11 Nov 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

11 Nov 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A.GS1 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Study moots lowering the age of consent
B.GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. The man who cleaned up the Indian electoral system
2. Ayodhya verdict
HEALTH
1. Maternal deaths on the decline: report
C.GS3 Related
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
1. ‘Bulbul’ leaves a trail of destruction
D.GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. A reward for ‘egregious’ violations
ECONOMY
1. After RCEP reticence, need for reform recalibration
F. Tidbits
1. Centre gets responses to draft Social Security code
2. Delhi looks underground to solve water shortage
3. U.S. court refuses to ban work permits for H-1B holders’ spouses
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Study moots lowering the age of consent

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. The man who cleaned up the Indian electoral system

Context:

Death of former Chief Election Commissioner T N Seshan.

Details:

  • Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan was a 1955 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, best remembered as the man who cleaned up elections in India.
  • He was the 10th Chief Election Commissioner of India (1990–96), who reformed elections by largely ending electoral malpractices in the country and redefined the status and visibility of the Election Commission of India.
  • Mr. Seshan was the only one to hold the post of CEC for six years from 1990 to 1996 in the last 50 years.
  • It was during Mr. Seshan’s period that the Commission was made a multi-member body in October 1993.
  • In the mid-1990s, Mr. Seshan was seen as a crusader against corruption and electoral malpractices. His work was recognized internationally when he was given the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 1996 for exemplary work in government service.

Major achievements:

  • T.N. Seshan, as Chief Election Commissioner during 1990-96, initiated the process of cleaning up the electoral system. He fearlessly took on both inert officials and slack political parties.
  • He was instrumental in the strict implementation of the election code of conduct. As CEC he saw to it that the model code of conduct, till then considered a document of academic interest, was taken seriously by the parties and candidates.
  • He initiated the process of cleaning up the electoral system. The introduction of electors’ photo identity cards was a measure in this direction.
  • Limit on candidate’s expenditure in his/her election was strictly implemented. Contestants were required to submit full accounts of their expenses for scrutiny by independent government inspectors.
  • Drafted election officials from states other than the one facing polls, to ensure that there was no scope for use of fear or favour to influence the election officials.
  • He was instrumental in recognizing and elimination of several malpractices like bribing or intimidating voters. He also cracked the whip on money and muscle power in elections. He even dispatched the Central Police Forces to suppress local goons and prevent theft of ballot boxes.
  • Mr. Seshan worked to ensure action against the use of official machinery for campaigning. He exposed politicians who made illicit use of public resources for electioneering and prohibited election-eve bonanzas for government workers. During the Karnataka Assembly elections in December 1994, he famously pulled up Union Ministers Sitaram Kesri and Kalpnath Rai for “attempting to influence voters”.
  • He took strong action against parties and candidates appealing to voters’ caste or communal feelings. He brought in measures to ensure that places of worship were not used for campaigns.
  • Such reforms were unheard of till he took over as the Chief Election Commissioner in 1990.
  • He played an important role in establishing a progressive and autonomous election commission machinery. Despite facing a volley of criticism that he was exceeding his powers, Mr. Seshan had demonstrated to the outside world that the post of the CEC was no pushover.

2. Ayodhya verdict

Context:

The Supreme Court delivered the judgment in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

Important observations in the judgment:

SC not to entertain claims against the actions of Mughals.

  • The Supreme Court has stated that it cannot entertain claims about the actions of Mughal emperors against Hindu places of worship.
  • The court has held that for any person who seeks solace or recourse against the actions of any number of ancient rulers, the law is not the answer.
  • With this, the court shuts its door on future claims of alleged atrocities committed by ancient rulers against Hindu places of worship of yore.
  • With respect to the disputed property at Ayodhya, it was observed that the British Sovereign recognized and permitted the existence of both Hindu and Muslim communities at the disputed property upon the annexation of Oudh in 1856. Hence, the claims could be examined in this case.
  • The court has held that the adoption of the Constitution marks a watershed moment for India and its citizens as the people of India, departed from the determination of rights and liabilities on the basis of our ideology, our religion, the colour of our skin, or the century when our ancestors arrived in these lands, and submitted to the rule of law.

