12 Nov 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

12 Nov 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A.GS1 Related
B.GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Centre begins work on NCR Regional Plan 2041
2. Committee to draft new water policy
HEALTH
1. Anaemia among men a major public health issue
C.GS3 Related
D.GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Several positives for the Muslim plaintiffs
2. A missed opportunity in Ayodhya
INFRASTRUCTURE
1. Casting the Net wide
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The extra mile
ECONOMY
1. The future of work
F. Tidbits
1. Radio channel to guide farmers on climate change
2. Capacity-building programme for Afghan diplomats begins
3. Can court ask a secular State to construct a temple?
G. Prelims Fact
1. Index of Industrial Production
2. Suranga Bawadi
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Centre begins work on NCR Regional Plan 2041

Context:

  • Setting the goals of enhancing liveability, economic activity and sustainability of the National Capital Region, the process of preparing a 20-year plan — the NCR Regional Plan 2041 — by September 2021 has been kick-started by the government.
  • The Regional Plan-2041 for NCR will be among the key instruments to address various issues related to harmonious development of the largest metropolitan region of the world.

This topic has been covered in the 8th November 2019 PIB. Click here to read.

2. Committee to draft new water policy

What’s in News?

The government is planning to come out with an updated version of the National Water Policy (NWP) with key changes in water governance structure and regulatory framework.

Details:

  • The Union Water Resources Ministry has finalised a committee to draft a new National Water Policy (NWP). The committee is expected to produce a report within six months.
  • Setting up a National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency is also on the cards.
  • National Water Policy was formulated to govern the planning and development of water resources and their optimum utilisation.
  • The first NWP was adopted in 1987. It was reviewed and updated in 2002 and in 2012.

What next?

  • Hydrological boundaries, rather than administrative or political boundaries, should be part of the water governance structure in the country.
  • The centre is currently talking to the States to build a consensus.
  • Building consensus among the States within the Constitutional framework is a pre-condition for making the changes to the NWP.
  • Water conservation, along with water harvesting and judicious and multiple uses of water, are key to tackling the water challenges that India faces.

Category: HEALTH

1. Anaemia among men a major public health issue

Issues:

  • A study titled ‘Anaemia among men in India: A nationally representative cross-sectional study’ published in Lancet Global Health recently, has revealed that Anaemia among men in India is an important public health problem with State-level prevalence in men varying from 9.2% (average of 7.7%-10.9%) in Manipur to 32.9% (average of 31%-34.7%) in Bihar.
  • In men, the prevalence of any anaemia was 23.2%, moderate or severe anaemia was 5.1%, and severe anaemia was 0.5%.
  • An estimated 21.7% of men with any degree of anaemia had moderate or severe anaemia compared with 53.2% of women with any anaemia.
  • The report noted that while studies on anaemia in India have mostly focused on women and children, men have lesser attention.
  • Also, men have received far less attention when it comes to addressing the prevalence of anaemia.
    • For example, the reduction of anemia is one of the important objectives of the POSHAN Abhiyaan launched in March 2018.
    • Complying with the targets of POSHAN Abhiyaan and National Nutrition Strategy set by NITI Aayog, the Anemia Mukt Bharat strategy has been designed to reduce prevalence of anemia by 3 percentage points per year among children, adolescents and women in the reproductive age group (15–49 years), between the year 2018 and 2022.

Details:

  • The study aimed to:
    • Determine the national prevalence of anaemia among men in India.
    • Determine the variation in the prevalence of anaemia across states by socio-demographic characteristics
    • Determine whether the geographical and socio-demographic variations were similar to those among women.
    • To inform whether anaemia reduction efforts for men should be coupled with existing efforts for women.

Conclusion:

  • The report has interpreted that, Anaemia among men in India is an important public health problem; and because of the similarities in the patterns of geographical and sociodemographic variation of anaemia between men and women, future efforts to reduce anaemia among men could target similar population groups as those targeted in existing efforts to reduce anaemia among women.
  • Given the inexpensive treatment of many common forms of anaemia and the condition’s effect on economic productivity, policymakers in India must consider extending some components of the Anemia Mukt Bharat programme to men, especially in the states and districts in which we found a particularly high prevalence of anaemia in men.

What is anaemia?

  • Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying capacity is insufficient to meet the body’s physiological requirements, which vary by age, sex, altitude, smoking habits, and during pregnancy.
  • Anaemia is defined as haemoglobin concentration below established cut-off levels in the blood.
  • The manifestations of anaemia vary by its severity and range from fatigue, weakness, dizziness and drowsiness to impaired cognitive development of children and increased morbidity.
  • Anemia in pregnancy is associated with post-partum haemorrhage, neural tube defects, low birth weight, premature births, stillbirths and maternal deaths.
  • In malaria-endemic regions, anemia is one of the most common preventable causes of maternal and child deaths. In its most severe form, anemia can also lead to death.
  • There are many causes of anemia, out of which iron deficiency accounts for about 50 percent of anemia in school children and among women of reproductive age-group, and 80 percent in children 2–5 years of age.
  • Other nutritional deficiencies besides iron, such as vitamin B12, folate and vitamin A, can cause anemia although the magnitude of their contribution is unclear.
  • Infectious diseases – in particular, malaria, helminth infections, tuberculosis and haemoglobinopathies – are other important contributory causes to the high prevalence of anemia.

C. GS3 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Several positives for the Muslim plaintiffs

Context:

The Supreme Court’s Verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.

Details:

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 a temple and granting Muslims an alternate 5 acre land for the construction of a mosque.

Though there have been some concerns raised regarding the verdict on the parameters of the rule of law and secularism, there are several positive findings and observations of the court that must be welcomed and appreciated.

Positives:

  • 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. This observation of the court should become the guiding light for the spirit of ‘New India’.
  • On the topic of freedom of religion under Article 25, the court categorically made a highly appreciable observation that one must firmly reject any attempt to lead the court to interpret religious doctrine in an absolute and extreme form and question the faith of worshippers. The court’s observation that faith is a matter for the individual believer, helps strengthen the spirit of secularism of the Indian Constitution.
  • In the light of claims over other places of worship, the court has yet again reiterated that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution and that the Places of Worship Act, 1991, imposes a non-derogable obligation towards enforcing a commitment to secularism under Indian Constitution. This will only help strengthen the secular fabric of India.
  • 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. This will make it clear that there cannot be any challenge to the rule of law in the name of faith. The Supreme Court has turned the case into an opportunity to deliver a verdict that has shown the court’s refusal to tolerate assaults on constitutional values. This will serve as an affirmation to all that in the future, no vandalism of places of worship would be tolerated.
  • The Supreme Court by stating that it cannot entertain any person who seeks solace or recourse against the actions of any number of ancient rulers has ruled out any future claims. The Court has indirectly prohibited any further claims against other places of worship and subsequent disputes. This will spare the country future communal mobilizations.
  • The court’s acceptance of the fact that the place of birth in itself cannot be considered a juristic person will, in fact, avoid several future religious conflicts. The court observed that conferral of such a right may impinge on the rights of people of other faiths. The court held that a method of offering worship unique to one religion cannot result in conferral of an absolute title. In other words, the court made it clear that it could not accord primacy of one faith over others hence ensuring equality among all faiths.
  • The court’s observation that 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, is significant and will form the basis of an argument against future claims.
  • The Supreme Court’s acceptance of the argument that a title cannot be decided solely on the basis of faith will help avoid future disputes.
  • In an unprecedented act, the judge who authored this verdict has preferred not to reveal his name. Though some have questioned this saying that this goes against the spirit of the oath taken by the judges to decide on cases without fear or favour, this act will help avoid the unnecessary attention to the religion of the author that is bound to be questioned in such emotive cases.
  • The ruling in its own way tries to achieve a balance and argues that the relief provided in the verdict should be molded in a manner which preserves the constitutional values of fraternity, and the equality of religious belief.
  • 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 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.

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court judgment seems to be directed at achieving long-lasting peace and tranquility by putting to rest this divisive Masjid-Mandir issue that is capable of destroying the secular fabric of India.

The Court while solving the Ayodhya issue has made it abundantly clear by its observations that there cannot be any similar disputes in the future. This is the biggest positive out of the judgment.

2. A missed opportunity in Ayodhya

Context:

The Supreme Court’s Verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.

Details:

The Ayodhya judgment though well-intentioned has raised several concerns. Though the SC through its observations has ruled out any future claims on other sites, it has missed the opportunity to use Article 142 to exclusively rule it out.

For more information on concerns regarding the Ayodhya judgment refer:

CNA dated Nov 11, 2019

Category: INFRASTRUCTURE

1. Casting the Net wide

Context:

The Kerala cabinet’s approval of the Kerala Fibre Optic Network project.

