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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd November 2019

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  • November 22, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd November 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


‘TIGER TRIUMPH’

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- India’s foreign relations

  • The first-ever India and U.S. armed forces tri-services exercise ‘Tiger Triumph’ concluded off the Kakinada coast, East Godavari district
  • This was the first tri-services exercise by both countries on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR)
  • Apart from Indian Navy ship INS Jalashwa and U.S. Navy ship USS Germantown, over 500 US Marines and sailors and 1,200 Indian soldiers and officers participated in the exercise.
  • Exercise Tiger Triumph enhanced U.S.-India military-to-military relations and honed individual and small-unit skills in the context of a HADR scenario. 
  • It exposed Indian and U.S. forces to different training environments, weaponry and tactics. 
  • Through training side-by-side and sharing best practices, both Indian and U.S. troops not only learned from one another but also established personal and professional relationships.
  • India’s role as a stabilizing power in the region is critical for trade and transit between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. 
  • India and the United States have a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region that provides prosperity and security for all

UGC-AICTE merger

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Education

  • The Centre has not taken any final decision on the merger of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to create a single regulator for higher education.
  • A June 2018 version of the draft HECI Bill had faced objections from States worried they would lose autonomy under the new regime as well as concerns that grant disbursal powers were being moved from autonomous bodies to the direct control of the HRD Minister.

Higher Education Commission of India (HECI)

  • The Centre has decided to establish a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) in the place of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • The Bill repeals the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 and establishes the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
  • The HECI will maintain academic standards in higher education by specifying learning outcomes for courses, specifying eligibility criteria for Vice Chancellors, and ordering closure of higher educational institutions which fail to adhere to minimum standards.
  •  Every higher educational institution empowered to award degrees or diplomas will have to apply to the HECI to commence its first academic operations. 
  •  The HECI also has the power to revoke permission on specified grounds.
  •  The Bill sets up an Advisory Council chaired by the Union Minister of Human Resource Development. The Council will advise on coordination and determination of standards in higher education between the centre and states.

Surrogacy Bill

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Health

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, was referred to a select committee of the Upper House , after several MPs raised concerns over several provisions of the legislation, including making it mandatory for a surrogate to be a close relative.

Background:

  • It provides for constitution of surrogacy boards at the national as well as state levels to ensure effective regulation.
  • It seeks to allow ethical altruistic surrogacy to the intending infertile Indian married couple between the age of 23-50 years for female and 26-55 years for male.
  • Only Indian couples who have been legally married for at least 5 years would be allowed to opt for surrogacy.
  • It makes it mandatory for the couple to obtain a certificate of essentiality and also a certificate of eligibility before going ahead with surrogacy. 
  • It also provides that intending couples should not abandon the child born out of surrogacy under any condition.
  • It also stipulates a separate eligibility criterion for the surrogate mother.
    • The surrogate must be a close relative of the intending couple and be a married woman having a child of her own.
    • She should between the age of 25-35 years, not have been surrogate earlier and must be certifiably mentally and physically fit.
  • On the legal status of a surrogate child, the Bill states that any child born out of a surrogacy procedure shall be the biological child of the intending couple.
    • The new born child shall be entitled to all rights and privileges that are available to a natural child.
  • The Bill also seeks to regulate functioning of surrogacy clinics. All surrogacy clinics in the country need to be registered by the appropriate authority in order to undertake surrogacy or its related procedures.
  • The Bill provides for various safeguards for surrogate mothers. One of them is insurance coverage for sometime to cover not only the period of pregnancy but after that also.
  • It also specifies that no sex selection can be done when it comes to surrogacy.

FREE FASTAGS 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Technology

  • FASTags, or reloadable tags for payment at toll booths, will be available for free until November 30, Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.
  • The announcement comes a week before FASTags become mandatory at all the booths on national highways from December 1.

FASTags:

  • FASTag is an electronic toll collection system in India, operated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
  • It employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it or directly toll owner. 
  • It is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables to drive through toll plazas without stopping for transactions. The tag can be purchased from official Tag issuers or participating Banks and if it is linked to a prepaid account, then recharging or top-up can be as per requirement.
  • As per NHAI, FASTag has unlimited validity. 
  • 7.5% cashback offers were also provided to promote the use of FASTag. 
  • Dedicated Lanes at some Toll plazas have been built for FASTag.
  • In January 2019, state-run oil marketing companies IOC, BPCL and HPCL have signed MoUs enabling the use of FASTag to make purchases at petrol pumps.
  • As of September 2019, FASTag lanes are available on over 500 national and state highways and over 54.6 lakh (5.46 million) cars are enabled with FASTag.

AVIAN BOTULISM 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment 

  • The Indian Veterinary Research Institute confirmed that avian botulism — a neuro-muscular illness caused by a toxin that is produced by a bacterial strain — was the cause of the recent mass mortality of birds, at Sambhar Salt Lake in Rajasthan. 
  • More than 18,000 carcasses of birds have been removed from the lake and its catchment area so far, raising concern among environmentalists.

Avian Botulism

  • Avian Botulism is a strain of botulism that affects wild and captive bird populations, most notably waterfowl. 
  • This is a paralytic disease brought on by the Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNt) of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. C. botulinum can fall into one of 7 different types which are strains A through G.
  • Type C BoNt is most frequently associated with waterfowl mortality.
  • The Type E strain is also commonly associated with avian outbreaks and is frequently found in fish species which is why most outbreaks occur in piscivorous birds.

Miscellaneous

  • The land allocated to the LuLu Group in Visakhapatnam had cancelled due to a dispute it was involved in and environmental norms.
  • The project was cancelled for two reasons. One, there was a dispute on the land and, second, it was against environmental norms. Moreover, standing guidelines are that a single bid should not be accepted

(MAINS FOCUS)


IR

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

US to sell $1 billion worth defence equipment to India

Context:

The US State Department has approved the sale of naval guns and other equipment worth $1 billion to India for use against warships, anti-aircraft and shore bombardment. 

Details:

  • The Indian government has requested to buy up to 13 MK 45 5 inch/62 caliber (MOD 4) naval guns and 3,500 D349 Projectile 5 inch/54 calibre (MOD 1) ammunition.
  • Other equipment included ammunition, spare parts, personnel and equipment training, publications and technical data, transportation and US government and contractor technical assistance and other related logistics support. 
  • The total estimated cost of all of this equipment is over $1 billion.

What is the MK 45 gun system?

  • The MK 45 is a fully automatic naval gun system that is installed on ships and provides a Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) range of more than 20 nautical miles (36 km) along with improved propelling charge. 
  • This system of guns is currently in use by the US Navy.
  • The MOD 4 configuration gun mount is believed to boost the firing range by over 50 per cent, increasing the speed and range of munitions.
  • Other countries that have been sold the MOD 4 naval guns are Japan, Australia and South Korea. 
  • The US may also sell these guns to other allies including Britain and Canada. 
  • The MK 45 Gun System will provide the capability to conduct anti¬-surface warfare and anti-air defence missions.
  • It will enhance interoperability with US and other allied forces. 
  • India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence.

India-US Relations

  • Since the 1990s, Indian foreign policy adapted to the unipolar world and developed closer ties with the United States.
  • Indian foreign policy has sought to leverage India’s strategic autonomy in order to safeguard sovereign rights and promote national interests within a multi-polar world.
  • Under the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the United States has demonstrated accommodation to India’s core national interests and acknowledged outstanding concerns.
  • In 2016, India and United States signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement and India was declared a Major Defense Partner of the United States
  • The U.S. has four “foundational” agreements that it signs with its defence partners.
  • In recent years, India has conducted large joint military exercises with the US in the Indian Ocean.
  • USA as part of its foreign policy to counter China wants to make India as one of the major defence partners for which it is in talks with Indian representatives to sell highly technologically advanced predator drones
  • US policy had been opposed to nuclear cooperation with India in prior years because India had developed nuclear weapons against international conventions, and had never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT). 
  • The legislation Henry J. Hyde US–India Peaceful Atomic Cooperation Act clears the way for India to buy US nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian use.
  • The India–United States Civil Nuclear Agreement also referred to as the “123 Agreement” is a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation which governs civil nuclear trade between American and Indian firms to participate in each other’s civil nuclear energy sector. 
  • For the agreement to be operational, nuclear vendors and operators must comply with India’s 2010 Nuclear Liability Act which stipulates that nuclear suppliers, contractors and operators must bear financial responsibility in case of an accident.
  • Prominent industrial accidents (1984 Bhopal chemical-gas disaster and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster) has led to greater scrutiny by civil society into corporate responsibility and financial liability obligations of vendors and operators of critical infrastructure. 
  • In 2010, the Indian Parliament voted the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act to address concerns and provide civil liability for nuclear damage and prompt compensation to the victims of a nuclear incident.
  • On 27 March 2019, India and the US signed an agreement to “strengthen bilateral security  and civil nuclear cooperation” including the construction of six American nuclear reactors in India

