30 Nov 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. #MeToo: GoM may review law
2. Assembly approves 16% reservation for Marathas
3. Taking Verma off his duties not a transfer, says Centre
4. SC orders public hearing on Polavaram
C. GS3 Related
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. ISRO puts ‘Sharp Eye’ into orbit
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. The case for a progressive international (International Trade)
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Walking the tightrope (India-US-Iran Relations)
F. Tidbits
1. Report cards rankle teachers in Karnataka
2. TTD all set to go plastic-free soon
3. Jaitley moots new federal bodies
G. Prelims Fact
1. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
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. #MeToo: GoM may review law

 

  • The Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to examine sexual harassment at the workplace may consider amending the law to ensure workplace safety, according to government sources.
  • The WCD ministry has shared with the Home ministry a meeting agenda, which includes changes to the Sexual Harassment of Women and Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, sources in the WCD ministry said.
  • “The agenda mentions lacunae in the law as well as suggests ways to improve it,” said a senior WCD ministry official, who did not wish to be identified. He added that the guiding principles for making the amendments would be the Vishaka guidelines.

Vishaka guidelines

  • The Vishaka Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in 1997 lays the onus on the employer to prevent or deter acts of sexual harassment, apart from “providing resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment.”
  • The Act lays down the duties of an employer: ensuring a safe working place, displaying penal consequences of sexual harassment, creating awareness, as well as facilitating an internal probe.

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013

  • This act was enacted in April 2013 as India’s first law dealing with the protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace.

Some important features of this act are as follows

  • This Act aimed to provide every woman, irrespective of her age or employment status, a safe and secure working environment free from all forms of harassment.
  • This Act covered both the organized and unorganized sectors in India. The statute applied to all government bodies, private and public sector organizations, non-governmental organizations, organizations carrying out commercial, vocational, educational, entertainment, industrial, financial activities, hospitals etc.
  • This Act defined ‘sexual harassment’ in line with the Supreme Court’s definition in the Vishaka Judgment.
  • The Act extended the meaning of the word sexual harassment to include “presence or occurrence of circumstances of implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment, threat of detrimental treatment in employment, threat about present or future employment, interference with work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment, or humiliating treatment likely to affect the lady employee’s health or safety could also amount to sexual harassment”.
  • The Act also introduced the concept of ‘extended workplace’ since sexual harassment is not always confined to the primary place of employment. Therefore, the Act defined ‘workplace’ to include any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for the purpose of commuting to and from the place of employment.
  • The Act provided for the establishment of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each and every office or branches of the organization employing 10 or more employees, in order to provide a forum for filing complaints to facilitate fast redressal of the grievances pertaining to sexual harassment.
  • It also provided for the establishment of local complaints committee (LCC) at the district level by the Government to investigate and redress complaints of sexual harassment of the unorganized sector or from those establishments where the ICC has not been constituted for the reason being, it having less than 10 employees.

2. Assembly approves 16% reservation for Marathas

Context

  • The Maharashtra Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a Bill proposing 16% reservation for Marathas in government jobs and education. With this, 85% of the State’s population will be entitled to constitutional benefits under Article 15(4), 16 (4) of the Constitution.
  • The approval of the Bill will also see the reservation limit go up from the current 52%to 68%, thus crossing the 50% ceiling set by Supreme Court. “This is a compelling extraordinary situation demanding extraordinary solutions within the constitutional framework,” the draft Bill says while suggesting it “expedient” to provide for 16% reservation to the Marathas.

