IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th August 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II –International relations
- PM Narendra Modi paid a state visit to Bahrain on 24-25 August 2019, which was the first ever Prime Ministerial visit from India to Bahrain.
- Both India & Bahrain called on global community to reject use of terrorism against other countries as both sides agreed to further enhance cooperation in the field of security, counter-terrorism and the exchange of intelligence and information
- They also said that regional connectivity projects should be based on international law, including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, in an apparent reference to China’s BRI project
- Both agreed to enhance cooperation to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf region, vital for the security and safety of sea lanes and pressed for UN reforms
- India also welcomed the interest of Bahrain to join the International Solar alliance.
- India also launched the renovation of Shree Krishna temple in Manama, the oldest in the Gulf region.
- An MoU was also signed between BENEFIT, a Bahrain company handling ATM and POS transactions among others, and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) for launch of RuPay card in the Gulf Kingdom.
- The two countries also signed MoUs on cultural exchange programme, space technology, solar energy
Do You Know?
- India-Bahrain bilateral trade has been on the rise for the last few years, reaching about US$ 1.3 billion in 2018-19
- About 3.5 Lakhs Indian national reside & work in Bahrain, which is the largest expatriate community in Bahrain.
- The presence of over 3,000 Indian-owned/joint Ventures in Bahrain indicates the intense economic engagement between the two countries
- Gulf Cooperation Council: is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf except Iraq, namely: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
Naga Peace Process
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – Issues related to Federalism
- A Naga extremist group (NSCN-IM) has for the first time said a “separate flag and Constitution” were necessary for an “honourable solution” to the 22-year-old Naga peace process.
- Centre ended Jammu and Kashmir’s special status that allowed it to have its own Constitution and a flag, by abrogating Article 370 on 5th August 2019
- The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) had signed a Framework Agreement with Union Government on August 2015.
Do You Know
- The peace process began when NSCN-IM announced cease fire in 1997 and framework agreement was believed to have taken that process to a critical stage. However, both the Centre & the outfit has not divulged the contents of the agreement
- The Khaplang faction of the NSCN ceased to be a part of the peace process after it walked out of a 14-year-old truce in March 2015.
- The Khaplang faction is primarily based in Myanmar while most of the leaders and cadres of the Isak-Muivah group are from Manipur.
- The Centre had a year ago insisted that the peace process would be incomplete if at least six other Naga extremist groups, some of whom are dormant, were not taken on board the negotiations.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Science & Technology
- Akademik Lomonosov is a Russian powership to be operated as the world’s first floating nuclear power station
- It will be deployed at Pevek, in the Chukotka region in Russia’s Far East and is planned to come online in end of 2019 as the nearby Bilibino Nuclear Power Plant is shut.
- It intends mainly to serve the region’s oil platforms as Russia is expanding the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.
- Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.
- Rosatom plans to store spent fuel onboard of ship and thus any accident involving this fuel might have a serious impact on the fragile environment of the Arctic.
- Environmental groups have long warned of the dangers of the project, dubbing it a potential “Chernobyl on ice” and a “nuclear Titanic” as it is additionally vulnerable to storms
Do You Know?
- Global warming and melting ice has made the Northeast Passage — which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific along Russia’s northern coast — more accessible.
- The ship was named after Academician Mikhail Lomonosov who was a Russian polymath, scientist and writer in 18th century
- The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred at nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR on April 1986
- It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history and is one of only two nuclear energy disasters rated at seven—the maximum severity—on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.
Swatantra Sainik Samman Pension Scheme
Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains I – Society
- The Supreme Court has slammed the Centre for harassing a 90-year-old freedom fighter who was struggling to get his pension under Swatantra Sainik Samman Pension Scheme
- The scheme was introduced with the object of providing pension to freedom fighters and families of martyrs
- The scheme is not to “reward” patriotic men and women who threw their lives into the Freedom Movement, but to honour them and mitigate their suffering.
- As of March 2019, a total 1.7 lakh freedom fighters and their eligible dependents have been sanctioned the central samman pension so far.
- It is implemented by Ministry of Home Affairs (Freedom Fighters Division)
Do You Know?
- Government of India introduced the ‘Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners Pension Scheme’ in 1969 to honour the freedom fighters who had been incarcerated in the Cellular Jail at Port Blair.
