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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 19 June 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

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Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Civil Services Board (CSB).

2. Why banning trade with China will hurt India more?

3. Russia-India-China grouping.

4. S. Uighur rights Bill.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. One Nation One Ration card.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. What is dexamethasone?

2. Jagannath Rath Yatra.

3. Kodumanal.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Role of civil services in a democracy.

Civil Services Board

Context:

The Punjab government, last week, constituted a three-member civil services board to decide on IAS transfers and postings in the state.

Opposition to this move:

This notification providing for fixed tenure of IAS officers has left some leaders in the state upset.

  • It is because they feel appointment and transfer of IAS officers are a prerogative of the state.
  • They say, If their term is fixed, it will not only create functional and administrative problems, but also overstep the authority and jurisdiction of the state government.
  • With the fixed tenure rule and Chief Secretary’s board having all power to examine a recommendation for a transfer, the leaders feel their influence has been reduced to a naught and all power handed to the CS.

What is the government’s argument in its favour?

  • It says if the officials have a fixed tenure they will be able to provide better administration.
  • They will also feel safe and try to stick to the rules instead of pleasing political bosses.
  • It says every official requires 3-6 months to get into the groove at his new place of posting. If he stays there for two years, it would mean better delivery and stable tenure to people.

What is a Civil Services Board? What are its functions?

To insulate the bureaucracy from political interference and to put an end to frequent transfers of civil servants by political bosses, the Supreme Court had in 2013 directed the Centre and the states to set up a civil services board to consider transfers and postings of bureaucrats among others.

As per rules, all states should have a civil services board to decide on transfers and postings of the bureaucrats.

Functions:

  • The board is mandated to decide on the transfer of a civil servant before completion of his or her fixed tenure.
  • The rules mandate the civil services board to submit an annual report on January 1 to the central government about the date of the meetings held by them.

Composition:

The civil services board is headed by chief secretary of a state.

  • It has senior most additional chief secretary or chairman, Board of Revenue, Financial Commissioner or an officer of equivalent rank and status as member.
  • In addition, it will have Principal Secretary or Secretary, Department of Personnel in the state government as member secretary.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is it?
  2. Composition.
  3. Functions.
  4. How many states have set up CSB?

Mains Link:

Discuss the functions and objectives of Civil Services Boards.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Why banning trade with China will hurt India more?

Context:

The Indian government has tried to respond to the border dispute with China by training its guns on trade. The idea resonating in Indian streets is that Indians should boycott Chinese goods and thus “teach China a lesson”.

  • But, given China’s centrality and India’s insignificant share in global trade, banning trade will barely hurt China while adversely impacting Indian consumers and businesses.

Boycotting China is not as easy as data from key sectors show:

  1. Smartphones: Market size: Rs 2 lakh Cr. Share of Chinese products: 72%.
  2. Telecom Equipment: Market size: Rs 12,000 Cr; Share of Chinese products: 25%.
  3. Auto Components: Market size: 43.1 lakh Cr.; Share of Chinese products: 26%.
  4. Internet Apps: Market size: 45.0 Crore smartphone users; Share of Chinese products: 66% of people use at least one Chinese app on their smartphones.
  5. Solar Power: Market size: 37,916 MW; Share of Chinese products: 90%
  6. Steel: Share of Chinese products: 18-20%.
  7. Pharma/API: Market size: 1.5 Lakh Crore; Share of Chinese products: 60%.

When is “Boycott China” possible?

When the economical gap between India and China is narrowed, the country, prompted by emotions of nationalism amid the standoff between the two countries, can boycott Chinese products and carve out a path for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat.’ 

Why is China cheaper?

  1. Provision of cheap labour is one of the factors that contribute to cheaper Chinese products.
  2. Raw materials are cheaper. They are a significant part of the total cost of the product. Since the Chinese firms invest in bulk purchases for bulk production, it saves the tremendous cost of production.
  3. Efficient business ecosystem comprising of a network of suppliers, component manufacturers, distributors, government agencies, and customers. All have key-roles to play in ironing out the production process.
  4. Business loans are easily accessible, especially for bigger industries which provides a greater financial cushion to businesses in the manufacturing segment.
  5. The Chinese factories have been criticized for their lower compliance with health and safety regulations and environmental protection laws.
  6. China follows a Value Added Tax (VAT) system. A tax which is charged only on the “value-added” to a product, material or service at every stage of its further manufacture or distribution. Exported goods are subject to zero per cent VAT. In simpler terms, they enjoy a VAT exemption or rebate policy.