Some facts about Reservation policy in India

  • When the Indian Constitution was ratified in 1950, it included a provision to reserve up to 22.5% of enrolment of marginalized group – 15% for Scheduled Castes and 7.5% for Scheduled tribes. This was based on Census 1950.
  • Articles 340, 341 and 342 of the constitution of India detail the classification and reservation to be made in favour of members of Scheduled castes or scheduled tribes.
  • In 1992 in the Indira Sawhney vs Union of India and others, the Supreme Court of India in its judgement laid down that the total reservation cannot exceed 50% under the state.
  • The reservation policy was intended to redress caste-based inequalities. It was thought to be reviewed every ten years and removed when social justice for all was achieved. However, the reservation system has been expanded to include the OBCs.
  • In 1979, The Backwards classes Commission (popularly known as the Mandal commission formed by the Janata Party in power) identified 3,743 communities which comprised 52% of the Indian population as belonging to ‘socially and educationally backward classes”. It recommended that 27% of seats be reserved for OBCS in addition to existing 22.5% of seats reserved for SCs and STs. The recommendations were rejected by Indira Gandhi led Government in 1980.
  • 1990-Mandal commission recommendations were implemented in Government Jobs by Vishwanath Pratap Singh in the Janata Party led Government.
  • The list of OBCs maintained by the Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is dynamic, with castes and communities being added or removed depending on social, educational and economic factors. Further, every state has its own reservation norms based on demographics, and maintains its own list of Other Backward Class (OBC).
  • Reservation in Tamil Nadu has been included in the 9th schedule of the constitution of India, which cannot be challenged in a court of law, for violation of fundamental rights against Article 14 and 15.

3. Taking Verma off his duties not a transfer, says Centre

Context

  • The government on Thursday argued that the mid-tenure divestment of Alok Kumar Verma from the functions and duties of CBI Director on October 23 does not amount to a “transfer.”
  • Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal countered arguments raised by Mr. Verma that the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, required the government to get prior approval of the selection committee led by the Prime Minister before “transferring” or withdrawing work from the CBI Director.
  • Venugopal said there is nothing to back Mr. Verma’s claim that he has been “transferred.” “There is no change in his status, he continues to get the perquisites of his office, the same official residence, same staff and car. All is intact. Can he claim he has been transferred?”
  • Senior advocate Fali Nariman, for Mr. Verma, said his divestment was “far worse” than a transfer. He contended that the “deprivation of all his powers” as CBI Director and the appointment of M. Nageshwar Rao as acting CBI chief could not have been done by the CVC and the government without first obtaining the recommendation of the committee.

Related News – ‘Can’t bar media from reporting pleas’

  • Senior advocate Fali Nariman told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it could not prohibit media from reporting petitions and pleas filed which contain scandalous allegations, but could consider issuing a direction to the media to postpone their publication in the public interest.
  • But Mr. Nariman said the court should first “mould either a circular or a rule” under which the court can seek a postponement of publication by media about allegations levelled in a case filed in court but which is yet to be heard on the judicial side.
  • Nariman’s submissions came after a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had sought his assistance, disturbed by reports widely published in the media about an application filed by a senior CBI officer, Manish Kumar Sinha, in the case of divestment of powers of CBI Director Alok Verma.
  • Sinha’s application contained serious allegations against National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Union Minister of State for Coal and Mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, Union Law Secretary Suresh Chandra, among others.
  • The Supreme Court had accused parties of freely parting with sensitive allegations against top government functionaries to the media and using the court as a “platform to say anything they want”

Background

  • The tussle between CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana started in 2017. It all started with Asthana’s appointment to CBI.
  • Verma handed over a confidential letter to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) over Asthana’s promotion to the post of CBI special director, claiming the latter was under investigation in the 2017 Sterling Biotech bribery case. However, Asthana’s promotion was cleared.
  • In June 2018, Alok Verma wrote another letter to the CVC that Asthana could not represent him in his absence since the latter faces allegations of corruption.
  • Later, Asthana shot back and filed a complaint against Verma accusing him of interfering in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) corruption case involving the family members of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav.
  • This bureaucratic infight between Verma and Asthana came to a head when the CBI named Asthana in a First Information Report (FIR) in a bribery case and the allegations escalated.
  • On October 21, the CBI charged Rakesh Asthana, a 1984-batch Indian Police Service officer of Gujarat cadre, of accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore from a Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who was under probe in the Moin Qureshi case in order to “wreck” the investigation.
  • The CBI has alleged that bribes were given at least five times between December 2017 and October 2018.
  • The charges against Asthana came to light after Dubai-based middleman Manoj Kumar gave a confessional statement before a magistrate stating that he paid Rs 2 crore to Asthana on behalf of Moin Qureshi, who is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on charges of money laundering. Qureshi was arrested by the ED in August 2017 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
  • On October 22, the CBI arrested its own DSP Devender Kumar in connection with the bribery allegations against Asthana. Kumar has been accused of fabricating the statements given by Sathish Babu Sana, a witness in the Qureshi case, showing that he had recorded a statement on September 26, 2016, in New Delhi. However, after investigation, it was found that Sana was never in New Delhi but in Hyderabad and joined the probe only on October 1, 2018.
  • Rakesh Asthana has been sent on leave, while CBI Director Alok Verma was relieved of his post and Deputy SP Devender Kumar has been suspended and sent to a seven-day CBI custody, M Nageshwar Rao appointed as the Interim CBI Director.