- In 1972, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Independence, a regular scheme for grant of freedom fighters’ pension was introduced.
- Since 1980, a liberalized scheme, namely the ‘Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980’ is being implemented.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
Privacy no longer supreme
- Two years ago, this month, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court unanimously held that Indians have a constitutionally protected fundamental right to privacy.
What the judgement said?
- It held that privacy is a natural right that inheres in all natural persons, and that the right may be restricted only by state action that passes each of the three tests:
- First, such state action must have a legislative mandate;
- Second, it must be pursuing a legitimate state purpose;
- Third, it must be proportionate i.e., such state action — both in its nature and extent, must be necessary in a democratic society and the action ought to be the least intrusive of the available alternatives to accomplish the ends.
Prescribing a higher standard
- Judgment in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs Union Of India fundamentally changed the way in which the government viewed its citizens’ privacy, both in practice and prescription.
- It undertook structural reforms and brought transparency and openness in the process of commissioning and executing its surveillance projects, and built a mechanism of judicial oversight over surveillance requests.
- It demonstrated great care and sensitivity in dealing with personal information of its citizens.
- It legislated a transformative, rights-oriented data protection law that held all powerful entities that deal with citizens’ personal data (data controllers), including the state, accountable.
Data protection law
- The data protection law embodied the principle that the state must be a model data controller and prescribed a higher standard of observance for the state.
- The law also recognised and proscribed the practice of making access to essential services contingent on the citizen parting with irrelevant personal information.
- This law established an effective privacy commission that is tasked with enforcing, protecting and fulfilling the fundamental right to privacy implemented through the specific rights under the legislation.
- The data protection law also revolutionised the technology sector landscape in the country, paving way for innovative privacy-aware and privacy-preserving technical solution providers to thrive and flourish, and establishing the country as a global leader in the space.
- The judgment in K.S. Puttaswamy effected little change in the government’s thinking or practice as it related to privacy and the personal data of its citizens.
Data use vs. privacy
- The government has shunned a rights-oriented approach in the collection, storage and processing of personal data and has stuck to its ‘public good’ and ‘data is the new oil’ discourse.
- In other words, personal data in the custody of the state is for the state to use, monetise and exploit in any manner it desires so long as it guards against security incidents such as breaches and unauthorised access — i.e. unauthorised by the government.
- This convenient redux of the idea of privacy to mere information security appears to inform all its policies
Justice Sri krishna committee :
- The committee published the draft Personal Data Protection Bill uses a similar language of ‘free and fair digital economy’, with the digital economy being the ends and the notion of privacy merely being a shaper of the means – not only misrepresenting the purpose of the bill, but also its history and the mischief that it intended to tackle.
- The committee made the choices it made despite being aware that the courts are likely to interpret every provision of the legislation purposively, taking note that the purpose is couched in terms of the economy as opposed to the bill having a singular focus on the fulfilment of the right to privacy.
- K.S. Puttaswamy ages and steps into its third year, the script is still on the table. A rights-oriented data protection legislation — which includes comprehensive surveillance reform prohibiting mass surveillance and institution of a judicial oversight mechanism for targeted surveillance — and which recognises the principle that the state ought to be a model data controller as it deals with its citizens’ personal information; is still possible, one hopes.
Connecting the dots:
- India does not have a legal architecture to deal with data theft and compromise issues. Do you agree? What are the challenges regarding data protection and how can they be addressed?
- Data security has assumed significant importance in the digitized world due to rising cybercrimes. The justice B.N Srikrishna Committee Report addresses issues related to data security. What, in your view, are the strengths and weaknesses of the Report relating the protection of personal data in cyberspace?
- Data protection is one of the key elements for a robust cyber policy. Analyse.
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
How govts set climate targets
- In their recent joint declaration, India and France have committed to making long-term plans to contain emissions. While most countries set targets against a deadline, there is a case for longer-term planning
- During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris last week, a substantial part — nine out of 34 paragraphs — of the joint statement by India and France was dedicated to the related issues of climate change, biodiversity, renewable energy, and ocean resources
The joint statement by India and France
- It talked about the two countries’ commitment to enhanced climate actions, their support for new low-carbon technologies, and their on going efforts to accelerate development and deployment of renewable energy.
