24 Oct 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis


A. GS1 Related
1. Kittur Utsav begins
1. Apex court shocked over ‘vanishing’ Aravalli hills
B. GS2 Related
1. SC moves to make festivals less noisy
2. Federation opposes HECI Bill
C. GS3 Related
1. CAG questions RBI’s role as NPA crisis was brewing
1. More dengue testing centres in State
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
1. Outcomes versus promises (India- Russia Relations)
F. Tidbits
1. ‘How much will you pay for pollution, SC asks Graphite India’
2. Xi opens world’s longest sea bridge
G. Prelims Fact
1. International honour for scientist
2. M.S. Swaminathan
3. Green Revolution
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related


1. Kittur Utsav begins


  • Legislative Council chairman Basavaraj Horatti inaugurated Kittur Utsav in Kittur on Tuesday evening.
  • He urged the State government (Karnataka) to take all steps to develop Kittur into a tourist spot. He urged youth to inculcate the qualities of Queen Chennamma and face difficulties in life with courage and conviction.
  • Earlier, a colourful procession was taken out to mark the inauguration of the utsav. Dollu Kunita, Gombe Kunita, folk dance and drill teams from across the State participated.

Chennamma, Queen of Kittur

  • On 23 October 1778, Chennamma, Queen of Kittur, a princely state in present Karnataka was born.
  • She was one of the first Indians to lead an armed rebellion against the British. She is revered as one of the foremost women warriors and freedom fighters of India.
  • At the age of 15, she became the queen of Kittur (a taluk in present Belgaum) when she married the king of Kittur, Raja Mallasarja.
  • Her husband died in 1816 leaving her with one son and heir to the throne. Unfortunately, the boy died in 1824.
  • Chennamma adopted another boy Shivalingappa and made him the heir to the throne. The East India Company, however, did not recognise the adopted heir and proceeded to annex the kingdom. The Doctrine of Lapse, although codified later by Lord Dalhousie, was practiced by the Company earlier also.
  • Rani Chennamma rejected this illegitimate doctrine and refused to accept British sovereignty.
  • She took up arms (she was trained in sword fighting, archery and horse riding from her childhood) and instigated a war with the company in 1824.
  • The British attacked Kittur with more than 20, 000 men and about 400 guns. They attempted to raid Kittur and take its jewels and treasures (valued at Rs.15 lakh) but failed.
  • The first battle between Kittut and the East India Company started in October 1824 and it resulted in a heavy loss for the company.
  • The English Collector and political agent St. John Thackeray was killed in the battle by Amatur Balappa, the Rani’s lieutenant.
  • Two British hostages were also taken by the Kittur forces. Rani Chennamma released them after the British gave her word that they would cease fighting. However, they went back on their word and restarted the war after getting the hostages back.
  • The Rani was supported in her valiant war by Sangolli Rayanna and Gurusiddappa. Despite her heroic attempt, Chennamma was captured and Kittur fell to the British forces. She was imprisoned in Bailhongal Fort where breathed her last on 21 February 1829. She was fifty years old.
  • Despite leading one of the first rebellions in India against the British, Rani Chennamma of Kittur remains relatively unknown.
  • A statue of Kittur Chennamma was unveiled in September 2007 at the Indian Parliament Complex by Pratibha Patil. There are other statues in Bangalore and Kittur as well. Rani Chennamma’s samadhi is maintained by the government in a park in Kittur.
  • Ballads and songs describing her valour are sung in Kittur even today. The Kitturu Utsava is held in Kittur from 22 October to 24 October every year to commemorate Chennamma’s first victory over the English.

Dollu Kunitha

  • Dollu Kunitha is an outstanding and dynamic folk art of Karnataka.
  • The dance is usually confined to males with good physique. A hollow drum is tied on the waist of the performer.
  • It is a religious and cultural ritual and is performed mostly by Kurubas, devotees of Beere Devaru (Beereshwara or Beeralingeswara).
  • The dancers stand in a circle and moves as they start beating the drum.
  • Every time worship is made, there’s instantaneous beating of the Dollu accompanied by swift and supple dancing.
  • The dance requires immense upper body strength, muscle power and endurance.
  • The men stand in a semi-circle and move to the beat of the cymbal played by the leader of the group.
  • The rhythms alternate between fast and slow, and the men perform some really quick and intricately woven dance moves.


1. Apex court shocked over ‘vanishing’ Aravalli hills



  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed shock over the disappearance of 31 hills in the Aravalli area of Rajasthan and asked the State government to stop illegal mining in the 115.34-hectare area there within 48 hours.

Aravalli Range

  • It is a range of mountains running in North West direction between Delhi and Palanpur in Gujarat.
  • It constitutes a vital corridor between Asola Bhatti Sanctuary in Delhi and Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan.
  • The 700km long range and its thick forest cover protects National Captial Region and fertile plains of India from effects of Desert.

