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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 11th AUGUST 2020

  • IASbaba
  • August 11, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Submarine cable connectivity to Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Govt policies and initiatives; Infrastructure;  

Context: 

  • PM launched submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) which connects Andaman & Nicobar Islands to the mainland. 
  • The project will lay 2300 Kms submarine cable, connects major chunk of the islands from Chennai to Port Blair, Port Blair to Little Andaman and Port Blair to Swaraj Island. 

Benefits: 

  • The connectivity would now enable endless opportunities in the islands 
  • Provide modern facilities to every citizen and every sector  
  • Ease of living to improve 
  • Speedy development of national security 
  • Cheaper & better connectivity 
  • Enjoy all benefits of Digital India –  improving online education, tele-medicine, banking system, online trading and in boosting tourism 
  • Would boost Act-East policy and India’s Economic-Strategic Cooperation 

Map activity – 

  • Locate important places – Car Nicobar; Campbell – Bay; Port Blair; Swaraj Island; Swaraj Dweep, Shaheed Dweep and Long Island etc. 

Other measures: 

Apart from providing for better internet & mobile connectivity, efforts are being made to improve physical connectivity through road, air and water. 

  • Enhancing capacity of Port Blair Airport 
  • Water Aerodrome Infrastructure  
  • 4 Ships being built at Kochi Shipyard to improve the Water connectivity 
  • Port Led Development 
  • Speedy construction of the deep draft inner harbor and the proposal to construct TransShipment Port in Great Nicobar  
  • Development of modern infrastructure to accelerate blue economy like Fisheries, Aquaculture and SeaWeed farming 

Issue with disability Quota 

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social/Welfare issue; Vulnerable section 

Context: 

  • Delhi High Court issued notice to UPSC on a plea challenging this year’s preliminary examination notice for direct recruitment to civil services. 
  • The petition filed by Sambhavana (a registered society of the disabled for the disabled) claimed that the UPSC’s notice reserves only 24 vacancies for persons with disabilities out of a total 796 expected approximate vacancies. (it neglects the minimum reservation to be provided to disabled persons) 
  • The number of vacancies were below the 4 % mandatory reservation under section 34 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016. 

4% mandatory reservation under Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016: 

  • Section 34(1) of RPwD mandates a minimum 4% reservation for the benchmark disabled of the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength in each group of posts meant to be filled with such disabled. 
  • It mandates equal distribution of one (20% each) among the disabled classes of the blind, deaf, locomotor plus the combined class of autism, etc. with those having multiple disabilities. 

Indigenisation of Defence

Part of: GS Mains II and III – Govt schemes and policies; Defence; Indigenisation of technology 

Context: 

  • Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to impose a ban on 101 import items to boost indigenisation of defence production. 

Do you know? 

  • MoD had bifurcated the capital procurement budget for 2020-21 between domestic and foreign capital procurement routes. 
  • Government has targeted to reach a turnover of USD 25 billion by 2025 through indigenously manufactured defence products and also expects to export products worth $5 billion. 

Benefits of indigenisation of defence 

  • Boosts indigenisation of defence production  
  • Reduces fiscal deficit (India is second-largest arms importer in the world) 
  • Indigenisation in defence is important to national security  
  • India can generate FOREX by exporting defence equipment 
  • This could lead to innovation and R&D in the defence sector 
  • Steps towards achieving self­-reliance goal 

Steps taken: 

3 facilities were inaugurated – Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and BEML’s (Bharat Earth Movers Limited) Industrial Design Centre at its Bangalore Complex 

The three facilities include – 

  1. manufacturing facility for sighting devices for T­90 Tanks at the Opto Electronics Factory, Dehradun,  
  2. automated assembly line for the production of Pinaka Rockets at the Ordnance Factory, Chandrapur and  
  3. assembly and testing facility of Stabilised Remote Controlled Gun (SRCG) at the Ordnance Factory, Tiruchirappalli 

Oslo Peace Accord

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – International Affairs 

Context: The Oslo peace accords of the 1990s gave the Palestinians self-­rule in parts of the West Bank. 

About:  

Oslo Accords are a series of agreements between Israel and the Palestinians signed in the 1990s. 

  • Oslo I (1993)  formally known as the Declaration of Principles (DOP) established a timetable for the Middle East peace process. It planned for an interim Palestinian government in Gaza and Jericho in the West Bank. 
  • Oslo II  officially called the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza (1995), expanded on Oslo I.  

Oslo II included – 

  • Provisions for the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from six West Bank cities and about 450 towns. 
  • Timetable for elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. 

The interim pact was only supposed to last five years while a permanent agreement was finalised but it has tacitly been rolled over for more than two decades. 

The question of Jerusalem was left undecided under the Oslo Accords 


RBI’s Loan Recast Scheme

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Economy and related issues; Banking 

In news: 

  • RBI cleared a loan restructuring scheme for borrowers who are under stress because of the pandemic. 
  • Key sectors, such as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), hospitality, aviation, retail, real estate and auto, which are facing a liquidity crunch, will benefit from this scheme. 

Do you know? 

  • One­time loan restructuring will help soften the COVID­19 pandemic’s impact on banks’ asset quality 
  • RBI’s relaxations under the Prudential Framework on Resolution of Stressed Assets will benefit borrowers in most categories 

Miscellaneous:

Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown

Lockdown hit treatment under PMJAY scheme 

  • Claim volume fell by 50% under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) 
  • Significant declines in admissions for child delivery and oncology  
  • PMJAY beneficiaries delayed or postponed treatment due to the fear of infection at hospitals 

 78% of rural India stopped work 

  • Almost 80% of rural Indians saw their work coming to a standstill during the COVID­19 lockdown 
  • Only 20% got work under the Centre’s employment guarantee scheme 
  • More than 68% of respondents faced “high” to “very high” monetary difficulties, with 23% forced to borrow money during the lockdown 
  • 71% of ration card holders got grains from the government 
  • Over 60% of skilled workers and manual labourers faced a complete shutdown. (Employment was hit) 

Human ATM 

Context: 

  • Postal department’s new service of delivering money home – where postman acted as a human ATM – has turned out to be biggest hit countrywide. 
  • More than one lakh transactions being recorded across India on a daily basis. 

How does it work? 

  • The free service allows people to withdraw — through the postman — up to ₹10,000 at a time from any of their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.  
  • The postman carries a portable biometric device to match fingerprints. 
  • All a person needs to do is to use the Postinfo app or simply call the local post office or spot the postman.  

Benefits: 

  • Helped stranded people during COVID-­19 ­forced lockdown 
  • Helps elderly and people living in rural areas 
  • Deliver monthly pensions 

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL

Topic: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Isolating China, as proposition and the reality

Context: The latest round of talks, on 2nd August 2020, between the Military Commanders of India and China, did not produce any breakthrough. 

For the background on the recent Indo-China border clashes :Click here and here  

Why breakthrough in Diplomacy was not achieved? 

  • China reiterated that their troops “were on its side of the traditional customary boundary line” (that India opposes) 
  • China also criticised what is essentially India’s internal matter, viz., the changes effected to the status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. 
  • India’s MEA has promulgated that “the state of the border and the future of India’s ties with China cannot be separated”. 

What does this stalemate mean? 

  • The situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector thus remains essentially unchanged. 
  • A return to the status quo ante prior to May 2020, is nowhere in sight. 
  • The tensions along the border is going to continue for a longer period of time may be not at the intense level seen during the months of April-May 2020. 

Do you know? 

  • In the 1970s, China grabbed control over the Paracel Islands from Vietnam.  
  • In the 1990s, it occupied Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, an area of the South China Sea that the Philippines had always considered its territory. 

What has been global perception about recent Chinese actions? 

  • Chinese Intentions exposed: Beijing’s virtual takeover of Hong Kong, land grab in South China Sea and adventurism along India border exposed China’s ‘imperialist ambitions’ and President Xi Jinping’s authoritarian world view.  
  • Growing Voice about Chinese Unilateralism: China’s approach has been unilateralism rather than compromise, when dealing with its smaller neighbours. Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and South Korea have all complained about China’s menacing postures in their vicinity 
  • Realignment in Global Geopolitics: After years of cooperating with one another, the U.S. and China are currently at the stage of confrontation, with both flexing its military muscle and seeking allies to join their camps (reminiscence of Cold war era) 
  • Alliance Vs Non-Alignment: A Cold war type politics places several countries, especially in Asia, in a difficult position as most of them do not wish to take sides — especially with a belligerent China as neighbour 

Despite its predatory tactics why is China far from being isolated in world affairs? 

Realisation of being the Prisoner of Geography:  

  • China was always known to be over-protective of the South China Sea considering it a natural shield against possible hostile intervention by outside forces inimical to it.  
  • Thus, China is compelled to be aggressive about protecting its frontier. 
  • This realpolitik of China is being understood by Asian neighbours and therefore not openly aligning with USA at this juncture. 

Leveraging the Economic Advantage:  

  • China seems confident that its stranglehold on the global economy ensures that it does not face any real challenge 
  • A majority of ASEAN countries have grave concerns about China’s predatory tactics but ASEAN having become one of China’s biggest trading partners, it adopts a default position. viz., “not to take sides” 

Conclusion 

Geo-balancing is not happening to China’s disadvantage. This lesson must be well understood, when countries like India plan their future strategy. 

Connecting the dots:

  • String of Pearls Strategy 
  • Belt and Road Initiative 

SOCIETY/ MODERN INDIAN HISTORY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 1 and 2

  • Significant events in Modern Indian history & Social empowerment
  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

Three decades of Mandal Moment

Context: Thirty years ago, on 7th August 1990, the VP Singh government decided to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission, and providing 27% reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government jobs 

Mandal Commission 

  • In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 340 of the Constitution, the President appointed a backward class commission in December 1978 under the chairmanship of B. P. Mandal. 
  • The commission was formed to determine the criteria for defining India’s “socially and educationally backward classes” and to recommend steps to be taken for the advancement of those classes. 
  • The Mandal Commission submitted its report in 1980 and generated an all-India other backward classes (OBC) list of 3,743 castes and a more underprivileged “depressed backward classes” list of 2,108 castes. 
  • The Commission concluded that India’s population consisted of approximately 52% OBCs, therefore 27% government jobs should be reserved for them. 

What were the factors which led to the historic moment in Modern Indian Politics? 

The decision was in the wake of the gradual political rise of the backward communities, which was due to a set of complex factors. 

  • Political Outcome of Past Policies: The impact of the Green Revolution led to economic empowerment of OBCs and increased their desire for upward professional mobility through reservation in government jobs 
  • Electoral Compulsion: The demographic weight of the backward communities amplified their aspirations. In a Democratic society like India, the demands of such large sections of society could not be neglected both electorally & democratically. 
  • Political Compulsions: To counter the Mandir politics of late 1980s which sought to prioritise religion over caste, the government of the day promoted Mandal Politics 

Was OBC reservation opposed and if so on what lines? 

  • The Mandal moment saw ferocious backlash by sections of upper castes, particularly in northern & western regions of India 
  • This opposition was articulated on two axes  
  • That reservations compromised merit 
  • If at all reservations should open up beyond what was offered to SC & STs, it should be on economic lines (and not on caste basis) 

What has been the Supreme Court’s verdict on OBC reservation? 

  • The Supreme Court dealt with Constitutional Validity of OBC reservation in ‘Indira Sawhney’ Case or Mandal Case.  
  • The SC upheld the 27% reservation for OBCs but also stated that only caste was not an indicator of social and educational backwardness.  
  • SC also said that the ‘creamy layer’ among the OBCs should not be the beneficiaries of the reservations. 
  • Supreme Court in the same case also upheld the principle that the combined reservation beneficiaries should not exceed 50% of India’s population. 

What has been the major Criticism of OBC reservation? 

  • Backlash by left out sections: The resentment of those communities which did not have a share in the reservation pie increased. Mandal Politics launched an era of open hostility between upper castes & backward communities, particularly in the Hindi heartland 
  • Appeasement Politics: Political parties, in order to appease their constituents, continued to expand reservation. This has undermined the entire purpose of reservation, envisaged as a tool to address historic injustice 
  • Demand for Subcategorization of OBCs: Within OBCs, some communities benefited more than others, which led to a political divide and demands for sub-categorisation, a process currently underway. 
  • According to the Rohini Commission, out of almost 6,000 castes and communities in the OBCs, only 40 such communities had gotten 50% of reservation benefits for admission in central educational institutions and recruitment to the civil services. 

Way Ahead 

  • Making Agriculture Economically Viable: As the small landholders, tenants, agricultural labour, impoverished village artisans, unskilled workers, forms the bulk of the OBCs community, it becomes imperative to make agriculture (the backbone of the rural economy) economically viable. 
  • Strengthening Private Sector: A revived private sector that offers jobs to unemployed youth reduces the demand for jobs in the public sector and reservation. 
  • Review of Reservation Policy: The entire architecture of reservations needs a review, with the aim of creating a just, inclusive and equal society, without pandering to populist movements 

Connecting the dots:

  • Rohini Commission 
  • Constitutional (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019 — Reservations for Economically Weaker Sections in Unreserved Category 

(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: 

  1. Article 340 in the Constitution of India deals with Appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes 
  2. The President of India has appointed a Commission to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes 

Which of the following statements is/are correct? 

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

Q.2) India is a member of 

  1. ASEAN 
  2. East Asia Summit 
  3. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 
  4. None of the above 

Q.3) Oslo Peace Accord deals with –

  1. international copyright treaties administered by WIPO. 
  2. series of agreements between Israel and the Palestinians signed in the 1990s.  
  3. recognising the sovereignty of Norway over the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. 
  4. principles governing the activities of States in the exploration and peaceful use of Outer Space. 

Q.4) Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was passed in India in 2016. Which of the following statements are correct regarding the Act?

  1. It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory. 
  2. The Act recognises 21 kinds of disabilities compared to the previous seven. 
  3. The Act also increased the quota for disability reservation in higher educational institutions from 3% to 5% and in government jobs from 3% to 4%. 

Select the code from below: 

  1. 1 and 2 
  2. 2 and 3 
  3. 1 and 3 
  4. All of the above 

ANSWERS FOR 10th AUG 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1  A 
2  B 
3  D 
4  A 

Must Read

About Civil Service Entrants:

The Hindu

About controlling Corona virus: 

The Hindu

About Secularism:

The Indian Express

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