- It mentioned the need for sustainable use of marine resources, acknowledging the link between environment and security, and promised to work towards “ocean governance”
- The two sides also promised to develop, by next year, strategies for containing their greenhouse gases in the long-term period, possibly for the next 30 or 50 years. From India’s point of view at least, a longer-term low-carbon pathway would be a new development.
Countries & climate targets
- Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, which will come into force next year, every signatory country is supposed to declare and implement a climate action plan, called Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs).
- Until now, countries have mostly announced their targets for 2025 or 2030.
- India’s declared targets, for example, are for 2030. It has said it would bring down its emission intensity, or emission per unit of GDP, by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
- It has further promised to ensure that at least 40 per cent of its electricity in 2030 would be generated from non-fossil sources, and to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes through forests.
- Each of these actions, and many more for which specific targets have not been declared, would contribute in reducing India’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- All other signatories to the Paris Agreement have declared similar action plans. NDCs have to be updated every five years.
- The first set of NDCs were declared in 2015 ahead of the climate change conference in Paris. Countries will have to update these next year.
- The Paris Agreement asks all signatories to ensure that successive NDCs represent a progression from their current targets.
- Countries have also been asked to evolve a common time-frame for their action plans.
- Successive NDCs, therefore, would all be five-year or ten-year action plans.
- It has long been argued that countries need to finalise and commit to longer-term climate targets, over 30-year or 50-year time horizons.
- This will not just help in bringing more predictability into climate actions but also make it easy to monitor whether the world was progressing adequately to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
- It is argued that short-term targets can lack the urgency of the task, and can delay ambitious action, so that a couple of decades later, the climb could become so steep that it would be impossible to scale.
- In this context, there is a growing clamour to put pressure on the big emitters – China, the United States, European Union, India, Russia, Brazil, Australia – to come up with long-term action plans, in particular to aim for net-zero emissions in the year 2050.
- The noise is strongest in Europe, since it is the biggest combined emitter from the developed country group after the United States, which has announced a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration.
- As part of its NDCs, the European Union of 27 countries has set a combined target of 40 per cent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from the 1990 levels.
- Last year, however, it also came up with a long-term vision, saying Europe would aim to become climate-neutral, or attain the goal of net-zero emissions, by 2050.
- Two months ago, the United Kingdom became the first major economy to legislate a law to make itself climate-neutral by 2050.
- It had been previously aiming to achieve an 80 per cent reduction from the 1990 levels.
- As climate-induced extreme weather events bring in more and more disasters across the world, the demand for longer-term commitments on climate action has been increasing.
- Two recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – on the feasibility of containing global rise in temperatures to within 1.5°C from pre-industrial times, and another on state of climate-induced land degradation – have also stressed the need for more urgent and ambitious climate action in longer term.
Long-term action in India
- India, being a developing country, is treated differently from developed country parties like the US, European Union or Australia in the Paris Agreement.
- It is not obligated to take as ambitious targets as the developed world. But India also happens to be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the United States, if the European Union is not counted as one entity.
- As such, there have been demands from India, as well as other major developing economies such as Brazil and South Africa, to also come up with longer-term commitments.
- In fact, there was a move from France to encourage India to make a commitment like this in the joint statement itself, but New Delhi resisted the pressure.
- India says, being a developing country, it was already doing much more than many developed countries, and committing to anything more than that was likely to hamper its development imperatives.
- It has also said that it was on course for achieving all its targets under its NDC well in time, and may even over-achieve them.
- But New Delhi is also conscious of the fact that the developed countries are far from delivering on their climate promises, especially on their obligation to provide money and technology to help developing and poor countries in fighting climate change
Connecting the Dots
- Discuss the factors responsible for long term climate change. What evidences do we have that support current global warming. Explain.
- The fight against climate change is more effective at the household level than macro level policy formulations. Do you agree? Substantiate.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Akademik Lomonosov recently seen in the news is related to which of the following field ?
- Russian missile defence system bought by India
- Russian ambassador to Turkey killed in Ankara shooting
- Russian floating nuclear power plant
- None of the above
Q.2) Which of the following countries are part of Gulf Cooperation Council
Select the correct answer from the codes given below?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1,2 and 4 only
- 1,2 and 3 only
Q.3) Swatantra Sainik Samman Pension Scheme is being implemented by which Union Ministry?
- The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
- Ministry of Labour
- Ministry of Home Affairs
- None of the above
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