B. GS2 Related


1. SC moves to make festivals less noisy



  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck a balance between the interests of the firecracker industry and the right to public health, allowing the manufacture and sale of only “green” and reduced-emission or “improved” crackers, while banning those that are loud and toxic to man, animal and the environment.
  • The judgment reduced the time for bursting crackers during Deepavali and other festivals to two hours: between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
  • For Christmas and New Year, the time slot allowed is just half-an-hour, between 11.55 p.m. and half-past midnight. The reduced time window is applicable across the country.
  • The ban came on the basis of a petition filed by two infants — a six-month-old and 14-month-old — through their fathers in 2015. They said the air pollution caused by various factors, especially firecrackers, made Delhi a gas chamber. They pleaded for their right to life.
  • The court banned the manufacture, sale and use of joined firecrackers (series crackers or ‘laris’), holding that they caused “huge air, noise and solid waste problems.”
  • The sale of green and improved crackers would be only through licensed traders. It banned online sale through e-commerce websites, including Flipkart and Amazon. “Any such e-commerce company found selling crackers online will be hauled up for contempt of court, and the court may also pass, in that eventuality, orders of monetary penalties,” it warned.

Religion and firecrackers

  • According to Hindu belief, the sound of fireworks and crackers are an indication of the joy of the people living on earth and making gods aware of their plentiful state.
  • The festival of Diwali is celebrated for five days in India and each day holds its own importance.
  • The first day of Diwali festivities is known as Dhanteras or Dhantryaodashi. As per the legend, it is believed that on this day, Dhanvantari – the physician of the gods came out of the ocean with a pot of amrit, while it was being churned by the gods and the demons.
  • This is believed to be a momentous day for the mankind. It is also believed that Goddess Lakshmi also originated from the ocean on this day. Hence, the day is considered very auspicious for financial investments.
  • For people to let go of their belief, culture, festival is not an easy thing. They connect their origin through such beliefs, and firecrackers are somewhere close to it.

2. Federation opposes HECI Bill


  • Members of All India University Employees Federation, who strongly opposed the Union government’s draft Bill on setting up a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), have demanded that the University Grants Commission (UGC) be continued.
  • “There are issues with the existing UGC that need to be addressed but not by replacing it with another body,” said confederation secretary M.B. Sajjan in Kalaburagi on Tuesday.


  • HECI will be the new, apex regulator for university and higher education in India.
  • The focus of HECI will be on improving academic standards and the quality of Higher Education.
  • Its board will have senior bureaucrats from the ministries of HRD, skills and entrepreneurship, and science and technology, in a way ending the monopoly of HRD ministry in regulating higher education.
  • The commission shall consist of a chairperson, vice chairperson and 12 members to be appointed by the central government.
  • Several committees like Yash Pal committee, National Knowledge Commission and the Hari Gautam committee have recommended a single education regulator to rid higher education of red tape and lethargy.
  • UGC remained preoccupied with disbursing funds to institutes and was unable to concentrate on mentoring the institutes, focussing on research to be undertaken etc.

Analysis of the issue

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has served India’s higher education system for over six decades.
  • Named as the Higher Education Commission (HEC), this new institution will cover a considerable part of the UGC’s mandate, minus the latter’s financial role. This function will go to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
  • Not surprisingly, the academic world is apprehensive that the move will increase the power of the ministry to curb what little autonomy is left in the system of higher education.
  • The Yash Pal Committee never suggested that the UGC should be “scrapped.” The term it used was “subsumed,” pointing towards the need to let the UGC look after the crucial task of equitable distribution of funds, while a larger, essentially deliberative body looks after and encourages the long neglected task of building curricular and research bridges between different disciplines and disparate areas of higher professional learning.
  • What is now being contemplated is the transfer of the UGC’s financial role to the MHRD. This is contrary to the Yash Pal Committee’s recommendations, even though the idea of bringing certain areas of professional education under the proposed HEC partially echoes the committee’s report.
  • The government is aware of the suspicion that its move—to separate financial from regulatory powers, and the control of the former by the ministry—will arouse.
  • The speed at which the government is moving towards a repeal bill in Parliament to alter the financial arrangements managed so far by the UGC is both alarming and ironical.
  • It is alarming because higher education has faced consistent budget cuts in successive central budgets. The emergence of a vast private sector in higher education, with little effective control on its finances, has given more than indicative signals of the preferred policy scenario for the future.


