18 Oct 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
GOVERNANCE
1. A.P. hamlets shine in rural survey
C. GS3 Related
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
1. SC bars States from diverting money from CAMPA funds
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
HEALTH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Another outbreak: on Rajasthan Zika cases
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Myanmar and the limits of pan-Islamism
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. No show: on J&K local polls
F. Tidbits
1. Puerto Rico’s insects affected by climate change
2. China tests world’s largest unmanned drone
3. Parties urged to support health care
4. 10 lakh bogus ration cards in Maharashtra
5. Bathukamma blooms at NSW Parliament
6. Kerala to become the first smoke-free State
7. GoM to look into cases of harassment
8. SC orders release of man who served 29 years in jail
9. Sirisena calls up Modi, denies blaming India’s RAW
10. Rajasthan’s Zika strain close to Brazilian one
11. India, China set to resume drill
12. EC for capping anonymous donations to ₹2,000
G. Prelims Fact
1. Bathukamma
2. Pochampally Saree
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. A.P. hamlets shine in rural survey

 

  • Kuligod in Karnataka’s Belagavi district is the country’s best developed village, but more than a third of the gram panchayats ranked in the top 10 are in Andhra Pradesh, according to the findings of an ongoing Rural Development Ministry survey.

Findings

  • With multiple panchayats assigned the same score – and thus tied at the same ranking – there are 97 panchayats in the top 10 ranks.
  • Of these, 37 panchayats are in Andhra Pradesh while 24 are in Tamil Nadu.
  • Villages from other States are represented only in single digits.
  • Of the States going to the polls next month, Telengana and Madhya Pradesh have five and four panchayats in the top 10 ranks respectively.
  • At the national level, the data shows progress in some areas and also spotlights discrepancies in respect of targets met under some other government schemes.
  • For example, the survey reveals that more than 95% of villages have electricity available for domestic use, while the government had earlier this year claimed that 100% of villages had power connections.
  • Similarly with regard to sanitation, the survey shows only 58% of villages — slightly more than 2 lakh of the 3.5 lakh surveyed villages — are open defecation free (ODF). However, according to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan-Gramin, 5.13 lakh of India’s 6 lakh villages are already ODF.
  • The survey also shows only 21% of villages having a community waste disposal system.
  • About a quarter of all villages have more than 75% of households using clean energy, such as LPG or biogas.

Background

  • The Rural Development Ministry has done a gap analysis of more than 3.5 lakh villages, in more than 1.6 lakh panchayats under the Mission Antyodaya convergence scheme.
  • Mission Antyodaya is a convergence framework for measurable effective outcomes on parameters that transform lives and livelihoods.
  • Mission Mode Project envisaged by the Ministry of Rural Development. Comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness at Gram Panchayat Level.
  • The mission is a State – led partnerships for rapid Rural Transformation to bring households out of poverty through diversification and development of multiple livelihoods, which will transform lives and livelihood through measurable outcomes.
  • It is an effort to address the multidimensionality of poverty in a time bound manner through a convergence of resources, both financial and human to provide an opportunity for transformational changes.
  • A team of officials surveyed and scored village level facilities and amenities using parameters related to infrastructure, economic development and livelihood, irrigation facilities, health, nutrition and sanitation, women’s empowerment, and financial inclusion.
  • While in October 2017, an initial baseline survey was carried out in 50,000 gram panchayats, this year, the exercise is expected to cover all of the country’s 2.5 lakh panchayats by the end of November.
  • The rankings will be updated as more panchayats are included.

Significance

  • Making this information available at the fingertips for every village in the country allows for greater public accountability.
  • It also allows for more evidence-based planning at the panchayat level.

