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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th May 2021

  • IASbaba
  • May 20, 2021
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


New sites added to India’s tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Culture 

In news

Key takeaways 

  • Sites were submitted by the Archaeological Survey of India. 
  • Six of the nine sites have been accepted by UNESCO for its tentative list. 
  • Being added to the tentative list is a requirement before the final nomination of any site.
  • The sites are
  1. Maratha military architecture, Maharashtra
  2. Hire Bengal megalithic site, Karnataka
  3. Bhedaghat-Lametaghat of Narmada Valley, Madhya Pradesh.
  4. Ganga ghats, Varanasi
  5. Temples of Kancheepuram
  6. Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh.
  • These proposals will remain in tentative list for a year after which the government will decide which one of them to push for in their final dossier to UNESCO.

Related articles:


Customs (Import of Goods at Concessional Rate of Duty) Amendment Rules , 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In news

  • The Government has brought changes in the existing Customs (Import of Goods at Concessional Rate of Duty) Rules, IGCR 2017 to boost trade facilitation.
  • The IGCR, 2017 lay down the procedures and manner in which an importer can avail the benefit of a concessional Customs duty on import of goods required for domestic production of goods or providing services.

Key takeaways

  • Changes have been introduced by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs.
  • One major change is that the imported goods have been permitted to be sent out for job work. Importers can now get the final goods manufactured entirely on job work basis. 
  • The absence of this facility had earlier constrained the industry, especially the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector, which did not have the complete manufacturing capability in-house.
  • However, some sectors such as gold, jewellery, precious stones and metals have been excluded.
  • Another major change is to allow those who import capital goods at a concessional Customs duty to clear/re-sell them in the domestic market on payment of duty and interest, at a depreciated value. 
  • This was not allowed earlier and manufacturers were stuck with the imported capital goods after having used them as they could not be easily re-exported.

MoU signed for Digital Transformation of Tribal Schools

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Education 

In news

  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Microsoft have signed MoU on Joint initiative for Digital Transformation of Tribal Schools

Key takeaways 

  • Aim: To skill educators and students in next-generation digital technologies including Artificial Intelligence. 
  • Vision: To build an inclusive, skills-based economy, 
  • The MoU shall support digital transformation of schools such as Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) and Ashram Schools, which fall under the Ministry. 
  • Microsoft will make AI curriculum available to tribal students in both English and Hindi at all EMRS schools under the Ministry. 
  • This program will benefit students in terms of readiness, preparedness at various international forums. 
  • In the first phase, 250 EMRS schools have been adopted by Microsoft out of which 50 EMRS schools will be given intensive training and 500 master trainers would be trained. 
  • Teachers across states in India will be trained in a phased manner. 

‘Infrastructure’ Status for exhibition and convention centres

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Economy; Infrastrcuture 

In news 

  • The Finance Ministry has granted ‘Infrastructure’ status for exhibition and convention centres. 
  • The move is expected to ease bank financing for such projects.

Key takeaways 

  • ‘Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre is included in the Harmonised Master List of Infrastructure sub-sectors. 
  • For this, new item is inserted in the category of Social and Commercial Infrastructure. 
  • These benefits would only be available for projects with a minimum built-up floor area of 1,00,000 sq. m. of exclusive exhibition space or convention space or both combined.
  • As of now, the major projects under way in the sector are: the International Exhibition-cum-Convention Centres at Dwarka and Pragati Maidan, New Delhi 
  • The infrastructure tag does not involve significant tax breaks. 
  • The tag would help such projects get easier financing from banks. 

Do you know? 


(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE/ECONOMY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

India, Israel and Palestine

Context: Recently, India’s permanent representative to UN made a carefully crafted statement at the UN Security Council “open debate” on the escalating Israel-Palestine violence, striving to maintain balance between India’s historic ties with Palestine and its blossoming relations with Israel.

