30 Oct 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

October 30th, 2019 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A.GS1 Related
ART AND CULTURE
1. Renovation of 13th century temple to begin soon
B.GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Justice Bobde’s hometown delighted over his appointment
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India, Saudi Arabia constitute Strategic Partnership Council
2. House to vote on impeachment probe
C.GS3 Related
SECURITY
1. Islamic State after Baghdadi
2. ‘Kudankulam plant control systems are hack-proof’
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
1. 36 million Indians face flood risk: study
ECONOMY
1. Govt. to work on relief package for telcos
D.GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India’s Afghanistan conundrum
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Legal pluralism in personal law
ECONOMY
1. The new gold standard in development economics?
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
1. Indian black ibis
2. Assamese Bhaona to make an English debut in Abu Dhabi
3. Make My Trip, Oyo face antitrust probe
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Category: ART AND CULTURE

1. Renovation of 13th century temple to begin soon

Context:

Work on renovation of the historical 13th century Lakshmi Narasimha temple in Bhadravati that developed leaks after the recent rains will commence soon.

Details:

  • The temple is located in Bhadravati taluk in the Shimoga District of Karnataka state.
  • The temple was built during the Hoysala rule in the early 13th century.
  • The temple is a ‘trikuta’ — a temple with three shrines (Vimana) — dedicated to deities Lakshmi Narasimha, Venugopalaswamy, and Purushothama.
  • The basic building material being Soapstone.
  • The temple stands on a jagati and the outer wall exhibits a two-tier decorative plan.

Hoysala Temple Architecture:

  • Hoysalas grew into prominence in South India after the Chola and the Pandya power declined.
  • Their chief temples are at Belur, Somnathapuram and Halebid.
  • These temples have a plan called the stellate plan. This is because of the plan which emerged from being a straightforward square to a complex one with many projecting angles began to resemble a star.
  • The star-like ground plan is a distinct feature of Hoysala architecture. The style is Vesara.
  • They are made of soapstone which is relatively soft. This is believed to have enabled the artists to carve intricate details like jewellery.

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Justice Bobde’s hometown delighted over his appointment

Context:

The Law Ministry has announced that Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde will take oath as the 47th Chief Justice of India.

Appointment of Chief Justice of India has been covered in detail in 19th October Comprehensive News Analysis. Click Here to read.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India, Saudi Arabia constitute Strategic Partnership Council

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Saudi Arabia for a two-day-long visit to attend the third edition of Saudi Arabia’s high-profile annual financial conference and for bilateral talks with the top leadership of the Gulf Kingdom.

Outcomes of the visit:

  • Prime Minister announced the formation of the India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council that will be led by the leaderships of both countries.
  • An announcement by the Ministry of External Affairs declared that both sides sealed 12 MoUs on issues such as preventing narcotics trafficking, renewable energy, training of diplomats, defence industry production, security collaboration, Haj related cooperation, Atal Innovation Mission, bilateral air services and the use of RuPay cards in Saudi Arabia.
  • Apart from defence, the two sides are keen to enhance maritime security cooperation and are considering joint naval exercises in 2020.

Strategic Partnership Council:

  • A key takeaway of the visit is the Strategic Partnership Council.
  • India and Saudi Arabia firmed their strategic partnership by signing an agreement to form a council headed by Prime Minister Modi and King Salman.
  • It would enable regular monitoring of the progress of the strategic partnership.
  • The council will have two parallel mechanisms under it — one to look at political and diplomatic ties and the second to supervise commercial and energy ties.
  • This is a major development since Saudi Arabia is now only the fourth country with whom India has an inter-governmental mechanism headed by the prime minister.
  • Germany, Russia and Japan are the other three.

India-Saudi Arabia Relationship:

  • India imports around 18% of its crude oil from Saudi Arabia, making it the second-largest source of crude oil for India.
  • It supplies 30 per cent of India’s liquefied petroleum gas needs.
  • Ties between the two countries have transformed in recent years with Riyadh beginning to refashion its ties with New Delhi in consonance with its Vision – 2030 programme under which Saudi Arabia has chosen eight countries to forge strategic partnerships with.
  • These include India, China, the UK, the United States, France, Germany, South Korea and Japan.
  • Once seen in Pakistan’s corner, Saudi Arabia recently has been seemingly supportive of India’s position on Kashmir.

