IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 15th February 2019
Part of: GS Mains III – Role of external state and nonstate actors in creating challenges to internal security.
- The vehicle-bomb suicide attack on a CRPF convoy near Lethpora in Pulwama is the deadliest ever terror strike against security forces in three decades of militancy in Kashmir.
- Jaish-e-Mohammed, which works out of Pakistan under the leadership of Masood Azhar, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- The Jaish has carried out other attacks in Kashmir in recent years, including the one at Uri and at Pathankot.
- Yet India’s efforts to have Azhar designated as a global terrorist have been repeatedly blocked by China, a staunch ally of Pakistan.
Do you know?
- Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfit, with a cadre strength of zero in 2015 and six in 2016, is regrouping in Kashmir again and has carried more attacks on the security forces than the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) outfits in the past two months.
- According to the police data, the JeM has emerged as a close third in 2019 with its ranks swelling to over 60 local recruits compared to 100-plus recruits of the LeT and the Hizb each.
Half of India’s waste-to-energy plants defunct
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Energy/Infrastructure; solid waste management
- Nearly half of India’s waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, meant to convert non-biodegradable waste, are defunct.
- Unsegregated rubbish makes plants inefficient.
- Since 1987, 15 WTE plants have been set up across the country. However, seven of these plants have shut down.
- The key reasons for closure are the plants’ inability to handle mixed solid waste and the high cost of electricity generated by them that renders it unattractive to power companies.
Do you know?
- NITI Aayog, as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, envisages 800 megawatt from WTE plants by 2018-19, which is 10 times the capacity of all the existing WTE plants put together.
India signs defence pacts with Germany and Sweden
Part of: GS Mains II and III – International Relations; Defence Ties; Security issues
- India concluded defence cooperation and security protection agreements with Germany and Sweden.
- The agreement will enable both the countries to share classified information with each other.
- India and Sweden have had a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the area of defence since 2009.
- Both Germany and Sweden are important suppliers of defence equipment to India and their companies are currently in the race for multi-billion tenders to supply submarines and fighter aircraft.
Tussle for power: Delhi versus Centre
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains – Indian Polity; Special powers to Delhi; Centre-State/UTs relations
- Supreme Court verdict said the Centre has exclusive jurisdiction over public services in Delhi.
- In other words, the elected government does not have the right to transfer officers.
- The court also ruled that the anti-corruption bureau will be under the control of the Union government, while other aspects like appointing special public prosecutors, making electricity reforms and revision rates for agricultural land would lie in the hands of the Delhi government.
Do you know?
- At the core of the tussle between the Union and Delhi governments is Article 239 AA of the Constitution, which gives Delhi the special character of a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly that has a lieutenant governor as its administrative head.
- Last year, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra stated that the lieutenant governor’s powers in the National Capital were only limited to land, police and public order.
Panel moots minimum wage of ₹375 per day
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and wage related issues
According to Expert Committee on Determining the Methodology for Fixation of the National Minimum Wage –
- Minimum wage for workers across the country be set at ₹375 per day, or ₹9,750 per month.
- It also recommended different national minimum wages for “different geographical regions of the country to suit the local realities and as per socio-economic and labour market contexts.”
Do you know?
- While the Minimum Wages Act was enacted in 1948, it stipulates different wages according to occupation and State; there is no national minimum wage.
- The Code on Wages Bill, 2017, had proposed a national minimum wage and five regional minimum wages.
- State governments must be consulted before any national minimum wage is set by the Centre.
Key facts for Prelims:
- According to the United Nations’ 2018 World Happiness Index, India ranks low, lower than the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
- According to the World Health Organisation, India is the most depressed country in the world.
- In 2015, India ranked fourth in the world in 2015–after Syria, Nigeria and Iraq–as having the highest social hostilities involving religion.
- India ranked 137 out of 163 countries in 2018 Global Peace Index.
TOPIC:General studies 2 and 4
- Constitution, Issues related to Governance, judiciary
- Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;
- Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance;
- Case Studies on above issues
Demise of democracy, Rise of authoritarian tendencies
- One among the major issues that confront the world today – ‘demise of democracy with authoritarian tendencies on the ascendant’.
- Steady weakening and undermining of institutional and knowledge structures pose a threat to the world.
Do you know?
- Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan are constantly projected as the faces of authoritarianism, but many democratic leaders reveal a similar authoritarian streak, which adds to democracy’s woes.
- However, it may be too early to predict the demise of democracy, but the reality is that it is not a good time for democratic institutions, or for those who see democracy as the answer to the world’s problems.
Several examples exist worldwide on how decisions today are handed down, rather than being the outcome of discussion and debate.
- Cases of deliberate sabotage of international institutions such as the World Bank
- Brexit, and the Brexit debate, in the U.K. and Europe is a good example of democracy going away from the usual or expected course
- The U.S. (leading democracy) is also setting a bad example today. Under President Donald Trump, arbitrary decision-making has replaced informed debate. (US decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; Trump’s determination to build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants; pulling out of Paris Climate Change Agreement etc.)
In a pluralistic, multi-party federal system, ignoring democratic conventions and the violation of well-entrenched behavioural patterns are causing irreversible damage to the polity.
Some recent instances has raised strong questions about the intentions of those in authority –
- Rift between government and RBI and a perceived attempt to reduce its functional independence, to compel it to fall in line with the views of the government.
