09 Oct 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

Oct 9th, 2021, CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. SC flags consequences of growing digital divide
2. Palk Bay scheme will be given a fillip: Murugan
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. After 68 years, Tatas win back Air India with ₹18,000 cr. Bid
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Special push for ethanol as a fuel, says Gadkari
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY
1. Reflections on the ‘quasi-federal’ democracy
SECURITY
1. Grim turn
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Simple, but brilliant
HEALTH
1. Infusing public health into Indian medical education
F. Prelims Facts
1. Reserve Bank raises IMPS limit to ₹5 lakh
G. Tidbits
1. Goyal pushes for a reset of India-ASEAN FTA
2. Modi, Kishida commit to strengthening relations
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Special push for ethanol as a fuel, says Gadkari

Context:

The minister said that a special push would be given for ethanol as a fuel.

  • With 100% use of 20% blend of bioethanol, India would be able to save ₹30,000 crore on import of fossil fuel.
  • Further, the use of ethanol-blended petrol decreases emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides by 40%.

Also read: Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme

Ethanol:

  • Ethanol is a biofuel and a common by-product of biomass left by agricultural feedstock such as corn, sugarcane, hemp, potato, etc.
  • It is produced mainly from molasses, a byproduct of sugar manufacture.
  • Ethanol is basically alcohol of 99%-plus purity, which can be used for blending with petrol.
  • Ethanol being a less polluting fuel will cut down carbon emissions.

Read more on “Ethanol Blending” covered in UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis. January 29th, 2021.

Category: SECURITY

1. Grim turn

Context

  • Civilians killed in Kashmir.

Responsibility for the killings 

  • A militant group called The Resistance Front (TRF) has claimed the responsibility.
  • It is an amalgam of old groups that have long been present in the Valley, such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

Why is it difficult to locate them?

  • Most of them would fall in the category of “overground” militants, or “hybrid” as the security establishment now refers to them because they may be only partially active.
  • This is one reason why the security establishment is finding it harder to locate them.

Surge in target killings in Kashmir

  • It might be in the backdrop of increasing tourist influx and planned industrial investment in Kashmir where the Centre is promoting a raft of development schemes.
  • The administration is encouraging the Pandits to return.
    • Some allege it is also because of fear and phobia of demographic change.
  • A nine-week-long outreach of the Centre in J&K where Union Ministers are visiting remote districts, including those closer to the LoC, is underway.
  • Strict directives were issued to unfurl the national flag in all government buildings, including schools, on August 15.
  • There is an aggressive drive too to punish government staff suspected to be separatist sympathisers.
  • People suspected of being “collaborators” of the post-2019 set-up in J&K are being killed.

Therefore, civilians are soft targets for the terrorists in this milieu to spread fear among these communities.

Conclusion

  • No society can tolerate such violence. The J&K administration should thus engage with political parties and civil society organizations.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Simple, but brilliant

Context

  • The Nobel Prize for chemistry has been awarded to Benjamin List and David WC MacMillan.
  • They were awarded for their work in developing a new way for building molecules known as “asymmetric organocatalysis.”

Catalysis

  • When two or more compounds react to form new compounds, the process is often aided by other chemicals that do not change themselves, but help speed up the reaction.
    • A catalyst is thus a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without taking part in the reaction, or without undergoing any changes during the chemical reaction.
  • Catalysis is the process of increasing the rate of a chemical reaction by adding a catalyst.
  • The major types of catalysts are metals and enzymes.
    • Metals, mainly heavier metals;
    • Enzymes, naturally-occurring heavy molecules that facilitate all life-supporting biochemical processes.

Concerns associated with these catalysts.

  • Heavier metals are expensive, difficult to mine, and toxic to humans and the environment.
    • Despite the best processes, traces remained in the end product; this posed problems in situations where compounds of very high purity were required, like in the manufacture of medicines.
    • Also, metals required an environment free of water and oxygen, which was difficult to ensure on an industrial scale.
  • Enzymes, on the other hand, work best when water is used as a medium for the chemical reaction. But that is not an environment suitable for all kinds of chemical reactions.

Asymmetric organocatalysis

  • In 2000, Dr. List and Dr. MacMillan, independent of each other, developed a third type of catalysis named asymmetric organocatalysis.

Organic compounds

  • They are mostly naturally occurring substances, built around a framework of carbon atoms and usually containing hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, or phosphorus.
  • Life-supporting chemicals like proteins, which are long chains of amino acids (carbon compounds containing nitrogen and oxygen) are organic.
  • Enzymes are also proteins, and therefore, organic compounds.

