09 Nov 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

9 Nov 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A.GS1 Related
B.GS2 Related
HEALTH
1. Maternal death rate declining: report
C.GS3 Related
ENVIRONMENT
1. Lift travel curbs on NH-766 says Keralas
ECONOMY
1. Norms eased for onion imports
2. Goyal lays out nuts and bolts of RCEP decision
D.GS4 Related
E. Editorials
WORLD HISTORY
1. The fall of the Berlin Wall and how it impacted geo-politics
SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. At the altar of national security
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The China factor in India’s RCEP move
ECONOMY
1. Thumbs down: On Moody’s negative rating
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Cloud Seeding
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
1. Special Protection Group (SPG)
2. Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)
3. Dhrupad
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

Context:

India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has seen a decline from 130 per 1 lakh live births in 2014-2016 to 122 per 1 lakh live births in 2015-2017 according to the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) 2015-2017 bulletin for MMR.

Definition:

  • Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.
  • The number of registered maternal deaths due to birth- or pregnancy-related complications per 100,000 registered live births is defined as the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR).

Details:

  • MMR has declined from 167 in 2011-2013 to 130 in 2014-2016 and to 122 in 2015-17 in India, according to the report.
  • A decline of 8 points (6.2%) was observed during the period 2015-2017.
  • In India, nearly 2,000 maternal deaths have been averted per year due to this decline in MMR.
  • While Karnataka has shown the highest percentage decline in MMR, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have shown an increase by 15 points each.

Maternal Mortality Rate (2015-17)

Significance:

  • The decline is important for India as 11 States have achieved the National Health Policy 2017 target of MMR, i.e, 100 per lakh live births, well ahead of 2020.
  • This has been possible in view of the gains made in institutional deliveries and focused approach towards aspirational districts and inter-sectoral action to reach the most marginalised and vulnerable mothers.
  • Focus on quality and coverage of health services through public health initiatives under the National Health Mission such as LaQshya, Poshan Abhiyan, Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, Janani Suraksha Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana have contributed to this decline.

Way ahead:

  • In 2018, the WHO had lauded India’s progress in reducing the MMR, saying that the progress puts the country on track towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of an MMR below 70 by 2030.
  • India must remain committed to ensuring that not a single mother or newborn dies due to a preventable cause and must move towards zero preventable maternal and newborn deaths through the recently launched Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan Initiative (SUMAN).

SUMAN scheme has been covered in 10th October 2019 PIB Summary and Analysis. Click Here to read.

Context:

The Kerala Assembly has passed a resolution demanding that the Union government lift the travel restrictions on National Highway-766 linking Kerala- Karnataka and safeguard the right of the people of North Kerala to move freely.

Background:

  • Night travel on National Highway-766 linking Kerala and Karnataka which passes through the Bandipur National Park has been banned since 2009 in the name of protecting wildlife from roadkills. This move is to protect tigers, elephants, leopards and a host of other wildlife in the region.
  • As of today, limited numbers of government-run buses and emergency vehicles are allowed to operate between 9 pm and 6 am which are the restricted hours.
  • The Supreme Court in a case had upheld the night traffic ban in Bandipur.
  • In March 2018, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had advised the Centre against the elevated corridor project as was suggested by Kerala, since this could have a damaging impact on the forest ecology which has a significant tiger population.

Kerala Government’s stand:

  • The 9 p.m.to 6 a.m. travel ban adds 100 km to journeys undertaken by the people of Bathery taluk of Wayanad to places such as Gundalpet and Mysuru, which is affecting the livelihood of the people.
    • The NH-766 is an important route for the transportation of vegetables, grain and construction materials between the two States.
    • Wayanad is a district which sits atop four passes.
    • The NH 766 is an important route for the people of Wayanad, which lacks rail and connectivity and water routes.
  • Government has stated that imposing regulations the likes of which are absent in any of the 50 tiger reserves (approximately) in the country is anti-people and discriminatory.
  • The Kerala government has been stating that an elevated corridor can be constructed on the 25-km stretch of National Highway 766. This they believe can get past the night ban even though the Supreme Court had upheld this night traffic ban.

Way forward:

  • There is a need to come up with permanent measures so that the highways do not pass through core areas of tiger reserves, keeping in mind the Principle of Avoidance.
  • Core/Critical Tiger Habitats (CTH) need to be encouraged in view of long-term sustenance of ecology of the area.
  • Alternative routes should be inspected for and strengthened.
  • There is a need to safeguard the interests of local communities, while upholding everyone’s collective responsibility to protect the environment.
  • A committee as was proposed should be set up to study the night traffic ban on the national highway passing through Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Norms eased for onion imports

Context:

With onion prices soaring high, the Centre has decided to immediately import the staple from Dubai, Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.

