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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th August 2019

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  • August 27, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th August 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


India-G7

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II –International relations 

In News

  • The 45th edition of G7 Summit is currently being held in France. The host country typically gets to invite dignitaries from outside the G7 to attend the Summit
  • PM Modi was invited to attend the G7 Summit as a special guest of French President Emmanuel Macron
  • The G7 or ‘Group of Seven’ are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 
  • It is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 by the top economies of the time as an informal forum to discuss pressing world issues.
  • The Group was initially formed as an effort by the US and its allies to discuss economic issues, which in the late 1970s included battling a global oil crisis
  • Since then, the scope of G7 discussion has enlarged to include financial crises, economic changeover of ex-Soviet bloc nations, terrorism, arms control, and drug trafficking, among others.
  • The G7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters. The decisions taken by leaders during annual Summits are non-binding.
  • The rise of India, China, and Brazil over the past few decades has reduced the G7’s relevance, whose share in global GDP has now fallen to around 40%

Do You Know?

  • The G7 was known as the ‘G8’ for several years after the original seven were joined by Russia in 1997. The Group returned to being called G7 after Russia was expelled as a member in 2014 following the latter’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
  • The G20 is a larger group of countries, which also includes G7 members. The G20 was formed in 1999, in response to a felt need to bring more countries on board to address global economic concerns
  • Apart from the G7 countries, the G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey.
  • India is slated to host a G20 summit in 2022.

Cardiovascular disease burden (CVD)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – Issues relating to Health

In News

  • Three-quarters of CVD-related deaths happen in lower-middle income countries, according to the WHO, which classifies India among such countries
  •  In India, the leading CVD diseases are ischaemic heart disease and stroke, contributing 61.4 % and 24.9 % of total DALYs (Daily Adjusted Life Years) lost from CVDs
  • The research study found that among Indian states, West Bengal, Odisha and Tripura have the highest burden whereas Mizoram, Sikkim and Delhi have the lowest burden of strokes in terms of crude DALY rates. 
  • In the case of ischaemic heart disease, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Haryana have the highest burden while Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have the lowest

https://images.indianexpress.com/2019/08/lanet.jpg

https://images.indianexpress.com/2019/08/cvd.jpg

Do You Know

  • DALY = Disability Adjusted Life Year = the sum of years of potential life lost due to premature death, and the years of productive life lost due to disability. 
  • DALYs are used to measure the combined quantity and quality of life of a population.
  • One DALY can be thought of as one lost year of ‘healthy’ life
  • The sum of these DALYs across the population, or the burden of disease, can be thought of as a measurement of the gap between the current health status and an ideal health situation where the entire population lives to an advanced age, free of disease and disability – WHO

Conservation of Otters

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Environmental Conservation

In News

  • The Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (CoP18) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was recently held in Geneva.
  • Members at the Conference have voted to move the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) from CITES Appendix II to CITES Appendix I, a species native to the Indian subcontinent and some other parts of Asia
  • This is done as otters are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction and is detrimentally affected by international trade, as well as habitat loss.
  • The other proposal that was passed was to include the Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) in CITES Appendix II, as it faced threats from hunting and collection for use in traditional medicine.
  • The CITES is as an international legally binding agreement aimed at ensuring “that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival”. However, it does not take the place of national laws.
  • The text of the Convention was agreed in Washington, DC, in 1973 and entered into force in 1975. Thus, the convention is sometimes referred to as the Washington Convention.

CITES Appendix:

  • Appendix I includes species “threatened with extinction”. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Appendix II provides a lower level of protection.
  • Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

http://www.walkthroughindia.com/wildlife/top-4-rivers-to-spot-3-species-of-otters-in-india/

https://live.staticflickr.com/4183/34441427301_7c0659509b_b.jpg


National Digital Library(NDL)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – e-governance

In News

  • Bangalore University plans to launch an e-library, where students and staff can download books available online through the university’s library app
  • The university has taken up this project under the National Digital Library of India initiative
  • Human Resource Development Ministry under its National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology launched NDL in 2018
  • NDL is the Single Window Platform that collects and collates metadata from premier learning institutions in India and abroad, as well as other relevant sources. 
  • NDL is a digital repository containing textbooks, articles, videos, audio books, lectures, simulations, fiction and all other kinds of learning media.
  • Anybody can access the digital library anytime and anywhere absolutely free of cost and is a step towards “Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat”.
  • As of now, there are more than 3 crore digital resources available through NDL
  • More than 50 lakh students have registered themselves in the National Digital Library with about 20 lakh active users.
  • NDL has been integrated with UMANG App

Do You Know?

  • UMANG stands for Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance developed by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD) to drive Mobile Governance in India
  • UMANG provides a single platform for all Indian Citizens to access pan India e-Gov services ranging from Central to State to Local Government bodies and other citizen centric services. 

