23 Oct 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

October 23, 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A.GS1 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Recording crimes
B.GS2 Related
C.GS3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. 2019 ozone hole is the smallest on record
2. Power firm takes Water Ministry to court over Ganga notification
SECURITY
1. Court to look into govt. plea for access to WhatsApp chats
D.GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Leaving the door open to a border settlement
2. Looking at the larger picture
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Firm steps to ease the fiscal federalism tension
INTERNAL SECURITY
1. Escaping the honey trap
F. Tidbits
1. Turkey, Russia strike a deal on Syria
G. Prelims Fact
1. Bellbird
2. BrahMos surface-to-surface missile tests
3. Ayodhya ‘deepotsav’ given State Fair tag
4. Foreign Exchange Management Act
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Recording crimes

Context:

After a delay of 2 years, the National Crime Records Bureau has published the annual crime against women in India Report 2017.

Details:

  • The report includes 88 new categories including sexual harassment of women at the workplace/public transport, offences relating to elections, obscene acts at public places, circulation of fake news, chit funds, cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Mental Health Act, noise pollution and defacement of public property.
  • A new category called “anti-national elements” has been added which includes details of “jihadi terrorists, Left Wing Extremism and North East insurgents.”
  • For the first time, “cyber stalking and bullying of women” has been included in the report.

Key findings of the Report have been covered in 22nd October 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click Here to read.

What are the issues with the report?

  • Delay in the report:
    • The bureau said that the addition of the new categories had led to a delay in the report’s release.
    • The government officials had blamed the States of West Bengal and Bihar for lackadaisical responses in sending data, and said that more subheads for the data would be added in the latest report requiring further collation and error corrections.
    • These new subheads reportedly included data on hate crimes besides those related to mob lynching, killings ordered by khap panchayats, murders by influential people, besides “anti-national elements”.
    • Except for the last category — Crimes by Northeast insurgents, left-wing extremists and terrorists — the other subheads are missing in the report. This suggests that the Bureau was not keen on including them.
  • Missing data:
    • The Supreme Court last year had, in an order, called for a special law to deal with lynching. The Central government has time and again argued against the need for a separate law and has affirmed that curbing lynching was a matter of enforcement.
    • Data on such hate crimes would have been useful in both law enforcement and jurisprudence.
    • Without a proper accounting of hate crimes — as of now there exist only a few independent “hate crime trackers” based on media reports. This raises questions on the seriousness of the government on tackling hate crimes effectively.
  • Unreliable information:
    • The Union Home Ministry has said that data received by the National Crime Records Bureau on certain crimes like lynching and attacks on journalists were “unreliable and their definitions are also prone to misinterpretation”.
  • Difficulty in making comparisons:
    • The NCRB data on crime hide significant variances in case registration of serious crimes such as rapes and violence against women across States, which makes it difficult to draw State-wise comparisons.
  • Differences in reporting by the states:
    • There is the possibility of some States reporting such crimes better.
    • This is relevant, particularly in rape cases, where the Union Territory of Delhi registered a rate of 12.5 per one lakh population, surpassed only by Madhya Pradesh (14.7) and Chhattisgarh (14.6).
    • The filing of rape complaints in Delhi has significantly increased following public outcry over the December 2012 rape incident and this could partially explain the high rate of such cases.
    • The fact that Delhi recorded 40.4% of the total IPC crimes registered among metropolitan cities in 2017 is also likely due to the use of easier (online) means to register them.
  • Census base year:
    • The other drawback in the report is the use of the census base year as 2001 to calculate crime rates for States and 2011 for metropolitan cities, which make the assessments disorganised.

What are the concerns that the key findings of the report raise?