  • As far as higher education is concerned, no government at the centre or in any of the states has been particularly concerned about letting the neo-liberal economic policy drive decision-making.
  • The present move is consistent with this trend, as it signifies further shrinkage of the public apparatus, tighter financial control—legitimised by meritocratic distribution and allocation—and, consequently, the furnishing of wider room for private capital to control the nation’s intellectual life and creation of knowledge.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. CAG questions RBI’s role as NPA crisis was brewing



  • Comptroller and Auditor General of India Rajiv Mehrishi on Tuesday questioned the role of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) during the time when the banks were “going berserk with their lending”, leading to the high levels of NPAs, saying that there was no public discourse on the role of the central bank during this period.
  • “In the present banking crisis, we all have a narrative about how it can be sorted out,” Mr. Mehrishi said while speaking at the launch of the Indian School of Public Policy in Delhi. “But nobody is asking the real question that what actually the regulator [the Reserve Bank of India] was doing. What is its role, what is its responsibility?”
  • “If the banks were going berserk with their lending, then what was the regulator doing,” the CAG added.
  • Mehrishi also highlighted that there was a lack of any public policy debate about the root causes of the bank non-performing assets problem.
  • As of the end of March 31, 2018, the banking sector had NPAs worth over Rs. 9.61 lakh crore, according to government data.

What is NPA?

  • The assets of the banks which don’t perform (that is – don’t bring any return) are called Non Performing Assets (NPA) or bad loans. Bank’s assets are the loans and advances given to customers. If customers don’t pay either interest or part of principal or both, the loan turns into bad loan.
  • According to RBI, terms loans on which interest or installment of principal remain overdue for a period of more than 90 days from the end of a particular quarter is called a Non-performing Asset.
  • However, in terms of Agriculture / Farm Loans; the NPA is defined as – For short duration crop agriculture loans such as paddy, Jowar, Bajra etc. if the loan (installment / interest) is not paid for 2 crop seasons, it would be termed as a NPA. For Long Duration Crops, the above would be 1 Crop season from the due date.

Category: HEALTH

1. More dengue testing centres in State



  • Tamil Nadu now has 125 ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) testing centres for diagnosing dengue in government medical college hospitals and district and sub-district hospitals.
  • Rapid Response Teams were formed at the taluk level in every district. If more than three persons reported with fever in any area, these teams would identity the cause for fever and take preventive measures. Special fever camps would also be held.
  • Fever control measures were being taken up on a war-footing in all districts. A 24-hour control room is functioning at the Directorate of Public Health.


  • Dengue is a vector-borne disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
  • The mosquito becomes infected when it feeds on the blood of a person infected with the virus. After about one week, the mosquito can then transmit the virus while biting a healthy person.
  • There are 4 serotypes of the virus that causes dengue. These are known as DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, DEN-4.
  • Infection with one strain will provide life-time protection only against that particular strain. However, it is still possible to become infected by other strains and develop into severe dengue.
  • Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person. However, a person infected and suffering from dengue fever can infect other mosquitoes.
  • Most cases occur in tropical areas of the world, including the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Taiwan, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Mexico, Africa, Central and South America.
  • Dengue causes flu-like symptoms and lasts for 2-7 days. Dengue fever usually occurs after an incubation period of 4-10 days after the bite of the infected mosquito.
  • High Fever (40°C/ 104°F) is usually accompanied by at least two of the following symptoms: headaches, pain behind eyes, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, joint, bone or muscle pains and rash.
  • There is no vaccine or specific medication for dengue fever. Patients should seek medical advice, rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • As a precautionary approach, patients can adopt measures to reduce transmission by sleeping under a treated net especially during the period of illness with fever.
  • Aedes aegypti is a daytime feeder: The peak biting periods are early in the morning and in the evening before dusk.
  • Aedes aegypti has evolved into an intermittent biter and prefers to bite more than one person during the feeding period. This mechanism has made Aedes aegypti a very highly efficient epidemic vector mosquito.


D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials


1. Outcomes versus promises (India- Russia Relations)

 Note to the Students:

  • This particular topic as it reads falls under the domain of GS Paper II, wherein, it can be mapped to multiple subject areas- such as bilateral relations and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

●       In particular, this opinion-based article reflects on the recent developments in India-Russia relations.

●       We have covered the gist of this article under the heading “Editorial Analysis”. 

  • Here we have suitably signposted the Editorial Analysis into multiple headings.

1.      “Larger Background”: This particular section talks about the broader background of the issue, taking into consideration specific points that may have been featured in previous editions of The Hindu. We have also taken relevant updates from the website of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The thought process behind including this section is to give a ‘storyline’ approach to an aspirant when he/she goes through this topic.

2.      “Editorial Analysis”: This particular section gives an insight towards the specific points covered in the specific editorial that is the subject of our study.

3.      “The Way Forward/Concluding Remarks”: This sections gives aspirants concluding points that are taken from the article in question as well as some forwarding looking points taken from other articles, as and when required.

The important aspect to note here is that the issue being discussed in the news assumes priority over just the article.