How did they progress?

  • List and MacMillan were aware of earlier research from the 1970s, in which an amino acid called proline was used as a catalyst in some specific reactions. But its role was not fully explored.
  • They started working with individual amino acids in enzymes.
  • List and MacMillan discovered that by using a natural compound like an amino acid as a catalyst, they were obtaining only one specific mirror image of the end-product. This was later named asymmetric catalysis.

Applications

  • Organocatalysis finds several applications in pharmaceutical research and other industries.
  • It has helped streamline the production of existing pharmaceuticals, including paroxetine, used to treat anxiety and depression, and oseltamivir, a respiratory infection medication.

Category: HEALTH

1. Infusing public health into Indian medical education

Community Medicine

  • It is a branch of medicine concerned with the health of populations.
  • It is concerned with the prevention of disease, the determinants and natural history of disease in populations, and the influence of the environment and of society on health and disease.
  • It deals with analysing and measuring the health needs of populations, their health status and then develops appropriate and technically and practically feasible strategies to prevent and control diseases and improve the health of populations through Health Promotion, Health Education and Health Protection.

Origin in India

  • The origin of community medicine in India can be traced back to 1946.
  • Health Survey and Development Committee (Bhore) Report recommended a 3-month compulsory training for physicians in preventive and social medicine.
Public Health into Indian Medical Education

Image source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Issues

  • The medical curriculum on community medicine has remained more or less stagnant since post-independence.
  • Hardly any attempt has been made to reform the community medicine curriculum, from one that primarily provides technical inputs to technocratic health programmes — to one which can also take on the larger questions related to health policy and health systems, and inculcate critical thinking along lines that are divergent from clinical medicine.

Recommendations

  • Some experts have advocated the establishment of public health departments in medical schools, inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Upgrading community medicine to ‘community medicine and public health’ both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels of medical training.
  • It should involve revamping the community medicine curriculum through the incorporation of or emphasising those areas of public health which are presently left out or under-emphasised, such as social health, health policy and health systems.
  • At the same time, the representation of experts other than doctors and from fields allied to public health will be essential in the refurbished ‘community medicine and public health’ departments.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Reserve Bank raises IMPS limit to ₹5 lakh

What’s in News?

The Reserve Bank has proposed to increase the per transaction limit through Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) from ₹2 lakh to ₹5 lakh.

  • The proposal has been made in a bid to promote digital transactions.
  • The increase in limit will lead to a further rise in digital payments and provide an additional facility to customers for making digital payments beyond ₹2 lakh.

IMPS:

  • IMPS is an important payment system providing 24×7 instant domestic funds transfer facility.
  • It is an interbank electronic funds service that is especially working in India.
  • It is accessible through various channels such as the Internet and mobile banking.
  • There is no minimum payment limit.

G. Tidbits

1. Goyal pushes for a reset of India-ASEAN FTA

What’s in News?

Commerce and Industry Minister has called for a renegotiation of the India-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA).

  • A few factors had hurt Indian exports disproportionately since the pact was operationalised in 2010.
  • India had to deal with several restrictive barriers to its exports in the ASEAN region, particularly in the agriculture and auto sectors.
  • The renegotiations have been called for in order to:
    • Prevent its misuse by ‘third parties’
    • Remove trade restrictions
    • Remove non-tariff barriers to boost confidence

India ASEAN FTA:

  • The ASEAN–India Free Trade Area (AIFTA) is a free trade area among the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India.
  • The initial framework agreement was signed in 2003 in Bali, Indonesia and the final agreement in 2009. The free trade area came into effect on 1 January 2010.

2. Modi, Kishida commit to strengthening relations

What’s in News?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to new Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in their first conversation since the latter took charge.

  • Both the leaders committed to strengthening bilateral relations and opposing the use of military and economic force in the Indo-Pacific region through the Quad with the U.S. and Australia.
  • The leaders discussed the increasing alignment of perspectives, and robust cooperation, between India and Japan in the Indo-Pacific region. They reviewed the progress of cooperation under the Quad framework in this regard.
  • Promoting cooperation on “green technology, digital, healthcare, enhancing connectivity” was also discussed.
  • Kishida was earlier known for a moderate foreign policy line and has now taken a tough posture on countering China.