Offences against the State State-wise Report - India Map

  • The 2017 report shows that the States in the northeast and others in the rest of the country with a significant tribal population (Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha) have relatively higher murder rates and is a cause of worry.
  • There is a 30% jump in cases recorded as “offences against the State.”
    • While 51 cases of sedition were reported, there were 24 cases related to imputation and assertions prejudicial to national integration.
    • Under the Official Secrets Act, 18 cases were reported and 901 cases were registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
    • The maximum numbers of these cases were reported from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Conclusion:

Some crimes, for example, murders, do not suffer from registration issues as much. Despite the issues, the report offers a useful snapshot of crime in the country.

B. GS2 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

C. GS3 Related

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. 2019 ozone hole is the smallest on record

Context:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA have announced that the Antarctic ozone hole hit its smallest annual peak on record since tracking began in 1982.

Details:

  • The annual ozone hole – which consists of an area of heavily depleted ozone high in the stratosphere above Antarctica, between 7 and 25 miles (11 and 40 kilometres) above the surface – reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles and then shrank to less than 3.9 million square miles.
  • There have been several efforts globally to cut down on the use of ozone-depleting chemicals.
  • However, scientists attribute the relatively tiny ozone hole to unusually mild temperatures in that layer of the atmosphere.
    • This is the third time in 40 years that weather systems have caused warm stratospheric temperatures that put the brakes on ozone loss.
    • Similar weather patterns led to unusually small ozone holes in 1988 and 2002.

What is ozone layer?

  • Ozone layer is a layer in the earth’s stratosphere at an altitude of about 10 km containing a high concentration of ozone, which absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth from the Sun.
  • The stratospheric ozone layer helps deflect incoming ultraviolet radiation from the sun, shielding life on Earth from its harmful effects, such as skin cancer, cataracts and damage to plants.
  • Each year, an ozone hole forms during the Southern Hemisphere’s late winter as the sun’s rays initiate chemical reactions between the ozone molecules and man-made chemically active forms of chlorine and bromine.
  • These chemical reactions are maximized on the surface of high-flying clouds, but milder-than-average conditions in the stratosphere above Antarctica this year inhibited cloud formation and persistence, according to a NASA statement.
  • This helped prevent the loss of a considerable amount of ozone.

What is the Issue?

  • Chemicals used for refrigeration purposes, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), break down stratospheric ozone molecules, thereby exposing the planet’s surface to greater amounts of UV radiation.
  • These chemicals have an atmospheric lifetime of several decades and can destroy extraordinary amounts of ozone over that time.
  • The ozone layer has been slowly but steadily recovering since the Montreal Protocol took effect, but it still has a long way to go.
  • Since 2000, atmospheric levels of CFCs have been slowly declining, but they are still sufficiently abundant to cause annual ozone holes at the North and South poles.

Efforts in preventing Ozone depletion:

  • The discovery of the ozone hole by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey in 1985 galvanized international action.
  • This swiftly resulted in a binding international treaty that many experts consider the most successful environmental agreement to date.
  • The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (Vienna Convention) was agreed in 1985.
  • The Montreal Protocol under the Vienna Convention (the protocol) was agreed in 1987. It facilitates global cooperation in reversing the rapid decline in atmospheric concentrations of ozone.
  • Under the Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol 2016, parties are expected to reduce the manufacture and use of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by roughly 80-85% from their respective baselines, till 2045.

2. Power firm takes Water Ministry to court over Ganga notification

Context:

The Alaknanda Hydropower Company (AHC) has taken the Union Water Ministry and the Uttarakhand State government to court following a 2018 notification by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), a Union Water Ministry body, that requires hydropower companies located on the Ganga’s tributaries to release more water than from previous years.

The issue has been covered in 22nd October 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click Here to read.

Category: SECURITY

1. Court to look into govt. plea for access to WhatsApp chats

This Issue has been covered in 22nd October Comprehensive News Analysis. Click Here to read.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Leaving the door open to a border settlement

Context:

Recurrent conflicts between India and China at the border have brought to light the existing Border dispute between India and China. The failure of the two nations to resolve the issue has had a profound impact on the bilateral relations and the given article discusses the need for a more balanced approach.

