28 Nov 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

November 28th, 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
GEOGRAPHY
1. Global warming alters rainfall rhythm, finds study
B. GS 2 Related
C. GS 3 Related
SECURITY
1. SPG Bill passed amid Opposition walkout in Lok Sabha
2. Gujarat to enforce new anti-terror law from Dec. 1
3. ‘Information security stepped up at KKNPP after cyberattack’
4. India one of the largest gold smuggling hubs in the world: report
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. India’s Cartosat-3 plus 13 nano satellites put in orbit
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY & GOVERNANCE
1. Gubernatorial Restructuring
2. A revival of battles already fought and lost
ENVIRONMENT
1. Stubble burning is not the only culprit
SOCIAL ISSUES 
1. Caught in the Act: On Transgender Persons Act
F. Tidbits
1. A joint effort to conserve water in Rajasthan
2. Mannequins with cameras to scan Bengaluru traffic
G. Prelims Facts
1. New snake species found in Arunachal
2. Philippine eagle
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS 1 Related

Category: GEOGRAPHY

1. Global warming alters rainfall rhythm, finds study

Context:

A study by a team of Indian and U.S. researchers has found that Global warming has altered a key weather system and that may be whetting cyclones in the Bay of Bengal, decreasing winter rain in north India and altering global rainfall patterns.

Details:

  • The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO), as it’s called, is a moving band of rain clouds that travels around the globe spanning 12,000–20,000 km across the tropical oceans.
  • In its journey, it interacts with surface waters of the Indo-Pacific ocean, the largest pool of warm water in the globe, and due to this, it is said that the lifecycle of the MJO gets affected.
  • The MJO clouds on average are spending only 15 days, instead of 19, over the Indian Ocean.
  • Over the west Pacific, it increased by five days (from an average of 16 days to 23 days).
  • It is this change in the residence time of MJO clouds that has altered the weather patterns across the globe, according to the research paper.
  • When the MJO appears in the Indian Ocean during the monsoon months of June-September, it can increase rains over India. This year, India was poised to receive below-normal monsoon rainfall in April but ended up with excessive rain partly due to the MJO.
  • The changes in MJO behaviour have increased the rainfall over northern Australia, west Pacific, Amazon basin, southwest Africa and southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea).
  • At the same time, these changes have brought a decline in rainfall over the central Pacific, along the west and east coast of the U.S. (e.g., California), north India, east Africa and the Yangtze basin in China. The frequent California fires, droughts in Africa and East Asian floods and cyclones in the Bay of Bengal may be linked to these changes in global weather, the study noted.

The MJOs haven’t been as extensively studied as say, the El Nino. This study shows that there is a need for better observation of the Indian Ocean and improved forecasts that can warn about a cyclone.

B. GS 2 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

C. GS 3 Related

Category: SECURITY

1. SPG Bill passed amid Opposition walkout in Lok Sabha

Context:

The Lok Sabha has passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Details:

  • The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs.
  • The Act provides for the constitution and regulation of the Special Protection Group (SPG) to provide security to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers, and their immediate family members.
  • Under the Act, the SPG provides security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members. It also provides security to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for a period of one year from the date on which they cease to hold the office. Beyond this period, SPG security is provided based on the level of threat as decided by the central government.  The threat must: (i) emanate from a military or terrorist organisation, and (ii) be of a grave and continuing nature.
    • The Bill amends this provision to state that the SPG will provide security to the Prime Minister, and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
    • It will also provide security to any former Prime Ministers, and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him. This security will be provided for a period of five years from the date on which he ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister.
  • The Act provides that if the SPG security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, it will also be withdrawn from his immediate family members unless the level of threat faced by the immediate family member warrants such security.
    • The Bill removes this condition to state that if the SPG security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, it will also be withdrawn from his immediate family members.

To know more about Special Protection Group, read Security: Status Symbol or Protection: RSTV – Big Picture.