Evolution of India’s relationship with Israel & Palestine

  1. Nehru and Indira Gandhi era – Idealism & unequivocally pro-Palestine 

India stopped at recognising Israel

  • India’s recognised Israel in 1950. PM Nehru’s reasoning was that was that it was “an established fact”, and that not doing so would create rancour between two UN members.
  • However, India did not have full diplomatic ties with Israel.
  • All there was to show for the bilateral relationship was a consulate in Mumbai, established in 1953, mainly for issuing visas to the Indian Jewish community, and to Christian pilgrims. This too was shut down in 1982 for six years when Consul General criticised India in a newspaper interview
  • There was no Indian embassy in Israel till 1992.

In 1948, India was the only non-Arab-state among 13 countries that voted against the UN partition plan of Palestine in the General Assembly that led to the creation of Israel.

Reasons for India siding with Palestine (and a cold shoulder for Israel) was

  • India’s own Partition along religious lines (Historical basis)
  • Solidarity with the Palestinian people who would be dispossessed (HR Perspective)
  • To ward off Pakistan’s plan to isolate India over Kashmir (Geopolitical reason) 
  • Later, India’s energy dependence on the Arab countries also became a factor (Economic & Pragmatism)
  • To appeal to the sentiments of India’s own Muslim citizens (Domestic Politics)

India and Palestine

  • The relationship with Palestine was almost an article of faith in Indian foreign policy for over four decades. 
  • At the 53rd UN session, India co-sponsored the draft resolution on the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. 
  • In the 1967 and 1973 wars, India lashed out at Israel as the aggressor. 
  • In the 1970s, India rallied behind the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) and its leader Yasser Arafat (received as Head of State) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
  • In 1988, when the PLO declared an independent state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, India granted recognition immediately. 
  1. Changes after 1991- Pragmatism
  • The opening of an Indian embassy in Tel Aviv in January 1992 marked an end to four decades of giving Israel the cold shoulder.
  • India’s decision to normalise ties with Israel in 1992 came against the backdrop of the break-up of the Soviet Union, need for economic pragmatism (i.e. access to Israeli technology), common threats of terrorism and massive shifts in the geopolitics of West Asia on account of the first Gulf War in 1990. 
  • The India-Israel relationship continued to grow, mostly through defence deals, and in sectors such as science and technology and agriculture.
  • There were few high-profile visits, and they all took place when the BJP-led NDA-1 under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in office.

India’s balancing act with Palestine

  • Despite growing Indo-Israel ties, New Delhi remained firmly on the side of the PLO, which was seen as ready for a political solution, and had accepted the two-state solution.
  • In 1996 India opened a Representative Office in Gaza, which later moved to Ramallah.
  • During the UPA’s 10 years in office, the balancing act intensified, and Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority that administers the West Bank, visited in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
  • India voted for Palestine to become a full member of UNESCO in 2011
  • In 20212, India co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution that enabled Palestine to become a “non-member” observer state at the UN without voting rights. 
  • India also supported the installation of the Palestinian flag on the UN premises in September 2015.
  1. Changes after 2014 – Secret affair came out of Closet – whispers of Pro-Israel
  • India never openly acknowledged the relationship with Israel fully, since it opened its diplomatic office in 1992. It was during NDA-2 that the government under PM Modi decided to take full ownership of the relationship with Israel.
  • In 2016, India abstained again at on a UNHRC resolution against Israel. 
  • Until 2017, in various statements, with its expression of support for a two-state solution, India had always included a line in support of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. The reference to East Jerusalem went missing – considered as substantial shift of India’s policy- in PM Modi’s statement during PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas visit to India in 2017
  • In February 2018, Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. His itinerary did not include Ramallah (Palestine). The signal was that India had “de-hyphenated” the Israel-Palestine relationship, and would deal with each separately. 