Border Dispute:

The India-China border dispute can be broken down into three sectors:

  • Western Sector: This region is originally a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir but is claimed and presently administered by China as part of its autonomous Xinjiang region post 1962 war. India claims the entire Aksai Chin territory as well as the Shaksgam valley (Indian Territory gifted to China by Pakistan). China contests Indian control over Daulat Beg Oldi.
  • Central Sector: China has accepted Sikkim as a part of India and this region is less contested.
  • Eastern Sector: This disputed territory lies south of the McMahon Line. It was formerly referred to as the North East Frontier Agency, and is now called Arunachal Pradesh. It is the largest disputed area, covering around 90000 sq. km. It was occupied by the People’s Liberation Army during the 1962 war but later withdrew beyond the International boundary represented by the Mcmahon Line.

Background:

  • The frontier politics of British India, led by short term interests of protecting their Indian interests from other challengers like the Russian and Chinese, failed to produce a single integrated and well-defined northern boundary separating the Indian subcontinent from Xinjiang and Tibet.
  • In the eastern sector, the British had largely attained an ethnically and strategically viable alignment via the 1914 Shimla conference of British India, China and Tibet. The McMahon Line was part of the 1914 Shimla Convention between British India and Tibet, an agreement rejected by China contending that Tibet was not a sovereign state and therefore did not have the power to conclude treaties.
  • The western sector was never formally delineated nor successfully resolved by British India. The ever-changing British approach in this sector was shaped by the geopolitical goals of the Empire, and was never envisaged for establishing of an international border. In 1947, no definite boundary line to the east of the Karakoram Pass existed. This complicated the issue. India and China were faced with a “no man’s land” in eastern Ladakh, where the contentious Aksai Chin lay.
  • Conventionally, India considers the Johnson line of 1865, which put Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir. On the other hand, China recognizes the Macartney-Macdonald Line as the actual boundary which puts Aksai Chin in Xinjiang region of China.

Fallouts of the border dispute:

  • The India-China War of 1962: though there were other factors at play the dispute over the sovereignty of the Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh was the major factor for the war. India suffered a huge setback and was badly defeated. China achieved its objective of acquiring control in the Aksai chin.
  • There have been recurrent India-China border conflicts even after the war. There have been several instances of Chinese troops entering the Indian side. In 1967 when there were two incidents of armed conflict first at Nathu La and then at Cho La.
  • The Recent Doklam crisis which led to a 70-day stand-off between the two armies was also a fallout of the unresolved issues between the two neighbours. It took high-level delegation talks to disengage the two sides.
  • The claim of the Chinese over the whole of Arunachal Pradesh and their policies like the issuance of stapled visas to people from Arunachal Pradesh has been a constant irritant for India.
  • The recent visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang monastery had become such a contentious bilateral issue. Tibet has become a sticking point between the two neighbours although India way back in 1950’s itself recognized Tibet as an integral part of China.
  • While China’s support for resolution of border disputes stands subservient to Tibet issue, India would continue to hold on to the Tibet card unless the border-disputes are resolved. China’s move towards ‘assertive regionalism’, its strengthening ties with Pakistan – has only worsened the chances of a quick resolution.
  • The unresolved issue has been a deterrent to taking the bilateral relations to the higher levels which would be in the interest of both the countries.

Agreements and initiatives to resolve border disputes:

Prior to 1962 war:

  • Shimla Conference
  • Panchsheel Agreement of 1954: The Panchsheel doctrine clearly indicated the willingness to ‘Respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’.
  • Swap Principle: In 1960, Zhou Enlai, proposed China accepting present-day Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory in exchange for India accepting Aksai Chin as Chinese territory prompting an attitude of mutual accommodation. This is also sometimes referred to as the package settlement. But fierce domestic opposition in India and the reluctance of the leadership led to non-acceptance from the Indian side.