2. Gujarat to enforce new anti-terror law from Dec. 1

Context:

  • Gujarat’s controversial anti-terror law is set to be enforced. The act has several draconian provisions like intercepted telephonic talk as legitimate evidence, and statement before a police official of SP rank being admissible evidence in the court.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Act, which had thrice failed to get the nod from three previous Presidents since 2004 owing to draconian provisions and apparently sweeping powers given to the police.
  • It is believed that the provisions of the Act will prove crucial in dealing with terrorism and organised crimes, such as contract killing, ponzi schemes, narcotics trade and extortion rackets, since Gujarat is a border State and has been a victim of terrorism. It needs such strong laws to deal with terrorism and organised crime.

The topic has been covered comprehensively in 6th November 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click here to read.

3. ‘Information security stepped up at KKNPP after cyberattack’

Context:

The Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions and the Prime Minister’s Office, has said that, a comprehensive safety audit was conducted on the administrative network of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) following a recent cyberattack, and appropriate safety measures have been put in place to thwart similar attacks in the future.

Details:

  • A complete check of the administrative network of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant was done by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), along with the Computer and Information Security Advisory Group (CISAG) of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
  • Immediately after the cyberattack was brought to light by a cyber-security expert, the KKNPP administration had declared that their “isolated network with firewalls” cannot be accessed through the internet from any part of the world, and hence, there was no need for panic.
  • Moreover, the strict ban on bringing communication gadgets, including mobile phones, WiFi devices and USBs, inside the KKNPP premises had further strengthened security, a statement from the KKNPP had claimed.
  • However, much to the embarrassment of the KKNPP administration, the NPCIL admitted within the next 24 hours that a “failed cyberattack” on its network did take place.

The issue has been covered in the 30th October 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click Here to read.

4. India one of the largest gold smuggling hubs in the world: report

Context:

International non-government organisation IMPACT, in its latest report, has said that India has become one of the largest gold smuggling hubs in the world. It is headquartered in Canada.

Concerns:

  • Gold possibly tied to conflict, human rights abuses and corruption in Africa and South America is entering legal international markets through India, said IMPACT, in a statement.
  • Actors across India’s gold industry are failing to do proper checks on where gold comes from to ensure it’s not financing conflict and human rights violations.
  • The report said that one-third of the world’s gold passed through India, identifying three primary factors for smuggling: tax breaks, falsified origin documents and complicit allies.
  • To boost India’s refinery sector, the government had introduced tax breaks in 2013 for unrefined gold. According to the report, this led to traders covering up questionable provenance claims by falsifying documentation to take advantage of lower taxes. The import of unrefined gold shot from 23 tonnes in 2012 to over 229 tonnes in 2015.
  • Analysis of trade data reveals more declared gold imports to India than some countries are capable of producing, such as in the Dominican Republic and Tanzania, as well as instances of paperwork fraud like in Ghana. In the case of the Dominican Republic, as much as 100.63 tonnes of gold doré [unrefined gold] imported to India between 2014 and 2017 cannot be accounted for in the country’s gold production.
  • The report said that refined gold was being smuggled into India primarily from the United Arab Emirates, while key traders and refiners in Africa’s Great Lakes region with links to India were identified as being part of the illicit gold trade.

Way forward:

  • IMPACT recommended harmonising of taxes and enhanced regulatory controls with additional valid information for all imports to discourage smuggling.
  • With India at the heart of a web of the illicit trade of gold, and threads spanning the globe and almost certainly financing conflict and corruption, it is said that the authorities must take action to remove incentives for gold smuggling and ensure the gold industry implements due diligence.
  • IMPACT has also called on those associated with India’s gold industry to implement due diligence on their gold supply chains.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. India’s Cartosat-3 plus 13 nano satellites put in orbit

Context:

The ‘sharpest eye in the sky’, India’s Cartosat-3, and 13 other nano satellites belonging to two companies in the U.S. lifted off successfully from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.

