IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th May 2019
China – US Trade War
Part of: GS Mains II and III – International affairs; Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests; Economy and related issues
- China said it would raise tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods from June 1.
- The announcement comes as a retaliation for the latest round of U.S. tariff hikes and Trump adminstration’s plans to target almost all Chinese imports.
- S. President had also ordered the start of a process to impose new duties on another $300 billion worth of Chinese items.
Do you know?
- China imports fewer U.S. products such as agricultural products and energy, Boeing orders and service trade.
- The conflict is seen as a significant threat to global economic growth.
- The US-China trade war has been a great source of uncertainty for financial markets over the past year.
- Uncertainty has weighed on investor confidence around the world, and has contributed to losses.
- The IMF warned a full-blown trade war would weaken the global economy.
In news: FCRA
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Economy
- The Union Home Ministry de-registered the Infosys Foundation from the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010, after a request in June 2016 following an amendment to the Act.
- In May 2016, the Government amended the FCRA Act with retrospective effect from 2010.
Do you know?
- The Foreign Contribution Regulations Act or FCRA is a law enacted by Parliament to regulate foreign contribution (especially monetary donation) provided by certain individuals or associations to NGOs and others within India.
- The act, in its consolidating form, was originally passed in 1976 and majorly modified in 2010.
- The government has used the act over the years to freeze bank accounts of certain NGOs who it found were affecting India’s national interest for wrong purposes.
- The Home ministry cancelled the registration of several US-based NGOs after it was found that they were diverting the money received into funding protests at Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam against a nuclear power plant, an Indo-Russian joint venture.
- As per the FCRA Act 2010, all NGOs are required to be registered under the Act to receive foreign funding.
- According to terms stipulated in the FCRA, an organisation cannot receive foreign funding unless it is registered under the 2010 Act, except when it gets government approval for a specific project.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I – Indian culture and heritage; Art Forms
- Thousands of people gathered to witness the grand opening of the famed Thrissur Pooram, considered as the mother of all temple festivals.
- ‘Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran’, the controversial elephant which was earlier denied permission to take part in the festivities by the authorities on health grounds, ‘opened’ the annual festival at the ancient Vadakkumnathan temple here.
- Marking the ritual heralding of Pooram, Ramachandran, the tallest elephant of the state, pushed open the southern entrance of the shrine.
- The Thrissur Pooram falls on May 13 this year. The main event of the annual ‘pooram’ begins with the 10.5 foot tall elephant pushing open the gate of the temple, with the idol of ‘neithilakkavilamma’ atop it.
Key points: About Thrissur Pooram:
- It is an annual Hindu temple festival held in Kerala, India.
- It is held at the Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur every year on the Pooram day – the day when the moon rises with the Pooram star in the Malayalam Calendar month of Medam.
- It is the largest and most famous of all poorams.
‘MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative’
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology
- The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) launched ‘MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative’, a project for mapping every tissue of the human body to help understand better the roles of tissues and cells linked to various diseases.
- The Human Atlas Initiative aims at creating a database network of all tissues in the human body from the available scientific literature.
- The student community, who will be the backbone on assimilating the information, will be trained and imparted with skills to perform annotation and curation of information that will ultimately form the online network.
Do you know?
- DBT has invested Rs 13 crore shared between two institutions in Pune – National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) and Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune.
- Besides, Persistent Systems Limited has co-funded the project and is developing the platform, and has contributed Rs 7 crore.
- It is a project that involves scientific skill development for annotation, science outreach along with handling big data. The programme will involve gaining better biological insights through physiological and molecular mapping, develop disease models through predictive computing and have a wholistic analysis and finally drug discovery.
CTBTO invites India to be an observer
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Organization
- The executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has invited India to be an observer in the CTBT.
- Being an observer would give India access to data from the International Monitoring System — a network which when complete will consist of 337 facilities (321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide labs) located in 89 countries.
- This system can detect even small nuclear explosions using seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound and radionuclide technology.
Important Value Additions:
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)
- CTBTO is the preparatory commission which establishes global verification regime to monitor compliance with the CTBT.
