never faced an onslaught quite as severe as today.
  • The grave concerns are about the ability of the reef in its current form to survive the pace of change caused by the many current stresses and those projected into the near future.
  • In the past, the reef shifted along the sea floor to deal with changes in its environment — either seaward or landward depending on whether the level of the ocean was rising or falling, the team found.

Observations

  • Based on fossil data from cores drilled into the ocean floor it was determined that the Great Barrier Reef was able to migrate between 20 cm and 1.5 metres per year.
  • This rate may not be enough to withstand the current barrage of environmental challenges.
  • The reef probably has not faced changes in sea surface temperature and acidification at such a rate.
  • Over 10 years, they studied how it had responded to changes caused by continental ice sheets expanding and waning over 30 millennia.
  • The GBR will probably die again in the next few thousand years anyway if it follows its past geological pattern as the earth is believed to be due for another ice age.
  • But whether human-induced climate change will hasten that death remains to be seen.

Read more on Coral Reefs

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. A maritime stretch

Why in news

  • A more concerted and intensive engagement will serve both India and Indonesia well
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Southeast Asia this week has the potential to spark a new period of maritime cooperation between India and Indonesia.
  • An uptick in India-Indonesia relations will be a welcome development for both President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Mr. Modi, who through their respective ‘Global Maritime Fulcrum’ and ‘Act East’ policies have envisaged sharper maritime collaboration in the region.

China, the common concern

  • The visit comes against the backdrop of an offer from the Indonesian government to grant India access to its Sabang port for the development of the port and an economic zone.
  • Located at the mouth of the strategically important Strait of Malacca, Sabang is only 100 nautical miles from the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • India and Indonesia share multiple common concerns, one of which is China’s growing maritime footprint in the eastern Indian Ocean.
  • Sabang, with its naval base, naval air station, and maintenance and repair facilities, has the potential to serve as the focal point of a budding strategic partnership between the two countries.

Choke points

  • Both countries value the key sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, and therefore the foundation of any strategic partnership will rest on how they both seek to manage the region’s strategically important choke points.
  • The strategically important Straits of Malacca, Lombok and Sunda fall under the Indian Navy’s primary area of interest, and access to Indonesian naval bases such as Sabang will significantly enhance the Indian Navy’s ability to maintain a forward presence and monitor movements in the Straits of Malacca.
  • Indonesia too has started recognising the benefits of a closer strategic partnership with India.
  • Like many other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Jakarta remains apprehensive of Chinese intentions in the wider maritime theatre.
  • The territorial dispute between China and Indonesia in the Natuna Sea is an issue that is close to Mr. Jokowi, and a strategic alignment with India will help Jakarta balance some of the security concerns emanating from Beijing’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea.
  • The comprehensive defence cooperation agreement that is expected to be signed between the countries can possibly be a multifaceted logistical agreement — on the lines of the deal which India signed with France earlier in the year.
  • Mutual logistical support and reciprocal berthing rights will facilitate a more intimate maritime security partnership.
  • This will allow India to gain access to naval bases in Lampung on the Sunda Strait, and Denpasar and Banyuwangi on the Lombok Strait, augmenting the Indian Navy’s operational breadth in the eastern Indian Ocean.

Areas of engagement

  • Indonesia, on its end, will also seek to negotiate the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone shared by the two nations in the Andaman Sea.
  • Additional facets of this partnership can involve information sharing on white shipping, and enabling India to partner Indonesia in tracking commercial cargo ships at choke points such as Malacca which are getting increasingly congested.

India-Indonesia

  • In the past, cooperation between India and Indonesia has been limited to anti-piracy patrols, search and rescue exercises and joint hydrographic exploration.
  • It is important for the two countries to move to a more concerted and intensive engagement. India should leverage this opportunity and seek its inclusion in the Malacca Strait Patrols programme.
  • India’s inclusion in the programme would augment India’s existing maritime domain awareness in the region, while the eyes-in-the-sky component will allow India to jointly patrol the region with its maritime surveillance aircraft.
  • Chinese presence in these SLOCs is well known, and India’s ability to monitor Chinese naval movements in the locale will be a great boost to the Indian Navy’s security missions.
  • Moreover, access to the Jayapura naval base in West Papua will expand the Indian Navy’s operating capacity in the Western Pacific, and complement Indian access to French naval bases in French Polynesia and New Caledonia in the Southern Pacific.

Economic viability

  • A strategic confluence between New Delhi and Jakarta needs an economic direction.
  • The development of the port and economic zone in Sabang can serve as blueprint for a connectivity partnership between the two nations, and more importantly, provide an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The proposed cruise tourism circuit between the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Sabang would further enhance such economic linkages.
  • Additionally, a partnership that includes collaboration in defence industries and maritime training and education can ensure a dynamic maritime collaboration.
  • At a time when countries are realigning themselves to accommodate the growing consensus around an Indo-Pacific strategic framework, India and Indonesia, as members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, need to complement each other’s vision of a regional order.

An opportunity

  • Modi is due to deliver the keynote at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore after his Jakarta visit, and he needs to use this opportunity to make public the strategic framework of his ‘Act East’ policy.
  • India needs to supplement efforts in Jakarta and leverage its existing strategic relations with Singapore and other like-minded regional states if it is to cement its position as a ‘net security provider’ in the Indian Ocean.
  • A closer logistical partnership with countries such as Singapore, Australia and Indonesia can be the starting point of an extensive strategic linkage that will help establish India as a regional provider of maritime security.
  • The time has come for India to realise the potential of a strategic alignment with the archipelagic state that is geo-politically positioned at the centre of the Indo-Pacific, and an upgrade in maritime relations is the logical way forward.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Policy on biofuels: Green push?

