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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 6th March 2019

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  • March 7, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 6th March 2019

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan (PM-SYM) Yojana

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Government schemes and policies; Welfare/social issue

In news:

  • Prime Minister launched the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan (PM-SYM) Yojana.
  • The national pension scheme for workers and labourers of the unorganised sector was announced in the interim Budget in February this year.
  • It provides for a monthly pension of ₹3,000 to employees in the unorganised sector after 60 years of age.
  • PM also distributed the PM-SYM pension cards to select beneficiaries, and said that for the first time in independent India, workers of the unorganised sector would be entitled to a monthly pension.

Pakistan Govt. cracks down on terror outfits

Part of: GS Mains II and III – India and its neighbours; Security issues; Role of International Organisations

In news:

  • Pakistan has taken 44 members of banned organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar’s son and brother, into preventive detention, and put Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) offshoots Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FiF) on its proscribed list.
  • Pakistan had earlier failed to ban the JuD and the FiF, which are banned by the UN Security Council.
  • Both organisations were subsequently put on the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA)’s list under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

Tariff hike to hit exports to U.S.

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – India and US bilateral relations; International relations; Indian Economy and issues related to it.

In news:

  • S. President announced that he intends to end preferential trade terms for India under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme.
  • GSP is an arrangement that allows concessional or zero tariff imports from developing couturiers into the US. Withdrawal of the GSP benefit is expected to adversely affect exports from India.
  • The GSP programme accounts for some $5.6 billion of India’s exports to the U.S., making India the largest GSP beneficiary.
  • Chemicals, gems and jewellery, engineering and textiles are among the Indian industrial sectors that benefit from the GSP.

About GSP

  • Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a preferential tariff system extended by developed countries (also known as preference giving countries or donor countries) to developing countries (also known as preference receiving countries or beneficiary countries).
  • It involves reduced MFN Tariffs or duty-free entry of eligible products exported by beneficiary countries to the markets of donor countries.

US arguments –

India has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on United States commerce.

  • India’s new e-commerce rules which have impacted American companies like Amazon and Walmart (majority owner of Flipkart)
  • Price controls on medical devices (cardiac stents)
  • Tariffs on ICT products like smart watches and high-end mobile phones
  • Lack of greater market access for the U.S. dairy industry

The above are some of the issues that have caused trade friction between the two countries.

Indian government arguments –

  • The impact would amount to only $190 million on the value of $5.6 billion in exports to the U.S. that fall under the GSP category.
  • Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has said that overall impact will amount to less than 0.4% of India’s exports to the U.S.
  • India’s exports to the U.S. stood at $50.57 billion in 2017 with a GSP tariff advantage of only $190 million, which was less than 0.4% of total exports.
  • According to FIEO, the sectors that will likely be significantly impacted will include processed foods, leather products other than footwear and engineering goods such as spark ignition, turbines and pipes.
  • The export body also pointed out that the withdrawal of GSP benefits to Indian exporters will also impact the downstream industries in the U.S. that were using the cheaper inputs from India.

However the government would continue to talk to the U.S. during the 60-day period after which the GSP withdrawal would come into effect, in an effort to work out a deal.

Do you know?

Difference between GSP and the other trade arrangement under WTO

  • Under the normal trade laws, the WTO members must give equal preferences to trade partners. There should not be any discrimination between countries. This trade rule under the WTO is called the Most Favored Nation (MFN) clause.
  • The MFN instructs non-discrimination that any favorable treatment to a particular country.
  • At the same time, the WTO allows members to give special and differential treatment to from developing countries (like zero tariff imports). This is an exemption for MFN. The MSP given by developed countries including the US is an exception to MFN.

Fifteen of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India

In news:

  • Fifteen of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India.
  • Gurugram in Haryana topped the list with an average annual particulate matter (PM 2.5) quality of 135 micrograms/cubic metre, in 2018.
  • Delhi – a frequent fixture on global pollution hotspots – was only the 11th most noxious city behind Lahore, Pakistan (10th) and Hotan, China (8th).
  • The other cities in India that made the list of 20 were Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Bhiwadi, Noida, Patna, Lucknow, Jodhpur, Muzaffarpur, Varanasi, Moradabad, Agra, Gaya and Jind.

Do you know?

