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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st May 2019

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  • May 1, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st May 2019

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


U.N. listing of Azhar

Part of: GS Mains II and III – Role of UNSC, international organization; Security/Terrorism related issues

In news:

  • China indicated that it was willing to change its decade-old stand opposing the move to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist at the UN Security Council.
  • Azhar could be placed on the UNSC’s 1267 Committee’s list of sanctioned individuals and entities soon.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/05/01/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_01/be7315f5_2908319_101_mr.jpg

Do you know?

  • The listing of Azhar, who’s organisation JeM was listed in 2001, has been pending for more than a decade.
  • This is the fourth attempt by countries at the UNSC and India to bring Azhar under UN sanctions.
  • China had vetoed each of the previous proposals citing it had not received enough evidence against Azhar, who was released in 1999 during the IC-814 hijacking in exchange for hostages.

Madras HC curbs L-G role in Puducherry

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Polity; Role of Judiciary; Centre versus UTs

In news:

  • Madras High Court ruled that the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Puducherry could not interfere with the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory when an elected government was in place.
  • The court said incessant interference from the L-G would amount to running a “parallel government”.
  • Otherwise, the constitutional scheme of the country of being democratic and republic would be defeated.
  • The judge made it clear that government secretaries were bound to take instructions from the Ministers and the Council of Ministers, headed by the Chief Minister.

Do you know?

  • Articles 239A and 239AA of the Constitution deals with special powers conferred on the legislatures of Puducherry and Delhi respectively.

ASI unearths treasure at U.P. site

In news:

  • Archaeological Survey of India during its excavation of 4,000-year-old burial sites in Uttar Pradesh’s Sanauli unearthed underground “sacred chambers”, decorated “legged coffins” as well as rice and dal in pots and animal bones buried with the bodies.
  • Three chariots, some coffins, shields, swords and helmets had been unearthed, pointing towards the existence of a “warrior class in the area around 2,000 BCE”.
  • According to the ASI, the site is different from the Harappan culture.
  • “Sanauli is located on the left bank of the River Yamuna, 68 km north-east of Delhi which brought to light the largest necropolis of the late Harappan period datable to around early part of second millennium BCE”.

Tourist footfall in Hampi down by nearly a lakh

About Hampi

  • Hampi, also referred to as the Group of Monuments at Hampi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in east-central Karnataka, India.
  • It became the centre of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire capital in the 14th century.
  • According to foreign travelers, Hampi was a prosperous, wealthy and grand city near the Tungabhadra River.
  • By 1500 CE, Hampi-Vijayanagara was the world’s second-largest medieval-era city after Beijing, and probably India’s richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal.

In news:

  • Tourist flow was expected to increase after a group of monuments at the world heritage site, Hampi, was listed number two on the “must see” tourist spots by the New York Times.
  • However, tourist flow has dipped by nearly a lakh between April 2018 and March 2019.

About Virupaksha Temple

  • Virupaksha Temple is located in Hampi in the Ballari district of Karnataka, India.
  • It is part of the Group of Monuments at Hampi, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The temple is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Shiva. The temple was built by Lakkan Dandesha, a nayaka (chieftain) under the ruler Deva Raya II of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Do you know?

  • The stone chariot at the Vittala temple complex is a major tourist attraction in Hampi.

Miscellaneous:

Army claims climbers sight Yeti footprints

In news:

  • The Indian Army has claimed that one of its mountaineering teams had sighted footprints of a Yeti, a mythical creature that is believed to reside in the Himalayas.
  • Yeti is a mythical creature believed to exist in the Himalayan ranges in Nepal and Tibet. The existence of the creature, which has been an issue of debate since the last century, again resurfaced when the Indian Army claimed it had discovered fresh “mysterious footprints” of Yeti during an Army expedition to Mount Makalu, Nepal.

Do you know?

  • The term Yeti comes from the Nepali dictionary and means ‘abominable snowman’. It is also called Meh-Teh in the Tibetan folklore.
  • According to urban legends, Yeti is a two-legged white, shaggy ape-like animal and is described to be 10-20 feet tall. It is believed to reside in the Himalayas, Central Asia and Siberia.
  • The footsteps found by the Army had measured 32×15 inches, clearly suggesting that they did not belong to a human.

