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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th April 2020

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  • April 30, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th April 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Global Terrorism Index (GTI), 2019: India ranks seventh worst terrorism affected country

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Terrorism

In News:

  • India is ranked as seventh worst terrorism affected country in Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2019 report. 
  • India is even worse affected than other conflict-ridden countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Palestine and Lebanon.
  • Meanwhile, India’s think tank, NITI Aayog has questioned the methodology adopted by the report. 

Key takeaways:

  • Deaths from terrorism fell for the fourth consecutive year, after peaking in 2014.
  • Afghanistan has replaced Iraq as the most affected country by terrorism.
  • India has moved to the seventh position from the previous year’s eighth in the annual Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2019.
  • Other countries ahead of India are:
    • Afghanistan (most affected) 
    • Iraq
    • Nigeria
    • Syria
    • Pakistan
    • Somalia

Important value additions:

The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 

  • It is a report published annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a global think tank 
  • It is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
  • The index provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism since 2000. 
  • GTI scores are directly used in the Global Peace Index, the Global Slavery Report,
  • It is also indirectly used in reports of World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness and Global Competitiveness Indices and compilation of Safe Cities Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

SVAMITVA scheme: a new initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Welfare Schemes

In News:

  • Indian Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj has issued guidelines regarding the SVAMITVA scheme. 
  • It is a new initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

Important value additions:

SVAMITVA scheme 

  • It is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Departments, State Revenue Departments and Survey of India.
  • It is currently being implemented in six states – 
    • Haryana
    • Karnataka
    • Madhya Pradesh 
    • Maharashtra
    • Uttar Pradesh 
    • Uttarakhand.
  • It aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India for setting the boundaries of the rural lands
  • Latest drone survey technology shall be used for mapping of rural housing land. 
  • This scheme will help in streamlining planning and revenue collection in rural areas. 
  • This will also help in resolving property related disputes. 
  • The scheme will enable creation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs). 

India remains on U.S. Priority Watch List 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Intellectual Property Rights; GS-II – International Relations

In News:

  • According to USTR’s Annual Special 301 Report, India continues to be on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for lack of adequate intellectual property (IP) rights protection and enforcement. 

Key takeaways from the report:

  • India remained one of the most challenging economies for IP enforcement and protection. 
  • Though India has made meaningful progress to enhance IP protection and enforcement in some areas over the past year, it did not resolve recent and long-standing challenges, and created new ones.
  • These long-standing concerns were about:
    • innovators being able to receive, maintain and enforce patents particularly in the pharmaceutical sector;
    • copyright laws not incentivising the creation and commercialisation of content; 
    • an outdated trade secrets framework.
  • The report also pointed out high customs duties on medical devices and Information and Communications Technology. 
  • Countries like Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela are also on the Priority Watch List.

Important value additions:

Special 301 Report

  • It is prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). 
  • It identifies trade barriers to United States companies and products due to the intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and trademarks, in other countries.
  • The Special 301 Report was first published in 1989.  

Miscellaneous 

Petersberg Climate Dialogue XI 

  • Indian Union Minister for Environment represented India in the first virtual Petersberg Climate Dialogue.
  • It was the eleventh session of Petersberg Climate Dialogue.
  • It is hosted by Germany. 
  • It provides a forum for informal high-level political discussions, focusing both on international climate negotiations and the advancement of climate action.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • India and its neighborhood- relations. 
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas 

Afghan Peace and India’s chances

Context: On 16th April 2020, UN Secretariat held a meeting, of what it calls the “6+2+1” group on regional efforts to support peace in Afghanistan. This group includes

  • Six neighbouring countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
  • Two global players: United States and Russia, 
  • Afghanistan itself

Did India participate in the meeting?

No and this was not the first time that India was absent in such crucial talks 

  • In Dec 2001, India was initially not part of talks that led to Bonn Agreement – that led to establishment of interim authority to govern Afghanistan, after US invasion led to overthrow of Taliban
    • However, India fought back and was able to build consensus to accept Hamid Karzai as the Chairman of the interim arrangement
  • In 2010 London Conference, India left midway when it learnt that meeting had decided to open talks with Taliban
    • Post the talks, India’s efforts led to historic Strategic Partnership Agreement, which was Afghanistan’s first such agreement with any country.

Why was India kept of 2020 talks?

  • The reason given was that India holds no “boundary” with Afghanistan
  • However, India was mainly kept out because it never announced its support for the U.S.-Taliban peace process

New Delhi’s stand with regard to Afghanistan

  • India’s position that only an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled process can be allowed is a principled one, but has no takers in reality
  • India has supported the Karzai government and later the Ashraf Ghani government, which has been fighting the Taliban
  • India enjoys a generous goodwill among Afghanis due to various developmental projects undertaken by India 

What is the basis of India’s goodwill in Afghanistan?

The building blocks of India’s goodwill are its assistance in infrastructure projects, health care, education, trade and food security, 

  • Three major projects that have cemented the friendship are: 
    • The Afghan Parliament
    • The Zaranj-Delaram Highway, 
    • The Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam)
  • The liberal access provided to Afghans to study, train and work in India.
  • India has provided assistance of more than $3 billion in projects
  • The bilateral relationship also has trade of about $1 billion 
  • India has envisaged $20 billion projected development expenditure of an alternate route through Chabahar (Iran)

How has India’s strategy on its support to Ashraf Ghani backfired?

