IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th June 2020
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Innovation
- Recently, the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (Office of PSA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have jointly initiated the formulation of a new national Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP 2020).
- It will be the 5th STIP of India.
- It will integrate the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic including the building of an Atmanirbhar Bharat by taking advantage of India’s strengths in research and development, science and technology, huge markets, demographic dividend and data.
- The STIP 2020 formulation process will be six-months long.
- It has been organised into 4 highly interlinked tracks:
- Track I: It involves an extensive public and expert consultation process through Science Policy Forum.
- Track II: It comprises experts-driven consultations to formulate recommendations for the policy.
- Track III: It involves extensive intra-state and intra-department consultation with Ministries and States.
- Track IV: It constitutes an apex level multi-stakeholder consultation.
Important value additions
Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser
- It was set-up in November 1999 by the Cabinet Secretariat.
- To evolve policies, strategies and missions for the generation of innovations and support systems for multiple applications.
- To generate science and technology tasks in critical infrastructure, economic and social sectors.
- To function as the Secretariat to the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet.
- The Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) is an overarching council that facilitates the PSA’s office.
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International Relations
- The US government has recently issued an executive order authorising sanctions against individuals who were involved in an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into whether U.S. forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
Important value additions
The International Criminal Court (ICC)
- It is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands.
- It has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of:
- crimes against humanity
- war crimes
- crime of aggression.
- It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems.
- It may exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals.
- It may only investigate and prosecute crimes committed within member states, crimes committed by nationals of member states, or crimes in situations referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council.
- The ICC lacks universal territorial jurisdiction.
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure (Railways)
- The Indian Railways has created a world record by commissioning the first high rise Over Head Equipment (OHE) and successfully running double-stack containers in the electrified territory on the Western Railway.
- This achievement is a first of its kind in the entire world.
- It will also boost the Green India Mission.
- The operations successfully commenced on June 10 from Palanpur and Botad stations in Gujarat.
Important value additions
Green India mission
- It is one of the missions that come under the umbrella of National Action Plan on Climate Change.
- It was launched in 2014.
- The primary aim is to protect, restore and enhance India’s diminishing forest cover
- Ministry of Environment and Forests is the nodal Ministry for the mission.
- Some of its objectives are:
- Growth in forest or tree cover to 5 million hectares (mha).
- Increase the quality of forest cover in another 5 million hectares of forest or non-forest lands.
- Increase the quality of degrading moderately dense forests.
- Ecologically restore open forests which are being degraded.
- Grasslands revival – 0.4 million hectares
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Education
- The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2021 were released recently.
- The top 10 universities of the world comprised mainly the top-notch Ivy League colleges from the US, the UK and even one from Switzerland.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of the United States secured Rank 1.
- Status of Indian universities:
- No Indian institute secured a position among the top 100 universities of the world.
- Like last year’s QS rankings, IIT Bombay, IISc Bengaluru, and IIT Delhi featured in the top 200 list.
- All three saw a drop in their ranks this year.
- IIT Bombay dropped 20 spots — from 152 to 172, IISC Bengaluru dropped one spot from 184 to 185, and IIT Delhi dropped 11 spots from 182 to 193.
- The total number of Indian institutions in the top 1,000 global list has also fallen from 24 to 21.
Important value additions
QS World University Rankings
- It is published annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British company specialising in the analysis of higher education institutions around the world.
- It measures the world’s top 1,000 universities on 6 factors:
- Academic reputation (40%)
- Employer reputation (10%)
- Faculty/Student Ratio (20%)
- Citations per faculty (20%)
- International Faculty Ratio (5%)
- International student ratio (5%)
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Agriculture
- Union Agriculture Minister launched Sahakar Mitra: Scheme on Internship Programme (SIP).
- Its objective is to help cooperative institutions access innovative ideas of young professionals while the interns will gain experience of working in the field to be self-reliant.
- The scheme is an initiative by National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), the cooperative sector development finance organization.
- Professional graduates in disciplines such as Agriculture and allied areas, IT etc. will be eligible for internship.
- Professionals who are pursuing or have completed their MBA degrees in Agri-business, Cooperation, Finance, International Trade, etc. will also be eligible.
- Each intern will get financial support over a 4 months internship period.
- Scientists from Raman Research Institute (RRI), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science &Technology have found out that Spectrin act as ‘shock absorbers’ to protect axons from stretch-induced damage.