Why ‘Boycott Chinese Products’ Movement is difficult in India?

Trade deficit: In 2018-19, India’s exports to China were mere $16.7 billion, while imports were $70.3 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $53.6 billion.

Private Indian companies with Chinese investment: Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from China stood at a total of $1.8 billion between 2015 and 2019. Chinese tech investors have put an estimated $4 billion into Indian start-ups. Over a period of five years ending March 2020, 18 of India’s 30 unicorns are now Chinese-funded.

China’s dominance in the Indian digital market: Apps with Chinese investments constituted a substantial 50% of top app downloads (both iOS and G Play combined) which includes web browsers, data sharing and social media apps as per the Gateway house report.

A blanket ban on Chinese imports will hurt all small businesses at a time when they are already struggling to survive, apart from hitting India’s ability to produce finished goods.

What can be done?

Estimates indicate that a third of the Chinese imports constitute low-tech goods that were either made earlier by Indians, or are still being made but in smaller quantities.

  • These can surely be discouraged, and re-replaced by local products and brands.
  • In addition, such attempts will prove to be a fillip for the hundreds of small and medium firms, which have languished due to the lack of demand.
  • If the MSME segment kicks off, the overall manufacturing sector will get a boost, which will benefit the ‘Make in India’ scheme.
  • As local sales grow, Indians will become competitive. They can emerge as exporters of these products, and battle globally with China.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Disputed border areas between India and China.
  2. What is trade deficit?
  3. What are unicorns?
  4. India and China bilateral trade- overview and key figures.
  5. What is FDI?
  6. FDI vs FPI.

Mains Link:

How and why boycotting Chinese goods will have little or no impact on the country? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Russia-India-China grouping

Why in News?

India will participate in the virtual meeting of the Russia-India-China grouping on June 23.

The Indian decision to go ahead with the ministerial level exchange has created an opening for de-escalation of tension along the Line of Actual Control with the Russian diplomatic sources indicating that they support “constructive dialogue” over the tension in eastern Ladakh.

What is RIC?

Conceived by the then Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov in 1998.

The group was founded on the basis of “ending its subservient foreign policy guided by the U.S.,” and “renewing old ties with India and fostering the newly discovered friendship with China.”

Significance and potential of the grouping:

Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19 percent of the global landmass and contribute to over 33 percent of global GDP.

All three are nuclear powers and two, Russia and China, are permanent members of the UN Security Council, while India aspires to be one.

The trio could also contribute to creating a new economic structure for the world.

They could work together on disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

Importance of RIC for India:

  • It forms the core of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
  • India is in a geostrategic sweet spot today.
  • It is important for India as an aspiring power to be able to thwart China’s aspirations of being a hegemon in both the maritime and continental spheres.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is RIC group? When was it founded?
  2. WTO- establishment and objectives.
  3. What is G20?
  4. What is Paris agreement?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of RIC grouping.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

U.S. Uighur rights Bill

Context:

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed legislation calling for sanctions over the repression of China’s Uighur Muslims.

Details:

  • The Bill calls for sanctions against those responsible for repression of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang province, where the United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps.
  • It singles out the region’s Communist Party secretary, Chen Quanguo, as responsible for “gross human rights violations” against them.
  • The Bill also calls on U.S. firms operating in Xinjiang region to ensure their products do not include parts using forced labour.

Background:

The United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps in the Xinjiang region. The U.S. State Department has accused Chinese officials of subjecting Muslims to torture, abuse “and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion.”

Who are Uighurs?

Uighurs are a Muslim minority community concentrated in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang province. 

They claim closer ethnic ties to Turkey and other central Asian countries than to China, by brute — and brutal — force.

Why is China targeting the Uighurs?

Xinjiang is technically an autonomous region within China — its largest region, rich in minerals, and sharing borders with eight countries, including India, Pakistan, Russia and Afghanistan.

  • Over the past few decades, as economic prosperity has come to Xinjiang, it has brought with it in large numbers the majority Han Chinese,who have cornered the better jobs, and left the Uighurs feeling their livelihoods and identity were under threat.
  • This led to sporadic violence, in 2009 culminating in a riot that killed 200 people, mostly Han Chinese, in the region’s capital Urumqi. And many other violent incidents have taken place since then.
  • Beijing also says Uighur groups want to establish an independent state and, because of the Uighurs’ cultural ties to their neighbours, leaders fear that elements in places like Pakistan may back a separatist movement in Xinjiang.
  • Therefore, the Chinese policy seems to have been one of treating the entire community as suspect, and launching a systematic project to chip away at every marker of a distinct Uighur identity.