2. House to vote on impeachment probe

Context:

  • The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has announced that the House will hold a formal vote on the President’s impeachment inquiry.
  • The vote comes some five weeks after House Democrats launched an inquiry into whether President Donald Trump had violated his oath of office by pressuring Ukraine’s President to investigate Mr. Trump’s political opponents.
  • According to the U.S. Constitution, the House has the sole power to impeach a President, and if impeached, a President is tried by the Senate and removed only if convicted there.

This issue has been covered in 26th September 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click Here to read.

C. GS3 Related

Category: SECURITY

1. Islamic State after Baghdadi

Context:

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder leader of the Islamic State (IS) blew himself up in an underground tunnel in a Syrian village where he was hiding when he was surrounded by U.S. special forces.

The fall of the Caliphate

  • The fall began in Kobane, the Syrian border town, in early 2015, when Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) militias defeated the IS. After that, the YPG took back most of the border region with help from the U.S.
  • In central Syria, the IS was stopped in the outskirts of the ancient city Palmyra by the government forces.
  • In Iraq, they faced resistance from the Iraqi Army.
  • Surrounded by enemies, the IS remained concentrated on the core of its territory, spread from Der Ezzor in eastern Syria to Mosul in Iraq. But after its expansion was stopped, the U.S.-allied troops started attacking this core.
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the YPG, attacked the IS in Syria while in Iraq, the Iraqi Army, Iran-trained Shia militias and the Peshmerga of Iraqi Kurdistan led the charge.
  • They liberated all the major cities such as Raqqa, Der Ezzour, Falujjah, Ramadi and Mosul one by one, with help from the U.S. By mid-2018, the IS Caliphate was physically destroyed, and its soldiers were on the run.

What’s next?

  • While the IS is certainly on the backfoot now, the insurgency is not defeated yet.
  • The death of Zarqawi did not bring an end to AQI.
  • The death of Osama bin Laden did not mean that al-Qaeda central was finished.
  • The IS is primarily an insurgency that tried to establish a proto-state. The organisational structure, which is largely decentralised with autonomous cells taking their own tactical decisions, also means that the group will survive the loss of its leaders. Even after it lost territories, IS cells continued to carry out terror attacks in Iraq and Syria. As long as Iraq and Syria remain chaotic and lawless, the IS remains would continue to find opportunities to strike a comeback.
  • The group also has loyalist factions and affiliates in different parts of the world.
    • The Boko Haram in Nigeria is an IS affiliate.
    • The IS has a province in Afghanistan.
    • It has operational units in Libya and Egypt’s Sinai.
  • All these suggest the threats from the IS are far from over despite the losses it suffered.

This issue has been covered in 29th October Comprehensive News Analysis under the Editorials Segment – “Death of a Terrorist”. Click Here to read.

2. ‘Kudankulam plant control systems are hack-proof’

Context:

Following the Social media buzz about the alleged cyber attack on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), its authorities have issued a statement denying the speculation of a cyber incident at the power plant.

Details:

  • The allegation was fuelled by noted cyber intelligence specialist Pukhraj Singh, who was instrumental in setting up of the cyber-warfare operations centre of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) that gathers technical intelligence for the Indian Government.
  • The tweet suspected that a form of malware called ‘Dtrack’ has been found in VirusTotal’s assessment.
  • Speaking in general, noted cybersecurity expert GS Madhusudan said: “High security air-gapped systems are generally isolated from outside world and hence there is no possibility of a virus infecting an air-gapped system via external network.”
  • KKNPP Site Director Sanjay Kumar said the totally isolated network of KKNPP could not be accessed by any outside network from any part of the globe. Hence, there was no question of it being hacked.
  • There was a precedent where the standalone or air-gapped Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Iran was attacked by the Stuxnet virus in 2010. American and Israeli spy agencies are reported to have used a malware called Stuxnet, which “jumped” the air gap — it is believed to have required an initial human role to infect the first target device — and mount an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Dealing with cyber attacks on critical infrastructure:

  • Nuclear power plants aren’t the only critical infrastructure in operation. As India digitises further, it will mean that there are more surfaces for attacks.
  • India is centralising datasets, and connecting them together. Example: Aadhaar, the largest biometric database in the world; state resident data hubs with citizen data; the National Health Information Network with electronic health records is being planned; UPI; NATGRID with a plan to connect multiple databases together etc.
  • As more critical infrastructure is set up, the risk of crippling critical parts of India’s security and economic infrastructure increases.
  • Cyber attacks are here to stay, and how the nation responds to them needs to be given due consideration.
  • Defining global conventions around cyber attacks something like a global agreement around the digital space, akin to a digital Geneva convention on cyber warfare could help. A minimum agreed-upon list of norms on what states must absolutely not do to other states and citizens is needed.
  • India should consider strengthening its Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT), and empowering sectoral CERTs. Working with the private sector to enhance capacity and manpower related to cyber security will help develop local capabilities.

Conclusion:

  • Kudankulam officials have confirmed that KKNPP Unit-1 & 2 are operating at 1000 MWe and 600 MWe respectively without any operational or safety concerns.
  • It has been asserted that Indian nuclear plants including Kudankulam have standalone control systems that are not connected to the internet or any other external network.
  • If indeed these attacks have happened, it would be best for the Indian government to acknowledge the attacks, address the vulnerabilities found, improve processes and build capacity to respond faster.

Category: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

1. 36 million Indians face flood risk: study

Context:

According to a study that uses a new modelling approach, the number of Indians who stand to be affected by rising sea levels may have been underestimated by as much as 88%.

Details:

  • Estimates on the risks posed by flooding rely on detailed maps of the globe taken by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), which was a radar mapping system that travelled aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000.
  • The maps so prepared form the basis for determining the elevation of the earth’s topography.

Concerns:

  • Current climate studies say that climate change has caused global mean sea level to rise by 11-16 cm in the 20th century and is expected to by as much as 2 m by the end of this century.
  • In India, 36 million people would face annual flooding by 2050 and 44 million by 2100 if emissions continue to rise unabated.
  • Nearly 21 million — and not 2.8 million — are expected to be living below the High Tide Line, the boundary that marks the farthest to which the sea reaches into the land at high tide.

These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines, and entire global regions within our lifetimes.

Study about tidal threat statistics

Read more about flood control and management.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Govt. to work on relief package for telcos

Context:

The government has constituted a Committee of Secretaries (CoS), headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, to work out a relief package for the telecom sector.

Issues:

  • The industry’s debt currently stands at about 4 lakh crore.
  • Following the order, the telcos may have to pay the government 1.42 lakh crore within three months.

Details:

  • CoS will review various demands made by the industry, including deferment of spectrum auction payment due for the next two years, reduction in spectrum usage charges and the Universal Service Obligation Fund levy.
  • The move may help mitigate the impact of more than Rs. 1.4 lakh crore that the telcos may need to pay the exchequer.

This issue has been covered in the following CNAs:

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India’s Afghanistan conundrum

Context:

The United States of America is preparing grounds for a new round of talks with the Taliban to take the Afghan peace process forward.

Background:

  • Afghanistan was elevated as a significant U.S. foreign policy concern in 2001, when the United States, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led a military campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban government that harboured and supported it.
  • In the intervening 18 years making it the longest military intervention by the USA in any country, an elected Afghan government has replaced the Taliban.
  • Consequentially, most measures of human development have improved, although future prospects of these improvements seem uncertain with the resurgence of the Taliban’s influence.
  • In August 2017, President Trump announced what he termed a new South Asia strategy in a nationally-televised address. The policies it promised, for example, expanded targeting authorities for U.S. forces, greater pressure on Pakistan, a modest increase in the number of U.S. and international troops – were seen as a sign of renewed U.S. commitment.
  • However, after less than a year of continued military stalemate, the Trump Administration in July 2018 reportedly ordered the start of direct talks with the Taliban that did not include the Afghan government. This lead gave rise to a worry that the United States would prioritize a military withdrawal over a complex political settlement that preserves some of the social, political, and humanitarian gains made since 2001.
  • The fundamental objective of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan is preventing any further attacks on the United States by terrorists enjoying safe haven or support in Afghanistan. A deal with the Taliban would ensure this for the USA without expensive and long military intervention.
  • The U.S.’s policy in Afghanistan is to resume talks with the Taliban and reach a troop withdrawal deal before Mr. Trump decides to initiate a unilateral withdrawal — that is, a removal of troops with no deal or ceasefire.
  • The Taliban has little incentive to accede to Washington’s likely demand of agreeing to a ceasefire before a troop withdrawal accord is signed, especially because doing so would deprive the Taliban of violence which serves as a powerful tool of leverage.
  • The first round of talks failed to bring in a settlement, with the US abruptly calling off the talks. However, there have been recent attempts to restart the talks.