(MAINS FOCUS)


INFRASTUCTURE SECTOR/AVIATION

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

Giving wings to better air connectivity

Context:

  • A cooperative federalism framework can provide the required impetus to the civil aviation sector

Concern:

  • Civil aviation is a Central subject and one that barely got significant attention from the States until recently. 
  • It is evident from the fact that very few States in India have active civil aviation departments. 
  • This is also due to the reason that States have had a passive role, invariably, having had to look up to the Central government for the development of airports and enhancing air connectivity. 

UDAN:

  • In the last four years, the situation has changed considerably.
  • The cooperation of States is seen as a major factor in the growth of the civil aviation sector. The Regional Connectivity Scheme, Ude Deshka Aam Naagrik (UDAN), has become a game changer as this flagship programme has a built-in mechanism to develop stakes of State governments in the growth of the sector.

Key policy interventions

  • Thirty States and Union Territories have already signed memoranda of understanding with the Central government. 
  • The policies of States and Centre are now being interlinked to make flying accessible and affordable.

Some policy intervention suggestions to jump-start the aviation market:

  • Firstly, For any airline in India, the cost of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) forms about 40% of the total operational cost. 
  • Keeping petroleum products out of the purview of Goods and Services Tax (GST) may be a policy imperative for the State governments but this is a step that adversely impacts the expansion of air services to the States
  • States have very high rates of value-added tax (VAT) on ATF — sometimes as high as 25% — which has dampened the growth trajectory of civil aviation
  • Therefore, relief on ATF is a major incentive for airlines to augment their operations as the airline industry is capital-intensive and works on very thin profit margins.  
  • UDAN has motivated State governments to reduce the VAT on ATF to 1% for the flights that are operated under this scheme. 
  • Airports such as Jharsuguda (Odisha) and Kolhapur (Maharashtra) have successfully attracted airlines to connect these hitherto unconnected region
  • Reducing VAT on ATF is the biggest lever States can operate, which will enable them in being an equal partner in steering sector policy.
  • Secondly, The second area is in the development and management of airports
  • There are many regional airports which can be developed by States on their own or in collaboration with the Airports Authority of India (AAI). 
  • In this, there have been different models of public-private-partnership which can be leveraged to develop infrastructures.
  • Innovative models can be explored to create viable ‘no-frill airports’.
  • These functional airports can open up regions and change the way people travel. 
  • India had about 70 airports since Independence until recently. 
  • Under UDAN, the Union government, with the help of the States, has operationalised 24 unserved airports over the past two years; 100 more are to be developed in the next five years, which can only be achieved through the active collaboration between willing States and the Centre.
  • Third, States and the Central government can play a crucial role in supporting airlines to develop air services in the remote regions.
  • To reduce operational cost of airlines and airport operators, incentives from State governments have been sought: 
  • some in the form of financial support such as VAT reduction; 
  • sharing of viability gap funding with airlines, and 
  • non-financial incentives such as providing security and fire services free of cost to airport operators. 
  • Under the scheme, the Union government has declared concessions on excise duty on ATF and made budgetary allocations for airport development. 
  • This unique scheme has been successful in encouraging airlines to operate on regional unconnected routes instead of trunk routes.
  • Under UDAN, some success stories have motivated States to announce innovative approaches and policies in support of airlines.

Further interventions to be needed:

  • Considering the infrastructural constraints and difficult terrain, small aircraft operators need to be encouraged
  • Areas which cannot be connected meaningfully by road or rail have to be linked by air
  • States may converge their relevant schemes relating to tourism, health, and insurance for supporting air connectivity to supplement the objectives of regional connectivity.
  • For this States need to create a conducive business environment to facilitate the strong aspirations of a burgeoning Indian middle class to fly at least once a year. It would boost ticket sales from the present level of eight crore domestic tickets.
  • Developing airports, incentivising airlines and pooling resources of both the Union and State governments can accelerate the harmonised growth of the Indian civil aviation sector which would be equitable and inclusive.

Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme

Key pointers:

  • The Civil Aviation Ministry launched Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) in 2017.
  • UDAN is an innovative scheme to develop the regional aviation market. It is a market-based mechanism in which airlines bid for seat subsidies.
  • This first-of-its-kind scheme globally will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Critically examine the significance of regional connectivity for a developing economy like India. Also discuss the features of the UDAN scheme launched by the government.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Talking trade with the EU

Concerns:

  • As the economy begins to suffer from the U.S.-China trade war, it is imperative for India to pursue a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU).
  • Last month, negotiators from both sides met in Brussels, for more talks about talks, but time is now running out for New Delhi.
  • Moving beyond the U.S. and China, this is the right time for India to engage the EU as an indispensable democratic partner to craft a favourable geo-economic order

A series of economic and geo-strategic factors make the need for an economic deal with the EU more urgent.