4. SC orders public hearing on Polavaram

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Centre to hold a public hearing with the people affected by the Polavaram dam project in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, saying in a democracy the citizens had “a right to know what is happening”.
  • A Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur categorically said the dam project could not be taken forward without first holding the public hearing.
  • The hearing would have the affected people voice their grievances about the submergence of their land, compensation, and rehabilitation among other issues. It is a ground-level enquiry.
  • Appearing for the petitioner NGO, RELA, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan and advocate Sravan Kumar submitted that the dam design had been changed and new components had been added, thus requiring a new environmental clearance.
  • Primary among the questions being considered by the Bench is whether the dam project and its design, as approved by the Central Water Commission, is in consonance with the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal (GWDT) award of 1980.

Polavaram Project

  • Polavaram irrigation project is a multipurpose irrigation project across Godavari River in West Godavari district with its reservoirs spreading across states of Chhattisgarh and Orissa as well.
  • It is a national project which implies that its implementation is monitored by the Central Water Commission. The project is slated to be complete by 2019.
  • The project endeavours to develop irrigation, drinking water facilities and hydropower to regions of East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, Krishna and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Rationale behind this project

  • Andhra Pradesh has some of the most fertile districts in the country like East & West Godavari and also some severe drought -affected districts like Anantapur in Rayalaseema region.
  • The project seeks to transfer surplus waters from Godavari basin to Krishna river basin that is a water deficit. Thus, it seeks to address the challenges of flooding and droughts witnessed in the respective basins.
  • This would also prevent the unutilized waters to the tune of 3000 TMCs from the Godavari basin from draining into the Bay of Bengal.
  • It would facilitate irrigation in the water-scarce regions of Andhra Pradesh such as Rayalseema. This, in turn would reduce rain dependence of agriculture and help in addressing agrarian distress. The project is aligned with the ambitious target of ‘doubling farm incomes’.
  • Irrigation projects help in overcoming the challenges posed to farmers by the spatio-temporal variability of Indian monsoons. It also plays an instrumental role in improving farm yields.
  • The potential of the Godavari and its tributaries remain underutilized. As a result, Godavari basin witnesses frequent flooding (Andhra Pradesh has suffered 26% of flood damage in India during 1953-2011). The project will help reduce the economic, social and humanitarian costs incurred due to floods.

C. GS3 Related

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. ISRO puts ‘Sharp Eye’ into orbit

Context

  • Nearly three minutes after lift-off on Thursday, India’s workhorse launch vehicle, the PSLV, carrying 31 satellites on board soared in a trajectory crossing the path of the Sun and sped to inject India’s Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS), being dubbed ‘Sharp Eye’, towards the launcher’s intended first orbit.
  • Over the course of the next one hour, the team at Mission Control waited for the PSLV C-43 to come up on the other side of the Equator to insert 30 small satellites from various countries into another orbit as requested by the customers. The 30 satellites were part of a commercial launch.

Details of the launch

  • In its 13th flight of the Core-Alone version and 45th launch of the PSLV, ISRO carried one satellite each from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Malaysia, Netherlands and Spain, and 23 satellites from the U.S. on board as co-passengers of the HysIS.
  • To a question whether HysIS could be used for anti-terror operations, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said ISRO’s job was only to build the satellite, but did not rule out such a possibility. “Our duty is to mainly build the satellite which can precisely identify an object. The usage…we are not bothering. That depends on the users. Right now it is meant for Earth Observation missions. But after seeing the results, may be…but it’s not in our hands,” he said.

