UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis Oct11

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
ART AND CULTURE
1. 10-day Dasara extravaganza begins
GEOGRAPHY
1. Titli turns into severe cyclonic storm
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. How was decision on Rafale made, asks SC
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Cooperate to fight trade protectionism, says China
C. GS3 Related
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. ‘Sophia’ set to steal many a heart!
ENVIRONMENT
1. Containing a virus
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Draconian move (Section 124)
2. Next steps after the 377 judgment (Section 377 of the IPC)
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The power of non-alignment (Non-Aligned Movement)
F. Tidbits
1. A WhatsApp network helps protect hearts
G. Prelims Fact
1. Coal shortage hits aluminium units
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Category: ART AND CULTURE

1. 10-day Dasara extravaganza begins

Context

  • The 10-day Dasara festivities got off to a traditional start atop Chamundi Hills in Mysuru on Wednesday with prayers for the welfare of the State.
  • It also signalled the continuation of a hoary tradition that has made Dasara synonymous with Mysuru to showcase the best of the ancient and modern cultural practices that draw tourists in large numbers. The city has been decked up and illuminated for the event and this has shored up the festive spirit.
  • While the Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murty inaugurated the festival atop Chamundi Hills in the morning, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy launched the cultural programmes at the palace late in the evening.

More about Dasara

  • Dussehra (Vijaya Dashami, Dasara, or Dashain) is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is a gazetted holiday in India, which is marked on the 10th day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the month of Ashvin (Ashwayuja), according to the Hindu calendar.
  • Many people of the Hindu faith observe Dussehra through special prayer meetings and food offerings to the gods at home or in temples throughout India. They also hold outdoor fairs (melas) and large parades with effigies of Ravana (a mythical king of ancient Sri Lanka). The effigies are burnt on bonfires in the evening. Dussehra is the culmination of the Navaratri festival.
  • Many Hindus also believe that it is lucky to start a new venture, project or journey on Dussehra. They may also exchange gifts of leaves from the Shami tree (Prosopis spicigera) as a symbol of the story of the Pandavas brothers’ exile in the Mahabharata stories.

Background

  • Dussehra celebrates the Hindu god Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana and the triumph of good over evil. 
  • Ravana plays an important role in the Ramayana. Ravana had a sister known as Shoorpanakha. She fell in love with the brothers Rama and Lakshmana and wanted to marry one of them. Lakshmana refused to marry her and Rama could not as he was already married to Sita.
  • Shoorpanakha threatened to kill Sita so that she could marry Rama. This angered Lakshmana who cut off Shoorpanakha’s nose and ears. Ravana then kidnapped Sita to avenge his sister’s injuries. Rama and Lakshmana later fought a battle to rescue Sita. The monkey god Hanuman and a huge army of monkeys helped them.
  • The Mahabharata is another series of Hindu stories that play a role in the Dussehra festival. The Pandavas were five brothers who fought evil forces with a set of distinctive weapons. They abandoned their weapons and went into exile for one year. They hid their weapons in a Shami tree and found them at the same place when they returned from exile. They then worshipped the tree before going to a battle, which they won. This epic is also commemorated during Dussehra.

Category: GEOGRAPHY

1. Titli turns into severe cyclonic storm

 

  • The very severe cyclonic storm ‘Titli’ over the westcentral Bay of Bengal moved northwestwards with a speed of about 18 kmph and lay centred about 230 km southsoutheast of Gopalpur (Odisha) and 190 km southeast of Kalingapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) on Wednesday night.
  • It is very likely to intensify and move north northwestwards and make landfall between Gopalpur (Odisha) and Kalingapatnam on Thursday morning, with wind speed touching 145 kmph. Thereafter, it is very likely to re-curve northeastwards, move towards the Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha and weaken gradually.

How a cyclone gets its name?

  • Tropical cyclones passing over the northern part of the Indian Ocean are named by eight countries in the region, namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman and Thailand.
  • The process only began in 2004, four years after World Meteorological Organization agreed in principle to allow them to name cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The alphabet system is used to designate the name of a cyclone, which means the name of the year’s first cyclone begins with A.
  • Previously, till 1979, cyclones were only given female names. Male names were only introduced in the same year. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) maintains the database of cyclone/hurricane/typhoon names.
  • There are six lists of names used in rotation and they are recycled every six years. The names are picked from this pre-designated list and are usually familiar with the people living in the region. India has so far contributed the following names: Agni, Bijli, Akash, Jal, Lehar, Megh, Sagar and Vayu.

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. How was decision on Rafale made, asks SC

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to submit details of the decision-making process in the Rafale deal with France in a sealed envelope by October 29. A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, however, clarified that it was not asking for information on the price of the fighter jets and technical particulars.
  • “We are not on the issue of pricing and suitability of the Rafale jets but only on the decision-making process,” the Bench, also comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, said.