Context

  • The new biofuels policy is high on ambition, but success will depend on the details
  • At a time when rising oil prices are putting increasing pressure on the economy, even small steps to encourage the use of biofuels are welcome.
  • The Cabinet this month approved a National Policy on Biofuels, which encourages the generation and use of biofuels such as ethanol.
  • It primarily tries to address supply-side issues that have discouraged the production of biofuels within the country.
  • For one, it allows for a wider variety of raw materials to be used as inputs to produce ethanol that is blended with petrol.
  • Until now, only ethanol produced from sugarcane was approved for this purpose.

Way forward

  • Under the new policy, feedstock for biofuels includes sugar beet, corn, damaged foodgrain, potatoes, even municipal solid waste.
  • This will likely reduce the cost of producing biofuels and improve affordability for consumers, particularly during times when oil prices reach discomforting levels.
  • In India, industrial-scale availability of ethanol so far has been only from sugar factories, which were free to divert it to other users such as alcohol producers, who would pay more.
  • The oil companies have been floating tenders for ethanol supply, but availability lags behind their needs, because the price is often not attractive enough for the sugar industry.
  • The Centre hopes the new policy will also benefit farmers, who will be able to sell various types of agricultural waste to industry at remunerative prices.

Concern

  • But given the technology available, a large chunk of the biofuel will have to come from the sugar sector for now.
  • Therefore, pricing is the key.
  • The government estimates that ethanol supply of around 150 crore litres in 2017-18 could save foreign exchange worth over 4,000 crore.
  • The production of biofuels from agricultural waste, it is hoped, will also help curb atmospheric pollution by giving farmers an incentive not to burn it, as is happening in large parts of northern India.
  • But policy should not get ahead of technological and financial feasibility — and options should be realistically laid out for farmers.
  • There is also a need for caution in using surplus foodgrain to produce ethanol.
  • And while removing the shackles on raw material supply can have definite benefits, it cannot make a significant difference to biofuel production as long as the supply-chain infrastructure that is required to deliver biofuels to the final consumer remains inadequate.

Conclusion

  • To address this issue, the new policy envisages investment to the tune of 5,000 crore in building bio-refineries and offering other incentives over the next few years.
  • The government should also take steps to remove policy barriers that have discouraged private investment in building supply chains.
  • Until that happens, India’s huge biofuel potential will continue to remain largely untapped.

F. Prelims Fact

  1. 1. 5/20 rule:
    • The 5/20 rule is a norm of the Indian Aviation Ministry under which national carriers are required to have five years of operational experience and a fleet of minimum 20 aircraft to fly overseas.
    • This is applicable to all commercial aviation organisations flying passengers.
    • This rule has been set up by the Civil Aviation ministry.
    • The rationale behind this rule is that the airlines can have solid financial and security credentials by flying in the domestic sector for 5 years and a fleet of 20 aircraft.
  2. 0/20 rule:  
    • This rule has replaced the old 5/20 rule by the Civil Aviation Ministry.
    • According to this new rule, an airline will have to allocate 20 aircraft or 20% of their total fleet of aircraft, whichever is higher, to the domestic sector if they wish to fly overseas.
    • This effectively means a carrier must have a minimum 20 aircraft in its domestic fleet.
    • This is to ensure that any new airlines starting business in India should essentially serve the remote parts of the country.
  3. Jim Corbett National Park:
    • It is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger.
    • It is located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand and was named after Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment.
    • The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.
    • Geographically it is located between the Shiwalik Himalayas and the Terai.
    • The most famous of Corbett’s wild residents are the Royal Bengal Tiger.

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. A bill corresponding to the alteration of the boundaries of a state can be introduced:
  1. In either house of the parliament on the recommendation of the Governor of the concerned
    state
  2. In Rajya Sabha only with the consent of the Governor of the concerned state
  3. In either house of the parliament only on the recommendation of the President
  4. In Lok Sabha only with the consent of the Prime Minister

See

Answer
Question 2. Identify the correctly matched pairs.
  1. M S P – Pre-announced price for crops
  2. Issue price – The price of food grains in ration shops
  3. Procurement cost -The final price at which government buys the food grains

Options:

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

See

Answer
Question 3. Which of the following statements about minimum support price (MSP) is 
not correct?
  1. M.S.P is recommended by CACP i.e commission for agricultural costs and prices
  2. M.S.P is announced for 24 major agricultural commodities
  3. It is announced after the sowing season
  4. The recommendations of CACP is not binding on the government

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following:
  1.  Zoological Parks
  2. Botanical Gardens
  3. Gene Banks
  4. National Parks

Which of the above are not covered under ex-situ conservation?

  1. 3 only
  2. 3 and 4 only
  3. 4 only
  4. 1 and 2 only

See

Answer
Question 5. Which of the following are included in Right to life?
  1. Right to pollution-free water.
  2. Right to life with human dignity.
  3. Right to free legal aid and speedy trial.
  4. Right to livelihood.
  5. Right of women to be treated with decency.

Choose the correct option:

  1. 2, 4 and 5
  2. 1, 2, 4 and 5
  3. 2, 4 and 5
  4. All of the above

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The National policy on biofuels will go a long way in addressing the supply-side constraints in the production of biofuels in India. Discuss.
  2. Discuss India-Indonesia relations in the light of growing Chinese maritime footprint in the Indian ocean.

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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