UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis Nov18

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. SIMBEX-2018 – 25 Glorious Years and Counting
2. Solih promises to reset ties
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Ganga waterway project cleared after overruling expert panel
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Project maps butterfly migration in South India
2. Jumbo care! India gets its first dedicated elephant hospital
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. GROWTH-India telescope’s first science observation
2. Novel strategy to treat diabetic wound infection
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. The lowdown on RBI board meeting
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. SIMBEX-2018 – 25 Glorious Years and Counting

Note to Students:

  • This particular update has been taken from a release by the Press Information Bureau.
  • Maritime Bilateral Exercises are an important area of study for civil services aspirants. This is because, through effective interoperability, many present emerging security challenges can be effectively countered. For example, anti-piracy operations and securing the sea lanes of communication.
  • Further, through effective interoperability, in the event of disasters, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations can be effectively carried out.
  • Thus, from both a security dimension and working as an instrument to cement stronger ties between the participating nations, such bilateral exercises assume importance.

Larger Background:

  • SIMBEX (Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise) marked its 25th anniversary and is currently underway.
  • This year, 2018 the exercises are being conducted in four phases, two each in harbour at Port Blair and Visakhapatnam and two sea phases in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Since its inception in 1993, SIMBEX has grown in tactical and operational complexity. It has transcended the traditional emphasis on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) to more complex maritime exercises, such as Air Defence, Air and Surface practice firing, Maritime Security, and Search and Rescue Operations.

The News:

  • After an intense sea phase of SIMBEX, Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, ships of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) arrived Visakhapatnam on 16 November, 2018.
  • Experts term the level of interoperability between the two navies as unprecedented. In this maritime bilateral exercise, ships, submarines and aircraft of India and Singapore – undertook multi-dimensional exercises at sea with perhaps very high degree of complexity.
  • After the initial harbour phase at Port Blair, the exercises witnessed action at sea and have now shifted gears to the second harbour phase at Visakhapatnam which is home to the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) of the Indian Navy.
  • Phase 1 of the 25th edition of SIMBEX has already witnessed over a dozen ships and submarines and a never seen before number of weapon firings at sea. The action now shifts to the harbour activities at Visakhapatnam before they kick off the intensive Second Phase of the exercise.
  • In a symbol of the growing trust and comfort levels between the two navies, the event will witness unveiling of the SIMBEX logo, and release of commemorative Indian Special Postage Cover and Singaporean Postage Stamp.
  • Further, the simultaneous release of Postal Cover and Stamp by Indian and Singaporean Postal department respectively also highlights the significance of this historic occasion between the two nations.
  • Earlier, in June 2018, the Prime Ministers of both – India and Singapore, on the sidelines of the Shangri La Dialogue held at Singapore had remarked that they looked forward to the 25th and enhanced edition of bilateral annual naval exercise SIMBEX.

2. Solih promises to reset ties

The News:

  • The Maldives’s new President, Ibrahim Solih, sought to turn a new page in the country’s politics at a glittering inaugural ceremony.
  • The Maldives’s new President, Ibrahim Solih, promises a host of people-focussed policies and a foreign policy formulated on the basis of human rights, democracy and climate diplomacy.
  • This event was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lankan MP Namal Rajapaksa and other dignitaries from across the region.

A few Specifics:

  • Making an important announcement, Mr. Solih said that by the end of the first 100 days of his administration, electricity prices would be reduced, tuition fees fully covered for undergraduate students, and school students provided free breakfast.
  • He also said that his government would allow pension funds to be used by Haj pilgrims.
  • It is important to note that the new government assumes power on the back of a coalition of parties led by Mr. Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party, and comes after five years of rule under Abdulla Yameen that saw Male moving strategically and economically closer to China than to India.
  • Ordinary Maldivians, who braved the total security lockdown across Male and the media blackout at the inaugural venue, appeared to take pride in the peaceful transition of power.
  • Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony, Mr. Solih held a meeting with Mr. Modi, which sources said was a special gesture towards India, as indeed was the fact that India was the only country that the new President mentioned in his speech.