Background:

  • The first account of Yeti dates back to 1921 when British explorer Charles Howard-Bury found the footsteps of Yeti near Lakhpa La pass while on an expedition in the Himalayas.
  • In 1951, noted English Himalayan explorer Eric Shipton caught on camera footprints left behind by the Yeti, which showed a thumb-like impression instead of a toe.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary, in 1960, brought back what he thought was the Yeti’s scalp, shaped like a helmet, but it was later proved to be from a serow, a goat-like animal.
  • In 2010, Chinese hunters caught a hairless, four-legged animal which they said was the Yeti, but was identified as a civet that had lost its hair after suffering from a disease.
  • In 2011, researchers claimed they had found the Yeti’s finger; but its DNA proved to be from a human.
  • In 2013, the National Geographic released a documentary on the legend of Yeti in the Himalayas.

Despite no authentic evidence of its existence, Yeti became a popular figure in folklore and cartoons. From Tintin and Scooby Doo to Monsters Inc, Yeti has been recreated several times in popular culture.


Turf battle derails future of Train 18

In news:

  • Production of indigenously-built, fastest train (Train 18) sets hit by departmental tussle.
  • Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai is the world’s largest rail coach manufacturing unit. ICF rolled out the Train 18 with a maximum operating speed of 160 kmph in a record time of just 18 months in 2018.
  • The indigenous design and development was done by an in-house team of the ICF.
  • The self-propelled train set, comprising 16 air-conditioned coaches, was built at a cost of ₹100 crore, about half the cost of importing such a rake, with about 80% indigenous components in alignment with the Prime Minister’s call for ‘Make in India’.
  • However, Vigilance Directorate is contemplating an inquiry into allegations that the development team compromised on the safety of the train by not obtaining technical approval for the electrical systems from a particular officer of the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow. (The RDSO is a standardisation organisation of the Indian Railways). But enquiries revealed that approvals were obtained from the Train Set Directorate of the RDSO
  • RDSO is a multi-departmental entity created to provide single window clearances for faster production.
  • Ministry of Railways has constituted a committee of Additional Members of the Railway Board to sort out the differences between the two departments and bring about a working synergy to take the mission forward.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL/ENERGY

TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3

  • India and the World
  • International Relations
  • Policies of developed and developing countries and their impact on India’s interests
  • Energy and Infrastructure

Iranian oil dilemma for China, Turkey and India as US ends waiver

Context:

  • Trump administration has announced that the US would not issue any additional ‘Significant Reduction Exceptions’ to existing importers of Iranian oil who had received such exemptions before.
  • It has declared that the objective is to bring Iranian oil exports to “zero”.
  • India, China and Turkey, the principal remaining oil importers from Iran, are expected to feel the greatest impact of this policy.

What end of the waivers mean to these countries?

China

  • China, one of the largest importers of Iranian oil, is likely to defy the American demand because as a great power and potential challenger to U.S. hegemony it will not want to be seen as bowing to American pressure.
  • Also China is firmly opposed to unilateral sanctions, as it fears that one day it may be subjected to similar treatment.

Turkey

  • Turkey and Iran have overlapping strategic interests regarding Kurdish secessionism, the territorial integrity of Iraq, and shared antipathy towards Saudi Arabia.
  • Iran is the second largest supplier of energy to Turkey and a leading trading partner as well.
  • Turkey’s relations with the U.S. are currently rocky over U.S. support to the Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, that Turkey considers a terrorist organisation.
  • The threat of American sanctions on Turkey for its decision to buy S-400 missile defence systems from Russia has also contributed greatly to tensions between the two countries.
  • Therefore, it is unlikely that Turkey will bend completely to American will although it may do so partially to placate its NATO ally.

India

  • India is likely to comply with American demands, as India’s relations with the U.S. in the economic sphere are very important to it.
  • The U.S. is India’s largest trading partner and a leading source of foreign investment.
  • It has become increasingly important in the strategic arena as well because of the convergence of American and Indian interests regarding containing China in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The civil nuclear relationship with the U.S. is very important for India, as is American support for India’s bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

However, compliance with the US demands will cost India high as –

  • India is heavily involved in building the Chabahar port in southern Iran.
  • This port is expected to become a major access route for India to Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing hostile Pakistani territory.
  • Iran is also important in the context of Afghanistan as both are unequivocally opposed to the Pakistan-supported Taliban returning to power.

Therefore, India’s decision to stop importing oil from Iran at America’s behest could create gaps between New Delhi and Tehran that will be very difficult to repair and cost India strategically.

What US want from Iran?