Details:

  • The Kerala Fibre Optic Network project envisages a Kerala-wide optical fibre network by December 2020.
  • The project involves a plan to touch every household in Kerala with a commendable provision to deliver free Internet access to over two million BPL families. The other households will be charged with affordable rates.
  • The network, to be set up by the Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd. and the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd., will also connect 30,000 government offices and educational institutions.
  • If successful in its implementation, Kerala could have near-universal Internet access by the end of 2020.

Background:

  • India has made huge leaps in providing Internet access to its people in recent years. A good part of the growth till now can be attributed to cheap data plans and mobile phones offered by private enterprises.
  • According to a recent study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and Nielsen, the country has 451 million active Internet users. But this number masks huge access gaps.
  • The number of people without internet access still exist in the millions. The best-performing State, Delhi-NCR, has an Internet penetration of 69%. The second-best is Kerala, with just 54%. This reveals that in spite of impressive growth in internet coverage India is still far off from universal coverage.
  • There is inequality in access to the internet, leading to what is popularly known as the digital gap. Internet penetration is significantly higher in urban areas than it is in rural areas; it is also significantly higher for men than it is for women.
  • Global technology companies have in recent years eyed the huge population of Internet have-nots in India as an opportunity. Facebook, came up with an idea of free access to a list of chosen sites, a severely skewed version of the Internet that endangered its basic values. This was rejected by the government. Though the private efforts in increasing internet coverage have been commendable there is no doubt that governments need to play an interventionist role in plugging this gap.
  • Digital India, one of the flagship schemes of the present government envisages the development of secure and stable digital infrastructure and increasing Internet connectivity to digitally empower the country. The initiative includes plans to connect rural areas with high-speed internet.
  • The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is a project initiated in 2011 and funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund to provide broadband connectivity to over 200,000-gram panchayats of India. The project intends to enable the government of India to provide e-services and e-applications nationally. A special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) was created as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Companies Act of 1956 for the execution of the project.
  • The Kerala High Court has held that the right to have access to the Internet is part of the fundamental right to education as well as the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution. For more on this refer: CNA dated Sep 20, 2019.

Significance:

  • The most commendable aspect of the Kerala Fibre Optic Network project is its recognition that Internet access is a basic human right.
  • It is an ambitious project given that no other Indian State or the centre has recognized the importance of Internet access to every individual.
  • Upon completion, Kerala, a state that already tops in human development indicators in the country, will be ready for a steep digital evolution.
  • The project is also in sync with what the UN has been articulating in recent years, based on the Internet’s role in enabling freedom of speech and reducing inequality, among other things. Kerala’s plan for providing free Internet access to the poor will aid the poor to move out of poverty.

Way forward:

  • Kerala’s plan for Internet roll-out, is worthy of emulation by other States, given that Internet have-nots still exist in the millions. Kerala could set a healthy example.
  • Digital India which envisages making the country digitally empowered in the field of technology involves three components: the development of secure and stable digital infrastructure, delivering government services digitally and ensuring universal digital literacy. Internet access would be useful only if we are able to ensure digital literacy among the general populace. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan works in this direction.
  • Considering the digital illiteracy in India, ensuring content in the regional languages can go a long way in increasing digital literacy. The Kerala project should consider providing content in both English and regional languages.

Additional information:

  • The right to Internet access, also known as the right to broadband or freedom to connect, is the view that all people must be able to access the Internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights, that states have a responsibility to ensure that Internet access is broadly available and that states may not unreasonably restrict an individual’s access to the Internet.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. The extra mile

Context:

Inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor.

Details:

  • The Kartarpur corridor provides an important Track-II diplomacy opportunity to subtly use the system of faith as an effective instrument of diplomacy.
  • It was hoped that the Kartarpur corridor would lead to a new sense of understanding between the two governments and create an atmosphere for talks on other issues.
  • The inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor has fulfilled the promise it held out to the devout, but hasn’t lived up to its potential for diplomacy between India and Pakistan.
  • The failure was most evident when both Mr. Modi and Mr. Khan carried out separate inauguration ceremonies but failed to come together at the border for the launch of the project, though both leaders likened it to the “coming down of the Berlin wall”.

For more Information on Kartarpur corridor refer:

CNA Dated Oct 25, 2019

CNA Dated July 24, 2019

Category: ECONOMY

1. The future of work

Context:

Karnataka State government’s move to frame guidelines for workers of digital platforms like Uber, Ola, Zomato, Swiggy, UrbanClap, etc.