Key milestones in India – US relations

  • Increase in bilateral trade & investment, 
  • Co-operation on global security matters, 
  • Inclusion of India in decision-making on matters of global governance (United Nations Security Council), 
  • Upgraded representation in trade & investment forums (World Bank, IMF, APEC)
  • Admission into multilateral export control regimes (MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group).
  • Support for admission in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and joint-manufacturing through technology sharing arrangements have become key milestones and a measure of speed and advancement on the path to closer US–India relations.

Connecting the dots:

  • U.S.-India Defense Ties Grow Closer as Shared Concerns in Asia Loom . Analyse

IR

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Tunisian rap song that triggered Arab Spring has suddenly become relevant again

Context:

  • A week after the death of Tunisia’s first democratically elected president, , the only stable democracy post the Arab Springs across the region of North Africa and the Middle East is set to face challenges to its hard-won democracy.

Background of the Arab Spring:

  • In January 2011, after a month of protests against an oppressive and corrupt autocratic regime, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown and eventually replaced by a developing democracy. 
  • Tunisians had been protesting high unemployment, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, food inflation, poor living conditions and injustice. 
  • The country had been witnessing widespread dissatisfaction and anger by ordinary citizens.  
  • The death of fruit vendor Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi who self-immolated to protest harassment exacerbated the tense socio-political situation in Tunisia.
  • Political observers believe Bouazizi’s death acted as a trigger for the start of the Tunisian Revolution of 2011.
  • The Arab Springs that spread across North Africa and the Middle East.
  • A month before the Tunisian Revolution began, Tunisian rapper Hamada Ben Amor, who performs under the name of El Général, released a political rap song called ‘RaisLebled’ in December 2010. 
  • The approximately four-minute song was a powerful protest against the corruption of former autocrat Ben Ali and resonated particularly with Tunisia’s youth, making it the anthem of the Tunisian Revolution.
  • In the weeks that followed, Tunisia successfully managed to overthrow Ben Ali and his government. 
  • BéjiCaïdEssebsi was made interim Prime Minister, a post that he held for the remainder of 2011. He resigned in December of the same year.

After math:

  • In December 2014, Essebsi won parliamentary elections, Tunisia’s first free presidential elections and became President of the country.
  • Tunisia, with it’s free elections, secularism and democratically elected head of state, was the only success of the Arab Springs, with Libya, Yemen & Syria having fallen into civil war and uprisings crushed in nations like Bahrain and political instability elsewhere in the region.
  • Issues of unemployment still did not get resolved.
  • There was prevalent criticisms that he was trying to consolidate power in the country. 
  • A lack of authority following Essebsi’s death are some of the problems challenging Tunisia’s hard-won democratic freedoms.
  • In 2019, eight years after the Tunisian Revolution, El Général’s raps from ‘RaisLebled’ are particularly relevant.

Effects:

  • The effects of the Tunisian Revolution spread strongly to five other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, where either the regime was toppled or major uprisings and social violence occurred, including riots, civil wars or insurgencies.
  • Sustained street demonstrations took place in Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iranian Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan

At present:

  • As of May 2018, only the uprising in Tunisia has resulted in a transition to constitutional democratic governance.
  • Recent uprisings in Sudan and Algeria show that the conditions that started the Arab Spring are not going away and political movements against authoritarianism and exploitation are still occurring

Connecting the dots:

  • The Arab world is home to 5% of the global population, but accounts for half of all terrorist attacks. Critically analyse 

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q1) Consider the following statements about FASTags :

  1. FASTagis an electronic toll collection system in India, 
  2. It isoperated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

Which of the above statements are correct:

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

Q2) Consider the following statements about  Tiger tiriumph:

  1. The exercise represents the growing strategic partnership between Japan and India.
  2. It was the first ever Tri-Services.

Which of the above statements are correct:

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

Q3). Consider the following statements about Surrogacy bill :

  1. The surrogacy bill proposes a complete ban on commercial surrogacy 
  2. Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy. 

Which of the above statements are not correct:

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

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