- The verification regime includes a global network of 330 plus monitoring facilities using seismic, hydroaucostic, infrasound and radionuclide technologies.
- Over 330 stations in 89 countries have been built to monitor for signs of nuclear explosions around the globe round the clock.
International Monitoring System (IMS)
- The International Monitoring System (IMS) monitors the Earth’s crust, listens the atmosphere and oceans and sniffs the air for traces of radioactivity.
- The monitoring system produces data that have many applications, from disaster early warning to scientific research on the Earth’s inner structures, climate change or meteors, to name just a few of the potential uses.
- It is also making contributions to the nuclear safety field. After the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, CTBTO data provided timely information on the radioactive emissions from the crippled plant and their global dispersion.
DNA database coming up for Indian rhino
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Conservation of Animals
- The Union Environment Ministry has embarked on a project to create DNA profiles of all rhinos in the country.
- By 2021, the project’s deadline, the Indian rhino could be the first wild animal species in India to have all its members DNA-sequenced.
- The project’s proponents include World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) and the Centre-funded Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
- The exercise would be useful in curbing poaching and gathering evidence in wildlife crimes involving rhinos.
Do you know?
- There are about 2,600 rhinos in India, with more than 90% of the population concentrated in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
- The project is a subset of the Centre’s larger, ongoing rhino conservation programme.
- Since the 1980s, the government has been trying to move a significant number of rhinos out of Kaziranga in the interest of the species’ conservation, threats from poaching and challenges to their habitat.
- Outside Kaziranga, there are about 200 rhinos in West Bengal, 40 in Uttar Pradesh and 1 in Bihar.
- There are three species of rhinos, of which only one — the Indian rhino — is found in the country.
- The rhinos were once abundant and well-distributed in the country. However poaching reduced its numbers to about “200 wild animals by the end of the 20th century”.
In news: Strait of Hormuz
- It is a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
- It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points.
- On the north coast lies Iran, and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
The risk of India slipping into a middle-income trap
The warning by Rathin Roy, a member of an economic panel advising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that India could be headed for a “structural crisis” has sparked a debate on whether the economy’s days of high single-digit growth rates are a thing of the past.
The “middle-income trap”:
It is a scenario where middle-income groups in an economy who have been shouldering the domestic consumption story so far by purchasing cars, automobiles and air-conditioners, etc., gradually stop doing so on account of loss of confidence or fear of income loss.
India’s growth has mostly been driven by demand generated by 100 million-odd people at the top of the country’s socio-economic pyramid. But that demand has begun to exhaust itself, and so India could slip into a “middle-income trap”. This is a risk that emerging economies are said to be vulnerable to.
- As a country runs out of new sources of growth after an initial burst of rapid expansion, it finds itself unable to break into a higher-income league.
- In India right now, the relatively weak offtake of everything, from cars and apartments to suds and toothbrushes, points to a slowdown in consumption.
- Fall in private consumption, muted rise in fixed investment and sluggish exports have led to slowdown in the econom
- The World Bank’s lower middle income range for countries is defined as per capita gross national income (GNI) of between $996 and $3,895.
- As per 2017 figures, the income of an average Indian was in the vicinity of $1,795, which placed the country well below the halfway mark.
The risk runs deeper; the possibility that India will remain stuck at the middle income range has now started appearing more real.
Wealth inequality and the hierarchical distribution of income in developing countries has long been identified as a growth barrier. The greater the gaps between strata, by this analysis, the slower the upward mobility of families that are at lower levels.
Such economies typically experience lopsided expansion, with the positive fallout of an economic boom on top often failing to reach those below.
Sustaining growth requires the mass mobilization of financial as well as human resources, and if inequality is acute, the latter tend to come up short. This phenomenon is exemplified by Brazil and South Africa, among a few others. These countries increased their economic output at a fast clip for several years at a stretch, but large sections of their population did not see their lives get better. They got left behind. India appears to have undergone something similar.
- The best insurance against the risk of slipping into a middle-income trap, however, would be to address mobility restraints at lower levels of the socio-economic pyramid.
Improving the quality of healthcare, education and skill development for the deprived masses is much required.