Concerns:

For India:

  • The present state of affairs seem to be in favour of Pakistan irrespective of which way the talks head. Pakistan’s moves as an instrumental facilitator of a U.S.-Taliban negotiation have been to serve Islamabad’s interests. Pakistan is keen to avoid a role for India in Afghanistan, for strategic reasons.
  • India has always insisted on an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process for the peace talks, insisting on the critical role of the elected government and the people in the negotiations of the peace process. This has found no takers.
  • India’s key partner in Afghanistan, the elected government was excluded from the talks. India’s argument that the Taliban is not elected and has no locus standi as representatives of the Afghan people appears to have gone unheeded.
  • If the U.S. talks with the Taliban resume, this puts Afghanistan back on a reconciliation path, in a way that, the probable political settlement might feature a power-sharing arrangement resulting in Taliban occupying a major political role in Afghanistan. This would not be good for India’s interest given the closeness of the Taliban with Pakistan and also the present reluctance of India to engage with the Taliban.
  • If the peace talks fail, an intensifying war means that Afghanistan would suffer rapid destabilisation, thereby constraining India’s ability to operate in Afghanistan – a key strategic partner.
  • India has provided $650–750 million in humanitarian and economic aid, making it the largest regional provider of aid for Afghanistan. India’s investments in Afghanistan would be in jeopardy.
  • Failure to reach an agreement will lead to chaos in Afghanistan which would eventually lead to the Taliban growing even stronger and possibly seizing power by force. The reluctance of India to engage with the Taliban will lead to a decline in India- Afghanistan relations. Taliban’s increase in influence will aid Pakistan’s search for “strategic depth” across the Durand Line.
  • The Taliban is far from reformed and there is every possibility that a resurgent Taliban would lead to Afghanistan again becoming a hotbed for terrorism, which can find its way to India.
  • Thus, the winners in the emerging scenario are the Pakistan Army and ISI whose pursuit of strategic depth in Afghanistan seems to be fructifying with India losing influence.
  • In the coming times, New Delhi could have some difficult decisions to make which might require India to change its long-held positions.

For Afghanistan:

  • The non-involvement of the elected government in the peace talks at the insistence of the Taliban makes the entire process non-inclusive.
  • The Taliban does not represent the interests of all the sections of the Afghans. The acceptance of this condition from the USA has resulted in the Taliban gaining unwarranted legitimacy.
  • The resurgence of the Taliban would lead to Afghanistan again coming under sharia law which would lead to the reversal of many social changes which have been witnessed post the end of the Taliban in 2001.
  • There is every possibility of Afghanistan again becoming a hotbed for terrorism which might lead to violence not only in Afghanistan but the surrounding regions as well.

Way forward:

  • India will need to figure out how to secure its interests in a country where it has a significant footprint.
  • If talks resume, it will need to decide how or if it should try to play a role in them. This might involve India deciding to talk with the Taliban or convincing the others on the need to involve the elected government and the views of the people.
  • If there is a reconciliation process and the trend lines point towards a settlement resulting in a Taliban power-sharing role, New Delhi will need to try to engage with the Taliban but on the precondition that the Taliban lays down its arms and discourages the use of violence as a tool.

For more on the Afghan peace talks refer:

Afghan Peace Process and India: RSTV – India’s World

Afghan Peace Process: RSTV – India’s World

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Legal pluralism in personal law

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