  • Iran should totally give up its right to enrich uranium and close down all nuclear facilities including those engaged in research for peaceful purposes.
  • Iran should curtail and eradicate its ballistic missile programme and radically change its west-Asia policy to fall in line with American preferences in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

However, Iran has stood up to unprecedented sanctions for four decades and remained unbowed.

The current American policy of forcing Tehran to cut its oil exports to zero will only aid Iranian hardliners and end up with Tehran adopting an even more virulent anti-American posture, further impeding the realisation of American strategic objectives in the region.

Connecting the dots:

  • How can India ensure that its relations with the US and Iran, and particularly its energy interests are not affected? Suggest.
  • How do global sanctions operate? How does it affect India’s interests? Comment in the light of US sanctions against Iran.

NATIONAL/GOVERNANCE

TOPIC: General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Governance issues

Why medical devices need their own law?

Context:

  • Thirty years have gone by since the first medical device was regulated as a drug but a comprehensive regulatory framework still remains elusive.
  • Successive governments in India have neglected the medical devices sector.
  • For over 12 years, a proposed legislation, the Medical Device Regulation Bill, has awaited enactment.

Do you know?

  • In 2016, a Group of Ministers (GoM) was constituted to decide upon the above legislation. However, it instead introduced Medical Device Rules and Regulations.
  • According to GoM, a separate legislation will bring in “more control” and “curtail growth and innovation” in the fast-expanding medical devices industry. Therefore, just rules and regulations seemed adequate for the sector.
  • The new rules were circulated in 2017 and notified on January 1, 2018.

Medical Device Rules and Regulations

  • The 241-page guidelines laid down the fundamental design and manufacturing requirements for 594 medical devices.
  • It classified them into four categories (A, B, C and D) depending on their being high-risk or low-risk.
  • The new rules brought medical devices in conformity with the framework of the Global Harmonization Task Force (GHTF).
  • It did away with the system of periodic renewal of licences for medical device manufacturers or importers.

Concerns:

  • While the new Rules might be a step in the right direction, experts and medical device bodies see this as an easy way out for politicians of the day.
  • They remain critical of the single factor which has remained the bane for the medical device industry in India — the fact that despite India emerging as the fourth-largest medical device market in Asia, its regulation and management is done under the 1940 Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • Medical Devices, thus, ride piggyback on the drug and pharma industry and have never got their share of sectoral importance.

Lacunae in law

  • India imports 70-90% of its medical devices of which the vast majority are unregulated for quality and safety.
  • While many of these products may have regulatory certifications in other countries, the reality is that a considerable number of them are being exported from countries that do not regulate their exports.
  • Our policymakers are surprisingly undecided and seem to be in no urgency to usher in a “Patient Safety Medical Devices Law” to protect patients.
  • Devices do need to be regulated but, once again, the DTAB (Drugs Technical Advisory Board) has suggested notifying all medical devices that are engineering products as ‘medicines’ under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act.
  • At present, only 23 out of over 5,000 medical devices are regulated by being notified as ‘drugs’.

Conclusion:

  • The medical devices market in India is over $10 billion (Rs 70,000 crore) and projected to grow to $50 billion by 2025 and is the fourth-largest in Asia.
  • It’s imperative to have a separate law as devices are engineering items and not medicines.
  • A beginning has been made to correct the anomalous situation with the introduction of the Medical Device Rules in 2018.
  • The Drugs Act itself needs reforms as it does not uniformly and equitably regulate quality from state-to-state in the absence of a national singular regulatory authority and there is no point of replicating this limitation for devices too.

Connecting the dots:

  • Analyze the need for separate law and a national singular regulatory authority to regulate medical devices sector.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 

Q.1) Consider the following statements

  1. The Parliament can make laws on any subject of the three lists (including the State List) for the union territories.
  2. The legislative assembly of Puducherry and Delhi can make laws on any subject of the State List.

Select the correct statement/s

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

Q.2) 4,000-year-old burial sites found in Sanauli is located in

  1. Haryana
  2. Gujarat
  3. Punjab
  4. Uttar Pradesh

Q.3) Consider the statements regarding the new ₹ 200 denomination banknote introduced by RBI

  1. It has a motif of Hampi with Chariot on it
  2. For visually impaired people, it has raised Identification mark H with micro-text ₹ 200 and five angular bleed lines with two circles in between the lines both on the right and left sides

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None

Q.4) Consider the below statements:

  1. Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the eastern part of central Karnataka.
  2. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

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