- Policymakers must not use the trap story as an excuse for poor near-term growth. The country should do all it can for a badly needed uptick.
Not taking action now would mean India will never be another China or South Korea but could begin replicating basket cases like South Africa or Brazil where large swathes of poor population are powering not growth, but crime. Failure at this stage could leave India stagnant in a lower middle-income bracket. If this is to be an “Asian century”, India must stay in the reckoning.
Connecting the dots:
- What do you understand by the term ‘middle income trap’? Do you think the risk of India slipping into the trap is real? Highlight the reasons behind.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- International Relations
- Policies of developed and developing countries and their impact on India’s interests
The Global ‘War on Terror’: Not a right approach to fight terrorism
- The world needs to be united on the issue of terrorism and resolve contradiction.
- The brutal attacks on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, for which the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, have reignited discussion on the global ‘War on Terror’.
- The attacks in Sri Lanka underline the many cracks in the concept of a global ‘War on Terror’, and raise questions on what it has achieved.
The Global ‘War on Terror’:
- The term was coined by former U.S. President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks in 2001. It is an international military campaign that was launched by the US government after the 9/11 attacks.
The original mission that the War on Terror was named for is floundering.
- Not only has the coalition of about 60 countries that sent troops and offered logistical support failed to end terrorism in Afghanistan, it appears it is preparing to hand the country back to the oppressive Taliban regime that it defeated in December 2001.
- This, despite the fact there is no guarantee that the terror groups living in safe havens in Pakistan will not also have the run of Afghanistan once the coalition pulls out.
- 46 nations joined to defeat Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003, and 19 were a part of a coalition that ousted Muammar Qaddafi from power in Libya in 2011.
- The U.S. and allied countries were sidetracked by the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011, which led them to bolster anti-Bashar al-Assad groups in Syria.
- This eventually paved the way for the IS to establish a ‘Caliphate’ in territories in Syria and Iraq.
- The next coalition was formed to fight the terror of the IS. The number of global terror attacks per year went up from 1,000 in 2004 to 17,000 in 2014.
It is clear that the countries in question — Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq — are far from free of the spectre of terrorism. Rather than helping fight pan-Islamist terror groups, the War on Terror appears to help the IS and al-Qaeda more, giving them a footprint far bigger than their actual abilities. This helps them recruit and radicalise Muslim youth from around the globe, and allows them to own terrorists around the world as their own.
Approaches to fighting terror:
Changing the narrative of a “fight for Islam” is required.
- According to the Global Terrorism Database, of the 81 terror attacks in which more than 100 were killed (high casualty) since 2001, more than 70 were carried out in Islamic or Muslim-majority countries.
- The War on Terror thus appears to be a concept propagated mostly by pan-Islamist groups and extremists of other religions as a motive for terror attacks.
Governments in countries affected by terrorism must not subscribe to this narrative blindly.
It is necessary for countries fighting terrorism to learn more closely from their differences, rather than try to generalise from experience.
Comparing European states like the U.K., France and Belgium, where hundreds of immigrant Muslims have enlisted for the IS, to South Asian states like India, where Muslim populations are indigenous and only a few dozen are believed to have left for Syria, is akin to comparing apples and oranges.
The world community must address contradictions in the War on Terror. For 20 years, the world has failed to agree on a common definition of terrorism at the United Nations. This has held up the passage of the Indian-sponsored proposal for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Example 1– Despite the fact that Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar has been targeting Indians incessantly for years, China allowed his UN Security Council designation as a global terrorist only after mentions of his attacks in India were removed.
Example 2– The U.S. is focused on billing Iran the “world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism”, while states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that have funded and sheltered Islamist terror groups are still treated as “frontline allies” on terror.
- Despite all their resources and expertise, the alliance of the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand that share global intelligence was unable to see the impending threat in Sri Lanka.
- Unless the world is truly united on the issue and resolves such contradictions, the global War on Terror will only be as strong as its weakest link.
Connecting the dots:
- The world needs to be united on the issue of terrorism and resolve contradiction. Comment.
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The Gwadar warning
Coordination as a hurdle for the #MeToo movement
Geostrategic concerns complicate US China trade