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who are Uighurs?
  2. Where is Xinjiang?
  3. Who are Han Chinese?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Food security related issues.

One Nation-One Ration Card scheme

Context:

14 states/UTs yet to join the scheme.

About the scheme:

One Nation One Ration Card (RC) will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice.

Benefits: no poor person is deprived of getting subsidised foodgrains under the food security scheme when they shift from one place to another. It also aims to remove the chance of anyone holding more than one ration card to avail benefits from different states.

Significance: This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.

Highlights of the scheme:

  1. The poor migrant workers will be able to buy subsidised rice and wheat from any ration shop in the country but for that their ration cards must be linked to Aadhaar.
  2. Migrants would only be eligible for the subsidies supported by the Centre, which include rice sold at Rs. 3/kg and wheat at Rs. 2/kg, It would not include subsidies given by their respective state government in some other state.

Standard format of ‘one nation, one ration card’:

A standard format for ration card has been prepared after taking into account the format used by different states.

  • For national portability, the state governments have been asked to issue the ration card in bi-lingual format, wherein besides the local langauge, the other language could be Hindi or English.
  • The states have also been told to have a 10-digit standard ration card number, wherein first two digits will be state code and the next two digits will be running ration card numbers.
  • Besides this, a set of another two digits will be appended with ration card number to create unique member IDs for each member of the household in a ration card.

Challenges:

Prone to corruption: Every state has its own rules for Public Distribution System (PDS). If ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ is implemented, it will further boost corruption in an already corrupted Public Distribution System.

The scheme will increase the woes of the common man and, the middlemen and corrupt PDS shop owners will exploit them.

Tamil Nadu has opposed the proposal of the Centre, saying it would result in undesirable consequences and is against federalism.

 Way Forward:

The current migrant crisis should be seen as an opportunity to develop a national migration policy addressing the challenges faced by migrant workers’ productivity, living conditions and social security.

  • While this must be done, the government must also fast-track the ONORC scheme because India’s present rights-based regime is based on the assumption that people are sedentary.
  • The ONORC should also include access to health and other things.

easy_access

 Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is PDS?
  2. What is NFSA? Eligibility? Benefits?
  3. How are fair price shops established?
  4. Proposed format.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of One Nation One Ration Card scheme.

Sources: pib.

 


Facts for Prelims


What is dexamethasone?

  • It is an anti-inflammatory drug, commonly used to treat conditions in which the body’s immune system does not function properly, and causes inflammation and tissue damage.
  • Dexamethasone reduces the production of the chemicals that cause inflammation and also reduces the activity of the immune system by affecting the way white blood cells function.
  • It falls in a category called corticosteroids, which closely mimic cortisol, the hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands in humans.

Why in News?

It has become the subject of discussion after researchers from the Recovery Trial reported that it helps reduce death rates in certain Covid-19 patients.

Jagannath Rath Yatra:

  • Popularly known as the ‘Festival of Chariots’, Rath Yatra festival in honour of Puri’s Lord Jagannath is grand celebration.
  • The festival is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, his sister Goddess Subhadra and elder brother Balabhadra.
  • All the three deities of the temple – Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra – travel in three different chariots during this festival. The chariots are called Nandighosha, Taladhwaja, and Devadalana respectively.
  • New chariots for all the three deities are constructed every year using wood even if the architect of the chariots remain similar. Four wooden horses are attached to each chariot.

Why in News?

Supreme Court of India has stayed annual Rath Yatra at Puri’s Jagannath Temple in Odisha which was scheduled from June 23. The apex court said that ‘Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow this year’s Rath Yatra’.

lord_jagannath

Kodumanal:

  • Kodumanal is a village located in the Erode district in Tamil Nadu. It is located on the northern banks of Noyyal River, a tributary of the Cauvery.
  • It was once a flourishing ancient trade city known as Kodumanam, as inscribed in Patittrupathu of Sangam Literature.
  • It served as a trade-cum-industrial centre from 5th century BCE to 1st century BCE.
  • The place is an important archaeological site, under the control of State Archaeological Department of Tamil Nadu.

Why in News?

The following things have been found during the ongoing excavation at the site:

10 Pots and bowls placed outside three-chambered burial cists and inside the cairn-circle. This has thrown light on burial rituals and the concept of afterlife in megalithic culture.

Other findings: Animal skull, possibly of a wolf or a dog; precious stones; copper smelting units; potteries.

Articles to be covered tomorrow:

  1. Digital tax.
  2. Plea on rule of law index.
  3. Coal sector reforms.

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