Larger Background:

  • India-Russia cooperation is based on the solid foundations of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation between the Republic of India and the USSR, 1993 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation, 2000 Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation and 2010 Joint Statement elevating the Partnership to a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.
  • Cooperation between India and Russia spans across the whole gamut of sectors and rests on the fundamental pillars of political and strategic cooperation, military and security cooperation, cooperation in the spheres of economy, energy, industry, science and technology, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

The News:

  • Prime Minister of the Republic of India H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi and President of the Russian Federation H.E. Mr. Vladimir V. Putin met for the 19th edition of the Annual Bilateral Summit in New Delhi on October 4-5, 2018.
  • During this meeting on October 4-5, 2018, the sides reaffirmed their commitment to the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia.
  • They declared that this relationship is an important factor for global peace and stability and appreciated each other’s respective roles as major powers with common responsibilities for maintaining global peace and stability.
  • This meeting takes place after the informal summit in Sochi on May 21, 2018 which was a unique meeting in international diplomacy, reflecting the deep trust and confidence between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin. The Sochi Summit manifested the role of interaction and cooperation between India and Russia in building a multi-polar world order.
  • On the 5th of October, 2018, India and Russia announced a number of agreements, including a $5.43 billion S-400 Triumf missile system deal, a space cooperation arrangement to put an Indian in space, and an action plan for a new nuclear plant.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Putin also addressed a business summit, in an attempt to diversify ties and increase bilateral trade.
  • Currently, bilateral trade between the two countries is below $10 billion.
  • It is believed that much of the fresh momentum in bilateral engagement will come from the energy sector.
  • Several billions of dollars worth of investment and energy deals are in the pipeline.

Important Excerpts from the Joint Statement Released by India and Russia:

  1. Developments on the Economic front:
  • The two sides reviewed the progress on the achievement of the goal to increase two-way investment to USD 30 billion by the year 2025 and noted with satisfaction that both countries were on the way to achieving this target.
  • They noted that in 2017 bilateral trade increased by more than 20% and agreed to work towards its further increase and diversification. The Sides expressed their support to promoting bilateral trade in national currencies.
  • The Indian Side invited Russian companies to participate in the development of industrial corridors in India, including in areas of road and rail infrastructure, smart cities, construction of wagons and creation of a joint transportation logistics company.
  • The Russian Side offered its expertise in tax collection based on satellite navigation technologies for the realization of joint projects in India including in the framework of above mentioned industrial corridors.
  • The Russian Side expressed its interest in participating in the international competitive biddings as and when the Ministry of Railways of India decides to execute the railway speed raising projects.
  • They called for the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) through intensified efforts by finalizing pending issues related to Customs authorities, development of road and rail infrastructure and financial facilitation through bilateral discussions as well as discussions with other partner countries at the earliest.
  • India and Russia supported the early launch of the Green Corridor project aimed at the simplification of customs operations in respect of goods being transported between India and Russia. They regarded this as an important step towards enhancing mutual trade.
  • India and Russia agreed to work together to explore joint projects for productive, efficient and economic use of natural resources in each other’s country through application of appropriate technologies while ensuring affordable environment friendly utilization of natural resources.
  • The two sides acknowledged the agriculture sector as an important area for cooperation and committed themselves to eliminating trade barriers, greater production and trade in agricultural products.
  • The two sides agreed to explore opportunities of joint collaboration in precious metals, minerals, natural resources and forest produce, including timber, through joint investments, production, processing and skilled labour.
  • The Russian Side invited the Indian Side to invest in the Russian Far East. The Indian Side welcomed the decision to open an office of the Far East Agency in Mumbai.
  1. b) Developments in the area of Science and Technology:
  • The Sides stressed the importance of the longstanding and mutually beneficial India-Russia cooperation in outer space and welcomed the activity on setting up measurement data collection ground stations of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System NavIC and the Russian Navigation Satellite System GLONASS in the territory of the Russian Federation and the Republic of India respectively.
  • India and Russia agreed to further intensify cooperation in the field of exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, including human spaceflight programmes, scientific projects, as well as agreed to continue developing cooperation on BRICS remote sensing satellite constellation.
  • Both sides expressed interest in the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the Arctic, inter alia in the sphere of joint scientific research.
  1. b) Developments in the area of Energy:
  • The Sides acknowledged the interest of Russian and Indian companies in cooperation in the field of LNG and welcomed the commencement of supply of LNG under the long-term contract between Gazrpom Group and GAIL India Ltd.
  • The Sides expressed their support to companies from both sides for development of cooperation and exploring opportunities for joint development of oil fields in the Russian territory, including in the Arctic shelf of Russia and joint development of projects on the shelf of the Pechora and Okhotsk Seas.
  • Civil nuclear cooperation between India and Russia is an important component of strategic partnership contributing to India’s energy-security and its commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
  • India and Russia noted the progress achieved in the construction of the remainder of the six power units at Kudankulam NPP as well as the efforts being made in the components manufacturing for localization.
  • India and Russia highlighted the progress achieved in fulfillment of the agreements envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding on trilateral cooperation in implementation of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Project in Bangladesh.
  • Both sides also decided to further explore possibilities of closer cooperation on hydel and renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, including in order to reduce the negative effects of climate change.
  1. c) Developments in the area of Military-Technical Cooperation:
  • The Russian Side positively evaluated the Indian participation in the Army Games 2018, Army 2018 and Moscow Conference on International Security.
  • India and Russia commended the successful completion of the first ever Tri-Services Exercise INDRA 2017 and committed to continue their Joint Military Exercises – INDRA Navy, INDRA Army and Avia INDRA – in 2018.
  • India and Russia welcomed the conclusion of the contract for the supply of the S-400 Long Range Surface to Air Missile System to India.
  • Both India and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to enhance military technical cooperation between India and Russia, which has a long history of mutual trust and mutual benefit.
  • Both India and Russia expressed satisfaction at the significant progress made on the ongoing projects of military technical cooperation and recognized the positive shift towards joint research and joint production of military technical equipment between the two countries.
  • They highly evaluated the Military Industrial Conference process as an important mechanism to promote the “Make in India” policy of the Government of India.
  1. c) Developments in the area of International Issues:
  • The two sides declared their support to Afghan government’s efforts towards the realization of an Afghan-led, and Afghan-owned national peace reconciliation process.
  • The two sides reaffirmed the commitment of India and Russia for a political resolution of the conflict in Syria, through an inclusive Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process which safeguards the state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.
  • India and Russia expressed the serious concern about the possibility of an arms race in outer space and of outer space turning into an arena for military confrontation. They reaffirmed that the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), would avert a grave danger for international peace and security.
  • India and Russia underlined common approaches to ensuring security in the use of ICTs and their willingness to strengthen bilateral interagency practical dialogue in furtherance of the intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Security in the Use of Information and Communication Technologies.
  • The two sides confirmed their determination to enhance interaction and coordination of efforts in the regional multilateral fora such as BRICS, G-20, SCO, RIC and East Asia Summits. India expressed its aspiration to broaden cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • India welcomed the initiative of Russia to create a Larger Eurasian Partnership that stipulates conjugation of national development strategies and multilateral integration projects in the interests of building effective platform of constructive cooperation based on strict observance of the international law, principles of equality, mutual respect and taking in account each other national perspectives.
  • Russia welcomed the participation of India in the counter-terror military exercise “Peace Mission – 2018”. Both Sides consider the goal of developing an economic component of SCO as an important one, including realization of transportation and infrastructure projects aimed at providing interconnection within the SCO Organization and with observers, partner countries, as well as other interested states.
  • They stood for increasing the role of SCO in the international affairs and believe it necessary to expand contacts and cooperation of SCO with the UN and its structures, other international and regional organizations. The Sides agreed to deepen cultural and humanitarian ties within the SCO.