Kulagod: Most developed village

  • Kulgod in Karnataka’s district got ready to celebrate its special status as the results of the village ranking came in. Its score: 94 out of 100.
  • Nestled on the banks of the perennial Ghataprabha river, Kulgod is a clean, green village.
  • It scored high on infrastructure, financial inclusion, women’s empowerment, health and education, among 47 parameters.
  • There are signs of prosperity: a well-equipped gram panchayat office, branches of two nationalised banks, a co-op bank, a BSNL centre, a government primary school, three private high schools, an electricity customer care centre, a PHC, a veterinary hospital, and an ATM.
  • With a population of 7,000 people, it has 5,200 voters.
  • The economy is aided by agriculture, and nearly 90% of the area is irrigated by the Ghataprabha right bank canal and the Rameshwar lift irrigation project.
  • There is a frequent bus service. Beyond Class X, girls take a bus to the government college at Koujalagi, 6 km away.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. SC bars States from diverting money from CAMPA funds

 

  • The Supreme Court has barred State governments from diverting money from their Compensatory Afforestation and Management Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds meant for environmental protection, rehabilitation of displaced persons due to issues like depletion of forest, mining, etc.

The order

  • A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta ordered the Punjab government to reimburse ₹1,11,01,420 to its CAMPA funds within a fortnight.
  • It is made clear that no State government can use the funds for any activity other than afforestation.

Background

  • The apex court’s order came after realising that the Punjab government took ₹11 crore from CAMPA funds and to pay its lawyers and other legal expenses.
  • The court discovered the diversion of funds from a document prepared by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab, and placed on record before the Bench.
  • The court was hearing a suo motu case titled In Re: National CAMPA Advisory Council.
  • This is part of a major effort by the Supreme Court since 1995 to prevent and monitor environmental degradation.
  • The idea of having CAMPA funds and authority was introduced by the apex court.
  • The periodic orders of the court in this litigation finally led to the birth of The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act of 2016.
  • In a March 2018 order, the Supreme Court recorded that the total amount in CAMPA funds is tentatively put in the region of ₹.70,000-75,000 crore approximately and likely to go even higher.
  • The apex court had observed that this was a “huge amount” which can be used for the benefit of environmental protection and rehabilitation of persons displaced by environmental causes.
  • Availability of these amounts will not only help the States/UTs and local communities to ensure better management of their forest resources.

CAMPA

  • CAMPA Act or Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority bill is an Indian legislation that seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilization in efficient and transparent manner of amounts released in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose which would mitigate impact of diversion of such forest land.
  • The 2016 Act’s objective is promote conservation, protection, improvement and expansion of forest and wildlife resources of the country.
  • It seeks to establish the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
  • The payments into the funds include compensatory afforestation, NPV, reforestation and any project specific payments. The National Fund will get 10% of funds collected and the remaining 90% will go to respective State Fund.
  • The collected funds will be utilised for afforestation, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wild life protection and infrastructure development.
  • The bill also seeks to establish National and State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authorities to manage the funds.
  • The determination of NPV will be delegated to an expert committee constituted by the central government.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: HEALTH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Another outbreak: on Rajasthan Zika cases

Larger Background:

What is Zika?

  • Zika is a flavivirus spread mainly by mosquitoes.
  • It belongs to the same genus as dengue and chikungunya.
  • It is the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus.
  • There is some evidence that Zika has been in India for long.
  • In the year, 1954, a survey was conducted in India, which found several Indians with Zika antibodies. However, this evidence wasn’t conclusive, because other flaviviruses, like dengue, can also trigger Zika-neutralising antibodies.
  • The first confirmed Indian case occurred in 2016 in Gujarat.
  • After this case, three more cases were detected, before the 2018 Rajasthan outbreak. Despite its long presence in Asia, Zika outbreaks in this region have been benign. This changed with a large French Polynesian outbreak in 2013 and a larger Brazilian one in 2015.

From the Recent News

    • In the state of Rajasthan, 72 people have been infected with the Zika virus.
    • In these cases, Zika is causing fever, rash, muscle and joint pain.
    • However, the symptoms from the French Polynesian and Brazilian outbreaks are different. They were linked to deadlier conditions such as microcephaly.
    • Conditions such as microcephaly are characterized by instances in which the child of a Zika-infected mother is born with an abnormally small head.
  • It is important to note that there is no cure for microcephaly at birth.
  • In rare cases, patients also developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, which causes potentially fatal muscle weakness.
  • Currently, officials in India are watching out for these complications, since the Rajasthan strain is closely related to the Brazilian strain.
  • Recently, Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare held a high level meeting to review the activities for prevention and control of Zika virus and Seasonal Influenza.
  • Shri Nadda reassured the states for all support from the Union Government. For control of Zika virus in Rajasthan, the Health Minister emphasized on the need for continuous monitoring. He stated that the Union Health Ministry is in regular contact with the State officials.
  • Shri Nadda stressed on the need for undertaking exhaustive control measures including intensive fogging for next month in order to ensure vector control in the area.
  • He also stressed on strengthening surveillance to facilitate the early identification of cases. The Union Health Minister urged the people to not panic and cooperate with the health officials in controlling the breeding of the vectors. He further said that there was no shortage of medicines and testing kits and required support will be provided to the State.
  • Shri Nadda further directed for mounting aggressive communication campaigns in the state. He stated that awareness is the key in controlling the vector borne diseases and no stone should be left unturned to reach out to the people. Noting that community participation is a crucial area in prevention, the Union Health Minister urged all the stakeholders to start rigorous awareness campaigns regarding the preventive steps to be taken at the community level. He stated that the Union Health Ministry is working along with the State government, the local authorities and the Municipal Corporation for augmenting and strengthening their efforts in vector control, surveillance and awareness activities.
  • He specifically instructed that early detection, reporting and proper categorization of patients is critical for Seasonal Influenza management. Minister has instructed National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to monitor the cases on a daily basis. He suggested that States shall ensure that proper awareness is created regarding the prevention and management of Seasonal Influenza. All States shall also ensure that sufficient supplies of drugs and testing kits are maintained at the State level. Further, all cases which require hospitalization shall be monitored intensively both at district and State level so as to ensure that fatalities can be avoided. Availability of sufficient functional ventilators for critical case management is important and States shall be advised accordingly. NCDC& EMR shall coordinate with the States to provide training for ventilator management, if need be.

Editorial Analysis:

    • Currently, about 4.5 lakh people at the outbreak site in Rajasthan have been brought under surveillance.
    • Although steps to halt mosquito breeding have been initiated, it is to be noted that controlling the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, is very challenging.
  • What compounds matters is that controlling the spread becomes even harder as the mosquito is widely prevalent in India.
    • Also, the infection remains asymptomatic in about 80% of cases. This allows the virus to silently spread from one person to another.
    • It can also spread from a pregnant mother to the foetus.
    • Even when the infection manifests, the symptoms are very mild and non-specific, making it difficult to correctly and easily diagnose it.
    • It must also be noted that a study published in the journal Neurology India found 14 out of 90 patients with the Guillain–Barré syndrome.  
    • The Guillain–Barré syndrome is a neurological complication seen in Zika-infected adults.  
  • An important point to note here is that four of the 14 patients also tested positive for an anti-dengue antibody. There is a remote possibility that the virus is circulating in some parts of India and could cause an epidemic at some point.

Concluding Remarks:

    • Since Zika infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, particularly microcephaly (small size of the head), all the 22 pregnant women infected must be monitored.
  • Also, as there is no cure for microcephaly at birth, there should be campaigns to educate people living in the outbreak area to avoid sex, particularly with the intent of getting pregnant, till the outbreak is under control.
  • The long winter ahead in north India and the imminent onset of the northeast monsoon in the eastern coast of India is conducive for the mosquito to multiply and spread. This calls for a high level of alert.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Myanmar and the limits of pan-Islamism

Background:

  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which places them among the “the most vulnerable groups of the forcibly displaced”.

Who are the Rohingyas?

  • Rohingya are an ethnic group, largely comprising of Muslims, who predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine.
  • They speak a dialect of Bengali, as opposed to the commonly spoken Burmese language.
  • Though they have been living in Myanmar for generations, Myanmar considers them as persons who migrated to their land during the Colonial rule. So, it has not granted Rohingyas full citizenship. According the 1982 Burmese citizenship law, a Rohingya (or any ethnic minority) is eligible for citizenship only if he/she provides proof that his/her ancestors have lived in the country prior to 1823. Else, they are classified as “resident foreigners” or as “associate citizens” (even if one of the parent is a Myanmar citizen).
  • Since they are not citizens, they are not entitled to be part of civil service. Their movements are also restricted within the Rakhine state.

The Turning Point of 2012

  • It is important to note that Myanmar was ruled by the military junta until 2011.
  • Myanmar has been accused of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine by the United Nations.
  • It deported thousands of Rohingya’s to Bangladesh in the seventies and the citizenship law was also enacted by the junta.
  • Things changed little for the Rohingya even after the political reforms in 2011 that eventually led to the first general elections in 2015.
  • Sectarian violence between Rohingyas and Rakhine’s Buddhist natives began flaring up in June 2012, following the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman in a Rohingya-dominated locality.
  • The riots, which were triggered as a result, went on for almost a month with causalities on both the sides.
  • Thousands of Rohingyas fled their homes and sought refugee in neighbouring Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation. Some of them sought asylum in South East Asian nations of Thailand, The Phillipines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • This ethnic conflict flared up as religious violence spreading to the other provinces of Myanmar.

The Indian Context:

  • Some experts believe that as India is the subcontinent’s biggest nation and also a neighbour to both Bangladesh and Myanmar, as well as the country most likely to be affected if the numbers of Rohingya refugees continue to grow, India in fact should be showing the most initiative in this crisis.
  • Experts have also suggested that it may be necessary for India to put its own concerns about repatriation on hold until it is able to work with both Bangladesh and Myanmar on the issue, preferably in a trilateral format.
  • Finally, the government must also iron out internal contradictions on India’s refugee policy.
  • Even though India is not a signatory to any UN refugee convention, India has a proud tradition of giving a home to neighbours in distress: from Tibetans in 1960s to East Pakistanis in the 1970s, from Sri Lankans in the 1980s to the Afghans in the 1990s.  

Editorial Analysis:

  • In the past, Muslim-majority countries such as Bangladesh and Malaysia, at the receiving end of refugee flows from Myanmar numbering in the tens and even hundreds of thousands, have acted forcefully to prevent the Rohingya from entering their territories.
  • However, in the year 2017, everything changed, with Bangladesh, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan at the forefront of international demands to stop the flight of refugees from Myanmar, in an effort to lower their suffering.
  • Behind this change lay a number of causes. These causes include the humanitarian, political and economic emergency created by the influx of refugees among Myanmar’s neighbours, to growing Muslim protests around the world at the treatment of the Rohingya.
  • The crisis also presented an opportunity for politicians to claim leadership in an otherwise fragmented Muslim world by demanding relief and justice for the Rohingya.

A few international examples are noteworthy:

  1. Turkey’s President made strong statements about the crisis, putting it at the top of the agenda at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
  2. His wife made a highly publicised trip to Bangladesh to be filmed and photographed in Rohingya camps, while donating and promising more Turkish aid.
  3. Countries such as Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia also competed to deliver assistance in Rakhine state while engaging the Myanmar government in talks.
  4. Further, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh spoke about the plight of the refugees at the UN and demanded safe zones for the Rohingya in Myanmar.

In conclusion, the Rohingya cause represents the return of states to leadership roles within the Muslim world.

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. No show: on J&K local polls

Larger Background:

Note to Students:

    • The two main regional parties, the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party had given the call for a boycott to the local body elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Their immediate protest was over the legal challenge in the Supreme Court to Article 35(A) of the Constitution that accords special powers to the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to decide who are the “permanent residents” of the State and on whom special rights and privileges can be conferred.
  • Thus, it is important for students to have a background on what Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is about.  

A Note on Article 35A

  • The Article 35A was inserted in the Indian Constitution by the Presidential Order of 1954. The Article 35A yields special rights and immunities to the permanent residents of the Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of Indian citizen.
  • In the light of this article a non-permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir cannot enjoy any Government facilities.
  • Article 35A is a provision incorporated in the Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature complete freedom to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the State and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare.
  • The provision mandates that no act of the legislature coming under it can be challenged for violating the Constitution or any other law of the land.

How was Article 35A incorporated?

  • Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet. The controversial Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of 1954 followed the 1952 Delhi Agreement entered into between Nehru and the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah, which extended Indian citizenship to the ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Presidential Order was issued under Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution. This provision allows the President to make certain “exceptions and modifications” to the Constitution for the benefit of ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Thus, Article 35A was added to the Constitution as a testimony of the special consideration the Indian government accorded to the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir.

Editorial Analysis:

There has been a poor turnout in the Kashmir valley for local polls.

    • Just over a third of the electorate (35.1% provisionally) turned out to vote in the four-phase urban local body elections
    • Experts believe that this is a wake-up call to the Union government.
    • It is important to note that the turnout was not expected to be high.
    • The two main regional parties, the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party had given the call for a boycott.  
  • Their immediate protest was over the legal challenge in the Supreme Court to Article 35(A) of the Constitution that accords special powers to the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to decide who are the “permanent residents” of the State and on whom special rights and privileges can be conferred.
    • Given the boycott by these two parties and others, there was little political mobilisation in the Valley.
  • However, in Jammu, where both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress have a strong base and where issues such as Article 35(A) don’t have as much resonance, there was greater participation.
  • It is important to note that the absence of any viable political competition in the local body polls in the Valley will only undermine the institutions and the victors.
  • Unfortunately, with the collapse of the PDP-BJP coalition government in June this year, the absence of Kashmiri parties from the fray could heighten alienation at the street level.

Concluding Remarks:

  • The reversal is discouraging as voter turnouts had increased significantly in this decade, growing ever since the mid-1990s.
  • It is important to note that even between periods of intense protests, Assembly and parliamentary elections saw increased turnouts despite boycott calls by separatist groups.
  • This indicated a willing acceptance of the need to engage in electoral democracy to address civic concerns even if there were substantive differences and anger with the State and Central governments over issues such as security, human rights violations and the status of J&K.
  • However, the inability of the PDP-BJP government to come up with a coherent response to the unrest and protests that raged in 2016-17, and the subsequent imposition of Governor’s Rule have only heightened matters.
  • Further, experts believe that the work of the Centre’s interlocutor, Dineshwar Sharma, to carry forward a dialogue with various groups and individuals in the State has also not been enough to arrest misgivings in the Valley.
  • Finally, it has been suggested that the Centre must see the lack of participation in the polls in the Valley as a serious sign of alienation among the people and double down on ways to forge greater engagement.

F. Tidbits

1. Puerto Rico’s insects affected by climate change

 

  • After bees and birds, insects and other arthropods have also suffered massive losses, a study from a Puerto Rico forest has showed, citing the impact of climate change.

Measurement of the population

  • Measuring the population of arthropods, which includes insects, caterpillars, and spiders, is not simple but one method is to place sticky traps on the ground and in the forest canopy.
  • Researchers can also pass nets hundreds of times over the ground or in the foliage before weighing the dry captured biomass.
  • That is what the biologist Bradford Lister did in 1976 and 1977 in El Yunque National Forest in the U.S. Caribbean commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
  • Lister, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, returned there with another biologist in 2011 and 2012 to use the same methods.

Observations

  • They found that the dry weight biomass of arthropods captured in sweep samples had declined by four to eight times, and by 30 to 60 times in sticky traps, according to their findings published in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • This decline was accompanied by parallel reductions in insectivorous lizards, frogs, and birds, according to observations by the researchers.

Concerns

  • If the tropical forests go, it will be yet another catastrophic failure of the whole Earth system, that will feed back on human beings in an almost unimaginable way.
  • According to the model used by the researchers, the blame lies principally with global warming. They reach this conclusion by noting Puerto Rico’s rising temperature over about 40 years.
  • The mean maximum temperatures, recorded by a forest weather station, increased 2°C between 1978 and 2015.
  • But the effect of climate change is not uniform.
  • Except in tropical regions, an increase in temperature was going to stimulate the population of harmful insects.

2. China tests world’s largest unmanned drone

 

  • China has successfully tested the world’s largest unmanned transport drone which can carry a payload of 1.5 tonnes.
  • A commercial drone Feihong-98 (FH-98) has been developed and modified by the China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology.

