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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th April 2020

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  • April 17, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th April 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


National directives for COVID-19 Management issued

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health; GS-III – Disaster management 

In News:

  • Union Government has recently issued a list of National Directives for COVID-19 management while extending the lockdown period till 3rd May, 2020. 

Key takeaways:

  • Spitting in public is prohibited and punishable with a fine. 
  • Wearing of face cover in work places and public places has been made compulsory. 
  • No organization and manager of public spaces shall allow gathering of five or more persons.
  • Gatherings such as marriages and funerals shall remain regulated by the District Magistrate.
  • There will be a strict ban on sale of items such as liquor, gutka and tobacco.
  • All work places must have adequate arrangements for temperature screening and provide sanitizers at convenient places.
  • Work places should have a gap of one hour between shifts and lunch breaks to ensure social distancing.
  • Both private and public work places are asked to encourage the use of Arogya Setu for all employees.

Important value additions:

Arogya Setu

  • Aarogya Setu is a COVID-19 tracking mobile application
  • It is developed by the National Informatics Centre that comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India.
  • The purpose of this app is to spread the awareness and to connect essential health services to the people of India. 
  • It uses smartphone’s GPS and Bluetooth features to track the coronavirus infection. 
  • It is an updated version of an earlier app called Corona Kavach (now discontinued). 
  • Aarogya Setu has four sections:
    •  Your Status: tells the risk of getting COVID-19 for the user. 
    • Self-Assess: lets the user know the risk of being infected. 
    • COVID-19 Update: gives update on the local and national COVID-19 cases. 
    • E-pass:yet to go active.  

Amendments made to Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 amidst COVID-19 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment Impact Assessment 

In News:

  • To ramp up availability/production of various drugs against COVID-19, Ministry of Environment has made an amendment to Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006.
  • All projects or activities in respect of bulk drugs and intermediates, manufactured for addressing various ailments, have been re-categorized from the existing Category ‘A’ to ‘B2’ category.
  • The re-categorization of such proposals will lead to decentralization of appraisal to State Level, thus helping in fast track the process.
  • This amendment is applicable to all proposals received up to 30th September 2020.

Important value additions:

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • It is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project 
  • It is statutorily backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986
  • New EIA legislation, 2006 makes it mandatory for various projects such as mining, thermal power plants, river valley, infrastructure and industries to get environment clearance.
  • The onus of clearing projects is on the state government depending on the size/capacity of the project. 
  • Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 has decentralized the environmental clearance projects by categorizing the developmental projects in two categories – Category A (national level appraisal) and Category B (state level appraisal).
  • Category A projects – They require mandatory environmental clearance and thus they do not undergo the screening process.
  • Category B Projects- They undergo screening process and they are classified into two types:
    • Category B1 projects (Mandatorily require EIA).
    • Category B2 projects (Do not require EIA).

Potential missile deals with India approved by the USA 

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

In News:

  • U.S. State Department has approved two potential missile deals with India, for an estimated $92 million and $63 million.

Key takeaways:

  • The first deal is for 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles and related equipment. 
  • These missiles can be fitted onto Boeing’s P-8I (Poseidon-Eight India) maritime patrol aircraft.
  • The second deal is for:
    • 16 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT);
    • Three MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes; and
    • Two Recoverable Exercise Torpedoes (REXTORP).

Important value additions:

Harpoon missiles

  • The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile air-launched missile. 

P-8I

  • The P-8s (Poseidon-Eight) Indian variant is referred to as P-8I. 
  • The aircraft plays a crucial role in being the eyes of the Indian Navy and carrying out critical maritime operations. 
  • It gives India’s maritime warriors a significant edge in the strategically important Indian Ocean region. 
  • The P-8I is responsible for:
    • coastal patrolling
    • search-and-rescue,
    •  anti-piracy,  
    • supporting operations of other arms of the military. 

Haftar’s Forces attack Libya’s capital Tripoli

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – International Relations; GS-III – Linkages of Organised crime with terrorism 

In News:

  • The forces of Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar Libyan capital Tripoli with rockets. 
  • The capital was attacked after Haftar’s Forces were expelled from multiple towns west of Libya by government loyalists. 

Important value additions:

Khalifa Belqasim Haftar

  • He is the Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) which is engaged in the Libyan Civil War.
  • He held a senior position in the forces which overthrew Gaddafi in the 2011 Libyan Civil War.
  • Libya has suffered almost a decade of conflict since longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 uprising backed by several Western powers. 
  • Recently, the UN-backed government recaptured the coastal cities of Sorman and Sabratha and several inland towns.
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th April 2020

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th April 2020

Image Source: https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-libya-map-image14306310 


(MAINS FOCUS)


SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE/ ETHICS

Topic: General Studies 1, 2 & 4:

  • Salient features of Indian Society- communalism, regionalism & secularism. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 

Rumours: Why it spreads – A Sociological analysis

Context: COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing lockdown has led to emergence of unsubstantiated rumours being spread through various media

Do You Know?

  • Emergence of Nizamuddin (New Delhi) as the hotspot of Coronavirus led to fake news about the origin of disease leading to communalisation of pandemic
  • In 1984, during Delhi Sikhs pogrom, there were rumours entire water supply was poisoned
  • During late 18th century Paris, there were rumours that the rich had distributed lethal, contaminated flour to the poor

A rumour is an untested piece of information, opinion, report or story. 