Details:

  • The Cartosat-3 is a high-resolution imaging satellite that will help large-scale urban planning, infrastructure development, and coastal land use, among others.
  • The satellite is also likely to have a military use since it provides the highest-ever spatial resolution of about a foot.
  • “This is India’s highest resolution civilian satellite and most advanced earth observation satellite built by the ISRO so far,” ISRO chairman K. Sivan said.
  • The Cartosat-3 is the 9th satellite of the Cartosat series and ISRO’s fifth launch in 2019. One of its cameras offers a ground resolution of 25 cm, while the best ground resolution till now was 31 cm offered by WorldView-3, a satellite owned by U.S. company Maxar.
  • The commercial satellites carried on board in the mission were launched under a commercial arrangement with NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL), the commercial arm of the ISRO.

Cartosat

ISRO’s launch tally hits 5 main satellites this year

  • The ISRO has touched a tally of launching five main satellites so far in 2019 after sending up earth imaging satellite Cartosat-3.
  • Globally as launches go, China is set to top the chart of space-faring nations for the second year in a row, notes a recent report in the technology site Ars Technica.
  • India ranks fifth along with newbie New Zealand. They each have 6% of the orbital launch pie, according to website Space.Skyrocket.
  • It said the space majors totally made 87 orbital launches so far. China launched 28 satellites or 32% of them.
  • When the year ends, China’s share will likely be still above Russia (20) and the U.S. (18).
  • The space agency counts a satellite and a launch vehicle as two missions.

Read more about Cartosat-3.

D. GS 4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY & GOVERNANCE

1. Gubernatorial Restructuring

Context

  • The actions of the Maharashtra Governor has invited scrutiny with the way the office of the Governor worked over the appointment of Chief Minister.
  • From the early morning swearing-in ceremony to the unceremonious pre-floor test resignation of Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, Raj Bhavan has found itself in the centre of controversy.

Constituent Assembly Debates

  • In April 1948, the Drafting Committee of the Constitution insisted on omitting all references to the discretionary powers of the Governor.
  • Shri H. V. Kamath was not in favor of giving discretionary powers to the Governor.
    • He felt that there is no strong or valid reason for giving the Governor more authority either in his discretion or otherwise vis-à-vis his ministers, than has been given to the President in relation to his ministers.
  • But the other side also felt that “there was dearth of leadership in the provinces. Competent men were not available in the states” according to Brajeshwar Prasad.
    • He went on to assert the centralisation of power is must and federalism is never going to work for India. “Such a procedure may be undemocratic but such a procedure will be perfectly right in the country interest.”
  • The final word on the debate was Dr BR Ambedkar’s, the chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. His central argument was that the Governors will not have powers to overrule the decisions of the council of ministers. “The first thing I would like the House to bear in mind is this. The Governor under the Constitution has no functions which he can discharge by himself: no functions at all…. Even under this article, the Governor is bound to accept the advice of the Ministry.
    • He further said that the governor has to use his discretion as not a “representative of a party” but as “the representative of the people as a whole of the State”.

Supreme Court Cases

When there is no clear post-poll majority, the Governor can exercise his discretion in deciding the formation of government. Here, the cases of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, Rameshwar Prasad v. Union of India, and Nabam Rebia v. Deputy Speaker provide unambiguous judicial guidance to how the office of the Governor must encounter tricky post-poll claims to form the government and stay immune to political bias.

  1. Nabam Rebia v. Deputy Speaker
  • In the Arunachal Pradesh case, the Constitutional Bench had said, “All that need be said is that except in specified matters, executive functions of the Governor whether relating to governance issues or issues pertaining to the Legislature are required to be performed by him on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers and the Rules framed by the House. No discretion is available to him in these matters since he is bound by the advice given to him by the Council of Ministers and Article 163 of the Constitution cannot be imported into these matters. The only discretion available to the Governor under Article 163 of the Constitution is in respect of matters provided for by or under the Constitution not relatable to the Council of Ministers and the Judiciary.”
  1. Rameshwar Prasad case
  • The SC held that “if a political party with the support of other political party or other MLAs stakes claim to form a government and satisfies the Governor about the majority to form a stable government, the Governor cannot refuse formation of the government and override the majority claim because of his subjective assessment that the majority was cobbled by illegal and unethical means. No such power is vested with the Governor. Such a power would be against the democratic principles of majority rule. The Governor is not an autocratic political ombudsman. If such a power is vested in the Governor and/or the President, the consequences can be horrendous.”

Concerns

Unfortunately, the appointment process of Governors has made the office vulnerable to the influence of the Union government.

  • Over the years, occupants of this office have continued to look towards New Delhi for guidance. This means the state’s autonomy comes to nothing if its people’s mandate can be defied or ignored by a central appointee.
  • In the Karnataka and Maharashtra cases, it is evident that the Governors invited the leader of the BJP when they did not have the support of the majority in the respective Legislative Assemblies.
  • The Raj Bhavan in Mumbai also witnessed a curious swearing-in ceremony that happened with little or no public notice. Such actions create a reasonable apprehension that the office of the Governor is open to be manipulated and misused in furtherance of political partisanship.

This strengthens a call to review and restructure the office of the Governor if its constitutional values are to be safeguarded.

Way forward

There is little doubt that the appointment and tenure of Governors need to undergo radical reform.

  • The Justice P.V. Rajamannar Committee, which was tasked by the Tamil Nadu government to look into Centre-State relations in 1969, recommended that State governments be included in the appointment process of Governors to drastically reduce their discretionary powers. The call to rectify the imbalance in Centre-State equations must begin with such a reform.
  • The powers and privileges that are attached to the office of the Governor must be accompanied by answerability, transparency and accountability. Governors and their offices must be scrutinized as much as any other public office.
  • The court must lay down guidelines in this regard.

2. A revival of battles already fought and lost

To read about it, check the CNA dated Nov 15, 2019 : Click here

Watch the Analysis: Click Here

 

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Stubble burning is not the only culprit

Background

  • Air pollution is one of the major issues affecting Delhi badly.
  • Almost everyone gets into the “act”, the Supreme Court of India and top echelons of the Government not excluded, while children are forced to breathe polluted air.
  • Airwaves are filled with immediate “band-aid” type solutions and television experts finally come around to just one issue — stubble burning by farmers in Punjab.
  • Therefore, the solution also gets simplified; prosecute those who burn stubble (the stick) give them happy seeders by the thousands.

If the problem was that simple, it would have been solved long ago.

What are the other issues that are least spoken?

Recently, there was a reference in a television programme about satellite observations on stubble burning from 2002-17. Reportedly, there has been an increase of 3% in aerosol loading attributable to crop residue burning during October and November every year.

  • However, no data was presented on the impact of burning of biomass in urban Delhi, coal-fired ovens (tandoors) and coal-based industries, coal-based power plants in the outskirts of Delhi, the exponential increase in sport utility vehicles, or SUVs, in the NCR and so forth.

Ways Out

Reduce paddy area/production, allow farmers to plant/transplant paddy before June and distribute “happy seeders”.

  • Punjab was never a traditional rice cultivator. It took up rice cultivation in response to the national policy of food self-sufficiency. They achieved the highest productivity in the country and contributed maximum among all States to the central pool of rice procurement.
    • In the process, the area went up from 2.6 million hectares in 2001 to 3 million hectares in 2017; production went up from 9 million tonnes to 12.5 million tonnes.
    • Punjab dug deeper to get groundwater and caused long-term damage to itself.
  • A rice farmer earns about ₹57,000 per hectare whereas maize in a maize-wheat combination would set them back by about ₹15,000-17,000. The farmer will not bear this burden.
  • If the idea is to reduce the area of common paddy by half a million hectares, resulting in a reduction of output of 2 million tonnes, the Central government has to step in and support this change for the next five years. This half-a-million hectare should be in water-stressed blocks and can be encouraged to shift to maize or any other crop. Another one lakh hectare can shift to basmati production.

Limitations with the use of happy seeder

The “happy seeder” is the most talked-about solution. Direct seeders do help but have restrictions.

  • The seeder has to operate within about 4-5 days of the harvest. The effectiveness depends on the moisture (not too moist, not too dry) present in the soil at the time of seeding.
  • This requires a good understanding of soil conditions. The agronomic practices need to change particularly with regard to the application of fertilizer and irrigation. These machines may be used only during the 15-day window in a whole year. They will remain idle for the remaining 350 days.