Peace: An important point of convergence

  • At their meeting, the two leaders agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean and being “mindful of each other’s concerns and aspirations for the stability of the region”.
  • Importantly, their joint statement recognised that easing the visa regime mutually in both countries would be the quickest way to expand opportunities for Indian companies to invest in the Maldives, and for Maldivians to travel to India for a variety of purposes.
  • India was also invited to step up again as an economic partner which could help the Maldives meet its most pressing economic needs, including for increased housing and infrastructure development and for water and sewerage systems on the outlying islands.
  • On the issue of tackling climate change, President Solih corroborated his reference to “climate diplomacy” with details on his plan to introduce a green tax and halt fishing permits to foreigners.
  • When Mr. Modi extended an invitation to Mr. Solih to make a state visit to India at his earliest convenience, the President accepted the invitation and Mr. Modi also agreed to President Solih’s invitation to him to make an official visit to the Maldives in the near future.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Ganga waterway project cleared after overruling expert panel

Larger Background:

  • India’s longest waterway project is the Ganga waterway project.
  • One terminal of the Ganga waterway project was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this November, 2018. This was made possible only after a high-power Committee of Ministers and senior officials from multiple Ministries overruled the recommendations of experts appointed by the Environment Ministry.
  • The latter had recommended public consultations and a full-fledged environment clearance, documents made available through the Right to Information (RTI) Act show.

A few specifics on the project:

  • The current government has an ambitious plan to make stretches of the 2,500-km-long Ganga suitable for transporting containers,
  • Going beyond this, it also decided to make navigable a 1,390-km stretch of the river between Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haldia in West Bengal.
  • The project entails construction of 3 multimodal terminals (Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia); 2 intermodal terminals; 5 Roll On–Roll Off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs; a new navigation lock at Farakka; assured depth dredging; an integrated vessel repair and maintenance facility; a Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS); a River Information System (RIS); and ‘river training’ and river conservancy works.
  • The ₹5,369 crore the Ganga waterway project is partly funded by the World Bank.
  • However, to enable container barges and ships to carry at least 2,000 tonnes, the project requires the river bed to be dredged to enable a minimum draft of three metres along the river, as well as to make the river channel at least 45 metres wide.
  • It is important to note that since early 2016, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), which is attached to the Union Shipping Ministry, have been at odds over whether this dredging required environmental clearance (EC). This process involves a consultation with locals likely to be affected by the project and residing at locations along the river, where major constructions would be executed.

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Project maps butterfly migration in South India

The News:

  • In a recent development, the Ferns Naturalists’ Society (FNS), Wayanad, Travancore Natural History Society (TNHS), and the Malabar Natural History Society (MNHS) have joined hands to launch a citizen science project.
  • This citizen science project would would attempt at mapping the migratory path of butterflies in south India. This project would also be the first such initiative in the country.
  • Usually butterfly migration starts during October-November with the onset of the northeast monsoon, from the plains to the ghats, and during April-May, just before the advent of the southwest monsoon, from the ghats to the plains.

A few Specifics:

A recent study had revealed that four species of milkweed butterflies are mainly involved in the migration. These four species include:

  1. The Dakhan Dark Blue Tiger,
  2. Oriental Blue Tiger,
  3. Double-branded Black Crow and
  4. Indian Common Crow.
  • Experts point out that the information on butterfly migration in India is still patchy.
  • What is needed is a careful documentation of migration over a prolonged period from a given area. For this, a wide network and coordination among butterfly watchers from different localities are needed.

2. Jumbo care! India gets its first dedicated elephant hospital

The News:

  • In a recent development, India’s elephants now have their first dedicated hospital near the Taj Mahal. This facility is located near Agra
  • This dedicated hospital comes complete with wireless digital X-Ray, laser treatment and dental X-ray facilities.
  • Labelled as a ‘jumbo’ hospital, this is the result of a collaboration between the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and conservation NGO Wildlife SOS.
  • This veterinary hospital has modern medical facilities for the treatment of elephants in distress, including thermal imaging, ultrasonography, hydrotherapy, tranquillisation equipment and quarantine.

A few Specifics:

  • The Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital is designed to treat injured, sick or geriatric elephants. The hospital is equipped with the following:
  1. A medical hoist for lifting elephants requiring critical care,
  2. A pathology laboratory,
  3. Digital weighing scale,
  4. Elephant Restraining Device (ERD) with a dedicated indoor treatment enclosure for longer medical procedures.
  5. Close circuit infra-red CCTV cameras. As a matter of fact, the hospital has an observation area for the overnight monitoring of elephants under treatment using close circuit infra-red CCTV cameras.

An observation deck will allow veterinary students and interns to observe and learn elephant treatment routines from a safe distance.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Experts believe that this is a huge milestone for elephant protection in India.
  • They assert that this hospital will help us take better care of injured elephants in distress.
  • They also hope that this hospital will put India on the map as a scholarly destination for humane management of elephants, which will go a long way to address the protection and conservation of elephants in India.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. GROWTH-India telescope’s first science observation

The News:

  • The 0.7 m GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory has made its first science observation.
  • This observation is a follow-up study of a nova explosion.
  • The 0.7 m GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory is located in Hanle, Ladakh.
  • The GROWTH-India telescope was commissioned six months ago soon after which it saw first light, on the night of June 12.
  • This recurrent nova, named M31N-2008, has been observed to erupt several times, the most recent eruption happening in November 2018. Recurrent nova systems are interesting because they are candidates for progenitors of Type Ia supernovae.
  • It is important to note that Novae are explosive events involving violent eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to temporary increase in brightness of the star.
    Unlike a supernova, the star does not go on to die but returns to its earlier state after the explosion.