Significance of the S-400 air defence system deal:

  • This deal denotes India’s desire to deepen defence cooperation with Russia. It also denotes that India is prepared to do this despite U.S. warnings that the deal could attract sanctions.
  • The fact that this deal comes just a month after India signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) for better interoperability with the U.S. military, is a sign that India will not be forced or even persuaded into putting all its eggs in one strategic basket.
  • It is believed that more defence deals with Russia will make it increasingly difficult for the U.S. to give India a waiver from sanctions under CAATSA.

Recently in the News:

  • The contract for the S-400 was signed at the Delhi summit in a low-key manner. Neither leader mentioned it in his press statement and it was not signed in their presence.
  • The one sentence announcement was in paragraph 45 of the 68-paragraph Joint Statement.
  • Prime Minister Modi did not mention defence cooperation in his press statement, though it has been the centrepiece of India-Russia relations over decades.
  • It is also important to note that there exists a general perception that Indian and Russian perspectives today differ on key issues in India’s neighbourhood.
  • This includes matters pertaining to Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, and also on India’s strategic linkages with the U.S., including on the Indo-Pacific.
  • These issues would certainly have figured in the various meetings.

On Afghanistan:

  • Specifically, on Afghanistan, India has expressed support for the “Moscow format”.
  • The Moscow format’s main objective is to facilitate the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan and secure peace in that country as soon as possible.
  • In the “Moscow format”, Russia involves regional countries and major powers in an effort to draw the Taliban into negotiations with the Afghan leadership. The U.S. has boycotted the initiative of the Moscow format, and has initiated its own dialogue with the Taliban.

India-Russia (Points of Convergence):

  • Between India and Russia, there are obvious opportunities for cooperation.
  • Russia, is natural resources-rich, and India, is resource-hungry.
  • It is important to note that whether or not these natural resources are exploited would depend on how well India’s economic ministries, banks and business community understand the ground realities of doing business with Russia.
  • It is important to note that even before CAATSA, there was confusion in India about sanctions against Russia.
  • Further, it is believed that both on CAATSA and on the U.S.’s proposed sanctions on Iran that go into force on November 4, 2018, India will need to make some tough decisions.
  • Further, every potential India-Russia defence deal could be subjected to a determination on applicability of sanctions.
  • In conclusion, actually imposing sanctions would hurt U.S. defence sales to India, which would defeat one of the principal objectives of the legislation. It is important to note that the India-U.S. strategic partnership is based on a strong mutuality of interests, but it was not intended to have the exclusivity of an alliance. India should not have to choose between one strategic partnership and another. The India-Russia dialogue should not get inextricably entangled in the India-U.S. dialogue.