Background:

  • Lower supplies as compared to the demand for onions has led to a demand-supply mismatch, leading to increased prices for onions.
  • The tight supply was caused mostly by late rains destroying the early Kharif harvest and disrupting storage and transport, even as last season’s rabi stocks ran out.
  • The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) had a 55,000-tonne buffer stock. The continued high prices have resulted in this buffer gradually diminishing to 1,500 tonnes.
  • The Centre’s efforts to increase the supply by banning exports and setting stock limits for retailers and traders failed to tame the prices.

Government Measures:

  • Public sector trading agency Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) has issued a tender to import 2,000 tonnes from Dubai.
  • The mandatory time for issuing import tenders have been relaxed.
  • The phytosanitary and fumigation norms have also been liberalised.

Additional information:

Operation Greens and TOP scheme:

  • Operation Greens was announced in the Budget speech of 2018-19 with an outlay of Rs 500 crores to stabilize the supply of Tomato, Onion and Potato(TOP) crops and to ensure availability of TOP crops throughout the country round the year without price volatility.
  • The TOP scheme was formed to control the price hike of the quickly perishable crops tomato, onion, and potato.
  • As per the scheme, the states are facilitated to buy these crops at the time of harvest itself and create a buffer, in order to reduce price volatility.
  • National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) will be in charge of purchasing and handing over the items to the states.
  • The central government will bear half the expenses for transportation, preservation and storage in godowns up to six months.

2. Goyal lays out nuts and bolts of RCEP decision

Context:

India has announced its decision to drop out of the exit from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal.

India’s concerns:

  • India is concerned about the threat of circumvention of Rules of Origin due to tariff differentials, where countries take advantage of tariff differentials given to another country, and not offered to it. This could lead to the dumping of products into India from countries like China and New Zealand via other members.
  • A long-standing request of India was that the base rate of customs duty be changed from 2014 to 2019, since the 2014 base rate would be hugely outdated by 2022 when the deal comes into effect.
  • India argued for tariff lines to be on an auto-trigger safeguard mechanism along with a review clause at a periodicity of three years, as India’s experience with free trade agreements (FTAs) has been that it often leads to huge import surges that impair the domestic industry due to dumping. Without adequate safeguards, the RCEP could end up being an FTA that would let in China through the back door leading to a huge trade deficit on the Indian side. This was overlooked during the negotiations.
  • India sought for the exclusion of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) obligations in the investment chapter. India argued that it gives MFN to its strategic allies and for geopolitical reasons and it cannot afford to extend it to all RCEP countries, including those with whom India has border disputes. This was not agreed to.

Way forward:

The government has proposed going ahead with individual FTA negotiations with the U.S., the European Union and other countries wherein there is a larger scope for addressing bilateral concerns than in larger multilateral negotiations.

This issue has been covered in 5th November 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click Here to read.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: WORLD HISTORY

1. The fall of the Berlin Wall and how it impacted geo-politics

Why was the Berlin Wall built?

  • After Germany’s defeat in the war, the Allied powers — the US, the UK, France and the Soviet Union — took control of Germany’s territorial borders and divided it into four zones managed by each Allied power.
  • The capital Berlin was also subjected to this division, despite the city falling mostly inside the zone controlled by the Soviet Union.
  • Two year after the Allied powers had gained control of Germany, political divisions arose between the Allied powers and the Soviet Union over several socio-political aspects that were meant to determine Germany’s future.
    • The most contentious of all however, was the proposal for the extension of the Marshall Plan, a reconstruction plan signed by then US President Harry Truman in 1948, to provide economic assistance to Western Europe for reconstruction efforts after the Second World War.
  • The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin did not approve of this plan because the proposal did not align with Stalin’s vision of a united communist Germany within the Eastern Bloc.
  • The Berlin Blockade in 1948 set the ground for the start of the construction of the Berlin Wall and in 1949, the Soviet Union declared the existence of the German Democratic Republic, also known as East Germany.
  • In 1961, the borders between East and West Germany were closed, and the division cost common people their homes, families, jobs and changed their lives irrevocably, creating two separate nations built on different socio-political and economic ideologies, separated by blocks of concrete that were collectively 140 km long. It would take almost three decades for the Berlin Wall to come down.