What Causes a Supernova?

  • A supernova happens where there is a change in the core, or center, of a star. A change can occur in two different ways, with both resulting in a supernova.
  1. The first type of supernova happens in binary star systems. Binary stars are two stars that orbit the same point. One of the stars, a carbon-oxygen white dwarf, steals matter from its companion star. Eventually, the white dwarf accumulates too much matter. Having too much matter causes the star to explode, resulting in a supernova.
  2. The second type of supernova occurs at the end of a single star’s lifetime. As the star runs out of nuclear fuel, some of its mass flows into its core. Eventually, the core is so heavy that it cannot withstand its own gravitational force. The core collapses, which results in the giant explosion of a supernova.

It is important to note that our sun is a single star, but it does not have enough mass to become a supernova.

A few specifics on the telescope:

  • The telescope is potentially fully robotic and can operate on its own. However, the way the recent readings were taken has only partly used its potential for automation.
  • Further, while a typical professional telescope has a field of about 0.1 square degrees, this telescope has a field that is five to six times larger. It can ‘slew’ or move its focus from one part of the sky to another in just about 10-15 seconds and its camera can view stellar objects that are thousands to millions of light years away.
  • The GROWTH-India telescope is part of the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen.
  • Its goals are threefold:
    • Search for explosions in the optical regime whenever LIGO group detects a Binary Neutron Star merger
    • Study nearby young supernova explosions.
    • Study nearby asteroids.
  • Transient phenomena such as supernovae are important parts of time-domain astronomy which is a less-explored frontier in astronomy. Experts point out that such an explosion is when the inner material of the star is thrown out. They assert that there is no other way we can actually see what is inside a star

2. Novel strategy to treat diabetic wound infection

The News:

  • Researchers from Panjab University have successfully treated multidrug-resistant bacterial infection in diabetic mouse model.
  • They have done so by using virus that infects bacteria (bacteriophages).
  • It is important to note that people with diabetes are more prone to fungal and bacterial infections and the emergence of multidrug-resistant organisms has worsened the situation. Researchers have been searching for alternative treatment approaches such as phytochemicals, metal ions, antibacterial nanoparticles, antibacterial enzymes. The phage therapy has shown promising results among various alternative treatments studied.

A few Specifics:

  • In order to protect the phage and help in its slow release into the body, the researchers encapsulated the phage in a natural lipid casing called liposome.
  • The liposome entrapped phage was injected into diabetic female mice to treat methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus-infected wound and the healing was studied for 20 days.
  • The healing was studied in four different groups of mice. One was not given phage or clarithromycin, one was given phage cocktail but not encapsulated, other was given liposome-loaded cocktail of bacteriophages and the last was treated with clarithromycin only.
  • The group treated with the liposome-entrapped phage showed a significant decrease in the wound size on day five itself and complete closure of wound was seen by day nine. The study showed liposome-loaded phage eradicated bacterial infection in 10 days whereas untreated mice showed high bacterial burden.
  • The researchers also studied the inflammatory markers (myeloperoxidase) produced by neutrophils at the wound site. These are the first cells that reach the site of infection or inflammation.

Phage Therapy- A Historical Note:

  • Phage therapy or use of a specific virus to target particular bacteria was in use in many countries before the popularisation of antibiotics.
  • Even now it is used in Russia, Georgia, Poland and other countries. Though it is currently not used in India, experts believe that it is an option we should choose as there is an increase in the number of drug-resistant pathogens in our country.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Phage therapy can be used as a personalised therapy where the patient is first tested for bacterial infection and then treated with the appropriate phage.
  • Also, it is very effective compared with antibiotics as it requires only a single dose, and its concentration does not decrease as long as it has the bacterial host.
  • In conclusion it is important to note that Phages are very safe and non-toxic. They are in our system, we encounter them each day in our food and water. Phages have no effect on humans as their host is bacteria, not us.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: ECONOMY

1. The lowdown on RBI board meeting

Larger Background:

The larger issue which civil services aspirants would need to read about is that concerning the autonomy of the RBI. We at BYJUs have covered a detailed video on the same. The link is as below:

Editorial Analysis:

  • It is important to note that the Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) meets every month.
  • This meeting is conducted every month to discuss inspection reports of banks and systemically important financial entities, and other routine issues of supervision.