Editorial Analysis:

  • It is important to note that the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India earlier in the month of October, 2018, lasted less than 24 hours.
  • This visit came just a month after the visits, in September, of U.S. Secretary of State Mike R. Pompeo and Defence Secretary James N. Mattis to participate in the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue with their Indian counterparts, Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman.


A Note on India-Russia Summits:

  • It is important to note that the summit between the Indian Prime Minister and the Russian President is now an annual event.
  • The protocol for this event was agreed upon by Mr. Putin and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005.
  • Further, these summits have often led to spectacular breakthroughs.
  • An example here that can be sighted would be the fact that in the 2009 meeting between Dmitry Medvedev and former Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh, the log-jam in the long pending sale to India of the Russian aircraft carrier, Gorshkov (since renamed Vikramaditya) could be resolved.
  • In the latest instance, we have the inking of the $5.4 billion S-400 Triumf missile defence system.
  • It is important to note that the advent of the recent 2+2 Dialogue between India and the U.S., on the other hand, is a new concept, and while it has been hailed as a path-breaking event paving the way for an avalanche of state-of-the art defence equipment from the U.S., the outcomes from this initial meet were clearly dwarfed by what took place during Mr. Putin’s visit.

A Look at the 2+2 Dialogue:

  • The 2+2 Dialogue is a format the U.S. employs with some of its closest allies. These allies include that of Japan and Australia.
  • The commencement of these 2+2 Dialogues have given the impression that India has come within the U.S. orbit of influence, detaching itself further from Russia.
  • This impression is further compounded by India signing on to the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) recently.
  • However, in the midst of all this, what appears to be lost in translation, is that India still fancies a close relationship with Russia, one of its and most dependable allies.
  • In comparison, when we look at the Putin-Modi summit, the mega missile defence deal clearly took the shine off any promises made at the 2+2 Dialogue regarding future defence acquisitions from the U.S. Russia’s S-400 Triumf.
  • It is believed that Russia’s S-400 Triumf is possibly the best missile defence system in the world. Further, this deal comes with no strings attached. For example, there is no Russian equivalent of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in place.
  • The S-400 Triumf can be deployed against all enemies, irrespective of any other defence choices that India might have.


Russian Dependability:

  • It is important to note that there were several other concrete outcomes from the Putin-Modi summit. For example, India and Russia signed on to a document to expand civil nuclear energy cooperation and agreed on a second site for Russian nuclear reactors.
  • Further, India and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding on a joint programme in the field of human space-flight, enabling Indian astronauts to be trained in Russia.
  • India and Russia also agreed on the virtues of a regional security architecture to provide security to all countries in Asia and in the regions of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This seemed to demonstrate a clear ‘mutuality of interests’.


The Role of the 2+2 Dialogue:

  • It is important to note that the 2+2 Dialogue between India and the US, for its part, marks a paradigmatic change in the nature of India-U.S. relations.
  • It hence needs to be viewed, more appropriately, as the culmination of a long-standing attempt by the U.S. to woo India. This is something that has been in the works for some time.

A few developments in this regard are noteworthy:

  • As a precursor to this, the U.S. had renamed the Asia-Pacific as the Indo-Pacific.
  • The US had blocked more than $1.5 billion in U.S. security aid to Pakistan. Further, U.S.-India economic cooperation was stated to have grown exponentially within two decades, with the total goods and services trade between India and U.S. increasing from $11.2 billion in 1995 to $126.2 billion in 2017.
  • Finally, U.S. foreign direct investment into India substantially increased during this period. The most important bait was India being accorded the status of a ‘major defence partner’.


The larger aim of the 2+2 Dialogue:

  • The underlying theme of the 2+2 Dialogue, aimed at forging a possible containment of China strategy, with India partnering the U.S. in this effort.
  • The U.S., at present, perceives China as posing a major challenge to its supremacy, and ‘the most significant threat to U.S. interest from a counter-intelligence perspective’.
  • Further, irrespective of whether or not China was specifically discussed or not in the course of the 2+2 Dialogue, it would certainly have weighed on the minds of the delegates.

The Russian Dynamic:

  • Russia was essentially seeking to cement a relationship with India that has existed for several years. It was not insisting on any exclusivity as far as relationships go.
  • Further, the U.S. wanted India to view foreign policy perspectives largely through a U.S. prism, and thereafter make a choice.
  • The situation is greatly complicated by the fact that the world today faces a post-Cold War situation. The rise of China’s economic power and its growing military might, and the re-emergence of Russia are significant pointers to this situation.
  • The U.S., hence, no longer holds all the cards.
  • At such a time, the 2+2 Dialogue and the Putin visit within a few weeks of each have has left India with more questions than answers on what options to follow.
  • It is important to note that India can hardly alienate Russia as it re-emerges as a key presence in Asia and Eurasia.