Balancing act with Palestine

  • India voted in favour of a resolution in the General Assembly opposing the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
  • At the UNHRC’s 46th session in Geneva earlier this year, India voted against Israel in three resolutions – 
    • one on the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people 
    • A second on Israeli settlement policy, and
    • A third on the human rights situation in the Golan Heights.
  • In the current context of violence, India in its official statement appears to implicitly hold Israel responsible for triggering the current cycle of violence by locating its beginnings in East Jerusalem rather than from Gaza. 
  • The statement was also emphatic that “the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem including the Haraml al Sharif/Temple Mount must be respected. (The site, administered by Jordan, is revered in both Islam and Judaism. Jewish worshippers are not allowed inside, but have often tried to enter forcibly)

Connecting the dots:


HEALTH/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Security & related issues.

Politicisation of Providing Security Cover

Context: The recent order by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for providing security cover to 77 MLAs of BJP who were elected earlier this month after the West Bengal Assembly poll is not only unprecedented but appears politically motivated.

Overstepping the norm

  • In practice, decisions to provide security to persons under threat is taken by a committee in the MHA, which comprises officials from the Ministry, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Delhi Police and senior officials of the Central Armed Police Force.
  • While the IB prepares the list of persons under threat and the degree of threat, the committee decides on the force to be deployed depending upon the place where the person is located. 
  • In these meetings, the threat perception of each of the person to be secured is discussed one by one and not collectively for any group as such.
  • The threat perception for each of the persons (77 BJP MLAs) was not discussed thus giving rise to suspicions of political motivations.

Was such kind of blanket protection not provided before?

  • In the past, such deployment of central forces for the protection of individuals was done in Punjab and in Jammu and Kashmir, when these regions were rocked by unrest & militancy.
  • Since militants tried to sabotage the process of elections, poll candidates were generally targeted. 
  • The Central government, therefore, took blanket decisions to provide security to every candidate till the elections got over.

Implication of the present move

  • Unhealthy sign for Centre-State relations: Law & order and protection to citizens including MLAs is the responsibility of State Police. But by deploying central forces, the Centre has sent a clear signal that it does not rely upon the State government to provide fool-proof security to the BJP MLAs. 
  • Wrong signal to other police forces: The Central government’s distrust of officers who are considered close to a State’s ruling dispensation does not bode well for police officers across the country.
  • Increased number of protected persons: In 2019, as many as 66,043 police and CAPF personnel were deployed to protect 19,467 Ministers, Members of Parliament, judges and bureaucrats, against the sanctioned strength of 43,556 personnel
  • Impacts Training schedule: Constant deployment of CAPF personnel on protection duties impacts their training schedule. After the initial eight-week training for VIP protection, the personnel have to undergo a two-week refresher training periodically to hone their skills.
  • Status Symbol: Having security cover has now become a status symbol which doesn’t bode well with democratic culture of society, where everyone is equal.

Way Ahead

  • To curb the tendency of demanding security personnel around themselves, leaders and prominent persons should be asked to bear the expenditure, 
  • Members of Parliament and leaders with criminal records should be charged a fee for the security personnel deployed to protect them.

(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 Government has brought changes in the existing Customs (Import of Goods at Concessional Rate of Duty) Rules, IGCR 2017 to boost trade facilitation through which importers can now get the final goods manufactured entirely on job work basis. Which of the following sectors are excluded from this change?

  1. Gold
  2. Jewellery 
  3. Precious stones 
  4. Metals 

Select the correct code:

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

Q.2 Which of the following Ministry has signed MoU with Microsoft on Joint initiative for Digital Transformation of Tribal Schools? 

  1. Ministry of Tribal Affairs
  2. Ministry of Education 
  3. Ministry of Information technology 
  4. Ministry of External affairs 

Q.3 Where is Satpura Tiger Reserve located?

  1. Maharashtra
  2. Gujarat 
  3. Madhya pradesh 
  4. Uttar Pradesh 

ANSWERS FOR 19th May 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 C

Must Read

On normalising India-Pakistan Trade relations:

The Hindu

On Social Security:

The Hindu

About reservations:

The Hindu

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