3. Parties urged to support health care

 

  • A health activists’ group called upon the political parties in Rajasthan to make their stand clear on the health care policies and give an assurance for implementing universal health care in their manifestoes for the upcoming State Assembly election.
  • It said the parties should take steps in particular for a higher per capita expenditure in the health sector.

Background

  • The latest health indicators in Rajasthan have revealed that the State’s citizens suffer from a higher burden of morbidity and premature mortality than the national average.
  • The health care delivery system was not accessible to the majority of the population and there was no political commitment to improve the citizens’ health status.

Concerns

  • More than 65% patients seeking medical care in the State have to depend on private health system even for the treatment of minor ailments.
  • Infections like malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, respiratory ailments and viral fevers are very high.

Suggestions

  • It stated that the parties locked in the electoral battle should commit themselves in their manifestoes to reducing out-of-pocket expenditure from currently 66.6% of the total expenditure of medical care to less than 30%, besides ensuring that 80% of the patients received primary medical care from the public health system.
  • There should be an effective grievance redressal system to respond to adverse medical consequences.
  • The next government in the State should enact the Right to Health Act and make it justiciable, so that no citizen was deprived of quality health care and it was freely available without any financial and geographical barrier.
  • Besides, the provisions of the Clinical Establishments Act should be strictly implemented to ensure medical audits of the institutions in both public and private sectors.

4. 10 lakh bogus ration cards in Maharashtra

 

  • Maharashtra has over 10 lakh bogus ration cards and 29 lakh dormant cards.
  • Transactions worth ₹7 crore were carried out using dormant cards in the past one year alone.
  • The latest figures were released as part of the government’s drive to weed out ration cards without any documentation and proof.
  • The cards found to be bogus in Maharashtra have been flagged in the State’s e-system and frozen.

Link with UIDAI

  • The State government is making all efforts to link ration cards with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which has received a report card from all States reporting over 3 crore bogus ration cards from across the country.
  • Ultimately, the idea is that the Aadhaar should take over the system of issuing ration cards altogether. Because no matter how many cards you weed out, they keep popping up in larger numbers from nowhere.

5. Bathukamma blooms at NSW Parliament

 

  • Women in resplendent clothes danced around ‘floral deities’ singing Bathukamma songs for the first time, at the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney, Australia, in a celebration of Telangana’s famed festival.
  • They were celebrating the commitment to Telangana community’s 900-year-old heritage in continuation of what was floated in September 2006 as ‘Sydney Bathukamma Ethnic Festival’ at the Parliament House of New South Wales.

Pochampally weavers

  • At the celebration, the contribution of Pochampally handloom weavers to the textile history of the State, and their struggle to save the famed handloom sector was highlighted to the guests.
  • The participants were requested to patronise Pochampally sarees, which embodied traditional design, vibrant colour and creativity.

6. Kerala to become the first smoke-free State

 

  • Kerala is set to become the first smoke-free State with public sector oil companies eyeing 100% LPG penetration.
  • The target has almost been achieved in most villages, mofussil towns and cities.
  • With three bottling plants at Kochi, Kozhikode, and Kollam, LPG is being brought to 49.79 lakh customers.

7. GoM to look into cases of harassment

 

  • The Narendra Modi government is considering setting up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to brainstorm on ways to deal with sexual harassment at workplace.
  • Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and women Ministers would be members of this GoM.
  • A panel of judges and legal persons, announced by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, is to look at ways to strengthen the legal and institutional framework was being examined by the Ministry of Law but it may not be a legally sound instrument.

Significance

  • The GoM, therefore, will go into strengthening the existing laws so that justice can be availed without having to bring the matter to court all the time.

8. SC orders release of man who served 29 years in jail

 

  • In a display of its humane approach towards aged convicts serving life imprisonment, the Supreme Court has ordered the immediate and premature release of an elderly prisoner who has served over 29 years behind bars.

Background

  • Ram Sewak, who was found guilty of murder and voluntarily causing hurt during a robbery, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in Uttar Pradesh. His case dates back to 1981.
  • A Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and S. Abdul Nazeer realised from the petition filed by Sewak that he had been in jail for over 29 years and according to the counter affidavit, with remission, the total sentence undergone is 36 years.
  • The court said a person who has crossed 60 years of age, as in the case of Sewak, and already served 16 years of prison sentence without remission, is entitled to be considered for premature release.
  • The court did not pass the baton to examine Sewak’s case for premature release, passing the order itself.
  • The Bench directed that Sewak was not to be detained in connection with any other case.

9. Sirisena calls up Modi, denies blaming India’s RAW

 

  • Worried about the fallout of reports emanating from a Cabinet meet, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena telephoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear the air over the contention that he had blamed India’s intelligence agency R&AW for an alleged assassination plot targeting him.
  • Sirisena said his words had been misquoted and distorted, and he denied having said that Indian agencies would be involved in the case in any manner.

10. Rajasthan’s Zika strain close to Brazilian one

 

  • The Zika virus behind the ongoing outbreak in Rajasthan is closely related to the virus that caused the Brazilian outbreak.
  • The National Institute of Virology (NIV) had fully sequenced the Rajasthan virus’ genome, and this is the first time a Brazilian-like strain has been detected in India.
  • Before this, a strain from a patient in Gujarat, sequenced partially by the NIV, was found to be close to a Malaysian Zika strain, isolated in 1966.

Different from Gujarat

  • The Rajasthan outbreak is different from the Gujarat cases in several important ways.
  • Firstly, this is the largest in India, having affected 72 people. Before this, only four Zika cases were detected by the NIV in 2016-17, despite widespread surveillance. These included three cases in Gujarat and one in Tamil Nadu.
  • Secondly, in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, the virus did not seem to be moving efficiently from person to person, via mosquitoes. Though researchers tested several people apart from the confirmed cases then, they were unable to find other infections.
  • Thirdly, even though the ICMR has screened 50,000 mosquitoes at 8 sites across India since 2016, it did not detect the virus in mosquitoes until the Rajasthan outbreak.
  • The current outbreak seems to be triggered due to uncontrolled mosquito breeding. Vector control is the key to prevention of outbreaks in future.
  • Though the virus is spreading quickly, most Zika cases have been mild, with 60 out of 72 patients healthy after treatment.

11. India, China set to resume drill

 

  • India and China will resume the annual joint Army exercise ‘Hand-in-Hand’ in December in China’s Chengdu region.
  • The drill was cancelled last year due to tense relations in the aftermath of the Doklam standoff.
  • Following the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, the two countries have initiated several measures to normalise relations.

The exercise

  • About 175 personnel from each side will take part.
  • The Indian sidewould be represented by troops from the 11 Sikh Light regiment under the Northern Command.
  • The exercise will be held in three phases — familiarisation, basic training and the joint exercise.
  • The scope of the exercise is to understand transnational terrorism and evolve joint drills for the conduct of counter terrorism operations, in addition to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations.
  • The basic objective of the training is enhancing confidence and trust between the two armies which may be called upon to grapple with anti terrorism operations under the UN mandate.
  • The conduct of Joint Military Exercises is also an important step to uphold the values of Peace, Prosperity and Stability in the region.

12. EC for capping anonymous donations to ₹2,000

 

  • The Election Commission (EC) has again written to the Law Ministry for capping anonymous donations to parties to ₹2,000 for greater transparency in funding. However, the context in which the request had been made was not clear.

Watch BYJU’S video lecture on political parties and their funding for a detailed understanding of the issue:

G. Prelims Fact

1. Bathukamma

 

  • Bathukamma is floral festival celebrated predominantly by the Hindu women of Telangana and some parts of Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is the festival for feminine felicitation.
  • Every year this festival is celebrated as per Shathavahana calendar for nine days starting Bhadrapada Pournami (also known as Mahalaya Amavasya or Pitru Amavasya) till Durgashtami, usually in September–October of Gregorian calendar.
  • Bathukamma is celebrated for nine days during Durga Navratri.
  • Bathukamma is followed by Boddemma, which is a 7-day festival.
  • Boddemma festival that marks the ending of Varsha Ruthu whereas Bathukamma festival indicates the beginning of Sarad or Sharath Ruthu.
  • Bathukamma is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with different unique seasonal flowers most of them with medicinal values, in seven concentric layers in the shape of temple gopuram.
  • In Telugu, ‘Bathukamma’ means ‘Mother Goddess come Alive’ and Goddess Maha Gauri-‘Life Giver’ is worshipped in the form of Bathukamma – the patron goddess of womanhood, Gauri Devi.

