IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st July 2020
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Welfare Schemes
- PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will be extended by five months till the end of November.
- The scheme was announced as part of the first relief package during the COVID-19 pandemic for a three-month period.
Rationale behind the scheme –
- To ensure that the poorest of the poor were not left hungry.
- Under this scheme, for the next five months, 5 kg of free rice or wheat, and 1 kg of chana will be provided free.
- 80 crore individuals would be covered under this scheme.
- It is a Rs 1.7-lakh crore financial package announced by the government to minimise the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on economy and poor.
Do you know?
- The existing National Food Security Act provides 5kg of foodgrain per person monthly at a subsidised rate of Rs 2-3 per kg to the country’s poor.
- Under the PMGKY, the ration quota was enhanced by another 5 kg for free for the next three months in March. (and now extended till November)
Important value additions:
National Food Security Act
- Government of India enacted the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).
- The Act covers upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population.
- The targeted population shall receive subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System, thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
- Ministry involved: Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Govt schemes and initiatives; Pollution; Infrastructure
- World Bank has approved a 5 year loan to the Namami Gange project worth Rs. 3,000 crore ($400 million).
- World Bank fund will help to develop and improve infrastructure projects to abate pollution in the river basin.
Do you know?
- Namami Gange project or the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has already received Rs. 4,535 crore ($600 million) from the World Bank until December 2021.
Important Value Additions:
About Namami Gange Mission
- Aims at providing comprehensive and sustainable solutions for a cleaner ecosystem along the stretch of 97 towns and 4,465 villages on the Ganga stem.
- Namami Gange is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterparts—State Programme Management Groups.
- The project covers eight states and seeks to fully connect all 1,632 Gram Panchayats along the Ganga to a sanitation system by 2022.
About National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
- It is the implementation wing of the National Ganga Council.
- It was established in the year 2011 as a registered society.
- It is under the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
- It has a two-tier management structure.
- It comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee.
- To ensure effective control of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach.
- To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian economy and issues related to it
- Banks have sanctioned more than Rs. 1 lakh-crore loans under the Rs. 3-lakh crore Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) for the MSME sector reeling under COVID-19-induced economic slowdown.
- The scheme is the biggest fiscal component of the Rs. 20-lakh crore ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ package announced by Finance Minister last month.
Important value additions
Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS)
- The ECLGS scheme has been formulated as a specific response to the unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown which has severely impacted manufacturing and other activities in the MSME sector.
- The Scheme aims at mitigating the economic distress being faced by MSMEs by providing them additional funding of up to Rs. 3 lakh crore in the form of a fully guaranteed emergency credit line.
- The main objective of the Scheme is to provide an incentive to Member Lending Institutions (MLIs), i.e., Banks, Financial Institutions (FIs) and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) to increase access to, and enable availability of additional funding facility to MSME borrowers, in view of the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 crisis, by providing them 100 per cent guarantee for any losses suffered by them due to non-repayment of the GECL funding by borrowers.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and related issues; Growth and Development
- The output of eight core sector industries shrank 23% in May 2020.
- Of the eight core sectors, the fertilizer industry was the only one which saw actual growth in output in May month compare to May 2019.
- Steel sector performance was the worst, which recorded a 48.4% fall, while cement production dropped 22%.
- Good monsoon and kharif sowing season – led to some growth in the fertilizer sector.
Key prelims pointers:
- The eight core sector industries are coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Welfare Schemes; Govt schemes and initiatives
- We recently read about 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report released by UNESCO
- The report had highlighted that COVID-19 pandemic has increased inequalities in education systems.
- Therefore, to tackle social inequity in online education the Centre has proposed long-term measures to bridge the divide.
Measures proposed by the Centre
- It plans to distribute laptops or tablets to 40% of all college and university students over the next five years. (at a total cost of Rs. 60,900 crore)
- The Centre and States are to share the cost of making devices available, in a 60:40 ratio.