Post 1962 War:

  • In the early 1980s, the two nations began negotiating the border dispute, but 21 rounds of negotiations have not yielded any concrete results.
  • In 1989, India-China formed a Joint Working Group for Confidence building measures (CBMs) to mutually settle all border disputes.
  • India-China Agreements regarding the Line of Actual Control LAC which would act as the effective military border which separates Indian controlled areas of Jammu and Kashmir from Aksai Chin. This border is not a legally recognized international boundary, but rather it is the practical boundary.
  • In 1993, ‘The Agreement for Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the LAC was signed between India and China.
  • In 1996 an agreement took place on Confidence Building Measures in the military field along the LAC.
  • In 2003 India and China signed a Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation and also mutually decided to appoint Special Representatives to explore the framework of a boundary settlement from the political perspective.
  • In 2005 “Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question” agreement was signed. It accepted that prominent geographical features would be a basis for determining the border. Two, there was an acknowledgement that interests of “settled populations” must be taken into account while arriving at a border settlement. It proposed a three-step resolution to the border disputes:
  1. A bilateral agreement on the laid down principles.
  2. This was to be followed by an exchange of maps between the two countries.
  3. Once satisfied with the markings, the final demarcation of borders was to take place.
  • The India-China relations received a major boost in 2003. China recognized India’s sovereignty over Sikkim. The continued trade at Nathu la holds significance in this regard.
  • The Recent informal summits first at Wuhan followed by the one at Mamallapuram were intended to address the growing mistrust between the two neighbours.
  • Clearly, the policies have helped avoid any major escalation but have not been successful in avoiding repeated skirmishes and hence have not sufficed in realizing a solution to the long-standing disputes. A status-quo exists owing to the face-off between differential aspirations of the two nations.

Way forward

President Xi Jinping’s statement after the Mamallapuram informal summit “In accordance with the agreement on political guiding principles, we will seek a fair and reasonable solution to the border issue that is acceptable to both sides.”  Needs honest attempts from both sides.There is a need to review the Swap agreement as suggested by China earlier since a “package settlement” is the only way forward along with a mutual recognition that this would involve only minor territorial adjustments and help maintain the status quo along the border. This will ensure that India and China have a good future together and the “Asian Century” will be realized.

2. Looking at the larger picture

Context:

India’s recent decision to put off Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Turkey to show India’s displeasure over Turkey’s statement in UNGA on Kashmir has raised demands for not letting contentious issues dictate the overall tenor of bilateral relations.

Background:

  • Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) criticized India’s move on Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir. India considers it to be an internal issue and considers such statements as an intrusion into its domestic affairs.
  • India’s proposal to cancel the selection of Turkey’s Anadolu Shipyard for building naval support ships for India. While the sources noted that rules for local procurement and security concerns over Anadolu’s work for the Pakistan navy were reasons for the likely cancellation, diplomatic sources said Turkey’s recent statements and its support for Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force on terror financing were also considered.
  • India sharply criticized Ankara’s unilateral military offensive against Syria. However, turkey defending its Operation Peace Spring along its border with Kurdish-held parts of northeast Syria claimed that all operations were on “legitimate terrorist targets” and claimed “zero civilian casualties”.

Need for Review of the position:

  • Turkey has traditionally had close relations with Pakistan. Ankara has almost always endorsed Pakistan’s position on Kashmir. But with growing economic relations with India, Turkey had moderated its support for Pakistan. So there is no need to attach primacy to Turkey’s statement in UNGA.
  • The Arab world is in shambles presently with the major powers like Egypt and Saudi Arabia presently embroiled in domestic troubles. This leaves Turkey and Iran, in addition to Israel, as the only serious players in West Asia presently. India has many interests in West Asia and India needs to play its card carefully.
  • Growing technological capacity of Turkey will add to Turkey’s clout in the region. Economic relations with Turkey can be a potential for growth to India. There are many cases of complementarity between the two economies. Turkey is interested in ‘Make in India’ scheme and looking forward to participation in Indian markets. India too stands to benefit.