 

Why did the Berlin Wall fall?

  • Civil unrest across East and West Germany put pressure on the East Germany administration to loosen some travel restrictions.
  • Günter Schabowski, a political leader in East Germany had been tasked with the job of announcing the easing of travel restrictions but had not been given full information regarding when the new travel regulations would be put into effect.
  • East Germans who were listening to the live news broadcast rushed to the checkpoints at the Berlin Wall in droves, seeking entry. Armed guards at the checkpoints had not been given instructions on how to handle the crowds and outnumbered checkpoint guards began allowing people to cross without any significant checks.
  • Crowds began climbing on top of the Berlin Wall and the atmosphere changed entirely. It was the day the Berlin Wall was brought down.

 

What were the global consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall?

  • After the fall of the Berlin Wall, decades of separation and unaligned socio-economic development, brought several differences between East and West Berlin to the fore. Eastern Europe was dramatically altered with political changes requiring a reexamination of alliances within Europe. These changes resulted in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 that led to the formation of the European Union in 1993.
  • After the Soviet Union collapsed, China witnessed an unprecedented rise in importance not only in the region, but also in the world political order.
  • The Soviet Union’s collapse also impacted Cuba and its economy which was reliant on financial subsidies from Moscow.
    • However, the US was unable to use this occurrence to bring about regime change in Cuba, majorly because Venezuela under Hugo Chavez stepped in to replace the Soviet Union.
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall also coincided with Russia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
    • Despite the wishes of Soviet-backed Afghanistan President Mohammad Najibullah, Soviet troops began withdrawing from the country.
    • The Mujahideen began their offensives against the Afghan army with more vigor knowing that the army did not have the support of Soviets anymore
    • Civil unrest and war continued in the country with the fall of the Najibullah government in 1992 and was ongoing till the Taliban came to power in 1996 and brought even more war and unrest in Afghanistan.

 

Source: Indian Express

Category: SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. At the altar of national security

Context

  • This article draws a comparison of issues on which countries are shaping their electoral bases.
  • It derives these assumptions on the basis of subjects that political parties and its ideologies are subscribing to.

 

Regimes and its focus Area

  • Government’s based on right-wing ideology across the world, it is their relentless and near-daily focus on emotive issues like nationalism, religious identity, terrorism, national security, and so on.
    • As an example the 2019 general elections were the most apt illustration, where electoral discussion was about Pulwama, Balakot and Pakistan
  • Contrast this with the federal elections in Australia and Canada in 2019. According to a survey of 1.4 million voters in each country, the top election issue was climate change, and the second was the economy.
    • The other top issues were inequality, pensions, health care, taxes and employment.

 

Concerns

  • The discourse of nationalism and national security catastrophically pushes under the carpet the most vital issues of development: health, education and the environment.
  • On the popular prime-time news debates there was not a single debate on economy, unemployment, education, health, gender, farmers or the environment.
  • Therefore, unsurprisingly, the annual Global Hunger Index (GHI) reports come and go without any debate or outrage.
    • If in 2015, India was ranked 80th (out of 104 countries) and well ahead of Pakistan, every year since then, the gap has closed, with Pakistan finally overtaking India in 2019, and being eight ranks ahead.
    • The GHI 2019 notes that India’s child wasting rate is at 20.8%, “the highest wasting rate of any country” for which data is available. Its child stunting rate, at 37.9%, is also categorised as “very high”.
  • In 2018, terrorism/militancy killed 400 civilians and security personnel.
    • Compare this to the fact that 1,02,677 children (under five) died from easily preventable diarrhoeal diseases in 2017, or that 8,75,659 children (under five) were killed by communicable, neonatal and nutritional diseases.
    • Or consider that while the number of terrorism/militancy-related deaths have come down substantially to around 500 from 2011 onwards, the burden of deaths from diseases like cardiovascular ones has drastically increased from about 13 lakh in 1990 to 26.32 lakh in 2017.

If the money spent on saving people from terrorism attacks had been diverted to countering other dangers with extremely high risks that could have “saved 1,000 times more lives.”

Conclusion

  • Human development and ecology have always been given the short shrift in India.
  • But what has changed under the nationalist conjuncture is that these issues are not even talked about.
  • So going forward a balance of security imperatives and Human development indices to reduce the impending dangers of inequality and a war footing on problems of Health, education and unemployment is a must.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. The China factor in India’s RCEP move

This issue has been covered in 6th November 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis, in the Editorials segment under the articles “Safe, for now” and “A victory for the dairy sector”. Also in, Notes on RCEP.

 

Category: ECONOMY

1. Thumbs down: On Moody’s negative rating

Context

  • Ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded India’s outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’
  • The rating agency changed its outlook for India’s sovereign rating (Baa2) to negative from stable holding that the country’s economic downturn could be structural.

How does credit rating work?

  • The credit rating is a financial indicator to potential investors of debt securities such as bonds.
  • These are assigned by credit rating agencies such as Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s (S&P), and Fitch, which publish code designations (such as AAA, B, CC) to express their assessment of the risk quality of a bond.
  • Moody’s assigns bond credit ratings of Aaa, Aa, A, Baa, Ba, B, Caa, Ca, C.

Moody's Ratings

Moody's ratings

What did Moody’s refer to?

  • In its report, Moody’s cited increasing risks that India’s economic growth will remain materially lower, partly due to lower government and policy effectiveness.
  • India is undergoing a significant slowdown — its economic growth hit a six-year low in the April-to-June quarter, during which the economy grew 5% from a year ago.
  • Tax revenue growth is nowhere near budgeted levels and with the slowdown extending into the third quarter, it is clear that tax revenues will undershoot by a wide margin
  • The government in October 2019 gave away Corporate Tax Concessions amounting to a whopping Rs.1.45 lakh crore. Even with the boost from the Rs.1.76 lakh crore dividend payout from the Reserve Bank of India, the budget arithmetic is optimistic and it now appears certain that the government will miss the fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of GDP.
    • The only question is: by how much? Moody’s has projected that the deficit will slip to 3.7% of GDP this fiscal. Ratings agencies are ultra-sensitive to fiscal deficit overruns
  • India’s growth outlook has deteriorated sharply in 2019, with a crunch that started out in the non-banking financial institutions (NBFls) spreading to retail businesses, car makers, home sales and heavy industries.
  • Moody’s said India’s potential Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and job creation will remain constrained unless reforms are advanced to directly reduce restrictions on the productivity of labour and land, stimulate private sector investment, and sustainably strengthen the financial sector.

 

Impact

  • The rupee and equities markets came under pressure after rating agency Moody’s revised the country’s rating outlook to negative. While revising the outlook, Moody’s has affirmed India’s sovereign rating at Baa2.

 

Repercussions

  • The cut in India’s outlook is the first step towards an investment downgrade.
  • The outlook revision has to be seen for what it is: a warning that if the economy fails to bounce back soon enough, the sovereign rating could be up for an unfavorable review.
  • It brings India just a notch above the investment grade country rating which implies that an actual downgrade can lead to massive foreign fund outflows.

 

But the Moody’s outlook revision comes when there are faint signs of a revival in the economy.

  • Festive season uptick in sales of automobiles and white goods does point to the return of the consumer to the market.
    • Of course, the possibility that it was an artificial boost driven by the big discounts that were on offer cannot be ruled out.
  • There are other positive signals such as the increase in bank credit off-take reported by the RBI for the second successive fortnight.

 

What other international rating agencies say?

  • Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings the other two international rating agencies still hold India’s outlook at stable.

 

How the government responded?

  • Giving a strong response, the government said that the fundamentals of the economy remain quite robust and series of reforms undertaken recently would stimulate investments.
  • The Union finance ministry in a statement said that India’s potential growth rate remains unchanged, as evident from the assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral organizations that continue to hold a positive outlook on India.
  • The finance ministry, sought to counter the lowering of the outlook by Moody’s, saying, “India’s relative standing remains unaffected.”
    • “Government of India has also proactively taken policy decisions in response to the global slowdown. These measures would lead to a positive outlook on India and would attract capital flows and stimulate investments,” it said.

 

Way forward

  • To avoid further degrade, the Centre must address fiscal deficit concerns.
  • Economists at Bank of America said more interest rate cuts by the RBI was the only way to address the slowdown.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Cloud Seeding

Context

  • Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to “undertake cloud seeding plan to combat the air pollution engulfing Delhi and NCR”.

 

What is cloud seeding?

  • Cloud seeding is a kind of a weather modification technology to create artificial rainfall.
    • It is also known by other terms such as man-made precipitation enhancement, artificial weather modification, rainmaking and so on.
  • It works only when there is enough pre-existing clouds in the atmosphere. Rain happens when moisture in the air reaches levels at which it can no longer be held, and cloud seeding aims to facilitate and accelerate that process by making available chemical ‘nuclei’ around which condensation can take place.
  • These ‘seeds’ of rain can be the iodides of silver or potassium, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), or liquid propane.
  • The seeds can be delivered by plane or simply by spraying from the ground.