- The Centre aims to equip all government schools with information and communication technology (ICT).
- For the 3.1 lakh government schools above upper primary level, Centre has proposed a budget of Rs. 55,840 crore to equip them with ICT facilities.
- For college and university students, the Human Resource Development Ministry proposed to spend Rs. 2,306 crore on developing and translating digital course content and resources over the next five years.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I and II – Indian Society; Social/Welfare issue
According to the UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2020 report –
- One in three girls missing globally due to sex selection, both pre- and post-natal, is from India.
- 46 million girls of the total 142 million went missing in India.
- The number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years.
- India has the highest rate of excess female deaths at 13.5 per 1,000 female births or one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 due to postnatal sex selection. (as per 2014 study)
- The main reasons for sex ratio imbalances at birth – due to gender-biased sex selection and excess female mortality due to deliberate neglect of girls because of a culture of son preference.
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
- Regional groupings involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Context: As India-China border tensions continues, a hegemonic China, as part of its global expansionism, is threatening India’s interests in South Asia
China’s growing presence in South Asia
- China’s proximity to Pakistan is well known and friendly relations with it is crucial for success of CPEC project
- Nepal is moving closer to China for ideational and material reasons.
- China is wooing Bangladesh by offering tariff exemption to 97% of Bangladeshi products.
- China has also intensified its ties with Sri Lanka through massive investments.
- According to a Brookings India study, most South Asian nations are now largely dependent on China for imports despite geographical proximity to India.
India and SAARC in recent years
- Several foreign policy experts argue that India’s strategic dealing with China has to begin with South Asia and it is important to reinvigorate SAARC
- In the last few years, due to increasing animosity with Pakistan, India’s political interest in SAARC dipped significantly.
- India has been trying hard to isolate Pakistan internationally for its role in promoting terrorism in India. This has had detrimental effect on SAARC functioning
- India started investing in other regional instruments, such as BIMSTEC, as an alternative to SAARC.
Can BIMSTEC emerge as alternative to SAARC?
- BIMSTEC cannot replace SAARC for reasons such as lack of a common identity and history among all BIMSTEC members.
- Moreover, BIMSTEC’s focus is on the Bay of Bengal region, thus making it an inappropriate forum to engage all South Asian nations.
How to reinfuse life into SAARC?
- One way to infuse life in SAARC is to revive the process of South Asian economic integration.
- Deeper regional economic integration will create greater interdependence with India acquiring the central role, which, in turn, would serve India’s strategic interests
- South Asia is one of the least integrated regions in the world with intra-regional trade at barely 5% of total South Asian trade, compared to 25% of intra-regional trade in the ASEAN region.
- While South Asian countries have signed trade treaties, the lack of political will and trust deficit has prevented any meaningful movement.
- According to the World Bank, trade in South Asia stands at $23 billion of an estimated value of $67 billion.
- India should take the lead and work with its neighbours to slash the tariff and non-tariff barriers.
- There’s a need to resuscitate the negotiations on a SAARC investment treaty, pending since 2007. According to UNCTAD, intra-ASEAN investments constitute around 19% of the total investments in region
What are the domestic challenges that India faces in revitalising SAARC?
- First, the divisive domestic politics fuels an anti-India sentiment in India’s neighbourhood. Anti-Pakistan rhetoric, Bangladeshi migrant issue (CAA controversy) and Islamophobia in Indian soil, influences foreign policy in undesirable ways.
- Second, mission of atma nirbharta (self-reliance) and ‘vocal for local’ signals India’s need to cut down its dependence on imports and sliding back to protectionism.This might obstruct deepening South Asian economic integration.
Deeper regional economic integration will help India both economically & strategically to counter China’s aggression in the region
Connecting the dots:
- India’s Act East policy
- RCEP and why India opted out of it?
INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY/ SECURITY / GOVERNANCE
Topic: General Studies 2,3:
- India and its neighbourhood relations
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
Context: Indian government on 29 June 2020 announced it would block 59 widely used apps, most linked to Chinese companies.
What sort of apps were banned?
- The list includes the popular video-sharing social networking app TikTok, a mobile browser called UC Browser, and a file-sharing app called SHAREit.
- All these three has their wide user base in India, with each claiming more than 100 million monthly active users, and their origins in China.
- Given that India’s digital economy is tracked globally, blocking access does impact the valuations of such companies.
What was the explanation given by government when banning these apps?
- The apps, according to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, had been reported for “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India”, which “impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India”
- The ministry stated that there was “information available” that they are engaged in activities prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”
- From the perspective of data security and privacy, there was indeed a strong case to strictly regulate apps that handle vast amounts of user data.
What is the real intention/signal of India’s move?
- The decision comes amid continuing tensions between India and China, after the killing of 20 Indian soldiers on the Line of Actual Control
- It is the first clear message from New Delhi that it will review the rules of engagement.
- This is an interim order and firms have been given 48 hours to respond to questions on their compliance with data security and privacy but this marks a decisive break from the past.
- It serves as a statement of intent while sending a clear signal to China that there will be costs for acts of aggression.
- The fact that it has chosen to block the apps outright, rather than ensure they were complying with the law, suggests the ban is less motivated by privacy concerns than about sending a message to China
Critical Analysis of the ban
- If sending a message about China is the motivation, the ban is more signalling than substance. It may help the government show the public it is taking China on.
- However, deterring Chinese behaviour on the border requires a tough diplomatic , economic and military response.
- The ban on Chinese mobile apps may be construed as low hanging fruit and a relatively soft target, but it is, at the same time, a decision that makes the point without leading to a revenue loss for India or hurting it economically
- Nevertheless, tensions on the border, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, have ignited a much-needed debate on India’s economic dependencies on China.
India needs to reduce economic dependence on China
- There is an asymmetry in power, a visible economic disparity. The Chinese economy is roughly five times larger than India’s.
- While India accounts for only 3 per cent of China’s exports, China (excluding Hong Kong) accounts for 14 per cent of India’s imports, and 5 per cent of exports
- India remains reliant on Chinese products in several critical and strategically sensitive sectors, from semiconductors and active pharmaceutical ingredients to the telecom sector.
- Chinese vendors are involved not only in India’s 4G network but in on-going 5G trials as well.
What other retaliatory steps are being considered?
- Earlier, in a move that was apparently aimed at Chinese firms, the government had made it mandatory for FDI from neighbouring countries to take prior approval so as to curb opportunistic/hostile takeovers during this period.
- E-commerce firms have been asked to explore the idea of listing the product’s country of origin amidst call for boycott of Chinese products
- There is also talk of raising tariffs on Chinese goods
- Government can also impose curbs on contracts (having Chinese connection) in some infrastructure projects.
- However, given how pervasive Made in China is, how vast there is Chinese presence in the India’s technology space— its investments in a long list of Indian unicorns — each step will come with its own set of consequences.
- New Delhi should prepare for these and calibrate its response, step by careful step.
Connecting the dots:
- Justice BN Srikrishna committee’s report on the data protection law
- Twitter Vs Trump: debate on regulating Social Media
(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.
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Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding National Food Security Act (NFSA):
- NFSA marks a shift from rights based approach to welfare based approach.
- The act legally entitles up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of urban population to receive subsidized food grain under TPDS.
- NFSA is established as per the explicit provision of right to food under the Constitution of India.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
- Only 2
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2 Which among the following are a part of core industries?
- Refinery Products
- Natural Gas
Choose the correct code:
- 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6
- 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6
- 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
Q.3 Recently Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) was in news. It is associated with –
- MSME sector
- Banking sector
- Agriculture sector
- Insurance sector
Q.4 Consider the following statements about National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
- It acts as implementation arm of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga
- National Ganga Council is under the chairmanship of Prime Minister of India
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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