- Those in authority deem all information not acceptable to them as nothing but disinformation. For example, Central government recently rejecting the unemployment report by the well-regarded National Sample Survey Office without giving any valid reason for doing so. Doubts are also being raised about the validity of the government’s revised GDP estimates.
- Those opposed to the government, on the other hand, insist that the government suffers from a lack of probity. (Example – Bitter exchanges over the purchase of Rafale aircraft)
- Centre-State relations are under strain and might face the threat of still greater disruption.
- Interim Budget in an election year – The Interim Budget announced on the eve of the 2019 general election clearly breaches certain long-settled conventions, by including many substantial measures that ordinarily would form part of a regular Budget. The intention is plain, viz. build more support for the ruling dispensation in an election year.
- Alongside the decline in democratic conventions, another cause for concern is the virtual collapse of key institutions such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Adherence to democratic norms is very crucial to maintain the independence of institutions and processes. However, an impression exists today that attempts are being made to effect changes in the existing system. This should be a matter of concern for one and all.
Connecting the dots:
- Examine the significance of maintaining the independence of democratic institutions and processes in a pluralistic, multi-party federal system like India.
- Do you think India’s democratic institutions got further strengthened post emergency? Analyse.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Infrastructure – Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Towards an efficient transport infrastructure
Transport infrastructure in India has grown at an unprecedented rate during nearly the last five years. Following are the major achievements:
- At the highest ever pace of construction, more than 35,000 km of national highways have been built in four and a half years.
- World-class expressways such as the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and Western Peripheral Expressway or engineering marvels such as the Dhola Sadiya Bridge and Chenani Nashri Tunnel were initiated.
- The Bharatmala Pariyojana – a unique scheme and unprecedented in terms of its size and design was launched (under Sagarmala) to develop ports which are considered as engines of growth.
- The development of 111 waterways for transport.
- The development of FASTags, promotion of alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, biofuels, and electricity, as well as innovative modes of travel such as seaplanes and aeroboats.
Why do we need an efficient transport infrastructure?
- Efficient transport infrastructure: biggest enabler for growth
- It has been one of the foremost priorities of our government to build a transport infrastructure that is indigenous and cost-effective; link the remotest corners of the country; optimally integrates across various modes and is safe and environment friendly.
- A lack of good transport infrastructure has been a major hindrance for growth in the country in the past.
- Bharatmala and Sagarmala programmes are going to be game changers in this regard. They will improve both penetration and efficiency of transport movement on land and water, respectively.
- Efficient transport infrastructure will help connect places of production with markets more efficiently, help reduce logistics costs, create jobs and promote regionally balanced socioeconomic growth in the country.
- Important for providing better, seamless and more efficient access not just within the country, but also to our neighbouring countries.
Priority areas in the development of effective transport infrastructure
- Apart from building infrastructure, government priority should be to improve the overall convenience and on-road experience of the road users. This involves ensuring their safety, reducing congestion and pollution levels and providing roadside amenities.
- To prevent the colossal loss of lives in road accidents, priority should be given to rectifying accident black spots through engineering means, employing road safety features at the design stage for highways, conducting road safety audits, setting up driver training and post-trauma care centres as well as generating awareness.
- Apart from ring roads, expressways and bypasses, innovative solutions like seaplanes, ropeways, aeroboats and double-decker buses are being actively explored for adoption. These will bring down the traffic pressure and congestion on roads.
- To reduce pollution, alternative fuels like ethanol, methanol, biofuels and electricity are being promoted.
Do you know?
- Recently a MoU was signed with Austrian ropeway company Doppelmayr for building ropeways through congested cities and hilly areas.
- Another MoU has been signed with Transport for London to help us overhaul our urban transport.
- The concept of ‘waste to wealth’ is being employed for generating alternative fuels.
- Already, the total number of seafarers employed in Indian and foreign ships has grown by 35% this year. (Thanks to Sagarmala)
India’s growth story should no longer be impeded by a lack of efficient transport infrastructure, and the fruits of this growth should reach everyone in the remotest part of the country.
Connecting the dots:
- Examine the potential of an efficient transport infrastructure in India.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements:
- NITI Aayog envisaged 800 megawatt from waste-to-energy (WTE) plants by 2018-19.
- It will be part of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
Q.2) Which of the following statements regarding new Solid Waste Management Rules are correct?
- It has mandated the segregation of waste at the source.
- All hotels and restaurants will also be required to segregate biodegradable waste and set up a system of collection to ensure that such food waste is utilised for composting / biomethanation.
- Municipal authorities will levy user fees for collection, disposal and processing from bulk generators.
- Mandated Integration of rag pickers, waste pickers and kabadiwalas from the informal sector to the formal sector by the state government.
Select the code from following:
- 1,2 and 3
- 2,3 and 4
- 1,3 and 4
- All of the above
Q.3) The treatment method recommended for the human anatomical waste generated from hospitals is –
- Chemical disinfection
- All the above
Q.4) Consider the below statements:
- The World Happiness Report is an annual publication of the United Nations.
- As of March 2018, Norway was ranked the happiest country in the world.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
Is the unemployment crisis for real?
It’s a wage crisis
Interstate development and the federalism question
Data opacity hurting policymaking on jobs growth
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