  • Of the cities analysed, 64% exceeded the WHO’s annual exposure guideline (10 micrograms/cubic metre) for fine particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5.
  • India’s annual guidelines range from 40-60 micrograms/cubic metre, depending on whether they are residential or industrial areas.
  • Every single one of measured cities with data in the Middle East and Africa exceeded the WHO guideline, while 99% of cities in South Asia, 95% of cities in Southeast Asia and 89% of cities in East Asia breached this level.
  • Ranking by country: Bangladesh the most polluted followed by Pakistan and India respectively; Iceland with the cleanest air.

Methodology:

  • The ranking relies on ground-based sensors located in 3,000 cities from 73 countries and was compiled by IQAir Group, a manufacturer of air-monitoring sensors as well as purifiers and environmentalist group Greenpeace.

Pollution hubs

  • Jakarta and Hanoi emerged as Southeast Asia’s two most polluted cities and average concentrations in the cities in China fell by 12% from 2017 to 2018.
  • Beijing ranks now as the 122nd most polluted city in the world in 2018 and China, the 12th most polluted country in the world.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/03/06/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_07/a1c26bcd_2779485_101_mr.jpg


Assam gets ‘smart’ fence along border

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Security issues; Defence

In news:

  • A digital ‘barrier’ has finally filled a 61 km gap on the 4,096.7 km India-Bangladesh border fence three decades after the project kickstarted.
  • Union Home Minister inaugurated an electronic surveillance system that “is expected to diminish challenges faced by the Border Security Force in manning this stretch against cross-border crimes.”
  • Comprising microwave communication, optical fibre cables, cameras, and an intrusion detection device, this system is called BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) and was established under the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System.

Do you know?

  • Assam shares a 263 km border with Bangladesh. Much of the border was fenced, but a 61 km stretch in Dhubri district remained open owing to the terrain dictated by the Brahmaputra.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL/SECURITY

TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • India and the World ; India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

General studies 3 

  • Role of external state and nonstate actors in creating challenges to internal security. 
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas;

Pullback after Pulwama? Here’s what game theory suggests

Introduction:

India’s muscular approach towards Pakistan, especially post-Uri, post-Pulwama has underpinnings in game theory.

  • India launched its “surgical strike”, after the jihadi attack on the Uri army camp in 2016.
  • Last month Indian Air Force struck a terrorist camp in Balakot deep inside Pakistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The below article deals with the question – “Will tit for tat work in the Pakistani context?”

What Game Theory suggests?

  • Game theory suggests that tit for tat strategy should work better than any other strategy India has followed in the past.
  • India had adopted strategies that involve strategy of restraint or non-retaliation in response to a provocation. In other words, India accepted mistreatment without retaliating or seeking revenge.
  • For 30 years, Indian decision makers were paralysed when it came to responding to terror emanating from Pakistan. India is perhaps the only country in the world which did not respond militarily when its Parliament was attacked and when its financial capital was brutalised.
  • Such soft strategies have not prompted even small changes in Pakistani behaviour. Therefore, according to Game Theory, if tit for tat is a consistent policy for India, the chances are it will deliver better results.

Do you know: About Game Theory?

  • Game theory is a theoretical framework for conceiving of social situations among competing players.
  • In some respects, game theory is the science of strategy, or set of concepts aimed at decision making in situations of competition and conflict (as well as of cooperation and interdependence) under specified rules.
  • Any time we have a situation with two or more players that involves known payouts or quantifiable consequences, we can use game theory to help determine the most likely outcomes.

Tit for tat strategy

  • Tit for tat as an effective strategy originated in the 1980s. It was first introduced by Anatol Rapoport in Robert Axelrod’s two tournaments, held around 1980.
  • An agent using this strategy will first cooperate, then subsequently replicate an opponent’s previous action. If the opponent previously was cooperative, the agent is cooperative. If not, the agent is not.
  • For example, if provoked, a player subsequently responds with retaliation; if unprovoked, the player cooperates.

In the India-Pakistan context, India has been following the strategy of restraint, even non-retaliation.  However, under current regime, we have seen a variation of the tit-for-two-tats strategy.

  • After the Pathankot air force station attack by the Jaish-e-Mohammed, India tried to get Pakistani cooperation in identifying who the attackers were.
  • It was only after Uri followed that India retaliated with the surgical strike.