Rafale

  • The Rafale is a 4th generation Aircraft with twin-engine, multi-role fighter aircraft. According to Dassault, it is capable of carrying out all combat missions: air defence, interception, ground support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
  • These two squadrons will be like a spearhead or an arrowhead for the IAF formations. They will be used for the long range possessions attack missions.
  • Rafale provides standoff capability when any country attacks India. An active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar which enables the pilot to look 200 to 400 kms away. It gives long range precision strike capability, the pilot can detect enemy aircraft and share the information and also destroy the targets.
  • The 4th generation Aircraft capabilities involve Situational awareness in which Aircraft has got those sensors which enable the pilot to be aware situationally and detect the enemy Aircraft for which the Rafale has got AESA radar.
  • The weapons package includes Meteor radar guided Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile considered the best in the class with range of over 150 km and Scalp long range air to ground missiles. The Rafale will also be fitted with MICA missiles, an Air to Land precision missile of more than 300 km range.
  • Today the warfare is beyond the range capability and not face to face.
  • This deal includes the cost of 36 Rafale fighters, the full weapons package, simulators, spares, maintenance, performance-based logistics, India-specific enhancements and associated supplies for five years.
  • The Rafale Aircraft will give India a superior Nuclear Strike capability and add to the existing nuclear strike capability of Sukhoi Su-30 and Mirage-2000.
  • It is the IAF which will spearhead the nuclear deterrence and Rafale will spearhead the deterrence.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Cooperate to fight trade protectionism, says China

 

  • China has asked India to counter jointly the growing threat of trade protectionism championed by U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • A statement issued by the Embassy of China in India said that attempts were being made to sow discord between China and India and they should not fall for such traps.
  • “Under the current circumstances, China and India need to deepen their cooperation to fight trade protectionism. As the two largest developing countries and major emerging markets, China and India are both in the vital stage of deepening reform and developing economy, and both need stable external environment,” Ji Rong, spokesperson of the Embassy, said.
  • The spokesperson said the U.S. was promoting protectionism while trying to keep India away from China by planting ideas that China’s financial support for developing countries would lead to a “debt trap”.

What is protectionism?

  • Protectionism is the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of other government regulations.
  • Protectionist policies help immune the producers, businesses, and workers of the import-competing sector in the country from foreign competitors.

Why protectionism is gaining prevalence?

  • To protect indigenous industrial sectors especially infant and sunrise sectors.
  • High unemployment rate
  • Slow growth recovery post global financial crisis
  • Rising apprehensions with respect to immigrants leading to xenophobia

What is trade war?

  • Trade war is an economic conflict between two or more nations regarding trade tariffs on each other.
  • This type of conflict usually arises because the nations involved are trying to improve imports or exports for its own country.
  • The last time the world saw trade war was in the 1930s when countries had tried to boost their trade surplus. The result was a massive slowdown around the world, which eventually resulted in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

C. GS3 Related

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. ‘Sophia’ set to steal many a heart!

 

  • Sophia will be the star attraction at the Vizag Fintech Festival being organised from October 22 to 26 by the Fintech Valley Vizag, an initiative of the State government to create a sustainable and comprehensive ecosystem for the growth of fintech.
  • Sophia, the first social humanoid robot, will arrive in the city fully packed in a suitcase from Singapore to speak on the future of fintech on October 23.
  • Immediately on arrival on October 22, various devices of the robot, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and embedded systems, will be assembled.
  • The next day, Sophia will speak briefly, and later take part in an interactive programme with financial experts, regulators, investors and IT professionals.

Know about Sophia

  • Sophia was created by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics with the purpose of using such creations for the care of the elderly and crowd management at big events.
  • Sophia had hit the headlines after it was granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia and the United Nations Development Programme appointed it as its Innovation Champion.
  • The robot is equipped with voice recognition technology and facial reading. Cameras are fixed in its eyes along with computer algorithms to see. It is capable of showing over 50 facial expressions like a human being.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

  • To make it simple – Artificial Intelligence is intelligence exhibited by machines.
  • It is a branch of computer science which deals with creating computers or machines as intelligent as human beings.
  • The term was coined in 1956 by John McCarthy at the Dartmouth conference, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • It is a simulation of human intelligence processes such as learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions), and self-correction by machines, especially computer systems.
  • Nowadays it has become an umbrella term which encompasses everything from robotic process automation to actual robotics.
  • Recently it has become widely popular and gained prominence due to its multifaceted application ranging from healthcare to military devices.

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Containing a virus

Context

  • A canine distemper virus (CDV) has led to many deaths in the Gir sanctuary. In September alone, 21 lions died. Every year, it is normal for 80-90 lions to die in Gujarat, according to wildlife experts.
  • Wildlife experts say that more than the numbers, it is the fear that mutation in a virus could have caused deaths that is perturbing. Scientists at the National Institute of Virology, Pune have confirmed the CDV virus in only five of the dead lions. But many more may have taken sick. Experts say that the virus may have jumped from dogs to lions.

What is Canine Distemper?

