03 October 2023 CNA
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS 1 Related GEOGRAPHY 1. Capturing the rains B. GS 2 Related GOVERNANCE 1. Criminal law bills and a hollow decolonisation C. GS 3 Related D. GS 4 Related E. Editorials INDIAN ECONOMY 1. The narrative of development and populism INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Building BRICS for the future F. Prelims Facts 1. Nobel Prize in medicine G. Tidbits 1. Astra BVR missile 1. Malaria vaccine H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS 1 Related
Syllabus: Climatology, Physical Geography of India- Climate
Mains: Monsoon and the effects of anthropogenic warming on weather patterns.
Prelims: El Niño, La Niña
India’s 2023 monsoon, the first deficit since 2018, surprised with unusual variability. El Niño’s influence and unexpected patterns call for resilient infrastructure and improved forecasting.
- India has witnessed a deficit monsoon in 2023, marking the first occurrence of such an event since 2018.
- Over the period from June to September this year, India received 82 cm of rainfall, which is nearly 6% lower than the usual and expected 89 cm.
- From the outset in April, there were discernible indicators suggesting that the monsoon would be less vigorous due to the looming El Niño phenomenon.
Impact of El Niño and La Niña
- The El Niño phenomenon, characterised by cyclic warming of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, is typically associated with diminished rainfall in India, particularly in the northwest region.
- Conversely, the converse phenomenon, La Niña, characterised by the cooling of the same oceanic regions, usually results in above-average rainfall in India.
- Considering these patterns, the initial expectations for a normal monsoon in 2023 were not overly optimistic.
Unusual Monsoon Variability
- The 2023 monsoon presented an unusual degree of variability, with approximately 9% of the country experiencing ‘excess’ rainfall, while 18% encountering ‘deficient’ rainfall.
- August, which is typically the second most critical month for the monsoon, recorded only a third of its normal rainfall.
- Unprecedented heavy rainfall struck several northern Indian states, leading to devastating floods and landslides.
- Notably, in July, Chandigarh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh experienced exceptionally heavy rainfall, resulting in severe floods and landslides.
- In August, Himachal Pradesh experienced cloudbursts, a phenomenon typically unrelated to the monsoon.
- These events, termed ‘western disturbances,’ originate from the Mediterranean region and are not expected to play a significant role in the Indian monsoon.
- The occurrences of these intense rains are indicative of the far-reaching impacts of anthropogenic warming.
Drought and Water Stress
- In stark contrast to the excessive rainfall, Maharashtra faced drought-like conditions.
- Additionally, there were reports of extreme water stress in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Karnataka.
- In the case of Karnataka, water-sharing disputes with neighbouring Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery River reached a critical juncture.
Meteorological Department’s Forecast
- The India Meteorological Department has forecasted a ‘normal’ northeast monsoon from October to December.
- Moreover, it anticipates ‘normal to above normal rainfall’ over large parts of northwestern and south peninsular India.
- Signs of increased rains have also been observed in various parts of southern India.
Need for Resilient Infrastructure
- This variability in the monsoon underscores the urgent need to invest in more resilient infrastructure that can provide all-weather insurance against the increasingly unpredictable nature of the global climate.
- Recent trends emphasise the importance of improving forecast models that can offer better early warnings of significant weather changes, ideally one to two weeks in advance, rather than relying on approaches that struggle to capture the complex dynamics of the Indian monsoon.
- Adequate financial resources and expertise should be directed toward these efforts to enhance India’s preparedness for future monsoon seasons.
Nut Graf: India faced an unexpected deficit monsoon in 2023 after indications of El Niño. This unusual monsoon exhibited significant variability, including heavy rainfall and drought-like conditions. The situation highlights the need for resilient infrastructure and advanced forecasting systems to cope with climate unpredictability.
B. GS 2 Related
Syllabus: Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation; Issues relating to development and management of Social Sectors; Important aspects of governance.
Mains: The criminal law Bills and their implications in the context of colonial legacies and the relationship between the state and citizens.
India’s 2023 criminal law bills were expected to decolonize its legal framework, but concerns have arisen that they perpetuate colonial-style powers and surveillance.
- The 2023 criminal law bills in India, touted as decolonization efforts, are critiqued for failing to truly decolonize Indian criminal law.
- These bills, instead, seem to perpetuate and intensify colonial-style powers and attitudes.
- Colonialism is an oppressive process where the colonised serve the colonial power’s desires without question.
- Colonial laws prioritise protecting the colonial state, treating the subjects as inferior and suspicious.