HysIS

  • The HysIS is an Earth Observation satellite primarily to assist in a wide range of applications in agriculture, forestry, geological environments, coastal zones, among others.
  • A hyperspectral imaging camera in space can provide well-defined images that can help identify objects on earth far more clearly than regular optical or remote sensing cameras.
  • The technology will be an added advantage in watching over India from space across sectors including defence, agriculture, land use and mineral exploration.
  • The new ‘eye in the sky’ can be used to even mark out a suspect object or person on the ground and separate it from the background with applications in transborder infiltration etc.
  • The primary goal of HysIS is to study the Earth’s surface in visible, near-infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • HysIS will be ISRO’s first full-scale working satellite with this capability. While the technology has been around, not many space agencies have working satellites with hyperspectral imaging cameras as yet.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: ECONOMY

1. The case for a progressive international (International Trade)

Editorial Analysis:

The Issue:

  • Earlier in the year 2018, it was revealed that India is facing legal claims from international investors in as many as 23 arbitration cases, before various tribunals.
  • It is important to note that these claims, which are worth billions of dollars, arise out of bilateral investment treaties between India and other states.
  • Further, one striking feature of such treaties is that they allow international investors (primarily MNCs) to initiate a dispute directly in an international tribunal, bypassing the state’s own constitutional system and its courts.
  • Also, often, the disputes revolve around measures that were triggered by public health emergencies, economic crises or other matters directly involving public welfare — which would therefore be permissible under the Constitution, but which a corporation believes have negatively impacted its financial interests.

A Closer Look: The Transnational Character

  • It is important to note that this reveals an important truth about the contemporary, globalised world: issues that were earlier resolved within a sovereign state in accordance with its constitutional system have now acquired a transnational character.
  • Further, there are other contemporary examples:

For example, because of its attempts to make essential medicines affordable through amendments to its Patent Act, India has come under pressure from the U.S. and the European Union (at the behest of prominent pharmaceutical companies), while finding support and emulation in countries like South Africa and Thailand.

Also, in the year 2011, the EU seized shipments of life-saving Indian drugs that were being transported to Africa and Latin America, on the basis that it could apply its more restrictive patent and customs laws to goods in transit through its territory.

  • Experts point out that while global problems cannot be solved without nation-states, nation-states cannot solve their problems on their own.
  • Further, India’s battle to preserve affordable access to medicines is part of a larger struggle, where participation in the global intellectual property regime has severely constrained the ability of countries to respond to public health crises.
  • Experts point out an important perspective that whatever a country’s Constitution may say about the right to life and the right to health for its citizens, it will still be dragged before an international tribunal if it attempts to forestall or mitigate a public health crisis by lifting patent restrictions upon, for example, a life-saving drug.
  • The point is not only about who finally succeeds in litigation — rather, it is that the final decision is taken by a set of individuals who are beyond the structures of accountability that are established in democratic and constitutional states.
  • As pointed out in the preceding paragraphs, the transnational character of these issues suggest that the response cannot succeed if it is unilateral.
  • Further, in the latest version of the model bilateral investment treaty drafted by India, for example, the scope of investor-state dispute settlement by international tribunals has been curtailed.
  • Experts point out that until the perils of bypassing national constitutional systems are accepted more broadly, individual attempts will fall short.
  • The issues are not limited to conflicts before international forums. Recent months have seen clashes between national regulatory authorities and the corporations that drive the new “gig economy”, such as Uber.
  • It is important to note that in October 2018, Uber and Ola drivers in Mumbai called for an indefinite strike over low pay, after a similar strike in Delhi earlier.
  • In the U.K., the EU and various States in the U.S., there has been protracted and bitter litigation over the legal obligations that Uber owes to its drivers.
  • Experts point out that the conflict may take different forms in different countries, but each time there are striking similarities, stemming from Uber’s business model, which is transnational in character.
  • And, like in the case of investment treaties, it is often difficult for one country to tackle the problem alone – especially when the corporation is global in character, and can issue a credible threat of withdrawing substantial levels of investment. Nor is worker power, as long as it is confined within borders, and not trans-nationalised, sufficient to combat the power of MNCs.

The example of DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement 25)

  • It is always helpful to look elsewhere, to see how people in other parts of the world have attempted to engage with such issues.
  • A recent example is that of the Democracy in Europe Movement 25.
  • DiEM25 arose after the debt crisis in Greece had resulted in a wide-ranging “structural adjustment programme” imposed upon that country by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (or “the troika”).

What did this “structural adjustment programme” entail?