  • This is a viral disease that is frequent in dogs, foxes, wolves, big cats and even primates. It is caused by a single-stranded RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae (the family of viruses causing measles, mumps and bronchiolitis in humans).
  • It infects the spinal cord and brain and also the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. The virus is believed to have a 50% fatality rate in dogs.
  • In 1994, the CDV was responsible for an epidemic in the Serengeti region of Africa, where 1,000 lions died in three weeks. Its prevalence in India has not been studied and only a few reports are available regarding its detection in wild carnivores.

How can the outbreak be checked?

  • The lion population should be immediately vaccinated with the available vaccine for CDV. At present, most of the available vaccines are made of CDV American genotypes 1 & 2. These have been used in a number of countries and found to be effective.
  • As the CDV is transmitted by airborne route as well as infected body secretions, healthy lions from the Gir forest ought to be shifted to an alternative suitable location. Moreover, as many of the Gir lions live outside protected areas and are in contact with domestic dwellings, their susceptibility to new pathogens has risen, according to scientists.
  • In 2013, the Supreme Court had called for shifting of some lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh to “to save [them] from extinction, due to catastrophes like epidemic”. However, this is yet to happen.
  • Wildlife experts say vaccination is a bad idea as it could introduce new complications to the immune systems of the wild lions and make them vulnerable to unknown viruses.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE: JUDICIARY

1. Draconian move (Section 124)

Note to Students:

Although this editorial primarily deals with Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code, we have even covered Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code to lend a greater perspective as Section 124A frequently appears in the news and often students confuse the provisions under these two sections.

Larger Background:

A Note on Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code:

According to Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code, “whoever, with the intention of inducing or compelling the President of India, or Governor of any State, to exercise or refrain from exercising in any manner any of the lawful powers of such President or Governor, assaults or wrongfully restrains, or attempts wrongfully to restrain, or overawes, by means of criminal force or the show of criminal force, or attempts so to overawe, such President or Governor, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

  • Further, it is important to note that this is a Non-Bailable, Cognizable offence and triable by Court of Session
  • This offence is NOT compoundable.

A Note on Section 124A of Indian Penal Code

  • Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished by imprisonment or fine.

Certain Arguments in favour of the Sedition Law

  1. In the year 1962, the Honourable Supreme Court of India in the Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar case upheld Section 124A.  The Court held that it struck a “correct balance” between fundamental rights and the need for public order.
  2. Further, the court has reduced the scope of Sedition law to only those cases where there is incitement to imminent violence towards overthrow of the state.

Arguments against section 124A

  1. Arguments against section 124A suggest that it stifles the democratic right of people to criticize the government.
  2. In the Menaka Gandhi case, the Honourable Supreme Court of India had held that freedom of speech and expression is not confined to geographical limitations and that it carries with it the right of a citizen to gather information and to exchange thought with others not only in India but abroad too.
  3. Thus, stemming from this, criticism against the government policies and decisions within a reasonable limit that does not incite people to rebel is consistent with freedom of speech and expression.

The News:

  • Recently,  R.R. Gopal, Editor of the Tamil magazine Nakkheeran was arrested.
  • The Tamil Nadu Governor’s office had complained to the police, seeking to book Mr. Gopal under Section 124 of the IPC. The Governor’s office had cited some articles published in the magazine.
  • It is important to note that this section, was seldom used even during colonial times. It applies to assaulting high constitutional functionaries such as the President and the Governor with “an intent to compel or restrain the use of any lawful power”.
  • The important point to note here is that whether the articles in question were in bad taste or not is the subject for a separate debate. But however offensive or derogatory the articles may have been, they did not attract Section 124.
  • The present Governor of Tamil Nadu, Banwarilal Purohit had threatened a few months ago to use Section 124, when the DMK staged black flag demonstrations at sites where the Governor held meetings with district-level officials.

Critical Analysis:

  • Going into specifics, it is doubtful whether a black flag demonstration can be construed as an attempt to “overawe” the Governor in a manner that restrains his office from exercising power.
  • Further, being “overawed”, at the very least, would suggest the commission of an offence that poses a real danger to the exercise of authority. To extend the meaning of “overawe” to a work of journalism raises many questions.
  • What further raises question marks is the claim in the police complaint prepared by the Deputy Secretary to the Governor that the offending articles express an “intention of inducing or compelling the Governor… to refrain from exercising his lawful powers”.

Concluding Remarks:

  • The articles published in the Tamil magazine had linked Mr. Purohit’s name to the controversy surrounding assistant professor Nirmala Devi, who is in jail for allegedly trying to lure students into sex work.
  • In conclusion, it is believed that if Mr. Purohit believed they were unfounded and damaged his reputation, there were other forms of legal redress available to him.
  • By seeking registration of a Section 124 case against the magazine’s Editor, journalists and employees, the Governor’s office has only turned the spotlight on itself unnecessarily.
  • It is believed that he should withdraw the complaint now as it is unlikely that the Tamil Nadu police will take such a decision on its own.

2. Next steps after the 377 judgment (Section 377 of the IPC)

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