New Delhi’s excessive reliance on Ashraf Ghani has had a two-fold effect: 

  • India’s voice in the reconciliation process has been limited 
  • It has weakened India’s position with other leaders of the deeply divided democratic setup in Kabul such as the former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah. 

Difficulties for India’s Strategic space in Afghanistan

  • The U.S.-Taliban peace deal means that the Taliban has become more powerful vis-à-vis Afghan government, which is not in India’s interest given the Taliban’s close connections with Pakistan
  • India’s presence inside Afghanistan is being threatened anew by terror groups such as the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), backed by Pakistan
  • India’s resistance to open talks with the Taliban has made it an awkward interlocutor at any discussion on Afghanistan Peace process
  • Erosion of India’s goodwill due to controversy surrounding Citizenship Amendment Act

Way Ahead for India

  • Union Government must consider the appointment of a special envoy to deal with its efforts in Afghanistan
  • India must strive to ensure that its aid and assistance is broad-based, particularly during the novel coronavirus pandemic, even if some lie in areas held by the Taliban.
  • India must make efforts to bridge the Ghani-Abdullah divide, and bringing together other major leaders with whom India has built ties for decades. Failure of this will mean a collapsing opposition to Taliban
  • An understanding between Iran and the U.S. on Afghanistan is necessary for lasting peace, and India could play a mediatory part.

Connecting the dots:

  • Role of UN in international Conflicts – Critically analyse
  • Defeat of ISIS- What led to it and its consequences?

GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY/ ENVIRONMENT

Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 
  • Indian Economy and challenges with regard to resource mobilization

COVID-19: Opportunity for Energy Sector reforms

Context: The 9-minute event on April 5th was one PM asked to switch-off lights and light lamps to show respect to COVID-19 warriors. It was interesting for the extent of public participation and expert management of National Electricity grid

Pre-Covid, India’s power sector has been facing a mounting financial crisis which has made it more prominent in recent times caused by an expected slowdown.

Challenges in Energy Sector

  • The trend of low power demand, now furthered in the post-Covid economy
  • Idle, old, and inefficient coal plants.
    • Plant load factors of Coal plants for the 2019-20 period are at 56%, down from 78% a decade ago.
  • High Industrial Power tariffs –one of the highest in world
  • Heavily subsidised agricultural power tariffs leading to Cross-Subsidisation – High industrial power tariffs to lower the cost of agricultural power
  • Financial health of the DISCOMs (Power Distribution Companies who purchase power from generators & distribute it consumers). 
    • They now owe over Rs 8.8 billion to generators. 
  • Challenges with Renewable Energy (RE)
    • Difficulties of integrating it with National grid given its peak productions & falls.
    • Uncertainty with RE: Weather patterns change and forecasting is never 100% accurate. 
    • Electricity management of RE will be difficult given its fluctuating nature

Way Ahead

  • A market-based, automatic mechanism for integration of infirm renewable power into the grid is non-negotiable.
  • Use of Li-ion battery storage to manage power spikes associated with the 175GW of RE planned by 2022
  • Restructuring of Coal Plants: Some of these old units could be restructured and shut down, based on their generation costs, remaining plant life & modernisation
  • Improving Efficiency: Retrofit power units with flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) to improve the environmental efficiency of old power plants
  • Lower industrial power tariffs to meet the competition. Industrial power in Vietnam is, for example, 40% cheaper than in India
  • Adoption of DBT framework for providing subsidy to agricultural power consumers
  • Utilize the Crisis: Now is an opportunity to bring in fresh Covid-influenced industrial investment from Korea and Japan, which are diversifying away from China.
  • New Legislative Framework: Enactment of proposed Electricity Amendment Bill,2020 and adoption by States with suitable modifications

Conclusion

The proposed Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, is an ambitious step in the right direction—with bold moves to 

  • Institute cost-reflective tariffs, 
  • Remove subsidies, and 
  • Strengthen the sanctity of contracts through greater enforcement 
  • Provision of payment security to generators

Connecting the dots:

  • UDAY Scheme
  • Paris Climate Goals and India’s commitment towards it

(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 Global terrorism index is published by which of the following

  1. Amnesty International 
  2. Bill Gates Foundation 
  3. Institute for Economics and Peace 
  4. UN Security Council

Q.2 SVAMITVA scheme is a new initiative of which of the following ministry? 

  1. Ministry of Panchayati Raj 
  2. Ministry of Agriculture 
  3. Ministry of Urban development  
  4. Ministry of Finance

Q.3 Special 301 Report is published by which of the following? 

  1. United States Trade Representative 
  2. World Economic Forum 
  3. International Monetary Fund 
  4. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Q.4 With regard to Special 301 Report, consider the following statements: 

  1. India is placed in US priority watch list.
  2. High custom duties on medical devices and Information and Communications Technology were one of the highlights of the report.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.5 Where is Petersberg located? 

  1. Germany 
  2. Russia
  3. France
  4. Italy

ANSWERS FOR 29th April 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 C
4 D

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