First, India risks being left behind amidst a collapsing global trade architecture, rising protectionism and a new emphasis on bilateral FTAs.

  • India is the only major power lacking an FTA with any of its top trade partners, including the EU, the U.S., China and Gulf economies.
  • This situation is not tenable as most trade is now driven either by FTAs or global value chains.
  • The EU’s revived focus on FTAs could only exacerbate this risk for India.
  • In June, Brussels concluded a trade deal with Vietnam and a historic FTA with the Mercorsur countries in South America. 
  • India, in the meantime, is hanging on to its Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status. Its status under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) will face rising competition from Pakistan or Sri Lanka, who enjoy GSP+ benefits.

Stuck in a ‘grey zone’

  • Without preferential FTA tariffs or GSP+ status, India will struggle to keep exports competitive for Europe, its largest trade partner where 20% of its exports land up.

Positive aspects of India include:

  • India’s talks with the EU have been advancing slowly but steadily
  • From agriculture to intellectual property, the EU and India have quietly been exchanging and aligning views. 
  • New areas like e-commerce have registered significant convergence because India’s position on data privacy is not that different from the EU’s.
  • As with the EU-Japan deal, India may wish to proceed at two speeds: it could delay discussions about free flow of data for a few years and freeze differences on the tax moratorium issue or data localisation, even while committing to liberalise in other areas.

Second, beyond mere economic cost-benefit analysis, India must also approach an EU FTA from a geo-strategic perspective.

  • With Mr. Trump’s hostile spotlight focussing on India, and lingering concerns about the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, New Delhi must realise the long-term strategic benefits of a trade deal with Europe.

Democratic regulations

  • EU negotiators are now more willing to make concessions on labour or environmental regulations, which used to be insurmountable obstacles. 
  • The collapse of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and concerns about excessive economic reliance on China have propelled the EU to become a little more pragmatic, which New Delhi should leverage before it’s too late.
  • The EU also offers India a unique regulatory model that balances growth, privacy and standards. 
  • India’s governance framework shares the European norms of democratic transparency and multi-stakeholder participation on a variety of new technological domains, from regulating artificial intelligence to 5G networks.
  • New Delhi must see this as a strategic premium that is not accounted for in a strict cost-benefit economic analysis.

Key notes:

  • A Free Trade Agreement or FTA is an agreement between two or more countries where the countries agree on certain obligations that affect trade in goods and services, and protections for investors and intellectual property rights, among other topics.
  • FTAs normally cover trade in goods (such as agricultural or industrial products) or trade in services (such as banking, construction, trading etc.). FTAs can also cover other areas such as intellectual property rights (IPRs), investment, government procurement and competition policy, etc.
  • India has bilateral agreements with ASEAN, European Union, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
  • Article 1 of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which enunciates the most favoured nation (MFN) principle of WTO states that “any advantage, favour, privilege, or immunity granted by any contracting party to any product originating in or destined for any other country shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the like product originating in or destined for the territories of  all other contracting parties.”
  • This MFN principle is permitted for forming FTAs under some specific conditions as per the provisions of the WTO Agreements.

Proposed India-EU FTA:

  • India-European Union (EU) FTA, officially known as the Broad-Based Trade and Investment Agreement is being negotiated for quite a while.
  • However, in 2013, there was a breakdown in talks in between the two sides and the talks have been stalled ever since.
  • The European Union wants India to reduce the import duties on alcohol and automobiles and India wants the EU to declare India as a ‘data secure’  country.

Conclusion:

  • In regard with the FTAs, India should be very careful in the clauses of negotiation. Despite having a strong services sector in a select few categories, ( IT, ITES, Healthcare and Education etc.) the agricultural sector as well as the industrial sector, especially the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises are still not as mature and strong as compared to the other countries with which India is negotiating FTAs.

Connecting the dots:

  • What are free trade agreements? Discuss the benefits of free trade agreements.
  • Critically analyse the free trade agreements signed by India?

(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) UMANG app by Government of India intends to achieve which of the following objectives?

  1. Monitoring of Villages and Households Electrification 
  2. To Curb illegal coal mining like rat hole mining, pilferage
  3. To promote mobile governance in India
  4. None of the above

Q.2) Consider the following statements about CITES

  1. is as an international legally binding agreement aimed at restricting the trade in endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
  2. It replaces the National domestic laws
  3. It is also sometimes referred to as Washington Convention as it was agreed in Washington, DC, in 1973.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 3 only

Q.3) India is a member of which of the following International organisations?

  1. G7
  2. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  3. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
  4. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Select the correct answer from codes given below.

  1. 1,2 and 3 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1,3 and 4 only
  4. 1,2 and 4 only

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