Conclusion

  • The problem is complex and needs a solution. But the solution should take into consideration the economic condition of farmers, the scientific options available and the willingness of the Central government to change policy and fund a major part of the expenditure.
  • Blaming the farmers alone will not do; citizens need to put in their bit too.

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Caught in the Act: On Transgender Persons Act

This article will be covered comprehensively in a few days.

F. Tidbits

1. A joint effort to conserve water in Rajasthan

  • Villagers and elected representatives of Panchayati Raj bodies in Rajasthan will assist the State government in its efforts for water conservation and rainwater harvesting, which are expected to increase the groundwater level in the geographically difficult areas.
  • The projects have been formulated to meet the local needs with regular monitoring.
  • The Rajiv Gandhi Jal Sanchay Yojana (RGJSY), launched in all the 33 districts of the State, has identified as many as 1.80 lakh works to be executed in its first phase for creating a robust water harvesting infrastructure in over 3,900 villages.
    • It is believed that the RGJSY’s long-term projects would permanently resolve the issue of paucity of water caused by scanty and erratic rainfall in the State. The completion of works through convergence with the departments concerned will ensure the availability of sufficient water for drinking and irrigation.
    • The RGJSY has incorporated the works identified in the Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan.

2. Mannequins with cameras to scan Bengaluru traffic

  • The understaffed and overworked Traffic Police have come up with yet another novel initiative to persuade motorists to follow traffic rules and observe lane discipline. The department has installed as many as 200 life-size mannequins at trouble-prone junctions in Bengaluru.
  • The mannequins, dressed as traffic police, will deter repeat offenders, according to the plan.
  • The police are planning to install CCTV cameras on them to record violations.
  • Motorists and pedestrians commuting to work were bemused at the sight of the mannequins, and remained cautiously optimistic. Many expressed hope that it would stop people from using their mobile phones while driving and jumping signals.

G. Prelims Facts

1. New snake species found in Arunachal

What’s in News?

Researchers have discovered a new species of non-venomous burrowing snake in Arunachal Pradesh, named Trachischium apteii.

  • The snakes were found in the Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The species belongs to a group of fossorial snakes that live mostly underground, and surface mainly during or after a heavy monsoon shower.
  • Due to the burrowing habits of the species of this genus, snakes belonging to the group are seldom seen and hence remain poorly studied.
  • Trachischium is commonly called slender snakes. Seven species are distributed across the Himalayas, and the Indo-Burma and Indo-China regions.

2. Philippine eagle

Philippine eagle

  • Philippine Eagle is one of the world’s biggest and most powerful birds whose wingspan can reach 2 metres.
  • It is endemic to the Philippines and can be found on four major islands: Eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao.
  • Among the rarest and most powerful birds in the world, it has been declared the Philippine national bird.
  • Destruction of tropical rainforest and relentless hunting have decimated the population of the Philippine Eagle.
  • It is categorised as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements:
  1. Cartosat-3 is a high-resolution imaging satellite that will help large-scale urban planning, infrastructure development, and coastal land use.
  2. The Cartosat-3 is the 9th satellite of the Cartosat series.

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. Consider the following statements:
  1. Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a bio-diversity hotspot located in Arunachal Pradesh.
  2. “Pleioblastus simone” variety of bamboo is found only in Talley Valley.
  3. River Subansiri flows through Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

Choose the correct option:

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

See
Answer
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to Clouded Leopard:
  1. It is the State animal of Mizoram.
  2. It is classified as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

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
Q4. Which of the following is/are NOT true about Small Finance Banks (SFB)?
  1. SFBs can set up subsidiaries to undertake non-banking financial services activities.
  2. SFBs can distribute mutual funds, insurance products and other simple third-party financial products.
  3. SFBs can be a business correspondent of any bank.

Options:

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

See
Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. The Governor’s interference with the democratic process is both real and continuing. In this backdrop, critically examine if the constitutional post of the Governor serves any valid purpose. (15 Marks, 250 Words).
  2. Imposing bans and fines on stubble burning has made very little progress in tackling the issue of stubble burning. Discuss how this menace with severe consequences can be tackled with innovative measures. (15 Marks, 250 Words)

November 28th, 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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