Earlier, India was okay with even a tit-for-several-tats non-strategy, which failed miserably in getting Pakistan to behave better. The only lesson Pakistan learnt from our tepid response was that we have a high threshold for pain and punishment, and thus their “death-by-a-thousand-cuts” plan was working.

Under current regime, this strategy is being reworked to become a true tit for tat, and if India persists with this over the long term, it should improve Pakistan’s behaviour.

If we accept tit for tat as a more moral and workable strategy in the long run, clearly India needs to deploy it consistently in both directions—retaliation and cooperation.

Conclusion:

The lesson to learn from game theory is that consistency in policy is vital to get the message across. Tit for tat will work as long as it is consistent across governments.

Giving it up for meaningless talks will mean loss of all the gains made so far from the surgical strike and Balakot.

Connecting the dots:

  • What strategy should India adopt in order to deal with proxy-wars from the neighbouring countries?
  • M.K. Gandhi believed that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth would leave the whole world blind and toothless. Would Gandhi’s philosophy of non violence work in today’s world? Examine.
  • Essay: “To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world,” Martin Luther King, Jr. said.

SOCIETY

TOPIC:General studies 1

  • Effects of globalization on Indian society Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism and secularism 
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India

The loss of intellectual autonomy

About Intellectual Autonomy:

  • Intellectual autonomy is a ‘willingness and ability to think for oneself’.
  • The young are particularly keen to have the freedom to decide which beliefs to form.
  • Intellectual autonomy is widely considered to be an important value.

Do you know?

  • In the past, large numbers of people were illiterate, knowledge was produced and stored by a few, and there was wider social legitimacy for submission to those with power and authority.
  • However, an intellectually autonomous person is capable of forming her own judgements, initiating reflection and asking probing questions.

Strategy of undermining of Intellectual Autonomy in British Colonialism

  • Since the end of the 18th century, as technologies of knowledge production became increasingly available to larger sections of society, intellectual autonomy has been threatened not only by state power, but in other invidious ways.
  • The British strategy of intellectual control was implemented by crafting a system of education rather than brute coercion. Although the best of our thinkers outmaneuvered this system. For example, our most original thinker of this period, Gandhi, was a product of this very education.
  • However this system created acute anxiety among self-reflexive thinkers. For example, Sri Aurobindo lamented the “increasing impoverishment of the Indian intellect” in the face of new knowledge imposed by European contact. “Nothing is our own, nothing native to our intelligence, all is derived,” he complained. “As little have we understood the new knowledge; we have only understood what the Europeans want us to think about themselves and their modern civilization”.

What were the impacts of Intellectual Control by British Colonialism?

  • It undermined the capacity of critical thinking and non influential decision making.
  • Indians (especially the then English-educated Indians and who were in authority) blindly accepted ideas coming either from outside, from Europe. It was as if the only choice before Indian intellectual elites was a hyper-westernised modernism or ultra-traditionalism.
  • Cultural subjugation instead of creative assimilation. Our English culture if culture it can be called has increased tenfold the evil of our dependence instead of remedying it.
  • Idea of religion and nation: Religion, as a demarcated system of practices, beliefs and doctrines, is largely an early modern European invention and begins its existence in and through the theological disputes of the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • In India, people did not think of themselves as belonging to a single system of belief and doctrine in competition with and opposition to all others. Indeed, mobility across communities and multiple allegiances were common. As a result, most people refused to be slotted into rigid, compartmentalised entities.
  • They were religious but did not belong to a religion. This has virtually ceased to be the case.
  • Thanks to narrow-minded education institutions and now the electronic media, the idea was first disseminated and then unquestioningly accepted by Indians as if it were a long-held indigenous Indian idea.

Conclusion

  • In accepting this alien idea of religion and nation without proper comparison or competition with Indian ideas of faith and community, we have sacrificed intellectual autonomy and gone down the road to hell from which Europe has itself yet to recover.
  • To define one’s identity or community in terms of a single, exclusive religion Hindu, Muslim or any other is a perverse European notion, a mark of our cultural subjugation, a symptom of the loss of our intellectual autonomy.
  • To have done so is to have uncritically abandoned our own collective genius for something ill-suited to our conditions. This need to be reversed by building our collective intellectual autonomy and critical analysis.

Connecting the dots:

  • What do you mean by ‘Intellectual Autonomy’? Do you think intellectual autonomy is smothered by temptations of power. Elucidate your opinion.

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