Concluding Remarks:

  • India needs to ponder deeply on what is in its best interests. It should not allow itself to be easily persuaded in the belief that democracies, by and large, offer better choices.
  • It should not reject, without due consideration, what is in its best interest. Its decision needs to be dictated by the cold logic of circumstances.
  • Strategic ambivalence is not an answer to the situation that India faces today. Strategic integrity and autonomy, and mature strategic judgment are required in a world where disruption is the order of the day.


2. Trouble at the top (CBI)

Larger Background:

A Brief History of the CBI:

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India. The functions of the SPE then were to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with the War & Supply Deptt. Of India during World War II. Superintendence of the S.P.E. was vested with the War Department. Even after the end of the War, the need for a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by Central Government employees was felt. The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was therefore brought into force in 1946. This Act transferred the superintendence of the SPE to the Home Department and its functions were enlarged to cover all departments of the Govt. of India. The jurisdiction of the SPE extended to all the Union Territories and could be extended also to the States with the consent of the State Government concerned.
  • The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated 1.4.1963. Initially the offences that were notified by the Central Government related only to corruption by Central Govt. servants. In due course, with the setting up of a large number of public sector undertakings, the employees of these undertakings were also brought under CBI purview. Similarly, with the nationalisation of the banks in 1969, the Public Sector Banks and their employees also came within the ambit of the CBI.

The News:

  • There has been a long-running feud between the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) top boss Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana, the special director who is the No. 2 at CBI.
  • This long running feud has been marked by allegations and counter-allegations of corruption and interference in high-profile cases, filing of an FIR against Asthana and now the arrest of senior CBI officer associated with him. Below is a brief summary of the origin of the feud and the twists and turns it has taken.
  • In October 2017, Asthana, who is a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, was elevated to the position of No. 2 at the CBI by a selection committee headed by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
  • CBI head Verma had reportedly opposed Asthana’s elevation on the ground that he was being probed in a corruption case related to a Gujarat-based company Sterling Biotech.
  • Verma had placed before the committee a confidential report on Sterling Biotech in which names of various government officials including Asthana were mentioned for allegedly receiving money from the company.
  • However, it is important to note that Chief Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary said the decision was taken unanimously by members of the selection committee.
  • Later, Common Cause, which is an NGO of advocate Prashant Bhushan, moved the Supreme Court against Asthana’s elevation but the court refused to quash Asthana’s elevation.



Editorial Analysis:


  • Experts believe that at one level, what is going on in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a ‘turf war’, a battle of egos between two individuals at the helm.
  • However, the unsavoury developments involving the CBI Director and its Special Director are reflective of a much deeper malaise. This is visible in the big rot at the very heart of the premier investigating agency.
  • The fact that the CBI registered a First Information Report against its own Special Director is extraordinary.
  • If the Director is justified in embarking on a high-profile probe into bribery charges against Mr. Asthana, it can only mean that corruption is pervasive, and that that even the second-in-command in the agency is not beyond it.
  • While, on the other hand, if Mr. Asthana is shown to be wrongly implicated, and his own charges, which are set out in a complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission, that other CBI officers are interfering in ongoing probes are proved right, the situation will be no better.


Prior Precedents where the CBI was brought under a negative light:

  • The Supreme Court held that the charges that Ranjit Sinha, when heading the agency, sought to help the accused in several cases and interfered in ongoing probes were ‘prima facie credible’; as a result, he was asked to keep away from the 2G telecom cases.
  • Similarly,P. Singh, another director, was booked last year for alleged links with meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
  • Thus, clearly, the existing procedure for the appointment of CBI Directors, which is made by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition, has not stripped the office of controversy.


Concluding Remarks:


  • Experts believe that the CBI labours under a dual image. This dual image is characterized by that of an independent agency in the perception of those disillusioned with the conduct of the jurisdiction police, and a ‘caged parrot’ or a handmaiden of the ruling party at the Centre in the eyes of the national Opposition.
  • Further, the recent developments, in which Central agencies are seen as targeting those in Opposition parties, add to the latter perception and do not augur well for its credibility.
  • To a large extent, the political leadership must bear the primary responsibility for such controversies.
  • In conclusion, it is difficult to ignore the fact that Mr. Asthana’s appointment as Special Director was made despite Mr. Verma’s vehement objections about his suitability, something the CVC chose to overrule.
  • Thus, in such circumstances, it is up to the CVC and the Centre to address the present crisis. A good place to start will be to take Mr. Asthana, whose name already figures in a case, temporarily out of the agency to ensure an impartial probe.