- These laws aim to secure and safeguard the colonial state rather than the colonised.
Requirements for Decolonized Law
- Post-colonial laws should reflect a changed citizen-state relationship where the state serves the people.
- This shift alters the purpose and priorities of laws.
Failures of the Bills
- The 2023 bills fail to meet these requirements, viewing citizens with heightened suspicion, and positioning the state against its people.
- Major changes in the bills compromise individuals and empower the state, expanding suppression disguised as security.
Expansion of Suppression
- Colonisation involves suppression under the guise of security and unchecked executive police powers.
- Post-independence, India has continued to increase police powers, as seen in the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), which repeals the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, expanding police custody periods.
- Some provisions in the bills grant police powers broader than harsh laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Need for Reform
- The bills lack any indication of police and prison reform, remaining rooted in colonial perspectives.
- Calls for decolonization will remain empty without reimagining these fundamental colonial institutions.
Punishments and Policing
- The bills increase punishment terms across the board while expanding police powers, resembling colonial criminal law logic.
- The implications for overcrowded prisons and policing methods are overlooked.
- The bills’ narrative of decolonization must be considered alongside other developments in criminal law that reinforce colonial tendencies.
- Laws like the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, further surveillance and state control, aligning with colonial objectives.
Decolonization as Optimistic Endeavour:
- Decolonization is more than opposition to colonialism; it embodies the promise of people shaping their destinies and reordered state-citizen relationships.
- Behind the rhetoric of decolonization in the bills lie exaggerated anxieties of colonial power.
Nut Graf: Despite hopes for decolonization, India’s criminal law bills are criticised for reinforcing colonial-era powers, increasing surveillance, and failing to prioritise citizen-centric lawmaking.
C. GS 3 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
D. GS 4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Syllabus: GS-3, Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it
Prelims: Fiscal Deficit, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)
Mains: Inclusive Growth, Growth and Development
- The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of projects worth over ₹50,700 crore in Madhya Pradesh, emphasizing that these projects will contribute to the state’s development. In a similar vein, another opposition party announced several guarantees for the people, including financial assistance, subsidies, and other benefits.
- Both announcements highlight the debate around ‘development and populism’ and the necessity to adopt a more holistic approach to development, taking into account factors such as sustainability, environmental impact, and social equity.
Effects of development seen only in terms of physical infrastructure
- The common belief is that development seen in terms of physical infrastructure is the long-term ideal, while populism will always stunt development.
- Governments also prioritize visible infrastructure projects as they might lead to favourable electoral outcomes.
- However, this narrow definition of development neglects the long-term environmental consequences and the suitability of such projects for the specific geographic location and user needs i.e. welfare of the local population might take a back seat.
- It can also lead to inequality, as it often benefits the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poor and marginalized.
- For example, recent environmental disasters in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, which have resulted from the construction of numerous highway roads and other infrastructure projects are a case in point.
- Despite these disasters, governments continue to promote such projects as symbols of development, ignoring the environmental costs and the financial burden of maintaining them.
- Furthermore, the fiscal implications of financing such mega-infrastructure projects can’t be ignored.
- The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has accumulated a massive debt of over ₹3.4 trillion, with a significant portion of it being contracted between 2017-18 and 2021-22.
- The debt servicing cost alone will cross ₹50,000 crore in FY28, and the NHAI also faces contingent liabilities from disputed claims filed by contractors and developers.
Why is there a space for populism?
- Conventional economic growth models didn’t emphasize redistribution, assuming benefits of economic growth would trickle down naturally through the “trickle-down effect.”
- This approach views growth as a “high tide that lifts all boats,” i.e. economic growth by itself will ensure benefits to all sections of the economy.
- However, experiences of growth in various countries show that benefits don’t always trickle down easily, leaving some populations as “outliers” in the growth process.
- Populism is used as a tool to address the shortcomings of conventional economic growth models by redistributing wealth and ensuring that the benefits of growth are shared more evenly.
Why are checks and balances on populism necessary?
- Around the world, populists see themselves as representing the popular will and criticize the checks and balances placed on the executive.
- However, rules and restraints are necessary.
- Populism can lead to bad policy decisions, as populist leaders may be more focused on winning elections than on developing sound policies.
- While economic populism in the form of freebies has fiscal costs, poorly planned physical infrastructure-led development adds environmental costs that can constrain future governments.
- Policymakers should adopt a more holistic approach to development, taking into account factors like sustainability, environmental impact, and social equity.