The statements are significant as tensions have been rising in the South China Sea over a record number of Chinese jets being flown into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), after recent military exercises involving the U.S., Japan, the U.K. and other allies in the region.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q.1 With reference to the Tata Sons winning the bid to acquire Air India, consider the 
following statements and choose the correct one(s).
  1. Talace Pvt. Ltd. has been officially declared as the winning bidder in the process.
  2. As per the agreement, the Tatas will now own 100% stake in Air India and 76% stake in its international low cost arm Air India Express.
  3. With this acquisition, the Tatas will also own the pending debt of Air India.

Options:-

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Talace Pvt. Ltd. has been officially declared as the winning bidder in the process.
  • The Tatas will own a 100% stake in Air India, as also 100% in its international low-cost arm Air India Express and 50% in the ground handling joint venture, Air India SATS.
  • Of the total AI debt of Rs 61,562 crore, the Tatas will take care of Rs 15,300 crore and will pay an additional Rs 2,700 crore in cash to the government. That leaves Rs 43,562 crore of debt with the government. The Tatas will not own the pending debt of Air India. The assets left with the government, such as buildings, etc., will likely generate Rs 14,718 crore. That will leave the government with a debt of Rs 28,844 crore to pay back.
Q.2 Consider the following statements with regards to the ‘Lateral entry’ program run by the 
Government of India:
  1. Reservations or caste-based quotas do not apply to these recruitments.
  2. The recruitment under this program does not involve any written test.
  3. The basic qualification for a Joint Secretary lateral entrant is 15 years of work experience.

Which of these statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 & 2 only
  2. 2 & 3 only
  3. 1 & 3 only
  4. All of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • The term lateral entry means the appointment of specialists and experts, mainly those from the private sector, in government organizations and ministries.
  • Reservations or caste-based quotas do not apply to these recruitments.
  • The recruitment under this program does not involve any written test.
  • The basic qualification for a Joint Secretary lateral entrant is 15 years of work experience.
Q.3 Nations across the world have been contemplating imposing a minimum permissible level of 
corporate tax in order to counter tax havens. Which of the following rates of minimum 
corporate tax has been decided by these nations?
  1. 23%
  2. 15%
  3. 20%
  4. 18%
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • According to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a global deal to ensure big companies pay a minimum tax rate of 15% and make it harder for them to avoid taxation has been agreed upon by 136 countries.
  • The global minimum tax is being discussed as the governments want to discourage multinationals from shifting profits – and tax revenues – to low-tax countries regardless of where their sales are made.
  • The global minimum tax rate would apply to overseas profits of multinational firms with 750 million euros in sales globally.
  • Governments could still set whatever local corporate tax rate they want, but if companies pay lower rates in a particular country, their home governments could top up their taxes to the 15% minimum, eliminating the advantage of shifting profits.
Q.4 Which of the following statements regarding RBI’s G-SAP operations is not correct?
  1. It involved the RBI buying government securities from the market.
  2. It was launched to restrict the availability of liquidity in the market and thus control inflation.
  3. This was launched during the Covid-19 outbreak.
  4. None of the above.
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • The RBI periodically purchase Government bonds from the market through Open Market Operations (OMOs).
  • The G-SAP is in a way an OMO but there is an upfront commitment by the central bank to the markets that it will purchase bonds worth a specific amount.
  • This was launched during the Covid-19 outbreak. It was launched to ensure adequate liquidity and for stabilising financial markets.
Q.5 With reference to Mian Tansen, which one of the following statements is not correct?  
(UPSC 2019)
  1. Tansen was the title given to him by Emperor Akbar.
  2. Tansen composed Dhrupads on Hindu gods and goddesses.
  3. Tansen composed songs on his patrons.
  4. Tansen invented many Ragas.
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • Tansen was a composer, musician and vocalist, to whom many compositions have been attributed in northern regions of the Indian subcontinent.
  • He was also an instrumentalist who popularized and improved musical instruments.
  • He is among the most influential personalities in the North Indian tradition of Indian classical music, called Hindustani.
  • Tansen was the title given to him by Raja Vikramjit of Gwalior. Tansen was a court musician in the darbar of Raja Ramachandra of Bandavagarh (Rewa).
  • Tansen composed Dhrupads on Hindu gods and goddesses. He also composed songs on his patrons.
  • Tansen invented many Ragas.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Despite a basic structure, Indian federalism needs institutional amendment to be democratically federal. Critically evaluate. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-2, Polity]
  2. Examine the need to infuse public health into Indian medical education. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-2, Governance]

Read the previous CNA here.

Oct 9th, 2021, CNA:- Download PDF Here

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