F. Tidbits

1. ‘How much will you pay for pollution, SC asks Graphite India’


  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Graphite India Ltd. (GIL) to inform by October 29 how much it is willing to pay under the ‘polluter pays principle’ for its Whitefield plant in Bengaluru.
  • A bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta passed the order even as GIL, represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan, submitted that the plant would be shut down by November-end.
  • The court further pulled up the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board for “doing nothing” to curb pollution in Bengaluru even as the city was grappling with the problem. “Have you been to Bengaluru? There is so much pollution. What is the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board doing? You are just wasting Bengaluru city,” Justice Lokur said.
  • Divan referred to a notice issued by the apex court for an explanation as to why use of petroleum coke (pet coke) should not be stopped at the plant.

2. ‘Xi opens world’s longest sea bridge’


  • Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday inaugurated a 55-km bridge that will deepen the integration of Hong Kong and Macao with the rest of China.
  • The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge will be at the heart of an integrated Greater Bay Area (GBA) covering 11 major neighbouring cities, which include Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
  • The giant GBA comprising 68 million people is expected to rival the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S., as well as the Tokyo Bay Area of Japan.
  • The bridge has been built to withstand super-typhoons, a magnitude 8 earthquake, as well as hits by super-sized cargo ships. A 6.7 km underground sea tunnel to allow uninterrupted flow of shipping above, along the super-busy Pearl River Delta, is also part of the bridge’s design. In the end, it will cut the travel time between the three cities from three hours to just 30 minutes.

G. Prelims Fact

1. International honour for scientist


  • Agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan will receive the first World Agriculture Prize instituted by the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) in New Delhi on Friday.
  • The prize will be presented by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu at Vigyan Bhawan at a special session, named Swaminathan Global Dialogue on Climate Change and Food Security organised by the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture, said a press release here.
  • Recognised worldwide for his basic and applied research in genetics, cytogenetics, radiation and chemical mutagenesis, food and biodiversity conservation, Prof. Swaminathan has been hailed by the United Nations Environment Programme as ‘The Father of Economic Ecology’ owing to his commitment towards the ever-green revolution movement in agriculture.

2. M.S. Swaminathan


  • Eminent geneticist and agricultural scientist who transformed Indian agriculture through the ‘Green Revolution’ was born on 7th August 1925 at Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu.
  • Swaminathan’s father M K Sambasivan was a surgeon and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He took part in the Swadeshi movement and the temple entry movement in Tamil Nadu. This instilled the idea of service into Swaminathan’s mind at a young age.
  • After matriculating from a local school in his native town, he took admission in a medical school. But, the Bengal famine of 1943, in which about 3 million people starved to death, changed his mind and made him take up agricultural research.
  • After securing the PG, he cleared the UPSC exam and qualified for the IPS. He, however, chose to take up a UNESCO fellowship at the Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands to continue his research on potato genetics.
  • He then moved on to the Cambridge University School of Agriculture and earned a PhD in 1952. After this, he went to work as a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. However, he returned to India in 1954 to work here. He continued his research at the IARI.
  • Between 1972 and 1979, he was the Director-General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). While there, he formed the National Bureau of Plant, Animal, and Fish Genetic Resources of India.
  • He also played a role in the transformation of the Forest Survey of India (FSI).
  • In 1979, he was appointed the Principal Secretary of the Agriculture Ministry of the Indian government.
  • From 1981 – 85, he was Independent Chairman of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
  • From 1984 – 90, he was the President of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).

3. Green Revolution


  • The Green Revolution refers to a series of steps and technology transfers to the agriculture sector that caused a great surge of farm productivity.
  • The steps taken included developing high-yield varieties of grains, using fertilisers and pesticides, developing pest-resistant crops, using hybrid seeds with enhanced genetics, and so on
  • Although the green revolution was not limited to India and was applied to many developing countries, it was most successful in India.
  • Worldwide, the father of the Green Revolution was American agronomist Norman Borlaug; in India, the honour is bestowed on Swaminathan, for his pioneering role in this field.
  • Because of these gigantic efforts, India, where famines were commonplace during the Raj, has not seen a single famine since the application of the ‘green revolution’.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statement regarding IIP
  1. IIP includes the data of Index of 8 core industries
  2. Electricity sector has more weightage than the Mining sector
  3. The revised combined weightage of Eight core Industries in the IIP is 40.27 %

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 2 and 3 only


Question 2. Consider the following statement with regard to Ease of Living Index
  1. It is released by the Ministry of science
  2. Pune ranked first in the recent index

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2


Question 3. With reference to “Bhitarkanika National Park”, recently in news, which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. Bhitarkanika National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh.
  2. It is a home to country’s 70 % estuarine or salt water crocodiles.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2



I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. “Swachh Bharat has become a people’s movement” critically evaluate the statement. (150 words)
  2. ‘Communalism arises either due to power struggle or relative deprivation.’ Argue by giving suitable illustrations. (250 words)

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis


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