Conclusion:

India needs to withstand the temptation of Knee jerk diplomacy of letting isolated incidents affect India’s overall relationship with the pivotal powers in West Asia. India needs to deal with countries on specific issues keeping national interests paramount. Foreign policy should be based on long term interests of India.

Refer the below link for more info:

CNA dated Oct 20, 2019

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Firm steps to ease the fiscal federalism tension

Context:

The GST though a welcome move has led to the decreased control over revenues for the states. The article deals with the need and means to enlarge the revenue base for the states keeping in view their responsibilities. 

Constitutional provisions:

  • The constitution envisages India as a Union of States. Citizens of every State elect their government independently. The primary responsibility of such an elected government is efficient governance and accountability to its voters. For this, the elected government is typically granted the powers to be able to raise revenues through taxation of its citizens and incur appropriate expenditure for their benefit.
  • Article 246(1) of the Constitution of India states that Parliament has exclusive powers to make laws with respect to any of matters enumerated in List I in Seventh Schedule to Constitution (i.e; Union list).

Recent Changes:

  • GST: Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an indirect tax on the supply of goods and services. It is a comprehensive multistage, destination-based tax. Though as a long term measure it is beneficial to the Indian economy, with GST States lost their sole powers to levy indirect taxes. Instead, they depend on a GST Council to determine tax rates and revenues.
  • The amendment to the terms of reference (TOR) issued to the Fifteenth Finance Commission asking it to examine the viability of a separate mechanism for funding of defence and internal security. The Centre has proposed that there should be a permanent expenditure fund created for defence spending out of the total tax revenue pool. This will likely reduce the tax revenues distributed to States for their own expenditure.
  • The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) has recommended a GST Council-like mechanism for the Centre and states to oversee public expenditure. Though the stated aim is fiscal consolidation the move is likely to limit the discretionary powers of the states with regard to their expenditure.

Need for Relooking at Fiscal Federalism:

  • Fiscal Imbalance: The constitutional fiscal arrangement shows that vertical fiscal imbalances (between the state and Centre) are deemed inevitable as most of the powers of taxation are given to the Central government. The differences in the endowment position of natural resources across States cause horizontal federal fiscal imbalance.
  • Present scenario: More than 80% of the government’s revenues come from taxes, primarily from income tax and sales taxes. State governments in India do not have powers to levy income taxes. This affects the states resource base.
  • Mandate for the state Governments: Given the huge mandate for public work there is a need to ensure more resources for the states. Major State responsibilities include schools, hospitals, conservation and environment, roads, railways and public transport, public works, agriculture and Industrial infrastructure. The developmental demands on state governments are rising.
  • Successful Examples: Successful State schemes have shown the viability of empowering state resources and providing them more autonomy. E.g. TN Midday meal scheme.

Positive steps taken by the Centre:

  • Finance commission’s recommendation and the subsequent acceptance by the Centre to devolve 42% of the divisible funds to states up from 32% previously has taken the total transfers up from the previous 39.5% to 47%.
  • The present 15th Finance Commission is also looking at increasing this further.
  • Rationalizing the Centrally sponsored schemes will reduce the burden on the states’ exchequer.

Way forward:

  • The huge economic and cultural diversity among the various States mandates the need for further strengthening Fiscal federalism. It is imperative that democratically elected State governments are given powers to raise revenues and incur expenditure in accordance with each State’s needs and priorities.
  • Need to address the fiscal federalism tension between the Centre and States which if not can erupt into divisive and separatist tendencies.
  • The one tangible solution to restore this balance is to grant State governments the power to levy income taxes. In large federal democracies such as the United States, State governments and even local governments have the right to levy income taxes. India can explore this option. The proposed direct tax code provides an opportunity.

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Escaping the honey trap

Context:

  • The Sejal Honey trap case resulting in the compromising of classified details of the BrahMos missile programme has brought to light the urgent need to address the security challenge of digital honey trapping.