Importance of digital platforms:

  • With the manufacturing sector in India unable to provide employment opportunities to the youth, the digital platforms provide work to the growing demographic of youth in the country. They are creating jobs in the economy.
  • These platform companies have been able to bring in large investments into the Indian economy as well which is good for developing countries like India.
  • Governments have been unable to create viable public work schemes in urban areas for those continuously migrating into cities and towns. Private tech, however, has been able to do this.
  • An increasing number of jobs in the gig economy has been created through incentivized demand using cashback, coupons, low fares, and even free services rather than through natural demand. They have given urban workers a financialised, self-driven, optional economic safety net of ‘having a job, having a gig’.
  • MoUs signed between platform companies and various State and Central Ministries over the years show that governments have actively invited companies to create work, entrepreneurial opportunities, and skill development. The Karnataka Social Welfare Department signed an MoU with Uber to create work opportunities for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe youth.
  • In cases of informal jobs where it was difficult to identify workers for whom protection was to be given, platforms became vehicles to serve this purpose. For example, Uber partnered with Ayushman Bharat to facilitate free healthcare for drivers and delivery partners. UrbanClap partnered with the National Urban Livelihoods Mission to generate jobs with minimum assured monthly wages for the urban poor. The ecosystem of public policy, platform work, and the government together can suggest an urban ‘Jobs for All’, a financialised employment guarantee scheme.
  • The platform companies have been successful in creating public utilities which have contributed to increased ease of living.

Significance of the move:

  • Active moves to bring digital labour platforms within the purview of new or existing employment and labour regulations in India have been sorely missing.
  • The move to frame the guidelines is to ensure that all relevant labour benefits are available to even those working in the ‘gig economy’. The Karnataka government’s move to add benefits can provide a degree of public welfare assistance to a significant and growing workforce in India.
  • Details of implementation are awaited but the Karnataka government is following the tone set by the Centre, which proposed a new draft code on social security this year.
  • The work created by these companies could easily be regulated as public goods in the coming years, given their growing reach, reliance on them and utility.
  • There have been concerns about the lack of job security, social security for the employees. The long and unregulated working hours and the lack of bargaining power for the employees with the platforms have been serious concerns.

Concerns:

  • There are a few issues with respect to the gig economy on which there is a lack of clarity. Like whether Uber drivers, for example, are full-time employees of Uber or freelancers. Without such much-needed clarity, any move of the government is bound to be challenged by the platforms in the courts of law.
  • The Ministry’s bid to provide insurance and job security can fructify only with direct acknowledgment of the role played by platforms in employment generation, and not by overly regulating them.
  • The strength or ability of labour regulation to push companies to deliver full formal employment in a financialised world of work seems poor. As any such move leads to the rise of asset-light models. While the government has the responsibility of ensuring social stability, any move in this direction must not create hurdles for the businesses.
  • The regulation might become more in the coming times, where platforms can be asked to perform more public functions like implementing a minimum wage. The digital platforms are unique in their models and operations and the excessive regulation of them on traditional lines might not be a viable approach. For it might make them economically unviable leading to its closing down and the subsequent job losses.

Way forward:

While the government has the responsibility of ensuring social stability for all, any move in this direction must not create hurdles for the businesses. This will lead to loss of employment which in itself is a way to social security. The government needs to balance the views of all stakeholders.

F. Tidbits

1. Radio channel to guide farmers on climate change

  • The Maharashtra State Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices is planning to start a dedicated community radio channel to inform farmers about climate change and help resolve their problems.
  • The radio channel will broadcast discussions on climate change and problems related to it.
  • To address the issues of cultivators, the commission will form a committee of five to six members, comprising experts from Krishi Vigyan Kendras, the State agriculture department and private companies working in the field of agriculture and technology.

2. Capacity-building programme for Afghan diplomats begins

  • Indian and Chinese officials have begun a course to train diplomats from Afghanistan at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) run by the External Affairs Ministry.
  • It is the second joint China-India Capacity Building Programme for Afghan Diplomats.
  • The joint training of Afghan diplomats is part of the outcome of the Wuhan Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • The two-week intensive programme is designed to give the visiting diplomats exposure to Indian diplomatic practices and traditions.