 

Where all has it been tried earlier?

  • Cloud seeding is not new to India and it has earlier been attempted in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to address drought.
  • Similar experiments of cloud seeding had earlier been tried in Australia, America, Spain and France.
  • In United Arab Emirates, the cloud seeding technique led to creation of 52 storms in Abu Dhabi.
  • Till 2018, IMD had around 30 successful incidents of seeding.

 

How successful is the cloud seeding technology?

  • The Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology has been carrying out cloud seeding experiments for several years now. These experiments have been done in areas around Nagpur, Solapur, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, and recently Varanasi.
  • The success rate of these experiments in inducing rains is about 60 to 70 per cent, depending on local atmospheric conditions, the amount of moisture in the air and cloud characteristics.

 

Source: Indian Express

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Prelims Facts

1. Special Protection Group (SPG)

What’s in News?

Govt. ends SPG protection for Sonia, Rahul & Priyanka

  • The Indian Special Protection Group (SPG) is “an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and former Prime Ministers of India and members of their immediate families wherever in the world they are.”
  • It was formed in 1988 by an act of the Parliament of India.

2. Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)

  • The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is an immigration status permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in the Republic of India
  • The OCI was introduced in response to demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries.
  • It was introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August 2005.
  • The Constitution of India prevents Indian citizens from holding dual citizenship. As such the OCI is not actual citizenship of India according to Indian law as it has many limitations such as no right to vote, no right to hold constitutional offices, and no right to buy agricultural properties.
  • To apply for and use an OCI document, a holder must be a citizen of and hold a passport of another country, except that of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

3. Dhrupad

What’s in News?

Dhrupad maestro Ramakant Gundecha no more.

Details:

  • Dhrupad is a genre in Hindustani classical music from the Indian subcontinent. It is the oldest style of music major vocal styles associated with Hindustani classical music.
  • The roots of Dhrupad are ancient, and it is discussed in the Hindu Sanskrit text Natyashastra.
  • It finds mention even in Persian text of Ain-i-Akbari of Abu Fazl.
  • The Bhakti saint and poet-musician Swami Haridas was a well-known dhrupad singer with songs dedicated to Krishna.
  • Swami Haridas was the guru of Tansen, the latter is famous, among other things, for his Dhrupad compositions.
  • There are a number of dhrupad gharanas: “houses”, or family styles.
  • The best-known gharana is the Dagar family who sing in the Dagar vani or Dagar gharana. The Gundecha brothers are well known for Dhrupad.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Q1. 1.	Which of the following statements are correct?
  1. Thiruvalluvar, commonly known as Valluvar, was a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher.
  2. Tirukkural, a classic Tamil sangam literature consisting of 1330 couplets or Kurals is the primary work credited to Thiruvalluvar.
  3. Tirukkural is a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economic matters.

Choose the correct option:

a. 1 only
b. 1 and 2 only
c. 1, 2 and 3
d. 2 and 3 only

See
Answer
Q2. Which of the following pairs of the riverine island and river are correctly matched?
  1. Majuli Island: Brahmaputra
  2. Nongkhnum Island: Kynshi river
  3. Umananda: Brahmaputra
  4. Munroe island: Kallada river

Choose the correct option:

a. 1, 2, 3 and 4
b. 1, 2 and 4
c. 1 and 2 only
d. 1 and 4 only

See
Answer
Q3. Which of the following are correctly matched?
  1. Gollabhama: Telangana
  2. Kalamkari: Andhra pradesh
  3. Ikat : Telangana
  4. Chikankari: Uttar Pradesh

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

a. 1 and 2 only
b. 2 and 3 only
c. 1, 2 and 4 only
d. 1, 2, 3 and 4

See
Answer
Q4. Which of the following statements are correct?
  1. Article 23 of the Indian Constitution outlaws both the trafficking of human beings and forced labour.
  2. The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act of 1976 stipulates that the monitoring of labour violations and their enforcement are responsibilities of state governments.

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

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

See
Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The building and the consequent fall of the Berlin wall had a profound impact not only on Germany but the world, at large. Comment. (10 marks, 150 words)
  2. Discuss the cloud seeding technology. What is its relevance to India? What are the concerns regarding the technology? (10 marks, 150 words)

Read previous CNA.

9 Nov 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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