Composition of the Board:  

  • Currently, the Board has 18 members, inclusive of the Governor and four Deputy Governors and two top bureaucrats from the Finance Ministry. In addition, the government nominates 10 public representatives from different fields of activity to the board.
  • As a matter of fact, some of the well-known names nominated by the government to the Board now are N. Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons, Teamlease founder and chairman Manish Sabharwal, agricultural economist Ashok Gulati, chartered accountant S. Gurumurthy and Bharat Doshi, former CFO of Mahindra & Mahindra. Economic Affairs Secretary Subash C. Garg and Rajiv Kumar, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, represent the government’s interests.

The backdrop of the conduct of the meeting:

    • It is important to note that the Board meetings largely go unnoticed.
    • In fact, there has rarely, if ever, been a discussion on even the names nominated to the Board by the government.
    • However, both have come into public focus in the last couple of months after the government decided to appoint Mr. Gurumurthy, known for his conservative views and swadeshi economics.
    • As a matter of fact, voices were immediately raised against his appointment, which was seen as imposing right-wing views on the central bank, irrespective of the fact that it is impossible for one or two nominees to swing an 18-member Board their way.
  • The appointment has to be seen in the backdrop of tensions in the relations between the central bank and the Finance Ministry.

Points of divergence in the views of the RBI and the Government:

  • There are several issues on which the government and the RBI disagree.
  1. A circular of the central bank that dragged several power companies defaulting on repayments to the insolvency process,
  2. Classification of some weak banks as those needing immediate corrective action (which prevented them from lending freely) and
  3. the RBI’s reluctance to open the liquidity tap for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) have been sore points with the government.
  4. Over and above this, the government has been coveting the RBI’s reserves, which it feels belongs to the government.
  5. As a matter of fact, the RBI has been transferring its entire annual profits to the government as dividend in the last five years, but it is reluctant to touch the stock of reserves on its balance sheet.
  • The last Board meeting was held on October 23, 2018 and was reported to be a stormy affair. This meeting lasted about eight hours but ended up discussing only three of the 20 items on the agenda.
  • What further aggravated matters between the RBI and the Government was a public speech on October 26, 2018 by Deputy Governor Viral Acharya, in which he said governments that do not respect the central bank’s independence would incur the wrath of the markets.

Concluding Remarks:

    • The upcoming meeting is crucial in the backdrop of the fraught relationship between the government and the RBI. Experts believe that this meeting can result either in resolution or lead to a point of no return.
  • The choices are clear: the RBI and the government have to arrive at an understanding on the issues listed above through a spirit of give and take.
    • Alternatively, in the event of the two not being able to agree, and if the government still wants to have its way, it can, if it so chooses, exercise extraordinary powers vested under Section 7 of the Reserve Bank of India Act to give directions to the RBI to act as per its instructions.
    • However, the signals coming from the two sides are mixed.
  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel is reported to have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week in an obvious effort to explain his position and resolve the issues to mutual satisfaction. But government officials have been maintaining pressure through media briefings on the RBI to make it bend.
  • In conclusion, experts point out that if the worst case scenario is witnessed, i.e. the government resorting to Section 7,  Mr. Patel’s position would become untenable and he will have no option but to resign.

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. With reference to “GROWTH-India telescope” recently in news, which of the following 
statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. The 0.7 m GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory is located in Hanle, Ladakh.
  2. The telescope is potentially fully robotic and can operate on its own.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 2. Which of the following pair(s) of military exercises is/are correctly matched?
  1. SIMBEX : Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise
  2. INDRA: Joint naval exercise with France
  3. VARUNA: Joint military exercise between India and Russia

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

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

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements regarding “Phage therapy”:
  1. Phage therapy involves the use of a specific virus to target particular bacteria.
  2. Phages are very safe and non-toxic. They are in our system, we encounter them each day in our food and water.
  3. Phages have no effect on humans as their host is bacteria, not us.

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements relating to some terms recently in the news:
  1. “Wood density” of forest trees indicates their capacity to store carbon.
  2. A “paleolake” is a lake that existed in the past when hydrological conditions were different.

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. 1 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 5. Which of the following pair(s) is/are correctly matched?
  1. National Waterway No. 1 : Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system from Allahabad to Haldia
  2. National Waterway No. 2: Sadiya-Dhubri stretch of the Brahmaputra river
  3. National Waterway No. 3: Kollam-Kottapuram stretch of West Coast Canal and Champakara and Udyogmandal Canals

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

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

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Joint military exercises are critical in fostering stronger strategic ties between India and countries in her neighbourhood, while also countering emerging security and humanitarian challenges. Examine. (250 words)
  2. Examine some of the challenges India faces in the successful implementation of her “Neighbourhood First” policy. (250 words)
 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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