3. Can court ask a secular State to construct a temple?

  • One of the prominent questions raised after the Ayodhya judgement is whether the Supreme Court’s direction to the Central government to formulate a scheme and set up a trust to facilitate the construction of a temple on the disputed land would amount to a breach of the secular character of the State.
  • Can a secular State be ordered to facilitate the construction of a temple, which is an essential part of the Hindu belief? Does this not amount to a secular State fostering a particular religion?
  • Justice K. Chandru, former Madras High Court judge, referred to the nine-judge Bench judgment in the S.R. Bommai case of 1994 in this regard. “The Bommai decision clearly said the State should be divorced from religion,” he said.
    • The Bommai judgment said the concept of secular State was essential in a democracy.
    • “State is neither pro-particular religion nor anti-particular religion. It stands aloof, in other words, maintains neutrality in matters of religion and provides equal protection to all religions,” it observed.
  • Eminent jurist, Upendra Baxi, however, said there was no breach of constitutional secularism involved in the Centre being given the responsibility.
    • Baxi said the Centre was already empowered under Section 6 of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act,1993 to vest the disputed land in a trust or authority.
    • He pointed out that Section 7(1) of the 1993 Act allowed the disputed property to be “maintained by the government or by any person or trustees of any trust, authorities”. The validity of the 1993 Act was also upheld by the Supreme Court.
  • But Justice Chandru argued that the Ayodhya Act was upheld only as an “interim measure so that land was not tampered with or frittered away when the case of its title and possession was still under litigation”.
    • He questioned why the apex court directed the Centre – which was not a party to the Ayodhya title suits or appeals – to formulate a scheme for the land.
    • He argued that the court could have asked the local civil court under Section 92 (g) of the Code of Civil Procedure to settle a scheme for the land.

G. Prelims Facts

1. Index of Industrial Production

What’s in News?

IIP shrinks by 4.3% to the lowest in 8 years. It is the worst fall in 90 months adding to a series of weak indicators released recently, suggesting a deep-rooted economic slowdown.

  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index that indicates the performance of various industrial sectors of the Indian economy.
  • It is calculated and published by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) every month.

To know about the Index of Industrial Production in detail, click here.

2. Suranga Bawadi

What’s in News?

  • Suranga Bawadi has entered the World Monument Watch list.
  • A New York-based NGO has included it in the World Monument Watch list for 2020 along with 24 other monuments from across the world.
  • World Monuments Fund works in collaboration with the local stakeholders, including the district administration, the Archaeological Survey of India and local explorers of ancient monuments, in highlighting the need for restoration of ancient monuments.
  • The monument has been selected under the “Ancient Water System of the Deccan Plateau”.

Suranga Bawadi:

  • Suranga Bawadi is an integral part of the ancient Karez system of supplying water through subterranean tunnels built during the Adil Shahi era in Karnataka.
  • The ancient water system ‘Karez’ is believed to one of the best systems in the world.
  • Though the Karez system was built in the 16th century by Ali Adil Shah–I, his successor, Ibrahim Adil Shah–II, brought in several changes by adding more structures to strengthen it.
  • According to historians, the Adil Shahis built the magnificent underground system to supply water to the city, which had a population of nearly 12 lakh then.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Q1. Consider the following statements:
  1. The reduction of anaemia is one of the important objectives of POSHAN Abhiyan.
  2. The Anemia Mukt Bharat strategy has been designed to reduce the prevalence of anaemia by 3% points per year among children, adolescents, women and men between the years 2018 and 2022.

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
Q2. ‘Karez’ recently seen in news is:

a. An ancient water irrigation system.
b. A land revenue system followed during the Mughal period.
c. One of the rules governing worship in Islam introduced by the Mughal emperor Akbar.
d. None of the above.

See
Answer
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to Sambhar Lake:
  1. Sambhar Lake is surrounded by the Aravali hills on all sides.
  2. It has been designated as a Ramsar site.
  3. It is the second-largest inland saltwater lake in India.

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

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

See
Answer
Q4. Consider the following statements:
  1. Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, the government envisages to provide water supply to every rural and urban household in India by 2022.
  2. The mission aims to create local infrastructure for rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household waste water for reuse in agriculture.

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. Comment on the major challenges that India faces with respect to the management of water resources. Also, discuss the various aspects that need consideration in the New National Water Policy to ensure integrated demand and supply management of water. (15 Marks, 250 Words).
  2. The gig economy of recent times dominated by the digital platforms has played a significant role in the Indian Economy. Elaborate on the need for regulating them and the concerns associated with excessive regulation of these platforms. (250 words, 15 marks)

Read previous CNA.

12 Nov 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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