- Spectrin are flexible rod-shaped molecules present in axons.
- Axons are long tubular extensions of nerve cells that transmit electrical signals across long distances and can be up to a meter long in the case of humans.
- The study can help in understanding and treatment of concussion from head injuries as well as stretch-induced nerve injuries.
Ramon Magsaysay Awards
- Awards have been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Ramon Magsaysay award is popularly known as Asia’s Nobel Prize.
- It is given to individuals and organizations in Asia regardless of race, creed, sex, or nationality, who have achieved distinction in their respective fields.
- It is named after Ramon Magsaysay, the third president (1953-57) of Philippines.
- Awardees are presented with a certificate and a medal.
SPIC MACAY’s International Convention
- Recently, the Prime Minister of India addressed the SPIC MACAY’s International Convention via video conference.
- SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) is a non-political, nationwide, voluntary movement founded in 1977 by Dr Kiran Seth.
- It is a participatory student movement registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860
- It is supported nationally by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a disinfection unit named Ultra Swachh to disinfect a wide range of materials, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), electronics items, fabrics, etc.
- The system uses an advanced oxidative process (ozonation).
- Ozonation is a type of advanced oxidation process, involving the production of very reactive oxygen species able to attack a wide range of organic compounds and all microorganisms.
EDUCATION/ GOVERNANCE/ S&T
Topic: General Studies 2,3:
- Government policies and interventions for development in Education sector
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Context: The COVID-19 lockdown has given impetus to online learning which is being seen as substitution of Classroom learning experience
Analogy of Helmet usage
- There are broadly two kinds of helmets, namely, one which protects the head and the other which protects the wallet.
- The most significant difference is that of design intentions.
- One is designed keeping safety in mind, made of durable, impact-absorbing material
- The other, on the other hand, is designed to get by police fines and is made of quality-compromising, low-cost material.
- Thus, there is a dilution in our conception of a helmet from being a safety gear to protect lives to being a gear to protect us from being fined.
- Something that is of value (helmet as measure of safety) is being diluted into the functional
The University Grants Commission (UGC) scheme
- In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UGC issued a circular to universities encouraging them to adopt massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered on its SWAYAM platform for credit transfers in the coming semesters
- The SWAYAM platform has, however, left out courses in engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, agriculture, and physiotherapy on the grounds that they involve laboratory and practical work.
Criticism of UGC Scheme/ MOOC-based e-learning
- Tool to increase GER: MOOC-based e-learning platforms poses danger since it is also being seen as an instrument to achieve the country’s target Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education (envisioned to be 30% by 2021; it was 25.8% in 2017–18).
- Similar to Helmet Usage: This is another instance of a dilution of meaning (GER numbers over learning) and subsequent flattening of the learning curve
- Neglecting Physical Infrastructure: Instead of expanding the network of higher educational institutions across the country and increasing seats, the government plans to make online degree programmes available for students
- Reduction of Education: The scheme views education as a combination of content and consumption, and this diluted meaning is being put to the service of achieving increased GER.
- Uni-directional: MOOC-based e-learning platforms tend to reinforce a top-down teacher-to-student directionality of learning whereby the teacher ‘creates’ and the student consumes
- Role of Teacher Changed: The teacher is traditionally considered as an intellectual midwife who facilitates in the birth of students’ ideas and insights through engaging in critical dialogue. This interaction will be reduced to great extent in online learning
- Overlooking Sacred Spaces: Taking higher education online is much like taking up a sport such as cricket, football or boxing online. One has not actually learnt the sport unless one has engaged with it in one’s gully, stadium, field, or ring.
- Narrow view of Humanities: Science stream being left out of SWAYAM portal is welcome. However, arts, social sciences, and humanities curricula are considered largely lecture- and theory-based, and, therefore, readily adaptable to the online platform, which is a misconception
- Loss of inclusiveness: Classroom and campus spaces offer the potential for solidarity in the face of discrimination, social anxiety, and stage fear, paving the way for a proliferation of voluntary associations
- This could also dilute norms of evaluation, whereby a good lecture might mean merely a lecture which “streams seamlessly, without buffering”.