Meaning of honey trap:

  • Honey trapping is an investigative practice involving the use of romantic or sexual relationships for interpersonal, political (including state espionage), or monetary purpose.
  • The honey pot or trap involves making contact with an individual who has information or resources required by a group or individual, the trapper will then seek to entice the target into a false relationship (which may or may not include actual physical involvement) in which they can glean information or influence over the target.

Examples:

  • The recent ‘Sejal’ case in India
  • Two cases of honey-trapping were reported in the Indian army in 2015 and another two in 2017. The Indian Air Force has reported one case in 2015.
  • Use of ‘sexpionage’ by Chinese intelligence to target British banks and businesses.

Background:

  • In the world of intelligence, information is the principal currency and to extract vital information regarding enemy’s security structure honey traps have been the preferred choice.
  • The modus operandi involves befriending the targets on social media and later looking to extract valuable information through blackmail using incriminating photos.
  • The Honey trapping has turned digital with increased access to social media platforms. This allows anonymity for the perpetrators. Compared to traditional methods of honey trapping, these are swift, clean, and without any physical risk to the enemy and also scalable meaning that multiple targets can be lured simultaneously.
  • Unlike conventional warfare, the cost and barrier to entry into enemy territory has gone down drastically.
  • The Sejal case also led to two viruses, Whisper and GravityRAT, being used to infect the Indian computer network.
  • The Army has described honey-trap cases as a weapon of hybrid warfare being waged by the enemy across the borders.

Counter Measure taken:

  • The military intelligence is carrying out selective checks on phones, laptops and desktops of officers and soldiers in sensitive areas.
  • Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has cracked the whip on social media usage. A list of dos and don’ts have been prepared for the personnel.
  • An information warfare team is being set up at the Army headquarters. Suspected Twitter handles and Facebook accounts have also been identified and have been reported to the social media intermediaries for action.

Further measures needed:

  • Investing in the latest technologies for early and better detection of viruses.
  • Conducting frequent workshops to sensitize defence personnel against cyber risks.
  • Best cyber practices must be built amongst fresh recruits.
  • Conducting timely reviews and audits of all devices
  • Developing a methodology to embed dormant malware in all sensitive data and devices which will be able to track the bad actors and destroy the documents with a programmed kill switch.
  • Developing a doctrine to hit back. The Defence Cyber Agency should be leveraged towards this end.

Conclusion:

In this information age where every keyboard is practically a weapon, the enemy will be relentless and continue to invest and recruit heavily in faceless digital honey trapping. India needs to act fast to deter such threats.

F. Tidbits

1. Turkey, Russia strike a deal on Syria

  • Turkey and Russia have agreed to remove the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia to beyond 30 km from the Turkish border, after which their troops will jointly patrol a narrower strip of land in a “safe zone” Ankara has long sought in North-Eastern Syria.
  • Russian military police and Syrian border guards would move in to facilitate the removal of YPG members and weapons to beyond the zone in a mission, according to the deal struck between Mr. Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.
    • This operation is said to guarantees Syria’s territorial integrity.
  • The YPG, the key component in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that has, for years fought alongside the U.S. troops against Islamic State, will also leave the towns of Tel Rifaat and Manbij.
  • The main aim of the operation is to take out PKK/YPG terror organisations from the area and to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees.
  • The commander of SDF fighters has informed the U.S. that it has fulfilled its obligations to withdraw forces from a border area with Turkey in northeastern Syria.

The Issue has been covered in 10th October 2019 CNA. Click Here to read.

G. Prelims Facts

1. Bellbird

  • Bellbirds have the loudest bird calls yet documented in the world.
  • The male white bellbird’s mating call is about three times louder than screaming phias — the previously loudest bird singer.
  • The researchers have observed some intriguing anatomical features like unusually thick and developed abdominal muscles and ribs, which is suspected to be related to their singing.
  • The researchers say that the discovery offers another example of the consequences of sexual selection.