Some of the features of rumours are:

  • It must have an element of truth that makes it believable for the listener/reader. 
  • It neglects reason and is loaded with passion/emotion
  • Interlinkage between social anxiety & rumours: It occurs in a societal context where there is either an information void or an information overload – usually during a crisis like war, pandemic, social unrest etc.
  • It is deliberately planted by few but derives authority largely from a mob 

Immediate Consequence of rumours

  • Scapegoating a community (usually a minority) leading to a Polarised society
  • Social boycott of individual/groups of people
  • Violence and arson which might lead to lynching and murder.

Why rumours circulate?

  • Crisis situation leads to anxiety & panic among people. 
  • Psychological inclination: In times of acute crisis, people who are already disturbed often incline towards knee jerk speculation and prejudice.
  • Passion dominates Reason: An anxious mind neglects all evidence and instead surrenders to rumours, often in the service of emotional need
  • Need for an enemy: A group consisting of ‘outsiders’, already distrusted and disliked, becomes an easy target for rumours, ready to be blamed for the crisis.
  • Cascading effect of rumours: A belief gets entrenched after like-minded people discuss it among themselves leading to easy spread of rumours
  • Group Dynamics: Rather than face sanction and ostracisation for having different opinion, people find it safer to follow other members of their group.
  • Lack of scientific temper: A denial by a mistrusted outsider, no matter how great her expertise, only ends up solidifying rumour
  • Inevitable: Since societies can never be fully informed or secure, rumours are inevitable and in times of acute crisis, they are a menace.
  • Sensationalization of news: The emergence of commercial news media often sensationalises events for grabbing audience attention.
  • Anonymous nature of Social Media: The emergence of social media has made the task of spreading fake news by vested interests much easier as they can exploit the open ended nature of internet

Way Ahead

  • Regulatory laws to check rumours are needed to create deterrence 
  • Community leaders and democratically elected office holders must play a crucial role in halting rumours through regular communication
  • Long term measures
    • Depolarising society
    • Developing scientific temper so as to loosen the grip of prejudice in society

Connecting the dots:

  • Infodemics
  • Should Social media be regulated?
  • Need for a public broadcaster

SECURITY/ SOCIETY/ ETHICS

Topic: General Studies 2, 3 and 4:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 
  • Security and related issues 
  • The role of NGOs, SHGs and various groups 
  • Probity and Ethics in governance

Unlawful Activities and (Prevention) Act (UAPA)

Context: Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha and Prof Teltumbde surrendered before the NIA court on orders of Supreme Court.

Brief History of the case

  • In 2018, violence broke out at the 200th anniversary celebration of a  Bhima-Koregaon battle primarily between Dalits & upper caste people
  • Clashes then broke out across the Maharashtra state 
  • Police have alleged that several activists & academics including Prof Teltumbde( a Dalit) and his organisation Elgar Parishad, as responsible for the violence that erupted in Bhima Koregaon
  • They have been charged under UAPA and accused of having Maoist links.

About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

  • The UAPA, an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (repealed in 2004) was passed in the year 1967
  • It aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
  • Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory.
  • The 2004 amendment, added “terrorist act” to the list of offences.
  • Under the act, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
  • Powers to Union Government: If Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
  • It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.

2019 Amendment of UAPA

  • The act was amended to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act.
    • Earlier only organisations could be declared as such
    • Not designating individuals as terrorists, would give them an opportunity to circumvent the law and regroup under different name
  • It empowers the Director General of NIA to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by NIA
    • Earlier it required the consent of State Police which delayed the process
  • It empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism
    • This will help solve the human resource crunch in the NIA.

Criticism of UAPA

  • Experiences of Anti-terror laws in India such as POTA and TADA reveals that they are often misused and abused.
  • The law could also be used against political opponents and civil society activists who speak against the government and brand them as “terrorists.”
  • Critics argue that the law, especially after 2019 amendment gives unfettered powers to investigating agencies.
  • Some experts feel that it is against the federal structure, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.

Importance of Civil Society Groups/ Social Activists

  • Acts as a conduit between people and authority
  • They help in interest articulation and interest aggregation in a Democratic setup
  • Collaboration with the government in welfare delivery programmes especially in remote places where administrative machinery is thin
  • Constructive criticism of government actions which leads to improvements in governance
  • Helps in preventing the excesses of executive through their active civic participation
  • Holds the government accountable for their action and ensures transparency in government functioning
  • Promotes brotherhood and harmony in society
  • Promotes environmental consciousness among people
  • Ensures that government keep humans at the centre of development strategy

Way Ahead

  • In this contemporary period of decline of Political parties, it is the civil society that cater to people’s needs, hence they should not be harassed through draconian laws
  • Anti-terror laws should not be used as tool to silence the critics of government
  • Need to set up review committee to examine and supervise the process of designating individuals as terrorists and investigation of cases with objectivity and fairness.
  • There is a greater role for judiciary here to carefully examine the cases of alleged misuse. Arbitrariness under the law should be checked through Judicial review.
  • Drawing the line between individual freedom and state obligation to provide security is a case of classical dilemma. It is up to the officers to ensure professional integrity, follow the principle of objectivity and avoid any misuse.

Connecting the dots:

  • Foreign Funding and NGOs- Critical Analysis 
  • Need for active civic participation for vibrant Democracy

(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”.

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Arogya Setu:

  1. It is developed by National Informatics centre. 
  2. The E-pass feature is yet to go active on the app.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding environmental impact assessment categories

  1. Category A projects need to undergo the screening process. 
  2. Category B projects do not undergo the screening process.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.3 Recently, which of the following country approved potential missile deal with India?

  1. USA 
  2. Israel 
  3. France 
  4. Russia

Q.4 Tripoli is the capital of which of the following country? 

  1. Libya 
  2. Algeria 
  3. Tunisia 
  4. Lebanon

ANSWERS FOR 16th April 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 A
3 C
4 A
5 A

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