  • This included severe austerity measures (including cuts to public funding, resulting in mass unemployment) and widespread privatisation, in direct contravention of the publicly expressed will of the people, through both elections and a public referendum.
  • It is important to note that today a progressive movement oriented towards social justice and fundamental rights cannot succeed if it is constrained within national borders.
  • Further, many of the fundamental decisions that shape national policy (with wide-ranging consequences) are simply beyond the comprehension of nation-states themselves.
  • For this reason, DiEM25 identifies as “pan-European”, and isolates a range of issues “currently left in the hands of national governments powerless to act upon them” — including public debt, banking, inadequate investment, migration, and rising poverty.
  • In its manifesto, DiEM25 returns these issues to democratic control, but also acknowledges that the solutions needed to achieve this can only come from transnational action.
  • Another important insight of the DiEM25 manifesto is that the world today is based on “the reduction of all political relations into relations of power masquerading as merely technical decisions.”
  • For example, what steps a country like India must take to ensure the availability of life-saving drugs (and not only during a public health crisis) is a decision that must be taken democratically and politically, within the constitutional framework.
  • However, at present, it always remains ultimately subject to a “technical decision” (potentially taken by an international tribunal) about whether India has breached its obligations under an international intellectual property rights treaty regime.
  • What needs to be done is to reshape that regime to make it more democratic, an effort that, by its very nature, cannot be undertaken by a single country.

Concluding Remarks:

    • The focus on democracy is particularly important with respect to a third issue: the increasing role of technology in our daily lives.
    • This debate has come to the fore recently, with the long-running conflict over Aadhaar, and the draft DNA Profiling Bill. The relationship between technology and human freedoms will be vital in the future.
  • In light of this, it is therefore particularly interesting that, through the evolving concept of “technological sovereignty”, DiEM25 has drawn a specific link between technology and democracy, which can help us think through contemporary issues such as platform monopolies, the ubiquity of AI in public decision-making (including on public welfare), etc.
    • In September 2018, writing for The Guardian, U.S. politician Bernie Sanders called for a “progressive international”: “an international progressive movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power.”
    • Mr. Varoufakis responded to this by calling for an “international new deal”. Movements such as DiEM25, which have sprung up in various parts of the world, serve as potential blueprints and models for what a “progressive international” may look like.
  • Experts believe that it is a conversation that progressive movements in India must take heed of, and engage with, if we are to adequately address the transnational problems that face us today.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Walking the tightrope (India-US-Iran Relations)

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts point out that the six-month waiver on sanctions granted by the U.S. to India and seven other countries importing oil from Iran highlights the importance of economic factors in the India-U.S. strategic partnership.
  • Further, the exemption also puts the spotlight on the link between economics and strategy.

What does the waiver imply?

    • Experts point out that the waiver gives India a breathing space of sorts and will help maintain India-U.S. ties on a balance.
    • However, crucially, the U.S. has not given any special treatment to India.
  • China, who is India’s main Asian competitor and perceived by the U.S. as its main security threat, has also been granted a waiver.
    • Further, President Donald Trump’s explanation is that he is going slow on sanctions with the intent of avoiding a shock rise in global oil prices.
    • Experts also suggest that the waiver shows that the U.S. and India will cooperate on India’s oil and gas needs.
    • It is important to note that the Strategic Energy Partnership between India and the U.S. (April 2018) sees energy cooperation serving “as a centerpiece in the bilateral relationship”. This is because the U.S. believes that it is the world’s leading producer of oil and gas.
    • Further, the U.S. National Security Strategy of November 2017 highlighted the importance of “energy dominance — America’s central position in the global energy system as a leading producer, consumer, and innovator”.
    • Strategic experts suggest that India should entertain no illusions about the Trump administration’s wish that it should open up as a key energy market for the U.S.
    • One should note that since Mr. Trump became President in January 2017, oil exports from the U.S. to India have risen.
  • In 2017, India imported 8 million barrels of American crude. Until this July it had imported more than 15 million barrels of U.S. crude.
  • Having said this, boasts about America’s energy dominance ignore the interdependent nature of today’s global energy market, and of relations between states.
  • Experts point out that India needs the help of both the U.S. and Iran.
  • Further, the U.S. is India’s main strategic partner. Also, American naval power is indispensable for preserving maritime freedom and security in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

Relationship Dynamic with Iran:

  • It is important to note that friendly ties with a politically stable Iran undoubtedly suit India. However, the strengthening of commercial and political ties with Iran has been an uphill climb.
  • In 2009, the International Atomic Energy Agency demanded that Iran stop uranium enrichment. India made it clear that it did not support Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and voted against it.
  • Further, at another level, India has had a bilateral trade deficit with Iran over many years. In 2017 it was $8.5 billion.