- A balance between rules and discretion is needed to allow for flexibility in decision-making within the broad context of rules and regulations to achieve these goals.
Nut Graf: The debate around development and populism highlights the need for a more holistic approach to development, taking into account sustainability, environmental impact, and social equity. Both physical infrastructure-led development and economic populism can have negative consequences if not properly planned and implemented.
Syllabus: GS-2, Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Prelims: BRICS, G7, G20, NATO
Mains: Relevance of BRICS with increasing US-China rivalry
- In August, six new members were inducted into the BRICS grouping during a meeting held in South Africa.
- Critics believe that the meeting did not produce any substantive results.
- However, it’s important to evaluate BRICS based on its evolution and impact over time rather than judging it solely on the outcomes of a single meeting.
- The emergence of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) is driven by economic motivations rather than military or security interests.
- Unlike organizations like NATO, BRICS does not provide military support, police nations, or offer peacekeeping services.
- Despite this, BRICS’s combined GDP is 36% of the global total, and its member populations will make up 47% of the world’s population by 2050, presenting significant long-term opportunities.
- Expansion of BRICS membership could challenge the dominance of the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US).
- China and India possess one-third of the world’s population and are projected to be among the top three economies by 2030.
- Bilateral ties between China and India have transformed following the creation of economic blocs like the EU and ASEAN, leading to increased trade and investment despite political and diplomatic challenges.
- Economic cooperation between China and India continues to grow significantly, even after events like the Doklam stand-off in 2017.
- Additionally, the US dollar has been the dominant global currency, but digital currencies are becoming more important.
- India and China are making significant progress in digital currencies and pushing for more trade and investment in their own currencies.
- Freedom from the US dollar is a driving factor behind India and China’s convergence despite short-term challenges.
- Polarization between the US and other parts of the world has increased.
- Countries are looking for alternatives to the US-dominated global economic system
- For example, the US stance against China (imposing tariffs and restrictions on trade and investment) has affected countries which are dependent on China.
- These countries want to join groupings that include China, such as BRICS, to counterbalance US influence
- The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is thus gaining attention as a potential new order and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) is emerging as a voice of the global south.
Importance of Africa’s addition
- Africa is seen as the continent that promises economic growth in the 21st century.
- France’s intervention in Niger and the treatment of migrants in Europe has given Africans a negative view of Europe.
- There has been no progress on connectivity to Europe due to geopolitical issues and other concerns.
- Visa restrictions have led Africans to travel to China instead of Europe or the US, making them believe in China’s potential.
- African nations want the freedom to choose their investment and trading partners and want to step away from unsustainable and dangerous capital from the West.
- Considering this, India has offered complete membership to the African Union at the G20 conference in New Delhi as it tries to expand its influence within Africa.
- Although the news about BRICS losing relevance exists after each summit, these events create opportunities for new areas of cooperation in the future.
- As Goldman Sachs predicted, if everything goes well, the combined economy of the member states could surpass the G6 in US dollars in under 40 years and can emerge as a voice of the global south.
Nut Graf: BRICS is a significant economic bloc with a growing population. By expanding its membership, it has the potential to emerge as a strong voice of the developing world despite the challenges.
F. Prelims Facts
Syllabus: GS 3- Science and Technology
Prelims: Nobel Prize, mRNA
- Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó and American physician-scientist Drew Weissman have been honoured with the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their pioneering contributions to mRNA vaccine development, particularly their breakthroughs in nucleoside base modification research.
- The Nobel Prize recognizes the transformative impact of mRNA vaccine technology, from its inception to its vital role in addressing the COVID-19 crisis and its potential to revolutionise healthcare for various diseases.
Revolutionising Vaccine Technology
- Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman were jointly honoured for their work in mRNA vaccine development.
- mRNA vaccines, a novel approach, proved highly effective against COVID-19.
- This recognition highlights the significant role of mRNA vaccines in combating the pandemic and their potential in vaccine technology.
Understanding mRNA’s Potential
- Messenger RNA (mRNA) carries genetic instructions from DNA to the cell’s cytoplasm for protein production.
- In the late 1980s, scientists saw potential in using modified mRNA for vaccines.
- The concept involved instructing cells to produce specific proteins, triggering the immune system’s response.
The Collaborative Effort
- Dr. Karikó and Dr. Weissman began collaborating in the late 1990s, publishing studies on mRNA delivery and immune response.
- A major hurdle was the immune system’s rejection of synthetic mRNA, unlike the body’s own mRNA.