Sexual Selection:

  • Sexual selection concept states that the evolution of certain conspicuous physical traits—such as pronounced coloration, increased size, or striking adornments—in animals may grant the possessors of these traits greater success in obtaining mates.
  • Sexual selection happens when males compete for mates, driving the evolution of truly bizarre and exaggerated traits such as the peacock’s tail, the loud singing abilities of the male bellbirds, etc.
  • From the perspective of natural selection, such increases in mating opportunities outweigh the risks associated with the animal’s increased visibility in its environment.
  • This concept was initially put forth by English naturalist Charles Darwin.

2. BrahMos surface-to-surface missile tests

What is in News?

Two BrahMos Surface-to-Surface missile tests were conducted at Trak Island in the Andaman Nicobar group of islands.

  • A surface-to-surface missile (SSM) or ground-to-ground missile (GGM) is a missile designed to be launched from the ground or the sea and strike targets on land or at sea.
  • They may be fired from hand-held or vehicle-mounted devices, from fixed installations, or from a ship.

BrahMos:

  • It is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.
  • It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, Brahmaputra and Moskva of Russia.
  • It is the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation.

3. Ayodhya ‘deepotsav’ given State Fair tag

What is in News?

The Uttar Pradesh government has granted the status of State fair to the Deepotsav Mela to be held in Ayodhya during Deepavali.

  • Over 5.5 lakh lamps will be lit during the celebrations.
  • The mela that was earlier organised by the Tourism Department will now be planned by the District Magistrate of Ayodhya.
  • Last year, the festival showcased the Korean connection to the town, and South Korea’s first lady Kim Jung-sook was the chief guest at the event.

4. Foreign Exchange Management Act

  • The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 is an act of the Indian parliament relating to foreign exchange, external trade and payments in the country.
  • It was enacted “to consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India”.
  • It replaced the earlier foreign exchange regulation law known as the FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act). FERA had become unsuited for the government of India’s pro-liberalization policies.
  • FERA was considered draconian while FEMA is more accommodating and intended to facilitate external trade and payments rather than control it.
  • The FEMA in contrast to its predecessor makes foreign exchange-related offenses civil offenses instead of criminal.
  • It enables a new foreign exchange management regime consistent with the emerging framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • It also paved the way to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, which was effected from 1 July 2005.
  • FEMA allows the Reserve Bank of India and the union government to pass laws and rules concerned with foreign exchange in line with the country’s foreign trade policy. 

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Q1. Consider the following statements with respect to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):
  1. Crime & Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS) is implemented by National Crime Investigation Bureau.
  2. It is a comprehensive and integrated system aimed at enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing.
  3. CCTNS is a Mission Mode Project under National e-Governance Plan of Government.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

See
Answer
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to “Maltodextrin”:
  1. Maltodextrin increases the shelf life of packaged foods.

  2. The addition of Maltodextrin to milk decreases the levels of fat and Solids-not-Fat (SNF).

  3. It has potentially severe health impacts, including the risk of cancer.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

a. 1 and 2 only

b. 1 only

c. 2 and 3 only

d. 1, 2 and 3

See
Answer
Q3. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System was constituted by the Home Ministry to examine the fundamental principles of criminal law.
  2. The committee was headed by Justice V.S. Malimath
  3. It was tasked with reviewing the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 only.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

a. 1 and 2 only
b. 2 and 3only
c. 1 and 3
d. 1 only

See
Answer
 Q4. Consider the following statements:
  1. The ecological flow notification, 2018 by the government of India mandates that project developers ensure a minimum supply of water all through the year.
  2. It is applicable to the Hydropower projects across all the rivers in India.

Which of the given statement/s is/are Incorrect?

a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

See
Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Comment how the border dispute with China is posing a major challenge to the India-China bilateral relations. Enumerate the efforts taken by both sides in this regard and their results. (15 Marks, 250 Words).
  2. The Antarctic ozone hole has hit its smallest annual peak on record since tracking began in 1982. What are the steps taken by the international community in this regard? Does the development signify the success of international efforts in cutting down on the use of ozone-depleting chemicals? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

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October 23, 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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