India’s offer to pay for oil in rupees:

  • Also, India’s offer to pay for oil in rupees is unattractive to Iran.
  • Iran does not want to buy enough Indian goods to make acceptance of rupee payment for its oil worthwhile. But the use of any currency other than the U.S. dollar would mean that a cash-strapped Iran must extend more credit to India. The two countries must find a way out of this conundrum.
  • On the security front, India’s cooperation with Iran has to be seen against the broader context of its regional rivalries with Pakistan and China.
  • Experts point out that India and Iran share regional interests. They could build a strategic partnership focussing on Afghanistan, Central Asia and West Asia. Together with Russia and some other countries, they are signatories to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) agreement, using Iran as the trade route to Russia and northern Europe. INSTC transit routes enable India to bypass a hostile Pakistan by exporting goods via the sea.

Chabahar: A Game Changer

  • It is due to this that India has been developing the Chabahar port in southern Iran in a strategic bid to connect to Central Asia through Iran and Afghanistan.
  • Further, Chabahar provides war-torn Afghanistan a crucial link to Indian goods and Iranian oil. In December 2017, India made its first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan via the port.
  • Realising the advantage of India developing Chabahar, the U.S. has also exempted India from certain sanctions so that it can make progress on the port.
  • The sanctions relief for the port is motivated by a mix of politics and economics. Washington sees Chabahar’s utility in development and humanitarian relief work in Afghanistan.
  • The U.S. is also aware that China has a stake in developing Chabahar port and could easily replace India if the latter were unable to maintain its foothold there.
  • Experts suggest that on its part, Iran is keenly interested in building the port.
  • Control over Chabahar could put the ace card in its hands as it deals with the competition between China, India and Russia in South and Central Asia.
  • Admittedly, India remains opposed to Iran’s alleged efforts to acquire nuclear weapon capability.

Concluding Remarks:

  • In conclusion, a nuclear Iran would disrupt the balance of power across West and Central Asia, with serious consequences for India’s economic and strategic interests.
  • But a stronger relationship with Iran would increase India’s influence in West and Central Asia. That could help to counter China. And a friendly U.S. could then approach Iran on nuclear issues through India’s good offices.
  • Finally, despite Mr. Trump’s propensity for springing unpleasant surprises, India has, so far, walked the U.S.-Iran strategy-economics tightrope. It has a good chance of remaining on the tightrope.

F. Tidbits

1. Report cards rankle teachers in Karnataka

 

  • From now on, it won’t be just the students battling nerves as they await their exam results. In Karnataka, their teachers, too, will get a taste of the same medicine, as the government is all set to send out report cards that grade teachers on their performance
  • The State’s department of primary and secondary education has already prepared personalised report cards for teachers in government and aided schools based on the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) results, announced in May 2018. These will be distributed to the teachers in the coming days.
  • The report card will be based on the subject taught and how the class fared in it in the board exams. Teachers have been scored on a scale of zero to 10, with ten being the highest, and categorised in one of four slots: very good, good, average and below average. The evaluation also takes into account the number of students the teacher taught that academic year, the pass percentage, and the average marks of the class.
  • “The purpose of distributing these letters is to provide a feedback mechanism to teachers on how their students have performed,” said P.C. Jaffer, Commissioner for Public Instruction. He added that those whose students have done exceedingly well have been asked to share their “good practices” with the department so that they can be emulated by others.
  • The personalised reports also offer suggestions on how teachers can improve their performance. Those who don’t get a good rating have been asked to put in more effort.