- MOOC-based e-learning platforms will help us get by with the pandemic just as a “helmet” would help us get by with traffic police waving penalty slips
- Therefore, such platforms must be seen only as temporary arrangements that help us get by under lockdown situations and complement classroom lectures.
Connecting the dots:
- Privatization of Education
- Right to Education
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in Health sectors
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
Context: While COVID-19 has exposed the fault lines of Indian Healthcare, it has strengthened the calls for Universal Health Coverage(UHC) as a long-term reform
In this regard, there seems to be an emerging consensus around expanding the coverage through Ayushman Bharat initiative
About Ayushman Bharat
- Ayushman Bharat adopts a continuum of care approach, comprising of two inter-related components, which are:
- Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs).
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
- It aims to bring quality healthcare to around 50 crore poor and vulnerable Indians (based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data)
- PM-JAY is world’s largest health insurance fully financed by government which will provide free coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year at any government or even empanelled private hospitals all over India for secondary and tertiary medical care facilities.
- Centrally sponsored scheme with contribution from both Centre and State
- Cashless access to health care services for the beneficiary at the point of service.
- Wellness Centres: The 1.5 lakh sub-centres that are converted into wellness centres will cater to majority of services such as detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, screening for common cancers, mental health, care of the elderly, eye care, etc
Measures taken by Maharashtra
- Universalising its state health insurance scheme,
- Free Covid-19 testing/ treatment under AB–PMJAY
- Express empanelment to encourage private sector participation in AB–PMJAY
- Significance: These steps could be a prelude to universalisation of health insurance.
Learnings from COVID-19 pandemic
- Strong public sector comes in handy during times of crisis.
- States with higher per-capita public health spending have tackled Covid-19 better
- Private healthcare interests aren’t particularly aligned with managing infectious diseases and emergencies.
- Private hospitals under health insurance often prefer high-paying, non-communicable disease-related interventions .
- The private sector’s weak response to Covid-19 under AB–PMJAY till date could be evidence of above observation.
Advantages of Universalisation of healthcare(UHC)
- In ideal conditions, universal health coverage would extend to currently uninsured citizens and reduce financial barriers to care, both over a short period.
- Helps bring a large chunk of private healthcare under the public ambit
- Reduces informality in healthcare provision,
- Paves the way for better regulation and oversight,
- Allows monopsonistic power to the state to negotiate for better and affordable care.
- It may also contribute to reducing regional disparities in healthcare services
- It helps foster the adoption of cost-effective healthcare innovations
Challenges with expansion of PM-JAY
- While the lesson from the pandemic is to strengthen public healthcare, the insurance route to UHC could further weaken the public sector.
- Private providers would likely comprise an unduely large proportion of empanelled facilities under PM-JAY, and public providers, with their weak infrastructure, are bound to lose out.
- Expanding AB–PMJAY to the uncovered population through premium collections would be unpredictable given our huge informal sector
- Typically, under-regulated private-sector-led insurance models fail to address the problem of the out-of-pocket expenses on health, and do little to address issues of equity and access
- Insurance & Private sector led UHC also leads to large, unfruitful administrative expenses and pervasive malpractices.
Way Ahead – Robust Public Health Sector
- While there is a need to carefully rethink the insurance route to UHC, the pandemic has indicated that strengthening public healthcare is unquestionably indispensable.
- Not only can a robust public sector enable mounting an effective response to future emergencies, but even if the insurance route is opted, it can provide a counterweight to the private sector through its efficient functioning.
Connecting the dots:
- National Health System model of UK vs US Insurance Model
- Increasing burden of non-communicable diseases – Critical analysis
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- 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 the office of the principal scientific Adviser (Office of PSA):
- The Prime Minister’s science technology and innovation Advisory Council facilitates PSA’s office.
- It functions as the secretariat to the scientific advisory committee to the Cabinet.
Which of the above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2 Where is the International Criminal Court located?
- Great Britain
Q.3 Recently, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was targeted with sanctions over Afghanistan war crimes case. Consider the following statements regarding ICC:
- It has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals who are involved in the crimes of genocide.
- It can investigate the crimes committed outside the member states also.
- It has Universal territorial jurisdiction.
Which of the above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
Q.4 Which of the following country’s recently created world record by successfully running first Double-Stack Container Train in its electrified territory?
ANSWERS FOR 12th June 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
About racial crisis in USA:
About measuring the pandemic:
About criticism of government’s handling of Pandemic: