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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th AUGUST 2020

  • IASbaba
  • August 20, 2020
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Digital Quality of Life Index 2020: SurfShark

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – E-Governance & GS-III- Infrastructure; IT & Computers 

In News:

  • Recently, the Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index 2020 has been released by SurfShark, an online privacy solutions provider.

Key takeaways 

  • According to it, India ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of Internet quality.
  • Coverage: 85 countries were covered (81% of the global population).
  • Parameters: 
    • Internet affordability 
    • Internet quality
    • Electronic infrastructure
    • Electronic security 
    • Electronic government
  • Top rank: Denmark 
  • Indian Rankings: India stands at the overall rank of 57 out of the 85 countries.
    • Internet Affordability: 9th place. It outperforms countries like the UK, the USA and China.
    • Internet Quality: 78th place 
    • E-infrastructure: 79th place 
    • Electronic Security: 57th position.
    • E-government: 15th place 

Important value additions 

Government Initiatives Related to Internet

  • Digital India Programme: An umbrella program to prepare India for a knowledge-based transformation.
  • E-Kranti: National e-Governance Plan 2.0 – an essential pillar of the Digital India initiative.
  • Digilockers: certain official documents on the cloud can be stored.
  • BHIM App: To enable digital payments.
  • Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan: To make citizens digitally literate.
  • Bharat Net programme: To provide an optical fibre network in all gram panchayats.

Covid-19 crisis: 5 million salaried Indians lost their jobs in July

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Employment 

In News:

  • Recently, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has released data related to jobs gained or lost during the Covid-19 lockdown period (April-July 2020).

Key takeaways 

  • Salaried Jobs:
    • They suffered a total loss estimated to be 18.9 million during April-July 2020.
    • After gaining 3.9 million jobs in June, 5 million jobs were again lost in July.
    • Such jobs more resilient to economic shocks. However, once lost they are far more difficult to retrieve.
    • Only 21% of all employment in India is in the form of a salaried employment.
    • Loss of urban salaried jobs is likely to have a particular debilitating impact on the economy, besides causing immediate hardship to middle-class households.
  • Informal and Non-Salaried Jobs:
    • This category of job has shown improvement during the April-July 2020 increasing to 325.6 million in July 2020 from 317.6 million in 2019, an increase of 2.5%.
    • This is because of the opening of the country in a phased manner.
    • Small traders, hawkers and daily wage labourers were the worst hit by the lockdown.
  • Farm Jobs:
    • The jobs lost in the non-farm sectors have resulted in people moving towards farm employment. 
    • The farm sector gained 14.9 million jobs in the April-July 2020 period.
    • In 2019, 42.39% of the workforce in India was employed in agriculture

National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Health 

In News:

  • The National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020 was recently released.
  • Released by: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), Bengaluru.

Key takeaways 

  • Number of Cases: Cancer cases in India are likely to increase by 12% to 15.6 lakhs by 2025.
  • Major Cause: Tobacco-related cancers  (27.1% of the total cancer burden) 
  • Regional Distribution: Highest in the northeastern region and in higher proportions in men.
  • Gender Prevalence:
    • Most common cancers among women: breast cancers (14.8%) and cervical cancer (5.4%). 
    • Most common cancers among men: Lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus cancers 
  • A significant increase in the incidence rates of breast cancers in women and lung, head and neck cancers in both men and women was observed.
  • A declining trend was seen in most of the cervical cancer.

Important value additions 

Cancer

  • A type of disease characterized by the growth of abnormal cells beyond their usual boundaries 
  • It is one of the leading causes of death globally.
  • World Cancer Day celebrated each year on 4th February.
  • 2020 theme: ‘I Am and I Will’.

Invisible Shield against Electromagnetic Interference designed

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – scientific innovations and discoveries

In News:

  • Recently, scientists from the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bengaluru, have designed a metal mesh structure to construct an invisible shield against Electromagnetic Interference (EMI).

Key takeaways 

  • Metal Mesh Structure:
    • A copper metal mesh is developed on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) sheet which exhibits a visible transmittance of about 85%.
    • Transmittance describes how much light passes through a sample.
    • Metal mesh provides better electromagnetic shielding compared to the same thickness of continuous metal film where transparency can be compromised.
  • Benefits:
    • It will isolate a device’s energy so it doesn’t affect anything else and blocks external energy from getting in.
    • This ‘invisible’ shield can be used in various military stealth applications.
    • It can cover electromagnetic wave emitter or absorber devices without compromising aesthetics.
    • It is an important element for enhancing the stealth capability of a weapon platform

Important value additions 

Electromagnetic Interference

  • It is an electromagnetic emission that causes a disturbance in another piece of electrical equipment.
  • Any device that has an electronic circuit can be susceptible to EMI.
  • It compromises the performance of electrical equipment by obstructing and degrading data, sometimes even losing data completely.
  • EMI can be attributed to a wide span of the electromagnetic spectrum including radio and microwave frequencies.

Dhanwantri Rath: Ayurveda Health Services

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Health

In News:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) and Delhi Police.
  • Ayurveda Preventive and Promotive health services in the residential colonies of Delhi Police shall be extended under the MOU.
  • Catered by: All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA)
  • Supported by: Ministry of AYUSH

Key takeaways 

  • A mobile unit named ‘Dhanwantari Rath’ and Police Wellness Centres shall be used for the services.
  • Dhanwantari Rath would consist of a team of Doctors who would be visiting Delhi Police colonies regularly.
  • Objectives: 
    • To reduce the incidence/prevalence of various diseases.
    • To reduce the number of referrals to hospitals.
    • To reduce cost to the healthcare system as well as patients.
  • Earlier, AYURAKSHA, a joint venture of AIIA and Delhi Police aimed for maintaining the health of frontline Covid warriors like Delhi police personnel through Ayurveda immunity boosting measures was launched.

Important value additions 

Ayurveda

  • ‘Ayurveda’ in totality means ‘Science of life’.
  • It is considered as one of the ancient health care systems.
  • Ayurveda is said to be the offshoot of Atharva-Veda.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) was formed in 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of health care.

All India Institute of Ayurveda

  • It is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of AYUSH.
  • It has been conceived as an apex institute for Ayurveda.
  • Aim: To bring a synergy between traditional wisdom of Ayurveda and modern tools and technology.
  • The institute offers postgraduate and doctoral courses in various disciplines of Ayurveda also.
  • It is located in New Delhi.

‘No -Go’ forests approved for mining: CSE probe

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

In News:

  • Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) probe has found that software was tweaked to clear blocks in dense forests for cold blocks auction.
  • These dense forests are known as ‘No-Go’ areas or forests.

Key takeaways 

  • Investigation details: 
    • Since 2015, 9 out of 49 blocks cleared for coal mining were in ‘No-Go’ areas, or regions that were once classified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change as containing very dense forests and hence closed to coal mining.
    • In 2020, of the 41 blocks put up for auction, 21 feature in the original No-Go list.
      • A two stage e-auction is being adopted for the allocation of these mines. 
      • It is a part of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
  • It was also revealed through RTI that 67% of the mines auctioned since 2015 were not operational yet. 
  • From 2015-2020, the government tried to auction 112 mines, but succeeded in only 42 cases.
  • Several potential coal reserves are located in dense forests particularly in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. 
  • The government determined which of them were too ecologically important to touch, and which were amenable to be opened up using ‘decision support system software’.
  • In some cases, results of the software evaluation were tweaked to make ‘No-Go’ land into ‘Go-forests’. 

Government to set up National recruitment agency

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Education

In News:

Image source: The Hindu

  • Recently the government has approved the creation of a national recruitment agency for conducting a Common Eligibility Test for various government jobs. 
  • The decision is likely to benefit crores of young people who apply for jobs every year 

Key takeaways 

  • 3 of the over 20 Central Government recruitment agencies would be brought under the (NRA). 
  • Gradually, all Central government recruitment agencies would be brought under the NRA.
  • A common eligibility test (CET) would enable these candidates to appear once and apply to any or all of these recruitment agencies for the higher level of examination.
  • Initially, the preliminary test for the Railway Recruitment Board, the Staff Selection Commission and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection would be conducted by the NRA.
  • In the beginning, the exam would be held online in 12 languages.
  • Centres would be set up in every district to increase access.
  • The CET score of the candidate shall be valid for a period of three years from the date of declaration of the result. 
  • The best of the valid scores shall be deemed to be the current score of the candidate,

Over 80% of students depend on mobiles for learning: NCERT

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Education

In News:

  • Recently, a survey was conducted by the NCERT from Classes 8-12 from Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samitis (NVS) and schools affiliated to the CBSE regarding online education in the light of COVID-19.

Key takeaways of the Survey

  • 80-90% of older students use mobiles rather than laptops to access digital schooling.
  • Almost 30% said absent or intermittent electricity connections hindered their learning.
  • Half the students did not even have access to their textbooks.
  • In KVs, 84% of students used mobiles, while 19% used laptops for learning, similar to the ratio in CBSE schools.
  • In the NVS (meant for gifted students from rural areas) less than 10% of learners used laptops, while 88% were dependent on mobile phones. Less than 6% used TV or radio.
  • Only four States have completed mapping of the devices available to students — smartphone, basic mobile, radio, TV, personal or community computer — according to the Students’ Learning Enhancement Guidelines released by the Education Ministry.

Indian copters help fight oil spill in Mauritius

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Environmental Degradation

In News:

  • The indigenously developed helicopters – Dhruv Advanced Light helicopter (ALH) and Chetak helicopters are being used extensively in Mauritius for salvage and rescue missions to clear the oil spill 
  • The spill occurred after a Japanese owned cargo ship MV Wakasio ran aground 40 km off the capital Port Louis.

Key takeaways

  • MV Wakasio which was on its way from China to Brazil ran aground on the reef at Pointe d’Esny
  • It is an ecologically sensitive zone on Mauritius South Eastern coastline
  • The Pointe d’Esny Wetlands are designated as a site of international importance under the Convention on Wetlands
  • The carrier held tonnes of low-sulfur fuel oil, diesel and lubricant oil.
  • Effects of the spill: 
    • It threatens the ecology of the coastline of Mauritius and marine life in the Indian Ocean.
    • It endangers the already endangered coral reefs, seagrasses in the shallow waters, mangroves, the fishes and other aquatic fauna.
    • Giant tortoises, endangered green turtles, and the critically endangered Pink Pigeon are at risk.
  • Given the magnitude of the oil spill, Mauritius had declared a state of environmental emergency.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL / SECURITY

Topic: General Studies 2:

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

China-Russia ties as a major determinant

Context: In June 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping described Russian President Vladimir Putin, as “my best friend and colleague”.

Why is such a description significant?

  • No Historical Precedence: For past 70 years such public bonhomie has not been seen between leaders of Russia and China.
  • Realignment of relationship: It has sparked intense discussion on whether they are moving in the direction of a formal alliance. 
  • Growing Collaboration: Coordinated action in multilateral forums, increasingly sophisticated joint military exercises, and including activities with third countries such as Iran, reinforce beliefs about possibility of alliance.
  • Impact on India’s Foreign Policy: Politically reliable, trustworthy defence supplier with shared misgivings about China, that was USSR, has long been replaced by a politically agnostic, commercially motivated Russia that no longer shares our concerns about China.

How China has been a key part of Global Geopolitics since end of WW-II?

  • The triangular relationship between America, China and Russia has, for the most part, shaped global politics since 1950. 
  • During Cold War, US viewed China as a road to victory of its ideology and breaking up the communist camp
  • Post-Cold War, Russia seems to believe that the road to revival of Russian power and prestige similarly runs through China
  • For three decades the Americans had occupied the favoured position in terms of its relations with the other two. China seems to have assumed that position now.

What factors have strengthened the Sino-Russian Partnership?

  • End of Cold War: The disintegration of the Soviet Union essentially negated the Russian threat in Chinese eyes which brought both countries closer.
  • Resolution of disputes: A peaceful boundary is one of the pillars on which the Sino-Russian partnership currently rests.
  • Common Enemy: Both share a concern over American plans for “regime-change”. A shared distrust of American intentions has thus pushed China and Russia into closer axis. 
  • External Push Factors: Western sanctions have tended to push the Russians closer to China and it has served to strengthen China’s position in the strategic triangle.
    • Falling oil prices and fears of new sanctions on Russian gas supplies are demolishing the core of Russian exports to Europe, thus compelling Russia to look for alternatives like China
  • Increasing Economic & Industrial ties in the aftermath of western sanctions
    • China-Russia trade has more than doubled to $108 billion
    • Russia’s central bank has increased its Chinese currency reserves from less than one per cent to over 13%
    • China has surpassed Germany as the principal supplier of industrial plant and technology.

Challenges that prevent Russia & China to forge formal Alliance

  • Growing Asymmetry: The growing power-gap is threatening to further reduce Russian influence in their ‘near-abroad’ and to confine Russia to the periphery of global power, which Russia is not comfortable with.
  • Clashing Ambitions: Russia still regards itself as a world power and hopes to be at the centre of a Eurasian arrangement that stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic. This doesn’t align with strategic objectives of China’s Belt & Road Initiative
  • Economic Advantage for China:  while Russia presently enjoys a nominal trade surplus, China has a clear advantage going forward
    • Most of China’s exports to Russia are now at a higher technology level while the share of labour-intensive goods has declined. 
    • At the other end of the spectrum, Russian exports have continued to focus on raw materials, especially oil and gas.
  • Not a Stable Boundary: Chinese continue to nurse historical grievances despite the formal resolution of the border issue.
    • Mr. Xi’s talk of “rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation” has raised fears in Russia about Chinese revanchism 
    • China still make critical references to the nearly 600,000 square miles of Chinese territory that Tsarist Russia allegedly annexed in the late 19th century. 
    • Russia is also concerned over Chinese migration in the Russian Far East.

Conclusion

  • The new reality of Sino-Russian relations is thus one where substantial expansion of bilateral cooperation is accompanied by growing asymmetry and China’s pre-eminence.
  • Moscow is in real danger of permanently becoming the ‘junior partner’.
  • India and Russia have a shared belief that some form of multipolarity is better than any sort of Sino-U.S. condominium. Therefore, India-Russia relationship deserves more attention from both sides.

Connecting the dots:


GOVERNANCE / POLITY

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 
  • Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these. 

Domicile-based job quota

Context: The Madhya Pradesh government’s recent decision to reserve all government jobs for “children of the state”.

Why such type of reservation is advocated?

  • It is argued that giving preferential treatment to the residents of a state will help in rightful allocation of the resources of the state and would encourage people to work within the boundaries of their state.
  • This is also seen as a way to stop migration of people from backward states to metropolitans, thereby reducing the burden on such cities.

Distinction between domicile status and place of birth

  • According to the SC ruling in DP Joshi vs Madhya Bharat case,1955, Domicile or status of residence is a fluid concept that can change from time to time, unlike place of birth, which is fixed.
  • Domicile of a person means his permanent home.
  • The place of birth is one of several grounds on which domicile status is conferred.

Instances where local based reservations are made:

Jammu and Kashmir

  • Before abrogation of the special status, the jobs were reserved for state subjects.
  • Presently, Government jobs are reserved for domiciles. 
  • Any person who has resided in J&K for 15 years and their children are domiciles. 
  • Those who have studied in J&K for seven years and appeared for Class 10 and 12 exams from there are domiciles. 
  • Central government employees, who have served in J&K for 10 years, and their children are also eligible to apply for government jobs. 

Maharashtra

  • Only local residents fluent in Marathi are eligible for government jobs. 
  • A local is defined as one who is domiciled in the state and has lived there for over 15 years. 
  • The only exception is for residents of Belgaum, Karnataka. Maharashtra has repeatedly staked claim over Belgaum as a large population there comprises Marathi speakers.

Assam

  • In Assam, there is no reservation for residents of the state. 
  • But the MHA-appointed committee for implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord has recommended job reservations upto 80-100 per cent in different levels in government and private sectors for “Assamese People”. 
  • This is to be determined on the basis of a 1951 cut-off — persons or their descendants residing in Assam prior to 1951.

West Bengal

  • No such reservation in Bengal. But, in certain posts in state government, reading and writing skills in Bengali is a criterion.

Meghalaya

  • In state government jobs, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos have a combined reservation of 80 per cent. Other STs and SCs have a reservation of 5 per cent.

Arunachal Pradesh

  • There is 80 per cent reservation for Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes in state government jobs.

What does the Constitution say about domicile based reservation?

  • Article 16(2) of the Constitution, which guarantees equal treatment under law in matters of public employment, prohibits the state from discriminating on grounds of place of birth or residence
  • However, Article 16(3) of the Constitution provides an exception by saying that Parliament may make a law “prescribing” a requirement of residence for jobs in a particular state. This power vests solely in the Parliament, not state legislatures.
  • Constitutionally, some states also have special protections under Article 371. Andhra Pradesh under Section 371(d) has powers to have “direct recruitment of local cadre” in specified areas.

Why does the Constitution prohibit reservation based on domicile?

  • When the Constitution came into force, the idea of the universality of Indian citizenship took root. 
  • As India has common citizenship, which gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country, the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be qualifications for granting public employment in any state.

What has the Supreme Court said on reserving jobs for locals?

  • While domicile-based reservations have been upheld in education, courts have been reluctant to expand this to employment.
  • In Dr Pradeep Jain v Union of India, the issue of legislation for “sons of the soil” was SC said that Prima facie this would seem to be constitutionally impermissible but did not expressly rule on it as the case was on different aspects of the right to equality.
  • In Sunanda Reddy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1995), the Supreme Court affirmed the observation in Pradeep Jain to strike down a state government policy that gave 5% extra weightage to candidates who had studied with Telugu as the medium of instruction
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court invalidated the appointment of government teachers in Rajasthan, where the state selection board gave preference to “applicants belonging to the district or the rural areas of the district concerned.”

How do some states then have laws that reserve jobs for locals?

  • Exercising the power it has under Article 16(3), Parliament enacted the Public Employment (Requirement as to Residence) Act, 
  • The act aimed at abolishing all existing residence requirements in the states and enacting exceptions only in the case of the special instances of Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Some states have gone around the mandate of Article 16(2) by using language.
  • States that conduct official business in their regional languages prescribe knowledge of the language as a criterion. 
  • This ensures that local citizens are preferred for jobs. For example, states including Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu require a language test

What about securing jobs for locals in the private sector?

  • Such a law will be difficult to implement even if allowed. 
  • The state can recommend a preference to locals but ensuring that it is followed would be difficult. 
  • In 2017, Karnataka mulled similar legislation but it was dropped after the state’s Advocate General raised questions on its legality. 
  • However, in 2019, the Karnataka government once again issued a notification asking private employers to “prefer” Kannadigas for blue-collar jobs.

Conclusion

  • The move to give domicile based reservation runs against the spirit of constitutional equality and runs the danger of being struck down by government. 

Connecting the dots:


(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 Recently the digital quality of life index 2020 was released. Consider the following statements with regard to the India’s position: 

  1. India ranks among the highest in the world in terms of internet quality. 
  2. It outperforms countries like USA and China in terms of internet affordability. 

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.2 Which of the following are Indian Government’s initiatives related to internet? 

  1. Digilockers 
  2. BHIM app 
  3. Pradhan Mantri Gramin digital Saksharta Abhiyan 
  4. E-Kranti 

Select the correct code:

  1. 1 and 2 
  2. 2 only 
  3. 3 and 4 
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q.3 Recently invisible Shield against electromagnetic interference was designed.  Consider the benefits of the design: 

  1. It will isolate device’s energy so that it doesn’t affect anything else. 
  2. The shield can be used in military stealth applications. 
  3. It can cover electromagnetic wave emitter without compromising aesthetics. 

Which of the above is/are correct? 

  1. 1 and 2  
  2. 1 and 3 
  3. 2 only 
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.4 Consider the following statements regarding the recently announced National recruitment Agency: 

  1. Common Eligibility Test will be conducted for various government jobs.
  2. The result of the test will be valid for a period of five years from the date of declaration of the result. 

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.5 Pointe d’Esny, seen recently in news, is an ecologically sensitive zone in which of the following country? 

  1. Mauritius 
  2. Maldives 
  3. Malaysia 
  4. Sri Lanka

ANSWERS FOR 19th August 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B
3 C

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