Ruins don’t always indicate demolition, observes SC

  • The Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was dealing with the question of whether a Hindu religious structure was demolished to build the Babri Masjid in the 16th century.
  • The ruins of an ancient religious structure under an existing building do not always indicate that it was demolished by unfriendly powers for the construction of a new structure, the Supreme Court held in its 1,045-page judgment in the Ayodhya case.
  • The observation is significant and will form the basis of an argument against future claims that Hindu places of worship were destroyed centuries ago by rulers to build structures of other religions.
  • The Supreme Court agreed with the Allahabad High Court’s reasoning that “when a structure has been constructed several hundred years ago, it is difficult to conclude with any degree of certainty whether the underlying structure on whose foundations it rests had collapsed due to natural causes or whether the structure was demolished to give way for the structure of a mosque”.
  • The judgment noted that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report merely says the mosque was not built on vacant land and there was an underlying non-Islamic structure of large dimensions. It does not touch upon how that structure went to ruins.

Category: HEALTH

1. Maternal deaths on the decline: report

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.

Details:

  • The latest Sample Registration System (SRS) 2015-2017 bulletin for MMR has revealed that Indian women in their 20s make up for the biggest chunk of maternal deaths.
  • The report shows 68% of deaths were among women in the age group of 20-29.
  • Bleeding, hypertension and infections are among the leading causes of maternal deaths. The highest number of deaths are seen in the age group of 20-29 because most women get married and get pregnant in this age group. This is also the most fertile age group.
  • Ideally, women have to prepare their bodies and be fit for pregnancy. Unfortunately, the aspect of fitness is simply ignored leading to health complications and mortality.
  • Nearly 4% of deaths were in the age group of 15 to 19 which highlights the problem of early marriages and teenage pregnancies in the country.

Additional Information:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says the MMR dropped by 38% worldwide between 2000 and 2017. But still, an estimated 810 women died every day in 2017 from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
  • The high number of maternal deaths in some areas of the world reflects the inequalities in access to quality healthcare services and highlights the gap between the poor and the rich. The MMR in low-income countries in 2017 is 462 per one lakh live births versus 11 per one lakh live births in high-income countries.
  • This inequality is observed even within countries. For example in India, the more developed southern states observe lower MMR compared to the lesser developed states like UP and MP.
  • Some of the factors that prevent women from receiving or seeking care during pregnancy and childbirth are:
    • Poverty
    • Distance to health centers
    • Lack of information
    • Inadequate and poor quality of services
    • Cultural beliefs and practices
  • Working on these factors can help India achieve 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.

For more information regarding the MMR report, refer:

CNA dated Nov 9, 2019

C. GS3 Related

Category: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

1. ‘Bulbul’ leaves a trail of destruction

Context:

The ‘very severe’ cyclone ‘Bulbul’, which barrelled through the coastal states of West Bengal and Odisha and neighbouring Bangladesh has led to the loss of life and property.

Details:

  • Cyclone Bulbul smashed into the low-lying coastal areas of West Bengal, Orissa, and Bangladesh, bringing in its wake torrential rains coupled with gales (very strong winds).
  • The cyclone packed winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour when it made landfall before weakening into a deep depression.
  • Mortalities have been reported from falling trees, collapsed houses and illness after the cyclone ripped through the coastal districts.
  • The Indian Meteorological Department has forecasted that the storm is likely to weaken into a deep depression and then into a depression as it moves east-northeastwards over Bangladesh.

Measures taken:

  • Evacuation of people from the affected low-lying areas.
  • 10 teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in West Bengal and six in Odisha. An additional 18 teams are kept on standby.
  • Relief and rehabilitation measures for the cyclone-affected people are being carried out.

Additional Information:

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (‘NCRMP’):

  • Indian coasts are highly vulnerable to tropical cyclones and the consequent recurrent loss of life and property. It is now well recognized that by taking long and short term mitigation measures, the loss of life and property can be minimized. Hazard risk mitigation is the key to sustainable development, which lays greater emphasis on prevention, preparedness, and mitigation. To give effect to strategic interventions, the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to put in place the “National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project” under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
  • The overall objective of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (‘NCRMP’) is to minimize vulnerability to cyclones and make people and infrastructure disaster resilient in harmony with the conservation of the coastal ecosystem in the cyclone hazard-prone States and Union Territories of India.
  • The NDMA under the aegis of the MHA will implement the project in collaboration with the Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, and the National Institute for Disaster Management (NIDM) in the first phase. The project is funded by the World Bank (International Development Association). This project is proposed as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a 75% contribution by the Central Government, as grant-in-aid and a matching 25% contribution by State Governments. Some components will be completely funded by the Central Government, as grant-in-aid. The project is currently being implemented in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Land use policy: The most effective and least expensive mitigation strategy available is a restriction to development in areas at risk from tropical cyclones. Coastal Regulation Zone norms should be strictly enforced. Planning as well as balancing of the coastal vegetation and green cover should be taken up.
  • Building Codes: Proper building codes that specify the resistance to wind, wind-driven debris, and height above defined flood risks are another well-defined strategy for mitigating property loss. Considerable advances in structural design and building materials have occurred over the past several decades. Cyclone resilient structures must be constructed.
  • Infrastructure: Infrastructure in vulnerable areas such as roads, public buildings, bridges, communication systems and key infrastructures such as airports and hospitals must be resilient to cyclones. Underground power cable and utility lines should also be planned in a manner that they are functional and financially viable.
  • Education and awareness: Education is a key component to improving mitigation strategies. Citizens need to know the science behind the risks they face and what can be done to reduce the risk. The potential of educational institutes, media and NGOs in spreading awareness needs to be harnessed.
  • Preparedness: There is a need for a robust early warning system to deliver accurate and effective cyclone forecasts and warnings.
  • To keep people safe and secure during a cyclone, the government needs to take certain measures, such as making arrangements to relocate people during cyclones, providing information about a cyclone, and warning people, fishermen, ships, ports, airlines, and various government agencies.
  • Long term mitigation measures should also be in place in district plans.
  • Comprehensive state insurance cover needs to be provided for persons, their properties and cattle.
  • Engineering strategies like large scale community protection systems such as sea walls, levees, flood diversion canals, etc. can also be employed where feasible.

For more information on cyclone Bulbul, refer:

PIB dated Nov 7, 2019

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. A reward for ‘egregious’ violations

Context:

The Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.

Background:

  • The five-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a unanimous judgment has ruled in favour of granting the disputed site to the Hindus for the construction of the temple and granting Muslims an alternate 5 acre land for the construction of a mosque.
  • That the five Supreme Court judges achieved unanimity on an issue that has convulsed Indian politics through seven decades, points to a quite heroic effort at salving deep wounds. It has to be given credit for its effort to resolve a dispute that has stirred up ancient resentments that are capable of destroying the secular fabric of India.
  • The top court invoked an extraordinary power uniquely granted under Article 142 of the Constitution, to ensure that justice is delivered to all.
  • The most welcome aspect of the 1,045-page verdict of the five-judge Bench is its unanimity. For, it sends out a message that the judiciary has, with a single mind, ventured to give legal burial to a prolonged dispute that began as a minor litigation, expanded into a divisive political cause, and became a festering wound on the body politic for years. The fact that the case is over, at last, must come as great relief to all peace-loving people.

Court’s Observations:

  • The SC admits in its judgment that in deciding the title of the disputed site it cannot be reliant only on archaeological findings and rather, the matter must be decided on settled legal principles and by applying evidentiary standards that govern a civil trial.
  • The Bench pleads its inability to entertain claims that stem from the actions of the Mughal rulers against Hindu places of worship.
  • The court observes that Indian history is replete with actions that have been judged to be morally incorrect and even today are liable to trigger vociferous ideological debate.
  • The court has held that the adoption of the Constitution marks a watershed moment for India and its citizens as the people of India, departed from the determination of rights and liabilities on the basis of their ideology, their religion, the colour of their skin, or the century when their ancestors arrived at these lands, and submitted to the rule of law.
  • With respect to the disputed property at Ayodhya, it was observed that the British Sovereign recognized and permitted the existence of both Hindu and Muslim communities at the disputed property upon the annexation of Oudh in 1856. Hence the claims could be examined in this case.

Concerns regarding the Judgment:

  • The Babri Masjid demolition was a matter involving criminal trespass that should have been reversed by local administrative action. Ideally, the underlying dispute should have been settled at the local civil court as a land dispute. That the dispute finally reached a Constitution Bench is a sign of democratic dysfunction.
  • The Court has observed in its verdict that the placing of the idols inside in the inner dome of the mosque was an act of desecration of the mosque and the subsequent destruction of the mosque on December 6, 1992, was an egregious violation of the rule of law. Even after acknowledging all these historical wrongs, still, the Judgment seems to favour the interests of the violators of the rule of law and does very little to placate the victims.
  • Having declared that the suits are representative of the two communities, organized violence by one party in demolishing the mosque should not have been ignored.
  • A reading of the judgment reveals that the outcome from the verdict is not wholly in line with the evidentiary conclusions the court itself reaches.
  • It notes that archaeological evidence shows the existence of a 12th-century Hindu religious structure underneath but does not prove any demolition as claimed by some, or explain what happened in the intervening centuries.
  • It acknowledges that namaz was offered at the mosque between 1857 and 1949, and declares that Muslims did not abandon it, but offers no relief even though their religious rights stand proved.
  • While it holds that Hindus had a possessory right over the entire outer courtyard to the exclusion of Muslims, it does not decide whether they had an exclusive title; on the other hand, it rejects the Muslim claim solely on the ground that they failed to prove “exclusive title”.
  • The entire disputed area covering both the inner and outer courtyards are awarded to one side contrary to its own conclusion that Muslims had a right, albeit a contested one, in the inner courtyard.
  • The case has been decided on the balance of probabilities that Hindus have proved a better title than Muslims. While it is true that “preponderance of probabilities” is the standard of proof in civil law, it is doubtful whether this can be invoked to the exclusion of an acknowledged right belonging to the other side.
  • Although the judgment seeks to bridge significant gaps in the positive law by applying principles of “justice, equity and good conscience”, yet, it arrives at findings that negate these values. Equal citizenship was a promise that India made to itself at the time of its transition to a modern republic. Evidently, the court through its judgment seems to believe that the injuries to an entire religious community’s sense of identity and belonging, can be easily redressed by granting alternate land.
  • In allowing a temple to come up through a government-appointed trust at the disputed site in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court has apparently chosen a path most conducive to social harmony placing the need for peace and closure above the need to undo injustice. The final award will always be a source of discomfiture for those to whom closure goes beyond ensuring peace in a communally polarised environment.
  • The awarding of an alternate 5-acre plot to the Muslims seems more of moral consolation by way of a political compromise and less of adjudication in recognition of their religious rights.
  • In paving the way for the building of a temple for Ram on the spot believed to be his janmasthan, the Supreme Court held up the faith of millions of Hindus. But it cannot allow the judgment to be perceived as an endorsement of any challenge to the rule of law in the name of faith.

Way forward:

  • The politicization and communalisation of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute left in its wake a trail of violence and led to the terrible loss of lives and property across the country.
  • There would be a real sense of justice only if those who plotted and executed the demolition are convicted in the ongoing trial in Lucknow.
  • In the spirit of the ‘new India’, though it is welcome that the dispute has been put to rest, it would be in the fitness of things to ensure that no such egregious violation of the rule of law are allowed to recur in the future which would act as a body blow to the secular fabric of India.

Category: ECONOMY

1. After RCEP reticence, need for reform recalibration

Context:

India’s decision to not sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

Indian Concerns with RCEP:

India’s withdrawal from the RCEP is based on three key concerns.

  • The possible negative impact of joining the agreement on particularly the farmers and small business owners due to the dumping of products from other countries into India.
  • The lack of concessions within the final agreement on key demands for India such as work visas and liberalization in services.
  • India currently runs deficits with 11 of the 15 other member states. India’s trade deficit was a factor given that this could expand under the RCEP. This concern is particularly acute when it relates to China, with India fearing an influx of cheap Chinese imports into India. Fears of Chinese imports and its impact on Indian domestic manufacturers are legitimate and well-founded, given that India has faced unfair restricted market access from China when it exports to the country in the form of non-tariff barriers.

RCEP exit a missed opportunity:

Though the concerns raised by India seem logical, India’s withdrawal from the agreement is not necessarily the best way forward.

  • India had already won concessions in the negotiations, including implementation delays stretching into decades and safeguards to protect sensitive sectors like agriculture.
  • Existing WTO rules allow India to impose safeguard duties and anti-dumping provisions which has been used in the past and can be put to use against China when it comes to unfair trade practices.
  • A long-standing goal for India is to generate a high level of sustained economic growth, which would create millions of jobs and secure a stable future for India’s young population. Given these ambitions, India’s decision to withdraw from the RCEP is not ideal, considering the many opportunities that RCEP would have opened for India.
  • India has enormous strategic and long-term economic imperatives to join the RCEP. India’s ambitions to become a global hub for manufacturing means that it is in the country’s long-term national interest to be integrated into global value chains.
  • India now, is neither a part of the RCEP nor the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), constituting the two economic structures which will effectively determine global value chains for manufacturing in Asia for years to come. This will mean that India will continue to remain unintegrated in such supply chains, and will see its ambitions of becoming a global manufacturing hub further delayed.
  • Delay in integrating with global value chains will impact India’s internal and external ambitions. The World Bank found that when coupled with domestic reforms, joining such global value chains can “boost growth, create better jobs, and reduce poverty”. India’s own evidence shows that jobs linked to global value chains earn one-third more than those jobs focused on the domestic market.
  • The inability to accede to the RCEP and ensure India’s integration into these emerging global value chains means India will lose out on a key opportunity to create such high-quality, high-paying jobs.
  • The exit seems to be against the government’s own articulated view that the economics of the world has changed and, therefore, India will have to act accordingly shedding its traditional isolationist approach.
  • The Make in India program, seeking to encourage global companies to manufacture products in India and making India a Global Manufacturing Hub will be hurt by the RCEP exit.
  • India’s absence in both of Asia’s two key economic architectures will take away from India’s goals as a regional and Indo-Pacific power, as well as a prospective global power. RCEP membership and the possible economic opportunity could have facilitated India’s rise as one of the poles in a multipolar 21st century.

Way forward:

India should prepare itself for future RCEP negotiations. The country should commit itself to domestic reforms to prepare itself for the next opportunity to integrate itself into the global value chains and unleash Indian manufacturing.

For more information on RCEP refer:

CNA dated Nov 6, 2019

CNA dated Nov 5, 2019

F. Tidbits

1. Centre gets responses to draft Social Security code

  • The government has bracketed the existing 44 labour laws into four major codes – wages, industrial safety and welfare, social security and industrial relations. The four codes are part of the Centre’s labour reforms agenda.
  • These proposed major labour law changes will result in ease of compliance for employers and at the same time ensuring social security for the workers.
  • The draft code on social security subsumes eight existing laws covering provident fund, maternity benefits and pension.
  • The draft code involves proposals like provident fund, pension and insurance funds being administered by a central board, and a national pension scheme that employees can opt for.

2. Delhi looks underground to solve water shortage

  • Delhi Jal Board is looking at two projects to solve 22.5% water shortage the city faces.
    • Aquifer storage and recovery system (ASR)
    • Using runoff water from city roads to recharge groundwater
  • Aquifer storage and recovery system (ASR) involves storing excess water in aquifers, instead of tanks, through a well. The water can be extracted using the same well or a different one during the lean period.
  • An aquifer is a water-bearing zone and under the project, water is to be injected during wet periods (monsoons) and it would displace the naturally present water in the aquifer occupying a volume around the well.
  • Potential sources of water include harvesting excess water from the Yamuna, urban stormwater runoff or treated water.
  • Another project involves recharging groundwater using modular rainwater harvesting tanks, which will be installed underground along 1,209 city road stretches and selected flyovers.
  • The tanks would collect runoff water, which otherwise flows into the drains. The tanks would purify the water before it recharges the groundwater table. The on-site installation of the detention system is both cost-effective and a durable solution for preventing urban flood risks.

3. U.S. court refuses to ban work permits for H-1B holders’ spouses

  • In a temporary relief to thousands of Indians living in America, a U.S. court has refused to strike down, for the time being, an Obama-era rule that allowed spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in America.
  • The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
  • A 2015 rule allowed work permits for certain categories of H-4 visa holders, primarily spouses of those having H-1B work visas waiting for their Green Card, to work in the U.S.

G. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Q1. Which of the following beaches and states are correctly matched?
  1. Chandipur beach: Odisha
  2. Baga beach: Goa
  3. Marina beach: Andhra Pradesh
  4. Elephant beach: Maharashtra

Options:

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

See
Answer
Q2. Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. Article 361 of the Constitution confers immunity to the President and Governors from criminal and civil cases during their term of office.
  2. The President, or the Governor of a State, shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties.

Options:

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

See
Answer
Q3. Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. The holy book of the Sikhs ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ was compiled by Guru Nanak Dev.
  2. The golden temple in Amritsar was built by Guru Nanak Dev.

Options:

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

See
Answer
Q4. Which of the following countries is not part of RCEP?

a. Taiwan
b. Vietnam
c. Singapore
d. Brunei

See
Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Discuss the composition and the manner of appointment of members of the Election Commission of India (ECI). Discuss the powers enjoyed by the ECI. In the light of recent suggestions to change the process of appointments, suggest the need for the change and suitable alternatives. (15 marks, 250 words)
  2. The East coast of India is highly vulnerable to cyclones as compared to the Western coast. Discuss the reasons for it. Suggest suitable mitigation measures for cyclones. (10 marks, 150 words)

Read previous CNA.

11 Nov 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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