- In 2005, their research revealed that chemical modifications to synthetic mRNA allowed it to evade detection by the immune system.
Unlocking mRNA’s Potential
- Modifying certain mRNA bases allowed cells to produce more proteins without immune system interference.
- Their studies paved the way for the mRNA platform’s use in vaccine development.
Impact on COVID-19 Pandemic
- mRNA vaccines played a crucial role in lowering COVID-19 death rates during the pandemic.
- However, vaccine nationalism overshadowed their global potential.
- Scientists are exploring mRNA vaccines against influenza, dengue, cancers, and autoimmune diseases.
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) has entered into contracts with Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL) for the Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile, with the first batch set for induction by year-end.
- Development is underway for the more advanced and longer-range AstraMk2 missile.
- Static firing tests have already been conducted.
Production Clearance for Astra-MK1
- BDL has received bulk production clearance for Astra-MK1 missiles from the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC).
- The IAF plans to conduct proof firing and induction this fiscal year.
Integration and Successful Tests
- The Astra missile is fully integrated into the Su-30MKI aircraft.
- In August, successful test firings were conducted from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas off the coast of Goa.
- The IAF intends to equip its frontline fighters with the Astra-MK1.
- Astra-MK2 is expected to become the primary BVR missile in the IAF’s arsenal, reducing dependence on imports.
- In May 2022, the Defence Ministry signed a ₹2,971 crore contract with BDL for supplying Astra Mk-I missiles and associated equipment to the IAF and Navy.
- The IAF is initially looking to acquire over 200 Mk-1 missiles.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine, a joint effort of the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India, using Novavax’s adjuvant technology.
- Following a thorough scientific evaluation by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) and the Malaria Policy Advisory Group (MPAG), the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine has been recommended for use.
- The Serum Institute of India announced this development, emphasising that the vaccine meets the required safety, quality, and effectiveness standards.
- Following WHO approval and recommendations, additional regulatory approvals are anticipated in the near future.
- Wider distribution of vaccine doses is expected to commence as early as the following year.
- The Serum Institute has already established production capacity for 100 million doses annually.
- This capacity will be doubled over the next two years, crucial for vaccinating high-risk malaria populations and curbing disease transmission while protecting those vaccinated.
- Matrix-M is a proprietary saponin-based adjuvant developed by Novavax.
- The Serum Institute possesses the licence to utilise Matrix-M within malaria-endemic countries, whereas Novavax maintains commercial rights in areas not affected by malaria.
- The vaccine was jointly developed by the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India.
- It received support from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the Wellcome Trust, and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
Q1. With reference to La Niña, which of the following statements is/are incorrect?
- La Niña is characterised by the cooling of surface-ocean waters along the tropical west coast of South America.
- La Niña is characterised by higher-than-normal air pressure over the western Pacific, leading to decreased rainfall.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Explanation: Statement 2 is incorrect. La Niña is characterised by lower-than-normal air pressure over the western Pacific, contributing to increased rainfall.
Q2. The 'R21/Matrix-M vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India,' recently in the news, is related to:
Explanation: The R21/Matrix-M vaccine is designed to combat malaria, a mosquito-borne disease. It is developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India, and recommended for use by the WHO.
Q3. Consider the following statements, with reference to the Astra missile:
- Astra is India’s first beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missile developed by DRDO.
- It is capable of operating under all weather conditions, but lacks high single-shot kill probability (SSKP).
- It was developed as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
How many of the statements given above are incorrect?
- Only one
- Only two
- All three
Explanation: Statement 2 is incorrect. The Astra missile is highly agile, accurate, and reliable, with a high single-shot kill probability (SSKP).
Q4. The 2023 Nobel Prize has been awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman in which field?
- Physiology or Medicine
Explanation: The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó and American physician-scientist Drew Weissman.
Q5. With reference to the National Turmeric Board, which of the following statements is/are incorrect?
- The National Turmeric Board aims to boost farmers’ income and promote turmeric exports.
- It will encourage farmers to improve their produce in terms of quantity as well as quality.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Explanation: Both statements are correct. The National Turmeric Board aims to promote turmeric exports and encourage farmers to improve their produce.
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- Discuss the relevance of BRICS in the modern fractured geopolitical setup. (10 marks, 150 words) [GS-2, IR]
- ‘The obligations of electoral democracy give priority to populist measures as compared to developmental measures.’ Comment. (15 marks, 250 words) [GS-2, Polity & Governance]
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