2. Pochampally Saree

 

  • Pochampally Saree or Pochampalli Ikat is a saree made in Bhoodan Pochampally, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district, Telangana State, India.
  • They have traditional geometric patterns in Ikat style of dyeing.
  • The intricate geometric designs find their way into sarees and dress materials.
  • The Indian government’s official air carrier, Air India, has its cabin crew wear specially designed pochampally silk sarees.

Background

  • Telangana is one of the ancient Ikat weaving centers in India, along with Gujarat and neighboring Odisha.
  • The weaving centers during ancient period was in Chirala and Jentrpeta towns situated between Vijayawada and Chennai but was discontinued for various reasons.
  • Locally, Pochampally Ikat is known as Pogudubandhu, Chitki and Buddabhashi in Telangana where it is produced, in other parts of India it is popularly known as Pochampally, named after one of the village where it is produced.
  • It has its own unique character of design, different from other Ikat producing areas in India.

Industry

  • Today, most of weaving takes place in Pochampally village where there are over five thousand looms producing this textile.
  • The weaving survives in a few villages like Pochampally, Koyalgudam, Choutuppala, Siripuram, Bhuvanagiri, Puttapaka and Gattuppala and few villages around them mostly in Nalgonda district.
  • Pochampally Ikat uniqueness lies in the transfer of intricate design and colouring onto warp and weft threads first and then weave them together globally known as double ikat textiles.
  • The fabric is cotton, silk and sico – a mix of silk and cotton. Increasingly, the colours themselves are from natural sources and their blends.
  • Pochampally, a cluster of 80 villages, has traditional looms, whose pattern and designs are centuries-old.
  • The fabric is marketed through the cooperative society, many other linked organizations, the master weavers and the business houses in Pochampally.

International fame

  • Pochampally saree received Intellectual Property Rights Protection or Geographical Indication (GI) status in 2005.
  • It has found place in UNESCO tentative list of world heritage sites as part of “iconic saree weaving clusters of India”.
  • The kerchiefs made of silk thread have earned international fame as “Teli Rumals”.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. For the purpose of providing information to a person, public
authorities are obliged to give information in
  1. English
  2. Hindi
  3. Both English and Hindi
  4. Any language that he/she understands

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following:
 

  1. The President is not answerable to any court for exercising the
    powers and duties of his office. 
  2. Article 365 empowers the President to hold that a situation of constitutional failure has arisen in a state.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. i) only
  2. ii) only
  3. Both i) and ii)
  4. None

See

Answer
  

Question 3. Which of the following were the causes for the socio-religious movements of the
19th century?
 

  1. Establishment of British rule and its deep influence on the Political, Economic, Social and Cultural life of the people, which created conditions favourable for intellectual growth.
  2. Newly emerging middle class & the traditional as well as western educated intellectuals
  3. Literature
  4. Christian Missionaries

Options:

  1. i) and ii) only
  2. ii) and iv) only
  3. i), ii) and iv) only
  4. All of the above

See

Answer
Question 4. Who among the following is associated with 'Atmiya sabha'?
 

 

  1. Bal Gangadhar Tilak
  2. Raja Rammohan Roy
  3. Mahadev Govind Ranade
  4. Swami Vivekananda

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Examine the major factors shaping the British Land Revenue Policy in India. How did it affect Indian society?
  2. Any Constitution, which is irrespective to new challenges and old evils and permits itself to be subverted, will prove a tragicomedy and must suffer eclipse unless periodic mutations update it. Comment and also discuss the ways through which such mutations are performed.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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