2. TTD all set to go plastic-free soon

 

  • The paper boxes that are likely to replace the polythene covers meant for carrying Tirupati laddus.
  • The white polythene covers used for carrying the famous laddus prepared by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) will soon become a thing of the past, with the management contemplating replacing them with food grade paper boxes.
  • While Tirupati city has successfully implemented a ban on single use covers, plates and cups made of plastic, the hill town of Tirumala is taking baby steps towards becoming part of the larger framework.
  • After mulling various options, including introduction of biodegradable plastic covers and cloth/jute bags, the TTD is most likely to settle for paper boxes, similar to those used in bakeries and sweet shops.
  • It was initially feared that the excessive absorption of ghee by paper boxes would impact the quality of the laddu, which was subsequently proved wrong. The absorption of ghee was less than expected, thanks to the lesser surface area of contact between the spherical laddu and the cubical box.
  • Tirumala is currently the source point for the distribution of tens of thousands of plastic covers a day to devotees. The shift to paper box, once initiated, will make Tirupati a plastic-free city in its true sense.

3. Jaitley moots new federal bodies

 

  • Indian healthcare and agriculture sectors need a federal institution similar to the GST Council to coordinate State and Central policies and schemes, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
  • Speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Health Summit on Thursday, Mr. Jaitley said the GST Council, which comprised the Union and State Finance Ministers, was a successful experiment in practical federalism.
  • “There are two other institutions which eminently require federal institutions of this kind. The GST was constitutionally provided for, but political maturity can impose on government to try that experiment. One is healthcare and one is agriculture,” he said.
  • While both health and agriculture are State subjects under the Constitution, Centrally sponsored schemes are carried out in both sectors.
  • Laying out the case for a federal structure in the case of healthcare, Mr. Jaitley pointed out that both the Centre and the States spent resources, ran schemes, and established hospitals and other institutions.
  • “We are doing Ayushman Bharat, they also have parallel schemes. All this needs to be merged, so that the benefit of these merged resources now starts falling to the benefit of the patient population of the country,” he said.
  • Implementation would be the responsibility of the States, with the Centre responsible for coordination, he said, insisting that this was not a turf issue.

G. Prelims Fact

1. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

 

  • PSLV was launched in October 1994, it is the third generation launch vehicle of India.
  • It is the first Indian launched vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.
  • PSLV has emerged as a workhouse launch vehicle of India with 39 consecutively successful missions by June 2017.
  • This vehicle has launched 48 Indian satellites for customers from abroad.
  • It has also launched Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013.

Comparison between PSLV and GSLV

  • The PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) are two rocket launch systems developed by the Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, to launch satellites into orbit.
  • The PSLV is the older of the two and the GSLV even inherits some of the technologies of the former in its design.
  • The main reason behind the advent of the GSLV is the capability to lift greater loads into space. While the PSLV can only lift slightly over a ton of payload to GTO (Geostationary Transfer Orbit), the GSLV is capable of lifting more than double that with a rated capacity of 2 to 2.5 tons.
  • One of the main reasons why the GSLV has such an increased load is its utilization of a cryogenic rocket engine for its last stage. The cryogenic rocket engine provides more thrust than conventional liquid rocket engines but the fuel and oxidizer needs to be super cooled in order to keep them in a liquid state.
  • There is also a difference between the PSLV and GSLV in terms of the rocket itself. The PSLV has 4 stages that alternate between solid and liquid fuels while the GSLV has three stages with the only the first stage having solid fuel.
  • Both rockets have been launched multiple times but the PSLV has had more because it is older. When you look at their track records, it is easy to see that the PSLV is more reliable.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme of 
government:
  1. It aims at reducing excess sugar in the country.
  2. It focuses on reducing import bill.

Select the correct ones:

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

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements regarding Bad Banks:
  1. It is a bank containing significant non-performing assets (NPAs).
  2. It buys these NPAs at discounted prices from other banks.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements: 
  1. Brownfield Airport is modified or upgraded airports.
  2. Land Availability is a major hurdle in Brownfield Airport.
  3. Brownfield projects under FDI have been a cause of concern as they increase foreign monopoly without adding to capital formation.

Choose the correct code:

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

See

Answer

 

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Indian constitution is the lengthiest constitution in the world. The constitution is inclusive and it is framed by ransacking all the known constitutions, which is why it includes the best features available and modified to suit the Indian needs. Discuss (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
  2. Preamble is the key to open the mind of framers of the constitution. Explain (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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